Sunday, September 30, 2012

Learning to walk like Jesus

A while back for our Wednesday night class at church we talked about Walking with Jesus and we were challenged to memorize a few verses including 1 John 2:6 which says: " Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." Though it has been my goal for many years now to follow Jesus and do His will I always have room for growing in this area.

  I decided it would be fun to read through the gospels again this time being extremely focused on the things that Jesus did that are examples for me that I should follow. Some of the things in His life were just the situation He was in or the time that he lived or because He was God (being born of a virgin mother, being baptized in the Jordan River, teaching in synagogues and performing miracles) but many of the things that He did were things that He did simply because it was the right thing to do- no matter when or where we live or who we are. Those are the things that I am going to try to notice and follow in my life.

  When I was reading in Matthew Chapter 4 about Jesus time of fasting in the wilderness and being tempted by Satan the things that jumped out at me that I feel I should also strive to do were:

  • Standing firm against the devil. The devil is real and does want me to follow him, it is my job to say "NO!".
  • Knowing scripture to help me to resist the devil. I can know scripture better by studying it, reading it, memorizing it, singing it and just focusing on it throughout all of my life.
A good verse from that chapter is Jesus' words to Satan in verse 4:
"It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

 I hope you will join me in striving to follow Jesus. I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September Preparedness Challange

 September is one of those very busy months when it comes to preparing for the months to come. It is harvest time and the time we work hard to get things put up for the winter.

Here are some of the things we have been doing around here to be prepared:

Concerning Food Storage:
The picture above is from one of our great weeks of putting up food. There were a few crazy days when I really wished for a kitchen at least twice the size that we have. We were canning applesauce and green beans and freezing bunches of corn. It seems like we will probably have enough of all of those things to keep us supplied for the whole year. Lord willing we won't need to buy any of them this year. That means we have nearly a meals worth per week and with green beans quite a bit more than that. We also put up quite a bit of broccoli. Most of the stuff I put up came from my parents garden and I am very grateful. I did also can some salsa and tomatoes from our garden.

We had fun picking apples both at my parents and at another friends house (along with the one apple at our house!). We have been super blessed with apples this year.

 So far we have made applesauce, apple pie filling, dried apples (I have been thankful for my dehydrator this year) and apple baked goods.

We even enjoyed apple pie (made by Mara) for breakfast one day. Yummy!

Some of our dried apples.

 I also placed another order from Vitacost and purchased some more coconut oil as well as Spike (they have the best price I have found for it) and some raw vinegar for Mara to used to hopefully help her eczema. I was able to get a great deal on it since various people had bought things through my referral and each time someone does that they I earn $10. If you chose to buy something through the link above and if it is your first order from them then you will get a free $10 worth of stuff and I also will get $10 to use.

 This month has been honey harvesting time too. We have been blessed with another good year. I still have quite a bit to harvest and then this year I am going to try keeping the bees through the winter. I will pray for that to go well!

  Today we went and gleaned a truck full of potatoes. I had some pictures from that but somehow tonight I plugged the camera up to the computer but then unplugged it again because I had actually imported the pictures and then I deleted them. I was pretty disgusted with myself as not only had a taken several pictures but it is also Mara's birthday so the birthday pictures were gone! Anyway, back on topic, we are so blessed to be able to get all the potatoes. How nice it is to have them available all winter long. It does take some time and gas to drive there but it is also a fun outing for us and pretty much always at a peak time for fall leaves and so our drive is very beautiful!

Emergency Preparedness:

 Probably our biggest step toward being prepared for emergencies this month was for Mara, Jonathan and I to take a CPR and first aid class. One of the other mom's from our homeschool group was able to set up a class through the Red Cross. I was very happy for the opportunity! Everything was review of things that we had read about in a book last year but having some hands on practice was much better than just reading!
Sustainable Living:
 I finally checked out all the apple cider vinegar that I had been "brewing" in my pantry. We threw some out but some is working out great. I have been using it in some things. I have also started some more since I am working with apples again.

  We have been working at adding more manure to our garden soil. I am trying to make it a higher priority to work to improve our soil.

I am linking this to the Prepardness Challange at Homestead Revival.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Teaching our children to work hard....and love it.

