Monday, December 6, 2010

Gardening in the Snow

It is fun to be able to pick a basketful of beets on a day when the high was in the mid 30's and we had a dusting of snow. I wonder how much my anniversary greenhouse will increase production?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Iron Men

Kevin and some of his buddies pose for a picture after completing their first Triathlon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Daughter Obsessed With Greek Mythology

I just had to laugh when Colleen got into the googley eyes and tried to turn Paco into a Greek monster.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Garden Transformation- Day Fifty-Four

Today was the day to work on our church's community garden. We felt like it was important to include the children in this project so that they could spend time in service to others and boy did they work today. There was an enormous amount of weeding to be done and they stepped up to the challenge.

We also got to harvest some onions, lettuce, beet greens, and basil. What a great feeling to reap the rewards of your labor. It was fun dividing it up and taking it to some of the members of our church.

The home garden is not looking as wonderful, though. Glen put up a fence for Mother's Day to keep the chickens, bunnies, and dog out, but not before they dug up my seed. So, here it is:

The corn:
The squash, beans, and cucumbers:

The tomatoes:
Pitiful, I know. However, I hopes for a brighter future. In the mean time, the spring garden is doing great. This week we had Swiss Chard, radishes, onions, and kolrhabi. I have never tasted kolrhabi before, but it was quite good. The leaves taste like a very mild kale and the bulb tastes like broccoli. Surprisingly yummy.

This week we will be eating spinach, salad, and more kolrhabi. It is so fun to pick your food from your own backyard!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crossing Over

Tuesday night was the annual "Last pack meeting of the year" for Cub Scout troop 442. We have attended this for 4 years and watched many young men cross the bridge from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, but this year was different. This year "my" cub was crossing.

It truly is a bittersweet moment. He is ready, but I may not be. It seems like just yesterday we started as a Tiger. The first year all the moms participate. But, for the next two years, I was the den mother for this group of boys. They have grown so much, both physically and mentally.

They did have to get rid of me though, because they needed someone, a man specifically, who had more to offer than sand art and sing-a-longs.

Here they are as Boy Scouts with their new troop. I am so proud of all of them, especially my little cub.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Hike

Today, I was given the choice of activities by my lovely family and I chose something that we all love... hiking. We wanted to try a new place, but wasn't quite sure. My friend Sharon suggested at church this morning that we try the Schoolhouse Gap trail. Then, I remembered a blog written by my friend Randy at 900 Miles about his recent hike there. That was it.

It was a nice hike that started off along a creek and then headed up. Once again, my family was wondering what my problem was trying to get up the hill. But, it was fairly short and the rest of the incline was not so steep.

This a great hike for wildflowers. We saw Solomon's Seal, Foam Flower, Dwarf Irises, and numerous Trilliums and daisies. The best of all was the Pink Lady Slipper. Colleen was so excited! As we were climbing the hill she said that she had never seen a Yellow Lady Slipper or Pink Lady Slipper in bloom and when we got to the top of the hill... viola! She was so excited and talked about it the rest of the way.
We also found interesting creatures on our hike. Glen found a lizard that Colleen caught and I had an Inchworm land on my back. That would not seem so exciting, but we have just been learning about caterpillars and, in particular, we read about why Inchworms crawl like they do. It was fascinating to hold one and watch its little feet propel its long body.
Well, we had a delightful day and I am now waiting for the Mother's Day feast of steak and oven-roasted potatoes to commence.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Church Garden/ PapPap's Garden

Friday was a beautiful day and the right day for planting according to the signs. There is actually some scientific evidence to support planting according to the signs. I used to think it was witchcraft and totally discounted the farmer's almanac. Now, I understand that the gravitational pull from the moon can actually aid in the germination of seeds. In Ecclesiastes 3 it says that:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot...

Who am I to argue with the Word of God? There are definite seasons and times to plant and harvest. With that in mind, I tried to plant a whole lot in one day.

The first activity was the church garden. Our women's ministry is planting a garden for the members of our church with hopes to donate any leftovers to a local food bank. We started the day with praying and then proceeded to plant 2 rows of beans, 6 rows of corn, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers, and I am sure something else, I just can't remember.

