Monday, October 24, 2011

GAPS diet

"Look, Ma, two hands!"

That's it--get every drop of goodness, baby.
Whew. I have not been able to post any of my fabulous journey with the GAPS diet, complete with mess-ups and grease-splattered photos, because I have been up to my elbows in squash and bone broth. It has been empowering though, to realize that I have been able to do this. My kids have eaten soup for breakfast for almost a month. And have had sauerkraut, kefir, veggie juice (they already liked that), bone broths, homemade mayonnaise, meat-off-the-bone, kimchi (only my adventurous 6 yo who is addicted to horseradish so I know has a spicy mouth), and every type of soup you could imagine, often blended in the old-school Vitamix 3600, or invented from scraps in the fridge. We were late to nature class this morning because I didn't finish making THE SOUP until 10 minutes before we had to leave, and for some reason it doesn't work to scarf down soup. God made it to be savored. And, um, it doesn't travel well in the van. Maybe that will be my contribution to the GAPS world--dehydrated soup pellets, or soup brittle. If it looks like dipping dots, kids will like it! Wait, it might need to have sugar in it too. Hmph.

I had the stomach flu last week, and was laid exceedingly low. DH had to pick up the GAPS pieces, and many of the elements were missed, and some starches were consumed. But I can see a (negative) difference in behavior this week, and my 2 yo's contentment/attention span which means that it had been making a difference BEFORE. Somehow I am telling this in the most confusing way possible, but we'll just keep muddling through. And at the end of the day her cheeks would not be flaming red while we were stricter with doing the diet, although she still has the keritosis bumps on her cheeks, arms, thighs, calves. And this week, ze cheeks, zey are red again! DH did the best he could, and I have to hand it to him for giving them broth and meat and veggies pretty religiously (maybe low on the veggies but who's counting).

I think with this diet, it helps we all (me and kiddos) have meat-loving, fat-needing type O blood. I think grains are hard on us, so later if we add in potatoes, sweet potatoes and other beans we might still be OK, although the disaccharides in these are supposed to keep our guts from healing (they are too hard to digest, so stay undigested, and feed bad pathogens/bacteria in the gut, which create holes in the lining of the gut). I need to read the book so I can explain this better! Sorry y'all.

He is less impressed with soup for breakfast.
And don't look now, but my desk is in a surprising lowly-piled state behind him. Yes, I said low!! Don't judge.
It counts as low if it doesn't look like it's going to fall over and bury a little person.
I didn't even include a picture of my 6 yo because she had already finished her soup and left. She has always loved soup and veggies and meat so I was not worried about her on this diet a'tall. She'll drink a spoonful of sauerkraut juice STRAIGHT UP. All that to say, follow this this week if you are interested in the GAPS diet. I have a plethora of websites and links I could share, but Kimi at Nourishing Gourmet is kind of summarizing/examining things this next week, so I thought I'd jump on her train. Maybe you'd want to join in the conversation!?? Do I sound freakishly excited for you to do that? I have been a little bit isolated this past month, haha. Next time I'll write more about why we started the diet and what I am (was?) hoping to accomplish. What am I doing? What am I eating? Hey, sometimes just Chipotle. I'm no superhero.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

31 Days to Clean

This looks neat...if you decide to get it, let me know what you think!!
I need more of a Martha attitude--I think I focus too much on the "Mary heart," to the point of Mary laziness.

Click here to visit Sarah Mae.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogs From Which I Check

Otherwise translated as "Blogs to Check Out." The list is growing. The list is fascinating. Beware!! I need to check out from them more often, like right now in fact. I didn't realize how many people there are interested in the same stuff I am! Am I really not a weirdo?? Will the blogging world accept me? Haha. Really, right now, in real life, I am just sitting in a room by myself, alone. A cyber friend, or even a cyber opinion, will not change the hermit life I am tempted to lead, right MM?

I downloaded an RSS feed burner, but I do not know how to use it yet. So I have just been bookmarking in different categories, and feel like the information out there is phenomenal. Here are my "health" and "homesteading" blogs--I obviously don't keep up on all of them, but they have helped me with a recipe, going 'poo free, gathering farm dreams, and researching GAPS diet, to name a few things. You can't beat that kind of practical advice! Do y'all have any you would recommend adding to the list?

