Friday, June 29, 2012

I don't buy..... Weed Killer

I have a neighbor who always has a pretty nice looking (pretty weed free) garden. When I complimented him on it he shared his secret: Before you plant spray everything down with an herbicide. Well I would rather find a different route to eliminate weeds.
Weeds are something that I struggle with not having but I have found something that does help a lot however to keep weeds at bay and that is using mulch.
 My most often used type of mulch is simply several layers of newspaper spread done with weeds (shake off the dirt) on top.

Over time it breaks down and so throughout the summer I keep added more layers on. It is not perfect but it is free, I can do it a little at a time and it is pretty natural.

 I do also use black tarps (free from the lumberyard - where they would through them away) around many of my plants.
For pathways I use strips of carpet.

We still have weeds in our garden but these methods do help a lot to reduce how many.

Another great method is to hoe and pull!
What do you do to reduce weeds in your garden?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A new dress for Mara

This past week Mara and I had fun fixing up a "new" dress for her.

We used....
A t-shirt that we got for free and a dress that I had bought while in college.

She didn't like buttons down the front so I cut the skirt off the top and then cut the buttons off the skirt and sewed that place together as the back seam.

Next I cut the t-shirt shorter and sewed the skirt onto it.
Then we added a white ribbon belt.
On the belt we put a little flower made out of leftover t-shirt fabric and a button.

More flowers were placed around the neckline.
My Mara girl is happy with her new dress.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Rag Rug for June {Made by Jonathan}

I didn't have a chance to finish a rug this month but Jonathan did. After cutting many strips for me for other rugs he asked me if he could use some strips to make one himself. I said sure and so he got busy and crocheted one.
The unique thing about his is that he didn't use a crochet hook- he just used his fingers. I thought it was pretty creative. It is pretty loose too so I am not sure about it's sturdiness but I think it is neat.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trust and Obey

This past week I was reading aloud to the kids from 2 Chronicles and I came upon a story that I didn't really remember. I have read through the Bible several times but I still love to read it and constantly learn from it. The story that I am talking about is in 2 Chronicles 20 which is during the time of the divided kingdom. Jehoshaphat was king of Judah at that time.

  Here is the main just of the story....

Now it came about that those from Moab, Ammon and some other places decided to join together and make war against the country of Judah. Reports of this came to King Jehoshaphat telling him about this great multitude that was coming. Jehoshaphat was afraid.

 What did he do when he was afraid? He sought the Lord and he proclaimed a fast throughout Judah. So all the people came together and together they sought God's help.

  Jehoshaphat prayed a very neat prayer which talks about many mighty things that God had done and the trust that He could still do mighty things and the admission that they themselves were powerless but that God was powerful.  (I encourage reading the whole thing which is in 2 Chronicles 20:5-13)

  Then a prophet of God spoke to the people. He told them not to be afraid because the battle was not theirs but God's. He told them to go to a certain spot the next day and that they wouldn't need to fight but rather just stand there and watch how God can save you. "Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you."

The people worshiped the Lord.

The next morning they got up early and headed out. As they went Jehoshaphat told them: "Put your trust in God and you will be established. Give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness is everlasting." The people started singing and praising and then the Lord caused the enemy to turn on itself. They destroyed one another. The people from Judah didn't have to lift a finger but none of the enemy escaped.

There are many things that I find incredibly neat about this story.
  1. That though the situation looked impossible and they were afraid their first reaction was to seek God's help.
  2. That God asked them to trust Him. He didn't say "Go hide and I will get rid of your enemy" instead He told them to go stand out there where they were very obvious and would get crushed if God didn't do something.
  3. The people were willing to trust Him and obey. Not only did they do what He said to do put all the while they praised Him in song and even in the way they dressed and they thanked Him.
  4. God won the battle in a way that would have been nearly impossible to imagine happening.
I just love the lesson in this story of trusting and obeying. There is so many times that we have the opportunity to do this in our life and often we fail. Just imagine how much God can do in our lives if we would always look to His word the Bible and trust Him and obey it no matter if it is what everybody else is doing, no matter if it is something that is comfortable or easy for us. Lets just do it!

