Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Views of Beryl from Central Georgia

One thing I dearly love is watching the clouds in the sky.  I am always amazed by God's beauty and majesty in the skies.  I have recently discovered how much I love to capture the beauty with my camera.  I am also terribly afraid of bad weather.  Somehow, taking pictures of a storm moving in tends to calm me.  This week tropical storm Beryl came ashore.  I am a long way away from it, but we did get some wind, clouds, and rain from the outermost bands.  There was no bad weather, but I thought the sky was beautiful.  I just thought I would share my view of the storm from my home in central Georgia on the evening of May 28.

The lens had started fogging over after being brought out of
the air conditioned house.  I thought it made the picture look

The moon in the beautiful blue sky peeking through the clouds
at sunset.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sight Word Book 1 is Here!

It is finally here!  The perfectionist in me caused me to put this project off for a while, but I finally tackled the project and got it done!  True to anything I type, I did find an error in it.  :(  I'm sure you'll spot it easily.  How I didn't catch it is beyond my understanding, but what in life is perfect?  ;)  I didn't take pictures of all the pages in the book, but I think you can get a good feel for the book from the few pictures I did take.  Before I show you the activities to go with the book you must promise not to laugh at my lack of artistic skills!  :)

Just for fun, I added some pages to the end that make this book look like a real book.  After I got the book in the mail, I realized that the suggestions would actually be really good for someone else who might find themselves reading the book to Jacob.

These are sight words from the Dolch Sight Word list that
students learn in school.  This list covers the first set of words
plus a few extra taught in kindergarten at the school in whch
I used to teach.  Each new book will build upon and reinforce
the words learned in the previous book.
Can you believe I didn't catch that?  It still boggles my mind
that one can read something so many times and never see a
mistake like that!  :)

Please keep in mind, that this book and the others that follow are to use when my son is older.  He is just now showing signs of really wanting to learn.  He is still in the letters and sounds stage. 

This is the latest sight word activity I've made to go along with this book.  These aren't all of them.  I just picked a few to photograph.  It is very rough in form, but Jacob likes it. He is still too young to read the words, but finding and naming the letters is like a puzzle for him.  Each time he works on this activity and others listed in the book, he is building pre-reading skills.  He is not quite four yet.  Him being able to read the book is not my goal at this point.  My goal is for him to learn that letters have meaning.  Letters have sounds, and when thoses sounds are put together, words are formed.  I also want him to have fun while learning.  When he has found all the letters for a word, we do sound it out and say the word together.  He feels like such a big boy and gives the biggest smile!  If you want to do this with your child, I would recommend using clear contact paper to laminate the cards to keep them from getting torn up so easily.

There is no one right way to play this.  I let Jacob choose
which word he wants to do.  Most of the time, I do have him
start at the beginning of the word and find the letters in order
to help him learn that when we read and sound out words, we
track from left to right.  Of course, he sneaks in other letters
out of order sometimes; he's three-years-old!

Okay, this is where you promise not to laugh!  This is a book anyone can do at home.  I did this to show you, you don't have to have a lot of money and be really fancy with materials when you teach.  The only reason I made a real book is because I have tons of pictures that go to waste if I don't find something creative to do with them.  My books are keepsakes for my children.  I just thought I would kill two birds with one stone.  The only materials you need to make the book is some white paper, a pen, and a stapler.  To make the book, decide what sentences you want to use.  Cut out one square for every sentence, unless you want to put a sentence on the front and back of each square.  Print one sentence on each square.  When all your squares are finished, staple them together along one side to make a book.  When I did this book, I actually made a handwriting component within the book.  For each sight word, the child can trace the letters to write the word.

I heard that!  These are just a few of the pages.  If you are like me and don't like your drawings, you can always use magazine pictures or pictures printed from your computer or internet.  Jake likes laughing at my pictures, though.  I guess I will keep them to hear him giggle!

