Saturday, September 29, 2007

A great local food day!

Today was busy! Not only was it my Daughter's 8th birthday and my in-laws and brother and law arrived to stay for a week and we had my parents and 2 youngest siblings over for supper, we also went and gleaned potatoes and drove out to a dairy for milk.

Here is a picture showing most of our group getting potatoes. We had to drive nearly an hour to the field. We picked up for an hour and got a little over 1,000 pounds. (We got more last year but some ended up going to waste and we didn't have much time today.) It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun in the field.

Here is an example of how a lot of the field looked. You have to go through the potatoes so that you don't get any that are cracked or rotten (we also bypass the tiny ones) but there are so many available. Sometimes you will find piles of potatoes where there was a loading mess up and sometimes you will find areas that didn't get dug at all. It is good to get the potatoes within a day or so of the harvesting as if they are in the sun very long they will turn green and yucky.

Here is the other thing I was excited about today. I found out I can buy non-homogenized and non-pasteurized milk that is from Hormone free cows straight from the dairy at just $2.50 a gallon. As milk at Wal-mart just went up to $3.96 a gallon (2%), this is quite a savings. I do have to drive 15 miles to get it but I have found a friend who would like me to get it for her who will help pay the gas. (I am thinking about doing that for others as well.) So I get milk that is better for me, I don't have to recycle containers and I spend less, Yea!! The kids had fun seeing the cows. I bought the cheese there too.

Tonight for supper we had quite a few local things. We had fried potatoes (that we got today), sliced tomatoes and cucumbers (from our garden), coleslaw with some grated zucchini in it (the cabbage and zucchini were from my parents garden), cooked apples (from some friends), Goat's milk (from my parents farm- we would just drink this and not go to the dairy except Ken won't and also the goats dry up in the winter and are already slowing production) and Cow's milk (from the dairy). It is fun to eat so many foods that are grown nearby (most of them organically), are good for you and don't cost very much. That is a win, win, win situation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rice Hot Packs

Hot Rice Packs are very nice if any part of you is sore, achy or if you are heading to a cold bed. They last indefinitely, store easily and heat up in a minute or two in the microwave. They are also super easy to make! My friend Angie introduced them to me and I am very grateful to her for that.
To make them you need: Fabric (you want something soft, sturdy and has a tight weave, I have used corduroy, velvet and sweatshirt material, my sister used flannel. You could use part of an old but sturdy pair of sweat pants or a good section from an old flannel shirt , though maybe with that it might be good to do some double layering.Make sure the fabric smells nice and clean as when it is heated it accentuates any odor it might have.), Rice (I use white since it is cheaper and I am not eating it, but I am sure brown would work fine too), and thread. You also can add cinnamon or some other dry herb or spice to give a soothing smell if you would like.
You can make your rice bag whatever size you like, I made mine around 10" by 7". Cut your fabric so it is either twice as long or as wide as you want it and then fold it in half (right sides together) and sew it on two sides so that just one side is left open like a bag. Turn it right side out. Put in enough rice so that it is fairly filled but not stuffed, you want it to be able to mold around your body. On the open end flip the raw edges to the inside, pin it shut and sew it closed. On all seams it would be wise to sew them twice to give extra strength. You don't want to end up with rice all over you bed. Now you are all done!
To use just place in the microwave and heat for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Heating time will vary with microwaves and how hot you want it. If it is for a child, I would probably only heat it for a minute and 15 seconds.
These are a nice addition to any home and make nice gifts. You can chose a special fabric that the recipient would really like. My sister gave one to each of her children as part of their Christmas gifts one year. I believe they were all out of cute different flannel prints. I have added them to first aid kits that I have made for newly weds or just given them by themselves. It is a very economical, practical and easy to make gift.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thank God for Mothers and Husbands!!

I have been dealing with Strep Throat lately, which is why I haven't been on line. I have had a fever, sore throat, horrible ear ache and just been achy. It has been a miserable couple of days. I think I am improving some now. I am feeling so thankful for my Mom and Ken right now.

