Friday, October 28, 2016

Children & Chores

Our church offers a Wednesday evening, Pioneer Club for kids. Not just for the children within the church, but for the community as well.
It's a fun evening of Bible studies, Bible memory, learning life skills & learning how to work together.
This past week in their skills class, the children learned how to sort laundry while doing a relay race.
The kids loved it!

Children learn so much by watching us as parents, as we go about our day, taking care of daily chores that often feel mundane.

What we as parents often forget is, our children are eager to learn new skills, willing & often excited to help if given the chance.
The life skills they learn at home will stay with them forever.

Our children have daily/weekly chores that they're responsible for. 
Such as:
 Cleaning bathrooms
Cleaning their rooms
Emptying & loading the dishwasher
Emptying the trash 
Sweeping the floor
Feeding their pets
Mowing the yard
Picking weeds
Gathering the laundry
Folding the laundry...& the list goes on.

It helps them to feel a part of something bigger. It helps them to feel involved & needed, & most importantly, they are learning life skills that will teach them responsibility into adulthood.

"helping to make applesauce"

Friday is our weekly cleaning day. Today while the 2 oldest & I were cleaning, Asher kept following Gracie around, asking,"what can I do?" ...She finally came & asked if there was something little brother could do to keep busy :)
I gave him a damp rag & had him wipe down the baseboards in the bathrooms.
He did such a good job, & the pride that lit up his face was worth the little bit of extra time it took to get the job done.
Later as I was folding laundry, he came over & asked to help. I gave him all the hand towels & wash cloths & he stayed busy till the task was completed. He's only 3, but there is so much he can help with if given the chance(He also loves putting away the silverware when his siblings are emptying the dishwasher.)

They take turns helping to cook dinner each night as well. Chopping/peeling veggies, mashing tators, stirring soup etc. The older ones are learning how to follow recipes...sometimes it's a flop, but most times we end up with something really good ;)

Daily/weekly chores do not come with an allowance. We don't want our children growing up, feeling entitled to payment, every time they do a job for someone. There are extra chores though that earn them a few dollars here & there.
Like today, Dawson came to me after his chores were completed & asked if there were any extra chores that needed done, that could earn him some $.
(there are always extra chores like that around here:)
I had him trim shrubs & cut off all the dead foliage of the summer, in my flower gardens. He did it every bit as good as I would've done it. He made a few extra dollars & I didn't have to do the one job that I dread every fall. It was a win-win! :)

I challenge you today:
Give your child a chore & watch as his/her face lights up at a job well done.
It may take longer initially, but once they've successfully mastered that skill, that is one thing you'll have help with or may no longer need to do in the'll be doing yourself a favor ;)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

River stories

All 3 of these conversations happened just tonight & I knew I needed to document them so I'd have them forever :)

Driving through Berlin, I told the kiddos to be sure that they're buckled cause there is often a police car parked at the edge of town...
"I'm gonna buckle up, mama! Cause I don't want the cops to take you to jail"
"Why don't you want the police to take me?
"cause you're special, & I want to keep you forever" (heart melted)

Walking through Wal-mart, looking for a few items that the boys need for school next week, They're having a drug prevention week & are wearing special colors & types of clothing for each day....
I asked River, why they need special clothes for school, wanting  to see if he knew the purpose...
"Cause we're gonna do drugs at school next week" ;) ...Not quite. I needed to explain it a little further for him :)

Again, in the car...
"Mama, I'm gonna need to get married...yeah, I'm getting married."
"...& just why do you need to get married?"
"Cause the boys are the boss!"
"They are huh?"
"yep! & they take care of the girl, & they are responsible for her, my teacher said so!'

He never ceases to surprise me with the words that come out of his mouth :)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Weekend away for the Mamas

About a month ago, our brother Gary reserved a Bed & Breakfast for one evening, for the ladies of the family, to get away for a kid-free weekend.
He will likely never know what a treat it was for us all!
We all met at Mom's & piled into one car & headed out for an evening of shopping & dinner...


Disclaimer: There were lots of selfies & blurry cell-phone pictures, but not documenting this weekend, was not an option :)

We were greeted at Quail Covey Bed & breakfast by the sweetest little lady.
She gave us a mini tour, then gave us free rein of the place. we had the whole place to ourselves!
We decided on rooms, then got comfy for a few games of Rummikub & a movie. Meanwhile, Sweet Charlie was in the kitchen, baking up some delicious apple dumplings, that she served with vanilla ice-cream, then later, some big bowls of popcorn....

