Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Who can't resist a pumpkin carving party?  This afternoon, we all went over to Amber and Dante's house to  carve pumpkins. 
Everyone got involved.  The kids couldn't wait to sink their knife into their pumpkin to cut it open and gut it out.
Bonnie helped Alexus cut open her pumpkin and carve a funny face on hers.  The stencils they have available today are pretty awesome.  Amber had several stencils for us to pick from.  Bonnie and Bryce decided to use one of them while Brian and Alexus came up with their own design.
Bryce chose the skeleton, Brian made a funny/scared face,and Bonnie's is a two-faced mask.
Pretty cool. 

Tid Bits

While looking at the hutch next to the dining room table the other day, Brian pulled out the middle drawer which revealed a wine glass rack.  He asked me, "Did the Heaths use this?" At which time I replied that I didn't know if they did or not.  He looked at it again and said, "You know, if they are short enough, we could store bats in here."  HuH?


Bonnie is on her first paid babysitting job!!  Downstairs she is watching 4 year old Alexus for the day while Alexus's parents are up in the mountains cutting down trees for firewood.  Bonnie is so excited.  We had quite the talk with her about this being a ministry as well as a money making opportunity.  It is important that she charge a fair amount so that the family not only can afford it, but will also be willing to ask her to babysit again in the future.  She has all kinds of things planned for her & Alexus to do, so I am staying out of the way and letting her be in charge.  I am very proud of her.


Todd is in the mountains today getting firewood.  He left with a gentleman who gets my father in laws wood and they plan to be gone all day.  I know Todd is having the time of his life.  He would have taken the boys with him except they are expected at a pumpkin carving party later this afternoon.


I am still canning. I managed to put up a batch of apple jelly on Thursday and I made 8 apple pies to freeze.  I still have three large bags of apples to put up. I am debating as to whether I want to make apple sauce or more jelly.  I will probably do both.  Todd also brought home eight pumpkins yesterday.  Four of them we will use for jack-o-lanterns but the rest I will freeze for pumpkin bread later on.  Yum! 

Now to clean house and work on Bryce's costume - He is going to be a dragon slayer this year. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You know, earlier I talked about my typical and not-so-typical days.   Well, I think my typical day is really my not-so-typical day and my not-so-typical day is my typical day.   Did you get that?

Today, we started off at the computer watching a video on Yom Kippur.  Our focus of study Biblically and historically is based out of Leviticus as we look at the Jewish holy days.  Since I am not Jewish and do not really feel like an expert on all of their practices that God established after freeing them from Egypt I went to my go-to-guide i.e. youtube.  Yesterday, we watched a very informative video on Rosh Hashanah and today we watched a few on Yom Kippur. 

After our video we worked on spelling and math and then headed over to my in laws to help my father in law stack wood.  It is that time of year that everyone is busily cutting wood and stacking it up for the winter.  Todd and the boys have been doing all that they can to help Don and today the boys, Bonnie, and I went over to help stack the last load.  Bonnie and I also walked to the library to return some books and run a few errands while the boys stacked but then returned to help finish the job.  By that time it was lunch and time to head home to feed everyone.

Once lunch was over we grabbed our science books and headed to the bathroom.  What?  You don't do science in the bathroom?
The kids are really enjoying science this year.  We are looking at how to conduct experiments in this module.  Terms like variables and constants are now in our vocabulary.  Today we were floating cardboard boats in the bathtub with different "motors" to see which one worked best.

Once we observed that one "motor" worked better than the others we then experimented to see why.  We spent a good hour on science and had a lot of fun.

Finally, everyone finished all their work and it was time to get ready for Awana.  Tonight's theme was "Pumpkin Patch" night.  The kids were to dress in pumpkin colors or like a pumpkin.  Brian is really not into dressing up or drawing attention to himself but fortunately for me Bryce loves to go all out for things like this.

Bryce wrapped two pillows around him and put Todd's orange football shirt on, a little orange face paint, and an orange hat with leaves attached to it completed his outfit.  Everyone got a kick out of it but he soon got too hot and shedded the pillows. 

We are back home from church now, the kids are in bed, and Todd is in the garage playing foozball with a fellow from church.  Me....well, I think I am going to find something interesting to watch on TV and settle down for the night.

