November 24, 2012

What I Do Now

Lately, all of my time is filled with schedules, inventory, supply orders, revenue, school lunches, car lines, homework assistance, football, soccer, parent-teacher meetings, doctors appointments, housework, and much more. I have very little free time. I thought I was busy as a homeschool mom. It didn't hold a candle to what I do now. Which is ironic considering all of the public school moms I knew used to tell me all the time that they didn't know how I did it.

Instead of having hours at a time to blog, read, knit, garden, and whatever. I only have 15 minutes here and there. I try to make those few minutes count. It's a completely different lifestyle than I did a year ago.

My life revolves mostly around my work now, instead of my home. Although the kids and my husband still have top priority. I just no longer feel like a "home maker". Some days I feel a little sad. I miss my old life.

I get way more accomplished in shorter amounts of time. I have weekends off. When I was working part-time I worked almost every weekend. Having freedom to make plans with my family for the weekends is a definite bonus.

Time moves really fast. I show up for work between 8am and 9am. It seems that I start in on all my tasks, and next thing I know, the day is over and I pack up to head home.

Thankfully, I still have Kelsea at home this year. She is a huge help with housework and getting the youngest from school in the afternoons. She'll be off to college classes this time next year. I don't know what I'll do without her.

The kids seem to be doing well in public school. It's been a big adjustment. The older two are thriving socially. The youngest is having the hardest time. He'd rather be at home.

Like the homeschool decision, we will take all of this year by year.


May 5, 2012

Garden Progress

My raised beds are done, filled, and planted. I kept my sandbox/herb planter. The parsley kinda took over though.

So I took some old flower pots and used them for the other herbs we like.

The first bed is going to have watermelon that we just planted this week. Crossing our fingers for juicy yummies this summer!

The second bed has 3 Roma tomato plants, 3 heirlooms, lots of garlic, basil, and marigold seeds. I planted the three marigolds you see from plants. All of these are good companions. The garlic repels bad bugs. Basil helps improve grown and flavor (may also help with pests). The marigolds attract garden friends like butterflies to help pollinate my tomatoes.

The third bed has snow peas, bush beans, and cantaloupe.

My broccoli is not doing so well. I've changed jobs so I haven't had the time to devote to pest control. I might let them go and try again this fall.


April 30, 2012

Monkey Butter

Monkey Butter Ingredients

5 medium, perfectly ripe bananas (no brown spots), peeled and sliced
1/2 of a ripe pineapple
1/4 cup ground coconut
3tbsp lemon juice
3 cups organic white sugar

I chopped the pineapple and crushed it with the flat side of my knife.

Peel and slice the bananas and add it to the sugar, coconut, and lemon juice in a heavy pot.

Then I scraped the pineapple, juice and all, into the pot with the rest of the ingredients.

Bring it all to a boil and cook it until the bananas dissolve and the jam thickens.

Towards the end the Monkey Butter was as thick as I wanted it but the bananas were still chunky, so I used a potato masher to help them along.

Fill your jars leaving 1/4-1/2 inch headspace (sorry for blurry picture but you get the idea).

Process the jars in a waterbath for 15 minutes.

Monkey butter is delicious spread over whole wheat toast in the morning, mixed in with yogurt for an afternoon snack, or served on top of ice cream.

It's a very simple recipe that is great to practice your canning skills.


April 24, 2012

Strawberry Jam

Spring came early and the strawberries are perfectly ripe.

It's always more fun to pick with friends.

We picked around 60lbs of berries between the 3 families.

We went back to my place and set up to make jam all day. We set the campstove out on the front porch to give us more burners. This picture was taken after we were done. We did the water bath canning on the stove in the house and cooked the jam on the campstove.

Three people can make a lot of jam. The work was easier and there was only one mess to clean up.


April 19, 2012

Marriage Ammendment

In a few weeks I will be voting against the same-sex marriage amendment that will read:

"Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts."

This is where I steer left of my Libertarian friends. Since marriage is legally binding and ministers who perform ceremonies have to be licensed by the state, it should be governed by the state. How can we tell the government to "get out of the marriage business" when we hand the dissolution of it over to the courts to sort out? For legal purposes though, it should be called a "legal partnership" across the board. Religious ceremonies should be left up to the church you attend.

The state should not be in the business of making lifestyle or morality choices for it's citizens. This would rank us on level with Shari'a Law. Is there property damage? Does gay marriage infringe on the rights of others? Is there physical or emotional damage if we allow homosexual marriage to be recognized by the state? Of course not! Thus limits the power the state has over deciding who gets married to whom. We shouldn't add personal opinion or preference to either the State or Federal Constitution.

I'd rather fight against the freedom of "no fault" divorce. It's far more damaging to family dynamics and the security of our children, making marriage a temporary status until you get bored, unhappy, or find someone new.

Gay marriage is already illegal in the state of North Carolina. Adding this amendment to our state constitution is simply unneccessary and goes against the purpose of having a Constitution which is to protect the citizens from an overreaching government.


March 21, 2012

Raised Beds

I have been working really hard on my garden. My husband and I made these raised beds out of reclaimed pallet wood. The hardest part was taking the pallets apart without damaging the boards. Some of the pallets were in better condition.

I'm not quite sure how many raised beds I want. I might stop with the 5 above. I still have my bucket for my carrots and my sandbox herb bed.

I filled the two smaller boxes with a soil/compost blend. I'm growing broccoli. I wasn't successful with my broccoli last year, but I'm eager to try again.


March 17, 2012

Homeschool "Trip" to Ireland

Taking a make-believe trip with our local homeschool friends is one of my favorite group activities. We've been to Greece, India, and Egypt together. This time we are headed to Ireland.

