Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Homeschooling Adventure

Yesterday, we joined some homeschooling friends to visit a nearby Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful day for it..not too hot and not too cool. Between the four families, we had eight children in attendance. The oldest of the eight was only six years old, so I don't think anyone was too surprised that we didn't see any actual wildlife! I'm pretty sure the Wildlife Refuge was emptied of all wildlife by the time our noisy children left. However, we did still have a great time and the kids did get to learn a bit about nature and wildlife while we were there. After a picnic lunch, we all took off on our walk.

The Refuge had a very nice boardwalk area that went through the swamp. (Which was also nice in keeping the children corralled!)


The Refuge is under construction, so eventually the nice boardwalk ended, but we were able to continue walking the path.






The children found animal tracks in the mud and we had a good time identifying them. We found coyote, deer, and raccoon tracks on our walk.


On our way back we found some neat pods on the boardwalk that must've fallen from one of the trees. One of the moms took them home to see if they could be identified.


It was a really fun day for the kids and myself. It's always nice to get together with other like-minded families. I'm very thankful that we have a strong homeschooling community in my area.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Photos for Grandma Colette

It's been a while since I've posted photos for Grandma Colette, so here you go!

Here is Sarah playing with one of the kittens. This is the girl one which my creative children have named Catty. They named the boy one Cat. Yes, my children get their creativity from me.


Sarah helping with the okra harvest


Andrew eating beets for the first time


This weekend the kids were excited to have their cousins come visit. Here's Sarah taking her cousins to the barn to find eggs.


Here's Alexis looking beautiful at the top of the playland.


Andrew and Kaylee playing on the seesaw


That police car got a workout on Saturday


My sister and I tried to get a picture of all six kids together, but these were the best I could come up with. It's hard to get six children to say "Cheese" at the same time!



You know, it's hard to get three children to say "Cheese" at the same time!



Shawn took the kids on a trail ride while my sister, Kaylee, and I walked behind


We made a stop so Shawn could show us his deer stand


Throwing this one in because I think it's cute (Yes, when my daughter is sleepy she puts one thumb in her mouth and puts a finger in her belly button.)


That's all I have for now Grandma...enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Cleaners

Since I'm feeling crummy today and have no motivation to clean, I thought that I would at least post about cleaning. That makes my lack of productivity less bad, right? Right?

Anyhow..we avoid commercial cleaning products for two reasons. First of all, because we want to avoid the toxic chemicals that are in those commercial cleansers. Secondly, it's cheaper to simply make your own. So, here are my homemade cleanser recipes:

Wood Cleanser
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar

Place in spray bottle and label, "Furniture Polish." I use this on all of our wood furniture, including the nice antique stuff. Sometimes I spray it directly on the wood and other times I spray on a rag and then apply to the wood. I also use this on my kitchen's wood floor after I've mopped. It gives a nice shine to the wood.

Glass Cleaner
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. white vinegar

Place in spray bottle and label, "Glass Cleaner." I use this on all mirrors, windows, computer and tv screens.

Toilet cleaning
For the toilet, I simply sprinkle some baking soda in the bowl and scrub with a toilet brush. Then flush. Then I clean the exterior of the toilet using undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle.

Tub/Sink Cleaning
I sprinkle some baking soda in the sink/tub and scrub with a scrub brush. The countertops around the sinks can be cleaned with the undiluted vinegar.

Mopping
I simply fill my kitchen sink with super-hot water and then pour some white vinegar in. I'm not even sure of the measurement...about three "glugs" from the gallon jug of vinegar. It doesn't have to be exact.

I like keeping things simple and this type of cleaning doesn't require any special purchases on my part. I can simply use what's on hand in my home. Also, I don't have to worry about the kids helping me clean and being exposed to toxins. I know that many may worry about germs and such in our home since we don't use commercial disinfectants or bleach, but our family has been blessed with good health. We are very rarely ever sick, so this type of cleaning can't be doing too bad of a job!

If you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think. Also, if you have a good homemade, non-toxic cleaning technique that you love, please share it with me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where Do They Get This Stuff?

I think, compared to most "normal" families, Shawn and I are strict about exposing our children to worldly things. We have zero television channels, we homeschool, we don't go to restaurants, we don't listen to popular music, we don't keep up with sports, and we have a fairly small, close circle of friends that have lives similar to ours. All in all, our children are pretty buffered from the world.

