Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Wonderful Trip

I haven't been on-line alot this past two weeks (see my post here), but I do like to keep up with Show and Tell! So let me show you my recent trip to St. Jacobs Village. This is Mennonite country and the downtown and area are filled with fantastic shops and markets.
We stayed in a nearby village of Mary Hill at this Inn:
We were there for a bible study conference on Christian friendship, this is a picture of my hubby and I during game night - we're both so camera shy:
The trip to St. Jacobs would not be complete without visiting the well known farmer's market. It is a huge place, with seperate building for the food and craft market, a flea market, a furniture market and then an auction building, as well. These are pictures of the famous cinnamon bun baker - she's been there for years and has a great product:
Finally, how often do you see a full rainbow like this? We stopped on the side of the road to get the shot - a wonderful trip from beginning to end.
For more S&T, go here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I love kefir!

This is a show and tell about one of my new favourite things...kefir. Kefir grains, actually. If you have never heard of kefir, you are truly missing out on a simple way to improve on your nutrition. I first heard of kefir from a post on Biblical Womanhood and I was very intrigued. So my research began.
I came across this site and it answered all my questions & then some! Kefir is a substitute for milk and yogurt (and sometimes sour cream) as it is high in calcium with a greater value in phosphorus and B12 vitamins. It holds the beneficial bacteria and yeasts for our digestive tracts and, even though milk is used in the process, it is lactose free with a high content of folic acid (this actually increases with over-ripening).
Here is my set up for 'kefiring'. I use a glass bowl set out in the kitchen:It sits and ferments (about 1 cup of milk for every tbsp. of kefir grains) until it becomes thick and frothy - like curds and whey. Then it is strained in a sieve, letting the 'whey' go down the drain:Then the 'curds' or kefir remaining is sifted into my refrigerator container:Until just the kefir grains are left in the sieve: Then I place the grains back into the bowl and refill it with milk to ferment again. The grains do grow as they feed on the milk and eventually there is enough to share with someone else who wants to give it a try or simply eat them - some people scramble them up with eggs, but I prefer to blend them and add to recipes along with the kefir liquid.

I use the kefir liquid in a multitude of recipes - specifically, most times when milk, yogurt or sour cream is called for, I substitute kefir.
Most of the time I make my breakfast smoothie with it. These are the final products - one pumpkin smoothie (think pumpkin pie in a glass) and one banana smoothie. Now, the pumpkin smoothie is just because I had some canned pumpkin left over from Thanksgiving.

The banana smoothie has become my traditional breakfast and occasionally I add other fruits for variety, e.g. any fruit in the house that is getting too ripe or if I happen to get a good deal on something in groceries.

There is alot more you can learn about kefir if you google the word - including other nutritional values and also the history behind it. It is a very cool product that gives me some peace of mind about the vitamins, minerals and probiotics my family is getting from it and it has cut both yogurt and sour cream out of my grocery budget!
For more show and tell go here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Falling Down

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23&24
Have you ever felt the the water rising above your chin?
'They' say that drowning is a relatively calm way to die but I doubt 'they' ever talked to drowning victims. I am anything BUT calm these days as I feel pulled in multiple directions. The laundry is behind, the dirty dishes seem to procreate on my kitchen counter, we're procrastinating in school, the house is not meeting my standards for organization, Duck is pushing my patience buttons because she wants my attention, the dog is driving me nuts because he hasn't had a good run in days...
How did this happen?! I have a flexible schedule and I see myself as pretty responsible for completing the duties I lay out for myself.
But then...there was our extended vacation - fantastic time, but more time than I expected.
And then...there was the Ladies' Lunch & Study at church - I really enjoy putting together the bible study for the month, but did spend a little extra time creating a new format.
And then...there is the adult's conference coming up - I really enjoy helping my hubby get his presentation in order, but I also had to schedule my nursing shifts close together to get the time off for that trip.
And pastor requested some new labels for the singing team's CD - I am happy to help my computer illiterate leader, but I also had to run to the store when I realized I was out of paper before I could even begin making the labels.
And then...and then...and then. There always seems to be something to pull me away from my home base.
How does it happen? How do I fall behind on everything? Very easily, actually. All the things mentioned above have value in their accomplishment. However, when I am staying up until 2 a.m. each night and getting up at 8 a.m. to start all over again (and when I start getting crabby with my husband and daughter because I am lacking in sleep and feeling rushed) then it's time to re-evaluate.
And, I did just that.
I took to heart the blessing on the night I came home from work and my lovable husband and Duck had already cleaned my kitchen for me.
I took to heart the blessing that there is enough food in my house I can make good meals in a short time.
I took to heart the blessing of having enough clothes in our closet that being a little behind in laundry doesn't really effect our days.
I took to heart the blessing of leaving the math book closed while Duck and I had fun cleaning the house together.
I took to heart the blessing that God is showing Himself to me through verses like the one above.
Just when I feel the water rise above my chin, He graciously lifts me higher and lets me breathe. As He lifts me, I can see my priorities better and get them in line. Slowly, each day the water is beginning to recede.
This new week gives me four days at home before our conference and those fours days are a tremendous blessing of fresh air. When I give my time to Him and I am never disappointed. When I feel myself fall down, I know the Lord is right there to lift me up. I never want to live any other way.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Harvest from the Skies

