Saturday, October 31, 2009

Handwriting Without Tears

We were recently given a gently used
Handwriting Without Tears workbook.

I am loving this book!

We had not used this curriculum in the past,
but I plan to keep using it into the future.

Have any of you used this method?

Love it!!


Thank you, Bonnie and Angie, for your comments. I appreciated them very much.
And yes, Angie, I was thinking the very same thing: Thank the Lord I AM going to see the Heppners today!!!!!

I was thinking more on this last night and early this morning, and I was reminded of Wife to the Rockstar's post titled Inadequate.

I had left a comment on that post encouraging her (as a few of you have done, by phone, email, or on this blog) and in my comment I said something about "why is the cutting remark so much more hurtful than the many, many other positive comments are helpful?"
Do you understand what I am saying? It's like the hurtful things hurt more than the good things feel good.
(Such impressive grammatical structure, I know...)

Yesterday was a double whammy in a way because all four of those encounters not only attacked our conviction on family planning, but also our call to homeschool.
These two issues, while they do not define who we are, make up a large part of who we are.

I am convinced that yesterday was a total spiritual attack on our family.

God has been faithful to remind me of His promises and to show me, in the faces of our beautiful children, why we do what we do.

So, I am off this morning to a homeschool conference presented by the parents of 17 children. Perhaps I won't feel so ostracized there... *wink, wink*

Friday, October 30, 2009


We are reeling this evening from some incredibly hurtful things that people said about us.

I won't go into great detail because my kids read this blog, but I will tell you about one of the encounters.

Four separate people, each of whom we deal with closely, each just totally stabbed us in the gut, all in the same day.

I am choosing to look at it, in part, in a thankful way. Thankful that at least now we know where we stand with them. And how from now on, I will be guarded in my interactions with them because my heart is not safe with them.

One of the people actually told my husband that he should stop having kids because having so many kids is hampering him from spreading the gospel.


He laid out how exactly that should happen--if you catch my drift (think procedure here)--and also said that I should go to work.
Because I am so "gifted" by being able to teach music lessons, that we are foolish for me to "have to go through all this over and over", that I could be making a lot of money if I would just go to work.

Dennis asked him if he thought we shouldn't have so many kids. He said he didn't mean the ones we already had, he just meant that we should stop having more. When Dennis told me about it, I said that if they had had this conversation six months ago (before finding out I was expecting our 8th) this man would have said the same thing.

I don't want to give this particular person so much credit by getting upset about it, but it does hurt me deeply.

I'll tell you why.

When people tell me something like this, what is really at the core--really at the core--is this:

they don't think my children are worthy of their own life.

That's what hurts me.
Say what you want about me, but when you tell me that my children are not worthy of life you wound me at my very core.

Some of you who read my blog probably share this man's opinion. I'm asking you--begging you--please don't share it with me.

Examine your heart and see if I'm not right about the root of that kind of thinking.

People pass judgment all the time on families who have "too many" kids. Tell me if the core of that kind of thinking isn't that you are deeming that those children are not worthy of their own lives.

For this man to say that my life is being wasted, staying at home and "going through this", I say this: no one needs me more than these children.
That doesn't stop once they reach school age. (He said he thought it was ok to stay home when kids were young, but once they are old enough for school, that's where they should be and at a job is where I should be.)
No kid who needs to learn piano needs me more than these children whom the Lord has entrusted to us.

No business needs my work more than these kids need me.

The way he spoke, it was the dollar that was more important to him than the souls within this family.

It was degrading, it was humiliating, it was awful.

And you know what else? He's not alone.
People in our family have implied the same things.
It's hurtful.

And it tells me that he, among others, have deemed that our children are not worthy of their own lives.

And that hurts.


You may already know that the four seasons in Minnesota are
Almost Winter
Still Winter
Road Construction

I would like to propose that the four seasons for a farmer are
Waiting to Get in the Field
Still Waiting to Get in the Field
Working Like a Madman Trying to Get Something Done in the Field
Too Darn Wet to Get Anything Done in the Field

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Life in a Picture

This picture is from about two years ago.
That's Andrew and Christopher.
I just found it again in a stack of pictures
and I think it is one of my new favorites.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Money Saver--Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

I also make my own dishwasher detergent.

This one is SUPER easy!

1 part baking soda
1 part Borax

I usually mix a cup of each in a little gladware container, mixing it with my hands.
Use 1 T. in the detergent dispenser of your dishwasher.

I also use vinegar in the rinse-aid compartment.

Cheap and easy!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Money Saver--Make Your Own Laundry Soap

I started making my own laundry soap early this spring. I have made two batches. I cannot even tell you how much money this has saved us!!!