We ended up all sacked out in the largest suite, talking till nearly midnight, when Mom & Sheila left for their rooms.
Fully intending to sleep, the rest of us headed to our own beds as well...
...Instead, a few pranks, & much gut-wrenching laughter later, us 3 sisters all ended up in the big, king-sized bed,talking till the wee hours of the morning...

Morning greeted us with a tiny, breakfast bell, good strong coffee, & white chocolate/raspberry scones set outside of our bedroom door.

...My morning view from the balcony where I took a few moments to just bask in the silence...

About 9:30, Charlie served us a 3 course breakfast of fresh fruit & yogurt, quiche, & baked french toast-it was amazing!

Next on the agenda, was a whole day of shopping! We hit about every store of interest between Hartville & Canton...little boutiques, hardware stores, thrift shops & strip malls!

We all decided that this should become an annual tradition, celebrating Mom's birthday with an overnight shopping trip!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin painting & Pastries

The colors of Autumn are my absolute favorite.
The Farmer's Market, just down the road from us, is just a tiny, whole-in-the-wall kind of place, but the produce that is piled high every fall makes it one of my happy places each year :)
Large bins of apples, pumpkins for days, baskets of plums & juicy red tomatoes.
Today, when I walked through the produce tent, the overwhelming, sweet smell of the Concord grapes, stopped me dead in my tracks. They smelled SO good!

Today the Market was offering Free Pumpkin painting for the children, free juicy drinks, donuts & cinnamon rolls & Ice cream cones for 25 cents each.
The children consumed more sugar in one morning, than I think they get normally in a months time...crazy!

We're suckers for freebies, especially if they involve Fall activities & good food ;)

Husband is headed to the hunting grounds, to set up tree stands & trail cams, with the 3 older children. I'm hoping they walk off all that sugar & get it out of they're system before they get home. 
The 2 little guys & I are taking lazy, Saturday afternoon naps while they're gone.(Netflix & the thunder-storm last night, had me up  much longer than I would've liked)

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boys will be Boys...

This one is ALL boy...
From the tips of his dust covered toes, to the top of his buzz cut head(hair)...cause it's less work to wash & care for, of course! (His words, not mine)

He's the creative one...minnow traps out of plastic bottles. Fishing lines from a tin can. Spears carved from sticks. If there is something he wants for his next adventure & doesn't have it, he'll make it from anything he can get his hands on.

Countless hours are spent wandering the woods behind our home, with a BB gun in hand & his four-legged sidekick close behind.
The creek provides endless opportunities for him to bring home freshly caught "pets" such as turtles, sun fish, creek chubs & crawdads...

He's an artist.
The images come alive with the scratch of pencil to paper. Animals & cartoons are his favorite things to sketch. 

Hes not a boy...not yet a man...
This age has it's challenges. Yet, we are embracing them. Remembering not so very long ago, our own years of awkwardness, where we didn't always know where we fit in. Where sometimes we needed to be reprimanded like a child & next thing we knew, we were being told,"you are old enough to be responsible for this, that, or the other" 
We remember, so we show grace.

Give him the right book & he'll read for hours...he's our deep thinker, coming up with questions that I may never have the answer to. Even as a toddler, he could sit for extended periods of time, pouring over stacks of picture books... matter what stage of life you're in or what you're interests are, know that we love you. Forever & always.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quiet Days

Coming out of a pretty crazy week, last week & a long weekend for the school kids...Throw in some canning etc., it was pretty crazy.

Today has been different. We've had a quiet day of home-school. Catching up on laundry & putting all the clutter back in it's place.

Between loads of laundry, little man climbed onto my lap, pulled his shirt up & said, Tickle my skin, Mama...Our children have done this for as long as I can remember. Even as babies, when I'd rock them to sleep, it was the one thing that would instantly relax them.

Home-school lunches are pretty simple around here. It's often some type of finger food thats quick & easy. Today, lunch was Pillsbury biscuits pressed flat with pizza toppings added & baked, & fresh apple cider...

...There is hazelnut coffee, chilling in the fridge, perfect for a tall glass of iced coffee while little man naps & the older children & I have our designated reading time. But for now, I'm headed out to breathe in this absolutely gorgeous, fall-like afternoon with my kids.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fall Musings...