Good night all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Tomatoes

I am still learning lots about gardening.  I always hated it when my neighbors back east called me a farmer.  I am anything but.  I know so little but I am willing to learn.

Case in point, green tomatoes.  I always left my green tomatoes on the vine and if they didn't ripen before the first frost then they became compost.  This year I learned that all of  those green tomatoes can be saved. 

Pat and Jim (the same ones who let me help butcher their chickens) invited me out to their farm a couple of weeks ago to pick green tomatoes.  Once again I figured never turn down free food and I will find something to do with it.  Pat then told me that if I took a box with newspaper on the bottom, placed a layer of green tomatoes with an apple wedge on the paper, add another sheet of newspaper with a another layer of green tomatoes and another apple wedge and cover them up with newspaper, my green tomatoes will all ripen to a beautiful red.  Ok.  Let's try it.

Guess what? It works.  I now have a whole counter of red tomatoes to be canned.  Which is on the agenda for tonight.  Pat also gave me a recipe for green tomato relish.  She even let me have a taste of her relish and I have to say that it was delicious.  So today, we made some.  I have been eating the little bit that didn't fill up a jar and really like it.  I know it will be good for egg salads and such or even a topping on hamburgers or hotdogs. 

Here is the recipe:

24 green tomatoes (blossom ends and bad spots removed but leave skins on)
8 onions

Grind them all up and put in strainers and strain for 24 hours to get out all the juice.

On the next day add the following to your tomato/onion mixture:
5 green peppers (ground up)
4 cups sugar
4 cups white vinegar
2 T  mustard seeds
1 T celery seeds
1 T canning salt

Heat mixture for 15 minutes.  Add to pint size canning jars and process for 10 minutes (water bath)

The recipe said it made 9 pints but I only got 7 pints out of it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chatter Creek

Our church has a few traditions on how to minister to the missionaries when they come to our missions conference. The first tradition is that on Thursday when they come in to town after a long drive we treat them to dinner at an area restaurant.  Since Leavenworth is a tourist town there are all kinds of one-of-a-kind restaurants especially German restaurants.  So we like to let them get a taste of Leavenworth on us. 

The second tradition is to take the missionaries on a hike in the Cascade mountains.  This year Todd chose to take the missionaries up to Chatter Creek.  If you are ever in the area, this is a nice hike to go on.  It is a really nice walk to go on in the woods.  No climbing involved.  In fact, we were able to pull little three year old Elijah in a wagon the whole way.

The kids were really excited to see a beaver dam off the side of the trail. 

Yellow caution tape lined most of the way of the trail due to the fact that loggers were working in the area falling trees or as one sign said "felling trees ahead."
Todd found this huge piece of timber. It would make a great mantle or bench.  On the way back to the trail head he picked it up and carried it all the way back.  If it is still there tomorrow he plans to bring it home.  We will find something creative to do with it.
In case you are lost, go THIS way.
Once we made it to Chatter Creek, the kids had fun skipping/throwing rocks and then we all settled down to eat lunch.
Yep, it really looks like rain is in the forecast.  Actually, if I had turned around the sky was a little grey towards the Seattle side of the mountains.  It did start spitting rain when we got to the trail head but the rain never came until late tonight.
I think the kids had a lot of fun.  After the hike the Hodgsons came over to our house so Elijah could take a nap and the rest of us had fun fellowshipping over cards and food.  I have really enjoyed our time together.

Shattering the Darkness

It's Missions Conference time here at Cascade Mountain Bible Church. 
Nettie who heads up our Missions Committee chose the theme "Shattering the Darkness."  I was excited to help her and the other ladies decorate our church to emphasize the theme.  We covered all the windows in the sanctuary and cut out a starbust at the bottom so that the sunlight can break through.  On every other window we posted scriptures verses that emphasized the darkness of the world and how God's word and His salvation bring light to the darkenend world.  Nettie even put up dark streamers for everyone to walk through whenever they enter into the sanctuary to re-emphasize breaking through the darkness.  The missionaries seem to appreciate all the decorations too.  We were surprised to hear that none of the other churches that they had been to decorated except for maybe a bulletin board.  That really disappointed me.  I really wish the other churches would realize how important it is to show these missionaries how important their ministries are.