Lately I have been reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom aloud to the kids and there are many times in there that they have to simply put their trust in God- there is nothing else they can do. It is amazing how God can work when we trust Him!

Friday, June 22, 2012

MOMumental by Jennifer Grant {Book Review}

   This Spring I received the book "MOMumental - Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family" by Jennifer Grant. This book was easy reading and entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times. Jennifer has an interesting writing style and an interesting story. Growing up in a broken home she desperately wanted to have a family and be a wonderful wife and mother but wondered if that could ever happen since she hadn't seen that in her own growing up years.

  Through the book she talks about growing from the idea that she needed to do everything perfectly in parenthood to realizing that God can use us even in our imperfectness. The book talks a lot about relaxing and not worrying. If you are stressed about the role of motherhood and are afraid that you might be doing everything wrong - this might be the book for you.

  One of the things that she talks about that I have worked toward but want to work on some more is saying "yes" more often. Sometimes it seems like we just get used to saying "no" to our children. Oftentimes it isn't that difficult to say yes (like yes you may camp outside tonight, yes we can cook supper over the fire in the back yard, yes you can have your naptime on the couch instead of your bed, etc.) and we can enjoy some fun times together.


About the Author

Jennifer Grant is mother to four children and author of Love You More: The Divine
Surprise of Adopting My Daughter (2011). For more than a decade she wrote for papers in
the Sun-Times newsgroup. Currently she freelances for the Chicago Tribune and is a
regular contributor to hermeneutics, Christianity Today magazine's blog for women. Grant
is a Wheaton College graduate who received her master's in English and Creative Writing
from Southern Methodist University. She lives outside of Chicago, IL.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I don't buy..... Cereal

  Sometimes I think I might be coming to the end of this series on what "I don't buy" because I have trouble thinking of what to write about but then I will rack my brain and think of something else or as in this case someone will remind me of something else that I don't buy.

  A reader of this blog wrote the other day wondering what I did about cereal. I have never bought it much as I wasn't used to having cereal as my parents didn't buy it while I was growing up. For a while though I did get in the habit of buying it now and then when I found a coupon and a sale that went together. I am back to the not buying it though. For one thing I just haven't been couponing very much at all but part of the reason I haven't been couponing is also because I decided that a lot of the things I got with coupons where premade foods like cereal that I really didn't think we necessarily a healthy edition to our diet (though I did often get Kashi cereal which is somewhat healthy, but still...) and so I am back to my homemade breakfasts.

Breakfast can be a challenging meal. Often it is a hurried one as people need to go somewhere. Since we homeschool I am sure our mornings are more relaxed than many but we do still eat with Ken before he heads off to work so breakfast does have to be done in good time. On weekday and Sunday mornings making a breakfast that takes an hour or so is just not an option. My goal is to be able to make breakfast in 10-30 minutes (usually around 15).

   So my general morning routine is to get up and dress (I shower at night), have my quiet time with God and then wake up the kids and make breakfast. Since I don't prefer to get up super early the breakfasts need to be quick.

Here are the ones that work for us. I am listing them in regards to the amount of time they take me to get breakfast on the table.

10 minutes (give or take a little)