While I was working on that, Glen was at my dad's house building a raised bed vegetable garden. We are giving him a garden for his 69th birthday. He has been talking about having a garden since he moved here 3 years ago, but his Rheumatoid Arthritis has prevented him. So, Glen and I decided to make a low maintenance garden that he may enjoy his own tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini without too much work.

When I finished at the church garden and the kids had finished swimming, we went and planted PapPap's garden and had a lovely dinner of venison tenderloin and oven roasted vegetables with my family. It was a great, albeit exhausting day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garden transformation- Day Twenty-One

I am so frustrated with blogging because it takes forever for me to figure out how to post pictures. My dear friend at SmallWorld said she would help me, so here is the update until I get a lesson:

The raised bed gardens are up and going. We had a major problem in the beginning because I decided to set the bunnies free. We have 2 bunnies, a mother and her daughter, who have been living in a pitiful hutch that rarely got cleaned for 2 + years. I decided that their lives would be better if we let them out to nibble on the fresh green grass, even if they only lived two more days until the hawks got them.

Well, now we have a fence and a farm dog and the chance of them getting eaten by hawks (like their predecessors) is slim. So.... they have plenty of time to eat the cabbage and broccoli plants in my new raised bed gardens. What a headache! The chickens also enjoyed scratching up the beet and lettuce seed and the dog thought that it was a good "jump" and a place to mark his territory.

We have come up with some temporary fixes, but it looks like a fence inside the fence is in the near future. Pictures will follow.

Tomorrow is planting day for our churches' garden co-op. I am so excited that the Lord is using a passion that I have to minister to others. We are planting a garden for the members of our church to share, with leftovers to share with the poor. Some of it has already been planted. On Monday, several women planted, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Tomorrow it is beans, corn, and okra. More on that later.

Tomorrow also is the day to build and plant my dad's raised bed garden. While I was planting our raised bed garden a few weeks ago, I decided that I would love to give my dad a garden for his birthday. So that is what we are going to do. Today my dad turned 69 an tomorrow my husband is going to build it while I am planting the church garden. When I am done there, I am coming to plant my dad's garden.

I love spring. I love watching things grow. I love most of all the harvest of the Lord's provision.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Garden Transformation- Day One

Yesterday was the first day of spring and it brought Day one of the garden transformation. We worked all day! It does not seem like that much got done, but it was a lot of work and we were all sore, tired, and hungry by time we finished for the day. Below on the left is the Montmorency Cherry tree that we planted. It is my favorite dry cherry. I am not sure it will do well in our climate, but I willing to give it a try.

On the right is Kevin removing the English Ivy that had taken over the bed that now holds our cherry tree. It was very hard work and excellent means of "character training". I think he is going to think twice about telling me he finished his math when in fact he hadn't.

Next was the building of the raised beds. We have had them before and removed them because I had decided if I wanted my husband help in the garden I had to do it the way he wanted. We have compromised and I am allowed to have two to do a spring and fall garden. We will still plow up a big area of the yard for the summer garden.

Raised beds are great for many reasons such as being able to concentrate your nutrients in one place and being able to work them earlier and later in the year. The other reason, and the one that won my husband over, is that it is hard to grow root vegetables in East Tennessee clay soil. I have not been able to grow beets well since we got rid of the raised beds. I guess I better produce this year or lose face.

The last picture you see is my new experiment growing potatoes. This is kind of along the lines of "trash can" potatoes. This is what I did: I punctured some holes in the bottom of a bag, threw in a few handfuls of dry leaves, dumped in some dirt to cover, placed 4-5 small seed potatoes, and then covered with more soil. The instructions say to use a kitchen garbage bag, but a friend of mine who is a Master Gardener said she uses feed bags. As the plants grow, I will need to keep adding dirt or hay for the tubers to form. When I am ready to harvest, I will simply cut the bag open and pull out potatoes.

If this works, I will be so excited. Homegrown potatoes are one of the tastiest food on the planet, but the work and the land that goes into producing them will keep most people from growing them.

All in all, it was a great day in the sun and we got a great start to the transformation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: St. Patrick's Day 2010

The preparations are started at 9:30

6:00- Everything is ready. The celebration begins.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Garden Transformation Begins

My garden and yard is about to have a major rennovation. For the past several years, we have been considering moving so we have not done anything to improve our garden like I would have liked. Also, for several years now I have not felt well because of fibromyalgia, but since my hysterectomy last fall, I feel remarkably better. Not that it has cured all my ailments, but it has given me more energy.