  One of my big goals in raising children is to teach them to Love God and others, be diligent and honest and to work hard. Work is something given to us by God and I truly believe it is a good thing. I think it is something to be enjoyed- not something to be dreaded. There are many verses about how we shouldn't be lazy as well as talking about how we should work. Here is one I enjoy:

   "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." Colossians 3:23 & 24

 Our kids do love to work much of the time and will even do it without being asked at times but they are still regular kids who will complain at times too. Our family is a work in progress, just like yours. Here are some things I have thought of however that help to encourage my kids in working hard and enjoying it.

Here they are in no particular order:

  • Be a good example. When we as parents work hard and enjoy it then our kids will learn to do that to. I firmly believe you can basically enjoy all work - I believe that career choices should be made by considering what you are good at and enjoy rather than what will make you the richest- even if the work you need to do is not the one you naturally enjoy- you can still choose to enjoy it.
  • Show them how. Have you ever been told to do something but didn't know how to do it but where not offered any training or very little? I have- and that wasn't very fun! However I have been guilty of doing that same thing to my children. I am working to make sure not to do that anymore. Training is very important for being able to do many jobs well. You might check out my post about my "Highly entertaining bathroom cleaning demonstration."
  • Chore Chart. In our family we have found it useful to have a chore chart. We have chores that they need to do throughout the week every single week. With a chore chart the kids know in advance that they need to do those things and that way they can prepare mentally and having to work doesn't take them be surprise and cause them to be upset by it. Our children do usually do quite a bit of work that isn't on their chore chart (because it is seasonal or whatever) but at least the chart is a start.
  • Work together. This is one that my parents were always good at doing and they stressed that importance to us too and I have found it to be very helpful. When you work with your children you can encourage them as you go along and work is just more fun (at least for more of us) when you have somebody to visit with while you are doing it.
  • Let them do work they enjoy. Now this is not something that we follow 100% at all but if it is possible then it is nice to divide out the work so that each one is doing something they like to do. Some examples from our family: Mara loves garden work (at least most of it)- Jonathan not so much but he loves to vacuum. clean or bake. When possible I try to let them do those things that they like to do. There are sometimes though when I do make sure they do the things they don't care for just because I want to make sure that they do know how to do it. I want well educated children. :-)
  • Talk about how important it is to our family. It is important that children realize that what they are doing is indeed important. If we are putting up food for the year we talk about how nice it is that we can have good wholesome food ready for the winter, if we are cleaning I might remind them of how important it is that we work together as a family to keep our home nice for us and company (and how each of us contribute to the dirtiness so we each need to contribute to the cleaning up), if they are helping me with my business (Wedding Flowers) or cooking or cleaning while I work on my business we may talk about the extras we can afford because of this business. Our children are important- I couldn't do nearly the amount of things that I do without them!
  • Pay them at times. In our family we have chosen to have some jobs around our place that are paying jobs. We do not give an allowance to our children but they are able to earn some money which they use to pay for things like bikes, birthday presents and other odds and ends and so through that they learn about money management. Some of the jobs we have chosen to pay for in our family have been mowing and vacuuming our van. I will also come up with other extra jobs now and then.
  • Read stories or verses that show the benefit of hard work. The book of Proverbs has many illustrations of the benefits of hard work and also talks about how laziness is not good. We have also been enjoying reading "Man of the Family" by Ralph Moody and another book of short stories about farming. Reading things like these make our children realize that it is not just me that thinks hard work is a good thing. Also in books like "Man of the Family" the main character is an 11 year old boy who loves to work hard and wants to take care of his mom and siblings.
  • Expect them to do a good job. Part of teaching our children to work hard is to then also expect them to do a good job. We do watch over their work (sometimes called inspection) and they are often asked to repeat something if they did not do it well. This is part of learning.
  • Be patient. Though we do want a job done well we do also need to be patient and kind. We don't want to burn our workers out. They are smaller, they are still learning and just like us they are not perfect. This is one I am still learning on!
  • Pray. This is something I do often. I want children that will glorify God with their lives and I believe that diligence and hard work are a part of that. I pray often for them in this area and for me to have wisdom in training them.

These are some ideas that have worked for us in our household and on our homestead. I hope they might be helpful to you as well.

