Archive for the ‘homesteading’ Category

As a parent, often we are pulled in several directions at once.  It is just the nature of the role we play in our family.  I’m married to a great man, who happens to drive a truck for a living.  Even though he is as involved as possible in our daily life at home, the bulk of the task falls upon my shoulders.  Add to that the fact that I am a Mom, Grandma, homesteader, and homeschooling parent, along with my other roles and it is enough to exhaust me just thinking about it. As we tend to the needs of our family, it is easy to overlook our own needs. 

Picture in your mind your family standing near you, all thirsty and with their cups held out to you.   As you go to give them water, to satisfy their thirst, you find your pitcher running low.  You carefully ration out the water to give each one a portion.  While each has a small drink, their thirst is not completely satisfied.  You also find that you have nothing left for yourself.

Being a Momma, we easily can find ourself in this situation.  We give and give to our family and those around is, yet we neglect to refill our own pitcher.  Like the example that I shared, this can lead us to having to ration ourself out to meet the needs of our family.  In doing so, we risk not being able to fully meet those needs. 

We have to find ways to replenish our reserves.  This could be through connecting with our spouse, friends, or even simply carving out time for yourself each day.

One of my favorite times is the evening after the kids are in bed.  I sit with my cup of coffee and read, crochet, or write.  I recently bought a Bible verse coloring book that I am starting to color in.  Another relaxing activity that I enjoy is word search puzzles.  It doesn’t have to be anything that requires a lot of time or expense.  Sometimes, just having a cup of coffee on the porch and listening to the night sounds and feeling the breeze can feel wonderful.

The whole point is taking time out for myself.  By doing so, I am filling my pitcher.  I am adding to my reserves so that I can meet the needs of my family.

It is really easy to say that we don’t have the time to fill our own needs.  I know.  I did it for years.  I was so used to being “Mommy on the spot” to my family and those around me that I totally forgot myself in the process.  I got exhausted and often felt overwhelmed or depressed.  I had to learn how to take time for me.  I had to get over thinking that taking time for myself was being selfish.  I had to realise that I needed to have my “Momma time” so that I could be a more effective parent and wife.

One rule that I have for myself is that my Momma time is never spent preparing homeschool lessons or housework.  It is meant to be a time focused on my needs, not doing other tasks.  This to.a has become something important to me know.  I don’t see it as a luxury or waste of time.  I see the value of it and look forward to it each day.

In taking the Momma time, I am finding that my stress levels are lower, I am more productive, and I enjoy my days better than before.  I wish I had learned this decades ago, when I was in my 20’s instead of in my 50’s.  It is definitely something that I am trying to teach my daughter now as she grows up.


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Had a beautiful day today so the kids and I went outside to start garden seeds in the seed starting trays.  It is still too early yet to plant in the ground but this will give us a head start.

Little Miss planted some corn and pumpkin.  She hopes to get enough pumpkins to sell some next autumn as a fund raiser for a church camp she attends.  She also planted sugar pod peas, which we love to snack on.

Pookie helped me to plant various types of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes for canning, and some grape tomatoes for salads and snacking.

After we were done, Little Miss found a few flower pots to plant marigolds, morning glory, and lavender into. 

Having the kids helping to plant the seeds was a fun project.  I intend to transplant a sugar pod pea and grape tomato plant in their yard for them to enjoy.  As soon as the weather is warm enough, we will plant some climbing green bean plants as well in their yard and maybe a strawberry patch.  I remember as a kid, going over to the family garden and picking a handful of green beans, peas, or some other treat to snack on.  Having a mini garden in their yard will encourage the fun and healthy snacking.

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Just when it seemed that summer was starting, here I find myself watching the fast approaching end to the season.  It has been an eventful one.  One major change was the new job that my hubby has. He is once again working for an OTR (over the road) trucking company.  It has been a bit of an adjustment for the kids especially, but everyone is doing well with it.

We decided to take the summer off after all and will soon be restarting the new term.  With the summer’s warm temps, I found it too difficult to keep the kids focused on schooling when the beautiful day was waiting for them to come outdoors to play.  So, we have been spending time outside or going on outings.  It has been a great decision.  We will be starting up our school term after we get back home from our vacation.

After vacation, I am going to be getting internet set up at home.  So looking forward to that.  It has been a long time. It will be a dial-up service but that is so much better than not having any internet at all.  I currently only have the internet on my phone, which is why it has been hard to get the blog posts done.  Now, it will only be a matter of getting time scheduled to actually work on and post to the blog.