Mom is always so nice to be able to call and get medical advice and any other sort of advice I need. She also has volunteered to watch my kids the last 2 days and told me to have Ken bring them again tomorrow if I am not feeling better. The last two days I have slept much of the day which I wouldn't have been able to do if the kids were home. I am so thankful for my loving mother!

Ken, my sweetheart has also been great! He has taken the kids out to Mom and Dad's, given me back massages, gotten things for me, taken care of the kids more than usual in the evening and morning, picked up soup and yogurt for me and washed the dishes. I am very thankful for my very loving husband!

Some of the things that I have found to be helpful when being sick are: Drinking hot tea and honey or hot lemonade sweetened with honey, both have helped my throat and ear to feel better. Drinking hot broth or eating brothy soup, this is also very soothing and I think gives you some energy. Taking hot showers or baths, this helps my achiness so much! Using a hot rice pack on sore spots. (I will try to post directions on making this later.)Gargle with salt water and get lots of sleep!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Homeschool co-op classes

We are getting things ready for another home school co-op class in a few weeks. The homeschool group in our area has arranged so that if you sign up to teach a class you get to enroll your kids or yourself in classes taught by other parents. Last year was our first time to be involved and we had a lot of fun. This is some pictures of my kids and I and one with my Dad dressed up for our class on Life in the late 1800's.

This year we are doing several classes and our first 2 are on Life in Colonial America. I decided I would split it up in two parts so that we could go into it in more depth. The kids and I have a wonderful time getting ready for these classes. When we act something out we learn about it so much better.

I have found the Internet to be a wonderful tool for researching. Here are some neat sites that I have found about colonial times:
Here is one that is written by kids and has a lot of information and activities.
Here is one that explains all about how they dressed. It has pictures that show each layer of clothing and explain about it. My daughter and I had fun looking at it together.
This one has just some written information.
Here are some recipes from that time.
Here is a website from Colonial Williamsburg. It has lots of neat information.

I hope you enjoy these websites too. I will let you know how the classes go. If you have any great ideas for the class I would love to hear them!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Recipe for a Good Day

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This verse is one I have always liked but not always followed perfectly. Even though I would like to be joyful always I'm not always. And though I know that I should be thankful their are times that I complain. And though I know that God is always there to listen to me and help me in every situation and that He has left His Holy Spirit to live in me, I don't always take full advantage of that. I am so thank-ful for God's grace, that even though I don't always do everything perfectly and I don't always seek Him the way I should, He is still there loving me and helping me to do better.
Today was a good day of being joyful, thank-ful and talking to God about my day, through out my day. Days where all goes well are so encouraging and help me to remember that if I keep my attitude and relationship with God right every day can be that way.
We had some beautiful sunshiny fall weather today. I took the kids to the Boy's and Girl's Club special event. We had never been to the club before and were curious about it. One of the chiropractors in town but the fair on and they had a lot of prizes, and information about health and safety. They also served lunch of Sub sandwiches and carrots and pretzels. We had a good time. One of my favorite memories of today was as we were leaving they drew Aaron's (my 3 year old) number to receive a door prize. There was a prize table which he had looked over earlier and found a baseball helmet (Pink one!) that he wanted so when he was allowed to chose I figured that is what he would take. However as he went over to chose somebody mentioned that there were some vitamins there and Aaron perked up and asked "vitamins?" and quickly grabbed it and off we went. He was so excited to get a jar of vitamins that was his own and I was delighted that he made such a practical choice.
I spent much of the afternoon working on curtains for our bedroom and closet. I had hoped to have them done so I could post pictures of them. They are almost all done but not quite so I guess that will have to wait for another day.
I hope you have had a joyful, thank-ful and close to God day too!
Photos in this post were taken by my sister Keren.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The sound of music

