Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cabinet Door Handles and Workers We Appreciate

One of the accomplishments for this week was getting handles put on our cabinet doors both in the kitchen and the main floor bathroom (for the other bathrooms we choose to go without handles). This was really nice to get done as the doors and drawers are nearly a full overlay and it was sometimes a little challenging to open them without handles.

 Our cabinet guy, Bob, came to put on the handles and he also did so final trim work on the cabinets to make them look just perfect - meeting the seams where the counter-top was put on. He also fixed up some places on a bathroom counter-top where there was a little gap between the counter and the wall. He definitely does his job well. I was reminded yet again how blessed we have been with the many different people working on our house. Though I admit sometimes things take a little longer than we hope we have really had some friendly, fun to be around and hard working people working on our house. They are skilled in their work and we are blessed to have their service.

  We also worked on getting shelves, poles and boards for hooks to go on stained and varnished for putting in all our closets. It will be lovely when we get that done as it will help bring a lot of order to this house.

  Ken has also been working as he has time on our living room window seat. We went and purchased the rest of what we needed today and now I have some staining and varnishing to do. We are having storage compartments in the seat so it has definitely been a project but it will be very nice to have!

   Our contractor is shooting to get the interior of the house done this next week - that will be very exciting!! There are some things that we are doing that we are still waiting on things for (such as our outlet covers) but we will try to work hard to get things done too. We have company coming in February and I would love to have the inside done by the time they come.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Homeschool Highlights - Vex Robotics

Jonathan and Team-mates ready to compete at the Tournament.

 A week ago we were down in Saint Cloud, MN attending a Robotics tournament on Friday and Saturday. Jonathan is in a Robotics club and they went to State which was pretty fun. In his robotics club they get a kit (a business sponsors them and provides the kit and the fees to enter the tournaments which is really nice) from which they are supposed to make a robot that will perform various tasks. They are not given instructions they just get to use the supplies which are metal parts, screws, motors, wires and other things that I don't even know the names of to make a robot how ever they think will work best.

   This has been a great learning opportunity for Jonathan. He had already enjoyed working with gears and such and building things with Legos and tearing apart old machines/motors to try to work on them but this has taken things a step farther. This is not at all what Ken or I are good at (neither one of us is mechanically inclined) but Jonathan does seem to be and this has been a great fit for him.

  Here are some of the ways that kids learn in VEX Robotics:

  • They get to do hands-on work with gears, motors, servos and many things that I don't even understand but would be important to know should they go into a field such as engineering.
  • They learn about the importance of testing things. A robot might look good but will it actually do what it is supposed to do? Can it work fast enough? Is it durable to withstand a lot of use? And so forth.
  • They learn how to research. 
  • They learn how to work together with others - both in their teams and when they come to tournaments they have to be on alliances with others teams in their competing and learn to work with them.
  • They learn communication skills. Talking to other teams is very important for how these tournaments work. They also have to talk to the many judges that interview them.
  • They learn about keeping records. This is something that Jonathan's team struggles with but we are trying to encourage them in it. They can place better at tournaments if they have a good design notebook in which they keep track of the whole design process for their robot and why things worked or didn't work.
  • They learn marketing skills. They are supposed to figure out ways to promote their robot which will help them score better (this is something our team hasn't really tried to work on yet).
  • They learn about programming. They make the robot with an autonomous mode which means that they have to program it to be able to run with out them controlling it.
Over all we have found this to be a really great learning tool for Jonathan. 

There team did quite well at the tournament. They actually sat in first place for quite a while through the qualifying rounds which was pretty fun for them and for the families too. :-)

Here is a picture of Ken's phone showing Jonathan's team (Heartland Christian) sitting in first place.
At the end they were in 7th place but that was pretty good out of 60 teams.

 A neat thing at the tournament was that we ended up seeing a couple of my childhood friends from Southern, MN who I haven't really kept contact with for years but they were there with their boys who were in a team. The picture above shows Their boys' team with Jonathan's team getting ready for a match. For this matched those two teams were an alliance and had to work together. Their teams did quite well together and handily beat the other two teams.

  Have you all ever been involved with robotics in any way? What did you think of it?

What to Feed Your Company

   One of the big things that people think about when having company is "What will we eat?" Sometimes I think I don't dwell on this aspect enough as I tend to find decorating or thinking of things to do a little more exciting but generally we do figure out something to eat.
  We could of course always have fancy little appetizers and a five course meal to follow but most of us just don't live in that sort of reality. Maybe we will have that sort of thing for a fancy occasion that we spend a lot of time preparing for but for day to day hospitality that just generally isn't realistic. So don't let yourself feel bad for not having a fancy meal for your guests. Food is good (and if it isn't burnt or otherwise unpalatable that is a plus) but the real importance of hospitality is spending time with each other - not focusing on some great fancy meal.