One really exciting event that took place over the summer has been Little Man getting a much needed AmTryke.  This is a specially designed large tricycle made for special needs children.  It has a feature that allows the child to “pedal” the tricycle not only with their feet but with their hands as well.  Little Man doesn’t have the leg strength to pedal a tricycle with his legs alone.  He also doesn’t have the balance needed for a bicycle.  So, in his physical therapy sessions, they have had him ride the AmTryke from time to time.  At first, they had to push him using the handle on the back of the AmTryke to help propel him across the gym floor.  Now, he is able to propel himself if the surface is flat and smooth.  In our yard, we have to push him a bit over the inclines and rough areas, but otherwise he is doing it on his own.  AmBucs is the resource we used to get the AmTryke.  The physical therapist sent in the order with his measurements and they contacted us via mail.  AmBucs has a fundraising site that they use called Crowd Rise.  On this site, we were able to list Little Man and share a little about him.  It works a lot like the other fund raising websites.  You share the link and others donate to the fund.  As soon as the money to pay for the AmTryke is raised, they ship it to the physical therapist for assembly and final fitting.  This is a great resource for families with special needs children who cannot afford to buy the AmTryke themselves.  The cost for it was $735.00.  We were able to raise the funds within a few weeks.  What a blessing!!!  Little Man rides the AmTryke 30-45 minutes a day.  It is going to do so much to help him build strength.  Though Hypotonia is a neurological disorder that cannot be cured, the effects can be lessened with time and exercise.  In the past two years since beginning the therapies at the center we take Little Man to, we have seen a huge change in his strength and stamina.  He is also making a lot of progress in others areas as well.

Little Miss is such a great big sister.  She is so compassionate and loving towards her brother.  We have been seeking out opportunities for her to shine as well.  She is now involved with a church youth group and is signed up for 4-H.  She was in the 4-H Cloverbuds program previously.  This will be her first year to be in the actual 4-H group.  We still need to decide which of the local groups to have her in, but she is enrolled with the organization.  She is really excited about it.




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Little Miss made homemade noodles for the first time yesterday. She did such a great job! Here is the recipe:

Homemade Noodles

1 cup flour
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Place flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the egg and salt. Mix together adding a little water at a time until you have a soft dough.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until not sticky.

Roll the dough thin, about the thickness of a dime.  Cut into strips about 1/4″ wide.

Dust the cut noodles lightly with flour to prevent sticking together. Spread out on table or in a pan to dry or cook immediately. 

Recipe makes enough noodles for about 4 servings if used as a side dish or added to a soup.

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With spring in the air, it is only natural here on the homestead to start thinking about gardening.  Being homeschoolers, this is also the perfect time to start a unit study about plants.  The unit study is mainly covering science only, with a bit of art and reading thrown in.  I have added this onto our current Heart of Dakota curriculum.

The main resources that we are using are:

Ecology for Every Kid by Jan Van Cleave

Organic Gardening for Kids by Elizabeth Scholl

Sprouting Seed Science Projects by Ann Benbow & Colin Mably

Kids Pumpkin Projects by Deanna F. Cook

Discovering Science Plants workbook by Franklin Schaffer Publications


Our first project is to soak about 4 seeds each from 4 vegetable varieties.  We chose pumpkin, sugar peas, corn, and green beans.  The seeds are soaking overnight so that tomorrow Little Miss can dissect a seed from each variety to compare them.  Some seeds are monocot, meaning that they have 1 first leaf.  Others are dicot, meaning that there are 2 first leaves.  She will be charting which seeds are monocot and which are dicot.  Her are project will be to draw the cross-section of a seed showing it’s various parts.  Pookie is also doing the project but will be coloring a picture of a sprouting seed that I drew for him today.

Jan Van Cleave’s book has activities that demonstrate the connection between animals and plant life through habitats.  She also has a section on the definition of a weed and what use they are in nature.

Organic Gardening for Kids teaches children about composting and basic garden skills.  There are many terms that the children will learn as well as how organic gardening benefits us.

Sprouting Seed Science Projects contains 10 chapters that go through the entire process of how seeds are scattered, growing conditions, and the process of how they sprout & grow.  Each chapter has it’s own science experiment to go along with it.  All look fun and very educational.

Discovering Science Plants workbook is an actual unit study complete with the worksheets to go along with the lessons.  I happened upon this gem at a used book store.  The front of the book has the lessons, which are all very short, with the worksheets following.  It is rated for Primary Grades.

Kids Pumpkin Projects is the book I was so excited about last year.  We found it at the library, but sadly it was too late in the growing season to reap the most benefit from the book.  It starts out in spring with kids planning out their pumpkin patch and goes through the growing season from the planning stages through harvest.  Throughout the book, there are recipes and activities that are both educational and fun for the kids and mom!  Little Miss is wanting to grow her own patch of pumpkins to sell next autumn.  This is the perfect book to help turn her “cash crop” into a homeschool project.

Little Miss is especially excited about this unit.  She is still doing the science lessons in her Heart of Dakota curriculum, but wanted to do this additional one.  Her proud moment today was learning about monocots & dicots.  She is making a poster using plant pictures to classify them as a monocot or dicot.

On a side note, Little Miss is also using this time to work on her plant color wheel that she wanted to do earlier.  The color wheel is based upon the various color families that vegetables & fruits belong to.  Each color family provides specific nutrients to our diet.  She is making a wheel that shows which family each of the fruits & vegetables we eat belong to and what nutrients they provide.