This year our missionaries include Tim and Judy Heath, our former pastor, who are going to Malaysia to help start a Grace church and encourage the other missionaries in the area.  Their main focus group will be the Chinese and the Indians in Malaysia.
Jon Marshal and his son, Ben, are also here from Puerto Rico where they run a Christian camp.
Finally, we have Corey and Kim Hodgson with their two children, Naomi and Elijah.  They are missionaries in Tanzania.  We have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them this weekened.  Bonnie has been great entertaining the children and playing with them.
Today we will be going on a hike with the missionaries.  In fact, I really need to be heading downstairs to make some lunches for us so that we can go.  They have been forcasting rain for the weekend but from my bedroom window there is a lot of blue out there and very few clouds.  I am sure the rain is coming though.  In fact, the forecast is calling for snow in the mountains by tomorrow night.  Woo Hoo!!

The Tabernacle

Our tabernacle model is about three feet by one foot.  It is a nice coffee table size model to build and study.  I am still wanting to make labels and information sheets for each part. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Day in a Nut Shell

I don't know what it is about this week but I have felt dragged down for the past few days.  I can't blame it on the weather because the weather has been awesome.  I think it is not feeling prepared for each day like I should be and to be honest, the situation with our house in NC is weighing us down.  It is one of those things that you have to hand over to God on a daily basis and leave it with Him.

Yesterday, we started something new.  You see last year we got into a really bad habit.  Todd started going to school at 5am to workout, that meant I was off the hook for making him breakfast in the morning.  In fact, the night before I would make his lunches so that I could stay in bed.  With no, "ahem," responsibilities in the morning I would stay in bed until 7 when I heard the boys rustling around and then get our day started.  Since our move to WA, I have been getting up with Todd at 6 to make him breakfast and get him out the door but I haven't been overly concerned about the children.  However, yesterday Todd decided that we needed to get back on a more strict schedule.  Everyone's alarms were set for 6:45 so that the we could all eat breakfast together at 7.  This way the family starts off spending time together.  By 7:30 Todd is out the door and we are supposed to be finishing up getting ready and start school around 8, in theory.  We haven't worked out all the bugs.

In our Bible lesson, we are working are way through Exodus.  We made it too Exodus 35 today, so that leaves five more chapters tomorrow.  If you are familiar with Exodus you know that means we are at the foot of Mt. Sinai and God is giving Moses not only the commandments but the guidelines for feasts, special days, and the tabernacle.  When we studied this section three years ago, I really wanted to build our own tabernacle to help us visualize it and study it better.  Last year,  a group from Oklahoma came through and erected a life-size tabernacle that we could walk through and they explained all the parts and their meanings.  It was really cool, but here we are again studying the tabernacle and I still want a replica.  Imagine my excitement when I walked into my mother-in-law's office to see a tabernacle kit.  She bought it for the church for anyone who wanted to use it.  Naturally, I scooped that baby up and the kids built it this week.  It was really cool to read Exodus and then pick up the pieces that God is telling Moses how to build and why.  My plan is to labels and info. sheets for each part of  the tabernacle and put it on display in the church.

In math, Bonnie is studying algebra this year.  For the most part, she is doing fine on her own but this week we hit a wall.  There was a lot of work dealing with how formulas are formed and why.  Bonnie is like me in that you give her a formula and she can work it but don't bog her down with the how and why.  We have had to wade through a lot of jargon this week and hopefully she understands it better.  Brian is dealing with percents and decimals while Bryce is working with fractions and three-digit multiplication. 

I have concluded I don't like Spell to Write and Read.  I just can't make it work.  I am using the spelling lists for my kids but when I get the money I will be buying Sequential Spelling again and I am looking into Saxon Phonics, as well. 

Both Bonnie and Brian are studying for their Science test on module 2.  I think they will both do well on it.  Bryce on the other hand is studying plants and we dissected several flowers yesterday so that we can identify all of their parts.  Science is the subject he likes to do first every day.