You are always welcomed to email me with questions about an activity.  I will do my best to help.  I know other readers and I would also love to hear your favorite activities that you use with your children.  I look foward to hearing them!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Birthday!

My sister has always made Alissa's cakes, but
this year was extra special for my sister since
she has recently opened her bakery.

Today was my precious little girl's birthday.  I simply cannot believe she is seven-years-old!  She is such a blessing to me!  We celebrated her birthday with a few of her friends that came to her birthday party yesterday.  It will probably be her last party (sniffle, sniffle).  We have discussed that for future birthdays we will probably just celebrate at home, letting her ask a couple of friends to come and play.  She seemed to be just as happy with that idea.  Since today was her actual birthday, I let her take a break from school work.

Tomorrow will also be a light school work day since we will be going to pick up my husband's truck from the shop.   (It's a good thing Alissa's first grade year is officially over!)  Bill has promised to take us to Lane's peach packing plant on the way home.  I am so excited!  We have lived here for over three years, and I've been wanting to go there for a family outing since we moved in.  It is a neat little place with tours of the plant, homemade peach ice cream (very important here in Georgia!), a little store, and a play area for the children.  I hope we have fun!  I think I need to go researh how to can peaches and make peach preserves!  I see a peach cobbler in my future tomorrow evening!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weeds and Large Lima Beans

Today began with my normal animal feedings, but when the children decided they wanted to play on the swing set on the beautiful morning we had, I decided to do some heavy duty work in the flower beds.  Rainy and windy days have caused the weeds to go crazy!  I normally like to control weeds with vinegar, but because of very windy and rainy days, I haven't been able to spray enough to keep the weeds at bay.  We finally had a calm day earlier in the week and Bill had to use the chemicals.  Ugh!  There was just no getting around it.  The vinegar had just not been enough to kill them, and I couldn't pull them fast enough.  I'm telling you, these weeds are rainforest-worthy!  I've never seen such!

This morning I tackled what Bill had not been able to spray, and I started cutting back or dead-heading all the plants that bloomed earlier in the spring.  I took a quick break to get supper in the crock pot.  Before I finished with that, Bill got up from bed (He's a truck driver and has crazy hours.) and asked if we wanted to go to Thomaston with him while he ran a few errands.  Of course, after not spending any quality time with him for so long, we said yes!  We went and enjoyed lunch together and ran errands.  Upon returning home, the children wanted to play in the pool so I worked on the weeds some more.  I cleared out the grass that had crept up around my tomato and bell pepper plants, and then I finished what I had started earlier this morning.

Oh, yes!  I almost forgot one of the most exciting parts of my day!  While we were out, I was finally able to find some English Lavender plants!!!  I am so excited!  I have wanted lavender plants for years.  If the store still has some plants left when I go shopping next week, I plan to get more.  I had just done some research a couple of days ago on the types and uses for lavender.  When I got through with my weeding and pruning, Bill dug up one of my miniature gardenias that has been sick for a while and we planted the lavender in its place.  I can't wait for them to bloom!

Add all that to the fact that I was able to get 2 white flour sack kitchen towels and lavender scent fabric softener, and I am one excited lady!  It doesn't take much to make me happy!  :)

So, on to a new recipe!  This has to be one of the easiest meals to prepare!  We call it beans and sausage.  :)  To make this recipe you need a crockpot, a large bag of large lima beans that have been soaked overnight, a large onion that has been chopped, one pack of polska kielbasa that has been sliced, and one can of cream of celery soup.  If you don't like to use canned soups, you need two stalks of celery and your favorite cream soup recipe.
Place the soaked beans in the crockpot.  I use the soaking water in the crockpot, too.  Add in the chopped onion, sliced kielbasa, and four cups on water.  If you are not using canned soup, you also need to add in the chopped celery. 

Put the lid on the crockpot and cook the beans and sausage on low for about 6 hours or until beans are done. 

