I have some girls who love, love horses. When we first moved down here, that was a recurring theme during prayer time. The acquisition of some equine. Because our God delights to grant us the desires of our hearts, we now have 3 horses munching away in the pastures. We have learned so much about horses and riding from our 4H program. Now some of my girls have shown an interest in learning to ride English style and jumping. Their great-grandmother would be proud. She encouraged me, when I was a girl, to take riding and jumping lessons. I remember the trip to the tack store when she bought me the fancy, black velvet riding helmet. So today we went to observe a friend’s lessons and to meet the trainer. My girls were enthralled. I’m not entirely sure we can afford the time or money it takes to enter this new “horse world” but it sure was fun to watch for the day.
How our little Roo Roo has been changing! Here are a couple of her favorite things to do. She loves to brush her teeth. With real toothpaste. And she loves to play in the sink. She can fold her hands while we pray and she even bows her head for the first 10 seconds of the prayer. She hardly eats anything…bananas, peaches, eggs, sweet potatoes, milk. She takes one nap a day, but sleeps through the night, mostly. She has a lot of teeth, almost all her molars! Now that it’s nice, she loves to be outside. She stands at the door and watches sadly if others go outside and she is left behind. Once outside, sadly, she loves to be in the chicken coop. Mama doesn’t like her to be in there because, well, it’s dirty. And sometimes she falls down. But she loves to just stand there and watch all the chickens. Ruthie thinks Mia is her second mama. She has been cutting the last of her molars and eye teeth. Bottom right. Nursing a high fever for two days. She has wanted nothing but to be rocked and held tightly. No putting her down. Only Mama or Mia can comfort her. Pulling at her tongue and scratching at it, so you just know something in her mouth is making her miserable. She had not been wearing her amber necklace lately. So after the kids reminded me, we put it on. The next day her fever had subsided and she was a little more cheery. No teeth have broken through, yet. Her gums are swollen and look like they have a huge blister in the back. None of her other teeth have given her any problems. Maybe because she was wearing her necklace the whole time? Just yesterday she got into trouble for climbing on the table, so she walked away crying, went to her room and shut the door! We were all laughing hysterically. Poor thing. No one ever takes her seriously. Mama has been sewing some cute summer dresses for her. Here is an action shot, for she rarely stands still. Her hair is growing quickly but she won’t let us put any pigtails in without pulling them out quickly. She is missing a bit of hair right on top where she pulled out a pony, and a clump of hair with it. She is being a bit more free with her kisses nowadays. If I ask her if she loves mama, she nods yes and lays her head on my shoulder. Nothing sweeter. None of us could imagine life without her.
There is a different between “maleness” and “manhood”. Are we teaching our boys to be men or merely male? A speaker we heard this past weekend challenges parents to encourage their boys to “never pitch their tent”. Don’t settle for good enough. Strive for excellence. Measure yourself by God’s standards, don’t compare yourself to others. Life is a journey..apply yourself. The mentality of “I’ve arrived” means you stop growing, stop learning, stop achieving. Like the long distance runner that sprints during the last leg of the race, we must keep on keeping on. It’s tiring. Our legs wobble. Our hope gives out. But that’s when we turn to the source of our strength. The source of all Goodness. The Giver and Supplier of all our needs. He meets us every time. Without fail. Keep going!
Remember my favorite gift last Christmas? The meat hook? I have this thing… I want to know how to cut up an animal into usable meat. Maybe it’s because I have to feed so many people. Maybe it’s because we all like to eat meat so much. Maybe it’s just another feather in my homesteading hat. But for whatever reason, I am intent on learning more about meat, grass-fed, organic, hormone free, healthy meat. How to produce it. How to process it. How to sell it. We are fortunate to have a meat processor within minutes of us, who is USDA certified. Meaning we can sell our meat, that has been processed there, directly to consumers. There are only 12 in the entire state. And this processor is familiar with and a believer in holistic farm/animal management. Meaning one pays attention not only to animal production, but also to soil health, water management, animal health, basically all the components of a healthy farm. In the middle of the country, in the middle of hundreds of conventional farms, what an absolute jewel our processor is. We attended a class put on by the extension office of University of Tennessee, hosted by our local processor. We learned all about marketing beef direct to the consumer via farmers markets, or directly off the farm. We learned all about how much meat you will actually see from an animal. We learned about what kinds of cuts are available, where they come from and how best to cook them. We learned all this AFTER a fabulous meal provided by the host. Imagine.. a prime rib from a local grass fed Piedmontese steer, cold smoked, then cooked to a perfect shade of pink, drizzled with its own juice, so tender it cut with a plastic fork. That is what was set before us. And bacon? There was a bowl of bacon next to the salad, real bacon folks, about 7 inches high.Must have taken at least 10 pounds of bacon to fill that bowl. After that delicious meal, you can bet we were all eager to hear everything they taught us about raising such a product ourselves. A lot of the class was taught via slides on an overhead projector. But then we were able to go into the cutting room and see an actual steer so we could see exactly where the cuts were coming from. See exactly how much fat you want to leave on the carcass. See exactly how it’s done. We were not born farmers. We fail more often than not. But we are learning. And taking advantage of every opportunity we can to learn and share stories with others that know more than we do.
