Thursday, January 28, 2016

Homeschooling joys

What is an entrepreneur?

What does nuance mean?

What are forbs?

What is an ungulate?

What is scintilla?

These are a few questions that arise in an evening as we read this and that. The love of learning has not been diminished by stuffing noses into textbooks and workbooks. When the Field and Stream magazine author uses words that are above my son's understanding he wants to know! What do they mean?

That's true learning, friends.

Not poring over textbooks looking for answers to fill in the blanks.

Not answering questions that someone else asks.

True learning occurs when I want to know! When I am the one asking the questions and finding the answers.

Not when the test I took has a grade of 50% and I must do it over.

True learning happens when I read to discover what I want to know. Not what someone else wants me to know.

I read this from the DEN website- "Dyslexics are 10% of the population, 35% of entrepreneurs and 41% of prisoners."

Having a dyslexic son, we celebrate his unique strengths. Why are so many prisoners dyslexics?  To be honest, our wholesale method of teaching all children by the same methods and from the same books, leaves dyslexics feeling like hopeless failures.

Enough said. There is joy, joy, JOY in homeschooling! Joy for the parents, joy for the child and joy for the community who has one less potential prisoner.

Hopefully you can follow the thoughts of my weary (10 pm) mind. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and questions on the subject. 

Do you homeschool? Why or why not? 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Head Scratching

Hmm. Sounds like something one does when confronted with a problem. When there's dry air. When one has dandruff. Or when infested with lice. Something primitive. Mind pictures of monkeys. But I'm telling you folks, this is an art I'm speaking of. A form of relaxation.

As I was growing up I experienced many migraine headaches. Headaches that sent me to bed. Nauseated me. My mother, who did not comprehend the pain I was facing and probably thought this was one of my various forms of getting out of work, once asked me, “What will you do when you're married and there's no one else to do the work?”

I carried that question with me many years. Then I found out what I would do. The headaches did not magically disappear when I got married. I went down and things went on without me. My headaches got so bad that pain pills couldn't touch them.

Enter the art of head scratching. As I lay in bed, in excruciating pain, my husband reached over and began to gently scratch my head. My body began to relax, the pain became bearable and I drifted away to dreamland. Who would have known that something so simple had such power?

The toddler who can't settle down for a nap. A child with a headache... Or any physical pain. An emotionally distraught child... Or partner. Head scratching is such a soother any time.

This is just a gentle, pick any bumps you find, type of scratching. Not vigorous or hard. Maybe just kind of massaging with your finger tips. But extend your claws and it feels even better.

I have one son especially who will ask me to scratch his head. He has my tendency to get headaches. If you watch him reading a book he is often scratching his own head. You may have picked him out in some of the photos.

My husband and I scratch each other's heads in bed almost nightly. It's a good way to unwind and relax. Talk or be silent. The cares of the world diminish under the hand of a caring person. Not quite so magical…. but almost.

If you haven't discovered the joys of head scratching, maybe you want to try it!  It's free. It's relaxing. It works.

What method do you use for relaxation?

Have you tried head scratching? 

Yeah, go ahead and roll your eyes. I know this is a weird post. But I just had to share the joy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Following is a photo of my menu plans for this week. I use Microsoft Word and insert a table. The photo is of a PDF document. It reduced the Word document enough to be photographed. 

The snack space doesn't get filled in very often. It seems that snacks aren't as imperative when eating a sugar free/low grain diet. But most of the time when someone is hungry between meals they grab an apple or drink a glass of milk. 

Menus aren't always followed to the T. It gives me something to think about and bounce off of. Options from things I have on hand. Some meals don't look complete. That is because I can't think of what to make with what I have and I don't know when I'll get to town.

Tap or click on the photo to open it up where you can see it better. 

Do you plan a menu ahead?

What's for supper this evening?

I need some fresh ideas. :)

Monday, January 25, 2016

The End of Winter Storm Jonas

I left you with four inches of snow on Friday evening. Saturday morning we measured 24 inches.

