penny

I mentioned a few days ago that our sweet little poodle Luke died.  We have all been so sad.  Luke had his faults, but he was a great family dog.  He never hesitated to lick and love on us.  He always laid next to the under-the-weather family members.  He stuck like glue to Josie’s side while she recovered from surgeries.  He was a wonderful dog for all these kids.

He tolerated anything these kids dressed him in.  He always had energy to play.  He was a lover of face licking.

I silence fell upon our house when he was gone.  An energy was missing.  I’m sure we could never forget all the laughs and comfort Luke brought.  Our house hasn’t been the same since.  It’s quieter.  I like when it’s quiet, but this is the sort of quiet that feels like a void.

A month and a half has passed.  We decided we’re ready for a new puppy fluff.

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The energy is back full-force, I assure you.  We haven’t laughed or smiled this much for a while.  Penny came to live with us Friday.  If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen this tiny ball of fun.  We are all so excited about our new puppy.

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If you don’t think she’s cute, you are heartless.

Her faults include: being too much fun to focus on school work, being too cute to stop holding, acting as the perfect distraction from housework.

These are also her strengths.

Some seasons in life are best gotten through by using a tiny, fluffy, energetic pup as a Segway.  We are thanking Jesus for bringing this little girl to us in the most likely way, in perfect timing.

Oh, Penny.  You are just what we needed.

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homeschool, housework, and sanity

Let me clear things up for you before they get murky from the beginning.  This post is more of a question and guide then an answer book.  I in no way, shape or form have “it” all together.  I have picked up a few tips and frames of mind along the path of schooling the kids over the years.  I’m simply passing along personal experience.  I also ask myself if I’m on task daily.  Is there a more efficient or effective way to do things, ect.  In a nut shell, it’s an ever-evolving balance.

Every morning I get up and have personal time with Jesus.  Sometimes this happens when everyone is still sleep.  Sometimes, I sleep through my alarm (a lot) and this happens while the kids are doing morning chores. This is my best advice to anyone.  That’s how I prepare for my day.  After this time happens, my day begins.  The following is how I function through the rest of the day.

First, you can’t do it all and stay calm.  Choose the order of your priorities.  This has changed and been a huge struggle for me every year.  My biggest quandary is sticking to my own standards.  Your list may look different, that’s okay.  The concept remains. This is the order I pour my daily energy into.  This isn’t necessarily a priority of life.  It’s more import that my kids eat that learn.  It would be hard to learn if you’ve staved to death right?  This is the order I pour out my time and energy to.  If I have left over energy after #1, I carry out something in #2.  If I did something in #2, I may take longer or do something special for #3.  You get where I’m going with this.  I do each category everyday on some level.

1. School the kids (This is my number one priority!)

2. Cleaning (I’m putting this as the second because I lose my mind when things get too messy or backed-up)

3. Meals (We all have to eat.  I’m talking about whether we’re eating frozen meals or home-cooked)

4. Extracurricular (For me this is knitting, hanging out with friends ect.)

I’ve given up the ghost of being perfect and doing it all.  I was losing my mind people. I was also not perfect.  I was grumpy.  What’s important to me is being a good mom.  I want to feel they learned all they could.  Was I patient?  Do they feel loved and important? If the house is a wreck and we eat frozen pizza at the end of the day, I’m good with that.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I have slowly cared less and less about whole organic food.  I haven’t made a pie crust in over a year.  I simply don’t have the time or energy to accomplish everything to perfection.  To be honest, I was burdening myself with DIY everything.  Food, cleaners, projects.  I was using every spare moment of my day to do something.

I found a more realistic approach to life freeing.

When the kids are done with school I sneak in a load of laundry.  Sometimes I can start dish while they’re reading or busy with an assignment.  I am mostly on my feet the entire school time.  We do school from about 930-12 noon.  The afternoons are when older kids read or finish independent work, and younger ones rest.

I try to relax on some level here.  I read or watch a show while folding laundry.  I need a bit or a recharge.  If I don’t get one, it’s a frozen meal for dinner.  If I feel more energetic, I make a more time-consuming meal.  I do meal plan, but often re-arrange the planned meals for the week, depending on my energy.

After I have my quiet(er) time, we do afternoon chores.  Here’s the link to our schedule.  We are doing great with this.  I find it to be the least burdening chore chart we’ve tried.  Our house always looks generally clean now.  If I’m really in the mood to clean that day, I pick an organizing task or other project not on the list.  I also will take extra care washing linens and putting clothes away.  That’s if I really feel like cleaning that day.

When the day is done, or nearly so, I have extracurricular time.  They have free time until 5 pm.  While they play outside or entertain themselves I usually read or knit.  After they’re in bed, I read or watch TV with Nick.  I paint my nails, shower, ect. during this time.  The general point of this category is to take care of myself in some way, and RELAX after a long busy and often stress-filled day.  I go to bible study in the evening, and try to schedule hangout with friends (the no kids sort) at or around dinner time.  Nick can watch the kids, and I don’t feel behind the next day.

How do you organize your time and priorities?  Link your blog below, or comment.  Have a beautiful productive day!

 

 

 

humble homesteading: our garden prep

Over the years, I’ve attempted gardening on several occasions.  I’ve grown things in tiny peat pots, bought from the nursery, and direct-sowed.  Varied success has resulted.  This is our third spring here at the farm.  I think we’ve finally figured out what works for us and what works in our area.

First we till and make ditches.  Luckily, our neighbors are gracious enough to loan us their machine.  We then flood each ditch and fill in low points.  I also like this done because planting is easier when it’s wet.  It’s also better to plant in moist soil.

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Now for planning.  I like to sketch up the plan so I know what and where I’ll plant.

Planting time comes next.  After each row is planted I flood the ditch again.  Notice we plant in the ditch- not the hill.  This give the plant a great soaking.  The soil stays moist for 3-5 days (depending on the weather), and it catches all the rain during monsoon season.  We stomp the hills down to make a sturdy walking path.

We have a few garden boxes set up.  I’m making one of them the permanent strawberry patch.  Onions are in one, and the other will have pole beans soon.

We spent two eight-hour days in the garden this weekend.  I’m so glad it’s almost fully planted.

I filled the rows with seeds.  Every child had some part in the prep and planting.  Little ones love dropping seeds into the holes.  Nobody likes pulling weeds.  Me either!  IMG_1567IMG_1587IMG_1589IMG_1594

We have found through trial and error that I can’t grow peppers or tomatoes from seed too well.  I’m working on it.  For this year we decided to buy plants from the nursery.  I buy bulbs for onions and garlic.  Everything else is seed sown directly into the ground.  I’m worried about the carrots coming up.  I had no success last year.  Any tips for carrots?

Here’s our list of what’s in the ground right now:

pickling cucumbers, corn, tomatoes (variety), peppers (sweet and hot variety), bush beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, romaine lettuce, blue dwarf kale, zucchini, spaghetti squash, onions (red and yellow), garlic, asparagus, herbs (variety), pie pumpkins, and eggplant.

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By the end of next week I hope to add:

potatoes, blueberry bushes, raspberries, black berries, pomegranates, strawberries, pole beans.

What are you growing?  How do you adjust for your climate?