Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Week in Pictures - Jan 22-28

Another week has come and gone.  Can I just say how glad I am this past week is OVER??  Though not evident in the photos below, it was a difficult week.  Doing school was like pulling teeth.  I was just put on my 4th round of antibiotics in 3 months.  But those things pale in comparison to my good friend being diagnosed with breast cancer.  All-in-all, it's been a week of a lot of prayer & tears...and re-focusing on what is truly important in this life.

I hope all of you had a good week.  If you had one like I did...praise the Lord for a fresh start.  His mercies are new every morning (and every week)!!

Week Four:

Sunday 1/22 - My Sunday evenings are spent lesson planning for the week.  This includes printing any Math worksheets, tests, etc.  Fun times.

Monday 1/23 - It was about 11:00 pm & I was actually already in bed when I realized I had not taken a photo that day.  I had toyed with the idea of getting up.  I didn't.  Basically, the day just needed to end at that point.  No memory of this day is NOT a bad thing.

Tuesday 1/24 - It was Seth's turn to be sick on the couch.  As of now, 5 of our children have had the 24-hour bug.  Wipes them out.  And makes them crave Duggar-a-thons.

 Wednesday 1/25 - After yet another doctor's appointment, I went to a nearby Starbucks to have some much-needed quiet time.  This was also where I waited to find out the report on my friend.  (iPhone photo)

 Thursday 1/26 - Gloria is now officially in the 1st grade.  She finished the first book in the 1st grade reading series this week.  She is doing even better than I'd hoped.  See, it wasn't all bad in school this week! :)  (iPhone photo)

 Friday 1/27 - I am so grateful my children love to read.  They often will share with me something interesting they're reading. Here, Katrina is reading me an excerpt from Missionary Stories with the Millers.
 Saturday 1/28 - EMPTY laundry sacks.  After 8 1/2 loads of laundry on Saturday, I had successfully got to the bottom of the laundry pile.  This historical event had to be documented!

If you're dropping by every week, drop a comment & let me know!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Triple Chocolate Cake

So, this is not a recipe blog.  I do not think of myself as the Pioneer Woman (where does that woman find all that time anyway - homeschooling, cooking, blogging, ranching, writing books, giving interviews, photographing every second of her life, & now a food show?  Seriously...but that's a whole other blog post better left alone!).

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to post a recipe or two up here once in a while (I'd say once a week, but other than marriage, I'm not very good at keeping commitments).  This brilliant idea occurred to me as I was making a cake for someone this afternoon.  I figured, easy recipe, doesn't take long...what better one to post?

Did you know it takes twice as long to put together the easiest cake in the world when you take pictures of each step?

Yeah, well....maybe not every week.

(one of my family's favorites and a great cake to make when short on time & you want to whip up something yummy.  Best can be served warm!)

1 package chocolate cake mix, 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix,  4 eggs, 1 C sour cream (I eyeball it), 1/2 C oil, 1/2 C warm water, 1/2 - 3/4 bag of chocolate chips.

Dump everything but chips into mixing bowl (I love that I don't have to mess with "this & this, mix.  Now, this & this, blah blah blah).

Get a cute helper to turn on the mixer.

Mix at low speed for 1 minute.

I took a picture of the timer, but it was filthy & wouldn't post that.  Pride & everything.  I'm working on it.

Scrape the bowl & mix at medium speed for 2-3 more minutes.

Add chips & stir until well blended.

Pour the batter into your greased bunt pan.

Allow your helper to lick the beater.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Again, I went to take a picture of the oven dial.  Amazing how all the dirt & spots show up so clearly on a photo!  A bit more real than reality.  I think.

Take from oven and allow to cool.  Anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.  The 30 minute is preferred, but when in a hurry, do the 5.  That's what we did.  My husband is the one who turned it upside down onto the plate this evening.  That way, I could blame him when some of the cake stuck to the pan.  It really doesn't matter, though.  It's still delicious and you do the Julia Child trick of just scraping the moist yumminess from the pan & patting it back onto the cake.