Thomas on the Grasshopper, pushing snow

The vehicles buried alive
Austin wanted to make donuts. Somehow that seemed to the boys to be the thing to do on a snowy day. I didn't have the heart to deny them. After all it is a very unusual thing to do something so unhealthy at our house. On Sunday he regretted it. He got pretty sick. Today he didn't feel too great either. He thought we'd better just not make donuts next time. Live and learn.

I took a few photos after dark Saturday. The measurement here on the front porch after it stopped snowing was 30 inches.

Nearly full moon- makes a bright night along with snow on the ground

The cows are hard to see- they had a very difficult time walking in that deep stuff!

View out the back door

View of the front porch in the daylight

Melvin and Christopher stand on top

I am intrigued with bird tracks in the snow
Coffee is always good on a cold day. Want to make yours weight loss coffee?

What do you drink when the weather is cold? 

Or hot?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

All in a Day

I will give you some pictures from this winter day.
It began with a glorious sunrise. "Red in the morning, sailor's warning" is what I thought. Thomas took these photos and he said the yellow that shows up wasn't what he saw in real life. Just red colors. Interestingly we never saw the sun today.

By noon the snow began. It continued to add up. By dark there were close to four inches.

The boys cleaned out "stuff" that was outside on the patio (under the roof). Then they moved the doghouse, dug a hole where it was and set up a new bird feeder.

 Thomas worked at the church house until early afternoon, helping the other trustees install a dishwasher. (Folks, we are going green.) Then he worked at his desk.

The three youngest spent a good bit of time outdoors this afternoon. The two oldest are getting too old for such stuff I guess. Austin said this is the first time he is not excited about snow. He appears to be more interested in his cubing.

Melvin and Christopher came in all snow covered and gave the patio another swipe with snow shovels.

Of course you need popcorn on a day like this.

And tea. Ever make sassafras tea from the roots? The boys love it. Whenever they're digging in the woods and find some they bring it in. Look at the pink color. The cup on the right has milk added to it.

The cows are eating hay like they haven't before this winter. They have been grazing a lot.

My parents spent the day in their new quarters, putting things in place. Daddy fixed a light switch that has been on the blink (for real, it blinked) for awhile.

The boys helped me make supper. A dish of cabbage, potatoes, carrots, burger, onions, garlic, olive oil and spices tossed together and roasted in the oven. 

 Apple, banana and pineapple dressed with plain yogurt and a bit of vanilla.

After supper three of them decided on a certain point outside and ran out and back barefooted. An annual thing. It used to be around the house but that was a trailer.

One more patio cleanup before bed.

We stay cozy with good wood fires.

Is there snow where you are?

What do you do on a winter day?

Thursday, January 21, 2016


The Great Escapes
Chapter 1

Freddy is a little chipmunk that lives in the big hickory by Old John’s house and seemed to have lots of adventures. But today seemed to be like any other day. So he jumped up and looked out the door. “Why it is snowing” he said “I must get some nuts”. So he went to get some nuts from the hole in the floor. Now it is winter so Old John needed a warm stove. He looked out the window and said “there is a big hickory I’ll go and cut it down.” So he went to the shed and got his axe.

Chapter 6
Freddy looked at the big round things. “What are these” he said. “There cheerios” Tom said. Freddy had never heard of the like. So he said “I think I will eat the roasted nuts that I got”. So he took out the roasted nuts from his cheek. He put them in milk and crunched on them happily. After breakfast Tom and Freddy went up to the attic through the wall. When they were in the attic Tom stopped. Then he said “We have to be very”-then he stopped; for there right in front of them was a big rat. It’s eyes were red and glimmered with an evil glow. Shadow The Killer was what Tom called him. Shadow screamed with rage and ran at Tom and Freddy.

Introducing my ten year old story book writer. The youngest of the family, he is very like his oldest brother. If he's not doing his work, he probably has his nose in a book or is somewhere outside. It's not uncommon for him to tell me about something he read or some creature he observed as we work together.

His speech is peppered with words the normal little boy doesn't use. Yesterday the boys were playing on the frozen pond. One said his knees were hurting today but Christopher said he has lusty knees. They were not bothering him at all. We had to look it up to see if it actually meant that. Sometimes his words don't fit his meaning.