 Pies are another example of something that is fun for special occasions but certainly not something we need to produce every time that we have company.

Okay- now for some ideas of practical food to serve to company. Things that taste good but don't leave us feeling stressed out and having blown our food budget.

  My mom is the first example I ever observed as a hostess and she was and is a good one. She doesn't cook fancy meals but they are tasty and she does a good job of preparing things in advance (something I am still trying to learn and apply in my life). Here are some of the foods that I associate with my mom:

  • Roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. This seemed to be an every Sunday meal of my childhood. She was able to put it in the oven before we left for church and then it would be ready when we got home. The smells when we arrived home were always delicious! At our place it was a goat roast as that is what my parents raise for meat. She also does the same thing with a chicken fairly often now. The beauty of this sort of meal on a Sunday is that lunch was always ready to go and so we could easily invite over somebody to eat with us after church.
  • Stir-fry.  This is another common meal of my Mom's. It is a good one for using up some of the produce from their bountiful garden and it tastes good too. She usually used cut up chicken but you could also use pork or beef chunks or whatever. Then she puts in cabbage, zucchini, onions, garlic, carrots and whatever other veggies might be available. Rice is easy to cook to go with it. Stir-fry isn't one to really cook in advance but you can have everything chopped up and in the fridge and ready to go. Or you can just assign everyone a job and work together to get your stir-fry made.
  • Mashed Potatoes with Chicken and Noodles (Homemade is definitely best! ) This is one of my Dad's favorites. This is another fairly simple meal (though making the noodles does complicate it a bit but you don't have to do that) and it uses basic inexpensive ingredients.
  • Biscuits and Gravy Good for breakfasts but it also works for a quick lunch or supper if you have unexpected guests.
My Grandma was another example for me in the art of hospitality. Some of the foods that I especially remember her serving were:

  • Goolash
  • Egg Bake
  • Cherry Chocolate Cake
  • Ice Cream (a very easy dessert!)
  • Sandwiches - There is nothing wrong with having a sandwich buffet for your guests.

Here are some foods that I have found nice and easy for when we have company:

  • Soup, Stew or Chili. This is something I tend to serve most when we have lunch company (when Ken is at work). I like to do it because it is pretty easy and can generally can be made ahead of time and then just sit simmering on the stove until we are ready to eat. I also tend to make it at these times as Ken isn't so fond of soup but I like it so we can eat it while he isn't there. For non-company lunches we usually just eat leftovers so I don't usually cook for that meal unless we are having company. That said soup (even to serve to company) can be a great way to use leftovers up - for instance roast can go into beef stew, taco meat into chili, leftover veggies or gravy can go in soup and so forth.
  •  Spaghetti This is just a nice meal to always have the ingredients on hand for as it is so quick and easy to throw together and most everyone likes it. So this tends to be my choice if life has been very busy or guests are spur of the moment.
  • Fruit like Watermelon is a nice and easy food to serve when company comes. 
  • Popcorn makes a nice snack if you have friends over to play in the afternoon. It is easy to keep on hand for whenever if might be needed and easy to fix.
  • Coffee Cake or Muffins with Scrambled Eggs tends to be one of my go to breakfasts if I have a bunch of company staying with us.
  • Chicken Rice Burritos is another recipe that I have used for company quite a few times.
  • Fresh Bread. One thing that I have found is most people seem to enjoy homemade fresh bread. So though some of us might find that normal (but still yummy) there are some people that hardly ever get it and fresh bread makes a nice addition to most any meal.
  • Homemade Pizza. 
 As I was writing this I realized that I really tend to vary our menu quite a lot when hosting company. It might make it easier for me if I would just stick with some of my tried and true recipes for company times - but alas that doesn't seem to be my style. :-)

  One thing I do know - if you are having company stay with you for an extended period of time (more than a day) than if you don't do this normally already then I would highly recommend having a menu for this time. It can ease so much stress to already have your meals figured out and all the ingredients on hand before the guests ever arrive. I admit that this doesn't always happen in my life but I sure prefer the times that it does.

  So.... I would really like to hear what you have found to be easy foods to serve to your guests that have also been well received. If you have links to recipes I would love it if you would share that as well! OR - what have you especially liked when you went to someone else's house?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Goals for Good Health -Getting to Bed on Time

This week is quickly flying by. I had hoped to post earlier but between a slow computer (we really need to get it in to get cleaned up and hopefully sped up!) and a lot of things that I and the kids needed to do on the computer blogging took a back seat.