So, when I hear Sam say, "Come on Sarah, let's go to Taco Bell and get some tacos!" I've got to wonder where on earth he came up with that. The last time we ate at Taco Bell was probably more than two years ago!

Then I overhear Sarah as she's playing with her dolls, "Oh, the baby is hungry! I better get her a BOTTLE!" Granted, she's probably witnessed other babies being fed with a bottle, but she's never seen her momma feed a baby with a bottle. Why do I never hear her say, "I better go nurse the baby!"

I guess there are worldly things much worse than Taco Bell and baby bottles...but I'm still left scratching my head.

So...make me feel better. What things have your children said or done that make you just shake your head and wonder, "Where did you come up with that?"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GAPS Pumpkin Muffins and Cupcakes

We started our adventure on the GAPS diet a week and a half ago. Well, right off the bat we had a birthday party to attend, so I had to come up with a safe birthday treat for my children. Fortunately, I was able to take our GAPS pumpkin muffins and have them serve double-duty for the birthday party. Here's what I did:

Pumpkin Muffins - Makes 2 dozen

12 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup honey
1-1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins or use muffin papers. Whisk together first five ingredients, then add in melted coconut oil by slowly drizzling it into the bowl, whisking as you add it. (Doing it this way keeps the melted coconut oil from cooling too quickly and turning clumpy.) Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Spoon into muffin pans and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Hint: If you used muffin papers (which I do because I only have aluminum muffin pans) be sure to let your muffins cool for a few minutes before peeling the papers off. If you choose to eat them immediately, the papers will stick to the super-hot muffins and you'll end up having to spoon your sticky muffin mess out of the paper...I know this from experience!

So, the morning of the birthday party I made Pumpkin Muffins and we ate a dozen of them for breakfast. The kids loved them, no surprise there.

Then I took the remaining dozen and topped them with this frosting recipe:
http://www.healthhomehappy.com/2010/10/simple-meringue-frosting-refined-sugar-free.html

Finally, I sprinkled a little cinnamon on top of the frosting to make them pretty. They were a huge hit! The pumpkin keeps the muffins/cupcakes SOOO moist.

These would be perfect for all the parties that happen this time of year. If you do try the recipe, let me know what you think!

This post is proud to be part of Real Food Wednesday at
http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2010/10/real-food-wednesday-102010.html

Monday, October 18, 2010

Training Our Bodies To Accept Poison

Recently I was pleased to see the latest copy of Wise Traditions appear in our mailbox. Wise Traditions is the quarterly periodical that is distributed by The Weston A. Price Foundation. At the front of the publication are several letters sent in by readers. One of the letters was from a lady in Canada. In her letter she explained that in the last three years her family has switched over to a diet consisting of whole, unprocessed foods. Prior to making this dietary change, the family ate processed foods on a daily basis with no ill effects. However, since improving their diet three years ago, her family can no longer consume processed foods without having adverse reactions such as nausea, vomiting, flu-like illnesses, and behavioral issues. The letter's author then goes on to explain why she believes that her family is now having these reactions.

This letter got my brain churning and I've been hashing out a post for several days now. Shawn and I have noticed that we now have reactions to processed foods similiar to the author of the letter. We've often wondered why this occurs now when it did not when we were eating the Standard American Diet, so it was interesting to read the letter in Wise Traditions and see her ideas.

Here's our belief as to why we're now sensitive to processed foods:

We believe that processed foods are loaded full of poisons that God never intended for us to consume. We believe that Americans have done a superb job of training their bodies to accept these poisons, even to the point that our bodies now crave the substances that ultimately harm them. Just as an alcoholic can train their body to accept poisonous levels of alcohol, the average American has trained their body to accept poisonous levels of food additives and chemicals. A couple of years ago when our diet was almost 100% processed food, our bodies were so used to accepting poisons on a daily basis that they no longer sent out warnings that we were doing something harmful. Now that we've changed our eating habits and allowed our bodies to heal, they are now capable of sending out distress calls when we put a poison into them. For us, those distress calls include nausea, eczema, fatigue, weakness, and dehydration. I think that when we consume foods that God put on Earth for us to consume, then our body works the way He designed it. Likewise, when we misuse God's creation, our bodies cease to work in the way He intended.