Well, that is it.  It is after three and we are done for the day.  Time to head outside and mow the lawn and then prepare for dinner. Our missionaries are coming in to town today for our missionary conference.  We are looking forward to a busy weekend with them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Here, Chicky, Chicky"

The Warnocks had over a dozen chickens about 8 of which needed to be butchered.  I was so excited when Pat took me up on my offer to help.  I really wanted to know if I had it in me to butcher one and I did. 
The kids were also excited. I know, we are a pretty morbid family.  What can I say?!

Now when it came to the actually killing part, Jim took care of that.  It took some patience to catch the bird.  Somehow they know when it is time to go.  Jim would then grab the bird by its feet and hang it from his tractor.  A noose was already set up to hang them with.

A swiff stroke of the knife and the chicken was beheaded and yes, the chicken will flop around for quite a time.

Now off to the tables to be de-feathered, gutted, and cleaned. Yep, everyone got involved with the process.  True to form, Bonnie did everything.  She dipped the bird in the boiling water to make the de-feathering easier, she defeathered the birds, and gutted them.  Brian decided to be the photographer.  He had no desire to get involved in this messy business but was always close by to see what we were doing.

We defeathered the roosters and skinned the hens.  I don't know which way I like best.  They are both very messy.
Pat did a good job of teaching me how to cut the chicken to gut it.  I was so scared that I would cut too deep and puncture something that I shouldn't like the intestines or gall bladder, but I did ok.  The kids had fun naming all the parts of the body as we pulled them out. 

The gizzard is so nasty when you clean it out.  I can't believe people like eating them.  I think I will pass on this one.

Once it is all gutted, we took it inside for a final washing and then placed in the freezer. 
On the first hen I gutted, I noticed something hard inside.  It was an egg, ready to be layed.  If you look inside this hen you can see several yolks - eggs in the process of being formed.

I lost track of how many chickens we did this morning.  Something like four roosters and four hens.  Pat left at least 5  hens so that she can still have some fresh eggs this winter.  What a wonderful way to spend a school day.  This was the best lesson yet.

School Is Not Just Books

Carpe Diem...Sieze the Day...! ( I love Dead Poet's Society.)

A "once in a life time" opportunity has been offered to us and I intend to seize it. 

We have been offered the opportunity to assist in ...drumroll......butchering chickens.

OK, I know I tend to be on the morbid side but this is Biology 101, animal husbandry, and agricultural studies all in one.  Many of you know that right before we left North Carolina I had jut got my chicken coop.  We were getting all ready to start raising chickens mainly for eggs but eventually for food.  I always felt I had it in me to do that nasty busy of butchering when the time came.  I call it the Meeks blood that is in me.  Now I get to face the music and see if I can really do it.  Oh, and you bet the kids are going to participate.  Bonnie is as excited as I am.  So it is off to breakfast, Bible and devotions then to the farm.
We'll do our best to get some pictures.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Not So Typical Day

For quite some time I have wanted to write about a typical day in our homeschool.  However, we have had very few of them lately so here is a snapshot of a not-so-typical day.

Yesterday started off like normal.  Six o'clock my alarm went off.  Todd and I both got up; he headed to the shower, while I headed downstairs to start the coffee and breakfast.  That is where our normal day stopped.  Normally, Bryce would head downstairs and have a seat at the kitchen island to eat breakfast while I  served Todd and myself.  A little later Brian would appear and sometime after 7:30 I would have to drag wake Bonnie up.  This morning Brian beat Bryce up and came walking down with his math book in hand.  It turns out that he took his math book to bed with him the night before and started working on next day's assignment.  By the time he got up he was almost done and was set on finishing his work before breakfast.  Who am I to say, "No, you can't do that?"  I, on the other hand, had been given a counter full of produce the day before and really needed to get it into the freezer so I decided to work on it before school started.

Typically, after breakfast I would have the kids brush their teeth, make their beds, and have a quiet time with the Lord.  By 8:30 everyone would be ready to head downstairs to the living room where we pray and read the Bible together.  (Right now we are reading through Genesis while we study the history of ancient Sumeria and ancient Mesopotamia.)  Not this morning. While Brian worked on math and ate his Cheerios, I worked on dicing up green peppers, snapping green beans, and husking corn all to go in the freezer.  By 7:30 Bryce joined us.  He, too, had a project he wanted to work on.  For extra credit in Awana, he was making a solar system.  The day before he made homemade playdoh and shaped the dough into the eight, not nine, planets.  Sorry Pluto.  Now that they were hardened he wanted to paint them and hang them for a mobile.  So there it was decided.

