Update 2019/2020 who we are…


Can you believe this crew is so grown up? I realized that I hadn’t updated the pictures for awhile and thought I should.

Engineer is now 15.5 and seriously looking at computer programming, engineering, or something totally different than that for his future. He devours all books as well. We are quickly moving into the future too as he practices driving and looks at colleges!

Next up is Farmer, Jr. in the red and he is 14. Over the last year he has been training to be a farmer while driving one of the BIG tractors to help with field work. He is definitely working toward becoming a farmer.

In orange is Cowboy (at one time) but also looking at becoming a Farmer Jr. Cowboy loves animals and we joke that he is the pig whisperer. He is good with dogs and cats as well as hogs. Farming looks to be in his future.

Lastly, at the top of the stairs is the one I used to call Dancer but now could be referred to as “King.” He is the king of personality 🙂 and may one day run for President! 🙂 He talks of wanting to sing, dance, talk to everyone, own a store, and so much more. At 7, we have some time to learn more about what he would like to do in the future. He is currently taking piano lessons, too. We’ll see!

Farmer and I just celebrated 17 years of marriage this summer and look forward to many more years together.

Longevity in Relationships


We’ve been having trouble with our phone. Last night it called us four times throughout the night (like 1 am, 3 am, etc). This isn’t a cell phone but the old fashioned “house phone” on the wall. It needs a new line which can’t go in until the Spring the phone company says. The phone has called 911 itself now three times! The police come, in case you are wondering, even if no one is at the other end of the line. They think it is a “hang-up” and a police car pulls into your drive to check on you. I am so thankful for our police people and VERY embarrassed that this has happened a total of THREE times, two in the last month. It isn’t us though. That can be hard enough to explain. The phone is literally calling 911 on its own.

It started me thinking about my parents’ home phone (which by the way does NOT call 911 and hang up) and their phone number. They have had the same phone for over 40 YEARS. 40 years. 4-0 Y.E.A.R.S  I suspect that my high school friends could still recall the number. It has never changed in all this time. We spent hours talking about things that had just happened at school –and boys, especially boys–under the guise of getting math help from one another. Literally hours of my life were spent sitting beside the phone, talking to friends. The number was always the same. Still today, I call that number and hear my parents at the other end of the line. The same number for 40+ years.

How often do we change for just the sake of change? How often do we stick to something because we gave our word? Life is in the fast lane and we discard so much these days.  The clothing styles change. We change our cars, our phones, our computers, our shoe styles, our jobs, our houses, our spouses even, sometimes.

Life is about change and sometimes that is needed. Sometimes it’s a good thing. There is growth and rebirth. There is surviving and recreating. But, sometimes it is just wasteful. It’s gluttonous. It’s selfish.  Change just to change isn’t good. We discard relationships like we throw away a food wrapper. When those relationships fade, we blame the other person BECAUSE it IS her/his fault. And many times it is the fault of the other. Mostly. Surely it is. I tried…for a bit.

I’ve been thinking about a couple from Texas who are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary. Both were over 100 years old and had been married 75 years! That is commitment. That is longevity. That is a relationship of duration. Time, length, emotion, duration.

I have a group of girlfriends and we text one another. We have seen loss together but also wonderful events. Each month, one friends asks how she can pray for the rest of us. We have been in one another’s weddings, visited at the loss of parents, seen the births of children, encouraged through job changes and life changes. That is a relationship of duration. Time, emotion, years of commitment. For nearly 30 years these women have been in my life, cheering me and one another on.

My word for this new year of 2020 is relationship. I want to build relationships with others for the long haul: continued relationships as well as new ones that are deep and enduring. I want to reach out to those who have committed to me and my family years ago and continue to support and love us from near and far. I want to work on family relationships, friendships, relationships with my boys.

My boys: in two years one will be graduating from high school and change will occur. He will move away from our unit and build his own. Shortly after that two more will year after year separate from the unit. Change is coming but relationship is what will bring them back to our home for celebration and longevity. Enduring relationships that bind us together and make us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.

I know there is a “God-sized” hole in the middle of all of us that can only be filled with Him and His word. This might be why we all long for the eternal, the enduring, that which never goes away or ends. I know that His word is true and eternal. In Psalm 119:160 it says, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” Isaiah 40:8 tells us, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (KJB) Praise the Lord there is something that never changes. 🙂

With throw-away EVERYTHING anymore, I am looking for that which does not go away, relationships worth holding on to and building up year after year.