He has a temper to match his hair. But he also has a very soft heart. It is hard work to keep up with your older brothers. And to have all of them correcting you. His is quite a life. I suppose those who are youngest in the family can relate to him in ways I cannot.

If the excerpt above interested you, come visit us sometime to read his complete story. (If it ever gets done! He just keeps adding to it daily.)  Or maybe you can purchase it if he decides to publish it. Big dreams.

Are you a story writer?

Do you enjoy a good book?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

To own a house

When Thomas took me to see our tiny honeymoon house twenty years ago, I was excited. A place to call our own. To make cozy and keep clean. A place to invite friends & relatives. Best of all a place to just be together and grow our love.

Cooking for two after cooking for eleven was a definite challenge. It takes two people quite a while to eat a 9 x 13 pan of grub. Ha. Joke on me. At least we were both big eaters.

Three sons were born to us in this humble dwelling. Although humble, it boasted great times. Sledding on the hills. Snakes- in the house and out. A boy lost (to me) with his dog in the woods. A bear walking across the field. Watching the yearly hay-mowing on the place. Picking cherries galore. A skunk shot in the outdoor stairwell. Seeing the monarch butterflies making their annual pilgrimage. Picnics. The morels that grew under the old apple trees.

But alas we did not own the place. We left our pleasant spot after eight years to move to Thomas’ boyhood home when his mother left to work in another country.

This was a big house. Three adults made their abode with us during our stay there. They came and went like the tide until finally it was just us again. Two more sons were added to the family in this house. Family reunions, a 30th birthday party for my sister, a family trip to Paraguay, settling an uncle's estate, house repairs. So much happened here. A time so busy it makes me tired to remember it.

But again, it was not ours. After two years we moved on so Thomas’ mother could sell the house. Into another large farmhouse. And this time all to our own blessed selves. No one else's belongings to live around.

Oh, we have such pleasant memories in this house. So many windows; so much light! The boys loved to roam the fields, playing their imaginary games. Our two dogs worked together to kill groundhogs... but the wily coon got away from them. The boys got measles. One boy loved to eat cat litter. Thomas replaced some roofing and built a shop. A unique storm blew the chimney over onto the kitchen roof as we prepared to eat pizza, giving us all a fright. The church experienced a revival and then a dispersion.

And this time, praise the Lord! We did not own this place. After being there only a year and a half we were free to move on to another house in a new community. A small double wide. All five boys slept in one small room.

Again memories were made. Boys playing in the willow tree. Hikes in the woods. The unique neighbors on either side of us. Trying to sell homemade lemonade by the road on a hot day. Selling cheesecakes in town. Thomas’ first construction job on his own in a new community. Trying to make ends meet where costs were much higher than we were used to.

We did not own this place and it was far from church and school. Within 6 months we made another move. Our 5th dwelling place was a trailer with an addition. Not much acreage so we had a garden spot a mile and a half out the road where the deer benefited from our labors. It was in this trailer that we began our homeschool journey. We lived “in a fishbowl” on the corner of a subdivision. No place to even hide behind a tree! The neighbors knew the boys’ names before we formally introduced ourselves. We enjoyed the people in this community.

The 90+ year old man who always had something witty to say as he walked or drove by. The couple across the road and the man back the road who brought us extra tomatoes. Or sometimes we went to pick them. The boy to the right of us who became like a brother to the boys. “I like her cooking”, he'd say as he stayed for yet another meal. The little boys to the left who came down to play in the sandbox with our little boys. The elderly couple back in the subdivision who loved when we would visit and felt honored to be invited to a birthday party. She gave each boy a set of state quarters.

But such a small house for growing boys. I was once again cooking meals in 9 x 13 pans! Now after five years at this place we were being offered a very spacious house not very far away. Oh yes! And the rent is even less. Fourteen acres to roam. A fenced garden. An orchard. Adjacent fields where the owner is delighted to allow us to run cattle. Two kitchens. Four toilets. A working outdoor hand-pumped well. A nice large deck for parties.

Onward we go. This is just a wonderful gift from the Lord. But we don't own it! We often thank the Lord for all this wonderful space, wondering when we will need to let it go. This is an all too familiar scenario. We are again making memories and with three years behind us this feels like home.