  I have been however working on my goals for good health. Drinking water is going good! All of the kids and I are really getting better at drinking more water and making that a habit. I am pretty happy about that. Flossing is also going well. The charts that I printed out last week and been very helpful to remind and encourage the kids to do it. Stretching went okay. I did it most days but not on the weekend and I think the kids only stretched once or twice. We had a little sickness so I didn't want to push them when they weren't feeling so well. We will work to improve on that one.

  My goal for this week: Head to Bed (ideally be in bed) by 10:45 pm. In order to get my 8 hours of sleep I need to be to bed by that time. So I will be working on that.  I also want to work on making sure that the kids are in bed by at least 9:45 pm.

  Sleep is very important for staying healthy and especially needed by kids. Do you get enough sleep? What is your sleep schedule like? I would love to hear how you do it at your place.

  But right now, I had better head to bed!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Skating on the River

 Well, normally I try to do a house update on Saturdays. Though we have had progress this week I failed to take any pictures so I thought I would share some other pictures instead.

  Sometimes we need to take a break from working on the house and one that the kids have been enjoying some has been skating/playing on the river. We are not going out very far on the river as that makes me pretty nervous but near the edge the ice seems to be quite thick and so we have allowed them to create a skating area there.
 What fun to get out and play in the snow!
 Our part of the river is wide and without much current and so the ice seems to be pretty good.
 Megan had fun finding clear areas and looking down to see leaves and sticks and such below.
 Winter is definitely a beautiful season too!
 Mara bought new skates for herself this year. We did also find at least most of our skates that were in storage but I haven't gotten around to trying mine yet.
Lately we have been having unseasonably warm weather (upper 20's and evens in the 30's!). That has been quite fun but we are thankful that most of our snow is still hanging around.

  Do you like to skate or play in the snow? What is the weather like where you live?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Making Hospitality Comfortable for the Whole Family

Growing up my family had company fairly often and we all enjoyed it a whole lot. At least that was my understanding of everyone's feelings but at least for the most part I am pretty sure that it was true. We loved to have people in our home. It wasn't until I got older that I realized that having company wasn't something that everybody felt as comfortable with.

 When I was in college I continued on with the tradition of having people over. I was in a small Bible college so every now and then I would have fun cooking a meal and invite over all the other students to eat. I wasn't that great of a cook but we loved to get together and any cooking was often considered better than cooking yourself so many would come.

  When Ken and I first got married and were still in the college life we tended to have company fairly often but later I realized that having company wasn't something that Ken found as fun and easy as I did. As time has passed I have realized more of the reasons behind that. One of the reasons is that I tend to be an extrovert and Ken tends to be an introvert. Being around people is very fun for me and I think crowds are fun. A lot of people tend to wear Ken out and making small talk is simply not fun for him.

  There are a lot of different situations that could make it more challenging for your family to have company - perhaps you or your spouse are also introverts and having people around feels tiring. Maybe your spouse doesn't want you to have company because he thinks it will cost to much (we will address that issue in a later post - talking about entertaining economically), perhaps you have a child with special needs that makes it hard for you to have company.

  I don't know the answers for all the issues that could be had but I thought I would share some of the things I have done to try to make it so we can be hospitable regularly without making it to stressful for Ken.

A Ladies Tea

  1. I have hosted many a lunch date or had people over while Ken is at work. Naturally this would be with women or women and children. That way the kids and I can have fun with company and try to use that time to encourage others but Ken doesn't have to be there.
  2. When we have company over that will be there when Ken is there I try to plan it with him well in advance so he can have time to think about it and prepare for it mentally.
  3. When people are over I will try to steer the conversation towards topics that I know Ken and the guests enjoy so that everybody can have a fun conversation.
  4. A lot of our times with guests involve games as that is something that Ken really enjoys and it eliminates a lot of the need for small talk.

Game night
Those are some of the solutions that have worked for us in our situation. I would love to hear what your family has done to make hospitality more fun for everyone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Goals for Good Health - Having a Stretching Habit

 As you may remember - I am working to develop habits in me and our children that will help us to lead healthier lives. Two weeks ago I talked about drinking more water and last week I talked about flossing. Those goals are both going pretty good. Some days we have very easily hit our targeted amount of water and other days we have to work on it a bit and sometimes fall short a bit. Progress is being made however. The flossing is going good too. I have managed to do it 100 % of the days and the kids are doing pretty good too.

  One thing that we have found both helpful and fun is having some nice charts up to keep track of those things as well as other chores and stuff that we need to get done each day. I found these really nice customizable and printable (free) charts over at my friend Jackie's blog - Blessings overflowing. She has places to put chores/goals and then a box behind it for each day of the week. She also has eight glasses of water printed below each day so that you can X them off or color them in or whatever suits your fancy.
My kids have been spending time on Kahn Academy lately and they think that it is fun on there how their Avatar will grow/change when they hit certain goals and so they thought I should have something like that too for these charts. (Megan's idea but the others find it fun too.) So I drew a plain stick figure on each page and whenever they get 10 marks on their page (for completing a job or drinking a glass of water) then I add something new to their person such as giving them hair or clothes or hands or a hat and so on. Mara has been drawing one for me too so we have all been having a little fun with this.

