The Silver Lining of a Bad Cold

  
I am now on day 5 of the 2016 Family Cold Event. It doesn’t sound very long when I write it, but it feels reeeaaaallly long. So far 5 of the 8 family members living here have had it, with a 6th thinking of coming down with it today. Throw in a 7th person who just randomly came down with a stomach virus one night (which thankfully only lasted the one night), and you can see that it’s been quite a week around here!

There is a silver lining to all this downtime, though.  I’ve been able to work on some quilt projects. My sewing desk has sat gathering dust for the last few months with the holiday busyness.  I was so excited for January to come so that I could get back to sewing, but I got sidetracked with other projects and was feeling like I would never get back to my desk. Enter the bad cold, which has me down enough to not do anything tiresome, but has allowed me to sit quietly and work on my quilts. 

  
I binded these two mini quilts. They are part of a monthly red work series that I signed up for at the quilt store. I’ll share more of these in the future. 

  
What I am most excited about is starting work on this new quilt called “Prep” by Sweetwater using their Varsity fabric line. I bought this kit from a quilt store on EBay with a Christmas gift card from my son Robert. If there’s anything better than getting a new quilt kit, it’s getting one for free!

  
I love the vibrant, classic colors in this quilt, and the diamond/argyle design pattern. 

  
All of those beautiful diamonds are cut out of this Varsity layer cake, which was the first step I worked on –

  
Next I cut out all of the background triangles – all 120 of them!

  
Then it was time to sew  learn some new sewing lessons!  I expected to sit down and stitch them all together like a breeze. But I was blissfully unaware of the wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing awaiting me. You see, sewing all these lovely pieces together meant lining up all the points to match and line up perfectly – a fact I was soon made painfully aware of as I blindly sewed and ripped out my first seam. 

Long story short – about 3 hours later, after 6-8 more ripped out seams, watching a couple of online tutorials (ah, the beauty of technology!), consulting my favorite how-to quilting book (pictured below), and a couple of “walk-aways” to give my congested head a break, I finally ended up with this –

  
Pathetic I know, but I was ecstatic!!  I met the beast and came out the victor! And I learned some new skills for piecing diamonds and triangles, which will hopefully serve me well in the future – at least they’ll help me finish this beautiful quilt.   Feeling accomplished I called it a day and went to eat dinner. I must have used up all of my brain cells for the day, since it was this same night that I forgot to lock the chickens in and the Charlotte disaster occurred. 

I haven’t picked this one up again yet – hopefully I will remember what I learned when I do!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I can’t wait to see this beauty come together!

Have a lovely evening!

Blessings, 

Nancy

And then there were five…

  
I’m feeling a little sad today.  My sweet Charlotte (above) is no longer with us.  And it is my fault. 😦 I’ve been down sick with a bad cold, along with most of the rest of the household, and wasn’t thinking clearly, I suppose, and I forgot to go out and lock the girls in for the night last night.  Jeff arrived home after a long day out around dark and wasn’t really thinking about chickens either.  

In the middle of the night, it suddenly came to me that I had forgotten them.  I wasn’t concerned that they had run off – chickens are home-bodies, and just naturally return to their coop at nightfall each evening.  I wasn’t even concerned about the fact that my forgetting about them meant I hadn’t fed them for the night – they had been out foraging the yard all day yesterday and were okay to make it until morning without feed.

No, what struck a note of fear in my heart was the fact that they were out in their pen, completely unprotected, since the gate to the pen was never shut and locked up for the night – leaving the girls veritable “sitting ducks” or literally “sitting chickens”.

  
I woke Jeff up and had him keep watch from the porch (in case a crazy night creature tried to attack me), and headed out to the pen, cellphone flashlight in hand, with trepidation about what I was going to find.  Sure enough, the gate to the pen was wide open, just as I had left it earlier in the day when I let the girls out for the day.  I started counting chickens…one…two…three…four…five…I counted again…one, two, three, four, five. I shone the light all around the pen.  I noticed the waterer was knocked over, a red flag since it’s very sturdy and too heavy for the girls to knock over themselves. And then I saw the feathers, black and white striped feathers strewn around the cage – more than the usual strays that adorn the coop daily. 

They belonged to Charlotte, one of my favorites.   My heart sank.  She was our last remaining Plymouth Barred Rock chicken, my favorite breed – I’ve always loved her ruffley, black and white stripes paired with her striking red comb – such a beauty!  Her sister, Nimrod (don’t ask), had died last month after becoming ill, so I really didn’t want to lose Charlotte too!