I recently finished reading " The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Augusta Trapp. The book belongs to my parents and I have read it before. I enjoyed reading it again so much that I ordered a copy to have on our shelves from CBD . We had recently watched the movie (the first time I had seen it since I got married and the first time, period for Ken and the kids) and we all really enjoyed it except Ken wasn't sure about the singing conversation.
The book had some great thoughts on how a family should be and I thought I would share a couple quotes with you.
The first one is Maria visiting about celebrating birthdays and such: "But whatever the day may be, it is turned into a feast only by that genuine affection of which a large family is a real powerhouse. If people would only understand that you cannot buy feasts with money. They must come out of your heart, out of that love which makes one inventive. I don't want to say that money must necessarily spoil a feast. If used rightly, it can enhance it and add a good deal to it; but only- and this is very important- if it comes on top of the other, never as a substitute. The foundation has always to be this mutual fondness without which there can be no festive spirit. A birthday table can be laden with flowers from the fields, and presents made with the clever fingers of your children, the monetary value of which is only cents but which to you are priceless." It is birthday season here at our house (all except one of our birthdays are from late August to early December) and I really like what she says here. The love of family and the joy of celebrating together is what really makes the day special - never how much money is spent.

Later on she speaks of family life and uses this quote "A family which sings together, plays together, and prays together, usually stays together." After that she speaks of how things were in that era (which was in the 1940's), and gives a message which is even more true today. "Our age has become so mechanical that this has also affected our recreation. People have gotten used to sitting down and watching a movie, a ball game, a television set. It may be good once in a while, but it certainly is not good all the time. Our own faculties, our imagination, our memory, the ability to do things with our mind and our hands- they need to be exercised. If we become too passive, we get dissatisfied."
I would definitely recommend reading this book, I believe you will enjoy it. There is a lot of Catholic doctrine in here, stuff about saints etc that I know I do not agree with (that doesn't come from the bible) but I did find it interesting to read about it but overall just to learn from their family life. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2,000 pounds of free food!

I was thinking that I should tell you about a way that we have gotten free food for the last several years. We go gleaning. Glean: "To gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers." ~Webster. What we have been gleaning has been potatoes. Around a 45 minute drive away from us are many fields of potatoes and for a while we had some friends living very near there that would tell us when the harvesting was being done and we would go the next day and pick up potatoes that were left in the field. Our friends have since moved away but now my Dad simply calls the harvesters and they tell us what field they have been in. They do not mind at all that we go and pick up the leftover potatoes (there are many others that do that as well.). last year a group of us (about a dozen people with 1/2 being children) went and picked up potatoes. We got around 2,000 pounds in less than 2 hours. My parents have a root cellar (which my brother and I dug by hand when we were growing up.) and so we store the potatoes there. I have not had to buy potatoes for around 5 years. I have heard of other sorts of gleaning in other parts of the country but I have not had the opportunity to try it though I wonder if there is other food around here going to waste. If any of you have done gleaning I would love to hear about it. By the way the potato picking season is coming up soon (at least here in Minnesota) so if you look around you may have the opportunity to try this great sport!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teaching our children to work

These pictures are some that I took last week of the kids helping me to can beans. We had such a wonderful time working together and it made me start thinking a lot about working and training our kids to enjoy work. Work is one of those unavoidable parts of our lives and though I have seen many people that seem to totally dislike work, it really can be extremely fun! Work provides us with a purpose in life. If life was all fun and games I think we would feel extremely unfulfilled.
We don't have things figured out perfectly at our house yet, (My kids don't always jump up and down with excitement when I tell them there is a job to do) but overall we do have kids that are good workers and enjoy working a lot of the time. Here are some of my ideas that I think have led to that.
  • Working together. This is something I definitely learned from my growing up years. We loved to work together. You can get things done so much faster and you can have fun singing or visiting while you work. When we were canning beans last week, we spent some of the time saying our memory verses, we did some singing and we also had some competition. All of that makes for a fun time.
  • Set an example of being a cheerful worker. If you love to work then it is far more likely that your children will too. I am very thankful to have a husband who is a hard worker who does not complain about his job. My boys are looking forward to the time that they will go to work like daddy. As far as I am concerned I do enjoy working and I try to pass that attitude on to my kids by singing while I work, explaining why something needs to be done and the reward that will come from it and things like that. One of my fond memories of when Mara was little (she was around 4) was a day that I had gotten a truck load of manure from my dad's animals to put on my garden. I was out shoveling it out and she decided to come out and help. While we were shoveling it started to lightly rain but it needed to get done so we kept at it. Meanwhile, Mara (who has always loved to talk) was keeping up a steady stream of chatter about how this manure was going to help our garden grow and even though the manure stunk it was something that we needed to help our garden. I loved her attitude which I don't think she would have probably had if I would have been out there complaining about the yucky work.
  • Make work a game. This is something that I have enjoyed doing for a long while. When I would fold clothes as a child I would race whoever I was folding clothes with to see who could empty their basket first or fold the most pieces. (often I wouldn't tell them I was racing as then I would have the advantage!) I have now taught Mara and Jonathan how to do that and they enjoy it too. With clothes folding we also play sometimes that each person's pile is the clothes they are packing to go on a trip and we will laugh because someone might have no shirts or way to many socks.
  • Let them work. If you have kids you probably have noticed that the age when they really love to work is when they are a big bother to have working with you. Megan (who is 17 months) loves to be around helping all of the time, but she really isn't helpful. However I do try to let her help as much as possible because that will help to mold her opinion of work in the long run. She has learned how to help put things away and she is starting to set the table, so progress is being made. Aaron (my 3 year old) loves to help do dishes and so even though it makes a big mess (as he really is just wanting to play in the water) I do let him help. I do however draw the line on somethings. The other day I made the mistake of cleaning the toilet in front of Megan so guess what? Later in the day there was Megan busily scrubbing the toilet. I had to tell her "No" and stop that activity as I don't think that is to terribly sanitary. I was surprised to find that a 17 month old can actually do a fairly good job of snapping beans though. (As long as you don't mind a few tails. )