Here is the recipe I use:

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value
4 Cups hot tap water
1 Goat Milk Soap Laundry Bar OR Dr. Bronner's Castile Bar Soap
1 Cup Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: I use Fels-Naptha Goat Milk bar soap, but you could use Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps. Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. I couldn't find Washing Soda at Wal-Mart, but did find it at our grocery store.
I also couldn't find the Fels-Naptha at Wal-Mart, but found it at our little tiny grocery/hardware store in a nearby town with a population of 200.
Recipe cost approx. $2.

Now, as a farm wife, I had no trouble finding a five-gallon pail. Finding a clean five-gallon pail was the problem.
If you are NOT a farmwife, you could buy one at Fleet Farm or Home Depot.

I had Dennis bring me one from outside. Mine is quite fashionable--it says "Case IH Hy-Tran Ultra". It used to house tractor engine oil, and then was moved to the barn to carry feed and I think milk for the calves, too.

I had some scrubbing to do, but had no real choice because when I asked Dennis if I should just buy one at Fleet, he said something like, "for goodness' sake, don't BUY a bucket!! I've got plenty outside!!"

This recipe makes quite a bit--10 gallons total, five of the "concentrate" but you dilute it in half to use--so if you don't do as much laundry as I do, or just want to try it out, team up and share it with a few friends.
Since two batches has lasted me at least six months (I can't remember for sure when I made the first one), I imagine it would last more "average" households quite a while!

Let me know if you have questions!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why am I so hard on myself??

One day last week I was sort of berating myself because it was 10:30 and I had not yet gotten in the shower.

I was telling myself, "this is ridiculous..."
I think, now, that it was my mortal enemy, Satan, who was telling me that.

It was then that I stopped that train of thought, and realized that if I were my own friend, I would say something like the following:

"Good grief, Girl! You may not have showered, but you have
*walked two miles
*did your weights workout
*changed and dressed two little people
*instigated the dressing of three other not-so-little people
*washed and hung out two loads of laundry
*washed a counterful of dishes
*prepared supper (in the crock-pot)
*fixed breakfast for six (Dennis and the bigger boys make their own)
*taught first grade
*started work with the fourth grader
*swept the kitchen
AND had devotional time with the Lord!"

I think I need to cut myself some slack.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Well That Stinks...

That really stinks.

I'm not upset.
It's just the way things are on a dairy farm.

But that really stinks.

Hauling manure, that is.

Ahhh, the scents of autumn...

Fun with a Pharmacist

Sometimes it's fun to see people's reaction when they take in my, shall we say, youthful appearance, combined with the number of children I have.

Tuesday afternoon was no exception.

I was standing in line at the pharmacy counter, waiting for my prescription to be filled.

I happen to know the main pharmacist, and she was handing my package to another pharmacy worker to bring out to me. (I could observe all this through the giant windows they have in their raised area behind the counter. So, you know, people can tell if they were mixing all the drugs correctly or not.)

The pharmacy tech. looks at the package, looks out to me, looks to the pharmacist that I know with a questioning look, says something that looks like "that lady over there???", to which the pharmacist that I know responds with a nod and a giggle, and the pharmacy tech looks again and says, again quite apparently, "that one--right there???", to which she gets another "yep" from the pharmacist that I know.
("Yep" is a term in Minnesota that means "yes" or "that's affirmative".)

Would you like to know what was in my package?
A pair of compression stockings, perhaps more commonly known as TEDs, or varicose vein stockings, to help with my varicose veins. I have them because of the many pregnancies the Lord has blessed me with. (If you decide to follow the link to see what a varicose vein is, rest assured mine are nowhere near as bad as the poor guy's in the picture...)

Ok, so why do I find this so funny???
Probably because most of the prescriptions they fill for TEDs are for people who are much older than me. My guess is this small-town pharmacy doesn't fill too many scrips for women in their 30s for compression stockings.

I also find this funny because I am, quite obviously, easily amused.
Thank you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Murphy's Oil Soap

Murphy's Oil Soap is one of my very good friends.

You've probably all heard of the little trick to make your husband think you've started supper even when you haven't is to saute an onion?

Well, Murphy's Oil Soap is like that, but for housecleaning.

I should tell you that my method of "dusting" is to blow really hard as I stand in front of the shelf or tv cabinet.
If it is particularly dirty, I may even tuck my hand in my sleeve and give it a swipe, but only very occasionally.

This is probably why on my cleaning days, I really like to wash the surfaces instead of just "dust" them. 'Cause, see, I don't really "dust".

An added bonus is that if I leave the house and come back inside, it smells like I've really been cleaning!
It's sort of like the "spic and span" smell in your bathroom smells like you've been cleaning, but this is milder smell--for wood.