Now, you could be done at this point.  But, if you REALLY love chocolate, this is kinda fun:

Stick the container in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, stir, and pour on top of the cake.

Oh yeah.

Your family will love you.  Your friends will cherish you.  Your waistline....don't think about it.

In a nutshell:
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
1 C sour cream
1/2 C oil
1/2 C warm water
1 1/2 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix at low speed for 1 min.  Scrape bowl.  Mix on medium speed 2-3 minutes more.  Add chips and stir until blended.  Pour into greased bunt pan.  Bake for one hour or until tests clean.  
Allow to cool.  Turn upside down onto plate.  
Drizzle warm frosting over top, if desired.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Week in Pictures - Jan 15-21, 2012

This week was a great week for the kids & their daddy to play outside.  The temperatures were not too cold and there was enough snow on the ground to have fun with.

It was also a week of beginnings and endings.  Our girls began piano lessons with a new teacher (they've taken lessons for 4-6 years with another teacher) and Gloria finished Kindergarten!!

So, without further delay:  Week 3

Sunday 1/15 - Someone is a little tired & cold from all the snow fun!

Monday 1/16 - No School + Cousins + Snow = a TON of fun! 

 Tuesday 1/17 - Violin lessons.  Usually, 3 of my girls have lessons, but 2 were ill. :(

Wednesday 1/18 - Gloria finished her Kindergarten math officially making her a full-fledged 1st grader!! 

Thursday 1/19 - The kids all enjoying Anna's Science web extras (video of side-winding snake & other reptile - yuck!) 

Friday 1/20 - Dinner-time devotions.  Eric's been reading 2 Chronicles.  I don't know why that book gets such a bad rap - we are finding it fascinating! 

Saturday 1/21 - My 3 older girls first lesson with their new teacher.  They miss their original teacher terribly, but this is an important & good step.

As promised last week, I got more people pictures in here!  Very proud of myself - ha ha.  

Anything new for you all this week?  Would love to hear about it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Indications That I Need Sleep

I need to go to bed.  Do you know how I know?  Well, beside the fact that my eyes are slamming shut as I type?

- I'm critical & cynical about just about everything and everyone.  Those things or people that I am not critical or cynical of, I think there are people who criticize them and they have no right to do that.  I mean, who do they think they are?

- I'm frustrated with my family.  Don't they get it?  Don't they care about having a nice house?  Can't we all just sit nicely together and read or play games?  Don't remind me that I could initiate that.

- I'm frustrated with the fact that people sometimes don't get my humor.  Really?  It's a joke.

- Why was I taken off of someone's blog roll?  What did I do wrong?  It's not like I sit here and criticize everyone and complain and throw pity parties.  Really.

- Am I really that annoying to others? Do people really not like me? I annoy myself with how much I read into things.

- I have a pile of never ending laundry in the laundry room.  I'm contemplating never setting foot back there again.

The list could go on.  I'm sure none of you get this way.  Now you know me for who I really am - someone who gets irrational when I get tired.  I'm sure it's a rare and unprecedented condition.

It's good to know I've learned to not act on these irritations I get late at night.  I could lose a lot of friends.

I need sleep, because I'm critical & cynical.   Oh, and have I mentioned overly-sarcastic? The good news is, I'll wake up tomorrow and roll my eyes as the absurdity of myself.

*Roll your eyes with me.*

I will also realize how good my life truly is and, once again, ask God to help me focus on what is important.  In fact, I'm going to do that now.  As I head up to bed.

Good night.

Dreams Change

About 9 months ago, I stumbled upon a wonderful blog written by the wife of an old student of mine.  Ok, so he was in 6th grade when I was substitute teaching his class & he now has a masters degree, a business that he owns & operates, a wife, and two children.  Yes, I'm THAT old.

Anyway, I don't do blog recommendations.  Nor do I do book recommendations (often).  But, there's a first (and possibly only) time for everything.