  • Oatmeal. This I do try to soak the night before. We love it with fruit, honey and milk or we like even more if we have cream to go on it. (This isn't a breakfast Ken prefers - as he likes to have quite a bit of protein- so we eat this more the times he has to miss our family breakfast or if we have some sort of breakfast leftover that he likes and then we enjoy our oatmeal.)
  • Eggs and Toast. I generally have homemade bread on hand at all times which we make toast out of and put peanut butter and jam on top. For quick breakfasts we make scrambled eggs (usually with cheese and sometimes with baked potato cut up in it, leftover fried hamburger or veggies) which I scramble right in the pan as I cook them.
  • Breakfast Burritos.
  • Granola (made in advance of course).
  • Cornmeal mush (which honey and milk or if we are eating it with fried eggs then I like butter and salt and pepper on it.
  • Homemade Cream of Wheat. This is made be simply by boiling water and then stirring in my coarsely ground wheat flour and cooking a little. We eat this with honey and milk or real maple syrup makes another wonderful sweetener. (This is another Kids and me sort of breakfast.)
  • Homemade baked goods like muffins or cinnamon rolls if they are made the day before or another time. Sometimes I will make a lot and then freeze them. This is usually paired with eggs.

  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt / smoothies
  • Granola Bars (made previously)

15 minutes

  • Pancakes with peanut butter and syrup (most of us like the real maple syrup and one holds out for what we call the fake stuff.)
  • Crepes with fresh fruit
  • Fried eggs with toast or some other bread.
  • Golden egg on toast (if I boil the eggs the day before).
  • Boiled Eggs (with something else)

25 minutes

  •  Hash browns (with eggs) - Kens favorite.
  • Cooked rice with honey, cinnamon and milk.
  • Biscuits and gravy

    30 minutes or more
  • Coffee Cake with cheese slices and fruit (I do have a recipe where you can mix it up the night before and then refrigerate it before baking).
  • Pumpkin Pudding with whipped cream
  • Doughnuts
  • Fresh baked goods like muffins, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin or zucchini bread.
  • Puff pancake with fruit
  • Waffles (the family loves waffles but these do take a while and I struggle with having a waffle iron that works well without sticking).

Those are our breakfasts and what has worked well for us instead of buying cold cereal. It is much cheaper and better for us so I am always happy about that.

What do you all do for breakfasts? I do truly enjoy hearing new ideas!

I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy by Dannah Gresh {Book Review}

I was privileged to be asked to review the book "Six ways to keep the "Good" in your boy" by Dannah Gresh. When I said "yes" to reading and reviewing it I had no idea what this book would be like. Some parenting books I find very shallow and some I simply don't agree with - this one I really enjoyed, found it encouraging and helpful and I recommend it.

  Reading this one was perfect timing for me as I have boys ages 8 and 10 and this book is to help you with "guiding your son from his tweens to his teens". This book is not just written by Dannah but also her husband Bob. They realize the very important role that a dad plays in the life of any child but especially sons and so they both give there input.

  For the first while in the book they talk a lot about having a connection with your son and how important that is. She points out that the Bible emphasizes connectedness- check out Duet. 11:18-19 where it talks about teaching them, walking and talking and spending time together also Prov. 22:6 where we are instructed to train our children. Research shows that your child is less likely to experience at-risk behaviors if they experience parent-child connectedness. They also will be more likely to experience positive, pro social behavior.

 To connect with our son important things are: Physical touch, communicating, having fun together and sharing experiences. I am sure there are more but that is some of the things that I remember right now. I do feel blessed to feel quite connected to my boys (and my girls) but I think I can always work to make that relationship better. My being at home with them and homeschooling them is a huge help but I could do that and still not have a good connected relationship. That we have to work on. One thing that we do that I believe has really contributed to feeling connected is our habit of me reading aloud to our kids every day. We all sit on the couch together where we are physically touching and close, I read out loud and we learn together, we laugh together and sometimes we (well me mainly) cry together if something is touching. We also end up getting into lots of discussions (It might be the Bible that prompts discussion or other books we are reading like our current book "The Hiding Place") which cause us to know one another better. Camping as a family has been another great way for us to form connections.

But I had better stop talking so much or this post will get super long! I will briefly share her six ways to keep the "good" in your boy and then if you have boys I really recommend you finding this book and reading it for your self.

Way #1 : Get him outside to play.
With this I heartily concur as boys need some wilderness (perhaps just the woods behind your house) to concur. They can learn a lot about life from the outdoors. They can release some of that testosterone that needs some outlet.  Outdoor play is something I have long encouraged and my boys truly love so this one is an easy one for us.