Here is a verse that is a good one to remember when we consider working:

"For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order; if anyone is not willing to work, than he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good." 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

I am still looking for ways to make work fun for my kids and would welcome your comments and ideas!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Harvest time!

We have been busy lately harvesting everything from our garden. We had a killing frost and so the garden is pretty much over. We did keep things alive a little longer by covering with tarps and running the sprinkler during the night. At this time the peppers and sunflowers are still growing but everything else we picked. Mara and I did most of the harvesting. It was so fun having Mara help. She and I both love seeing everything that God makes grow and so was just flitting around the garden making up songs about harvesting and thankfulness.
I have done a little canning this year. Not as much as last year but that is okay. I still have quite a bit of canned goods left over from last year. Tomatoes are some of my favorite things to can as they are so easy! I leave the skins on, quarter them, cold pack them and then water bath them. I find it a lot of fun.
We have eaten a lot of food from our garden this year. This is a picture of a recent stir fry. I was raised eating food like this and I really enjoy it. My husband however doesn't enjoy it so much so I usually serve it for lunch. My kids aren't crazy about stir fry but they are learning to like it.
We picked lots of the green tomatoes in the garden too. They are in boxes under our bed ripening. Hopefully we will have tomatoes to eat for a couple of months yet. Last year my parents using this method had tomatoes until the end of March. Tomatoes like this aren't as good as fresh from the garden but they are pretty good. (About like what you get from the store.)
How is harvesting going at your house?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bouquets that I have made

I have been working on putting together some slide shows for my business website and I tested it out by putting it on here. Picture trail allows you to do a lot of fun things with pictures and then post them where ever you want to. It is a free service. I figured out how to get it in the post now which is fun. You will probably have to bear with frequent slide shows now!
I was thinking about how far my life has come in the computer world in recent years. 10 years ago in college I knew almost nothing about using computers, my family didn't have one growing up and I hadn't been exposed to one hardly at all. My room mate, Christy, at college did have a computer and she let me use it to write e-mails but I had to be explained to many times how to turn it on and use the e-mail. (Can you tell that electronics are not my thing?)
Five years ago I used e-mail but very little else. I did know how to make some documents but if I wanted to print them or save them I would have to call on Ken.
It has just been in the past year or so that I have discovered the Internet and all that is available there. I also got a digital camera and have had a blast with that. I think I am finally figuring out some of this computer stuff but I am sure I still have a very long way to go!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Home from Camping!