Plus there are the usual Holy Experience, Pioneer Woman, and Inspired to Action forays (I am starting the Maximize Your Mornings Challenge on Thursday!)

Go to town!! But don't stay up as late as I just did.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Simple lacto-fermented salsa

First off, credit where credit is due: Got the recipe for this salsee online somewhere, but I couldn't find it. How's that for credit?? Of course, I did find it here. Aren't you relieved? It seems that many have found the secret to this amazing, healthy, keeps-in-the-fridge-for-months way to preserve summer's garden tomatoes. Without sweating in the heat of canning baths! Here's another recipe from Cheeseslave for you that's very similar to what I did. But I didn't have jalapenos, and I would have definitely used cilantro if I had it. And red or yellow peppers. As you can see, my pantry was low. But that didn't keep me from the salsee!! Nothing can stand between us now.

So I didn't get the food processor in a picture, but you probably know what one of those looks like. Throw a couple tomatoes in (I chopped mine in big chunks), an onion (also in big chunks), and chop it up, whatever consistency you like your salsa (it's hard to keep it chunky if that's how you like it, just warning you). With all my friend's generous tomatoes, I had to do maybe 4 rounds in the Cuisinart. So I divided mine into 2 big bowls, and basically halved fudged the recipe between them.

Warning before I go any further. That was perhaps my first striked out phrase in my entire blogging career of 90 or so posts. Not sure about that. But I am a little happy on the striker finger. Just warning you. And I kind of rebelliously did the opposite or perhaps what I am supposed to do with the striked out part, since the part that remains is reality. But I am a bad liar anyway.

I used a garlic press for the garlic cloves, instead of peeling them. I am too important lazy to peel garlic. Then I used 1/2 lemon per bowl, added maybe 2 Tbsp. sea salt in each one, 1/2 cup plain yogurt in each, and 1/4 cup water because it said to but then I ended up straining them later because they were too watery. I forgot to mention I was also out of cayenne pepper. Isn't this a great experiment recipe?

Somehow I got them into quart jars, I think with my 1/4 cup measure. With much landing on the counters. Now here is the wild part. Over the next 3 days, I would be working in the kitchen, and might move a jar a little, and it would HISS at me. Not a threatening one, but a little "ffff" like someone is making that sound with their lip and their teeth that sounds like a door creaking open...and it wasn't like twilight zone, but I was a little perturbed. Disconcerted. Definitely worried about my first fermentation experiment attempt. Here they are below, not looking very scary at all. Just kinda different. Oh, and I guess I used one quart and one smaller jar, and ate some of the fresh salsa for supper and put it in a quart jar later. Clearly I made sure I was doing it in the most confusing way possible, just to keep you on your toes.

Later I learned that I probably should have filled a baggie with water to "weigh down" the salsa and make sure it is immersed in the water the whole time (oh well, can't win 'em all). And you are supposed to stir them every so often, so I would have to open them up, and kind of plug my nose in my head (kind of like when you cringe when you're about to hear a loud noise, but with your nose). And stir and close again real quick. "Is this really working?" I would wonder. "Did I just ruin all of M's lovely tomates??" Sometimes I would just try not to look at them and forget they were there. But then they would hiss.

Twilight Zone version of the fermenting salsa

When it came time to face strain them, it really wasn't bad at all. I said, "Guys, I hate to stop your wild fermenting party, but I really think it's time to call it enough bacteria already. I know you're good and all, but I can't take too much of a good thing." Or something like that--stay very sensitive to the salsa and you'll have better results.

"No one understands me."
The smell when I popped them open (again with the hissing) was pretty normal, actually. And I decided there was too much liquid in there, so I strained that, but saved it because I figured it was valuable probiotic juice (later I made tomato soup with it and some more donated tomatoes). And here's what straining them looked like:

"Yes, I'm plastic and I have feelings too."

