Friday, December 29, 2017

Money Matters

"Do you know what a half-dollar is?"

Almanzo's father posed this question.

Almanzo had been with his friends. His cousin Frank bought a glass of pink lemonade with a nickel his father had given him. Frank told Almanzo he should get a drink too, but Almanzo didn't have a nickel.

Frank dared him to ask his father for one. Almanzo didn't know if his father would give him one, because he had never thought of asking for a nickel. He had boldly said his father would give him one, so ask he must.

His father looked quizzically at him, then pulled a half-dollar piece from his pocket and asked Almanzo if he knew what it was. Of course he knew. It was half a dollar. 

But did he know what half a dollar was?
(I can't find a half-dollar piece)
His father had him recall every step of work that went into planting, raising, harvesting and selling potatoes. Then he asked him how much a bushel of potatoes sold for. It was a dollar. So that's what half a dollar really was. Half a bushel of potatoes.

Father told Almanzo he was free to spend that half-dollar how he wanted. He could buy a sucking pig that would give him litters that he could raise and sell. Or, he could drink it up.

Almanzo went back to his friends. "Did he give you a nickel?" they asked. 

"No", Almanzo replied.

"Ha, ha, told you so!"

"He gave me a half-dollar."

In disbelief they gathered round to see if this was true. They watched to see how he would spend it. Would he buy drinks for all of them? "I'm going to look for a sucking pig," he told them.*

Here is an excellent example of how to teach a child what money is. Money is hard work. 

Our boys get an allowance from the money they help to make. There's nothing quite like handling money, to make one realize its worth.

The two youngest boys helped me with baking and I paid them five percent each, of what I figured the profit was. The most they received individually in a month was $40. They thought that was a lot. Until it suddenly disappeared.

They are required to divide their earnings three ways. Half goes into savings, ten percent to the Lord and the rest they are free to do with as they wish. They are learning that money matters.

They are learning it the "real life way".

Although, not quite as real as the children whose parents require them to earn money to purchase their own clothing once they turn thirteen. I think this would make a child much more careful with their clothing!

Today I am thankful for...
...classic books, containing life lessons.
...a quart of honey from friends.

(*The beginning story is my paraphrase of an account in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Life Today

Outside my window...
The day is very cold. The nights are very cold. (High of 21, low of 8) The animals' water needs to be checked periodically to see if they are able to drink it. The ice is thick and smooth on the pond, much to the boys' delight. 
But the sun is shining! And the days are lengthening now. Ever so slowly, but it helps my mind to know that it's happening. The boys keep quoting, "When the days lengthen, the cold strengthens." Must be truth to that.
I am thinking…
The thought has come to me a number of times recently how incredible it was for Jesus to come to earth. He had such a wonderful home of love and light, where everyone did His bidding. And He chose to enter a dark, sin-cursed earth where He chose to do what others bid Him. It hurts to think about the awful exchange. But He did it for the joy it would bring. To Him. To His Father. To us, as His inheritance.
I am thankful for…
...warm fire.
...the Bible.
From the learning rooms…
We read how The Wilder family (Farmer Boy) gathered in their harvest for the winter. We decided there is so much we could raise to feed our creatures. We raise our food so why not theirs?
From the kitchen…
We prepped our supper this morning so we could follow our own interests this afternoon. There is a sweet potato souffle in the oven, waiting to be baked. Lettuce, onions and tomatoes are diced; rice is cooked; burger is browned and mixed with beans and taco seasoning; and nacho chips are crushed for a haystack supper. All that's left is the cheese. The question is, "Do I make cheese sauce or shred cheese and serve with Ranch dressing?" 
I am wearing…
...the usual. Prayer veiling on my head, reading glasses, a dress (maroon), socks, shoes.
I am creating…
I feel excited. I'm actually getting a dress cut out, slowly but surely. I normally cut one out all at once but this one is taking at least three days. I know. I'm weird like that sometimes.
I am going…
I'm not going. I'm staying put. Lol. Seriously, I'm a homebody and don't go more than I really need to and then sometimes not. 
I am reading…
Not sure what's next. I just finished Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang. Not a happy story.
I am hoping… get some apples canned. Just got a few bushels for $5 @. The boys really like canned apples with a topping of whipped cream (real cow cream).
I am hearing… little, three-year-old nephew's prattling. He is telling his daddy that he was out hunting. He had gone out with Christopher and a toy bow and arrow. Little ones are so cute!
Around the house…
Melvin, Christopher & I are tackling kitchen cleanup and organization. They are constantly hounding me with the questions, "When did you last use this? Is this something you use? Do you want this? Do you need that?" We are decluttering for sure. Look out landfill and thrift stores. Here we come!
One of my favorite things…
A few plans for the rest of the week…
Keep decluttering and cleaning. 
Keep the men fed and their clothes clean. 
Make menu plans. 
Have a lonely boy over while school Christmas vacation is in session. 
Work on a dress. 
Plan the food assignments for the next sisters' sewing. 
Oops. That was supposed to be a few. Well, it is a few... relatively.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…
Creative son once again. This was made
using the whole set of Rummikub tiles.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Jesus is the Reason?