This is one of the reasons why we love homeschooling.  While she is getting a sound education through her curriculum, we also have the freedom to pursue these other areas that interest her the most.  By giving her that ability, we are able to teach her far more than if we made her “stick to the program” and not allow her to reach out to other things.


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One of the joys of living in a rural area is that I can utilize nature so often into our studies.  I have been checking online for ideas to use in autumn themed studies.  The one that I linked to in my last post has some really neat activities. I got to thinking about how to further those ideas into activities that Little Miss would enjoy also.  Here are a few that I came up with.

Using some air-dry clay, flatten the clay to about 1/4 inch thick and about 6 inches square.  Next, take some leaves found on your trees and make leaf prints into the clay.  Press the vein side down into the clay to get a good imprint of the veining.  Once dry, allow the kids to paint the clay with a light wash of color.  Having the leaf print a different color than the rest of the clay would be great!  Let dry.  Write onto strips of index cards the names of the trees the leaves came from.  Let the kids match up the name with it’s leaf print.

Take little baggies of plaster of paris (snack size baggies work great) with you on a nature walk.  As you come along an animal track, carefully pour some plaster into the track print.  Using a stick as a marker, leave the plaster to dry.  Within 20 minutes, the plaster will be dry enough to carefully lift off of the track.  This gives you a plaster casting of the track to take home and later have the children help you to identify.

Using a digital camera, let the kids each find 5 new plants. trees or wildlife to take a picture of.  Print out the pictures and identify what is in each picture.  The pictures also make a great reference for them to use in drawing pictures in their nature journal once they get home.

Using fallen pine cones, suet, and birdseed, begin making bird feeders to hang from the trees.  Place in trees near house windows so that the kids can observe them easily as the weather gets cooler.  It may be fun to add sunflower seeds to some, millet to others, and so on.  The kids can then observe what birds seem to favor each type of birdseed.  You can also make a bird feeder by taking a small length of tree bark found on the ground and hanging it from a tree.  Hang from the short ends to form a tray.  Then fill with seeds.

Make a leaf print cover for your nature journal.  Using leaves and paints, make the prints in a variety of autumn colors.

There is so much more to do.  These ideas will maybe give you a start.

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I love a challenge. It forces my creative side to the forefront. It also teaches Little Miss that you do not have to buy everything premade. With that in mind, I am challenging myself. For the next few weeks, I am going to start making a supply of TEACCH tasks for Pookie and a few things for Little Miss also. The idea is to have fun, skill building activities to add to their workboxes for next term. Here are a few ideas I am working on this week.

At the photo print kiosk, print out 2 copies of a family photo enlarging it to a 5×7 print. Adhere one photo onto a 6×9 clasp envelope. Laminate the envelope and the second copy of the photo. Cut the photo into about 5 strips to make a simple puzzle. With a sharp knife, carefully cut a slit in the envelope to open the “pocket”. Store the puzzle pieces in the envelope. When using the puzzle, place the envelope into the workbox if needed to give a young child a reference to look at while completing the puzzle. To make this project using only what I have on hand, I am using packing tape to laminate the puzzle pieces. I already had some duplicate prints of pictures from my scrapbooking days.

This next activity is to teach sorting skills. I have a 3-sectioned container like those you would carry a lunch in. Using my 1-inch circle punch, I cut out 11 circles each from 2 different colors of cardstock. One circle of each color is adhered to the inside of a small section of the container. I use packing tape for this so that I can change it out later if I need to. The remaining circles are placed into the larger section. This same activity can be used many ways. Cutting pictures from magazines, you can sort types of animals, plants, etc. The ideas for categories are endless.

For a child learning to read, here is an easy activity. Find pictures in magazines or through Google Image search that correspond the words they are learning. Make a poster adhering the pictures to a small sheet of poster board or the inside of an opened file folder. Write the name for each picture on a strip of cardstock or index card. This matching game will help to test the knowledge of the child as they have to read the word and place it on it’s picture. This can also be done with shapes, colors, and numbers.

A quick idea for teaching a child a new poem or Bible verse – print out the poem to be memorized onto paper. Cut it apart at the end of each stanza. Have the child place them in proper order. For a Bible verse, you can do the same, except to cut apart phrases or each word for the child to place in order.

For a science center activity – Little Miss had learned the 3 types of leaves (simple, complex, and needle) as a part of her Leaf unit study in MFW-K. I made 3 pockets, like the library card type, and on index cards am placing pictures of various leaves from trees and other plants. The pockets are adhered onto the inside of a file folder. She takes the index cards and places them in the appropriate pocket to sort the leaves by type. You can also do this with various species of wildlife to be categorized as one that goes through simple or complete metamorphosis.

There are so many types of activities that you can easily make for your kids. Whether you homeschool or not, the activities can benefit them. For those who’s children are enrolled in a public or private school, the homemade activities can help to reinforce academics that your child is struggling to learn or to remember.

As I do more, I will be posting ideas and hopefully more pictures.

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