If you are the parent of a child with Down Syndrome or any special need, know of such a parent, or just want to understand what goes through the mind of a mother as she learns that her baby will not be born "normal"...I highly recommend:

Deanna gives a (sometimes painfully) honest look at the emotions that she felt when she found out that she was carrying a baby with Down Syndrome and how she grew to love her perfect little girl. She is real and that is what makes this book one from which we can truly learn.  You will cry with Deanna as she struggles with her fears and feels her dreams crash down around her.  You will rejoice with her when she experiences a love she never dreamed of and realizes that God makes no mistakes.  

As I just finished this relatively short e-book this evening, I am still thinking on it - but I believe it has opened my eyes and my heart to those who have been granted a truly special child.

 Go ahead.  Click on the picture & purchase this inexpensive book that will take little time to read, but will change your life invaluably.  Let me know if you read it.  Better yet, if it blesses you, let Deanna know over at at Everything and Nothing from Essex. While you're there, read her posts.  I think you'll like her sincere & often humorous look at life with 2 young children. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

10 Farm-Life Myths

"You live on a farm?!  You are soooo lucky!"  "I wish I lived on a farm."  "What a blessing to be a farm family!" "Your kids probably never get bored."

As a farm family, we have heard comments such as these throughout the last 12 years.  As soon as people find out that my husband is a farmer, they instantly conclude the following:

1) I must be busy helping him in the barns & in the field.
2) Our kids help their dad with the farm chores.
3) We have cows & other livestock
4) My husband gets up early and eats a large breakfast
5) There's so much to do. All the time.
6) My husband drives a tractor for hours & days on end
7) We are rich
8) We are poor
9) We want all of our children to become farmers
10) Farm-life is the greatest life there is

On top of all of that, when people find out we have no livestock to speak of, they wonder what my husband "does all winter."

It's interesting to see the dreamy eyes people get when you mention farming to them.  They picture pristine, red barns amidst rolling green hills; large, shiny, green equipment; blue skies; and my husband getting up early to eat a huge breakfast before driving his tractor most of the day.

Usually, we smile and whole-heartedly agree that it is a great life, because it is.  But we also know that most of these people have very little idea of the reality of farming.

*Note:  The following myths pertain to the farm on which we live.  This, in no way, covers all family-farms.  I do know people who live the "dream" a lot of people have about farming.  Our farm just seems to go against the grain (ha ha), to a small extent.*

Myth 1: I must be busy helping my farmer-husband in the barns & in the field.
I laugh.
I often tell people, "Farmer's wife does not mean farmer."   There are people who come to the farm regularly for corn, straw, hay, etc. that I have not seen in years because I'm always in the house.  And, no, I'm not baking bread or making cheese.  I'm usually schooling the children, doing laundry, making grocery lists, making dinner, etc.  You know - like the rest of you moms & wives out there.  Don't put me on some Ma Ingalls-pedestal.  I live a very similar life to most homeschool moms.

Myth 2:  Our kids help their dad with the farm chores.
Um, yeah.  Given the fact that there have been about 4 grain-auger accidents locally in the past 2-3 months, it should be a given that our type of farming (cash-crop) is not exactly child-safe.
Our oldest is 14 and is old enough to help in some areas, but his back tends to limit him - as does his lack of mechanical skill.  He's much more a people-person - so he'll greet you, talk to you, & show you where the hay is, but that's about it.  Helpful, sure.  But not really the "farm-boy."
Cassia is 12.  She tags around with her dad as often as she can during the harvests.  She'll get up in the truck when he goes to trade off vehicles.  She'll run the remote control to turn the auger on & off (she does this from several feet away from the aforementioned dangerous contraption).  But, because of the busyness of the farm, she can only do these things when her daddy is only running at 80 mph rather than 110 mph.
So, no.  Our kids are not working alongside this time.

Myth 3:  We have cows & a lot of other livestock.
We have a life; therefore, we obviously do not have cows.
Oh, the disappointment that is evident on people's faces when we burst their animal-lover bubble with the stark reality.  Our livestock includes: 1 old horse, about 20 chickens, a dog, and 3 young goats.  None of these make money for the farm. They are basically pets for our 12 year old.  The chickens do put out quite a few eggs a day (which leads to another myth-buster: No, the kids don't "just love to gather the eggs.").