Way # 2: Give him a book so he can discover a real "Call of Duty".
In this section she stresses the importance of reading to help him out in school and in life. She also talks about the danger of gaming which has become very popular in our current times. She encourages us to give him books that push him to be more than he is. If you look there are a lot of books that do this. We have been privileged to read several lately and we have been blessed because of it. This is another easy one for us as we LOVE books and decided not to bring gaming into our house quite some time ago.

Way # 3: Host wing nites and fantasy football parties.
This section is about boys need to have adventure and do "manly" things and how important it is for boys to have their dads in there life (and if a dad is not available make sure there is someone how can take his place is some ways at least.)
This was a good section and reminded me of how thankful I am that my boys have a dad that is very involved in their lives as well as having a Grandpa nearby that they get to spend a lot of time with, a Granddad who though he lives far away tries to see them and visit with them and spend quality time with them when possible as well as many wonderful uncles and other great men at church who spend time with them. They are indeed very blessed!

Way #4: Celebrate his entrance into manhood.
What they talk about here is the importance of talking with them about body changes, sex, and the challenges that society will present in that area. Talking about the importance of purity and doing things God's way. She stresses that it is very important to talk to them before somebody else does.
This is something that we have done some but honestly I don't find it easy and neither does Ken. This is something that we need to work on. Talking about things like this has come up pretty naturally at times when we see things in our society that aren't right - we don't try to hide what is in front of their face (people living together before marriage for example) but rather discuss what the Bible does say about those things. Reading the Bible together also gives many opportunities for discussions.

Way #5: Unplug him from a plugged in world.
Her main discussion here is concerning the danger of pornography online but she also just encourages us to make sure that they aren't living in world made basically only up of screens where they don't spend that time with God, you or others like they should. She also talks about the importance of Internet filters. Our kids spend very little time online - the only option they have is our PC and that use is very limited so this isn't a big issue for us but I do think it is an important one. One thing that I did think about more after reading this is the importance of having a better filter system so bad things don't just pop up.

Way #6 : Let him open the car door for you.
This is about teaching your son to be a gentlemen. Some good thoughts here!
I can learn from this.

Have you ever read this book before? What were your thoughts?

I would love to hear your thoughts in general on what I wrote here, what you have found useful in raising good boys and more. I look forward to hearing from you!

Disclaimer: I received this book free for purposes of reviewing. The thoughts written are my own and I was not paid for writing this.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Laundry thoughts and tips

 This week (tomorrow) for our Homemakers Group we are planning a discussion on laundry. Since the majority of people are not nudists (for which I am VERY thankful!) laundry is something that affects us all. I was visiting with a friend after church yesterday morning about this subject and we both agreed that getting clothes through the washer and dryer (or in my case I also really enjoy hanging them on the line) is not difficult. The challenge for us lies in getting them folded and put away. It isn't that we dislike doing it, it just seems to take a while and there are so many other things we could be doing. So one of the goals for me is to make it fun for me and try to get others to help as well.

 I thought I would share my ways of dealing with laundry and then I am really hoping that you will share what works for you as that way I can share even more ideas tomorrow at our homemakers group.

Abbi's Laundry Tips

~ In my opinion we need to start the discussion by talking about how much dirty laundry actually gets created. Though we do like to be clean and neat around here I do not generally like it when a child wants to change clothes several times a day or another like that. Here are some basic principles we follow so that we don't have an excess of laundry:
  • When children are young and still make a huge mess at mealtimes (mine are past that stage now but we did do this) they wear bibs or aprons.
  • If I am going to bake or do a lot of cooking I will often wear an apron.
  • We re wear clothes especially things like jeans/pants/skirts another day if they don't look dirty.
  • We use bath towels for a week before washing them. My thought is this- you are clean when you dry off and then we hang the towels up neatly on a rack to dry, it isn't like they get really dirty.
  • When I spend little bits of time each day out in the garden (and I like to kneel so I get my knees dirty every time) I usually have a pair of old gardening jeans that I will wear nearly all week long. I put them on when I go out and then change back to my nicer clothes when I come back in and neatly fold my gardening pants up (dirty knees together) and put them on a special shelf that I have for them in my bathroom.
Stuff that I use:

  • A heavy duty, super capacity washer. I usually run 6-8 full loads per week.
  • A large dryer. In the summer I use this generally for 2 loads per week.
  • An iron and ironing board which I use as little as possible!
  • A lint remover brush.
  • A clothesline that is simply strung between trees in my backyard. It isn't fancy but it works.
  • Clothespins.
Collecting and Sorting Laundry:

We have hampers in every bedroom, the upstairs bathroom and the laundry room. Everybody (except Megan who is still in training) is pretty good about putting their stuff in the hamper. On laundry days (Mondays and Thursdays at our house) we bring them all to the laundry room and sort by making piles on the floor. I am not a terribly particular sorter but I generally have a jeans pile, a colored pile (with sometimes the dressier/more delicate items separated out) and a pile with things I want to wash on hot like underwear, handkerchiefs, socks and such.

Treating Stains:

 One of the big things about stains is catching them right away. I know that doesn't always work but it sure is nice if you can. When we catch it right away (and even when we don't) with most things we just stick the offended place in water and rub it hard with bar soap (Zote being my favorite for this).  For set stains I will try soaking them in warm water with oxygen bleach. It doesn't always work but it often does. This is very good for whitening things too. For ink stains I spray with hairspray or treat with rubbing alcohol.

Washing and Drying:
What I do here is just your normal use of a washer, dryer or clothesline except I don't use fabric softener except sometimes I will use vinegar instead and I don't even use dryer sheets. The friend that I was visiting with and I have found that if you don't over dry your clothing that you don't generally have static issues and I have never had static problems with clothes hung on the line.

  I do generally use the dryer for all of Ken's dress shirts and we buy the no iron type so that we can take them straight out of the dryer (you do have to get them immediately when it stops) and hang them up and then I can skip ironing. For the rest of our dress clothes I try to find things that don't need ironing if possible.

  To use the clothesline you do of course need to observe the weather and try to find a sunny and windy day. Sometimes my laundry schedule gets off because of this. Sometimes I don't hit it right and my clothes still get rained on. I dont' worry about it- I just figure they got an extra rinse.

Folding clothes:

I don't feel the need to explain the how so much but I thought I would share the things we do so that it does stay more interesting and enjoyable.

  • Fold them as you take them off the line. I like this (when I have time and am not taking them down in the dark!) because I am outside, listening to the birds sing or hearing the bees buzz, seeing the flowers and sometimes hearing the high school marching band practice as well as seeing my children play.
  • Fold while saying your memory work. We did that this morning (the kids and I working together) and we were able to fold 5 loads of clothes while reciting Hebrews 11 and the book of James.
  • Listen to story CDs while you work.
  • Call a friend and visit while you fold. That is if you don't mind balancing a telephone on your shoulder or have a hands free set.
  • Have races- play games.
  • When I have the kids fold by themselves they like to talk Mara into telling them a story while they work.
  • My friend said she liked to fold while watching a movie. I have done that a couple of times while we watched a movie as a family.
Put them away promptly! I don't always do this and then I dislike seeing the clutter of piles of clothes. It doesn't take long to put them away- lets just do it. My kids now put their own clothes away though with the younger two (especially Megan) we are still working on neatness.

What are your laundry tips? I would really love to hear them!

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

Sunday, June 17, 2012


   Happy Father's Day to any of you fathers that might read my blog now and then!

 What a huge blessings Fathers are! I am so thankful to have a wonderful father, be married to a loving and fun father for my children and most of all to be loved by my heavenly Father! I can't imagine life without fathers.