"Candles and Holly Berries"
"And now to Rome, as always in December, came the Saturnalia." 

"Io! Saturnalia!" was the call that ushered in, and the greeting that echoed through, the holiday season. This gay carnival of thanksgiving was in honor of Saturn, the kindest and most provident of gods. "Io! Saturnalia! Io! Io!"

Merrymakers sang through the streets in red pointed caps. 

Every child would want a doll and every household would need candles. The makers thereof were busy ahead of time in preparation. 

Evergreens and holly branches, with their red berries, were brought in to grace the buildings.

Gifts were selected and wrapped for family and friends. After a family dinner of roast pig there came the exchange of gifts.

Many tiny masks of Bacchus (the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility) were hung on small fruit and olive trees.
(Excerpts taken from Augustus C├Žsar's World and paraphrased.)

What modern-day holiday comes to your mind as you read about the Saturnalia?

Christmas, of course!

I hear Christians, this time of year, lamenting the lies that children are told concerning Santa Claus. It is indeed lamentable. 

The clause that follows this lament always stirs my heart- "We know that Jesus is the reason for the season!" It does not stir my heart with joy but sadness. 

How can adults blindly follow the myth of Christmas, year after year, continually passing on to the following generation a belief that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season? Traditions are very strong.

I was taught from a young age that Jesus is not the reason for the season. Christmas is a pagan holiday. 

A few years ago, as we studied ancient history, this truth was more deeply etched in my mind and heart as we read about the Saturnalia.

This was a holiday to worship a god of the people's making and it was practiced long before the time of Christ. This is why you read about "Christmas trees" in the Bible. (Jeremiah 10:3-4)

People say it couldn't be the Christmas tree because it was before Christ. Well, surprise! Do the research. It is the very same holiday. 

The apostles and early Christians did not observe Christ's birth, but his death, as was customary for great people in that time. This He also implored them to do. (Luke 22:19)

The only purpose I see for Jesus in this season is to help people make it through. This season is not about Jesus, but about family. About gifts. About traditions. About food and festivities.

The spirit is not one of giving but of getting. One family decided that for Christmas one year they would only give presents to needy people instead of exchanging them among themselves. The children (who were not young) said, "Let's not do this again!"

The same thing that "Santa Clausers" say, Christians repeat. "It's for the children. Let's not spoil their fun." To be honest, I don't recall ever receiving a Christmas gift and I never felt cheated in the least.

Our young son once chose a "Christmas" song at some other time of year and the song leader made some remark about it. Something like, "Oh, a Christmas song! Hmm. Well, we could sing it." Some twittered. Like, just don't sing songs of Jesus' birth "out of season". 

Yet no one knows the time of Christ's birth. Only, we do know it was not in December because shepherds would not have been in their fields at this time of year.

So we limit songs of Christ's birth to one month when there's no possibility of that being the month wherein He was born.

What if we sang only songs of the Resurrection the whole month of April?

Or, for a month before that, we would sing only songs of Jesus' crucifixion and death? (This would, in reality, be more scriptural than singing of His birth for a month.)

Then we would leave it at that. Don't sing these songs any other time of year. 

Anyway, you get the drift. I'll let you do the further research. How did Christ-mass come to be? 

Why are you celebrating it?

What is the "Spirit of Christmas"?

Why are there more suicides this time of year?

Why are Christians exhausted and left feeling "high and dry" when January comes? 

Today I am thankful for...
...parents who taught me the truth.
...the calm of not celebrating Christmas.
...the wisdom God will give, if we only ask. (James 1:5)

Friday, December 22, 2017


At 8:15 this morning we heard excited voices, "They're coming!" Looking out the windows we could see the pilot truck with his flashers on. And then we could see the lights of the tow truck coming.

What is so exciting? A trailer house for Grandpa's! 
As seen from our front porch
They've been living with us for nearly two years now. Finally we're able to get them a space of their own to call home once again. Though none of us ever dreamed they would live in a trailer, we are thankful the Lord provided.

The local mobile home dealer is super nice to work with and so very helpful. For a reasonable cost they poured the footers, set the trailer and put the vapor barrier in. 