When the beans are done, stir in the soup, and let the beans sit for a few minutes before serving.  If you really want your taste buds to do a happy dance, serve the beans and sausage with Mexican style cornbread.  Yum!  Try it!  You might like it!  :)

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Craft for Children

My heart was heavy tonight, so I got my hands busy to keep from dwelling upon negative emotions and thoughts.  I wish the project had been a little more tedious and had taken a little longer!  :)  Since it didn't, I decided to do a blog post about the project.

This is a project I started last November when I was teaching my Thanksgiving lessons with my daughter.  We try to include my three-year-old son as much as we can, so this was one fun, easy project in which he could participate.

In November, we used handprints to make a Pilgrim and an Indian/Native American. 

To make the Pilgrim, I painted each child's four fingers black and the palm a light tan.  As the child held his/her fingers close together, he/she pressed the painted hand to the center of the paper.  After the paint dried, I painted a black band and a gold square for a buckle on the Pilgrim's hat.  Then I painted on hair and a simple face.

To make the Indian, each child picked out a color to paint each finger.  The fingers have to be painted quickly to keep them from drying too much to make a good print.  The palm was painted a light brown or darker tan than the Pilgrim.  After the print was made and dry, I painted on the headband with the design, the hair, and the simple face.

While shopping for groceries and birthday party supplies today, I finally found some frames on clearance that I could use.  How lucky was I that there were only two frames- or maybe I'm lucky that they had at least two...???  :)  Um, anyway, once the children were in bed and my mind was racing I decided to get busy and finish the project.  I tend to be a perfectionist, and when I am afraid a project is going to give me a hard time, I procastinate.  Thankfully, tonight, I was able to channel that negative energy and the project was quite easy.  I thought I might share a little trick I used to make the project easier.

When I do a framed project, I am a little nutty about the picture or other subject being centered.  ( I am seriously trying to get over this, lol!  I have started leaving things a little imperfect on purpose to remind me nothing in life is perfect, and it's okay! This method works well until it is the house I try to leave imperfect; then my husband goes nutty.  Heeheehee!  I just couldn't help myself. ;) )  Okay, enough silliness.  When I took my frame apart, I noticed the paper had rectangles printed on the paper I figured I could use them as a guide.  This picture is just so that you can see how the rectangle could be seen through the paper. 

I flipped the frame paper over. (I had to flip it over because the green rectangle was too dark and could be seen through the artwork paper.)  I held the frame paper and the art paper up to a light to line the print up in the middle of the frame.  I hope that makes sense.  When I had the print centered, I carefully put it down and taped the artwork in place. 

I repeated the process with the other print, and then I repeated the whole process with the other frame.  I think they turned out really cute.  The paper is acid-free, so I hope this will be a project we can use to decorate with for many years to come.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tennessee Terresa and Pennsylvania Jane

I have a wonderful friend, Terresa, with whom I went to high school.  She is all the way in Tennessee, but bless her heart.  She has helped me finally figure out how to add tabs to my blog.  She is precious!  Thank you, sweet lady, for your help.  Now, I've got to figure out how to actually put things under those tabs!  Please, hang in here with me!  I'll get there.  Technology is trying to run way ahead of me, and is doing a great job!

My other precious friend, Jane, is all the way in Pennsylvania.  She is my newest friend.  She is a little stinker that is full of surprises. ;) She has suggested that I link my Pinterest boards to this blog.  Jane, I haven't forgotten.  That is my next project. 

I just love my friends!  I do have a really close friend, Appie, that lives about 45 minutes away, but due to crazy schedules, I hardly get to see her anymore.  I miss all my friends when it has been a while since I have heard from one.  Each one has so much going on in her life.  I pray for each often and thank God for the friendship he has provided.  Sometimes I get lonely and sad not having physical contact with friends since we moved, but getting on the computer and seeing one of them online sure does a lot to lift my spirits!