Warning: these pictures are not for those who are made quesy easily!
As I am just cleaning out the garden for the end of the season, my husband is just starting his kind of harvest. This is his second year as a duck hunter and he really enjoys it.
This is the first year that Duck has joined him for a hunt and participated in harvesting the meat. I don't actually enjoy game meats, therefore I do not offer to harvest them! Fortunately, my man enjoys the whole process of hunting, including the part that I consider icky - keeping in mind I am a nurse and deal with lots of stuff at work that my husband considers icky, so its a personal thing.
It was fun to watch dad's version of homeschooling as he showed Duck (the blonde one!) how to find the top and bottom of the rib cage.
Next, how to expose the breast meat and make the first cut to seperate the breast from the bone and then remove it:

And finally, how to turn that into a deliciously moist roast duck breast for dinner!

This is the mallard duck breast, wrapped in bacon and seasoned with lemon pepper and coffee - roasted to a medium well!

Hungry yet?

For more Show and Tell (and likely less gruesome) go here!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Last Ruby Club Meeting

The summer seemed to fly by and suddenly we had reached our last scheduled Ruby meeting (of the six meetings we had originally planned, two had been cancelled due to vacations). We shared some of the personal growth we each had the blessing to recognize in our own lives based on the studies we had completed.

The last topic I wanted to cover involved something that pretty much all women have in their lives. In order to exemplify the issue with the Rubies, I brought a large, camping style water jug filled with water. It weighed approximately 50lbs and was a very bulky shape to hold onto for the average size adult - never mind a bunch of skinny teenager girls!

The full jug was handed to one Ruby and another Ruby was asked to look up a verse and dictate it to yet another Ruby who wrote the verse on the chalkboard:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:29&30
The jug represented all the burdens we, as Christian women, take onto ourselves unnecessarily(we will always have burdens that God does expect us to bear, i.e. following the path of righteousness in our day-to-day lives). I asked each Ruby to consider what kind of burdens they were holding onto unnecessarily at this point in their lives. We discussed how easily our energies can be drained by these burdens. For example, worrying about the choices that our friends are making; trying to organize family members and friends lives; considering how to cause a change in way their authorities behave, etc.

All women carry some burden that God has not asked them carry. The example of trying to cause a change in those around us is a BIG one - 'how can I get my husband to (?)'; 'what do I need to do to bring (?) to see the importance of (?)'

We turned our attention to the book of Nehemiah. In chapter 1 & 2, we read how God laid a concern on Nehemiah's heart for the restoration of Israel. It was a valid burden for an Israelite man, but he was a captive servant to the foreign king. And as he dealt with this new burden, we read how he immediately went to the Lord. And again, when the king noticed how sad Nehemiah was acting and asked about it, Nehemiah went to God in prayer before expressing his burden to his captor (chapter 2:4).

Would a woman have done it this way? Or would we have made a grand plan on how to 'convince' the king to help her; 'manipulate' the king with emotions; 'lie' to the king to get what she wanted?

The scripture tells us that because Nehemiah went to God first with his burden, God provided his desired outcome and alot more! The king gave Nehemiah a free pass to work on rebuilding Jerusalem, AND gave him materials for building, AND gave him members of the army as escorts, AND gave him letters to encourage others to help his cause - because the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord! Just as the hearts of our authorities is in His hand, as well.

Again we asked the questions that have formed our studies - do we care what God has to tell us? Do we really trust Him to do what is best for us - even if it isn't what we desire in our selfish hearts?

Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
Ephesians 3:20

Finally we left with the prayer that we be found faithful in our choices, in our relationships and in our witness for Him.