Yes, I'm proud aware that it's a plastic tupperware thing. But it fit my strainer really well. And then I microwaved it all and leeched plastic into it and killed all the good  bacteria. The end.

Haha, no really, here is the finished salsa scooped into new quart whatever-that-smaller-size-is-called jars:

"See, we're not so bad."

At least they are in the fridge now, where they seem to fit in better. And they aren't too high and mighty to hang out next to the Aldi salsa. 

"Hey, brow. Sorry you're not lacto-fermented like us."

Such a happy family combination of fermented and cheapo salsees.

Oh, and it is good! Would be better with cilantro and cayenne or jalapeno peppers, since judging by the Aldi brand I like it medium and this is definitely mild. I also, like Pioneer Woman, love that it does not have vinegar in it. Salsa need not have vinegar. Just lacto-fermenting goodness.

One other thing, for those out there who HATE to throw out food because it's past the expiration date? Anyone? Well, this SHOULD keep for months. And it's a great, simple way to get rid of enjoy your plentiful tomatoes. But please, do yours more carefully than me. I am a little bit too adventurous rebellious to be posting recipes.

This was my first attempt at a "link up," so if it doesn't work, go check out the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop at GNOWFLGINS!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I decided to take part in the blogging world's "naming days" phenomenon. And I can't decide if it needs hyphens, or quotes, or what. But as I actually chronicle the things I'm reading, I'm a little embarrassed--there is probably a little too much reading going on here! Especially since I'm not including anything that we are reading all day during our actual homeschool. My throat is a little hoarse after our first couple days of school this week, acksha-lay.

First of all, this is what my husband thinks of me reading so much:

Or maybe he's just tired of refried beans. Either way, my book pile is a little out of control.

Let's start with the ones I am reading for my homeschooling job. They are the ones that make me salivate when I start them, and then tend to work through rather slowly.

The Heart of Homeschooling is a really nice one, and it makes me nostalgic because Christopher Klicka passed away in the last couple years so it puts the whole book in a different light. Are we spending our days pouring into our kids in ways that really matter? What is the purpose of education? What is our role as parents? Reaching our kids' hearts is hard to do when we do not have much time with them. Sheesh, it's hard when we are with them all the time too. Maybe harder in some ways because we can't hide our yucky stuff as easily.

A Thomas Jefferson Education has been very challenging and kind of mind-blowing. It has already caused me to pick their college! (Is that controlling?? Nah!) Much of homeschooling has caused me to see that I really wasn't that great growing up. I got awards and school came easily for the most part, but a lot of the time I was just jumping through hoops. Except for the rare teacher or rare assignment, I wasn't experiencing true learning, much less retaining things. I hated history, and now that we are homeschooling it is one of my favorite subjects. I am really excited to start some American history with them this year! The book is challenging because I have NO IDEA how to teach this way, as an expert mentor who is guiding the student while instilling a love for learning. It involves reading classics ourselves! Yikes! You mean I have to struggle through Beowulf again??

A Biblical Home Education (Ruth Beechick) and Home Education (Charlotte Mason) espouse a similar home school philosophy. Both are very much in favor of using real books and real life and real nature to teach kids, because it just isn't natural for kids to learn "inside the box." They need to be active and living it (even through a living book) for it to make much sense. Why would they care at this point about something they can't apply to life? Outside the box should be standard procedure (which would make it not so much "outside the box" anymore, eh?). I have to admit, I have not gotten very far with CM's direct words so far; it takes concentration and I have precious little time or brainpower for that these days. But it is sweet to hear her actual tone and writing style, and the words straight from her very wise brain.

I can see that I will have to save some books for next week, if I expound on each I'll just talk about what I'm using during quiet time. I don't use all these everyday, although I'd like to, but usually some combination.

The Hour That Changes the World was my book for 2010. I had a book exchange where ladies brought their lifechanging, recommended 2010 book, and this was the one I brought to try to "sell" others on (if yours got traded the most, you got an extra prize book--but everyone was too nice and didn't "steal," so we had to do a drawing instead).