In closing, a while back I said I would share an "I Am" sight word book that I was going to use with my son.  I had originally planned to just fold some paper and draw some stick figures, BUT it turned into a MUCH bigger project.  I decided to make a real book illustrated with my own photos.  I am now working on a whole series of sight word books that build on each other to use for his kindergarten year.  Thank goodness he doesn't start kindergarten until next year!  I would really like to try to have these published by a children's book publisher, but goodness, where in the world do I start with that???  I guess the trusty Google searh.  My first book should be here in about five days.  I'll let you preview it and tell me what you think when it comes in.  I will still do another book that anyone can use at home that will use a handwriting component, but that will have to wait, yet again.

Until we meet again, be blessed!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

War With a Walking Stick!

What did I think I was going to do to the coyote chasing my chickens when all I had in my hand was a walking stick?  LoL!  I don't know, but all I knew was something was after my chickens and chicks.  I flew out the door screaming my head off like a mad woman.  My poor Fern couldn't be convinced that her chicks were safe with the other hens.  She kept going back to the edge of the woods with the lurking danger calling as desperately for her chicks as I was calling for her to come back and trust me.  Luckily, this time, I won.  Mama and her walking stick scared off the coyote.  :)

The most amazing part was that when the chickens started going crazy, I was reading the last few lines of an article in the magazine "Above Rubies".  The article was by a woman shepherd comparing her experiences as a "mother shepherd" to God as our shepherd.  She had discussed how the shepherd knows the cries of his sheep and loves them.  The shepherd knows the dangers and does all he can to protect the flock.  My flock that was crying out was not sheep.  It was chickens, but I heard their cry.  I knew I had to act quickly to help.  Isn't that beautiful to think we are God's sheep.  He knows our dangers, and He knows our cries, whether it is a cry for love, a cry for need, or a cry for help.  If we as humans are quick to act to the cry of the creatures in our care, how much swifter God's reaction to us must be!  I had tried to call Fern.  She couldn't understand I heard her calling her babies and I heard her cries for me to help  She couldn't be still and calm enough to understand me and hear her babies calling her.  Isn't that the way it is with us and God?  We get into situations where we cry out to God.  We are so caught up in the emotions of what we are going through, we fail to hear God or see His answer.  Yet, He loves us deeply, and continues to call out His answers to us, if we could just be still in mind, body, and soul.  He is always there answering!

Later in the day, we found one of our little friends that has been hanging around the farmette.

This is a gopher tortoise.  These are an endangered species and are Georgia's state reptile.  We have several on our property.  We don't usually know which one we are looking at, so the turtle usually gets called Mr. Carmicheal.  The people who are native to our area actually call these totoises gophers. Talk about confusing!  :)

We thought the excitement for the day was over this evening until we were winding down our outside activities.  Alissa discovered a hummingbird in the garage.  Thankfully, this time, unlike last summer when the same thing happened, Bill was at home.  He finally got it out with a fish net.

Who needs a science textbook when one lives on Southland Farm?  :)

Thank you for spending a few minutes here with us!  Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Gift and Animals

I use Pinterest a lot.  I have so many ideas saved on my boards, there is no way I will ever get to use all of them, but I like having them there just in case! ;)

A few weeks ago I did find an idea that I loved!  I had not planned to use it until Father's Day, but when I couldn't think of anything to give my mother, I decided to go ahead and use it. 

When we got dressed for church Sunday, I got the children to pose for a few quick shots with the camera.  I quickly loaded them to the store website for 1-hour printing.  I tried to pick them up before church when we got to Thomaston since I had received an email and text message saying the pictures were ready, but there had been a delay.  Anyway,  we went on to church with my mother and ate lunch.  Afterward, we took her with us back to the store.  The sweet lady in the photo lab helped me put the project together while my mom waited patienty.  :)  I was happy with the way it turned out even if I didn't get to wrap it and present it to my mother the way I had planned.  She loved it.  She showed it to everyone that stopped to speak.  This is the finished project.  The best part is that I already have part of our Father's Day gift out of the way, too!  When we were taking these pictures, I went ahead and had Jake hold the board that read "Daddy.":)  But, shhh...Don't tell him!  Lol!  I love giving gifts!  I get so excited!