Some may say, "Well, when you break everything down, EVERYTHING is created from something that God created, so how can it be bad?" I agree that everything in existence ultimately came from something God created. However, just because God allows something to exist doesn't mean that He approves of it. Man was able to discover a process to murder unborn children. Everything involved in that process is derived from something that God created. I would argue that abortion is a misuse of God's creation. Likewise, I would argue that the chemicals put in processed food are perversions of God's creation. The easiest example is artificial food coloring. Did you know that artificial food dyes are made from petroleum? Yes, petroleum that God placed deep within the earth. The same stuff that was floating all over the ocean in the Gulf Oil Spill. Would you allow your child to jump into the Gulf of Mexico and swallow up some of that crude oil or drink a spoonful of gasoline? Of course not! Why is it ok for us to give our children petroleum in processed food, but it's not ok to give them a spoonful of gasoline? I cannot come up with a reason as to why gasoline is harmful to drink, but petroleum-based food additives are perfectly safe.

Some others may be saying, "But there have been studies that have shown that these products are safe to use in food, so they must be safe." I would say that just because "they" say that something is safe doesn't mean that it is. Look back at all the pregnant women that took thalidomide to help alleviate their morning sickness. We now know that thalidomide caused those women's babies to be born with serious physical birth defects. That drug was once deemed safe for use and we were shown that that position was wrong, wrong, wrong. Man has been proven wrong time and time again. I believe that God has always been right and will always be right. I am not willing to let my children consume petroleum-based food colorings and thereby allow them to be guinea pigs in the next thalidomide science experiment. We will stick to eating God's food because I trust that God knew what He was doing when He created all.

I want to close by saying that, if any of this makes sense to you and you desire to rid your body of the poisons that man tells you are safe...please don't be discouraged if it takes you a while to achieve it. In today's society, having the desire to make that change is a big deal in and of itself. Baby steps have helped our family achieve so much and I highly recommend the effectiveness of taking those baby steps. It's unfortunate that training our bodies to live without daily poisons is such a difficult process, however I believe that it will be worth it in the end. Just take the baby steps to get there and see how much better you feel once you've rid your body of the man-made poisons that are in it.

Why the Ministry of Truth Would Love the E-book

(I do have ideas floating around in my head for another food-type post for tomorrow and a yummy GAPS recipe for Wednesday's post. However, today I just don't feel like writing them out, so I'm pleased to present another guest post from my dear husband. - Janice)

How many of us, during high school or college, read the book “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell? If not, or if your memory has faded over the years, here is a quick review:

The novel, written in 1949, predicted what life could be like by the year 1984. Every aspect of life was dominated by Big Brother, an all powerful dictator who literally watches your every move via surveillance systems. Mind control and propaganda were administered by the Ministry of Truth, who revised history, altered documents and photos and insured every aspect of society was molded to support the agenda of Big Brother. The book basically expressed a fear of totalitarianism by an all powerful government with the ability to control not only people’s actions, but their thoughts as well.

Now, keep the theme of that book in mind as I describe a recent discussion of college instructors on the value of e-books. During a discussion concerning rental verses purchased text books for students, the option of e-books came up. Immediately, many instructors began praising this new technology, sparking a brief conversation on the subject. As I listened to the comments and descriptions, I heard some predicting the end of physical paper books in the future and how “green and environmentally friendly” that would be. Some spoke of how wonderful e-books are in relation to the immediate ability to edit the books, correcting mistakes and adding updates as needed. No one would even know the mistake or update was made, as the corrected version immediately replaces the old version online.

As usual, I found myself to be the lone wolf, the only person in the room who did not seem to view this latest technological advancement as anything other than manna from Heaven. I could not help but think how much easier censorship will be once all books are electronic. You don’t have to physically go door to door and collect the books like the Nazis did, all the government would have to do is hit the DELETE button on some master system and poof, no more book. How soon until the latest version of the Ministry of Truth searches e-book by e-book deciding what we should or should not read? “This book is offensive to ….” and “That book promotes anti-government views.” and so on. What isn’t deleted would be modified. I would predict the Holy Bible would be a prime target of selective editing. Within a few generations, no one would even know the original version anymore.

