March 2009

This past weekend, we took the kids to a “Touch A Truck” event. It was a very interesting event where kids got the opportunity to touch, climb on, and ask questions about lots of different types of trucks, machinery, and equipment that they couldn’t normally. M had a cold, so she wasn’t feeling very well, and of course the babies were too small to care, so I tended the 3 little ones while S and JR had fun with the “big boy toys.”

They got to walk inside a partially inflated hot air balloon. The basket was attached and laying just outside.

A moving truck…something we are all too familiar with as a military family!

A couple of months back, JR stagnated a bit in his phonics and reading skills. He was doing great with 3 letter words and basic sounds, but was having some trouble understanding long vowel sounds, silent letters, and longer words. I decided to purchase our first official school “textbook,” Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I had read a lot about this book and many homeschooling moms seemed to love it. Well, for the last few weeks, we have been steadily working our way through the lessons. Let me say right now that I LOVE THIS BOOK!!
It uses a different concept of introducing letters to help young children or older kids with trouble reading. In addition to teaching the standard phonetic alphabet, it teaches common letter combinations such “th,” “sh,” and “ae” as additional phonics sounds. It writes the combinations in such a way that the children learn to see them as one sound instead of two. We are only in the first 1/4 of the book, and JR is already learning how to read long vowel sounds, ignore silent letters, and to pronounce those tricky sounds that had confused him earlier. In addition to teaching reading, it also teaches reading comprehension, listening skills, and focus. He is once again getting excited about reading and is becoming more independent with his computer phonics lessons (which I still use for reviews and practice). I highly recommend this book and plan to use it FIRST with my other future readers.

About 8 years ago, when S and I were becoming very serious in our relationship, I confided to him one evening that I would never have children. It’s a long story that perhaps I will tell another day, but basically it had been ingrained in me from parents, doctors, family, and the experience of others, that Type 1 diabetics simply do not have children. That’s just the way it was.

As I grew up, I turned my focus toward my biggest passion–animals. Animals consumed me. I worked at the state zoo, at nature centers, became an instructor and horse trainer for mounted police, worked at multiple vet offices, and even trained wild horses for the BLM. I pursued my education with every intent on becoming an equine (horse) veterinarian. I had my whole life mapped out. Apparently God had other plans.

Through meeting and marrying my husband, I realized that my plans to be a vet had been replaced by a desire to be a good wife. Soon after we married, I saw some diabetes and reproductive specialists who evaluated my health and diabetes history (a miracle in itself!) and convinced me that I could have children. Within the next 3 years, we were blessed with 2 biological children. However, the pregancies were very difficult for me–only partly due to diabetes. I had many complications and was unable to carry either baby to term. But we were content with our 2 and thought we were done with babies. Again, God had other plans.

The mental transition was very difficult for me, though. I must confess that I found little joy in motherhood. I felt all my plans for life had been thrown by the wayside. I was excited about each new baby, don’t get me wrong, but the true, deep, inner joy I had expected just didn’t come. I loved my children dearly, and I wanted to enjoy being a stay at home mom, but I just couldn’t figure out how. It didn’t help that JR had some health issues that made him a very difficult baby to care for. Then M came along. She was healthy, if a bit of a fussy baby, but suddenly I found myself not only a stay at home mom, but unable to even really enjoy my biggest passion–my horses. I couldn’t just go ride like I used to, as I had two babies at home. Due to that and some other circumstances, I realized that I was going to have to give my horses up, at least for a “season.” It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Then, through the blessing of adoption, little A came along. Although he was a happy baby by all standards, he too had some issues, due to meth-exposure in utero (we think). As a result, there were moments when he was frustrating to love and care for.