  Thinking of fathers made me think of these verses:

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your Father and Mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Ephesians 6:1-4
 One thing that I am very thankful for to my father is how implicitly he followed verse 4. I don't think there was ever a time when did something to cause us to get angry and he certainly did the best he could (and I think he did a pretty good job) to bring us up knowing Jesus and striving to follow Him. It is my prayer that all fathers would strive to follow this verse.

I feel privileged to have the earthly father that I have but a far greater privilege is God's willingness to be my Father. This scripture explains it so well:

  There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He come to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:9-13

What a blessing this is! Have you chosen to be God's child?

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Don't Buy.......Buttons

  I enjoy sewing and crafting using buttons. If I were to buy all the buttons that we use we could end up spending quite a bit as last time I check buttons weren't all that cheap. There are easy ways to come by buttons however. I did get quite a lot of buttons from my Grandma so that has been my collection pretty large but I have collected quite a few on my own as well.

  Here are some economical resources for buttons:

  • Cut them off of worn out clothes (The clothes that I turn into rag rugs and such I also collect the buttons from).
  • Find them at garage sales and thrift stores. Sometimes you can find collections of notions and such which include buttons.
  • Receive them from others that see you making things and have them hanging around unused at their place.
  Something that is required here however is being willing to work with what you have. I can remember a couple of times I went out and bought buttons because I wanted something in particular but almost always I use what I have.

Do you have a button collection? (They are very fun!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our family- A Unit

 When I was growing up my family did pretty much everything together. During much of my childhood my Dad even worked from home and we were able to see him whenever we wanted throughout the day and we ate every meal as a family (as we kids were also homeschooled). If someone had a friend they were the whole family's friend (generally we were friends with other families but we very much enjoyed time with single people too).  I loved growing up that way!

In our family (Ken and I and our children) we aren't all together quite to that extent because though Ken does owns his own insurance agency he works at an office in town, and also Ken and I do have "couple getaways" more often then my parents (they basically never did)  but we do try to do most things as a family unit.

  This concept of doing things "as a family" is very important to me. The Bible talks a lot about the family and its importance. God even compares his relationship with us to a father and his children and he compares Jesus relationship with the church to a bride and her groom. In our culture there have been many attempts to tear down the importance of the family whether it be by trying to redefine marriage or by just making us so busy with all the different things that one person can be apart of that we are hardly ever together as a family that the family falls apart.

  I know in my family (my parents and siblings) we have been very blessed with close relationships and a joy of working together. That has continued on into our adulthood. It is my hope and prayer that my family now (Ken and I and our children) will have the same sorts of relationships and I think we will.

   Some of the benefits that I see in doing things together as a family are:
  • Being able to train our children the way we think is right. We spend more time with them (by far) than any other person.
  • Being able to work together and accomplish more. A family is a built in team - nearly always a team can accomplish more than just one person. This is true with homestead activities, church ministry, political activism and more.
  • Learning together. We would never learn nearly all that we do if we didn't have each of us living and spending time together - all of us with different passions and talents. I absolutely love the way that we learn from each other! Exploring new subjects together is much more fun and interesting than doing it by myself (social me speaking here - I suppose not everybody feels that way).
  • Love and friendship. A good family is needed emotionally. If people don't have a good biological family they generally try to fill that void elsewhere. I truly love to spend time with my husband and children (and my parents and siblings).
  • Being able to work with, play with and appreciate people no matter if they are the same age as "me" or not.
 So how, in today's culture, can we do what we do as a family?

