Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'm Back

I've got some blog post ideas floating around, but right now just want to take a minute and thank my mom for gifting me this computer.  It was a little buggy but seems to be working at least for now.  I can blog again!!!!  I hope to update regularly :)

What's new with us you ask?
1.  Abby turned 5.  My baby isn't a baby anymore.  That's very sad but I'm trying to be brave.

2. Greg tried out for and was accepted onto a club soccer team out of Charleston, IL.  The season is almost over but I think he has learned a lot.

3.  Lee graduated high school.  If I didn't feel old on Abby's birthday, this finished me off.  We are so very, very proud of him and look forward to what adventures he decides to pursue in the future.

4.  Lest I leave him out, Bear is...........Bear :)  He has learned to ride his bike without training wheels and has become a fairly proficient reader. 

I'll post again later, tonight or tomorrow so stay tuned :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What I Wear on the Farm (Fall Edition)

That might be an odd blog post title.  I didn't really think about it but I think it fits.

We live on a farm.....we had a huge garden this summer and currently have pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and guineas with more beef steers coming after Thanksgiving.  We put up hay in the summer and deal with mud and general yuck pretty much all the time.

Now, before I go any further, I will say that my warm weather wardrobe stinks, therefore it was frequently long shorts and capris.  I'm working on it.  As funds are tight and my clothing needs go to the bottom of the list I don't know what I'll be wearing next summer.  Nevertheless, modesty is always a priority for me regardless of skirt/dress/pants.  I firmly believe that women can be modest in jeans/capris and shorts if they are chosen carefully.  I love tunic-type tops!!!!!  Anyway, back to the task at hand.....

My current outfit is:
thick fleece socks
black leggings
red "sweatpant" skirt
blue camisole
blue snowman sweatshirt
yellow calico apron
rust colored shawl

Yesterday's outfit was similar but I wore my blue apron (I love it still Patty!!!!)

I did laundry like this, cleaned the house, waded mud in the chicken pen to gather eggs and feed birds (I did wear muck boots).

My church outfit this past Sunday:
tan socks
brown riding boots
 grey leggings
white petticoat
purple long sleeve top
denim button front jumper
brown cowl
rust colored shawl
yellow knit hat

I wear what I like.  I figure that everyone else on the planet does, so why shouldn't I???  I just want what I wear to be beautiful, feminine and modest.  That's all.  I don't bend to the dictates of fashion (unless it is late 1800's fashion).  I work in my clothes.  My dresses probably aren't stiff and starched and stain-free....but that's ok.  I love them and will continue to wear them as long as I have them.  And I'm liable to make more.  And I'll make them for my daughter if that's what she wants.  And we will wear them with joy.

So, if you see us out and about and think that we've lost our minds, we have.  I lost mine a long time ago.  You can consider me eccentric...I don't mind at all :)

The Curse of Facebook

I had every intention of entitling this post "How Facebook was Killing My Soul".  But that was last week and other stuff (somewhat related) has happened and I don't have time to break this down into 45 blog posts so, here ya go.

So, over the years I have had a sneaking suspicion that I spent too much time on facebook.  It wasn't really a suspicion as it was a conviction (which is much more important in the light of eternity!).  I ignored it, justified my facebook addiction (my personal favorite is my lack of adult interaction without it), and just continued on my merry little way.

And it was merry.

For a while.

Then jealousy creeped in.....anger.....bitterness....a judgmental attitude.....envy.....spite.....

It wasn't pretty....and it was killing my soul.

That anger towards someone who "slighted" me (or did something I deemed stupid - whether it was my business or not) ended up being foisted on my poor unsuspecting family.

I would see someone go on a date, a vacation, buy a new car, new house, move to a new "exciting" place.....and I would get jealous and bitter.....

Even though I live in a perfectly fine (albeit cold in the winter) house, on a lovely piece of property (that we don't own but our landlord is WONDERFUL!), and drive nice, used, paid for vehicles....I would be jealous.  I would covet.  And then I would be angry that I couldn't do that, or have that.

Pretty ugly, huh?

I think so too.  I spent one whole day weeping in despair over what I had become.  A horrible, ugly sinful person.

Facebook didn't make me that way but it enabled those sins to creep in, grab a hold of me, and significantly alter my personality and emotions.  It was bad.

So, after significant prayer and guidance from God I have made some fairly drastic changes to my facebook account.  You may notice, or not.  IT IS NOTHING PERSONAL.  This is all about me.  I am still posting on facebook some.  We have family that isn't nearby and it is a convenient way to keep in touch with them and share pictures, etc.  I finally decided that as long as what I post isn't angry or judgemental then it was up to the reader to do what they wanted with it.  I'm am still reading on facebook some.  Not much, but some.