It is a great framework for prayer. It keeps me focused, and gives structure to my time and my frazzled brain. And it keeps me from starting out with a focus on myself, since the first thing is PRAISE. Then it moves through waiting (a nice part too--just meditating on the love of God), confession, scripture prayer...and I'll leave you hanging for the rest. But there are twelve parts, which theoretically you could spend 5 minutes on (making the hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer). It really would change the world if everyone did these everyday!!

With Christ in the School of Prayer is a sweet little book. I heard about it through study in brown and it has helped awaken more of a sense of the straightforwardness of prayer, and how God really does delight in giving good things to His children. And also how it's important to ask for the right things! The last chapter I read was about how much MORE will He give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. Yes!

Heaven at Home is a sweet book by Ginger Plowman that has challenged my selfish tendencies as a wife and mom. And that I am creating the kind of home I live if I don't like it, it's my attitude and actions that need to change. She says it much more sweetly, and also makes sure to say this can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible. 'Nuff said. And I didn't put a picture of my journal so that it remains incognito in case you ever find it somewhere.

OK, last ones for now. These are kind of my "reference books" currently that I go back to and use over and over. Power of a Praying Parent, along with a "How to Pray for Your Husband" card tucked inside, are great for praying many powerful things when I may not feel so inspired.

And Love and War was a study DH and I did that really rocked, but I keep the book nearby for a superduper prayer at the end. It's a doozy. It's like 3 or 4 pages long. And it covers every aspect of spiritual life and daily warfare you would ever encounter or think of. So I feel very "covered" when I take the time to pray this baby.

What are you reading?? Hopefully not just on Wednesdays?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nutrimill Giveaway!

Lest you think I have hit it big in the blog world, I'll say quickly that HEAVENLY HOMEMAKERS is having a Nutrimill giveaway. Not me. Nada me at all. But I have let you know about it, and would encourage you to enter, and perhaps I could get 1/100th of the credit if you win. Not that we care about credit, right?? But even if I had credit, I still wouldn't have a Nutrimill (thankfully I have access to one through my dear friend at Joyful Home)! Well, have fun and don't let the grain grinding bug getcha too bad.

Oh, you can also enter to win a dehydrator on the Heavenly Homemakers website too, and there's ALSO info there about a sweet Tropical Traditions giveaway too. These all apply very well to what I need right now. There's nothing like a giveaway that's not too frivolous, that applies to my real, felt needs--and, hm, there's nothing like winning it either. Let me know if you win it big time!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I've been looking back at 2010. I had made goals for 2011. The space between now and the goal is kind of a question mark though. I was never the type to be good at those kind of details! Just dream and hope and you're good to go. But then you look back at 2010 and it looks kinda like 2009. Like the bumper sticker I saw that slapped me upside the face, "If nothing changes, nothing changes." Oh, yeah (if you don't have a comma there, it sounds like Kool-aid man going, "Oh yeah!").

Awaken is my WORD for 2011. I've mentioned this.
And I've been reading this passage from Isaiah 52 like a madwoman:
"Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
clothe yourself in your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Will no longer come into you.
Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion."

We've written a song with those words in them. I've meditated on them almost everyday. But I am still not sure how God is doing this in my life. I don't see all this amazing evidence right in front of me. And despite trying to teach my kids to obey "all the way, right away, with a happy heart" (thank thee, Ginger Plowman!), my obedience still has a lot to be desired. Maybe that's part of the problem with my kids' obedience??? Hmph.

I am giving my testimony at Celebrate Recovery on Tuesday. It is a funny time to be doing it, because I don't feel this awesome sense of victory right now. It's almost like it will be a testimony on step one: surrender. "We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable." (Romans 7:18-"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.")

Or Principle 1, which is what usually sticks in my head: Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Matthew 5:3-“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”)

Either way, I hope people go away encouraged rather than discouraged, ha! I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How far will we go with our surrender?

Discerning the Will of God
by Elisabeth Elliott

The primary condition for learning what God wants of us is putting ourselves wholly at his disposal. It is just here that we are often blocked. We hold certain reservations about how far we are willing to go, what we will or will not do, how much God can have of us or of what we treasure. Then we pray for guidance. It will not work. We must begin by laying it all down--ourselves, our treasures, our destiny. Then we are in a position to think with renewed minds and act with a transformed nature. The withholding of any part of ourselves is the same as saying, "Thy will be done up to a point, mine from there on."