   I do wanted to get some of these charts made up more permanently by figuring out all our things to work on and then laminating it but so far we are just writing on the paper. We have it on the front of the fridge so we don't miss it but eventually I would like to mount them on the inside of a cupboard door so they aren't quite so much a part of our decor. :-)

  How have you been doing on your health goals?

 The health goal that I have for this week is to get back into the habit of stretching. We used to have a short (a few minutes) stretching routine every morning but that rather went by the wayside with our moving and such this past year. I do know however that stretching helps keep my neck in better condition and the kid's as well. We have been a little tight lately and I think it is time to do some stretching! With the stretching we also work on some deep breathing which is very good for you as well.

 The kids have not been overly found of stretching time but it is still good for them so onward, forward! Would you like to join us?

 Do you stretch regularly? I would love to hear about your routine.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why I believe the Bible is True

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 
2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Peter 1:20 & 21

I believe these verses. I believe that the Holy Bible (all of it!) is true and that it is truly God's word. This would be the basis for the whole study that I am sharing with you this year of "Why I believe". So today I thought it would be very important to share with you a few of the reasons that I believe the Holy Bible is true.

   The Bible is actually not just one book but rather a collection of 66 books. It was written over a large period of time (around 1500 years) and by many different authors (40) and it was written in different languages (Hebrew and Greek mainly) but still in the Bible we find one message the message of a God who created us, loves us and sent Jesus to save us from our sins. All of the Bible points to that one goal. All of this variety in the writing and yet there is one message and throughout the Bible we find no contradictions or historical errors.

   Thinking of history and the Bible - it is pretty neat to start reading about different archaeology that has been done and how everything that is found goes along with what we already have read about in the Bible. Time and again things found just help to prove again that the Bible is true.

  Another thing that I find fascinating is reading about the many stories world wide about Biblical events such as creation and the flood. Over and over again we will find that there were "legends" passed down in peoples all over the world (China, South America, Native Tribes and so forth) about a man (sometime also mentioning his family) and animals who were saved from a huge flood on a boat. Various places also have stories about God creating the world and the first man and woman. These stories though often somewhat twisted from the Biblical account still go to confirm that what is written in the Bible is true.

  The message in the Bible also is proved true because it works. When people and nations follow the Bible things work out much better for everyone.

  Those are some of the reasons that I believe the Bible to be true. I would love to hear what causes you to believe in the Bible.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

We Have Counter-tops!

 This week our counter-tops arrived and I am pretty excited! Our kitchen sinks came at the same time but the faucets and drains aren't getting hooked up until Tuesday so we can't really use them yet.

   You may remember that I really wanted to have slate counter-tops. Well that is not what I got but I am pretty happy anyway. Slate seems to be a pretty hard to come by option in Minnesota. The cabinet guys that I talked to about it were always very hesitant and none of them had ever put it in before and they were unsure of it. Meanwhile I would tell them about all the good reviews that I had read and the pictures I had seen. They check on it for me. The stone holding place in MN was supposed to be getting some in from India (which I was unsure of as I thought it sounded like New England slate would be better). So we waited for the slate to arrive. When it did arrive they were still unsure of it so I drove 3 hours south to check on it.

   When I got there they told me that they thought that the people in India called it slate but that really it was a soapstone. It was an absorbent stone, scratched easily and was reacting badly to acid. Well that didn't sound to good. Then I looked at the slab that they had. It was ugly! It had streaks of purple, green, white and grey and it was done in a leather finish but unlike the other leather finishes I had seen it was not just textured but truly bumpy. Anyway - I didn't want that slab at all.

  As far as my cabinet guy knew there was no other place to get slate closer than Chicago. At this point I just really wanted to get my counter-top and not pay a fortune. I had looked into shipping some in from New England a little but decided to stop pursuing that and just choose something else.

  So we went ahead and went with Granite. I was a little blue about that as I really wanted to have something different then every other stone counter-top that I see but I am actually really happy with it now that it is here.

   We got a granite called Opalescence. I had it done in the honed finish so it is not shiny. I really didn't want the polished look. I think it actually looks a fair amount like slate. It doesn't feel quite as silky as slate but it still feels very nice. I am feeling very blessed!