Today has been a silly day for all of our animals.  Earlier, the children came running into the house yelling that Henry the rooster was laying in the nest beside the nest Fran was in!  Unfortunately, they disturbed the two chickens too much before I could get to the coop with the camera.  I was able to catch a shot of a silly hog, though!

These are new pictures of the chicks.  I can't believe how quickly they have changed and grown!  I have loved watching Fern teach her chicks.  I have watched her teach them how to drink water, get on and stay on a perch, fly, scratch for food, and come to her when she has found food and calls them to get it.  Henry, the rooster, does the same thing for the hens.  Perhaps she is training them to come to his call.  I don't know; I've never had chickens before.  :)  She no longer runs from me when I get close to her like she did before she hatched the chicks.  Now, she will come right up to me with the chicks.  She is even starting to trust Alissa.  Jake is still a little too rowdy for her liking.  Who knew I would ever come to love such simple things!?

Thank you for spending some time with us here on the farmette today!  Feel free to share your creative gift ideas!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BBQ Chicken Salad

Last night, Bill grilled barbecue chicken legs and boneless thighs.  We had three legs and three thighs left over.  One day last summer I discovered that putting the cold, leftover chicken in the food processor with some ranch dressing made a wonderful chicken salad.  Bill asks for it every time we have leftover barbecue chicken now.  This has to be the easiest meal to prepare!  Try it!  You might like it!

First, I took the chicken off the bones of the three legs.  Then I put the chicken from the three legs and the boneless thighs into the processor.  Next, I poured in 3-4 tablespoons of ranch dressing.  More can be used if you want it or need it.  This time, I added 1/4 cup of mayonaisse to keep the mixture from being too dry since the chicken was uncharacteristically dry.  You don't have to use the mayonaisse; I usually don't.

Then I locked in the lid and let the children have fun pushing the pulse button until the chicken was at desired consistency!  :)

I really should start taking more attractive pictures!
In the middle of me making the chicken salad Bill was going nuts for something sweet.  He ended up finding a lemon cake mix in my baking cabinet.  I don't normally use cake mixes, but this was an extra one I had bought for a kitchen experiment a while back and never used.  I didn't have enough eggs or an icing to go on it, so I had to think fast.  I did a quick internet search of egg substitutes and found I could use 1 tablespooon of applesauce to replace one egg.  I didn't have applesauce either, so I pulled out the mini processor, peeled and sliced an apple, threw the slices in the processor, and chopped the apples as finely as I could.  When the cake was done, I made a quick icing with powdered sugar.  I placed 1 and 1/4 cups of powdered sugar in a bowl.  I had 1/2 of a lemon left from the lemonade I made yesterday, so I squeezed the juice from the lemon into the sugar.  Next, I added 3 tablespoons of water.  Normally, you would use milk, but I didn't have that either!  My, it was just one of those days.  Thank goodness tomorrow is grocery shopping day!  I stirred the mixture until it was smooth and poured it over the warm cake.  The family didn't even let me get a decent picture of the cake before devouring it!  After tasting it, I couldn't blame them.  It was good!

Remember, in your kitchen, it's just a recipe.  Be bold, be brave, and make it work for you!  :)  Yep, you just may make a mistake and love it!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Front Porch Lemonade

This post is in honor of my mother for Mother's Day.

My children love to pretend they have a lemonade stand.  They have been after me forever to buy lemons so I can make lemonade for them to use.  I finally got lemons the last time I went shopping, and we made lemonade today.  Of course, Alissa and Jake both had to help as much as their little hands could!  They couldn't get out the door fast enough with their lemonade.

Jake and Alissa at their pretend lemonade stand.

I thought I would share the recipe with you.  My mother is the one that gave me the recipe.  It makes a wonderful summer treat and could be used at a dinner on Mother's Day.  Mama brings it to every family function we have.  She would be in trouble if she didn't!