Paul gives four important steps to discerning the will of God:

1. "Offer your very selves to Him,"

2. "Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world."

3. "Let your minds be remade."

4. "Your whole nature transformed."

"Then you will be able to discern the will of God" (Rom 12:1,2 NEB).

Copyright © 2011 The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. (Back to the Bible) Lincoln, Nebraska, USA Used by permission. All rights reserved

Monday, August 1, 2011

Seventy-Sixth Step - Not Counting

I'm not going to count the steps anymore, I don't think. Just know that I'm taking them. And I'm not going to count how many words this gargantuan post is. But that's not what I mean by "not counting." Last weekend I was amazed by the tremendous love God has for us. This week I am amazed (and flabbergasted, and ashamed...) at the limits of human love. I just haven't thought of it much before. I mean, if our faith only needs to be a mustard seed for God to grow it into great things, I wonder how little love we need to start with? I am realizing, when I'm lucky, the level of my love must be something akin to "good intentions" or "fondness." It just really doesn't cut it. Especially when the going gets tough. I realize much of the time I am gutting it out and gritting my teeth and having a horrible attitude while maybe appearing to "give in" or display outward obeisance. (Is that the same as obedience? It sounds sweeter, like obedience with a humble spirit) We count the cost. God doesn't.

Sooooo as my kids face a challenging sickness, I am brought exceedingly low. I can't fix it; I can't control it. I can juice veggies with garlic, and I can give them respiratory support herbs. But what matters the most is being able to hold them and be present while they are hacking. Even if there is mucus involved on a new clean shirt, which the wearing of is quite the event for me around here. A phenomenon really. We have done the doctor visits, figured out what was going on, done the antibiotics. Now it is a waiting game, us vs. sickness. But I kind of stink at this simple "Mary like" method of just being with them and accepting them even in their sickness. Even if nothing I do can make them better.

Instead of feeling tenderly compassionate, after two weeks of my kids coughing, I find myself being disgusted, like I really shouldn't have to deal with this. I think my soul took a bathroom break or something when God was handing out those natural motherly genes. It is WORK for me to stay present!! Checking out is very tempting, and patting their backs might give the outward appearance of mothering while my heart is elsewhere. I am just ready to be DONE. I know God's love is much bigger than this, and the knowledge shames me.

Since we are in full confession mode, I also have trouble getting up at night. I often take a while to fall asleep, and I avoid waking fully up after I get to sleep. Oh, and plus, I can, um, be selfish and lazy at times. So my DH has become sleep-deprived and frazzled from the baby (now two! Can I still call her THE BABY??) getting up 5x in the night. I help him maybe two of those times, but after I have gone out of "infant mode" and am not nursing, (whispered) sometimes I don't hear her. And sometimes I don't hear my 4 y.o. son. But a lot of the time I do and guiltily listen to DH getting up instead of me. It feels like I can't move, but I know that really I could, that I am nowhere near even the (wimpy) limits of human love.

Jesus. I shake my head when I think of Jesus. He had human flesh to hold him back, all the possibilities of selfish tendencies latent in his body. (My theology could be off here, but bear with me.) Fully human. Never once chose to give in to his "fully human side." I know it's possible, that he said he could have called in legions of angels to save him. But he prayed so hard to obey and take up the cup (a.k.a the cross) that his human body shed blood in the Garden, before he even got to the cross.

As a fellow human (without the divine nature part), I KNOW I ain't ever prayed like THAT.

I obviously don't know exactly what He was praying (wouldn't that be awesome, and holy, and so impossible for us to hear? Or even understand if we did hear?) Somehow he was disciplining his body and making it his slave. He was getting his flesh in line with the Holy Spirit. He was communing with His Father and asking for help, for help only the Father could give at that point. He had reached the end of his humanness, was totally broken, poured out. He had nothing to offer. He had to pour Himself out at the cross, and completely trust in His Heavenly Father.