Well we got back from our camping trip in Northern Minn. this afternoon. We were at the Jackpine Retreat with a bunch of other Christians and we had a wonderful time! When we got home (it is around a 2 hour trip for us, long enough to get our naps on the way) we eagerly cleaned up as we had to go with no showers as the shower wasn't working this year and I got the clothes started washing.
It was a beautiful weekend for camping as long as you don't mind some rather cool weather. On Friday night it got down to freezing. There was ice on the bucket of water in the morning. I was very thankful that we had brought as many blankets as we had (and then my mom brought extra and she made sure that all her grandchildren were all bundled up.) and I was very thankful for the hats and mittens and all the layers of clothes we had packed. With the cool weather we really enjoyed the hot chocolate and hot apples cider.
At camp we had a wonderful time visiting and playing with friends. We also enjoyed singing and preaching around the campfire. Ken and my brother along with some other friends enjoyed going fishing on the Rainy River on Saturday afternoon. They are showing their catch of Northern below. One of the other pictures shows several of us up on old electrical spools. One of the sports at Jackpine is racing while on spools. I also had fun playing volleyball and others played football, soccer and croquet. This kids roamed the woods, played in the sandbox and on the swings and slide and in general had a great time. Last night after the kids were in bed Ken and I stayed up late playing a game of Rook with friends. All in all it was a great weekend and we are looking forward to next year!

Here is a recipe for a Hot Chocolate Mix:
6 1/2 cups dry milk
3/4 cups instant dry creamer
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa

(sometimes I will use around 2 cups of chocolate drink mix instead of the sugar and cocoa)
Mix everything together and store in a dry, sealed container. To use it put around 1/3 cup of the mix in a cup and then fill with hot water and stir well.
We enjoy this mix and it is much cheaper and healthier (you get some real milk) than store bought hot chocolate mix. This is an essential camping food in our estimation!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Excel still more!

I have been reading in 1 Thessalonians lately and really enjoyed reading chapter 4. Paul tells them that he had heard that they were walking in such a way that they would please God but then he says :"Excel still more!" And then later in that chapter in verses 9&10 he says "I don't have to tell you to love each other, God taught you that and you are doing it but: Excel still more!" Sometimes it is easy to think "I'm doing all I can do" or just simply feel complacent in the spot we are in but we need to remember this admonition "Excel still more!"
Another verse in that chapter is one of my favorites and it says this "Make it you ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." (verses 11-12) I think this one fits in very well with being a homemaker and living frugally. It is good to simply take care of your family (we don't need to have some flashy career), take care of my own business (we need to take care of our families not have to have somebody else take care of us and also we don't need to be involved in other people's business.) and we need to work with our hands - to be hard workers! If we work hard it is unlikely that we will have pressing needs. Also if we live like that then people who are not christians can look at us and be impressed by the life we are living. I hope that you enjoy this verse too!

Decorating with flowers

I have had such fun with flowers this year. They have grown very well in my garden and I have been able to pick flowers to my hearts content. This summer a goal of mine was to have a bouquet of fresh flowers in the house pretty much at all times and I have done that. Sometimes they have been wild and much of the time they have been from my garden. God did such a wonderful job (as He always does) when He created flowers. God must really enjoy beauty and I think that He puts in us a longing for beauty as well. I am feeling a little sad because we had our first frost this week and many of the flowers didn't make it, but I know that God gives us beauty throughout the year (think of the beautiful fall leaves coming up and then the gorgeous snowflakes and evergreen trees and then spring flowers again!). Another thing that I have enjoyed using my flowers for this year is to bring flowers to church each Sunday. It is fun to decorate the building so that everybody can enjoy what God has made.
This past Sunday after church we had a wedding reception for some friends who got married in India (so unfortunately we didn't get to go.). My friend Emily and I (along with my kids) had fun going there on Saturday to decorate the building for the event. I have included pictures.
Decorating with flowers doesn't have to be hard. The top pictures are examples of very simple ways to use them. They are just bowls of floating flowers. It looks very pretty but is very simple to do. The only problem with this method is that the flowers decay faster. When you use garden flowers or wild flowers you can have a very elegant look for very little money.
I hope you enjoy flowers too, when you look at them remember the One who made them for you to enjoy. He is telling you that He loves you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A neat website for homeschooling