My glass of lemonade on the front porch.

Front Porch Lemonade

The juice from 4 squeezed lemons (We like the pulp in it, but it can be strained to remove the pulp.)
1 1/2 - 2 cups sugar (gasp!  I know, but this is the south!  Stevia can be substituted.)
1 gallon of water.

Measure sugar into a pitcher that has at least a one gallon capacity.  Pour 1/2 gallon of water into the pitcher as you stir to dissolve the sugar.  Continue stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Pour in the lemon juice and remaining water.  Stir to mix well.  Store in the refrigerator until it's cold.  We don't like it over ice since the ice waters it down quickly on hot days, but it can certainly be served that way.

I know there are many variations of lemonade.  Do you have a favorite ingredient you like to add?  I would love to hear it!

What about a favorite memory of your mother or mother-figure?  I have so many!  I think one of my favorites is being with my mother and seeing her wide-eyed amazement when we visited London.  I know she never dreamed she would ever be able to travel overseas.  It was special to get to watch her.  My other favorite is just all the hugs we enjoyed through the years and the hours I spent with my head in her lap.  There is nothing like a mother's love!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ranch Chicken Burritos - Southern Style

The burritos cooking inside smelled wonderful, but there was something outside that smelled just as wonderful!  I had to share a picture of one of the beautiful gardenias that are covering my bushes right now.

God's simple beauty

Now, on to the food!  I must warn you and apologize ahead of time that I am from the south, and I cook like a southerner.  I don't always have ingredient measurements,  I shake in this and sprinkle in that a lot.  When I tell you a certain number of shakes, please understand it is relative and subject to your taste.   Be bold!  Be brave!  Start with a little.  If it's not right, add a little more until the yumminess in your pot tastes perfect to you!

The following recipe is one that found on Pinterest.  The original recipe was okay but it needed more flavor and substance for my family, so I spruced it up and made it my own.  Well, I don't know that I can actually call it my own since I only added the spices and the rice.  I went back and traced the origin of the recipe.  It originally came from thelarsonlingo.blogspot.com.  She didn't have a name for it, so I gave it one after "I made it my own."

Ranch Chicken Burritos

2-3 pound bag of frozen chicken breasts or breast tenderloins
1 can of Rotel -original
1 can of seasoned black beans
1 small bag of steamable whole kernel corn (You can use fresh or your own canned corn if you have
1 bag of boil-in-the-bag rice- remove rice from the bag
8 oz. cream cheese
1 packet of dry ranch mix (I don't use premade packets.  See below for the recipe I use.)
5 shakes of chili powder
6 shakes of paprika
7 shakes of onion powder

Place chicken in the crock pot.  Pour in black beans, Rotel, and corn.  Put cream cheese on top of the other ingredients.  You can add the spices and rice now, but I usually wait until the mixture starts bubbling around the edges.  Cook on low for about 6 hours or on high for about 4 hours.  You will know the chicken is done if it shreds easily when your cooking utensil scrapes across it.

Serving Suggestions:  Spoon into a tortilla for a taco or burrito, or use mixture for a dip with a spoon-shaped corn chip. 

Toppings that work well: assorted, shredded cheeses, tomatoes, avacado slices, ranch dressing (Be careful!  A little goes a long way!), shredded lettuce

The following is the dressing mix which I found on allrecipes.com a while back.  It was submitted by BEC.  It's the only one I use at this time.

Ranch Dressing Mix

1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl and use as would use a packet of ranch dressing mix.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Goodbye First Grade!