The other thing that has got me moving forward with my plan is my eleven year old daughter. She wants all of these things too and is willing to help. At least she says so now. We will see come the middle of summer and the garden needs weeded.

Below are pictures of my vegetable garden last summer. It was O.K., but the plans in my head are so much more. I have plans for all kinds of fruit trees, nut trees, and berry bushes. I love the idea of self-sustainability. I would love to produce as much of our food as I can. We'll see what happens.

Later this week I will post some "before" pictures of the muddy mess that is out there right now and I will keep you posted as it progresses.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Last Saint Patrick's Day was about as delightful a day as one could wish for. It was unusually warm and the corned beef was perfect. As I started to plan our annual family celebration, it occurred to me that maybe not everyone actually knows how to prepare a traditional corned beef and cabbage meal. So I thought I would share how we do ours.

Only three items needed: corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. Earth Fare has a coupon this week for a FREE bag of organic potatoes and a coupon for $1.00 off corned beef. I will check the price of the corned beef and if it is not too high, I will get it there. But, if the price will cause my husband to hyperventilate, I will wait until next week and get it at Krogers. They always have them on sale the week of Saint Patrick's Day.
The morning of SPD, put your corned beef and as many pieces of cut up cabbage that you can fit in your crock pot on the low setting. I usually don't mess with the season package that comes with the corned beef because the meat and the cabbage will have plenty of flavor without pepper corns in my cabbage.

About 45 mins- 1 hour before you are ready to eat, remove the beef and place in a roasting pan, slather with some plain mustard and brown sugar, cover with foil and put in oven at 300 degrees for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile, dip some of the juice out of the crock pot and put in a pan with your peeled, cubed potatoes. Add extra water if needed and boil until potatoes are fork tender, drain. The wholesome goodness in the crock pot is truly the key to yummy potatoes.

Serve with butter for the potatoes and sometimes we like ketchup on the cabbage. Yum!

Of course every Saint Patrick's Day celebration requires Celtic music and dance. Last year the kids invented some instruments to accompany the music.

Erin Go Braugh!

Wordless Wednesday: Orange Crush

Kids will be kids! I told them to get a box of oranges out of the trunk and the next time I cam home, this is what I saw as I pulled in the driveway. Apparently there were a couple "bad" oranges that needed to be repurposed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Yet Another Reason to Homeschool

My eleven year old daughter spends literally hours pouring over the offerings in the Guerney's Seed Catalog instead of hours looking at Shaun Cassidy in Teen Beat magazine like her mother did at her age.

She has picked out several different varieties of roses "in case I wanted to get her something for Easter."

She has no idea how hard it is to grow roses.... yet!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up

Whew! What a week! It was extraordinaryily busy, but mostly fun. Monday started with our regular rountine. We had classes at our local co-op and then Gymnastics. Usually it is dinner and then swimming, but not this week. We had our final practice for the Energy Bowl at the Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge the next morning.

Tuesday we woke up to blowing snow and sleet but headed out for our 40 minute drive to compete against other sixth grade teams from around the area on the topic of physical science and energy. Our kids did fabulous! We earned second place and we even had 2 members who are 5th graders.
After a trip to the museum gift shop to spend our prize money we went to lunch, Earth Fare and then home to piano and gymnastics before the Pinewood Derby that evening. Unfortunately, we did not have quite as a spectacular showing there. Kevin's car actually was no where near done, but he decided to nail on his wheels and go for the fun of it. It wasn't so much fun when he came in last.

Wednesday was about the most "normal" school day we had all week even though it ended at around 12:30. Glen came and picked me up at 12:45 for an appointment with an allergist. I knew they were going to test me, so I wanted him there. The kids went next door and worked on their assignments while I got 130 pricks in my back. It really was not that bad and the good news is that I do not have any allergies. But the wonderful, kind, doctor agreed with me (in front of my husband) that I probably had some sensitivities to preservatives, additives, etc and that white flour probably did make me sick and explained to him why.

Thursday was our AMSE science class. An instructor from the American Museum of Science and Energy comes to Maryville once a month and has a class for the kids. This class was on geology. Colleen had a rock collection at four. She loved this class. Actually she loves all of them.