2020, what is your focus?




IMG_0767Recently I was challenged on Facebook to place ten pictures in ten days of our farming operation. I realized I have a lot of pictures like the one above that many people don’t see. The challenge said not to give explanations for the pictures, but I feel like maybe not everyone knows what they are seeing in the pictures. Before marrying my farmer, I didn’t!

In the picture above there is a combine harvesting corn. Notice the the corn is dry and the stalks are standing. This is what the farmer wants. If we get a great deal of rain about the time of harvest and the roots of the corn plants are not deep and strong, the stalks will fall over causing the corn to “go down.” This is a great deal more work for the combine driver when corn is scattered all over. The rows are easy to see when the corn plant is standing but not when the corn goes down in the fields. The larger fingers of the front of the combine run between the rows and a series of rotating spirals pull the plants into the combine. The inside of the machine removes the corn kernels that are then stored in the hopper (the large, open bin at the top of the combine) and the corn stalk is chopped and thrown out the back, along with the corn cob. You never want to stand near the back of a working combine as the debris comes out dangerously quickly and could harm you.

Besides the combine is a grain or auger cart. You can see that the combine also has an auger. That is the arm sticking out on the side. It can be pulled in between uses.


When the hopper is full, the farmer can empty it on the move by opening the auger. Then grain will move through the auger and into the wagon being pulled by the driver of the tractor. A good driver can match the sped and direction of the combine, not getting too close and not going too fast, allowing the combine operator to dump the grain in the hopper into the moving wagon.

After the grain is moved to the wagon, the tractor driver will drive to a nearby set of wagons or semi-truck to move the grain to market or a grain bin site for storage until later.


A semi can hold a great deal of grain.


If wagons are used, they need to be moved and emptied into bins quickly before the grain in the combine fills all available wagons.


You’ll notice that in the above picture, my son is going to ride with the operator. The boys often ride in the combine, the semi, and the grain cart during harvest.


Our sons also help to fix or check on the equipment. We take safety very seriously. The boys are learning early to be aware of equipment and moving implements.


If you see equipment moving during harvest or planters moving around (this time of year) getting the crops planted, PLEASE be careful on the roads. Sometimes operators have trouble seeing you. Know that they are high in the air and are operating VERY heavy equipment. If your vehicle strikes them, it (and maybe you) will be hurt. Use safety when passing and don’t drive too close. A few minutes behind the equipment might give you time to think, hear your favorite song on the radio, or even talk to your children about the need for farmers.

With less than 1% of our US population being farmers, they have a really important job! To feed everyone else in the United States as well as sending grain to those around the world is an important and necessary job that only a few people do. Pray for them. Pray for us, the farm families. Love your boys! Teach them where their food comes from and why that is important. Without American farmers, we have no say in how our food is produced or where it is produced!

What questions do you have about equipment? Are your boys interested in farm equipment?

Receiving a Gift Game

person s holds brown gift box

Photo by Kim Stiver on Pexels.com

Every year since my boys have been very young we have played the Receiving Game. We gather some empty gift bags and hand one to each son. Then we sit in a circle and pick a person around the circle to give a gift. I give everyone a couple of minutes and the boys collect gifts for one another or me from around the house.

After that, we sit in a circle again and present our gifts to Mom or one of the brothers. Each person takes the gift from giver and thanks them. THEN, he/I open the gift and find something nice to say about the gift. “This is my favorite color.” or “I love the smell of this candle.” or “I can always use socks! Thanks!” The comment must be positive and accompanied by a genuine smile. Inevitably, a brother thinks it is funny to give underwear and this year was no different. 🙂 It brought many laughs and a good lesson on receiving.

Why would we play this game EVERY year? It is important to me that my boys learn to receive gifts given to them around the holidays. It is important that they put the GIVER in front of their own feelings and preferences, even if they get underwear.

Here are our rules while playing

  1. Sincerely thank the Giver
  2. Put yourself in the Giver’s shoes and give a kind remark about the gift
  3. Never say “I already have this.” (We will exchange it later.) Again, never say this.
  4. Never say “I don’t like this color, item, toy, character, etc (Again, we can exchange it if needed.)  Find something you DO like about the gift and say that.
  5. Remember the Giver is the most important one in this transaction.