This time last year I was counting down the days until school was over.  I couldn't wait for the day I no longer had to walk through the doors as a public school teacher!  Gone were the nerves and uncertainty that had plagued me about my decision earlier in the year.  I was so sad to leave such great co-workers, but I had to be released from what had begun to feel like a prison to me!  I couldn't stand getting to work before daylight and getting home most days just in time to get the children ready for bed so I could get up and do it all over again the next day.  There was a period of time I stayed in the town where I worked, but the homesickness often won over the convenience.  Those last few days of work I could hardly focus on being there.  My mind and heart had already moved on to things to come!  Finally, the day arrived, and I simply cannot tell you the freedom I felt walking out those doors for the last time.  Strangely enough, it came with such an odd sadness.  A chapter of my life had just ended.

It was during a very sad, desperate, troubled time that God had given me the very job I had prayed for and had just left behind.  I knew it was His will that I leave it, and I knew He had other plans for my life.  I sat in the parking lot for a minute saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the time He gave me in that position and for the things He did for my family during my time there.

As the summer progressed, my nerves tried to get the best of me.  With each passing day, my new role as a homeschool mom was approaching.  I was scared to death to teach my own child and to teach a grade I had never taught.  Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard?  A school teacher afraid to teach!  I can laugh now, but it wasn't funny then!  I simply didn't know how I was going to do it.  What if I didn't teach my child everything there was to know?  Lol! Keep reading for more on that!

Well, fast foward to today.  Our state requires 180 days to be spent in school.  Sometimes, I think we could log at least 300.  :)  It seems we are always learning or discovering something.  Anyway, today we logged our 180th day!!!  I OFFICIALLY no longer have a first grader (She's actually been through with first grade work for a while now.  I had moved her on to some second grade work a while back.)

 Alissa and I both survived.  She actually learned, and did quite well, with me teaching her!  (That isn't meant as a statement of boasting, but rather, a statement of utter shock!)  There were days, especially in the beginning, that were very long and hard when I thought we would both be better off if I put her on the school bus and sent her back to school.  I was so stressed about wanting her to learn and learn well, but God kept whispering, "Just hold on.  I'm here.  I am molding you, so keep waiting and watching.  You can do this.  Alissa's okay.  She's learning."  We have finally broken through!  There are still days (very rarely now) when she finds herself in the "Think About It Corner" because she rolled her eyes or had a rotten attitude about my mentioning school work,  BUT our relationship is so much closer now.

Being home where I am able to watch Alissa and Jake learn, grow, smile, laugh, and play has been such a blessing.  There is so much time for sweet little snuggles and giggles throughout the day.  I know I am blessed beyond measure, and I try to make sure I often tell God just how grateful I am.

God has just recently released me of that stress and pressure I was loading upon myself about not teaching her everything there is to know.  (No wonder the poor child rolled her eyes and had a bad attitude sometimes!  Not that there is an excuse for disrespect.)  In a moment, when it seemed the sky parted and the angels sang, God spoke to me.  He told me it was impossible to teacher her everything there was to know.  Even public school teachers don't teach everything there is to know!  Can you grasp how profound that was for me?  How often does the state and nation revise standards trying to decide what bit of knowledge is most worthy of being taught?  He showed me I need to teacher her love.  Love of Him, love of others, and love of learning.   He wants me to teach her how special she is in His eyes and mine.   I need to teacher the academics that I feel are most important, but more importantly, I need to give her the keys to live a life of love and learning.  I need to show her the joy of learning, and show her how to learn and discover.  Wow!  What a revelation it was to me to have that gift of love from God in a moment when I have been so stressed about which cirriculum to use next year.  The cirriculum is important, but it is not the most important part anymore.  I still have a responsibility to give her a high quality education, but that is not where it ends!

So, now I'm off to plan the fun stuff for next year!  I am so excited for us!  I am looking forward to a great new year especially since Jake will be joining us more often! I know it is going to be a great one with so much less stress and so much more fun and excitement!  Oh, the possibilities!

Do you have any fun ideas to share?  Please, share!  Teachers are great thieves; we love to steal the great ideas of others!  Okay, okay, I promise to give credit where credit is due if I "borrow" your idea!  lol!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Since Bill was on vacation, I feel like I have been struggling to keep my head above water around the house and farmette (A new little term for our home was given by someone I have recently met!)  The last couple of days have really been busy!  I've managed to keep the house mildly straight and clothes and dishes washed, but that is about the extent of it!