You may call me paranoid, but I can see this becoming reality. Even George Orwell didn’t predict the ease to which the e-book could make his nightmare come true. Take some time and read “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, and get the e-book version, you have to love irony.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life Around the Homestead

I admit it, I've been slacking lately. I'm now 7 weeks pregnant and the yucky feelings are starting to show up. I have very low energy and waves of nausea come and go throughout the day. I find myself craving some foods and being revolted by others. So, blogging has taken a backseat for a bit. I'm grateful that Shawn was able to put his guest post up for me and will probably have him fill in the gaps a little more until I start feeling 100% again.

We did have a good time outside with the kids earlier this week. It's times like this when I think the children really resemble country kids as opposed to the more city-fied children that we moved out here in December. The video is of Sam driving his police car around the property with Andrew's Tonka truck tied to the back. Then Andrew sat in the back part of the Tonka dump truck and was having a great time as Sam towed him around the property.

video

Then of course, Sarah had to have a ride too! (This video starts off sideways, but quickly goes vertical.)
video

Finally, here are a few more fall pictures that I've taken around the homestead.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Who Does Obama Trust?

Another guest post from my dear husband...Enjoy!

Please take a moment to consider the following decisions recently made by the Obama Administration:

This year, Obama made the decision to cancel all further orders by the U.S. Air Force of the Lockheed-Martin F-22 fighter jet. This is the world’s most advanced fighter jet, considered untouchable by other fighters. In other words, if your air force is flying F-22s, you control the sky. About the same time Obama decided to deny our military this advanced fighter, he decided to approve the sale of F-22 fighters to Saudi Arabia. (I believe this decision was made after he bowed down to the Saudi king.) In addition to the F-22, Obama also approved selling 84 F-15 fighters, weapon system upgrades for 70 current F-15s, 70 Apache fighter helicopters and 72 Black Hawk helicopters. No nation (including the U.S. or Israel) will be able to effectively stop the Saudi Air Force.

While this decision was being made, the Obama Administration decided to prohibit the sale of World War II era rifles to U.S. citizens. During the Korean War, thousands of surplus M-1 Garand and M-1 Carbine rifles were transferred to South Korea. Now that these rifles are very outdated, the South Korean military has no use for them. The South Korean government announced plans to sell 87,310 M-1 Garand rifles and 770,160 M-1 Carbine rifles to American licensed gun dealers. Gun collectors were thrilled to learn these highly desired, historic rifles would be made available.

The Obama Administration blocked the transfer of these rifles, citing a “threat to public safety in the U.S.” if the public was allowed to own these rifles. Keep in mind, we are talking about 70-year-old semi-auto rifles. The M-1 Garand holds 8 rounds, the M-1 Carbine holds 15 rounds, and function like any other semi-auto rifle. Despite the ordinary, common design of these rifles, Obama and his cronies call them “assault weapons.”

So, let’s put this in perspective….Saudi Arabia (home of 18 of the 19 9/11 hijackers) is trusted with the world’s most advanced fighter jets, but American citizens are not trusted with 70-year-old rifles. Even more disturbing, the Obama Administration has changed the U.S. position, previously taken by the Bush Administration, on the United Nations global gun ban. The U.N. treaty to ban private possession of small arms is set to go into effect in 2012, with the U.S. now fully on-board. Assuming everything does not go the hell in a hand basket before then, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It is interesting to consider who Obama considers his trusted friends and who he considers his enemies. As gun owners, it is clear how he feels about us. No matter how the elections turn out in November, gun ownership will continue to be threatened over the next 2 years. Obama doesn’t trust citizens who own guns, and for gun owners, the feeling is mutual.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And Yet ANOTHER Addition

Well, since we were finally able to share this with family over the weekend, I guess it's now ok to put the news here. If everything goes well, Baby #4 will be arriving in early June. The books tell me that the date will be June 3rd, but given that I tend to go over with my babies, mid-June is probably more likely. I'm still very early in my pregnancy, but I'm not one to keep babies a secret. So far I'm feeling great, a bit more tired than usual, but overall I'm feeling very good. This will be the first baby to come since our family changed its eating habits, so I'm curious to see how our new diet affects my weight gain and energy level this time around. Anyhow, just wanted to pass along the exciting news!