Each year we write a paper, handwritten Thank You for our gifts as well. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it can be a pain for Mom. No, the boys don’t love to do it. However, it is so very important that we thank others for their gifts. It is important that we think about the Giver and what they did for us to get presents to us: thinking about us, money, time, purchasing, wrapping, bringing the items.

Through this process, we reflect on the Giver of the most precious gift: the Lord Jesus Christ and our salvation through His blood. He, a sinless God, became a sinless man to die on the cross for us. We deserve death for what we do wrong every day (I might be speaking for myself only here…) But, His blood was shed and Jesus Christ gave up His life for us-for me, for you. He paid the price of our sin. Then He was buried and rose again from the dead, conquering death. Praise the Lord!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Thankful, happy 2019.

Fall Tradition

Every year we do something out of the ordinary in the world of Halloween and fall. If you celebrate Halloween by dressing up your children and moving them around the neighbor to collect candy, blessings to you.

We don’t.

I don’t want to go into a long debate about why we do not do this or why you do. We don’t. My boys dress up every other day but not this one. We are all okay with that so please no “hate mail” about being a Halloween Scrooge. 🙂 Thanks!

Instead, we use the day to think about a wonderful event that happened this day to draw the world once again closer to God’s truth. We celebrate Reformation Day on Oct 31. We have been doing this for several years and really enjoy this focused time as a family. We celebrate the coming back to the Truth of God’s word through the man of Martin Luther. While we don’t agree with all his published works, we do appreciate the doctrinal principals that came from his work. The 5 Solas or the five “onlys” of the Reformers’ writings and speeches point us back to the truth in God’s word.

On Oct 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses or corrections to the local Catholic church in Wittenburg, Germany. He did this the day before All Saints Day, November 1,  when he knew many would attend mass at the church. He did not plan to split the church, but he wanted the church to take a good look at where it was and change its actions to get back in line with God’s word.

At our home we spend the evening talking about the truths we find in the Reformation writings. They wrote that we live and learn by “Scripture Alone” apart from traditions of men, personal preferences, or anything else. We are saved by “Faith Alone” apart from works and ourselves. Salvation is by “Grace Alone,” not receiving what we deserve through no work of our own. We have eternal life through Christ’s blood on the cross and not our works which leads to salvation is by “Christ Alone.”  (If I may just interject: If God’s blood was not enough to pay for my sins, how could I EVER believe that anything I, a sinner, do possibly be enough? How could I add to the perfect sacrifice or be better than it?) There is no one else we should pray to or through except Christ. Christ is our mediator (I Tim 2:5), our Saviour, our Lord. He is the only way into Heaven. Finally, “Glory to God Alone” is the last Sola. Salvation is from Jesus Christ alone and He alone deserves the glory, no man. We review these ideas, looking into the Bible at scriptures that show these points clearly.

As you can see in the pictures, I set the table with the 5 Solas attached to construction paper and a blank sheet for the person who will pray for us. We take turns going around to read the portion of truth and the scriptures that go with it. We have a fun meal and enjoy our time.

If you are looking for a resource about Reformation Day or where I found the Solas to print, you can find that free resource here.

I encourage you to take a look at what you believe this time of year and why. Teach your children to love God’s word, know His word, love other people and share God’s word with them. It is not love to hold back truth from others. Love your boys. Teach them well.

It’s not about me…

CemetaryA couple of weeks ago I attended my 25th class reunion. I saw wonderful classmates that I hadn’t seen in years. Some of them I hadn’t seen since high school graduation, some since the 10th reunion I attended, some I saw more regularly. It was fun catching up and hearing about their children, their jobs, their lives.

A couple of days ago, one of the members of my class passed away suddenly. It was shocking! I had kept in touch with this friend only on Facebook for years as she lived in another country. My son asked if I knew her well. I quickly answered, “We went to school together from kindergarten to graduation, 13 years together. Yeah, I knew her pretty well.” But do we really ever know when people are going to die? About a year ago, my husband’s grandfather passed away at the age of 89. He had lived a long life and death was long in coming. It doesn’t make it easier, but we understand it better when someone is older and dies. We feel they had a long, complete life.

It makes you think when someone suddenly passes away…starts your mind on dying and living or end of life situations. It starts you thinking about your family and your death and life right now. It also starts that natural tendency we have as humans to start “weighing” our lives. You know judging ourselves against the lives of others, our dreams of the past, the non-reality of perfection we try to attain.