Well, they didn’t really get to build a droid like R2D2. But the boys did have a great time programming lego robots. Tommy has joined a competitive robotics team and both he and Jimmy are spending some time each month learning about programming and working together as a team. Tommy is a natural at programming and Jimmy astounds us with his ability to think and problem solve in 3D. They spent a couple hours at the library set up with laptops, programs, legos, robots. What more could a boy ask for?!
Whatever works, right? What follows is how this mama of 9 kids has slowly evolved over the years. 14 years ago…2 kids. Matching pajamas. 7 years ago… 6 kids. Clean pajamas with matching tops and bottoms, but no longer all matching with each other. 3 years ago…8 kids. Clean pajamas, no longer even a matching set. Today….9 kids. Pick out what you want to wear tomorrow and call it pajamas tonight. Makes life easier in the morning if the boys wake up already dressed. My girls will always have cute pajamas. My boys, not so much. They like not having to get dressed in the mornings. Whatever works, right?Boogers…everybody’s got ‘em. Kids like to pick “em. When I had a couple kids I’d wipe their snottys with a soft, plush Puffs brand tissue. Fast forward
a couple years a decade. Now that I have quite a few kids, if I see boogers and snot? Well, my long skirt is awfully handy. Just being real, folks.
This past month Jeremie reached the crest of his life and has headed downhill. Yes, folks, the perpetual kid-adult has turned 40!! We had a party of sorts in February, not specifically for his birthday, but near enough that we could all wear black. His not-so-local siblings put together a fun gift bag and sent it to him. Oil of old age, reading glasses, gas medicine, bald man’s comb. We all had a good chuckle. Here is the old man with his best toothless, grouchy face.
Well, here in the homeschooling world we have passed the mid-winter slump and are revved up hoping to finish the year strong. Enter the spring season of state conventions! Eric Ludy was the featured speaker at the Southern Illinois conference that we attended last weekend. He had some special wisdom for parents that is especially applicable in this day and age. He had some special advice for churches in this day and age of doctrinal discord.
“Grace is not a hug. It is a raising of the bar, pointing to the power of God to enable you to achieve the impossible.”
“Raise your sons not only to be able to survive the great outdoors for an overnight camping trip, but to be able to withstand prison and persecution for the sake of Christ.”
“Teach your boys, not survival skills, but rescue skills.” One is self-centered the other, out-reaching.
“Leap for joy amidst trials, the harder the trial, the higher the leaping.”
“What is important? Christ crucified. Head coverings, speaking in tongues, Calvinsm vs. Armenianism, pre-millenia vs. a-millenia? Not important. Christ crucified.” The older girls were working at the Home School Legal Defense Association table in the vending hall. Sharing information and their beautiful smiles with others. They were off duty long enough to attend a session with me. “Our not-so-romantic journey to the altar.” A love story of of two young people committed to purity, to parental involvement in choosing a mate, to following Christ, not their heart. Is was inspiring and encouraging to see how God has blessed the faithful. Conventions. Always a sacrifice of time and resources to get there. Always returned ten-fold in blessings. New friends made. Old friends hugged. New parents encouraged. Old veterans refreshed.
For this edition of Flashback Friday I am recording some of the cute things my kids have said, for the collective memory.
When Susie was little she called a nightgown a “nightup”. It took me a while to realize that she thought we were saying nightdown and just got “down” mixed up with “up”. I can still hear her little voice asking, “where’s my yellow nightup?”
Tommy used to walk around constantly “bopping” people. Pointing his finger and “shooting” them. Everywhere. we. went. And the person was supposed to drop down and play dead instantly. This went on for a long time.
One time we were walking around a flea market, and a vendor was selling all sorts of Santa Claus figures. Tommy points to them and asks, “what’s that guy’s name again?”
Charlotte used to (and now we all do on purpose) call nail polish “paint nolish”.
Jack was walking around with a pair of handcuffs and I asked him who he was going to arrest. He told me “not God.” Good, Jack. That’s good.