  • For our family we made the choice for me to be a stay at home mom. This obviously does impact that amount of money we can make as I would guess I probably could have a well paying job if I would have worked towards that. We have preferred to live more frugally and live on Ken's income. I have done things here and there to help earn some money (teaching music lessons here at home and running a home business of doing wedding flowers) but for the most part we live on one income. I much prefer more time with my kids over more money.
  • We made the decision to homeschool. This is a huge blessing to our lives and something I am very, very thankful for.
  • We have chosen not to enroll our kids in all sorts of various sports, music lessons, and other extra curricular activities. It isn't that we are completely opposed to them in fact we have been considering a few ideas over this past year but for the most part we prefer to do things as a family rather than everybody going a different direction. I am a very reluctant "soccer mom"- I will do a LOT of thinking and praying before getting involved with anything that is just for one person and requires a lot of running. We did try T-ball/ Little League one year for the boys but after having to run them 4 mornings a week for 6 weeks I was thoroughly burnt out- the next year we organized a get-together of families to play baseball one evening a week and it has been a great success. We go as a family (rather than me having to take the kids while Ken was at work) and the kids play together with the dads pitching and coaching and the moms organizing and visiting. It is very family friendly and we love it!
  • Ken and I are very politically involved which does sometimes take us away from the kids (though at those times they stay with my parents which they love) but a lot of times we enjoy doing our political activities as a family. I hold meetings at my house so that my kids can still be with me, we walk in parades as a family, we door knock as a family and so on. Our kids are getting an extra dose of government class in their education.
  • We make sure to eat meals together. It doesn't matter if Ken is late getting home from work- we wait for him. It doesn't matter what time he leaves in the morning (it can vary as he does sometime have early meetings to attend) most of the time we eat breakfast together as a family. Ken isn't home for lunch on weekdays but the rest of us sit down and eat together.
  • We work together. If either Ken or I have a project to work on (though when either of us have to work on the computer for our business that doesn't work so well to involve the kids) we try to involve the kids if we can. They learn about gardening, yard work, home repair, sewing and such because they help us.
  • We have set aside one evening a week for a night when just our family does something fun together. Other nights we have church or work on something or do something with others but one evening is set aside for our family. This was Ken's idea which at first I wasn't sure if I really saw the need for but I have been very thankful for it.
  • We like to camp together. I think this can be a very good bonding experience. :-)

I have been thinking on this subject lately because I have been seeing a revived trend of people appreciate and enjoying activities that they can do as a family. I am excited about that because I think it is a good thing for the state of our country.

  Here are some various family friendly activities that I have seen people enjoying lately:

-Our homeschool group (which we hold monthly throughout the school year) has been very well received and appreciated by many. We have chosen not to split up age wise for our activities and that has worked well for us.

-My younger sister and her husband and children have started doing something new this summer and that is opening their home every Sunday after church for whoever wants to come over for a potluck meal. That has become quite well attended and enjoyed by all that are able to go. I haven't personally been able to attend because they live in North Carolina but I think it sounds fun.

- Our new homemakers group we have made open to Women AND their children. We have been very pleased with the attendance so far and I think it is attractive to women because they don't have to leave their children at home.

- Our family friendly baseball games every week have been well attended and we have been told over and over how much they enjoy these relaxed games where the whole family can have fun together.

All of these activities are pretty simple in nature, the family is welcome and we are finding that people really like that.

Do you like to do things "As a family"? Do you have any favorite activities to do together?

I thought it would be fun to share pictures of our cute kids taken at our Homeschool group's end of year program:
Orville Wright (Jonathan) and  a WW1 nurse- who's hat fell off (Megan)
In the middle with the black hat stands a general from the war of 1812 (Aaron)

A Suffragette (Mara)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

May God be glorified - in our homes and everywhere!

Last week we got started with our homemakers group. We had a very nice turnout and had a good time together. We are trying to start each meeting with a sharing a Bible verse (or more) that might somehow encourage us in our role as homemakers. This past week I read from Proverbs 31 (surprise, surprise!) and this week my friend Emily is going to share a verse.