I was looking for music theory charts and worksheets and I ran across this site. It has lots of stuff for every subject. There are printable worksheets, articles, etc. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, September 10, 2007

An Apple Mishap

The other day our family went over to pick apples at a friends house. Last year I had picked some crab apples at her house and had used them to make some yummy applesauce and apple leather. This year she said she had noticed another tree was loaded with apples that were all red already and she wondered if I wanted them. I was game so on Labor Day we went over to her house. When my husband saw that they were the size of cherries he wondered whether they would be any good, but since I had used crab apples last year both Ula and I assured him that they would work just fine.
When I got around to making them up I also had some apples from my parents trees that I thought I would make into sauce too and mix the two types together. I cooked them both down (separately thankfully) and then I put the little apples through the sieve and the bigger apples I blended up (the tiny apples I had cooked without coring or anything, just washing and the bigger apples I had I did core but I left the skin on.) The sauce from the little apples was quite pretty but I was feeling a little sceptical about it and so I decided to mix just one spoonful of each type before mixing the whole batch. I was glad I did because when I tasted it, it was horrible. If you have ever tasted a chokecherry, it was similar but quite a bit worse. I had to drink a lot of water to get that taste out of my mouth. My sister who was here at the time tried a bite and almost choked. Needless to say, that batch of applesauce all went to the compost pile.
I had thought I would write about using crab apples to make yummy stuff but it didn't work out that way this time. Lesson learned: Not all crab apples are usable. Oh well, some day soon I plan to go back and pick from the trees that I got from last year and then I will make a bunch of sauce and leather.
Crab apples are something that are going to waste all over the country. Most people that have them don't use them and probably would be happy to have you pick them (just ask nicely first). Try a few at first to see if they are good and if they are then you can put up a lot of good food for winter very cheaply!
What are your experiences with crab apples?

Only a housewife

I recently got John Seymour's book: Forgotten Household Crafts from the library and I really enjoyed this in his introduction so I thought I would share it with you.
""I'm only a housewife, I'm afraid." How often do we hear this shocking admission. I'm afraid when I hear it I feel very angry indeed. Only a housewife: only a practitioner of one of the two most noble professions (the other one is that of the farmer); only the mistress of a huge battery of high and varied skills and custodian of civilization itself. Only a typist perhaps! Only a company director, or a nuclear physicist; only a barrister; only the President! When a woman says she is a housewife she should say it with the utmost pride, for there is nothing higher on this planet to which she could aspire."
I guess I prefer the term Homemaker to housewife, but still I really like the thoughts he had.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Super Simple Homemade Yogurt

Our family enjoys eating yogurt often. It is good for you, we like it and it doesn't cost very much because we make it ourselves. The way we make it is very simple and so I thought I would share it with you.

I use a 2 quart thermos (pictured) which I fill with hot tap water to heat it up while I stir up the other stuff. In a bowl I mix 4 cups of dry milk*, 7 1/2 cups of water (around 110 degrees, I just go by feel which is hotter than lukewarm but not so hot that it would kill the start, I use tap water) and 1/3 cup of start (yogurt with active culture).Stir the water, dry milk and starter together and then empty the thermos and put the mixture in the thermos. Put the lid on and let it sit undisturbed at room temperature for 6-8 hours. Then place in the fridge and let sit over night. The next morning it is ready to eat. We mix berries and sweetener in and eat it like that or we use it in smoothies.

*Yogurt is also very easy to make using whole milk. Simply heat your milk to 108-112 degrees (Watch it carefully but if it overheats simply cool it down to the correct temperature) and stir the starter into that (Whole milk is used in place of dry milk and water). Otherwise do it the same as I told above.

Happy yogurt making!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Protecting our Marriages

I was recently saddened to hear of the pending divorces of 2 couples who have long been in the church and each couple had been married well over 20 years. In both cases the husband had commited adultry. Hearing something like that just gives me a rather sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It also reminds me of this verse "Be sober of spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

The devil is out there and he would like to see marriages especially christian marriages fall apart. There are many ways that he does it and we need to be proactive to prevent against it. It doesn't matter if you have passed the 7 year hard spot or the 15 year or are even almost to 30 years of marriage. The devil would still like to see it fail and we need to be on the alert against that.