Friday brought yet another field trip. The Sam Houston Schoolhouse was having Civil War
reenactments and exhibits for homeschoolers in preparation for their reenactments this weekend. We went with some friends and had a great time in the cool sunshine. The kids helped the re-enactors unload a truck full of wood before getting chased out of the flower bed by the school marm. In their defense, we had no idea it was a flower bed either. All in all, it was great fun.

But are we done yet? No. We are on our way to a friend's house for a mother and daughter homemade pizza and "Little Women" party.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Day of Why's

Today was a a day full of "why we homeschool" conversations. It started this morning as my daughter was getting ready to go to Oak Ridge, TN and compete in the Energy Bowl at the Museum of Science and Energy with her twin brother and 3 other 6th graders from our Blount County Co-op. They are actually 5th grade, but they needed another student to compete and agreed to let a couple 5th graders on their team.

As she was getting dressed she asked, "Do people think homeschoolers are weird?" When I asked her why she was asking that question she said that last week while we were at a field trip at our new performing arts center, there were some public school girls making fun of her and her friends because they were homeschooled. I told her that some people may think we are different, but that is one reason we homeschool.. to be different from girls that behave that way. I also told her that if she was in school , those girls would be making fun of her for something else most likely.

So off to Oak Ridge we go in the snow and sleet. The kids were all nervous but they did great and came in second overall. We were very proud of them for that accomplishment, but quite dismayed that they were beat by a team who apparently had the questions to study ahead of time. I know without explanation, I might be labeled an "overprotective, controlling, homeschool mom". So, here it is:

The most obvious question, among many, went something like this. "Blah, blah, blah... all of the following except". The other team's captain buzzed in at that point and answered "C" which was the correct answer. How could he have known that "C" was the answer if he had never heard the answers to choose from?

I was a bit perplexed as was one of the other moms who asked what was going on and the response given her was "This happens every year with this team". But, they can't prove anything so they don't want to accuse them of cheating.

Needless to say, my children, the keepers of the fairness torch, were outraged. I tried to explain that some things in life are not fair and when that happens we just need to accept it as graciously as we can and try to glorify God with our behavior.

This led to the next "why" discussion. While I was trying to talk them down we talked about how we do not educate to a test. We do not have packets with test questions, we have books that we read. In the past month we have all learned so much about energy and physics that we did not know. We, most certainly, are the winners when we look at it in this context.

The last "why" of the day came when we pulled into the driveway. A little girl who is I think about 11-12 was on the street, on her bicycle in the snow, chasing after her sister who is 13 who was running away after a bad day in school. These are some really sweet girls who are home by themselves in the afternoon with their 9 year old brother until their mother gets home from work.

We parked her bike and loaded in the car and went and found her sister. She was talking to her mother the whole time on the phone and all I could think is "Thank you Lord that you have blessed me with the luxury of being with my children." I knew that these girls would be ok, but my heart was aching for their mother who was at work and unable to do anything. I know that homeschooling requires a sacrifice of time and money, but it does not mean that we love our children more.

When we got them home, their nine year old brother was in the garage in his socks and a t-shirt just sobbing. Yeah, I would say I that I have the "luxury" of being with my kids and homeschooling them.

I guess there is yet one last "why". It was what my daughter did when we got home for the evening. She had taken her prize money for being on the second place team to the museum gift shop, bought some kits and came home and made a robot and started some crystals growing. She gets to love what she loves and my little girl loves, among other things, science.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Memories. I have realized have very few. I am doing a Beth Moore study called "Breaking Free" and we are supposed to identify generational sins to help us break free from them. I have been a big believer in generational sins for years and have seen the effects of them on my family. This is nothing new, but what is new, through a series of events I have come to realize I only have bad memories, especially from my childhood. Also, I can only identify the negative qualities of my parents and grandparents.

For some reason, I can not remember when I did something well or when I said something smart or even when I was kind to someone. I only remember when I said something stupid, hurt someone's feelings, or did something shameful or embarrassing. I have on occasion had someone tell me that I was kind and I remember being shocked. I thought surely they are one of those people who have problems with over-exaggeration.

The Lord says, "That as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions". So why can't I let them go? This is what I have asked Him as well as, "Please help me to remember the good things too".