 The guys that installed the counter-top were really friendly and we had a fun time visiting with them and learning a little about their trade. They deal only in solid stone counter-tops and come from a couple of hours away from here.
These counter-tops can handle hot pots being placed on them and don't require much/if any maintenance. They should last as long as the house. I was told to be careful not to place a cut citrus fruit on them as it will kind of etch them and leave the design of the orange (or whatever) on it. Interesting - it almost makes me want to experiment - but not quite!

  We still need our light fixture above the island put in and the covers for the outlets put on, the faucets installed and the windows cut out better and trimmed and then I think the kitchen will be pretty much done. Hooray!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Homeschool Highlights

 Lately there have been so many different things - a game, a book, something new that we do with the kids and I think "Wow, this is a wonderful way to learn!" There have been so many things that we have been having fun with and yet lots of learning is being done. I thought about sharing everything in one big long post but then thought that maybe this would make a neat series.

  So I am going to try to write a post about each of those things and all the new things that I am sure will come up and I will try to share a "Homeschool Highlight" each Friday. I also might from time to time pull out some of my very old posts about teaching little kids and share some of them too. Since we homeschool I think of learning very often in those terms but I hope that this will be useful to any parent - whether you homeschool or not.

Today I wanted to share with you one of our highlights from last week....
At our homeschool co-op a couple of times a year we have the kids write and present reports. This month they were required to do a report about an artist. We have been pretty busy around here and so we didn't get any major research done on artists but even with a little bit of time we really had a lot of fun learning about the different artists that the kids choose.

  Mara researched and reported on Joe and Beth Krush the illustrators of the Borrowers Books (American editions) and an All of a Kind Family book and others. We have enjoyed their illustrations over the year so it was really fun to learn more about them and their methods.

Jonathan learned about Terry Redlin one of our favorite nature artists who was from our neighboring state and went to art school in MN.

Aaron studied up on Garth Williams (illustrator of the Little House books and many more) and also copied one of his pictures.

Megan learned more about Thomas Moran - drooled (figuratively) over all his pictures and had a report about him.

This learning was fun for all of us as we were able to visit it about it. The reporting is good for their learning how to write things in an understandable way and then be able to present it clearly and without getting stage fright. We have found this to be a very good thing. Even if you don't have a co-op to do this sort of thing in I would encourage writing reports and presenting them at the supper table or when Grandpa and Grandma come over or something like that. I think that this could likely be a useful tool later in life.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Defining Hospitality

Before we truly get started with all the nitty-gritty of Hospitality (how to cook for a crowd, doing it economically, giving things a special touch - etc) I thought we had better first talk about what hospitality truly is.

Here are some dictionary definitions of Hospitality:

  •   An instance of cordial and generous treatment of guests.
  •  Kindness in welcoming strangers or guests.
  • Receptiveness
So to be hospitable we are going to be polite, generous, kind and open to both people we know and people that we don't know. It would seem that normally it would be in your home (they are your guests) but it wouldn't have to be.

When we check out what the Greek words mean in verses like Romans 12:13 which says: "contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality" we find it is that word Philoxenia which means: love to strangers, hospitality. 

What sticks out to me when I think about this is that Hospitality is truly about thinking about others. How can we make them feel welcomed and loved and over and over in what I am seeing the concept of showing this to strangers (somebody we don't know!) is brought up too. So as we talk about hospitality I am hoping to remember to focus on our need to think about others and forget about ourselves (and our house) and also how we might be able to extend hospitality not just to friends and family but also to strangers.

  I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Goals For Good Health - Developing a Flossing Habit

Last week the goal for good health that we started working on was for us to drink plenty of water. Did you join me?

That goal went fairly well. I was able to drink at least 8 cups every day except perhaps today. I only have 7 recorded on my chart - I think I probably had more than that though. It was a busy day in the kitchen (with the counter-tops getting installed!) and so my chart wasn't very handy. We also were away from home a while helping out with a Homeless shelter at church.

  So water drinking went pretty good for me and I think the kids made progress as well but I think they still have some work to do in order to develop a really good water drinking habit. We will keep working on this one. I will continue to work on reminding and they will continue to work on doing it on their own as well.

For this week I have a new health goal to add. Flossing our teeth every day!

Speaking of teeth I just need to share this picture of Mara with her "new" smile. She just got her braces of yesterday which was pretty exciting. Isn't she beautiful?!

Anyway on to thinking about flossing....

This is something that I knew I should do and I did do it some but really struggled to make it a daily habit. Life seemed so busy and it just didn't seem totally necessary as I brushed regularly and tried to do that well and tried to eat good foods as well and drink water. But I have started to realize that it really would be a very good habit to work on and I had better just get busy at it.

  So I actually have gotten a head start on this one by a week or so and am just forcing myself to do it every night - even if I am tired, even if I am in a hurry. I still need to floss my teeth. It doesn't take that long and I can tell it is helpful.