Myth 4:  My husband rises early and eats a large breakfast.
My husband does get up early on most days - about 5:30.  But, not because he has "chores."  He likes to get out to the barn, drink coffee, read his Bible, and talk to his dad about what they'd like to accomplish that day.  As far as a large breakfast, my husband has not been much of a breakfast-eater since the day we got married.  And it's a good thing, because I'd fail him miserably if he was.  Sad, but true.

Myth 5:  There's so much to do.  All of the time.
Actually, for the kids and I - we do about as much as every other family.  We school, shop, go on field trips, visit, play, read, etc., etc.  Eric is busy for much of the spring through fall, but he is able to get a short-notice day off here and there.  He is able to relax now and then - albeit, not as regularly as some. In the winter, (to answer the "what do you do in the winter?" question) he works on getting the equipment ready for the coming year, planning what to plant and where to plant it, and other odd jobs.  He is usually in the house by 5:30 and is often able to take half-days on Saturday.  There IS down time and we enjoy it when we have it.  Because, there are times when he works almost 'round the clock.

Myth 6:  My husband drives a tractor for hours & days on end.
Truth be told, my husband can probably count on one hand the hours he actually drives a tractor or combine in any given season.  Our farm is a 2-man operation that covers about 2,000 acres of land.  His father, who is in his late 60s, has earned the right to the air-conditioned tractors &  combines while my husband does much of the running - moving trucks back and forth, loading and unloading grain bins and dryers, fixing broken machinery, running to the store for parts, etc.  In fact, when the farm bought a new tractor a couple of years ago, the only time my husband got in it was when he gave our children "rides."

Myth 7:  We are rich.
In a sense, this is true.  If we were to  cash in on our land (of which we actually rent more than half of the ground we farm), equipment (little of which is brand new), barns, etc., we might make a bit of money.  But, then, my husband would be out of a job.  Maybe some big farms make a ton of money, but, for the most part, any money we make goes right back into the farm.  My husband often says, "If you farm to make money, you're in the wrong business.  You farm because you love it."

Myth 8:  We are poor.
Ironically, it is assumed we are on one side of the financial spectrum or the other.  Though we do not have wallets (or bank accounts) flooded with money, we are not needy, either.  God has supplied all of our needs and has allowed to meet some of the needs of others, as well.  Our bills are paid, our home is sturdy, and we indulge in "extras."  The farm provides a comfortable way of life, for which we are grateful.

Myth  9:  We want all of our children to become farmers.
This was not my father-in-law's dream for his children and it is not our dream for our children.  We want our children to do whatever it is GOD wants them to do.  We would love to see them in the ministry - whether preaching in a church or serving on the mission field.  If it is God's will for some of them to go to college and enter a profession, then we pray that they will glorify Him in that calling.  We only want our children to carry on with the farm if that is what GOD wants for them.  My husband is grateful for our farm and works hard to make it a success, but he also knows that we may have to walk away from it tomorrow - whether because of finances, natural disaster, or no one to keep it going.  And he's ok with that.  I think I am, too.

Myth 10: Farm-life is the greatest life there is.
Wait.  This isn't really a myth!  Living on our farm where our children can actually SEE what their daddy does all day and understand why he can't be home for dinner or see their soccer games is a great way to live.  Our children watch the weather and "worry" with us when there's too much or not enough rain.  They rejoice when the combine comes in from harvesting the last wheat field of the summer or the last corn field of the fall.  We celebrate as a family when daddy finishes his big project - Fall Harvest.  We sit down to a special meal and just enjoy the blessings of God.  Though my husband is the farmer and we don't "help," the farm is, indeed, OUR life.  We cheer on our leader & we enjoy seeing his successes which, in turn, allow us to succeed in many ways.
However, in truth, farm-life is not the greatest life there is.  Life in Christ is the greatest.  We could live on a perfectly manicured farm and be making tons of money...but without knowing the God who allows the crops to grow and the rain to fall, it would mean nothing.  Our joy, the love we have for one another...comes from Christ, not the farm.  Yes, the farm allows us a closeness that many families may not be able to enjoy, but it is Christ who binds us together.  It is God in whom we trust for our real success and for our future - whatever it may hold.