For the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
Proverbs 15:3

Saturday, October 11, 2008

List of Thankfulness

Depending on where you visit from, you may not know that this is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. As I spend my day getting my house ready for company tonight and for our family meal on Monday, these are the thoughts that came to my mind:

1. I am thankful for my sweetheart husband, who is the leader of this family and continues to grow in his leadership skill in Christ.

2. I am thankful that in that growing leadership we have the Young Adults Conforming to Christ (Y.A.C.C.) group that my husband leads and has invited for study tonight.

3. I am thankful for the bread machine that makes the pizza dough to feed YACC when they come.

4. I am thankful for the oven that has faithfully put out delicious pizza each time - even when the pizza slides off the pan onto the element and sets fire to my stove,

5. I am thankful for the oven cleaner that directs me to just spray the oven surface before I go to bed and simply wipe off the grime in the morning,

6. I am thankful for the entire bucket of rags that was needed to simply wipe off the grime,

7. I am thankful for the spatula I used to scrape, scratch and dig out the encrusted, burned remainers of the flaming pizza,

8. I am thankful for my kitchen floor, counter, backsplash, taps and cupboards that also needed to be cleaned after simply wiping off the grime of the oven racks,

9. I am thankful for my washing machine for the entire outfit that I was wearing and now needs to be soaked,

10. MOST OF ALL, I am thankful that my husband and daughter were out of the house while I dealt with the majority of this list this morning!

All kidding aside, I did need to focus on thankfulness during this little trial. It did make the task go faster and without frustration - well, without too much frustration. Now my kitchen is clean from the top down for all the cooking and baking that happens this weekend - for this I am thankful, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Top Ten Questions from Non-Homeschoolers

These are the top ten questions I get from people who don't homeschool their kids - both christian people and non:

1. Is it a church thing?

Well...the quick answer is 'no'. There are several families in our church who do not homeschool their children - for various reasons. However, it is our own walk with Christ that lead us to this conviction.

2. How organized do you have to be?

I do believe that God blessed me with the gift of organization - there are days that it fails me, though. Really, everyone has to be organized to accomplish their goals - short and long term - being a home educator isn't any different in that sense. The difference does come out when considering how much I care about completing our goals each day and caring about Duck's future goals, as well. I am putting my organizational skills into my family rather than into an employment situation.

3. What time do you get started in the morning?

The implication here is generally that we must get up at 5 a.m. to be able to accomplish a full day of school and housework. Actually, we start our day at about 8 a.m. - we do have the occasional sleep in/cuddle in mom's bed morning - those are part of the benefits of home education! The schedule I posted here keeps us on track for both school and house stuff.

4. How did you ever pick a program to follow?

There are a tremendous amount of curriculums (curriculi?) to choose from, and it can be very overwhelming to new homeschoolers. When we chose to use Rod & Staff, it wasn't because we felt the program was the most superior - in fact, I find most curriculum cover the same material in different ways - it was because this program used scripture the most. All of the lessons in reading & comprehension are based on actual scripture and I see this as a great advantage for Duck. If she is going to be reading, it might as well be biblical history.

The other thing I point out to people is, I am not tied to one curriculum. I am always seeking out new ideas, used books, etc. to incorporate in school.

5. How do you find the patience?

Hmmm. Do you like your children? Do you believe the public school teacher has any more patience just because of a pay cheque?

Sorry, slipped into my sarcasm there.

Any homeschooler will admit to trials during the week, me included! Overall, I enjoy my time at home with Duck - homeschooling is as fun and fulfilling as the parent makes it.

6. Don't you worry that your child will be unprepared for the real world?

I hope someone can tell me what the real world is soon - so I can prepare for it! As for Duck, she can socialize with any age group comfortably and with confidence. She has held little jobs already at her tender age of 8 (housekeeping for her daddy's workplace, gardening for neighbours and friends, and has babysat parrots and rabbits for friends), and has shown a good amount of responsibility in these jobs.

Quite frankly, the last place anyone will learn about the real world is in public school.

7. What about socialization?

What about it? Let's take a quick look at the socialization found in public school: negative peer pressure, bullying, profanity, conformity, feminism, promiscuity & STDs - do we need to keep asking this question people?!

8. What if she wants to go to college?

Most homeschool curriculums provide direction on completing a highschool diploma for the purposes of meeting the criteria for college and university. Most colleges and universities provide entrance exams that homeschoolers can challenge, or they have entrance criteria for 'mature students' that does not require an official diploma.