  
I looked around to make sure she wasn’t anywhere in the cage, but she was gone, carried away by some creature of the night – a raccoon, owl, bobcat?  I checked on the rest of the girls, who were sitting quietly, three huddled together on top of the old rabbit hutch where they sleep each night, and two roosting in the nesting boxes inside the hutch. I told them I was so sorry for forgetting them… for failing to protect them…for allowing their secure home to be invaded. With a heavy heart, I closed the gate, latched it, and headed back to the house, reporting the sad news to Jeff, waiting on the porch. 

We’ve had our chickens for almost 3 years now, and it amazes me that the one time that I forgot to lock them in, a predator was ready and waiting to seize the opportunity. I thought about these night creatures, and how they survive and feed their little ones by being aware and diligent. I imagined a contented little family of wild ones being blessed by my mistake. It is God’s way of caring for his creation,  and it is a good thing, for now, until the day He puts everything to rights and the “lion lays down with the lamb”. 

  
One thing having chickens has taught me is to hold them loosely, because their lives are fragile, and can be gone quickly. It’s part of owning chickens, and I accept that.  It also is a reminder to me that God holds all of us in the palm of His hand – our every breath is ordained by Him, and is in His control. There is blessing in appreciating all of life around us and thanking Him for it!  

I will miss seeing my pretty Charlotte scratching around the yard with the other girls, but will thank the Lord that I was able to enjoy her for the time I had her. And with spring just around the corner, I’m thinking that maybe some new baby chicks might be in our “tomorrow” – definitely some Plymouth Barred Rocks!  

 
Blessings,

Nancy

 

Test Post from my IPad

  
Hello!  I am testing out blogging from my IPad mini today.  My computer is having some challenges, and I decided to see if bypassing the computer with my tablet would be a viable option.  I’ve been playing around with it to see what different buttons do and how things work.  I must admit I am proud of myself for figuring out how to link my tablet to the wireless keyboard – quite an accomplishment for this old dog!  (Edited to report that the keyboard dumped me before I finished the post – “pride goeth before a fall”!)

I will keep trying some things out, so if the blog looks weird at any point, rest assured that I am probably in learning mode (possibly shedding tears of frustration – cue the teenagers rolling their eyes) and will hopefully figure it all out shortly.  

I hope you’ll come along with me as I dust the cobwebs off my little corner of the blogosphere and dip my toes in the water of writing once again.  Maybe I’ll even take a full dive into the sea if I am able – and if this wonderful technology will agree to work with me instead of against me!

Hope all is well wherever you are!

Blessings,

Nancy

Simple Pleasures . . .

I’ve been thinking about how much joy can come from the simple things in life. Things that pertain to family, nature, and just life in general. They usually aren’t expensive, but are worth so very, very much. I like to think of these as – and I solidly believe that they are – blessings from a loving Father, sent to delight us and, many times, to teach us about Himself.

Here are a few of the simple pleasures that I am enjoying in my life ~

~ Bedtime stories every night with my littles.

~ The changing of the seasons.

~ An afternoon on the front porch with a cool drink and my notebooks, drinking in the beauty of tall green trees, pretty flowers, and watching my little ones play.

~ Baking goodies for my family.

~ Conversations with my teenagers.

~ Beautiful pictures in magazines – cutting them out and decorating my journal with them.

~ Lighting a seasonal candle while I’m cooking or relaxing at night.

~ Hearing a sweet “I love you” from one of my kids.

~ Harvesting anything from the garden.

~ Stroking a kitty’s soft fur.

~ Sewing on a quilt and enjoying the beautiful fabrics.

~ Small town friendliness.

~ Fresh clean laundry.

~ Stopping by the Sno-cone stand on a hot summer day.

~ Seeing my husband pulling into the driveway.

~ A good book.

~ Popcorn with a late night movie.

~ Occasionally taking the slow, windey, country road rather than the highway.

~ Watching my children grow and learn.

~ Seeing the Lord working in my heart, growing me.

I begin to think that I could probably go on and on. Thank you, Lord, for all of your special gifts to us!

What simple pleasures are you enjoying?