You're a Christian?  You are soooo blessed!  I wish everyone was a Christian!  God's children never get bored - there's always something to do!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yes, No, Maybe

This morning as I was reading a book and drinking my coffee, Zane asked me if we could "throw Quacker" when I was done (a game we played last night with his stuffed duck).  The short conversation went as follows:

Zane:  When you're done with that, can we throw Quacker?

Me:  I don't know.

Zane:  Does "I don't know" mean "maybe"?

Me:  Yes

Zane:  Does "maybe" mean "yes" or "no"?

Me: That, I don't know.

Zane:  I hope it means "yes."

I love four year olds!  It did remind me of the passage where we need to let our "yay be yay and our nay be nay."  I tend not to want to commit to things as schedules change so often that I don't want to let my kids down.  But, I guess Zane is one of those who wants a yes or a no.  I'll definitely be working on that.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Week in Pictures - Jan 8 - Jan 14, 2012

Well, I missed just one day, but most of my photos were done with my iPhone and a couple were done late at night, just to make sure I got my daily photo finished!  I was sick much of this week and my head has been in a bit of a fog.


 Sunday 1/8 - My husband works 6 days a week.  He really enjoys ha ring Sundays to relax with the family.

 Monday 1/9 - Seems I've been here fairly often lately.  Trying to get rid of a persistent ear infection.

Tuesday 1/10 - No photo.  The day must not have happened.  I have no memory of it.

Wednesday 1/11 - I prayed continuously through the day for the many needs of many friends.

 Thursday 1/12 - My husband and oldest 5 children worked throughout the week to complete this puzzle.  It was completed Friday morning!

 Friday 1/13 - Gloria had her first-ever piano lesson!  She is taking from the same teacher as her brother, Seth and is so excited.  She'll be having lessons every 2 weeks for now, but her teacher said it won't be long before she's on a weekly basis - if she continues to pick things up as she did Friday morning.

 Saturday 1/14 - We finally have had some snow the last couple of days.  I would go and take some pictures of it, but that would require me to actually go outside. In the cold.  Instead, here's a photo of the much-loved wood stove that keeps us warm!

Next week, I really will attempt to get more photos with actual faces in them! :)  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Week in Pictures - Jan 1 - Jan 7, 2012

This year, I am going to try do document each week in pictures.  I am attempting to take one picture a day to get an idea of the various things that happen in our home and life.  Some of the photos are taken with my wonderful Canon Rebel T2i, when I think to go grab it.  The others are taken with my iPhone, which I have next to me almost all the time.  You use what you got, right? ;)

So, My Week in Pictures - Week One:

 Sunday 1/1 - Took all the Christmas cards and made a collage on our refrigerator.  Great way to remember our friends and pray for them.

Monday 1/2 - Back to school after 2 weeks off!

Tuesday 1/3 - Older siblings play with & teach younger.

Wednesday 1/4 - Reading some great books!

Thursday 1/5 - Gloria finished "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons"!!! Seeing as the last lesson was ripped out of the book sometime in the last 8 years, she did it in 99! :)

Friday 1/6 - Daddy & the older children completed a puzzle.

Saturday 1/7 - Saturday morning home-made hot chocolate!

This really was a great week.  While I was dreading getting back to school, it was probably one of the best weeks we've had all year!  I think a large part of our success was because we had no plans outside of school all week.  I didn't have to hurry to get things done so we could make our next appointment.  It was amazing how a free schedule relieved almost all of my stress.  So, while my photos don't show a lot of exciting activities, they speak for how relaxed and normal our week was & I loved it!!

Let me know if you decide to do (or are already doing) a similar weekly photo project on your blog.  I'd love to visit!