They will give us the underpinning at their cost. As well as providing heat tape for exposed pipes. 

We had doubts about being able to pull a trailer onto our place but they said, "No problem." Branches were cut here and there to make way as they came slowly down our access road...
...into the yard,

Lots of interested followers

... and around the bottom side of the garden.

Grandpa and Grandma following, every step of the way
Then up through the yard.

There's the new nest.
As seen from the breezeway

A glimpse of the well-cared-for interior
By 10:30 they had it in place, set on blocks with the vapor barrier in place and were out of here. Nice people, nice job.

Next it's sewer, water and power lines to be dug and connected. The underpinning to get in place. Porches to build. A driveway to make. 

Patience. Perseverance. Grace.

Today I am thankful for...
...a chiropractor (for a son who flies off the truck while it's moving through the field).
...a ripe pineapple.
...the new nest (of course!).

Thursday, December 21, 2017


My aunt asked me how my birthday was special? Well, people wished me a happy birthday.

"No one made a meal or anything for you?" 


That's my life as a mother of sons.

Or so I thought.

They had something up their sleeves. Just not on a Sunday. 

Thomas and I went shopping this week Monday. When we came home my sister's vehicle was here. My oldest son instructed me to "go sit with Verina and Grandma until we call you."


We visited for awhile and then they said they were ready. They had strung a banner and made my favorite meal. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Autumn Tossed Salad from Taste of Home. 

The last month or so there have been a number of the family asking me what my favorite dishes were. So that's what that was all about?

My sister made a gluten free, sugar free, deeelicious pound cake. (Those of you who don't live this GF SF life have no idea how good it can be!)

The boys had help from their girl cousin (or two or three). I'm really not sure who all did the cooking. But it was a very good meal. Better than the lentil soup I had put in the crock pot before I left for town.

Last week my mother had a surprise planned for me also. I gather that my friends helped her out with her plans. Thomas told me on Sunday evening that he was to instruct me that someone would pick me up on Thursday forenoon.

Then later my friend asked if she could take me out for lunch Thursday. Assuming it was related I said yes, then asked Thomas if that's what it was? He thought so.

My three close friends came to pick me up and we went out for lunch. We get together periodically, so even though I was suspicious that something was brewing, I was relieved that it was just our little group.

After lunch they took me to one of their houses and more of the church ladies were gathered there. "The party's not over yet", my friend said. They sang happy birthday to me, then we had "tea" together and just visited. 

They gave me food gifts at the suggestion of my mother. How nice! Frozen breakfast casseroles, a ham, a pineapple, soup and a cheeseball with GF crackers.

Talk about feeling helpless. When you are used to making things happen, day in and day out, and then you are at the mercy of others, it gives you an odd feeling. 

But it was nice to know that I wasn't responsible for what I wasn't responsible for. Whatever sense that makes.

Today I am thankful for...
...all 45 of the years the Lord has given me.
...a Frugal Food Group I found on Facebook.
...a day without any outside school activities.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Why do some people quit?

What do they quit?

I am quitting because I'm overwhelmed and my family is at another stage.

Baking for market needs to stop. My sons who have been helping me, will be 13 & 14 next summer and it is high time they identify with manly work.

So, that's why and what I'm quitting. And I'm hoping it gives me more time to just be a mother who is able to keep up with the laundry and dishes. 

Knowing myself, it will still be a struggle to keep up with the mundane chores, but really and truly, I am working on that part of my life. I would rather read and write and do exciting things. 

This past week the market sold two out of the four pies I baked. I wasn't sure how many to make this week so I texted the owner. She didn't reply, so I made four pies. 

Then she said, "No, ma'am, no pies this week. It's like a refrigerator at the market." Oh. Thanks for telling me now.

The pies made nice gifts.

I have a Christmas order for a lady on Saturday. But otherwise I may be done already, because I said I would quit at the end of the year. And if they don't want anything at their "refrigerated market"....


Today I'm thankful for...
...a milder day.
...yearly family photos of friends and family.

Soon to be a thing of the past, Lord willing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Septic System

Education this week has been very hands-on for the boys. The septic system is going in for Grandpa's new dwelling place. My nephew, Mervin, has been working with an excavator for at least a year. He knows the ins and outs of putting in a septic system. On Tuesday he came here and dug the hole with his employer's mini excavator.
Matthew (grey) and Melvin (orange) watching Mervin working with the transit in the hole

Mervin leaning over the hole, Christopher in the hole

Still watching Mervin, who is in the hole

Christopher is trying his "getting-out-powers". 
Jolin Concrete brought the system out and set the concrete tank in the hole. (Christopher had gotten out before that!)