 But now I had better get going- we are off to help butcher chickens today at my parents. Jonathan is quite excited as he very much enjoys butchering time. The other kids aren't so into it so they will probably not do a lot of hands on butchering help (perhaps packaging and such) but will try to help in other ways.

I would love to hear any tips or ideas that you have!

 I am linking this to the Barn Hop at Homestead Revival.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What is God like?

These verses were read last weekend when I was up camping and I was reminded of them and how much I like them so I thought I would share them with you.....

 "The Lord's lovingkindnessess indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion." says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:22-26

The song "Great is Thy Faithfulness" is one that my kids have been singing a lot lately. I love that song and I love to hear them sing it! It is such a good reminder that no matter what goes on- when things are lovely and when things are not- God is always faithful!

 I want to always be one that waits on God, who seeks Him with my whole heart. We can hope in Him completely! He is faithful and good!

Happy Autumn to everyone!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A fun day going to see family

Dad, Peter and Holly
 My older brother and his family (The Gypsy's of the family as they move around from job to job- my brother builds log homes- and live in a 5th Wheel Trailer) recently moved to North Dakota so today my Parents decided to go visit them and invited us to go along. Ken had to be away at a show all day so it was perfect timing for the rest of us to go away for the day too.

  We had a pretty drive over there as the leaves are beautifully colorful right now and the fields are being harvested.

The 5th wheel isn't real big but it worked fine for us all to eat lunch in there and then thankfully it was pretty sunny even though it was cool and the kids had fun playing outside while the adults visited.
Miss Jaten

 Nick has long been a lover of trains and has a large collection of toy ones. He doesn't play with them to much anymore but was glad to share them with his younger cousins. They had a fun time putting them all together on the yard.

  We went to see the house that Peter is currently working on and meet the family that owns it (and who they have become good friends with). That was pretty fun. The family has quite a few animals and they live on a farm and my kids thought it was great. Both Megan and Jaten absolutely loved holding the "REAL" (Megan's term) baby kittens. Thankfully there were two of them and they didn't seem to mind the attention.
 The family has two daughters who are also homeschooled and all the kids hit it off quite nicely.
Aaron walking one of the sheep and holding a kitten.

It was a quick trip but a fun one! We are so blessed to be able to travel here and there like that and get to see family!

Friday, September 21, 2012

I don't buy..... Toothpaste

That is at least, not for me. I do sometimes buy it for my wonderful husband as he is not so excited about trying alternative methods of doing things as I am.

As far as the kids..... Last year I decided to make up a special homemade toothpaste for them but they hadn't gotten used to it and weren't very fond of it and so I broke down and bought them a tube of regular toothpaste. Then (as this was around Christmas time) Ken (somewhat as a joke and not knowing that I had already bought them toothpaste) got them each a big tube. Anyway since we have always been frugal on the amount of toothpaste we use they are still using the store bought stuff. And I have no plans of breaking down and buying them store bought stuff again. I know that once you get used to it the homemade stuff tastes just fine and I have done more reading since then I am do not like what I read about regular toothpaste!

   The reason I first started thinking about alternatives for toothpaste was because I have long struggled with many canker sores in my mouth and I was getting very tired of it. Huge sores in your mouth make it so eating, tooth brushing even kissing and talking (not at the same time!) at times hurts quite badly. It can aid in weight loss (since you don't feel like eating) but that is about it. Anyway I decided I had better do some research to see what I could do so that I wouldn't have these anymore. In my research I found several things that can contribute - I can't remember now what all they were but one thing that kept coming up over and over was Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) which is found in toothpaste (nearly all) as well as oodles of other cleaning and personal products.

 Since then I have been trying to remove SLS from my life if at all possible. Toothpaste was an obvious place to start as it went in my mouth but I also stopped using shampoo, soft soaps (though currently I do have dishsoap which I think has it in it) laundry detergent and more. I do still get canker sores once in a while but I have them far less then I ever used to. And I am very thankful for that!

Here are some other sites that I found that talk about the dangers of SLS if you are interested in reading more: Livestrong and Natural Health Information.

 Another ingredient in most toothpastes and one that I don't really want to use is fluoride. Here are some posts about why we probably shouldn't be using that: An article at Global Healing Center and another from Schachter Center.