We start thinking about our losses, our failures, our brokenness, our sin. We don’t need the Bible to tell us that we aren’t good enough. I know this when I huffed at something my husband was doing at lunch today or yelled at a son who wasn’t listening after 142 times of my giving the same directions this morning. I knew I had sinned when I had those thoughts last week about wanting his car, her life, or that house, coveting…We know it! We don’t need scripture to tell us we are sinners.

But it does, just in case we are feeling too important or proud or right or self-sacrificing one day. Romans 3:23 is right there to tell us that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” I am less than perfect, less than Him. Less than His standard. I fail, I sin, I lose.

But, this isn’t about me. It is about Him. God Almighty, the maker of Heaven and Earth, the creator of man and woman, the King, the Lord, the only one true God has a standard. We don’t have to like that. We don’t meet that standard (His glory) and I am betting we don’t really like that either. He has a consequence for our failure, sin, pride, hate of Him, and it is death. Death is the wage we earn from our inherited sin from Adam, the first man. “Well, that’s NOT FAIR” you might yell (…or maybe you just think it sometimes.) But we certain earn that wage as well with our daily…okay, sometimes hourly sins.

Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death” and it is. We will die. All of us will die one day. Some will die today, some tomorrow, some not for years and years. But, we will all die. We don’t need the Bible to tell us that everyone dies.

But it does. Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “…it is appointed unto men once to die, after this the judgment.” It’s going to happen. We just don’t know when. We need to be ready, though, for death. Our own deaths are coming. Death around us makes us realize our own mortality. But it also makes us realize again that we aren’t enough.

Are you ready?

Weighing, all that weighing of self comes back to us. Have I done enough?  Have I done anything good? Oh, yeah, that one thing–that one time when I –well, you know what I am talking about!? 🙂   But, I know in my heart, the answer will always be no. I haven’t done enough, no matter how much I do. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be about me. And, you know what? It isn’t. I WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH. There, I yelled it for the world to hear and read and see. I will never be enough. But, the good news is, God doesn’t ask me to be. He doesn’t ask me to be enough. He knows that I can’t be enough.

Instead, He is enough. He came to Earth. He paid the price, the wage for sin,  which we know is death. He shed His precious blood so that we could be enough through Him. He died in my place. He took on my sins. He loved me enough.

I don’t want to be flippant about Jesus dying on the cross, being buried and raising again. I think sometime people say that or hear it so much that they don’t remember the terribleness or wonderfulness of those statements. Jesus Christ was tortured, beard and fingernails pulled out, beaten, mocked, and left alone. He then suffered one of the worst kinds of death ever–suffication, drowning in your own fluids– through cruxification. God the Father turned His back causing darkness over the whole Earth for 3 hours. The Father could not look at the sin. Jesus was left alone to pay the price for MY sins. Then Jesus gave up the ghost, He died. He left His earthly body. A soldier cut Him open and then left his body hanging on the cross. Jesus was put in a borrowed tomb and left. Three days later, Jesus Christ arose from the dead. He conquered death. He is alive again. We can be alive with Him forever too.

Yes, we still have to die a physical death, but friend, we don’t have to have eternal death. We can have eternal life through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8 & 9 says.

Don’t brush me off. Don’t push this away. It is real. It is real, Friend. Life will end and we will be judged. No matter how much good you do, sin will keep you from eternal life without Jesus Christ. But, it is FREE! You don’t have to work. You don’t have to DO anything except just believe it. It is a gift. Just take it.

You know, I have had people tell me that I had to do A or B or C or 10000D but how would I know that I did it right? Did I do it enough? What if I didn’t do it right? well enough? long enough? exactly right? It wouldn’t be enough. There is NOTHING that I can do. Besides, we don’t work for a gift. This is a gift of God.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Romans, the people of Rome, and they must have needed God badly for Paul told them how to know God. They must have also been really prideful because more than one time he told them they were sinners. The first verse I used was from Romans but earlier in that same letter, Paul tells those folks for three verses in the Bible that all of us are really no good:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3: 10-12

We don’t understand it. We do not seek Him. We don’t do enough. Trust Him. Believe Him. Know that He is enough. Take the gift.

So, it’s really not about me. He died so that I could have eternal life and there is nothing that I can do to get it except just believe that He took care of it. I just take the gift.

When I die, I know there will be stories shared and pictures brought out and dusted off to show others. Most likely and friends and family will gather to remember me. I don’t want statements like, “Oh she did… she was…she gave…she whatever.” I want it to be about Him. Christ Jesus died that I might live.

