Saturday, August 30, 2014

No Vacation

Our family just returned from a three-day mini vacation that really turned out to not be much of a vacation at all.  You know I thought it would be "good for us" to all get away for a few days, away from our business, the daily work the homestead demands.

While certainly there were many enjoyable moments, what I realized most, is that our daily life is where I find my rest and my joy, right here at home.

I don't think I am the only one in our family that feels this, I think each of our children are more than content right here.   They assure me that my fears of their lives being boring or that they are not being exposed to enough of the "real world" are unfounded.  It made me smile that when we went by a very simple water fountain on our vacation that Abraham thought it was the coolest thing because in his six short years of life, he really hasn't seen a lot more than our rural landscape.

I look at each day as one to embrace, to find enjoyment, to engage my body in the physical work - my senses in the daily cooking preparations and the beauty all around us.  I work to find a little magic in each day right here on our little homestead.  The older I get (I turned 45 this past Thursday) the more joy I find in the ordinary and the more that each day feels like a vacation right here at home.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dyeing with Spotted Joe-Pye-Weed

These wild flowers are all around our homestead.  The color is really pretty - a pink/mauve color.  
So I made a dye bath with a full pot of the flowers only, used alum for a mordant for the wool yarn, and the color came out a soft green/yellow.

I have been thinking about why God made so many plants that give us yellow dyes.   You know, God, gave us everything we need in his creation and maybe wearing yellow wool sweaters all winter would be a welcome reminder of the warmer days to come.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Canning Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the only vegetable I can each summer.  I don't like to use the energy that is needed to can - specifically heating water for the canning pot, it seems to take so long to get the quantity of water needed to a boiling point.

I keep it really simple - just chop, simmer for about an hour, fill the jars, and put in the hot water bath for 5 - 10 minutes.   Then as I want to use them over the winter, I can either make tomato sauce or use them in various dishes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Have You Read This?

(The pants Emmy is wearing were made by Liz of The Sitting Tree - from an upcycled merino sweater.) 

If you haven't read this article by Ben Hewitt, check it out.   What do you think?

I have told Mike more than once that when I run for President, I will eliminate public K - 12 education (eliminate all involvement - both mandates and financially - on the federal level and turn it over to local communities) and make higher education highly competitive and free.   No chance, I know.  
Haven't worked out the details yet either.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Give Them Time

We spend so much time at home - with one another. 
Day in and day out... for the most part.
Our business is at home, no bringing the children to public institutions during the school year, very few outside organized classes or sports.

We do not all get along well all the time.  I spend time each day acting as mediator.  My guess is, though, that if they can negotiate their days with these same six people than they are probably learning how to problem-solve and how to compromise.

I think because they have so must time just to "be", to choose how to spend their time, to be bored (in our family if someone says they are bored, someone else will say - "if you're bored, that means your boring") which allows them time to think of possibilities.  Because they have so much time, my guess is that each of our children are developing a secure sense of themselves (something that took me 40 years to develop).  They don't have their teachers influencing them or measuring their abilities according to the prescribed developmental framework of the day.

They also don't have peers influencing them to conform or to be a certain way.  

This, our life, while it isn't without struggles and is far from perfect - gives each of our children time - and this may possibly be one of the most precious gifts we can give them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

For the Right Reasons

 Green tomatoes from some vines that were showing some signs of blight.

 Sarah's pet toad, Bobby

 Slowly, one perennial at a time, I am hoping to fill the front of our house.  Some are wildflowers, others bought from a farmer's market or shared from a friend.  The house may still need trim finished and a basement window installed, but flowers will make it all look beautiful in the meantime. 

 Planted lettuce, hoping to get some again this fall.

 I'll be making pumpkin pie before long - my favorite.

 No pregnant mamas yet, but we are loving the manure - we even have enough now to get a community garden started behind our church.

My constant helper

Sometimes (well really quite often) I wonder if living this simple life, content with the beauty and miracles of the changing seasons, living day in and day out with our children, sharing the work together -  producing products to sell, producing food to eat - can be easily dismissed as quaint or not success oriented enough by our society's standards.

We are poor by American standards but our comfortable with the material things we have, we are not torn by debt or drained by long commutes.  Some days the hours are long, the isolation may feel lonely, but there is value in a life that allows us to sit together for lunch or stop and pitch some wiffle balls to our six year old, or take the day off to help our twenty year old move into his first apartment.

Much of this would not be possible without thriftiness, modest expectations, faith, and being careful not to take on debt (which can be very tempting at times).  

Instead, we choose to place value on the non material things such as time with each other, the development of relationships, the free time our children have to explore and just "be", the pleasures of eating delicious healthy foods, the time we can make for helping in the community, and the time to learn and read and explore interests and passions either individually or together.  

This is the life we have chosen and I am writing this as a reminder to myself when our life seems overly ordinary and mundane that really it isn't - it is intentional and full of possibilities, beauty, and joy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


One of our family's handmade toys is being featured today at this beautiful blog.

Beneath the Rowan Tree

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

This Past Week

Last week we took a "daycation" to go to Woodstock, Vermont and meet my father to pick up Abby and Sarah who had been staying at both my mother's and father's houses the previous week and a half in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  I always enjoy visiting Woodstock.  Wednesday evening was also the time for the farmers' market on the green.

(Trying to keep her awake on the ride home.)

We have mostly been home this summer keeping up on our business and homestead.

(I know I have shared here before how Isaac finds things at recycling.  One of his latest claims is this projector.  He hooks it up to his laptop and is able to watch a large "screen" on a wall.  He used it for his birthday camp out by hanging a sheet on the side of our house.  The picture is of him holding one of the three lenses to his mouth.  He took them out to clean them.)

The garlic is in and Abby and I tried to braid some it.

This week I am helping with Vacation Bible School so I feel a little tired.  I have a hard time with a room full of children going this way and that - God must have laughed when he gave me a big family as I really need my quiet time.  But, it is good to be stretched sometimes.

In addition, I am trying to finish our end of the year homeschool assessments and plans for the next year.  I have been researching lots about meeting the state requirements while being more of an unschooling family and am finally feeling like it is possible to do both.