I can't begin to tell you what a difference this has made in my life!  I am reading my bible with a goal of understanding, having long prayer chats with God, sewing, knitting, cleaning and blogging again.  I've started reading Anne of Green Gables and I'm watching Downton Abbey and Doctor Who and Sherlock.  I'm snuggled up in bed with the kids reading Mr. Popper's Penguins or having "life talks" with my teenagers.  I'm living a life, a real life....not one created on a hand-held device.

My attitude has changed as well.  I'm thankful for the gifts that we have been given.  I'm trying to see both sides of the coin - and regardless, not passing judgement.  I'm making purposeful connections with friends....real life connections....not over a screen.

Does this mean that I'm completely free from those sins?  No.  Unfortunately, Satan is always there, trying to distract and pull me away from what is best for me and my family.  I am grateful that God finally got through to me about this though.  I'm glad to have my life back.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Canning Goals/Reality

A friend asked/challenged her fellow home-canners to share what our canning goals are so here I am to share :)

I will admit up-front that my goals may not be spot on for us.  I haven't done much canning in the last 4-5 years so I'm not completely sure what we will use in a year.

The smaller # in a range is what I think we will need for 1 year, the large would be a guess at 2 years worth.  It pays to be prepared and you never know what will happen to a garden next year.

Sweet corn (freezer) GOAL: 52-104 3 cup bags
                                DONE: 101 3 cup bags

Green beans (canned) GOAL: 52 quart jars (that is a 2 year estimate for us as we don't eat beans every week)
                                  DONE: 57 quarts

Salsa (canned): GOAL: 12-24 pints
                        DONE: 30 pints

Spaghetti Sauce (canned): GOAL: 12-24 quarts
                                        DONE: 7 quarts but we had one for lunch today

Tomato Puree (canned - I use this like juice): GOAL: 12-24 quarts
                                                                    DONE: 2 quarts

Tomato Sauce (canned): GOAL: 12-24 pints
                                      DONE: 0

Diced Tomatoes (canned): GOAL: 12-24 pints
                                         DONE: 0

Pizza Sauce (canned): GOAL: 12-24 pints
                                  DONE: 0

Okra (frozen): GOAL: 2 gallons
                       DONE: 2 quarts

Jellies/Jams:  There is no goal.  I make as much of these as humanly possible both for our consumption and to give as gifts.  I have no idea how much I have made because I just store it and keep going.  lol

Shredded Zucchini (frozen): GOAL: 24 bags
                                          DONE: 64 bags (I just kept shredding as I can substitute it for hash browns

Pickles (canned): GOAL: 12-24 quarts
                           DONE: I have absolutely no idea.  I think that I have 60 quarts and 40 some pints.

Pickle relish (canned): GOAL: 6 half pints
                                  DONE: 0 but I still have some left from last year

Rotel (canned): GOAL: 6-12 half pints
                        DONE: 0

Apple pie filling (canned): GOAL: 12 quarts
                                       DONE: 0

Fruit: I would put up as much fruit as I can get my hands on but it is expensive and I don't have any growing here. I will do some apple butter, applesauce and pumpkin butter.  And can some pumpkin.  I am also going to dehydrate some watermelon and canteloup when it is ready.

We will have a calf in our freezer very soon and a pig or 2 in a few months.  We have 57 chickens now :)  Plus pheasants, guineas, a turkey and ducks.  And hopefully someone or another in this house will get a deer.  We are very blessed.  In a few weeks we will dig our potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes for storage :)  I've been picking mint.  Hopefully next year my herbs will do better.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer...aka Canning Season

It's the most wonderful time of the of them anyway.

All that work we've been doing in the garden is beginning to pay off.  Earlier this summer we had spinach and lettuce with our onions too.

The ever present zucchini have made their way into many of our meals and I've been trying lots of new recipes....we've had:
fried zucchini
zucchini bread
zucchini pizza crust (not very good)
zucchini bites (working on the seasoning)
zucchini applesauce oatmeal cookies

I've also made lots zucchini jam.  Google it.  It's very good, easy to make and cheap.

I've been shredding zucchini and sticking it in the freezer.  I use it in the recipes above and also to stretch potatoes in any recipe that calls for hash browns (I use equal parts zucchini and potatoes).

We also have cucumbers.  So far I've just been putting cucumbers and onions in a quart jar with a little sugar, a little salt, half water, half vinegar.  Let them sit in the fridge overnight and then enjoy!  Delicious.

I'll be making dill pickles later this week.  Bear loves dill pickles :)

And a batch of sweet pickle relish.