Then God really allowed a storm for me. He sent us to one of the last places I would ever choose to move, deep into an area where sin and evil abound, far away from family and horsey-friends, far from horse-related memories, far from most support systems as I knew them, far from babysitters and friends at church. As if that wasn’t enough, having 3 children in itself was a HUGE change for me. A was only 8 weeks when we moved, so it only hit me after we moved how difficult 3 children, 3 and under could be. I basically ran out of arms. With 3 young children, I felt like a recluse in my home. I didn’t have my past babysitters to turn to. I had to give up a job that I loved. I even had to sell my beloved car when the carseats outgrew it, and get the “soccer-mom” mini-van . I was about as lonely as I had ever been. In this place and situation He put me, I was forced to turn to God–I mean, REALLY turn towards him. I had been listening, and even doing the actions I felt led to do. But, if I was honest with myself, I did not obey with a willing heart. I was performing the actions of being a good mother, but my children did not have my focus like they should have. But once I began seeking God, He held true to his promise “…seek and you will find…”(Matthew 7:7). For the first time, I became willing to set my former dreams and ambitions aside and sought God’s true will for my life. He showed me that it didn’t matter how different my upbringing had been or why I felt the way I had; it didn’t matter how much I had sacrificed to become the mother He had called me to be; it didn’t matter how difficult the babies were or whether being a mother came “naturally” to me; it didn’t even matter that I felt lousy and had trouble just getting out of bed on days when my blood sugars were too high or low. All that mattered was that God had called me to be a wife and mother. As a follower of Christ, I was expected to put my worldly desires, feelings, and emotions behind me and seek only the things of His will for me and for those entrusted to me. Scripture specifically states, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (Psalm 74:25) This kind of desire for Christ became my new goal.

I did not know the extent of my change of heart until I brought little N home in January. Over these last couple of months, I have truly and wholeheartedly ENJOYED being his mother. Not only that, but I have wholeheartedly enjoyed putting my focus on all my children. S and I keep thinking that N is the easiest baby we have ever raised. Part of me wonders if it is him, or if, perhaps, it is that my whole attitude has changed. I may never know.

Sure, we still have our off days. The kids bicker, we get sick, I have “bad-mommy” moments, and the house gets out of sorts. But I have realized that is part of learning how to best handle the life God has given me. I still miss my horses terribly. I realized a while back that it has been almost 2 years since I rode. But, I now look at it as a new season in life. Sure, I occasionally miss some of my independence I once had. I still dream about the day S can retire and we can settle into our farm, plant some roots, and call it “home.” But I also know that, for now, home is wherever God chooses to send us. I have also realized that the trivial sacrifices I make to answer God’s calling are NOTHING compared to the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us. Looking back, I have to say my only regret is that I didn’t realize all this sooner.

This morning when M woke up with a yucky cold, and I had to basically forget the day’s schedule to just hold and rock her, I began to reflect on these things. I also realized that I didn’t feel the discouragement or frustration I used to feel in that situation. Rather, I felt comfortable and at peace knowing that she is blessed with good health, that this is only temporary, and that I am doing what God has called me to do. I am being a mother! What a blessed calling!

I love this recipe because it uses whole grain cereal such as oats, wheat, millet, soybeans, triticale, etc.

9 ½ oz. lukewarm water (1 cup + 3 Tbs.)
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup multi-grain cereals
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 Tbs butter
2 tsp active dry yeast

Mix ingredients (according to your bread machine manual, if applicable) using a “dough” cycle.” Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead about 1 minute. Divide into about 18 equal-sized dough balls. Place onto lightly greased cookie sheet or muffin pan, and brush with softened butter. For a fancy touch, make a slice about 1/3 inch deep, across the top of each muffin. Cover and let rise for about ½ hour, or until double in size. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The longer you bake, the tougher the roll will be. Enjoy!

If you do not need 18 rolls, the dough can be easily frozen. After you divide the dough into balls, simply put the desired number of balls into a Ziploc freezer bag, and put into freezer. When ready to use, allow to thaw fully, either in fridge (overnight) or on counter (about an hour). The dough will rise as it thaws, so you will have to cut the bag off, and separate the balls when ready. Just re-roll, place on pan, and follow the steps from there.