I'll end the post with some pretty Fall pictures that Shawn took around the homestead this weekend.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another Addition


Apparently last week was "dump your animals on our property" week. We didn't get the memo, but seeing that we acquired two cats and a dog last week, an announcement must've gone out that we just missed. This young dog showed up with his hip bones protuding and every single rib showing. He obviously hadn't been fed in a while, but he was such a sweet thing, that we decided to put him on probation to see if he was suitable to stay here. So we watched him and avoided naming him just in case he turned out to be unfit. He's done well with the chickens and the cats and the kids. He isn't a "barker," which is good. The only time we've heard him bark is when some other stray dogs started snooping around our fence's perimeter.

So last night we decided that we should go ahead and give him a name. I had gotten in the habit of calling him Buddy. Sam and Sarah are adamant that his name is Doggie. Andrew just calls him Woof-Woof. Shawn and I thought it over and I think we're naming him Striker, after a very heroic dog. It's our hope that our Striker will turn out to be just as loyal and courageous as his namesake.

And no, I'm not going to tell you the story behind the heroism of the famous Striker. His real-life story is well-known. I'm anxious to see if anyone reading this knows why Striker the dog is a canine that no freedom-loving American should forget. If you know, leave a comment and tell us!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Joys of Homeschooling

We went to Wal-Mart today. We were standing in the checkout line when the cashier looks at Sam and says, "Why aren't you in school today?" Sam doesn't answer, so I reply, "We homeschool." She looks back at Sam and says, "Oh. Well then what are you going to do today when you get home?" I reply, "Well, today is Town Day. We've come into town to run errands and do Storytime at the Library." She says, "Oh, well that's nice...At least he's dressed nice like he's going to school."

I grit my teeth while I smile, take my receipt and leave. Today is one of those days that I tell Shawn to weld the gate shut when he gets home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Our Family Vacation

This weekend we went on an impromptu trip to Branson. Family vacations are rare for us, but it happened to be Shawn's birthday as well as Homeschoolers' Weekend at Silver Dollar City so we decided to have a getaway.

I am so grateful that Shawn stumbled across a website while searching for lodging. He found condos for rent at http://www.bransonweekend.com/
The owners own several condos and they rent them out to families. I cannot recommend these condos enough. They were perfect for our family. Each of the condos is decorated with individual themes. We stayed in The Ranch House and the kids just absolutely loved that they got to stay in a house that cowboys lived in! The condo was a 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit with a full kitchen, dining/living room, covered deck, and laundry. I thought that getting all this for $100 a night was a great deal. Anyone that has ever tried to put three small children in a small motel room will understand how GREAT a blessing this was for us! The kids were actually able to MOVE here! We had space! Also, with our food issues, having the kitchen was a must. I was surprised to see that the condo included everything that we could possibly need: laundry detergent, flyswatter, Ziploc bags, books, movies, magazines, light bulbs, a stepstool for the kids' bathroom..you name it, it was there. It didn't feel like we were staying in a rented room. It really felt like we were invited into someone's home. It was nice and cozy..nothing was lacking.

First thing the kids did was discover the toys that were in the condo. Yes, the owners even have toys there for the kids! They loved that big stuffed horse, which also means they fought over it..constantly.


By having the kitchen there, we were able to spend absolutely nothing on food during our entire trip.



The kids had their own cowboy bedroom. Boy, did we have trouble getting them to go to sleep Friday night. They were SO excited!


We spent Saturday at Silver Dollar City. The kids were fearless and inexhaustible.










Needless to say, we may have had trouble getting the kids to bed Friday night, but Saturday night we didn't hear a peep out of them. We left the park and went back to the condo. I had put a chicken and some vegetables in the crockpot before we left that morning. So we got back and ate a quick supper of crockpot chicken and salad.

I wish I had taken more pictures of the inside of the condo. It was decorated so nicely on the inside and the view from the deck was beautiful. If you go to their website you can see more of the condo that I didn't get around to photographing. I can't wait to go back. We've now found a favorite place to stay. I foresee us getting the season pass for Silver Dollar City in the next couple years. Going there is a great getaway for our family.