He died so that when I die, I will have eternal life. I don’t have a question about “being good enough” because I know the answer is no. I know that I deserve eternal death, hell, eternity away from God. I know it. But it isn’t about me. It isn’t my pride that tells me I have eternal life with God. Because, while the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord. I have taken it and believed that precious, perfect blood is enough. Will you take it?

Please don’t wait, sweet Friend. Please think about it. Please accept what He did for you. We’ll never be enough but this isn’t really about us. It is about Him and what He did for us. We never know when death will come, but we can be ready. It will be a graduation for me. Will you please join me? 🙂

If your children don’t know the Lord, tell them. Share God’s word and God’s love. They need this just like you and I do. Love your kids, share the truth.


Teach your Boys (or any child you love!)


Hi, I realized the other day that I am not typing in all the blogs I am writing in my head lately. I have reacted to the political hotbed, the gorilla, the attacks on US soil, the crocodiles and so many other topics. However, I have not been able to get responses completed and produced.

Okay, that is only partly true. Really, I also don’t know that I have the ability or the maturity to react to all that is going on around us with enough grace or wisdom to respond lovingly.

What I have been thinking about is teaching my boys. Yes, we home educate them and yes we are teaching them skills other than “school” skills like gardening, cooking, and taking care of animals. But, I have been thinking about teaching them what is even more important than that: the Lord. With things as they are and are moving toward, I am not sure how much longer I will be able to teach my children at home. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to openly train them in God’s ways.

So, I am feeling a real burden to teach them the things of God NOW. Not waiting. Right now. Yes, I am busy. Yes, I get stressed. Yes, I have a very long to-do list. But, isn’t one of Satan’s greatest tools a “too busy mom?” Think about it. She has to do so much work to keep her family moving in the right direction and then has outside pressures. She is busy, busy, busy. Sometimes she is just keeping up with the neighbor getting her son into another sport. Sometimes she is keeping up with a Facebook friend and adding a new item to her menu or exercise plan or reading list. Sometimes she is keeping up with Pinterest and adding new decorations to her home. Sometimes though it is just the laundry, dishes, and life of living with a family that keeps us so busy. None of these things are bad. They are just busy.

This past school year we started going through a study from Not Consumed  that is called Foundations of Faith. Find the link to the study here if you like. (I am not getting anything from your buying this item should you choose to do so.) It doesn’t give a lot of doctrine but it asks a lot of questions. It starts with ones like “Who is God?” and “Why am I here?” The author lists some verses you might want to check out and then there is space to add in lots of the verses you find yourself. She also brings up judging and discernment and how they are different.

She moves on later in the study to matters of “What we Believe,” and  purity, dress, media, alcohol, and money as well as other topics come up here. She doesn’t tell you what to teach your children. She just asks about what your family believes and gives you questions to think about and discuss with your children. This opens the door to talk to your children about your family’s beliefs from scripture. My favorite part is that it forces me to think about what my husband and I believe (Sometimes I even have to ask him!) and to see if those are Biblical beliefs or just a tradition that we grew up with in our homes.

Do you know what you believe about modesty, media, marriage, or money? Do your children know what you believe? Do you know why you believe those things? Do you know what scripture says about those topics and do your children? This is a wonderful study about the things that really matter. In a world where so many people are telling us what to believe and why, our children should know what we believe as Godly parents who are seeking the TRUTH and where we find that in scripture.

So, what do you do if you begin to study scripture and what you believe (or thought you believed) doesn’t line up with the Word of God? Well, this is where the toilet meets the floor. You know–that wet dirty ring around the bottom of your toilet? Come on, you know what I am talking about! I can just see some of you looking away like I can actually see you. Others are now thinking about the last time they gave that area a swipe with a disinfectant. If you have boys, that ring is often yellow and smelly! That is the gross place where reality lives. Stay with me here. (Okay, if you must go and clean, do so. I’ll wait for you. ) You have to get in the Word and find out if your thoughts, your beliefs, your reality is really God’s. If it isn’t, well, you’ll have to decide what to do then yourself. Do you really want to go against God? My suggestion is that when we find those things that don’t line up, that WE CHANGE (gasp!). Yes, we move our thinking to align with God’s.