Additional note: if you want to make a bread loaf, just use a standard bread setting instead of the dough cycle.

I found this on a homesteading forum. I don’t know who wrote it, or even if it is true (considering it would be totally illegal!), but it had me laughing so hard I cried! I thought I would share.

I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it.

The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up — 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me.

I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it…it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and then received an education.

The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer– no chance.

That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined.

The only up side is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope. I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual.

Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in, so I didn’t want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder – a little trap I had set before hand…kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist.

Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head -almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective. It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds.

I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose. That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned a long time ago that, when an animal — like a horse –strikes at you with their hooves and you can’t get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run.

The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head. I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.

So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope to sort of even the odds.

This is a delicious and highly flexible recipe for those evenings when you want to prepare a crockpot dish, don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking dinner, or need something fast. It is also a great way to use up some extras from your pantry and fridge! The whole family will love it. Although it is called a casserole, it is more like a stew, making it perfect for cooler nights. I prefer to use the organic version of all ingredients.

1 lb. ground beef
5 strips of bacon (optional)
1 can butter or lima beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can baked beans, undrained
½ cup maple syrup or ¼ cup rapadura
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbs. mustard
1 Tbs. vinegar
¼ tsp salt

Brown the ground beef, and cook the bacon. Drain fat. Add all ingredients together in desired cookware (ie. Crockpot or large skillet), and cook until heated through. Serve with homemade cornbread. Enjoy!

This recipe will comfortably serve about 4-5 people. Amounts can be changed as desired to suite taste.

I recently moved A into his 18 month clothes. Today, I pulled this outfit out of his drawer, and couldn’t help but think of many of you! In fact one of you likely gave it to me, I just can’t seem to remember who (*sorry*). Can you guess why?

Maybe this view will help….

For those of you who still can’t figure it out, here you go!

Ok, to clarify, I am NOT a sports fan, and, in fact, really don’t know the difference between FlS and U of F. But, just the wording reminded me of lots of friends and family.

It is so hard to believe that I have been a homeschool mom for almost a full school year. We started in July 08, really got going in August, and have been doing it ever since. The more I have done, the more hooked on it I have become. And I have learned soooooo very much this year!

In reflection, I have read countless books and articles about homeschooling to help me make the right choices. Through that, I learned that the choices are as various as the families themselves. I spent months experimenting with different methods of schooling–computer lessons vs. bookwork, coloring vs. hands-on art, reading vs. experiencing, and so on. I learned that everything has its usefulness, and, when the children have the right heart-attitude, they can learn so much from any method. Watching JR and M learn from the lessons we did together was priceless. I loved seeing his face light up when he finished reading a new book or wrote a new letter, or seeing M get excited and yell “I did it!” when she succeeded at something new. Those are special moments that I would have missed entirely had they been in a pre-school. What began as an experimental journey for 1 year, may be turning into a “school-career” decision.

Now that we are hooked, I have spent the last week or so planning next year. I read another book called “Managers of Their Schools,” also written by Teri Maxwell, a homeschool SAHM of 8. The book was filled with tips and information that really helped me mentally prepare for this overwhelming task. She broke the planning into steps. Best of all, unlike other books I have read, she showed how to incorporate your beliefs into your school planning. For example, I love having S act as the “principal” of our school. Because successful homeschooling is a family decision rather than a mommy decision, I love getting S’s input and direction whenever possible. However, since I am the one who does the research, makes the purchases, attends the curriculum displays, and actually does the teaching, this can often be difficult. In this book, Teri explains how to do this, even providing forms you can fill out, give to your husband to pray about for a while, and then arrange a time to come together and make the final decisions. She also discussed in detail many of the Christian curriculum choices available, as well as some of the Biblical aspects (or lack thereof) of different homeschooling methods.