Blessings,
Nancy

Sarah’s Cooking Night

Sarah decided last week that she wanted to cook one of the meals for dinner this week. She had seen a recipe for chicken fingers on a Bisquick box and this inspired her to want to cook a whole meal, something that she had never done before. She has made a number of desserts for the family over the past few years, but never anything as ambitious as a complete meal. So, on Tuesday, I made sure we had all of the ingredients she needed and joined her in the kitchen to supervise, teach a bit, and help her out. The menu she planned consisted of ~

    Ultimate Chicken Fingers
    Homemade Mashed Potatoes
    Green Beans
    Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

Here are some pictures of her time in the kitchen ~

She started by making dessert – Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies. She has made these before, so she didn’t really need my help with this part. She gave the younger kids a spoonful of dough before she baked them.

Next she began work on her mashed potatoes. She used this recipe and learned how to wash, peel, cut and cook the potatoes. Her arms were a bit tired after scrubbing and peeling 5 lbs. of potatoes by herself!

While the potatoes cooked, she started her chicken fingers. As I mentioned before, this recipe was on the back of the Bisquick box. She had to triple the recipe for our family, so she got a little practical Math practice along the way. It was her first time to handle raw chicken, but she decided that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. I gave her lessons on why it’s important to wash it well, and then she trimmed it up and sliced it for fingers.

Her potatoes were ready to mash before she got her chicken breaded, so she put the chicken on hold and finished up the potatoes – I told her that timing was one of the hardest parts of cooking.

With the potatoes all mashed and covered to keep warm, she went back to the chicken, which she found to be messy job!

While the chicken cooked, Sarah heated up the green beans (canned) on the stove. Finally, everything was ready, and we sat down to a delicious meal!

This chicken was so wonderful – it had parmesan cheese and garlic salt in the coating, which gave it a scrumptious flavor. I will post the recipe as soon as possible (if you can’t wait, go out and buy a box of Bisquick – it should be right there on the back of the box) –

Homemade Mashed Potatoes – she did an excellent job on these – they were smooth and creamy –

A great dinner –

and a delicious dessert to finish it up –

See you again soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

My Little Ballerina

Anna has recently traded in her ice skates for ballet slippers. She actually has been wanting to take ballet lessons for awhile now, but it just hadn’t worked out to do so. When it came time to register for the new session of ice skating recently, we had heard of a great ballet school and decided that this was a good time to switch. We left the decision up to Anna, who decided that she wanted to try ballet. I took a few pictures of her before we went to the first class –

She has had two classes so far, and I am really pleased with it. Anna is enjoying herself and I get to sit and watch. It brings back many memories of my 7 years of ballet classes growing up. I took this picture of Anna at her first class – my sweet little ballerina . . .

Have a nice day!

Blessings,
Nancy

A few ice skating pictures ~

We started the new ice skating lesson session (try saying that three times fast!) this week. Tommy and Sarah are beginning their third session and continue to progress as they are starting to learn a few more difficult turns and skills. We usually arrive an hour or two early for free-skate each week so that they can warm up and practice the skills they are learning.

This session we have a new student added to the mix. Anna has now started taking lessons as well, and is so excited. Some friends handed her down a nice pair of skates, and she just loves to be on the ice.

It’s been fun watching them skate each week (when I’m not freezing to death). The instructors are really great and the kids are learning alot. Tommy and Sarah would like to go more often to get in more practice time – maybe this summer we’ll be able to add some extra practice time to our schedule.

Have a nice weekend!

Blessings,
Nancy

Our new Keepers of the Faith year has begun!

Keepers of the Faith is a club which meets at church once a month. The boys (and Dads) club is called Contenders of the Faith, and they meet separately from the girls (and Moms) club. Each monthly meeting the kids learn about one of many different topics – skills to learn, etc. During the rest of the month, they work at home on badges that they earn when they complete the requirements for the specific badges. The club runs from January to October each year, with a final Expo night held in November when the kids can share what they have learned, worked on, and the badges they have received during the year.

We held our first Keepers of the Faith meeting of the new year last week. The boys learned all about knife sharpening, while the girls wrapped candy bars in colorful papers and ribbons for gift giving.

Being the first meeting of the year, all of the children turned in a list of badges that they would be working on throughout the year. They can work on and finish other badges, too, but if they finish the ones on their list they earn a special “Finisher” badge. The badges are listed and explained in their handbooks, which are great resources for learning lots of new skills.