If, like Bonnie, you had not previously hear of Murphy's Oil soap, you can find it in any cleaning product section at Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

Too bad I won't get any royalties off of my little advertisement for this...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caribou Coffee

I had never been to a Caribou Coffee. *gasp*
Until Tuesday.
(I've still never been to a Starbucks. *double gasp*)

We don't have a Caribou coffee near us, as we live quite rurally. The town where we do most of our shopping/errands/appointments does not have a Caribou.

But on Tuesday, Dennis and I had an appointment in a town that does have a Caribou.
I had been given a gift card for Caribou, which preempted our visit.

Wowwwwwww. That was goooooooood.
Dennis and I shared a wild pumpkin coffee.

It was dessert in a cup, I tell you.

Dennis also chose an apple fritter and I chose the shockingly daring, go-out-on-a-limb-when-you're-somewhere-you've-never-been-before sugared donut.

What a warm-you-up-treat on a drizzly morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Room by Room

Living room----check.
My bedroom----check.

As may already you know, I've been cleaning a lot lately.

And I am nearly done. I have two rooms left to go.

Each spring and again in the fall, I make a list of every room in our house. And I mean every room. My list looks something like
1. living room
2. upstairs bathroom
3. downstairs bathroom
4. front entry
5. laundry room
6. den (which we in reality so technically refer to as "the downstairs")
7. lower entry
8. hallway
9. my bedroom
10. Ruby's room
etc., etc., etc.

I then go down the list and C-L-E-A-N those rooms.
I don't go in order, but you could, seeing as I have no jurisdiction over what you do in your home.

Sometimes I have "assigned" myself a date to clean each room. If I know we have somewhere to be on a certain day, I would maybe only decide to clean the hallway that day as it would be a much shorter job than, say, the kitchen.

I save the kitchen, living room, and the downstairs for days when I have all day.

The type of cleaning I accomplish with this list is the real deep cleaning like pulling out furniture to vacuum behind it, washing woodwork, washing walls, vacuum out the furniture, and picking up endless bits and pieces of everything, it seems. In the kitchen, I pull out the appliances and wash under/behind them, the top of the fridge, the cupboard doors--you get the picture.

And when I'm done with the room, it's such a good feeling to know it is really clean!

Some years, it only takes me two weeks to go room by room, averaging a room or two a day. Other times it has taken much longer. Like this year. I still have two rooms to go, and I think it will have been more like four weeks until I am ALL done.

Of course, those rooms I cleaned two weeks ago are already messy again. It's not like a once and for all type thing. But at least I know that I cleaned them, and they are only messy and not so dirty.

It is a great time to declutter and rearrange furniture, too.

So those are some of my thoughts on cleaning and keeping a house.

The end.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's a.....


Yep, that's right--we had our ultrasound today and it's a baby!

Dennis and I had decided that this time around, it would be fun to wait until the birth to find out if this baby is a girl or boy.

We didn't find out with Nathaniel, but we have found out with the other six.

(When you have this many, you can sort of "change things up a bit".)

So we were really living on the wild side when we decided not to find out.

This decision, however, was driving our kids NUTS!!! They suggested that we have the ultrasound tech. write it on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope.

We thought, ok, for fun, we'll let them have their little "ownership" of the situation.

It turns out that this baby is VERY modest and was not willing to reveal just whether he or she is a he or a she!

What a funny chain of events, in my opinion.

So, we will wait to see if it's a boy or girl.

At least we know it's gotta be one or the other.


Remember these conversations?
Home Educating
My Husband's Response
My Response. Warning: It's Long
Tiny Addition to "My Response"

(Be sure to read through the comments, as some back and forth occurred there.)

I found these quotes, they stuck out to me and I remembered some of the things that were said in the above conversations...

Education, without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
~C.S. Lewis

You teach a little by what you say. You teach the most by what you are.
~Dr. Henrietta Mears

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's All Fun and Games...

People tease me.
And I don't mind.
It's when people make fun of me--then I mind.

Let me explain.

I grew up in a family/household that teased. We said silly things, told jokes, pulled funny little (harmless) tricks. Like if we got up from the table to get something, my dad would sometimes switch plates with us and wait for us to notice--that kind of thing.
We laughed often.
We were taught to laugh at ourselves when we said or did something a little foolish.

I say this to tell you that it's not like I've never been teased before.

But there is a difference between teasing and making fun of someone. Making fun of someone, to me, is the same as mocking them. Just so we're clear on how I define "teasing" and "making fun."

Teasing doesn't make someone feel bad.
Making fun of someone does.

For instance, I might tease our Andrew, who LOVES hamburger noodle hotdish in this way.
Andrew: "Mom, what's for supper?"
Mom: "Hamburger noodle hotdish. I know that's a real bummer for you...such a disappointment, since it's not really your favorite meal..."
Andrew: "Mooommmm...It IS my favorite!!!"

See, I'm just teasing; not making fun of the fact that he really likes hotdish.

Why am I posting this stuff?
I'll tell you.