Here are some reasons why we need to floss:

  • Flossing cleans the 35 to 40% of your teeth that cannot be reached with brushing.
  • Flossing helps to get rid of bacteria and plaque that is on our teeth which will make it so tarter won't grow which leads to decay.
  • Flossing also helps to get rid of the bacteria that leads to gum disease.  Flossing is especially important in preventing gum disease.
  • A healthy mouth (tooth and gums) can truly help the rest of the body be healthier as well. Flossing with help that to happen.
Is flossing daily a habit you already have or do you need to join me in this challenge?
So of I go to floss my teeth and make sure my kids do too. :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why I Believe There is a God

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20

This verse truly says it best. I believe in God because I see evidence of Him everywhere.

When I see a new born baby perfectly and intricately made without any design on my part as a mother. You know that it would be impossible for all of that to happen by chance. There has to be a designer - someone that gives life.

 When I hear about the Monarch butterflies and how they all migrate to the same spot in Mexico - flying thousands of miles - even though they had never been there before and they are generations away (because there are several generations over the course of a summer) from the ones that had been there. There no just how to get there and just what to eat. There are so many things that could go wrong for them but God designed them with the knowledge that they need to make it.

 When I think about what I have learned about Honeybees - How they can tell the other in their hive how to get to a good source of nectar perfectly just be doing a special little dance in their dark crowded hive. When the other bees get done watching them they know just how far they should go and what direction and even how good of a supply it is (so how many of them need to go there). I have never been able to see the dance in person (I have seen a video) but I have seen the result of it many times. God also designed the bees to know how to keep the hive warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The more I study about bees the more I am in awe of God's wonderful design.

There are so many things in nature that point us to the realization that there had to be a Creator. We realize too that everything has to have a cause. Things don't simply just happen.

  I do realize that it does take Faith to believe in God. I have never seen God - I have simply seen what He can do and what He continues to do. The fact is that nobody here now was at the beginning of time. Nobody saw the world come in to existence. Nobody can report exactly what happened. To me it makes the most sense that there is a God, who is the Creator and who still cares about me.

  I hope you believe that too. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic (whether you agree or disagree with me).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stairs, Sheetrock and Lights!

   It has been a productive week around here. I didn't get as much work on our house done but since I started up teaching music lessons again and doing more of our homeschool work again after a Holiday break and also having our homeschool co-op I have been pretty happy with what we did accomplish.
Our contractor started working on our upper set of stairs and so we are pretty happy about that. I stained all the wood for him to use.

The electrician (and his wife who works with him) have been here the last couple of days and most of our light fixtures, switches and outlets are now in. Very exciting! Having plenty of outlets is a real luxury that we are appreciating after using basically only 2 for over a month (and I had to use those for the hot plates and stuff for cooking too before the oven came so we tended to blow circuits regularly).

  We have been continuing to work on flooring. I now have all my tile floor done (I just have the shower and some trim in tile left to do) and the wood flooring is getting close to done. Yeah!

  We also had another big and challenging project this week. Getting sheetrock down into our basement.  The thing is we didn't plan on getting sheetrock for the basement yet. We don't plan on finishing it for a while. So when the contractor had our sheetrock delivered for upstairs and then the excess picked up again we didn't choose to get any because we were waiting. But Ken started thinking about it and thinking about how hard - Oh maybe that is actually impossible - it would be to get sheets of sheetrock down our steps that turn.

  So he started thinking and then conferring with our contractor and he decided that in my office where we didn't have wood flooring down yet we would cut a hole in the sheathing, in between the floor trusses and would lower our sheetrock down.

So my poor brother who delivers for the lumberyard that we are getting our stuff from had to deliver sheetrock here once again (he wasn't to impressed). Then Ken cut the hole.
Then Jonathan and I lowered them through (until Jonathan hurt his thumb and Aaron had to replace him) and Ken, Mara and Aaron caught them.

 It actually went fairly smoothly. Except for Jonathan hurting his thumb when he traded with Mara for a bit and then went to set a sheet down and did it wrong somehow - so we had to do the rest without him. Thankfully his thumb is better now.

 Sheetrock can get a little heavy. Especially 58 sheets of it. But now it is ready to go whenever we do finish the basement. Ken put the floor sheathing back over the hole and secured it tight. Today Jonathan and I covered it with the wood flooring so we no longer have a hole.

   Many of the rooms are pretty close to completion now. We have announced a race and are curious to see which one will get all the way done first - including moving in and decorating. I thought it would be fun to do a "Room Reveal" of each room in the order that they get done. I think the kids' bedrooms and the main floor bath and the kids' bath are the closest to completion. We shall see!