I know I have read about how universities are jumping at the chance to have homeschoolers, because they are generally successful students and it looks good on the institutions. I also know, and will teach my daughter, that success is not found in 'higher education'. That with diligence, she can turn an interest or skill into a home-based business to add support to any future family or for herself - this is the path that we are setting her on and as she matures we hope she'll follow it.

9. Are you a teacher?

Yes. I teach my child. That makes me a teacher. Did I go to university to get a teaching degree? No. So far, however, I am able to read and write along with her. I also can read instructions to teach her in each subject. Would a certified teacher be able to teach my child better? No. My child gets my full attention for learning (even a mom with eight kids gives them more one-on-one attention than in a public school class). And I have a fantastic educational assistant - he arrives home everyday about supper time!

10. Why do you do it?

Because I should. Because I can. Because she's worth it. Because no one cares more about her future than my husband and I. Because God gave me that responsibility. Because it is the best choice.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ruby Club Studies

As we continued to build on our earlier topics of mercy and confidence, the next topic we studied in the Ruby Club was designed around the term longsuffering:

LONGSUFFERING - the opposite of anger; quality of self restraint in the face of provocation vs. hostel retaliation; fruit of the spirit

Alot of times the term patience is used as interchangeable with longsuffering. When, in fact, longsuffering is more of an immediate response to an adverse situation. The times when we, as Christians need to turn the proverbial other cheek when we have been offended/attacked. It is another characteristic of God that is a necessity for Christian women.

We read through Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 3:12&13; and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Then we considered whether we were applying these scriptures to ourselves or thinking about all the other people who don't seem to follow this? We talked openly about how easy it is to see other peoples' faults while ignoring our own and how important is to take God's word to our own hearts.

Then we played a game - BANG, your dead! If we died right now, would we see that argument with our sister/brother as important? How about God honouring? Was it really worth getting frustrated with that neighbour/teacher/store clerk? Did you glorify the Lord by arguing with that fellow Christian about doctrine?

Our relationship with God will dictate our ability to relate to others around us. Our success in taking hold of the fruits of the spirit come from study, prayer and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It is the failures/sin of those around us that give us need to practice longsuffering by applying these scriptures to our hearts.

All of the girls talked about how easy is to retaliate when they are offended by both Christians and non-christians - it comes naturally with our own sinful nature. We talked about whether any of us are practicing the spiritual things we have discovered in our studies. Are we changing in our day-to-day life? Do we want to improve our relationship with Christ through self study? Are these verses we are finding just feeling good to read or are we practicing them?

The girls that attended the studies all seemed sincere in their wish to study more. They also came across as honest about their failures in practicing what they had learned from the studies, i.e. mercy vs. judgemental; faithful vs. selfish; and now longsuffering vs. angry. It was encouraging to see them return each week with completed study materials and thoughtful questions or input for the topics.


When homeschooled kids go camping, there is always something to investigate. These salamanders were discovered under the tents when we were packing up. I found and collected three and they provided great entertainment for all the kids:

"You pick it up!" "EWW!" "There not slimy at all." "I touched it, I touched it!" "Aww, there so cute." "Do their tails come off?"

The older boys wanted to dissect, which was quickly dissauded by the moms. The little ones wanted to take them home because they "must be scared in the woods". And we had one 5 year old in tears because we put them back into the bush and he said "I already love them!"
We did come home and print out some facts about the little things - like they are called Blue Spotted Salamanders and the 'big one' probably wasn't 'mom' and the two smaller ones probably weren't married ;o)
School is everywhere!
For more show and tell, go here!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Good Times and Good Friends

We spent last week camping at a provincial park with our good friends. We were only intending to stay for four days and we ended up staying for nine days - that's how much fun we were having there. Our friends have six kids from age 14 down to 2.
The kids had fires from noon to midnight to cook on. We did the obligatory weiners, marshmallows and cherry pies; but we also grilled steak, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, hamburgers - we really became gourmet campers!

The kids rode bikes constantly and we actually had warm enough weather to spend two full days at the beach. The adults weren't brave enough to swim in the cold water, but they didn't care.
There were multiple volunteers to walk the dogs, whether the dogs wanted to go or not!

And, as a final note, let me quote the words of the experienced 5 year old camper pictured below: "Auntie Kim, do want to put your fire out, cause I gotta pee?"

I can't wait to go again next year!