I think the gospel writer thought that the fact that his disciples could not even pray with Him for one hour was very significant. I think so too. Because when my kids are sick, I can't even watch and pray with them for one hour. My husband pours out his life, takes off his shirt and catches with it the mucus they cough up, lays down with them in between barfing sessions (different sickness), shows such concern for the baby that he leaves her door open and stays on the 2nd floor because he's afraid he won't hear her. Yes, truly, the other night he would not watch a movie with me downstairs because he was afraid he wouldn't hear her.

Lest you think DH is overreacting, this is probably the worst sickness to ever hit our household. It is a new level of sickness we have not seen before. So, yes, he may be a little sleep-deprived and anxiety may be getting the better of him, but he is not holding back, and he is not counting the cost. (Maybe counting the number of times he got up the night before, but not counting it against the kids. And who knows if he is counting it against me, but I kind of deserve it.)

Disclaimer time: Without God's grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, these revelations are, of course, limited to this time and space as I put all this down here. It will take His working to keep hold of this respect and awe at the Christlike manner in which my husband is loving our kids. I mean, I am not a cold block of stone. I do hold them and am sympathetic during the day, but it is easier then. Like if Jesus had asked those three disciples to pray at noon instead of midnight, they probably would have done it, no problem. Sure thing, Jesus! But I need to remember this when it's 2 am and I am cozy and lazy and fleshly. NOT FLESHY, fleshly. (My fleshiness is not limited to 2 am, but it is not up for discussion here anyway.)

Despite all this, I show DH such disrespect with my attitude and words sometimes, and whine about how my needs aren't being met, and generally act like a baby when for the past two weeks he has been trying to meet the needs of our real baby. I do feel starved emotionally, but what a small price to pay when my kids are hacking their brains out. What a small hour to pray. Oh, I pray to welcome baby duty tonight. I pray to reach the limit of myself, so that my Father can fill me up. I pray to be poured out wine instead of worn out whine. Any human love I can give is wholly inadequate for the task. It has to be Him. I definitely count the cost, am fully aware of the minutes I spend trying to be patient and trying to be compassionate. But He didn't even consider it once. ("Consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you do not grow weary and lose heart." Heb. 12:3) In Luke 14:28, Jesus says to count the cost before you build something. But the point was somehow "anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." We can count the cost as long as we know that it will cost us everything. Or, as Paul puts it, "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ" (Phil. 3:7)

Bible break:

"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead." (Phil. 3:8-11)

"For the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Gal. 6:8-10a) (including the ones who are right in front of your face, the chillins)

Just had time to practice what I been preachin'. Baby was up coughing, sent DH back to bed. Victory! Jesus emptied Himself (Phil. 2:7) and was obedient to the point of death (Phil. 2:8). It does feel like a part of me died, not to minimize his death, but like the daily taking-up-the-cross-and-dying-to-self kind of death. It is different to die. Different from being worn out, or at the end of your rope. I can be weary even when I am not doing good, when I have not been faithful. What's it called when you're just weary, not necessarily weary because you've been doing good? I guess it's the kind where you won't reap a proper harvest when you're done. I guess it's the spinning-your-wheels weary, where the things you did will just burn in the fire rather than shine through as gold. I am weary now, for mostly the wrong reasons, but I would rather surrender, not threaten to take my ball and go home when I suffer, and entrust myself to the one who judges justly (1 Pet. 2:13). I am tired of striving, in every area of my life. I would rather die, be conformed to His death, so that I may share in His life (Phil. 2:10-11, summarized).

Just like I don't want to waste a trial and have to learn it again, I don't want my weariness to be for nothing. I don't want my selfishness about our family vacation/cousin's wedding getting cut shorter and possibly getting cut entirely to get in the way of what my kids need. I hope to honor my husband and trust God with it, whatever the outcome, even if it's very disappointing. I hate even saying that, because it's hard to believe I could really accept such an outcome. Jesus himself "knew what was in man," and he knows I am weak and selfish. Can He start with that awful ground, and grow love in such a wasteland? I guess we'll see. OK, she's coughing again. Better go. I won't count that this is the second time I am heading upstairs. Oops, NOW I won't count. Starting now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New blog I like

I've been really hoping to develop some friendships for Charlie (does that sound controlling or what?)...OK, develop some opportunities for Charlie to have mindless, anti-dialogue fun with another energetic boy. Is that better? But she made a point that he IS practicing being a friend, with his sister, Aunt Freida, a favorite babysitter. Friends don't have to just be the same age--isn't that part of the freedom with homeschooling?