  I hope you have had a great week too!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Homes are for Hospitality

   Hospitality is something that I have wanted to write a series on for a long time. In fact the graphic in this post I prepared several years ago and then just never got anything written. But this week I am being brave and daring and starting several new series and I decided this would be one of them too.

   Hospitality is something I have appreciated many, many times in my life when it has been offered to me and I have also enjoyed offering it to others. It is something that I have done many times but still have lots of room for improvement in. With our building of a new house I thought it would be a perfect time to think about hospitality. I hope and pray that we can be hospitable in this new house in a way that truly Glorifies our Father in heaven!

  Today I thought I would address the issue of WHY we should be hospitable. There are several reasons that I do it -

  1. It is fun!
  2. I can get to know people better. I really truly think that sharing a meal with someone or going into someone else's home truly helps a friendship go just a little deeper.
  3. It can give me opportunities to share Christ with others.
  4. It is a way that I can serve.
  5. I get to spend more time with friends and family.
  6. The Bible tells me too.
That last one is the one I want to address in more depth....
This verse is pretty direct:
 "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:5
How cool of a thought is that? Pretty cool if you ask me to think about having an angel in my home!

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9
I think it should be a fun thing not a stressful - once a year because I should- sort of event.

"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Romans 12:13
This is something that we want to do.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?" Matthew 25:34-46
The subject of hospitality even comes up at the judgement. It makes me think it is pretty important.

"You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:34
It was required in the Old Testament.

That is not nearly all of the verses that speak of hospitality and how we should practice it. This is pretty important I think.

Some of the topics I hope to address are:

  • How to be hospitable on a tight budget.
  • What if my spouse doesn't like having company?
  • What if my home isn't perfect?
  • What will we do while they are here?
  • Dealing with dietary restrictions.
  • Encouraging others through hospitality.
  • Fun ways to decorate if you have time.
  • And much more. 

I am looking forward to sharing with you what I have seen done that works well, things I have tried, mistakes I have made, a ideas that I have found. I am writing these to help me learn and challenge me as well as hopefully encouraging and challenging you.

  What inspires you to be hospitable?
  Doing you have any topics that you think should be addressed on the issue of hospitality?

I am very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this subject.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Goals for Good Health- Drink Plenty of Water

This year I have some goals that I want to work on to promote better health in my family and I. We have been blessed with pretty good overall health and we do try to be careful with the way we live but there are some things that I think we could do better to improve our health.

  I am going to really tackle one goal per week (until I run out of things that I feel strongly that we need to work on) and I thought I would share them with you and challenge you to work on them (if needed) as well.

  This weeks goal:

Drink Plenty of Water
8-10 cups for me and my bigger kids and 6 cups for the younger two.

Water is important for many different reasons. . . .

  • Drinking plenty of water makes it so our liver can do it's job easier and better. It helps to get rid of the toxins in our body.
  • It helps us to have better Kidney health and not get bladder infections.
  • It helps us to have better colon health. That means we stay regular and don't get all stopped up.
  • It keeps us from getting dehydrated.
  • It helps us not to get headaches so easily.
  • Plenty of water helps our lymph system to flow better which helps us to fight of diseases better. So drink water for your immune system.
  • It helps us not to get tired as easily.
I am starting my morning off with a large glass of water with either a tablespoon of lemon juice or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in it and then throughout the day all of my drinking other than Breakfast (where I drink milk or tea) and Supper (milk) is water. I just plan to keep a chart in my kitchen where I can check off every time I have a cup of water to make sure that I am actually getting enough. I also plan on being much more diligent to make sure my kids (some of them need more encouragement than others) are getting enough to drink. I will have charts for them too.

  Would you like to join me? Let me know if you are going to work on this too. Next week I will come back with a report and a new challenge.

I have been reading "Be Your Own Doctor" aloud to the kids lately and that has much encouragement for drinking more water and has been really helpful in explaining why we should.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why I Believe

In 2015 I thought it would be fun to do something a little different for my Bible posts on Sunday. I decided to would go through a bunch of different things that I believe (such as I believe there is a God, I believe that God's word is true, I believe Jesus came to bring Salvation, I believe that Men and Women each have their own special roles and much more) and share with you why I believe those things. I am going to be pulling out my Bible in preparation so that I can share with you the scriptural basis for all my beliefs and I hope that you will do the same as you consider them with me.

  In my life as a Christian I want to only believe what is true and what lines up with God's word - if someone can show me that my beliefs are wrong according to God's word than I plan on listening. I hope that you too respect God's word and are willing to believe that over any teaching of man or any tradition that you might have grown up with.

  I am looking forward to this becoming a discussion. I welcome any thoughts or questions. If you disagree with me I would love to hear why (respectfully of course).

  Here is some of the reasons that I am motivated to study once again on what I believe....