Each of the kids helped out with presentations on Irish facts, folklore, and celebrations.

The moms helped enrich the experience by having an Irish lunch.

Stew on the left. On the plate going clockwise: potatoes, Latke, apple cake w/ cream, soda bread with Irish butter, a slice of Irish cheese.
We blended a few Irish American traditions into our lesson plan.

Then the kids all marched around the library in a St. Patrick's Day "Parade"


Planets Align


March 11, 2012

Spring Butterfly

Last spring we were inundated with caterpillars. Sometime in the fall we found a caterpillar and brought it inside. It immediately set it's chrysalis. We waited a few weeks past the time we thought it should have hatched. There were a few times that I looked at that old dried out sack and thought about tossing it. My friend, Tammy, said to hold on to it. That it might hatch in the spring.



March 4, 2012


I'm ditching most of my containers and building some raised beds. I live in a townhome so this is kinda a big deal commitment for us. We'll be spending a bit of money on dirt to fill my boxes. I can probably take the boxes I'm building with me when I move, but I don't think I'll be able to take the dirt. Or if I do, certainly not all of it.

My backyard will be much prettier for it, I'm sure. The buckets were becoming an eyesore (they started to breed like rabbits and we were being overrun with them).

I'm writing up my plans now. I'm definitely planting summer squash and pumpkin. I think I'll skip the cucumbers this year. They were fun, but we don't eat enough pickles to make it worth preserving them.

I'd like to grow watermelon for the kids as a summer treat. Last year we got some gorgeous vines but no melons. This year I'm going to try a little harder.

I'd like to do broccoli and green beans. And of course I'll do lots of tomatoes and herbs. I'm moving most of my herbs to pots on the front porch. I might try growing some garlic in my sandbox, won't that be fun?

Back to my boxes, we are going to build them out of pallets using our friend Dave's plans. We'll get started today if the weather cooperates (it's currently rainy and nasty).

So container gardening has been fun but not so very fruitful. I'm moving on to the greener side of the fence...I hope. :)


March 2, 2012

Ribbon in the Sky

I love this song. This would be number one on my "Top Ten Songs of All Time" chart. No matter what mood I'm in, whenever I hear it, my heart stops in it's tracks and I have to close my eyes and just listen. This would be one of the very rare songs that I don't feel compelled to sing along to. It's the mesmerizing piano and the words that are so beautiful you could cry (beautiful for their simplicity). Truly a timeless masterpiece that won my heart over many years ago.

Admittedly the video is full of 80's cheese, but nevertheless Stevie knows his stuff.

Oh so long for this night I prayed
That a star would guide you my way
To share with me this special day
Where a ribbon's in the sky for our love

If allowed may I touch your hand
And if pleased may I once again
So that you too will understand
There's a ribbon in the sky for our love

This is not a coincidence
And far more than a lucky chance
But what is that was always meant
Is our ribbon in the sky for our love, love

We can't lose with God on our side
We'll find strength in each tear we cry
From now on it will be you and I
And our ribbon in the sky
Ribbon in the sky
A ribbon in the sky for our love

I'm curious. Do you have a song that moves you in the same way?


February 29, 2012

Rainy School Day

Today was one of those dark, dreary, rainy days. Normally it would be a day that we take slow, work on our daily lessons, and maybe have an afternoon nap. Not today. Today we were too busy.

We worked on our new history curriculum from Heritage History. We are focusing on Ireland for the next two weeks. We also read some Irish folk tales.

The kids have been taking turns reading aloud from Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25. It's a very fun read about a kid with mutant powers.

My friend, Donna, sent me a message to let me know my baby was read for adoption. I told the kids I was off to pick up a baby scoby and left them to ponder the mystery of it all.

When I pulled into the driveway the kids met me outside. Jeremiah asked me, "So, where's the leach?" Leach? Ishmael said, "Yeah, that gel-looking thing." HUH? "That slimy thing in liquid."

My attempt to surprise (read: shock and awe) my kids appeared to have been squashed by a google search.

I had dinner ready by 3:00pm and made a very large batch of granola. I decided at the last minute to bake a Hershey's chocolate cake from scratch.

*I have to take a moment to brag on this cake. It was THE best chocolate cake I have ever had. Perfectly moist and rich in chocolate. Very sweet, but it was perfectly cut with some vanilla ice cream. It was very easy to make.

After we were done in the kitchen we pulled out the microscope and completed some labs for fun.

Today did not go as planned, I wanted to work on my garden. It was amazingly productive just the same. We spent the last part of our day watching Courageous together. I wish every other day could be like today.



The boys finished their science books too fast. They didn't even last one semester. So I've been going back and forth between two great books that I happened to pick up on consignment.

The Microscope Book by Shar Levine & Leslie Johnstone has been one of our favorites. The labs are very easy to understand and the illustrations are clear. I appreciate the step by step instructions.

Today we did two of the labs from this book. Did you know there were fossils in toothpaste? We saw them today. Kelsea was a little wigged out.

We also followed the directions to prepare a slides to view onion cells. Most of the lessons teach a new skill. We learned how to make a wet mount by and how to pull a stain. Ironically we did not have any iodine as the lab called for, but we did have methylene blue. The onion cells were very clear. We looked at them in low and high power. Very amazing.

Elements and the Periodic Table: What Things Are Made Of

We've been working our way through this study guide. We haven't taken on the Periodic Table yet and this guide is pretty in depth. I like that we can move at our own pace.

The kids made a giant-size Periodic Table. They illustrated each element with a possible use, except for the rare element with no known use.

My goal is to do a science experiment or special project each week. Between these two books, there is plenty to choose from. The Periodic Table book is filled with worksheets for semi-daily study.