  So anyway, my top reason for going alternative on toothpaste is for the sake of good health. My alternatives however have also been more frugal as well and on top of that they cause me to have less waste with them as well. I don't have though little useless tubes to throw away anymore.


If I don't buy toothpaste then what do I do?

What I did first was simply use baking soda. I would just dip my rinse toothbrush into the dry powder, it would pick some up and I would brush. It tasted nasty at first but I soon got used to it and I don't mind it at all now. There are some concerns however with that method that if you do that all the time you will wear enamel off of your teeth. So I still do that some but I also have mixed together a homemade "Toothpaste". I mixed together Baking Soda, Salt, Coconut Oil, Peppermint Oil and Truvia (Steevia) to make a decent tasting paste that works well.  It lasts quite a while as you don't need to use a lot.

 I have also occasionally brushed with just a bit of tea tree oil to prevent against gingivitis.

That is what I have done. I have also thought about trying Hydrogen Peroxide rinse to again help prevent against gingivitis and whiten my teeth. I have also enjoyed reading about Black Walnut Shells and the possibly idea of remineralization. I really enjoyed reading about tooth care in "Be Your Own Doctor".  Keeper of the Home had an interesting article on this subject that I read a while back.

  This is a subject I continue to learn more about and try new things in. I don't feel like I have "arrived" and have the toothcare system for the rest of my life figured out but I feel I am making progress.

I would love to hear if you have tried any alternative methods in this area and if so what have you done? I always read every comment and I love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Decorating for Fall!

Our nature shelf
 Although it is still a few more days before Autumn officially begins it already seems like Autumn around here. I love Fall and I very much enjoy decorating for that season as well. The decorating seems to come about very naturally as we bring in lots of harvest from the garden and we need some place to put it and so until we use it it generally becomes part of the decorating around the house. Also we try to pick flowers before the frost so we have those to enjoy and then when we see other things like beautiful leaves and cute little acorns it is pretty hard to resist bringing some of them in the house as well.

 First stop with decorating was our nature shelf under our family picture. On it are various nature items that we have found: A turkey feather from my parents woods, acorns, colorful corn, some (empty) honeycomb and....
 This cute little guy that Mara made. She made some last year as well and we totally love the jolliness of them!

When I was working at decorating I wanted a few more colorful leaves. The girls offered to go find some and the boys thought that sounded fun too.
 I already had the bouquet of lilies on the piano but a huge red leaf found by Aaron made it look even prettier!

 I decided it would be fun to make a harvest display. I started with an old tray (found free at a local thrift shop this summer) and a vase with rocks and a candle.

Then I added various goodies from our garden and some beautiful fall leaves.

I am loving the dry Indian corn that we grew this year!
 This makes a pretty addition to our entryway.

 One bunch of leaves is looking lovely in my office/craft room.
I added a colorful leaf to each place the curtains are tied back. I think it looks nice.

 Do you like decorating for Autumn? Do you use stuff from nature for your seasonal decorating? I would love to hear about what you do!

I am linking this post up to Fall around the House at the Inspired Room.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bringing in the Harvest before the Frost

 The end of the garden season is basically here. Frosts are starting to come around here. Last week a couple of light frosts caught me unaware.  Thank-fully they were light so the didn't hurt much of the fruit (though many tomatoes were ruined and the basil is all shriveled up) but many of the plants had died. Tonight another frost is predicted and I decided that it was time to pretty much clean out the garden.

  When I headed out I asked Jonathan and Megan to come and help me as neither one seemed to busy. It was quite nippy out (I was wearing 3 layers on top) and Megan came out dressed like this:
She seemed to think that the addition of a scarf would keep her warm.

Jonathan wasn't all that excited about working outside this afternoon so after I dug a few (volunteer) potatoes I sent him in to scrub them for our supper. He enjoys working in the kitchen more than the garden generally.
We don't grow our own potatoes as we are able to glean them but it was fun to have some volunteers this year that we could dig up. (They came up around our compost bin.) It is quite nice to have them as we did run out of potatoes already and haven't gleaned more yet for this year.

 Our sunflowers grew this year to the tallest height that we have ever had. They tower far above our heads. Sunflowers are very fun!