~I want to always be ready to answer those that might have questions. To do this I need to study God's word regularly so that I don't forget why I believe certain things.

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"
 1 Peter 3:15

"Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person." Colossians 4:5 & 6

~I know God's word has the answers and will help me and you in life.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." 
2 Timothy 3:16

~I want to be able to teach and ready to gently instruct so that sinners may come to repentance.

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26

I am looking forward to having you join with me as we search to know "Why We Believe".

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Staying Home More and Making Do When the Groceries Run Low

 When the weather gets cold (and it has been lately!) and the snow starts falling (I heard we might be getting a blizzard!) then I just like to stay home if I can. I don't mind getting out for church on Sunday and Wednesday but beyond that I would like to just stay home. This week I did end up going out 3 times but the week before only once as midweek services were cancelled at church. Last year with moving and building and teaching music lessons away from home I was on the go a lot but I think this year we are ready for some home time!

  When we don't get to town much it generally means that I don't go the the grocery store very often either and that sometimes we might run out of things - like milk (we happen to be low on that just now) and cocoa powder and who knows what all else. So sometimes we have to get a little creative in the kitchen.

 We do try to keep a pretty stocked kitchen. We raise bees and then harvest and get our own honey in late summer (so we can still keep our sweet tooth happy). We buy 1/2 a grassfed beef and pick that up in October. We butcher chickens with my parents in the fall and then have a bunch of chicken in our freezer. We buy wheat (generally enough to last a year) in the fall and we also try to put up a bunch of garden produce either by canning or freezing. So it would take us quite a while to truly run out of food but sometimes some of the things we like to normally use run out. We have to get a little creative with what we do have.
   What we do if we run low on or out of....


  • Drink more water
  • Drink herbal tea (from herbs we dry in the summer) with honey - this can be either hot or cold.
  • Use butter (or ice-cream!) on our oatmeal instead of milk.
  • Use water instead of milk in baking. It really doesn't make much difference. 
  • Use whey (that we freeze in the summer when making cheese) instead of milk in baking and pancakes and such.
  • Use pureed squash instead of milk in baking and pancakes.
  • Use broth instead of milk in gravy.


  •  We stretch our eggs in things like scrambled eggs by adding things like baked potato chunks, pureed squash, tomatoes, refried beans, cheese, hamburger, ham, sausage, bacon, onions, green peppers, grated zucchini, milk and more. You can be very creative with this one. I believe I have made scrambled "eggs" for the 6 of us with only one egg before.
  • In baking you can substitute one tablespoon ground flax seed plus 1/4 cup water for the egg.
  • For breakfast protein we might eat cheese slices, sausage, yogurt or fried ham instead of eggs.
~Fresh Produce

  • I have made fruit salads using thawed berries from our freezer.
  • I make smoothies with frozen berries and fruit.
  • Start making sprouts. These work well on sandwiches and various other things and give you that fresh taste that you start to crave and need.
  • Try to eat plenty of other veggies from the freezer and cupboards.
~Cheese (This is something that we like pretty well at our place and so we miss it  a lot when we run out)

  • Make some ourselves if we happen to have plenty of milk. Here are instructions to make Mozzarella  or Ricotta.
  • Go through the international cookbook I have for meal ideas and most of them do not use cheese and many of my standbys do. 
  • Make homemade croutons or add something else that is special like olives or boiled eggs to the salad so we don't miss the shredded cheese.
~Lunch meat (Ken likes me to pack a sandwich in his lunch everyday. I have found that you can freeze lunch meat so now I don't have as much trouble with running out as I used to.)

  • Make a sandwich with leftover ham or sliced roast beef.
  • Make a chicken or turkey salad with leftovers.
  • Make egg salad.
  • Make tuna salad.
  • Instead of a sandwich substitute with a piece of homemade pizza or a tuna turnover.
  • I make my own - not all the time but at least I know how to do it when we run out. I looked for my recipe on this blog but couldn't find it so I guess I need to post about it still.
  • Some people might substitute butter for mayo on sandwiches but that just doesn't do it for us.

  • We will sometimes make our own pasta
  • Instead of eating pasta we will choose to eat rice, potatoes or a bread.
~Oil or Butter (Sometimes we will run out of one of these things or both)
  • Use fat that I get from off of meats such as chicken fat (which we get when we boil our chicken bones and skins), beef tallow, sausage or bacon grease.
  • Pull out the coconut oil that doesn't get used so often.
  • Substitute applesauce, squash(pureed) or yogurt for oil in baking.
Those are some of the things that we tend to run out of if we don't visit the grocery store for a while. We do run out of other things to but they aren't in our list of things we need regularly so we just do without it. How do you manage if you run out of things? What are the things that you might typically run out of?


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