  On this school day, individual work will come first and group work , i.e. Bible, history, Latin, and Science will come second.

I am so proud of Brian this year.  He has really matured in his studies.  He is eager to do his work and has not shyed away from the difficult math i.e. long division, writing (although he still hates it) and reading (he will read only what is required of him, nothing more.).  But that is ok.  Once he finished his math, Brian took his Language test.

Here is my thinking.  As long as the work gets done, I don't care what order it gets done in.  There are some things, like I mentioned above, that we do as a group.  We read the Bible together and discuss it as a family.  For history, we use Tapestry of Grace to guide us in our studies and so we study the same events and time frames together as well.  Latin is new for us this year and we are using Latina Christiana as a family.  On the science front,  Bonnie and Brian are using Apologia's General Science.  We just finished Module 1 where Bonnie made a 100% on her test and Brian made a 96%. Both were really excited for how well they did.  Bryce is working through Abeka's Fourth Grade Science.  He is really enjoying having his own science course and all the work that goes with it.

Typically, I like to do Bible and History together and then let the kids break off to do their inidividual work.  Usually they can get their math, language, and spelling done before lunch.  After lunch, we regroup to go over Latin and then I teach science to Bonnie and Brian and then to Bryce. When everything goes well, we can finish our day by 2pm.  Of course, there are always those days when everyone seems to drag and it is 5 oclock before we pack up but those days are rare now.

Typical or not, our day ended well and everyone learned.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Tour of Our Washington Home

We have been in our home two months now.  Since most of our family and friends are back east, I thought they might like a tour of our home.

We will start our tour in the living room.
The living room is quite spacious.  It houses comfortably a sofa, love seat, and two chairs.  At the back of the living room you enter the dining area.

The dining area and kitchen are all open to each other.  Between the dining area and the kitchen you will find our wood stove.  I can't wait until the days are cool enough to light it.  Right now, we haven't found the need to.
Off the kitchen there is a little alcove which houses the pantry, and entrance to the garage.  There is also a half bath for guests. 

At the far end of the kitchen, there is another room that seems to be the favorite of visitors.  It is what we call the Coffee Room.
 This is our favorite place to eat breakfast.  It is also a useful room for school when one of the children needs help but a quiet place to work.  Off the coffee room is another outside entrance that leads to the back "yard."
Our back "yard"  consists of a brick patio and gravel.  It is a 8' x 26" fenced in area.  There is a nice stone fire pit and wood shed at the opposite end.  Three grape vines are growing up the pergola.  This fall we harvested quite a few grapes off of it. 

Let's head back inside and head upstairs.  At the top of the stairs on your left is the boys bedroom.

 We got rid of the bunk bed and instead got the boys two captains beds.  The boys really like them.  One of the neat features of this room is that it has two alcoves in it.  The boys use them to play in and store their legos.
 Next to the boys' room is Bonnie's bedroom.

If you walk out of Bonnie's room and look down the hall you can see the laundry room on the left, the stairwell on the right, and just past the stair well is a full bathroom.  At the end of the hallway is our bedroom.
 At first I wasn't to excited about having the laundry room upstairs, but now I really like it.  I have trained the children to put all of their dirty clothes in the baskets in here instead of keeping them in their room.  At the start of the day, I get the laundry going and when it is done it is just a few steps to put it back in their rooms.
We put the dresser Todd made in the laundry room for extra storage of winter clothes and such.

 At the end of the hall is our bedroom.  This is the best room of the house, according to Todd and I.  In fact, we could easily spend all day up here if we are not careful.  Our room houses not only our bed, but the computer, and two recliner chairs that sit facing a TV.
You can see it is quite spacious.
Did you notice the two french doors in the room?  They lead to the master bathroom.  Get a look at this.

What have we done to deserve this? 

So  here we are suffering for the Lord : )  I stand in awe as the Heath's have chosen to leave their worldly possessions behind to go on the mission field.  We will do our best to take care of their home as long as we can or until they return home. 

I hope you can come and visit us sometime.  We would love to have you.