And, if you don’t know where you stand on some of these topics, it might be a time to study a bit more yourself or with your spouse. If you don’t know what you believe, how will your children know? They are going to get their belief systems, ideas, morals, and reality from somewhere. Adults, media, friends, and teachers are all too happy to share their ideas, but your children need the Word of God. They need a sure grounding in the one place that never changes, that never moves away from what is right and good and pure. God’s Word is that place.

Teach your boys (and all your children!) God’s Word and your belief in it. Someone else will gladly teach them something else, if not.

Love your boys and teach them!

New Year’s Resolutions?

bad day turtle2016 is already here! Where is time going? “Slow down, Time!” Each year as time goes by, I have decided not to do a New Year’s resolution. Why? Because I don’t want to fail. I have enough stress, enough struggles, enough loss, and enough pain that I never think about setting another goal which I might not reach.

I was driving down the road the other day as the Christian radio announcer spoke out the alarming number: 8%. Of those who set New Year’s resolutions, 8% are able to fulfill them. Really? Really! Why is it that such a small number of people will achieve their goals? I think it comes down to the fact that we are sinners. We sin. We fail. We try to depend on ourselves; we strive for perfection; we try to do it alone, instead of looking to the Lord for strength, hope, love, peace, joy. Those who do not know Christ have no power over sin and failure, loss and then shame.

Shame and failure: that may be the real reason that I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions normally. Last year, I just set a goal to be joyful. Yep, you guessed it. I was NOT one of the 8% and felt shame that I did not achieve that “simple” goal. I had given myself no grace and no “half-way.” I either had to be joyful each day or I was a failure. I didn’t even write about my year and what I was reading. I stopped reading the encouraging book. I relied on myself and I failed. I have not set resolutions in the past, because when I did, I knew I would fail.

However, the first week of January of 2016, I decided that one who does not set some sort of goal, she will never achieve anything! Maybe I needed to rely on God for the outcome, get over my perfectionist tendencies (at least some), and set a goal to work toward.  Thinking about what I would like to achieve, I realized I wanted to be healthier, in better shape, more focused on my boys and the Lord, more learned. In a word, I wanted to move toward perfection. EEK! It sounded like failure just thinking through all those things. But, after some prayer, here is what I have decided.

  1.  I know. I know. You are thinking FLOSS! Her goal is to floss? Well, yes it is. Our teeth and gum health will reflect our total health. I had a dentist who used to jokingly warn me, “Only floss the ones you want to keep.”  So, my first goal is floss, but notice that I did not write floss daily or floss 3 times a week. Grace, dear friends. I will floss when I think about it and let me confide in you, I have already flossed more this month than all last year (though it has not been daily)! I am already in that 8%. 🙂
  2. Copy Scripture. This could get really big and almost ugly if I let it. But instead, I looked at the books of Ephesians and Philippians, and they both had the same number of verses in the books. I love both those books in the New Testament, written by the Apostle Paul. So, I started copying 4 or 5 verses a day and reading what I had written before that day. I am finishing the first chapter of Philippians today. When I finish the book, I will start on Ephesians. When I complete that, I will start with Philippians. No stress. Just copywork for the spiritual heart and mind! 🙂
  3. Move more. Again, how can I go wrong, right? 🙂 Yet, I want to be intentional about moving–park and walk to the store, run around with the boys, work out in the evening, move around while teaching or cooking, dance in the kitchen. But, I don’t have to do this daily or a certain number of times each week. I just want to intentionally move more. This month I added to my calendar that this goal might look like “lifting 2 times/week.” Each month I may decide to do a mini goal but maybe not. I have not been able to lift twice this week, and I don’t want the shame of not accomplishing it. I might have to do that before I go to sleep…or I may just give myself grace to do it tomorrow.
  4. Be intentional about the boys is my last goal. I am learning that it is the little things that matter. I was becoming annoyed that the boys’ clothes were all over their rooms, not in drawers. WHY? After some time I realized that they believed the clothes would not all fit into the drawers. At the change of the seasons, I put all the clothing into the drawers so I knew they all fit. How then is it that after a couple of week the clothes no longer fit?! Parent Realization #309: The boys did not know how to properly fold their clothing so the clothes turned out too wrinkled and “large” to all fit. Each week, I wash the boys’ clothes in separate loads, and they fold their own clothing and put it away in their rooms. Last week the boys each had their loads, and I went through folding lessons again (ahem). Showing them again how to fold jeans and long sleeved shirts. Paying attention to the details really does make a huge difference. And guess what? All the clothing fit in the drawers!