There are also links on this post to MANY supposedly-cool homeschool bloggers, but I have not checked them out (thankfully, so I don't have that twinge of blog-world-instead-of-real-world guilt--however, I do have that looked-at-so-much-curriculum-and-did-so-much-research-I'm-convinced-next-year-will-be-so-many-amazing-things-but-I'm-not-done-with-this-year kind of guilt). So I can't vouch for those other blogs, only I have a suspicion they really ARE cool.

See whatcha think!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seventy-Fifth Step - Asking

I am going to walk with my awesome activist friend to raise money to help stop child sex trafficking. It's called Traffick Jam--check it out here. Could you give $1 per mile, or $10 (or more) to help these dear young victims of sex abuse and also those who are at risk of being abused? Let me know at or give me a call! Would also love your prayers as I raise money and "train." I figure if I can walk for 8 hours at Disney World, I can do this, right?? And for a much nobler cause.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Classical education vs. Charlotte Mason-style

I read this post at Simply Charlotte Mason's website (I'll abbreviate SCM) and am evaluating, processing, filling online shopping carts with homeschool books dependent on which direction I decide to go. The Cincinnati homeschool conference was amazing, refreshing, challenging and encouraging (and also exhausting). And now I am left with many ideas and very little processing time. I am very drawn to CM methods, and love how they are gentle, nature and arts-focused, and relaxed. It also scares me with my traditional school background, because what if there are GAPS?

On the SCM forum, I got much encouragement and support to my confused post. They said there are always some gaps, even in public schools (I think maybe even more so there because they do not have the same teacher/school every year!). But instilling a love for learning instead of burning them out on it means they can discover and learn about any "gaps" that matter, that truly interest them, in high school and even as adults. History and grammar study were my main questions--the arts and unique science study and beginning reading stuff were just so exciting to me.

So with history, Charlotte Mason-style does 2 rotations instead of 3 like classical ed. That is one of the main differences with history it seems--more in depth and taking more time the first time around. I wasn't sure about this, because of wanting to COVER MORE and MORE until our brains are fried, haha. But it has been my tendency all year, to slow down, digest, really understand what we are learning. Maybe it's just my style. But it makes figuring out where to go with history next year complicated. Module 1 in SCM starts with ancient history, including Egypt but includes some neat resources we didn't use this year. And it has a recommended biblical history alongside. But we did A LOT on Egypt, Mesopotamia, China this year, and it might seem like overkill to start over? I thought of starting with Module 2 (Greece). SOTW could be read alongside it very easily, which would mean I would stop for the year because we're into Greece now and exactly halfway through the first book.

I've also thought about starting with American history, so she is learning more about the world immediately around her (we can do world focus with Operation World, missionary stories etc.). That isn't until Module 5 in SCM, but they have 2 cool new books out that cover America and the Nations alongside each other, and a study on the Epistles. I'm just too excited with all the good stuff out there.
Here are a couple more articles comparing classical education to Charlotte Mason:

For grammar, I decided to use one book I already have (First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise) and get Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer from a friend. They are both oral, and I want to do more concentrated writing technique than CM recommends. I was always stronger with creative writing/Opinion essays (imagine that!) and feel kind of weak with Grammar. So I want them to have a better base with it. I think I might add in some lessons from this, since they are short and simple.

I know I plan too much in, so I like her challenge to keep lessons to 15 minutes or so, including narration. I will use less of the subjects in Five-in-a-Row (right now we talk about almost all of them, and they love the story, then I see their eyes glaze over when I pull out the book) and keep it short. I'm thinking of how to break the narration down further, so she is not as overwhelmed with summarizing the whole book (often with word-for-word reciting interspersed). Poetry, arts, living books, narration, copywork and nature (and circle time, with guitar music/dancing with scarves, puppets, bean bags, Bible focus, picture books about Jesus/The Bible) have been the best parts of our year, so it is encouraging that all of this is contained in CM methods and philosophy. Well, not "circle time" persay, but the arts/Bible focus of it.