We have decided to take a more traditional schooling approach next year. This year was a fun experiment, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to use it as such, but it also showed me some of my very weak areas. We will be incorporating textbooks and seat work next year. When I have used books with JR and M, they truly thrive. It doesn’t just bore them, as many claim, rather, they learn life principles such as structure (specific lessons on specific days), self-control (sitting still), and even decision making and the resulting consequence (pay attention, finish the lesson, and go play, or sit here for an hour). There were also several opportunities where I was required to focus on training JR’s character rather than just providing a school lesson. While not always an enjoyable thing to do, it is something I have learned to value as one of the most important parts of being a Christian parent trying to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Not only is their character something that will help determine success later in life, but something that could affect them for all eternity. I can’t think of any God-given responsibility, more important than training our children’s characters. And what a blessing it can be!

We love camping. S had camped in countless locations from ice shelters on lava flows in Iceland to base camps on Mt. Whitney. My experience is mostly limited to state and national parks. We have back-packed several miles in, “horse-camped” with my horse, and even camped in a rented camper while I was pregnant (my back could not take the hard ground then!) However we do it, we love to camp. Unfortunately, when the kids came along, we stopped doing it for the most part. I was often pregnant, on bed rest, recovering from surgery, or the weather was a bit too nippy to take the babies out. Other times, we just got busy and didn’t get around to it. Finally, this past summer, we took the plunge and went with some friends to a mountain near our home. It was great. It was also a learning experience for us. We considered ourselves pretty experience campers, but with 3 children on that trip, we quickly learned that family-camping is a whole different ball game! To say the least. You have to pack so much more than the bare essentials. You have to have bottles, snacks, oh, and of course, smore’s. We also learned that we needed a new tent. We have two 2-man tents, which we used on our last trip. S, JR, and the dog slept in one, appropriately nicknamed the “boys tent,” while M, me, and the baby (A at that time) slept in the other. S nicknamed ours the “nursery.” Guess which tent got sleep? (hint…not mine!) After much discussion about options for recreation, travel, equipment, and expense, we decided to upgrade to a full, family-size tent that would leave us a little room to grow (you never know what God might have in store!)

We found a really good tent for a reasonable price at our local REI. Yesterday, S made the purchase, and as any experienced outdoorsman knows, you always try it out at home first in case there are any issues with it.

Our new tent and a couple of willing assistants.

Assembling the new tent.


The assistants were limited in what they could help with.
Our new, almost 100 sq. ft. camping quarters.

This should be plenty of space for the 6 of us, our 95 lb dog, and all our gear, yet still be sized for most campsites. It actually has a center divider that will likely come in handy at some point.
I am currently busy planning our first big adventure. I have a few other things I am looking for to get us more prepared for family camping, but I am looking forward to going. I feel so much closer to God some how, when I get out in nature, surrounded by the sights and sounds of God’s perfect creation. S and I can’t wait to share this kind of worshipful experience with our children, in the hopes they will grow to have a great appreciation for all that God has blessed us with!

S has been encouraging me to learn to sew. After the old Singer I had lasted through a few curtain experiments, he bought me a Bernina machine for my birthday last year. Using the instruction manual that came with it, I was able to glean enough information that I could attempt to get started. When I combined that little knowledge with a lot of creativity, I was able to sew a few little experimental clothing projects. Well, I have just completed my first official outfit!

M picked out the fabric, and I made her a little dress (not the pink shirt), then used the scraps to sew her a long-desired matching purse and a little hair scarf. She loves it.

So far I have focused on very simple creations, and have been experimenting with different stitches. This outfit has my first zipper on the back. I hope I will soon brave actually buying a pattern to sew something. Though that is yet to be determined.
And, in closing, I have to share my favorite photo of the day. When daddy came home tonight, M eagerly showed off her new outfit, and then insisted he try on the scarf and purse for good measure!

I love having a husband secure enough in his manhood to entertain his little princess!

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