We've been eating cherry tomatoes (Bear and Abby love those things too).  Finally some of our big ones are starting to turn.  What do I plan on making?
spaghetti sauce
tomatoes and peppers (rotel)
tomato sauce/juice
diced tomatoes

Green beans are blooming so I expect to be picking next week.
We've already been blessed with sweet corn from a family member so I've got a little in the freezer.  Ours should be ready in a couple of weeks.

We are also growing peppers: sweet, cayenne and jalapeno; eggplant, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, okra (I've been freezing some), pumpkins, watermelons and cantelope, broccoli, cabbage, green beans and sweet corn.

It is very satisfying to see the jars lined up on the counter, hear the ping of the seals, walk into a full pantry.  It is a lot of work, but the results are so worth it.  The less I can depend on big business to feed my family, the happier I am.  The more work I do myself, the less our food costs.  Gardening is the ultimate cost saving tool.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shinn Homeschool 2014-2015

Let the 2014-2015 homeschool year begin!

I'm sure you all remember my "thought process" a few weeks ago in deciding on a curriculum.  I scrapped that plan.  I just didn't have the money.  But that's ok!!!!!  Thankfully I have a lot of books here so for about $60 we will have everything we need to get a great 1st grade and Prek4 education.

Bear will be using:
Singapore math 1A and 1B (ordering)
A Reason for Handwriting 1 (ordering)
All About Spelling Level 1 (have)
Explode the Code books 1-3 (ordering)
Alphaphonics (have)

Abby will be using:
Amish workbooks (have)
Coloring, letter, number pages from the internet (just the cost of printer ink)

Together we will be studying:
Creation/Old Testament, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome (have)
the days of the creation week in relation to natural science topics (have)

Our read alouds for the year include: (have)
Mr. Popper Penguins (started)
Little House on the Prairie series
Winnie the Pooh
Charlotte's Web
Magic Tree House series

I plan to include mapwork that goes along with history and science topics and we will learn the oceans and continents this year.

We are currently working on life skills such as traffic signs, address and phone number memory, and usage of a telephone.  We are studying the Bible together and our character trait of the month is contentment.  This will also include Awana lessons and memory work when the time comes.

I also expect to spend at least one day a week doing nature study.

Abby will be continuing exercises in letter recognition, counting (she does to 15 really well) and some at-home speech therapy.  I will evaluate where she is in January and MIGHT order the Before the Code books for her.  MAYBE.  She is 4.  I will not push her.  We will also work through some of the activities in a Before Five in a Row book I found upstairs (getting books from the library if necessary).  She has made great strides in motor skills over the last few months so I am pleased with that.  If we can get a handle on her speech issues then she will be doing well.  She IS doing well, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

So that is where we are.

I've alotted about an hour in the morning for "seatwork", a short period for Bear to read aloud to me and then 30 minutes in the afternoon and again before bed for me to read to them.  Our first day was a success.  I look forward to many more happy days.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Routines

Once upon a time, I lost my to-do list.

Thereafter ensued a rather lengthy discussion among friends about the use of to-do lists.

I had one friend even suggest that she didn't use one at all.

So I gave that a try.

Let's just say that the results were not encouraging.  lol

Back to the to-do list I went.  A few friends asked to see it so I took a picture but then a few wondered exactly what my to-do list day looked like so here we are :)

To begin, you must understand that I exist from routines.  My to-do list contains the things that won't get done with just my basic daily routine.  So I'll start there (If you've read my post about my winter routine some of this will be the same).

I get up around 6 a.m.  I get Lee up if it is a work/school day and then I go feed cows.  In my pajamas.  The cows don't care.
When I get back in I make coffee, start laundry, make sure Greg is up and do my Bible study.  I hang out the first load of laundry and start the 2nd load.  I check facebook.  I hang out the 2nd load.  Sometimes I do the dishes.  When the big boys leave for work/school I take a shower.

After my shower I consult my to-do list.  Sometimes I make a "master list" on Sunday, sometimes I make the list every morning.  The list is sometimes on an index card, scrap of paper, my day-planner calendar.....I just jot down when needs to be done that day.  Really, don't over think this.  If the kids spilled kool-aid on the kitchen floor, the add mop kitchen floor.  If someone wrote their name in the dust on the coffee table write dust living room.  If the dog knocked over the potted plants (again) then write down clean/sweep front porch.

Then do the things on the list.

I try to spend an hour on the list first thing in the morning.  In addition to whatever is on the list the following is to always be done, every day:  sweep downstairs, make my bed, straighten bathroom, laundry, cat litter box, dishes, meals.  I also am in charge of feeding the cows twice a day, at 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Those are ball park times but I try to stay on schedule...remember that if you do everything at the same time everyday it is harder to forget to do it :)  Sometimes I also feed and water chickens and gather eggs.  Rarely I will check on pigs (usually only if Norman has worked more than a double shift in a week).  I also don't often put hay in the manger or straw in the cow stalls but I could.  Every day I check with Norman and one of us do these chores.  If I do them, I do it around 3, just before I feed cows the 2nd time.  Routine, routine, routine.