Thankfully we have Someone to help us that is more powerful than the devil and He has given us armor to protect us. " Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the hearvenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm." Phil. 6:10-13 God also provided us with guidlines in the bible and common sense to help us protect our marriages.

I am very thankful that I have parents and parents-in-law that have given us a pattern of good marriages to follow. Some of the things that I have learned from them or from others in order to have a good, strong marriage is this:

  • Spend time together. This seems like a given but unfortunatly it is not in this day in age. It is so easy to get so many things going that you each have your own seperate life style. If we are going to function as one flesh -we need to work together, have joint goals and be together. Something that I have started doing lately in that area is going to work one afternoon a week for my husband. He has been incredibly busy at his office and was needing to hire somebody part time and so I have been hiring my sister to watch our kids one afternoon a week and I have been going to work. It has been fun to be together with him and to learn more about his job.

  • Watch out for bad situations. This is something I remember my mom talking about for a long time. Growing up my dad worked as a preacher in our church. (Now he is an ordained Elder, and so is still involved in ministry) Preacher's have many opportunities to spend time away from their families. Many Ministers leave their homes to preach on rallies, attend camps, hold bible studies and do counseling. Much of the time I see them leaving their wives at home. My Mom had witnessed early on in my parents marriage, some friends of theirs marriage fell apart because the husband counseled a woman and ended up having an affair with her. I am very thank-ful that my parents were very careful about this. If they traveled it was nearly always together and they ministered to others as a couple. This doesn't just apply to people involved in church ministry, there are situations that we all need to watch out for. I think it is wise for the wife to be flexible so that she can go with her husband when he goes somewhere.
  • Be aware of your spouses physical needs. As a woman it is hard for me to understand the sexual drive that men have, however I happen to know that it is a lot higher than mine. If we want to keep our husband happy we need to keep him fulfilled in this area as well. When I got married I was giving someone else myself, my body is now his as well.
  • Strive to please your husband. This should be something that we work on all the time. We should try to please him in how we look and dress and in what we do. Don't just let it all go once you have him caught.
  • Pray hard! We need to spend time talking to our great God about our marriage. He has the power to protect us from the devil.

I hope you have long and happy marriages! What is your best advice for a good marriage?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Back to homeschool!

We are back to school! It feels good to get in the routine again. I am really enjoying our morning time of prayer, singing , memorizing and reading our manners book. I had hoped to do that all summer long we got busy and it didn't happen.
When school starts I am so thank-ful to be able to stay at home with my kids and that we have the freedom to school them here as well. I am glad that they don't have to spend the best part of their day away from their family, be taught things that we don't agree with, be in a class with such a large amount of students that they don't get hardly any individual attention and be in constant companionship with friends of questionable charactor. I am thank-ful that we have the freedom to teach them godly principles and that they can have any easier time of reaching academic goals.
I love homeschooling. Both my husband and I were blessed to be homeschooled so it is natural for us to do it for our kids as well. Homeschooling does take time but it is worth it! I hope you enjoy your school year too!
These pictures are of the kids working on their books today. The one of the boys has a child of a friend in it too. They come over once a week and we just include them in our school.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Conquering Clutter