Matthew & Mervin unloading pipes while
Melvin & Christopher watch

Mervin, Matthew and Melvin got the pipes in and all pieces in place. (Don't ask me what they all are). Christopher watched and filmed.
Once when I walked out to look at their progress, Mervin grinned sheepishly and said, "This is what I call a rookie job." He said the hole in the tank was positioned in the wrong end of the dirt hole and he needed to run the pipe around about to the "box".

Setting the box
Later I went out and he said it had been correct after all. Oh wow. Now they had to fill the rerouted trenches and redo the pipes.
They were going the red detour when they could
have gone the blue route!
Mervin dug trenches for the drain field yesterday and the boys got all that set and ready for inspection this morning. The inspector came out and approved the job. Now Mervin can finish the dirt pushing and we can move ahead with other things.

Never underestimate the abilities of "teenagers". (The authors of The Rebelution say this word was coined in the last hundred years. It used to be there were only children and adults.) 

Today I am thankful for...
...sugar free chocolates. aromatic candle.
...clean windows.


Tuesday a week ago was the monthly Sisters' Sewing at the church house. We meet in the basement and work on comforters to send to the needy.

Some ladies cut out blocks from donated fabric, others lay out blocks in patterns to make the tops and some piece the tops together with sewing machines. Still others cut and sew backings for the comforters. Then the tops, quilt batting and backings need to be put in a quilt frame and knotted together with yarn.

After they're knotted, someone cuts off the excess batting and prepares the edges to be bound with a sewing machine. A lot of work goes into these blankets that will keep someone, somewhere a bit warmer for the winter.

Each lady has her part to do and no one feels overwhelmed. My spot last week was at the sewing machine, piecing a top. I didn't get it completed so I brought it home.

When I start a top and see the colors I'm working with, I want to see the end product. If I put it away unfinished until next month, someone else might complete it and I'll forget which one it was. 

That's my thought process. I sewed the rest of it yesterday and here's what it looks like.
Like I said, we work with donated fabric and the ones who work with what we have, to design the tops, do a super job. Of course, it wouldn't be the same if you could choose your colors. 

This one is done with a nine-patch design and a border added on three sides to make it the size it needs to be.

Someone will look at the patterns and either enjoy them or think about how they would have done it differently. Or maybe they will be so cold they can't even think except, maybe, to be grateful for something to keep them a bit warmer.

Today I am thankful for...
...a warm house. (It's getting really cold and windy outside!)
...a coat. 

I was just reading about the homeless....

Watch a short film about Operation Silent Night.

(Sorry, I wrote this yesterday 12/12 and didn't get it up until today 12/13.)

Monday, December 11, 2017


Aren't they beauties? Twelve hens and two roosters.
What sound is more "country" than a rooster's crow?
 These were all gifted by a neighbor who is moving and needed someone to take them. They seem right at home in our garden, tilling & fertilizing it. They love to scratch in the wood chips, looking for grub(s).
Hopefully we can keep them from predators this time. And maybe, just maybe, they'll give us some eggs if they like us well enough.

Today I am thankful for...
...friends. calendars.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

T-shirt Dresses

T-shirt dresses are a boatload of fun to make...

Coming your way soon, Texas nieces, the Lord willing.

Today I am thankful for...
...a bowl of rice and beans. of falling snow.
...the ability to write.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Simple Homeschool (Website review)

One of my favorite things about Simple Homeschool is the periodic email Jamie sends out with links to free Kindle Books. You can never have too many books (in my humble opinion) and you won't even need another bookshelf if you have Kindle.

But that's not all. She collects lots of links to inform you of ways to keep education simple and fun. You can explore these at your leisure. 

"Never let your schooling interrupt your education" is her motto. We have all experienced schooling that interrupted our education if we'll admit it. If you are learning something that someone else has deemed important to your education, it may or may not be what you really need.

The boys and I spend time daily, reading the Bible, another high quality book and anything else I consider important. But if I see my sons deeply involved in something necessary for their education, my prescription for "schooling" them can wait.

Today was an excellent example of that. When it seemed like it was time to read together...
...Matthew was searching for what he needs to enter a writing contest.

...Melvin and Christopher were reading books.
...and I was making a dress. 

None of us would have benefited from being interrupted at that point. We waited until later to read together.

Back to my review....Jamie asks, "Do you need more peace, less pressure in your homeschool?" And then she offers you a free e-book addressing the subject; Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom. What homeschool mom doesn't need some good secrets for success?

Check out her website here and sign up to receive her emails. Especially if you like FREE Kindle books.

Today I am thankful for...
...a sewing machine.
...nutritional supplements.