Therefore, I intend to blog about the good memories as He brings them to mind. It is my way of drawing a line in the sand and saying, "No more!". I am not going to wallow in the sins of the past. I am going to "think on the good things that the Lord has done for me". And since there are usually only two people who read my blog and I feel very safe with both of them, I think it will be very therapeutic.

First memory: playing cards. Last night while talking to a friend about getting together, she mentioned playing rummy. I remember having so much fun playing rummy and various card games with my family. As long as everyone was home and no one was drinking, it was so much fun. I remember one summer day sitting on the back porch and my mom teaching us older kids how to play hearts. It was so much fun and I remember laughing. It was warm and safe that day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Popcorn and Olympics

My daughter was in the tub while the popcorn was popping. She asked me if I had a smell that reminded me of home. My thought was, "yeah cigarettes and stale beer" but I didn't answer. Instead I asked her if she had one. She replied, "Popcorn and homemade bread". I almost started crying. Maybe one day my kids will "arise and call me blessed" instead of "mom I don't have any clean pants".

As long as they know that I love them, I guess they don't have to call me blessed. I know my mother loved me and the rest of my brothers and sisters. Things were not always "blessed" but my mommy loved me and besides the love of my Heavenly Father, that's enough.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Birthday! Today is my 46th birthday and it turned out pretty well. I woke up depressed. Not sure why. I don't think it had to do with my age but maybe because Thursday was the one year anniversary of my mother's death. Maybe it was because I took care of one person after the other with the stomach virus this week. (Thankfully, I did not get it.) Or maybe it was because of the argument my husband and I had last night over me wanting to watch the opening ceremonies in bed and him wanting to sleep. How is that for a switch?

Anyway, I was not really looking forward to the day. I woke up to a messy house, an irritable husband not completely recovered from the virus, and grumpy children who did not want to do anything the irritable husband told them. I would have canceled my appointment at the spa if it weren't for the fact that I had to get out of here.

I left home and picked up my friend Kim. We drove to the spa and I went in for a facial and she took my filthy car to be washed and the carpets cleaned for my birthday. Next we went to lunch and then shopping for organic produce. I know this may not sound exciting to most people, but it thrills me. Fresh, nutritious, and flavorful foods for my family make my heart jump.

The best part was when I returned home. The house was clean, everyone was happy, steak and asparagus were on the menu, presents had been dropped off by Granny Bear and my sister Mandy, and this beautiful cake was on the table. My dear sweet daughter had made it and decorated it all by herself. No one had ever shown her how. I was so impressed.

Lastly, I had the courage to accept a friend request from a women I went to high school with and even invited another high school friend. I thought that if I kept my maiden name off of Facebook, no one would ever find me.

I am not really sure why I am so afraid of my past. I know I don't remember very much of my life before I was saved. I know I was not happy and really did not like who I was. I really can not remember "good times" or things that I am proud of . I only remember hurt and shame. It has taken me years to partially understand this and see how it affects the people that I love.

I don't deserve the good things God has given me. But, I know the time has come for me to see me as He sees me. A beloved daughter that He was willing to die for. Oh if I could just wrap my arms around that one, it would indeed transform my life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas Wrap Up

How did it happen? It came and went. I enjoyed it and was not too terribly stressed out. It was either the advanced planning or the absence of a uterus, or a combination of the two? We went to several Christmas parties but declined a few also. That is entirely new territory for me. We saw several Christmas performances, but not every one. Most presents were either purchased in one day or bought online and wrapped far in advance. I was even able to host the homeschool mom's cookie and ornament exchange and on Christmas Eve host about 20 family members and enjoy both events. How did that happen?

The day after Christmas we drove to NJ to visit Glen's family and on the way back stopped to see my baby brother, his beautiful wife and their precious 2 month old twins. Look below for a picture of Colleen feeding baby Luke. I enjoyed everything but the drive through the rain, sleet, snow, and fog. However, "The Hobbit" on tape made even that tolerable. How did that happen?
I am not sure. I do think it has something to do with the lack of a uterus, but either way, I am so thankful to God for making it possible. I do not wish by any means to dismiss the real miracle of Christmas, but this was indeed an additional Christmas miracle for me! Might I add one for my family as well?