 This year we grew some corn for grinding that is colorful. We are totally loving looking at all the variety! We are curious if we are going to have some very pretty cornbread once we grind it up. We didn't harvest much of that today as we figure the frost will only help it to dry more.
 Megan did mind some warmer clothes to wear and had fun helping to pick things in the garden. She was all excited to find a small squash and can't wait to eat it. I really will have to remember to fix it for her. Since Ken and I don't like squash eaten as a vegetable (we love it however in pies, breads and other desserts) I don't think to fix it for my kids but Megan and Jonathan really like it.
 Mara came out to help with the harvesting too. She loves harvesting as much as I do.
 Megan's basket of goodies.
 Aaron helped to pick a bunch of tomatillas (which if you have any good ideas for using them all I would love to hear!) and some broccoli.

Today's haul:
 I don't think this end of season harvest is as big as it has been sometimes since we have had a dry year and problems with our sprinkler system but it is a nice lot of food added on top of a bunch of food that we have already harvested. We have been blessed! I think gardening is totally worth it!
Our supper was one of those simple and lovely meals that come mostly from the garden. We enjoyed the last of the corn on the cob, hamburger soup with tomatoes, onions, zucchini, potatoes and parsley from our garden (and garlic from my parents garden), homemade bread with honey butter (honey from our bees) and then tea made from mint and borage from our garden and sweetened with our honey. We also enjoyed a centerpiece of garden flowers.

We do still have carrots, some dry corn, cabbage and a few odds and ends to harvest but mostly the garden is done for the season. Sometimes it is hard to see a season end but all in all I do love the seasons!

How is your garden doing?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God's word is helpful for all of life!

This past week when I was reading the Bible aloud to the kids one morning I read Psalm 19. It is a very neat chapter and I enjoyed it but when I got to the last verse - one I have long known- the words of it really hit home and helped me.

They say:
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

The day I read it was a very busy one. I had wedding flowers to do this weekend (I ended up doing a couple because I knew both of the brides and I have a hard time saying "no".) and we were also going on a camping trip, to an annual church retreat that we try never to miss (I have only missed it 2 times since I was born) and Ken had just told me that he wasn't going to be able to go after all as he had way to much to do. I was feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed and when I get that way I can often say things that I will later regret.

 I was so thankful for this verse to remind me to make sure that what I said and what was going on in my heart was all pleasing to God.

I hope this verse encourages and helps you as well!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The making of forts and cousins who love the woods

 A couple of weeks ago my sister and her family drove up our way to visit and stayed over at my parents. We spent much of our time over there too.

 While we were there the kids (we each have 4 ) spent much of their time out in the woods making forts. We had a storm earlier this summer which knocked down a bunch of trees which is rather sad but it made some fun areas for the kids to make forts.

 The two oldest girls went way out in the goat pasture to make a fort (my parents have 40 acres) and the boys made another fort in another area of the pasture.

  I love to have our children being able to do things like this. Some of the benefits I see are:
  • Fresh air and exercise.
  • Learning to work together with others.
  • Skills such as wood cutting and building are practiced.
  • Creativity is used.
  • Dreaming is allowed.
  • Practicing survival skills and working with what you have.
I am sure there are many more benefits but those are a few I thought of quickly.

Here are some pictures I took of that time:
 Above is Bea admiring the "fire pit" the older girls had made.
 Mara and Megan climbing on a "wall" of the boys fort while checking it out.
 Gregory up in a wall area of the boy's fort.
 Gregory (half of him anyway) and Aaron in a bedroom.

One night the 6 of the kids decided to stay out in the forts while Bea and Megan came to our house to sleep. The younger two boys ended up deciding to stay in the cabin and then were bribed with snacks and stories to stay in the house at Grandpa and Grandma's but the oldest 4 kids did go and stay in their forts.

   I hear that Jonathan and Margaret slept fine but the oldest two (Maybe because they felt they were in charge?) didn't sleep so great. When I came out the next day both of them were just laying around reading while the others were busy doing things outside.

 Megan and Bea at our house thought that a blanket fort would be fun to sleep in so one was created in our living room.
Oh what fun it is to spend time with cousins. This weekend we are going camping with these cousins, as well as other family and friends. We are all looking forward to many more fun times!

  Do your kids make forts? Did you have fun making them as a child?


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