We have been doing a lot of changing around at our house lately. When we bought our house a little over two years ago the bottom level (it is a split level home) was completely unfinnished. My husband has been working on finnishing it, during which time we have used it to some degree. It is now nearly done (We do have a 3rd bathroom to put in but don't really need it so are waiting until we have more time and money). Anyway My husband and I moved down to a new bedroom for us, The girls moved into our old bedroom, My husband and I also moved all of our bathroom stuff to a new bathroom, I moved my desk and all of my crafting supplies and we moved my husband's office stuff. And then on top of that my husband totally redid his office downtown and ended up bringing an old desk home for a new workbench in the garage and so we started totally rearraging and going through everything in the garage.
When you do things like this it really makes you aware of all the clutter that has built up in your house. It is also a great time to get rid of clutter. I have compiled a list of things that have helped me in conquering clutter. Unfortanatly I am still in the conquering stage not quite to the have conquered, but hopefully I will get there eventually!
  1. Do it now! This is hard but a lot of the time it is more managably than you think. This is an especially good rule with mail. It is better to go through it and discard what needs discarded than to let it sit on your counter for a few days. Other things that aren't really to hard to "do now" are replacing a button that fell off, stitching up a hem or seam that is coming out or just pick up an item out of place and put it away as you walk by.
  2. Put like things together. You might have a lot of stuff but it doesn't have to look like a cluttered mess if; All the legos are in one container, the dolls are all in one basket, letters to be answered are all in one folder, library books are all together, etc. This helps at our house a whole lot.
  3. Do a little at a time and a little all of the time. As a busy mom it can be very hard to take a day( or a week) to just go through everything. Part of being a mother is constant interuptions. We can however do a little bit here and a little bit there through out every day and really get a lot accomplished.
  4. Don't buy anything new. This has been the goal at our house this year. I started thinking about how much stuff we had, how my closests and shoe racks are full, the kids have more toys than they use eccetra. (And this isn't from eccessive shopping on my part, at least not much, we are given many, many things!) Right now I am challanging myself to see how long (not thinking months but rather years) I can go without buying new clothes (I am allowing myself to re-make clothes that I have on hand or am given). We are also trying to think really hard about birthday presents and trying to get the kids and each other things that are either really needed or consumable.
  5. Have a garage sale. We did that this spring and it did work well to get rid of a lot of clutter.
  6. Realize that information is readily available on the internet. I love to learn and so I love information. I had a file that was quite full of various information, much of it which was out of date (health stuff and statistics) or elso would be easy to find on the web. I was also to get rid of a bunch of stuff and now have room to use my filing cabinet again!
  7. Set Goals. I like to challange myself ( I work better that way) so I will tell myself I want to have this room or rooms all gone through and clean before some company which we already have scheduled to come, arrives. Or if Ken has to go on a business trip I will rush to see how much I can get looking beautiful by the time he gets home so I can surprise him as he hates clutter.
  8. Designate places. Everything needs to have a home. Otherwise how are you going to know where to put it, much less have your children put it away.
  9. Label. As a frugal person I am not really recommending that you start throwing everything away, I think that mentality is wasteful. However if you save a bunch of stuff to use in your frugal lifestyle but then can't find it, that really doesn't help you out much. It is very important to label things and keep like things together so that you can find things when you do need them. Boxes of stuff especially need to be labeled.
  10. Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to read all your notes from college again? Do you really think all of the letters you saved will be needed to write history books? Will you ever do a craft that you have had the stuff to do it for 10 years and haven't done it yet? Do you really like all the decorations that need dusting around your house?
  11. Get Motivated. What helps me here is to either set goals as a mentioned above or to read books on the subject of organizing and decluttering. Our library has a bunch about that and I have enjoyed them and they always get me encouraged to work harder in my own home.

I hope this helps you. Now I had better go work at getting my office and craft room in order. I also have a question for all of you- what do you do with things that come into your home that don't have a home yet? For some reason that all ends up on my desk and I am trying to figure out how to end that.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Following Jesus

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" A question from Jesus in Mathew 16:24-26
This morning at church Mike used this scripture in his sermon. This a great verse and one that it is good to reminded of over and over again. What is more important in life than the eternal salvation of our soul? The answer is "nothing".
Many people can say they are following Jesus but unless they are denying themselves and taking up their cross first, they have things backwards and aren't truly following Christ. Denying myself doesn't sound very fun. It means denying myself of my ideas, my will, my wants. Getting rid of everything that is all about SELF. That sounds quite harsh until you think about the reason we are denying self- it is so that God can make the decisions in our life, so we can do what He desires. So the Being that is in control of the universe, knows everything, earnestly wants what is best for us, and always makes the right decision can be in control of our life instead of me, somebody who knows very little and is not aware of the future. When we put denying self in that light it starts looking far more attractive.
We need to let go of what we think, and let God lead. He has given us His word which gives us the directions we need for our lives, it always works. He is also always there to listen to us when we pray and guide us in our walk with Him.
I am continually striving to live ever better for Jesus Christ, I hope that somehow I can encourage you in your walk as well. May we grow together!


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