There are some things I had never seen before that SCM recommends. After this year, I wanted to keep a "nature around us" focus with science (we studied bugs and birds so far this year in our Apologia book). Next year the co-op is doing astronomy for her age group, which is very abstract, and about as far away from the world around us as possible. :) But Clare has loved the connections with other kids, and I have liked the lunchtime chats with other moms. But it is crazy, and we are recovering all afternoon, behind in the evening, and even feel "out of touch" with school Tuesday because we haven't had sight of it since the previous Thurs or Fri (sometimes we take Fridays off if we've had a good week). The art class has been wonderful, and science class has helped us both understand the material better. :) We saw a wasps' nest this past week, which we wouldn't see at home (hopefully). I have appreciated having something for Charlie there, but sometimes he is the only boy and it is not as structured. Next year the art class is too late in the day next year for us to attend at that time. So it would just be going for a music class, but if we do a Sun. night home group, they would do choir at church. I'd like to try a Montessori class that meets on Mondays and has a "nature study" session twice a year...can you tell which way I'm leaning?

I thought about trying to find a couple CM-focused people and figuring out a way to get together a couple times a month, maybe for composer/art/dance/nature study. Could be neat, and help fulfill the high need my kids have for interaction with other kids and ease my guilt with how ecstatic they are just to be in public! Haha. I am glad we are home-centered, but now that the spring is springing, we are coming out of hibernation more. The co-op was a good way to make sure we saw others each week, and with a combo of the Montessori class, and maybe organic (naturally happening) CM co-op, we might be OK.

Do you think we'll be OK? Do you think we'll make it? :) I can tell that God is so a part of this, that He just loves that we're homeschooling and trying to honor Him with our kids' education. It is definitely the right fit for us!! I could really talk about this for hours, it is just so interesting to me, and I realized hey, if I blog about it, I may be talking to myself, but it'll feel like I've processed at least!

My next question--does homeschooling feed my book habit??? I *love* homeschool curriculum, and am so so grateful to all the vendors who want to help me integrate Jesus, creation, biblical history and worldview, even theology into our homeschool. We are truly blessed with awesome materials these days!! Now to get "homeschool curric" into our budget...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Seventy-Fourth Step - Walking

My dear friend here is doing this and I think it's awesome. If I can get my patootey to walk 10 miles, I will join her! (Slowly, surely...) I'm not sure where our local event is taking place, but I'm betting she has the details. So great to find things we can do as mommas (and families), together, to help other people who are 3 feet tall and not our own. I mean, as important as the stuff we do inside the home is, it's just refreshing and energizing to make a difference OUTSIDE it sometimes! It's nice to be a part of the bigger picture, get some perspective, and show this process to our kids.

Great find, AKJ! Go, sister! Do we need to train?? (All the marathoners and triathaloners who read my blog--there are multitudes I'm sure--are cackling now)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seventy-Third Step - Being Dirt

Realize I'm not God. I'm dust. But, wait, God became dust. I have been thinking about how God's Word was "written in dust" at Christmas, and how He was here on earth for a time, and then was gone (for a time). Like writing in the dirt--He didn't come with fanfare, didn't keep scrolls on his miracles, just came into a body and that was the writing. Yes, if that sounds like Miss Voskamp's inspiration, you are right. This post has been on my mind.

Jesus wrote in the dirt

Words not on stone

But back to dust

While others wanted blood

He inscribed words for a moment

Until winds blew the breath out of them

His hand lingered over the ground

While stone-cold weapons were found

Were they names? Did he call them out?

Would they ever seek Him once they saw

A portrait of their sin?

His words became dirt

As He had become dirt

In a belly, in a stall

The Word scratched in the dust

The Word etched on every face

Turned down in hatred

Then upturned in surprise

And ultimately, shame in their eyes

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