As this month moves into the next and the next, I hope to be flossing, moving, copying, and paying attention to the details of my boys’ lives. But no matter how many goals I am meeting for myself (or not), I pray that I will continue to be leaning heavily on the arms of my Saviour and Lord: Jesus Christ. If I am in His arms, I cannot go wrong. And maybe that was the trouble with the past, the shame and feelings of failure. I wasn’t resting in His arms and His love. I am His child and He loves me just as I love my children, unconditionally (flossed teeth of not).

Love your boys. Love your family. It will be what they remember & is a goal worth achieving!

Who we are NOW…

I feel like I need to update everyone on photos and information about us! I looked back and it had been two years…eek. Sorry. So here are the new photos. Thanks to Jada Houk who took all the photos published here. She is not only a wonderful photographer but a wonderful person! She makes the boys feel so calm and like they are doing a great job modeling.They always have such fun with her. Thanks, Jada!

Without further ado…

Here is The Engineer: He is now 11 and will enter middle school…um, yes, Mom, he has arrived!

Engineer 2015

Next is Farmer, Jr. He still wants to be a farmer like Dad! He is now 9.

Farmer, Jr

The Cowboy is just now 8 and may be moving toward Farmer, Jr Jr 🙂 and away from being a Cowboy. Though he was dressed up and playing cowboys just today…so you never know.

The Cowboy 2015

Finally, Our Dancer is 3 and still dancing and singing up a storm!

The Dancer 2015

We sure love our boys and we are enjoying our time with them! More to come soon on what we have been doing lately. 🙂

Love your boys and enjoy the end of the summer!

Ways to Review Hands-On

So, we are working on American this year in our education: artists, geography, history sentences. We work with a group called Classical Conversations (more about CC another time) and we are working on Cycle 3: American. It is great to have a collective topic to learn and this is our second time through it, so we are adding in more and more background.

My boys learn best using kinesthetic methods (a fancy word for hands-on), so I tried to think of some things we could do to help them learn better. I came up with salt dough maps.

The recipe is easy: 1/2-3/4 cup water, 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour. (I used the cheapest flour & salt the store had since we won’t be eating it.) Mix in a big bowl–tada! It is done. 🙂

Following along with our American theme, we have been learning US geography. Our boys have learned the states and capitals as well as the major rivers, mountains, and prominent features. Go ahead, ask me where Mt. Mitchell is or where Pamlico Sound is. I am learning right along with them this year! The last time we went through this cycle was our first CC year, and I was a bit overwhelmed with three little ones and #4 on the way. This time I am taking advantage of their learning to learn it for myself. 🙂

So, yesterday we made the United States from salt dough. Each boy used a batch for themselves and then a batch split for the mountains. Cowboy made little balls and connected them, but Engineer just made “hot dogs” on top. They decided this time they would not draw the states with a toothpick. I was hoping at least someone would, but I did say that they could do it how they liked: adding states, mountains, rivers, trails, Great Lakes, and other features. We were able to talk about each state as we talked about the placement of the mountains. (Note to Moms: you must draw in the States, if you choose to or add the mountains BEFORE the dough dries unless you want to just paint them.)  My Engineer starting by drawing a map & the others soon followed his lead.

salt dough maps 3

salt dough maps 5salt dough maps 8

The boys found working adding dough around the edges & then working inward toward the center worked best. Maine was hardest!

We will add those features we have not yet covered as we do cover them in class. This has been a good review for us and we will get to review again as we add trails and deserts, prominent features and canals. We will use colors to differentiate locations/features as well as sticking on labels the boys make.

Here the Farmer is adding the space between Florida and Texas. I hope all those states will forgive us for recreating their borders!

Children learn in different ways. My four boys all seem to like to do things with their hands, so this is one way we can do that. We have a ways to go before these are completed but I thought I would share what we are doing to review and create a more hands-on way to learn.

Here the Engineer slowly adds states and the Farmer and Cowboy use toothpicks to get the edges “right.” We also used flat cups for rolling pins. Be sure your dough is not too thin as it will crack apart.

Here are our finished products for today:

We will paint and add to our maps but I thought this was a pretty good start! 🙂

Love Your Boys (no matter how they learn)! Blessings as we all continue to grow.

P.S. I know that sometimes we like to do review weeks (other than at the 6 week breaks) so I am adding this to the Halfahundredacrewood link-up page so others might use the idea. Enjoy!