Some people tease me about how many kids we have.
Many more people make fun of me--mock me--for how many kids we have. They say really hurtful things, often in front of my kids.

They make fun of our family size, as if we are uncontrollable breeders or something, with questions like,
Don't you know what causes that??
You do know how to put a stop to that, don't you?

These are the kind of things that are aimed at insulting my intelligence. Said to make it appear as if the other person is so much smarter, more enlightened than I.

What do we as parents teach our kids all the time?
That when we say something in an attempt to build ourselves up and put someone else down--that's wrong.

Please don't misunderstand me. I enjoy teasing--both to give it and receive it.
I don't enjoy making fun of someone or being made fun of.

Here are some things that people say, and how we respond (occasionally even out loud.)

Wow--glad they're yours and not mine!
Me, too.
or if the question is addressed to Dennis, he'll say
Me, too, 'cause their mom is my wife.

How do you remember all their names?
Do you not know more than seven people?
Remembering their names is no problem--putting the correct name with the right kid, therein lies the challenge.

Don't you know what causes that??
Dennis prefers to answer this one with: Yep. And I like it.

You sure have your hands full, don't you?
Better than having them empty.

Wow, I can hardly the stand the two I have!
I have no response for this, other than it makes me very, very sad. Especially because it is often said in front of their own kids.

I know that most people are not trying to be hurtful. I just want people to stop and think about what they are saying and how it will sound.

Couldn't more people just look at children--no matter how many there are--and say, "Wow...what a blessing."

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Didn't Teach Him

On my walk one recent morning, I realized something that has been ruminating in my mind since.

Our Nathaniel, 13, is an American history whiz. I am not exaggerating in the least. (This wasn't the realization--that's basically established fact...)

I want to assure you, the point of this post is not "homeschooling vs. government schooling".

That said, I am so glad that he is a child who is educated at home. If he went to the government school, I would think to myself, "Wow, that history teacher must be really something!!!"

But in that respect, I'm his history "teacher", and I assure you, I am not something.

I am probably the WORST at history. And I got straight A's in high school. Well, except for a B+ in phy ed one year, but we don't really need to bring that up.

I don't understand anything about history. I couldn't tell you who the Union or Confederate generals were , couldn't tell you which president served when, no idea about any territories becoming states, etc. etc. etc.

But Nathaniel can.
You could ask him, "who was president in 1841?" And he could tell you.
You could ask him about virtually any battle and he would know the specifics.
He knows which presidents didn't have a First Lady; he knows who was president when indoor plumbing was installed in the White House.
He knows when treaties were signed and which Native American tribes were involved.
He knows all about the railroads that were built and all the trails that took people into the West. He knows when those parties met with Indian attacks and how many survived.
He knows which war tactics were common among which Indian tribes.
He knows why we went to war each time and who were America's allies and when each country entered each war and under what circumstances and who their leaders were.

I think you get my drift--he's a walking encyclopedia when it comes to history.

And I didn't teach him a lick of it.

He learned it himself! He discovered it himself and retained it himself!

That, my friends, is one of the great joys of home-educating. I cannot possibly teach my children everything they need to know. I can only facilitate their education by making sure we get books from the library and books for Christmas and books for birthdays. My children drool over books. I drool over books. Books, books, books! We love 'em.

I have said for many years, "if you can read, you can learn."

People often ask questions like, "how are you going to teach fill-in-the-blank?" Usually it's a subject like chemistry, or just high school subjects in general. It is hard to explain that my philosophy is that I don't need to teach them it, I just need to help them learn it.

I will admit that a couple years ago, it bothered me to realize that my children knew things that I hadn't taught them. I felt like they were learning better than I was teaching them, because they knew things that even I didn't know. I realize that may sound funny, but that's the best way I can put my thoughts into words on that one.

It was so freeing to arrive at this conclusion that I am talking about today!

I am so blessed that God has asked us to educate these kids at home. I get a ring-side seat to all their light bulb moments and to watch them have conversations with other kids and adults where I learn things I didn't know!

I leave you with this: Nathaniel knows how historically challenged I am. He told me the other day as we were leaving the library, "Uh, Mom? I saw that they have a book here called History for Dummies. I know that's not a very nice title, but ahhh..."

I had him go back in and check it out for me.

It's about time I learned some history.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

If My Husband Didn't Know Better...

Dennis said that if he didn't know any better, he'd say this baby is coming very soon.

He says I'm acting like I'm nesting---I'm cleaning like a crazy woman. Room by room, drawer by drawer...oh, the things that are getting taken care of! I love it!!

Of course, I'm not nesting. I'm not even half-way! Almost--but not quite.

I'm not nesting, I'm just sick of how disorderly the house has become.

So I'm cleaning. And not taking much time for anything else.
Except for the 3 minutes it took me to post this, of course.
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