Time and relationships

IMG_6582Part of my requirements for the kids schooling this year is to take personal histories of people. We target older people, to get their perspective on life, hear their stories of growing up, ask their advice to young people today, and learn from their experiences. I want my kids to appreciate those who have gone before them. If you don’t know history, you are bound to repeat it…isn’t that what they say? Our neighbor is in his 90’s. His stories won’t be available forever. He has lived through the depression, wars, deaths of loved ones. He has seen asphalt roads built where he once rode his horse down the lane to the mill. He never thought he’d see the day when the road by his house got paved.  I don’t want them to miss the chance to grasp that history. It has stretched them out of their comfort zone. Interviewing strangers. They have had to learn to get a feel for how conversation ebbs and flows. Today they interviewed a lady from Hazel, Ky. She was born in the late 40’s. So she was too young to remember what life was like during the depression, or during the war. But she had fabulous stories to tell of life growing up on a farm, raising her younger brother, a Cherokee Indian great-grandmother. Life with no electricity. She told of root cellars, preserving meat by smoking and salt curing, of sun-warmed bath water, cold kitchens heated by a coal stove. It was fascinating, listening to her talk. Watching her emotions as she recalled events that seemed as recent to her as last week. It was evident that what she cherished most about her life, was her family. More specifically, her great-grandmother, who took the time to talk and play with her. She spoke over and over again about how she would rather have had her mother stay at home with her, rather than work. Instead of having the fancy new dresses and shoes her mother bought her with her wages, she would rather have had time with “momma in a warm kitchen”. Relationships were important. Time spent together was important. She remembers moments that happened 70+ years ago because someone took the time to make her feel special. To talk with her. To sit with her. I want to take that lesson to heart.IMG_6584

Mud kitchen

IMG_6589Along with warm weather comes rain and thus, mud. Roo discovered how delightful it is to squish that cool, smooth mud around. How lovely it tastes. She was having a blast mixing it around with her spoon. “Cooking” with her pot. IMG_6604And, yes, if you were wondering. That is her new dress. Well, I sewed it for her to wear. Not to hang in a closet. I am hoping to turn last year’s “kid’s garden” into a proper mud kitchen for the kids.outdoor-kitchen12-600x400 Because from the time my teenager was a toddler, I have encouraged them to play in the mud, cook with the mud, sculpt with the mud. Just not to eat the mud. Roo missed that lecture, I guess. IMG_6593

Tennessee Beef Agribition

I don’t know if I’m creative enough to write about this event yet again and make it interesting. However, this time around Mia and her team won 5th out of over 30 teams competing from across the state. They are learning so much. Jeremie is considering buying a bull and he went to the girls for their opinion about the bull’s body confirmation and build.IMG_20150314_103335845

There was also a cattle auction at the agribition. Heifers were going for anywhere between $2,500-$8,000. Why the huge discrepancy? Body confirmation. Breeders will take embryos from that highly desirable cow and implant them into other cows to improve the genetics of their herd.

There was also a wood carver there. He spent over an hour talking to Jeremie and Jimmy, giving them tips on carving and sharing stories. His pieces were amazing and sold for over $200. Jeremie saw a man buy 9 of the carved figures. Made the wood carver’s day! He sent Jimmy home with an autographed piece of roughly carved wood in the shape of a gnome.

A fantastic day of learning..so thankful for the chance to participate!IMG_20150314_132943918

Reason #532

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romaine lettuce transplants. Check out those roots!

Yet another reason why I love gardening with the Back to Eden method. Spring is here and everyone is anxious to get into their gardens. But it’s been raining so much, no one can till. However, with the wood chip covering, the ground in my garden is ready for planting. Pleasantly moist, no puddles, nice and springy. The ground is calling for seeds. Yesterday I put in lettuce transplants and direct seeded more lettuce, peas, beets, carrots, onions and kale. I am thankful to be able to take advantage of this cool spring weather because before you know it, we will be sweltering and these cool season plants would be wilting.

peas to climb up the arbor

peas to climb up the arbor

Spring has Sprung

It seems like only last week that we were sledding down the hill, enjoying 6 inches of snow. Oh wait, it was. Now, we are enjoying days of sunshine and new growth. Here’s how we have been welcoming in the spring.IMG_6558 Mia set up her hammock, one of her favorite Christmas gifts. She has been wanting one forever. Now she plans to soak up some sunshine, nap in the fresh air, hide away with a book, never to be seen again. Except the cows are very curious about what new play thing is in their pasture so they come up close and bother her.IMG_6521 Garlic, glad to finally enjoy the sun. They’ve been covered with snow far too long.IMG_6572 Jack went fishing with a real pole this time. As opposed to the stick that he loves to hang into the pond from the pier. Daddy thought today would be a good day, so he got out the real pole and helped Jack cast.  Look what he caught! Jack could fish every day, all day. If only he could find someone to recast his line for him, all day, every day. He asks, to be sure. But there are only so many volunteers. IMG_6504 The hens are laying again with a vengance. I saved so many eggs from last year, this winter I didn’t need to ever buy eggs from the store. I must have a lot of green egg layers..love those colors! Spring… a wet, muddy, rockin’ good time!

Large family hospitality

A facebook quote from a friend that has 7 living children, 1 in heaven…

.if anyone wants to have us over for dinner sometime….please don’t be scared to feed our large family…i will bring food and we can coordinate together…large families need fellowship too…jus’ sayin

How sad that she has to beg for an invite. We are blessed to be in a community of believers where we often share meals together at least once, more likely twice a week. Sometimes at my house, but very often we are invited out.  We make the effort to open our home, not only other like-minded homeschooling families, but also to the single mom, the elderly couple, the young family. It can be intimidating to invite a family of 11 over for dinner, but I tell you the truth… a few weekends ago we ate with friends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday . My mom tells me that we hardly got invited anywhere when we were little. I grew up in a family of 8. People just don’t feel comfortable having others over? Nights are too busy because of after-school activities? I don’t know what the reason, but I am never sorry when I make the effort to have people over for dinner. They enrich our conversations, share their stories, engage our children, and join our choir of after dinner hymn-singers.  Here are a few easy meal ideas for feeding a large crowd. Baked spaghetti, messy but it goes far. Chili, not a favorite of the kids, but cheap. Especially if you make your own beans. Chicken with sauce over rice. Not exactly cheap, but easy and quick. I make it in the crock pot, leaving more time for visiting, less time in the kitchen. Let the boys roast hot dogs over the fire for everyone. A few sides to round out the meal. I always keep a few hot dogs inside to cook on the stove to because sometimes the “fire-roasters” get a little out of hand. Call me crazy, but I don’t like grass and ashes on my hot dog. Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. We have eaten on card tables, coffee tables, standing up by the counter, outside on picnic tables. So, go ahead. Invite over that family from church you’d like to get to know better. Call up that family from school whose kids get along so well with your kids. Amazing things happen when you open your home in love. So, dear friend, come on over for dinner. It’ll be worth the 8 hour drive.IMG_4875