Here are the badges that my children chose to work on this year –

Tommy
Bible Reading – The Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
Bible Memory – The Lord’s Prayer
Skills – Lapbooking
Ice Cream Making
Diorama

Sarah
Bible Reading – The Pentateuch
Bible Memory – The Lord’s Prayer
Skills – Card Making
Singing
Album making

Michael
Bible Reading – The Gospels and Acts
Bible Memory – The Widow’s Offering (Mark 12:41-44)
Skills – Lapbooking
Trees
Diorama

Anna
Bible Memory – various Love verses
Skills – Ice Skating
Muffin Baking
Card Making
Snacks & Drinks (preparation)

I will share pictures throughout the year of their works in progress and the things they are learning in their club meetings. We have some fun meetings planned for this year – Volleyball, Honey Bees, Chess, Rip Circle Flower making, to name a few.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Keepers of the Faith program, you can go to their website – Keepers of the Faith – and check it out. The clubs can be run formally through your church or with other families, or you can simply work through the badges individually as a family. We were so happy to find this program already in place at our church when we started there 4 years ago.

Have a nice day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Our Homeschool ~ Charlotte Mason Style

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Over my 14 years of homeschooling, I’ve tried a lot of different approaches and curriculums, but even from the start, I always had an idea in mind of what I wanted our schooling experience to be like. It would be Christ-centered, simple, nurturing, and would encourage a love for learning. My love for books – especially storybooks – fit in beautifully. As I read more over the years about different methods of homeschooling, I saw that I agreed with many of the ideas that Charlotte Mason wrote about in the late 1800’s. Some of these ideas included copywork for writing, reading of great ideas in living books, narration, short lessons, and nature study. I have been incorporating several of these into our homeschool for the past 5 years or so.

This year, the Lord has taken us a step further in our journey. I have added in some new studies on a regular basis that always seemed to fall through the cracks before. Some of these include artist and composer studies, Shakespeare, nature stories, and character studies. Another difference is that we are reading living books for science, history and geography that take us on wonderful journeys every week.

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Here is our weekly schedule as it stands right now – I’ve been tweaking it since September 1st, but for now, this is working for us. Every day we do:

Bible & Scripture Memory
Read-aloud classic novel
History (M-Th)/Geography (F)
Copywork
Spelling
Reading (independent assigned)
Phonics (Anna)
Math

Some of these we do together, and others are done independently. Tommy and Sarah also add in a short daily grammar exercise.

In addition to the subjects we study daily, we have others that are only studied from 1-3 times a week –

Monday – Poetry
              Science (older kids)
Tuesday – Character studies
              Composer study
              Shakespeare
Wednesday – 
Missionary story
                  Nature Stories
                  Science (older kids)
 Thursday – Artist study
                 Drawing
Friday – Book of Centuries (Timeline)
            Map Drill
           Science (older kids)
           Nature Study (outdoors)

Along with these, I am doing the Bible/Science (fun) portion of My Father’s World Kindergarten curriculum with Anna and Michael – this includes many classic children’s stories and fun, easy crafts set up around the alphabet (A-Apple, B-Butterfly, C-Cow, etc.) four or five days a week.

Does that look like a lot? Well, it is, but remember – we do all of these in short lessons, many about 15 minutes each – some less, some more. We average around 3-4 hours for our school day, although that may not be all at once, depending on life – it may be spread throughout the day, and if we don’t get to something, I either make it up later in the week, or start there the next time we are scheduled to do that subject. Also, not all of the children do all of these studies – Anna does the least amount, being Kindergarten age this year. Michael joins us for most subjects, but isn’t doing formal grammar yet or Shakespeare. Laura (10th grade) does most of her work independently, except for a few of the family subjects. In fact, the 3-4 hour day usually refers to my time, as I work with each of the children individually and as a group.

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I have really enjoyed this year so far, and feel like we are having the richest learning experience we’ve ever had. We have laughed over Shakespeare, enjoyed classical music, travelled down the river with “Paddle to the Sea”, gone into outer space as we study the planets, had fun with drawing exercises, marveled at Monet paintings, and spent a little time each day in the Big Woods with Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I hope to share more about each of our studies, and how we do them, in future posts.

Blessings,
Nancy

Remember this? . . .

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بدلة العريس

Remember last week when I posted this?

Well, I should have known to go straight to the technological expert in the house for my answer. When I showed it to him (Matthew) this morning, he immediately copied it, and headed off to Google for an answer. When he pasted in this – بدلة العريس – he was rewarded with a screen full of pictures of tuxedoes. That was our first clue. Then he went to Google translate and pasted it in. Here was the result –

Translation: Arabic (automatically detected) » English
بدلة العريس The groom’s suit

So, I guess that answers my question.

Google obviously sent someone to my blog as a result of this post. Go ahead and check it out, because I’m a mother and I just can’t help myself!

Another mystery solved.

Blessings,
Nancy