    During my Bible reading times I started keeping an eye out for verses that would be good to share at these meetings. Last week I was reading the book of 1 Peter to the kids and when I read 1 Peter 4:7-11 I thought how well that was written to encourage my in my role as a homemaker.
It says:

"The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgement and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

So many of these admonitions seem to fit perfectly to my role as a homemaker.
~Prayer is needed in all walks of life and certainly in my role as wife and mother and caretaker of our home.
~ Love is a necessary part of a happy home.
~We are encouraged here to be hospitable - again something that starts in the home.
~God gives us special gifts - we need to use them to serve others- our husband, our children and whoever else we come in contact with.
~We need to speak the way God wants us to. Sometimes the people who in our home are the easiest ones for us to say unkind things to (since we know them well) - lets remember to say what God would want us to say.
~Let's serve one another in our homes. God gives us the strength- we need to look to Him to receive it.

Over all.... no matter where we go or what we are doing lets strive to glorify our great God!

Traveling on the Mississippi

 Living in Northern MN we are exceedingly blessed to have so many various opportunities to spend time out in nature. God is an amazing Creator and I love getting to look and and explore what He has made.

  Ken has been wanting for a while to canoe down the first part of the Mississippi again - we did it with a group from church the summer we were engaged- and so Memorial day weekend seemed like one of the only times open during the Spring. I had wedding flowers to deliver on Saturday so we decided we would leave on Sunday after church and then canoe on Monday and Tuesday too. Our children were able to stay at my parents and they loved that.

Our friend Heidi road with us to Lake Itasca and then took our van back. Off we went.....
 We started out going across part of the lake (at around 2 pm) until we got to the start of the actual river. We had to portage across the rocks at the mouth of the river.
 The beginning of the Mississippi is very narrow and very shallow. Ken walked the canoe along while I walked on the pathway beside. The day was a bit chilly and rain was threatening and I didn't really feel like getting in the river. After a bit I climbed in the canoe but that didn't last very long. This year the river was extremely low (we were hoping to find it higher when going in the Spring) and the canoe had to be walked most of the time for the first mile or so. Oh well!
 We did finally get to be in the canoe and paddle along but before long we came to the tiny falls and needed to portage around it.

After the falls there were a lot of small rapids and lots of rocks and sandbars, with the water so low it made for some interesting canoeing. We did truly enjoy the beauty.
 The campsite that we had figured we would stay at was 17 miles down the river. It took us a bit longer than we hoped and we didn't get there until after the sun set (and after 9 pm) thankfully it wasn't truly dark yet! We sure were ready for supper when we arrived. Ken had purchased canned beef stew (normally I never buy premade soups/stews - but Ken likes this for camping) and it did taste good!
 There used to be a pump at this campsite but it was now gone. We were thankful that Ken had purchased a water filter. I also had water purification tablets and activate charcoal along but we didn't need them.

Ready for another day of canoeing!

 On our second day we had a lot of swamp land to go through. I have never seen so many water fowl (mallard ducks and other varieties of ducks, Canadian geese, a swan and more) in my life. A couple of time we saw duck mothers and a goose mother with their babies and I felt horrible because they would try to go ahead of us to get away and every time the mother would leave her babies behind and with the babies (6 or so of them) all spread out over the river. I sure hope they found them all after the finally gave up and let us pass them.
 We like our maps!  We got out and rested for a bit in the afternoon at another campsite along the way.
 We got in at much better time on Monday evening after going around 21 miles.
 Waterproof bags are very nice for canoeing.
 It is always fun to see what edibles are available along the way. Here is some plantain.
 Tuesday turned out to be a bit more rainy. Thankfully we were prepared. I don't have any rain pants but a tarp lap blanket worked nicely.
 The view of the river winding through the swamp at our campsite.
 Ken in the back of the canoe.
 And me in the front. I enjoyed canoeing through the woods but that got interesting when we found a bunch of log jams.
Ken climbing over a log that was in the middle of the river. I had to get out too and then we pulled the canoe over.

We were going to cross over lake Irving to get to lake Bemidji to quit our trip but I didn't like the white caps on Lake Irving so we ended up quiting there instead.

Our total trip was around 62 miles. We had a fun time exploring and spending time together. We hope to take the kids on another section of the Mississippi later this summer.


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