Yesterday was an exciting day.  I was greeted with the peeps of baby chicks when I let the chickens out.  The mother hen was hiding them under her wings (What a beautiful reminder of God's love for us!), so I didn't get to see them until a little later.  Unfortunatly, I found one on the floor of the coop floundering and chirping wildly when I went back to check on them later.  I quickly risked being pecked to death by Fern and scooped it up.  The poor thing was still wet.  I showed if off to the family before returning it to the nest.

Alissa was getting ready to help put up and get
in the pool, but the chick came first!  She fell in
love with it.  It went to sleep nearly as soon as I
put it in her hands!

Jake's face was just priceless!

 I was thanked for returning the chick with a nice firm peck! 

The whole experience of Fern becoming broody, though, has really helped Fern become more trusting.  Before she started sitting on the eggs, she wouldn't have anything to do with the other chickens, and she wouldn't even roost in the coop.  She would get in a tree just outside of the coop.  She would also run from us if she thought we were going to get too close to her.  Since the chicks have hatched, she hasn't been wanting to leave the nest much, because everytime she does, one of the other hens gets on the nest and one or the other of the chicks always falls to the floor.  I started leaving her little bites of food just outside the nest so she didn't have to walk away from the coop more than neccessary.  At first, she would peck me, but she eventually seemed to understand I was trying to help her.  Once, this morning when I went up to check on things, she was sitting on the floor and two hens were in two of the nests, one of which was Fern's.  I wasn't sure what was going on so I backed out where they couldn't see me.  The two hens left and I walked back in where Fern was still on the floor.  As I got near her, she stood, and the two sweet babies came chirping from under her!  She looked at me as if to say, "What are you waiting for?," and got on the ramp to the nest.  I scooped up the babies and put them in a different nest that the hens don't fight over.  Fern immediately got in the nest with them.  As they all settled in, she would touch them with her beak and then look at me.  Soon the babies were all snuggled in, and Mama was happy!  Too sweet!
Fern and Flip

Fern and Flop
I gave them their names of Flip and Flop because they are always flipping and flopping out of the nest!

Bill was off yesterday and he wanted me to try and finish going through all the things I had stored in his shop while he and the children put up the small swimming pool we bought several years ago.  What a job all that sorting has been!  I thought would melt away yesterday as I finished up sorting through everything in the heat and humidity!  I had planned to reorganize and put everything away today, but I ended up having to buy groceries today.  It seems tomorrow is just going to be too busy to squeeze in shopping; it's a special day.  So, now, my school room is a complete mess!  Please don't show up without warning before Monday!

So, there is a small glimpse into the happenings of the last two days here on the farmette.

Before I leave, there is one little trick I had tucked away in my scattered brain that I thought I would share with you.  Have you ever had a splinter or tiny briar you couldn't see or remove?  Poor Alissa was out with her daddy the other day and saw a beautiful yellow flower blooming on a cactus in the woods.  She tried to pick it for me, but found her hand full of prickly needles.  They were so tiny and fine, they could hardly be seen. She thought she had gotten them all out, but later discovered that some of them were still bothering her.  I couldn't see anything to pull out and initially felt helpless.  Then I remembered the trick I read a long time ago.  I got a bottle of white glue and covered the area of her thumb that was bothering her with the glue.  I let the glue dry and then peeled it off.  Voila!  The splinter was pulled out by the dried glue!  Maybe you can use the tip one day!

Thank you for spending a little time with us on the farmette!  I hope you enjoyed your visit!  Please know you are welcomed anytime!  We welcome comments.  Do you have any little tricks that help you?  Please feel free to share!

I'm off to plan a birthday party that is supposed to happen in 18 days!  So, until we meet again, be blessed!