As long as I only do 2 loads of laundry, I bring the dry laundry in right after lunch.  Then I do any remaining chores from the list.  If we do school that day then there are more chores in the afternoon.  If we don't then I try to get everything done before lunch.

I got to thinking about my insistence on having my work done before supper.  I know a lot of moms that do housework all day, even into the evenings and if you are working then I imagine that you would have to do that to get everything done.  I find it very important to give myself a "stopping point".  So after 5 or 6 I am "off the clock".  That means that if it isn't done off the list by then, it moves to the next day.

Does that mean I'm watching TV all night?  Sometimes.  Sometimes I work in the garden when it is cooler, sit on the porch and read, knit or sew.  I think it is reasonable to have a stopping point in your day of work.  Now when the garden is in full swing I imagine that my days will stretch far into the evening as I preserve as much of God's bounty as possible.  But I try not to make that the "norm".

I hope that this helps some of you establish your daily routines and to-do lists.  Really, the routine is the most important thing.  If I can get the routine stuff done (basic housework and animal chores) then the day has gone well.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Finding My Place in History

I'm a historian.  Looking at the big picture in light of past events is something I do...sometimes unconsciously.  I like to fit together the pieces of the puzzle, compare past events and their consequences with things that are happening or seem to be happening now.  I enjoy teasing out the way history has been "revised" to fit present "correctness".

Once upon a time I thought I might enjoy a future in politics.  Historically, many of our founding fathers dealt in politics, although I'm sure nothing like the current mess we have.  I wanted to be out there MAKING history.  I didn't just want to read about it....I wanted to DO it.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered, correctly, that I wouldn't be cut out for any century.  My skin isn't that thick, I don't think that quickly and I doubt I could shoulder the burdens of the world for one minute let alone for the duration of a career.

That's probably just as well that I discovered this in 8th grade.  lol  Anyway, as a young adult, a young mother, I discovered my favorite part of history.....learning about the lives of those who have gone before us.  That is true history.  The day to day stuff that shapes the lives of children, families and communities.  THAT is what will eventually trickle down and create history.  The lives and actions of ordinary people make a big difference in the scheme of things, even when their names and lives are forgotten.  I think that is why it is most important that we keep a journal, whether online or on paper (I do both).  I find those things fascinating and I'm sure others do.

In our world today we are fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The big debate is whether Bowe Bergdahl was a deserter, taliban sympathizer or genuine prisoner of war (I'm sure his mother is glad he is home but was the price too high?).  And what in the heck is his father spouting off about??  Who knows, right?  Unemployment is through the roof (and touches the lives of those I know), drug use is running rampant and the state of IL is going down the drain (rapidly).

Let's face it....what can I do about any of that?  Really?  In the course of historical events relating to these headline items, you will not find my name.  You won't find the name of anyone that I know personally.

And that's ok.

That took me a long time as an adult to realize.

It's the little things, the mundane things, that matter.  They really do.

If I don't feed our cows, they will die.  The same with the piglets and chickens.  If I don't care for them daily in feeding, watering and general maintenance then they will die.  If they die we are out food for the next year and a fairly large chunk of money.    I school my children daily so that they will grow into hardworking, dependable, loving, generous and kind adults that make an impact in their family; their community.  I shop (care for my family, supporting my community businesses) and visit and take part in community activities.  I volunteer.  I read.  I knit.  I try to expand my understanding of the world around me.  Not because I can single-handedly change it, but because God made this wonderful, beautiful world and I want to know what's out there.  Why shouldn't I?  

I want to be able to help my neighbors and friends.  I want to love unconditionally.  I want to impact my little world.  I CAN do that.

Washing dishes might not seem like much but if they aren't clean, chaos reigns supreme.  If chaos reigns, then how will my children understand the peace of order?  If clothes aren't clean, will my husband be able to go about his duties with a full focus on the work in front of him?  If meals aren't healthy, how will our bodies get the nourishment they need to grow and function properly?  If we don't expand our minds, how will we know what could be?

Mothers, fathers, don't get stuck in thinking that life is mundane nothingness and then you die!  It is the little things that count!  One more story, clean laundry, home-cooked meals, snuggling in bed, driving to practice, homework.......we are impacting the lives of our children and those we encounter every single day!  Let's put a smile on our faces and embrace our places in history.  My place is as a wife, mother, gardener, animal caretaker, dog and cat owner, baker, knitter, seamstress, learner, explorer.......and I plan to leave a written (typed) legacy of all those wonderful things for those that come behind me.  How about you?  What is your legacy?  Have you embraced your place in history?