Although the temperatures have been saying otherwise...fall is just around the corner.
When my kitchen starts smelling of bean & bacon, taco & chili soup...big pots of pasta sauce simmering on the stove...I know we're getting close.

This young lady has been completely in her element, chopping peppers for soups & sauces, cutting up apples to cook for sauce & so much more. She is happiest, puttering around in the kitchen, helping with whatever I'm cooking or canning.

This week I picked up a bushel & a half of Ginger Gold apples.
I juiced up a bunch of apples, let the juice simmer for a few minutes, put it in jars & cold packed it for 15 min...It's delicious!
I found a recipe for Apple Cider & want to try that too!

Next on the to-do list is Apple Pie Filling. One of the handiest things to have in my pantry over the winter months. I can have apple pie, tarts, or crisp ready in no time.

Many of our winter,"Sunday Suppers" consist of popcorn & homemade apple or grape juice.
And Apple crisp with ice-cream.

My canning season is coming to an end, the yard & garden work has slowed down, & it's that time of year where I start lighting the coffee scented candles, snuggle in with a good book & enjoy the cooler evenings with a cup of hazelnut coffee :)
I look forward to this time of the year, all year long...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

1st Day of School 2016/2017

As I'm typing this, we have another 1st day of school under wraps.
Our school day begins at 8:30 and we finish up at noon, aside from an hour of reading in the afternoon, when the smallest Hilty is napping.

This year presented a new challenge, I have a kindergartner.
I've never taught a child how to read, & I'm still not too confident that I have what it takes :) but I'm giving it my best shot!
My 1st year of homeschooling, the children were way past the stages of learning to read & homeschooling them was/is no hardship at all. Aside from a little guidance here & there, they are able to do it on their own. This year, I'm very hands-on & sit with my Kindergartner the entire morning.

1st Day of Kindergarten for this one!

1st day of 4th grade!

1st day of 6th grade!

1st day of 7th grade!

This one wants in on all the action! He sits right next to me & has approximately 100 questions for the duration of the school day. Something tells me I need to pick up a few preschool work books & let him in on the action.

I am so grateful that each one of the children enjoys being home-schooled. I love the fact that they aren't sitting behind a school desk for 6+ hours every day...the next few weeks/months of fall, are the best months of the entire year(in my humble opinion) :) 
The stifling, can't-breathe-when-outside,  heat of summer-time is behind us & the children are spending so many hours of play, outside. 
I feel as if we're prolonging summer break, by being able to enjoy these gorgeous afternoons, outside.

Lifting my cup of jo-Here's to another successful school year. Stretching & growing young minds, building good character & embracing the moment!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dog days of summer

The "dog days of summer" Some of the hottest days of the year, is when my garden goes a little crazy & everything ripens all at once.
Earlier this week, I canned 19 pint salsa. Yesterday there was 10 dozen ears of corn to clean & freeze, & today I'm in the kitchen, elbow deep in sauce.


My house smells like a little Italian Granny's kitchen :)
The smell of tomatoes, peppers & onions simmering on the stove top has to be one of my favorite things about canning season.

There is something so fulfilling about filling the cellar shelves with home-canned goodies from my garden...& when the snow flies & there are sub-zero temperatures outside, I don't need to venture outside. I just need to head to the basement to do my grocery shopping, Husband can pick up the basics on the way home from work :)

Here are the recipes I used if you're interested...

14 cup tomatoes, peeled & diced
3 cup onion, chopped
2 cup green bell peppers, diced
1/2 tomato sauce
3 T sea salt
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 1/2 t cumin
2 T organic cane sugar
5 T clear jell
1/2 cup vinegar
-Mix clear jel & vinegar. In a large mixing bowl, mix all other ingredients then add the vinegar/clear jel mixture. put in pint jars & cold pack for 15 minutes.

Pasta/Pizza Sauce
1/2 bushel tomatoes(9 quarts juice)
4 large onions
4 large green peppers 
2 sweet banana(or hot peppers)
2 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
5 T oregano
5 T sea salt
1 T + 1 t black pepper
2 T basil leaves
4-12oz cans tomato paste
6 T flour
1 1/2 cup olive oil
-cut up tomatoes, peppers & onions & place in a large stock pot. Simmer for one hour, then blend in a blender. return to the stock pot. Mix the oil & flour & add to the pot. add remaining ingredients & simmer for 1 hour. pour into jars & cold pack for 1/2 hour.

-If you're gluten intolerant, eliminate the flour & simmer the sauce till it reaches the desired thickness.