Last year the owner let us know that he can't afford to continue leasing it. He needs to sell. Thomas wondered what he wants for it and whether they would finance it for us? They soon replied in the affirmative with a reasonable offer. On Jan 4th, 2016, with trepidation and excitement, we signed the papers that make this place ours.

After 20 years of wandering about and wondering where the Lord wants us we've found some permanence. Of course, we continue to live with a "stranger and pilgrim" mentality but there is such a difference in how things look through an owner's versus a renter's eyes.

Ah, how nice to own a place! A freedom we have not known before. Freedom to tear down. Freedom to build. Freedom to paint. Freedom to replace flooring. Freedom to make a workshop. Freedom to build a barn. Freedom to cut down trees. You got it? Freedom, people!

Do you own or rent?

Share your perspective.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Having read a couple blog posts today containing menus for the week and working on my own plan today, I decided to fill you in on what we eat at our house.

We eat very few grains, having discovered how very hard they are for one to digest. They are not only hard to digest but they deplete your body of the vitamins and minerals needed to grow strong teeth, bones and brains. So this menu will reflect that choice.

We also eat very little sugar. To lightly sweeten something I tend to use honey or maple syrup. If neither of these is to be found I use Sucanat. Having done a sugar fast for a year we found our taste buds re-educated allowing us to taste the natural sweetness of food.

Yogurt & home-canned /frozen sugar-free fruit as daily as I can keep yogurt made
Monday- Hard boiled eggs (top with mayo & Herbamare)
Tuesday- Scrambled eggs & sausage
Wednesday- the boys will be home alone. I'm quite certain they will make doozy omelets
Thursday- Fried eggs, sausage & grits with butter
Friday- Potato & meat quiche
Saturday- DIY (give Mama a break!)
Sunday- Hard boiled eggs & Paleo "French toast"

Lunch- Usually leftovers
Sunday- Baked potatoes,  beef roast, Caesar salad (no croutons, too bad how sad) Here is a simple dressing we love.

Supper  (or is it Dinner?)
Monday- Rice & canned turkey thighs cooked with taco seasoning,  Great Northern beans, lettuce, (cheese, salsa, onions & ranch dressing served on the side), applesauce
Tuesday- Thomas & I are being fed by my mom, the rest by my dear sister Verina.
Wednesday- Rice (white parboiled) with hamburger gravy, green beans, applesauce
Thursday- Beans, cornbread, coleslaw
Friday- Supper & social with the youth (if we don't get snowed in)
Saturday- Cheeseburger soup, celery and apples with peanut butter
Sunday- Very unplanned. At least popcorn and apples.

Snacks- Apples or any other fruit, fresh or dried; shakes (made with milk from the family cow, some unsweetened frozen fruit & a bit of vanilla extract); cheese; nuts

There you have it. That's how to feed 6 men with very little grains or sugar. If you want to know more about why we don't eat many grains read this article & the comments beneath it. (Ignore the evolutionary talk.) Do your own research. In the comments is where you see the rubber meet the road and hear the no-grain testimonies.

My testimony is that I feel young again and the intestinal discomfort has been greatly relieved! I am almost never sick. My boys say, "Mama doesn't take naps anymore! Now we don't get as much time off." Javita's Energy + Mind coffee does a lot for me too!

Have you ever tried a no-grain diet?

Why or why not?

I'd love to hear your comments.

Monday, January 18, 2016


"Winners are not people who never fail but people who never quit."

This post is written in appreciation of some winners I know- my parents. I will list some of the reasons I consider them winners.

#1. They listen to God.

#2. They listen to their children.

#3. They listen to their children.

#4. They do what their children tell them to do.

You get the idea. They have been willing to give up their home in their old age and set out as Abraham did, not knowing where they're going. Well, they know in a measure but they are at the mercy of their children.

I hear so many people talking about how their parents won't listen! I asked some of the church ladies, "Will we be that way when we get old?" 

One said, "We probably will be. We've done this for so long. We know how! We don't need anyone telling us."  

Another said, "One lady told her children, 'Don't ever let me get that way! When I start acting like that, tell me!' But when she got older and they reminded her, it made her so mad."

"When our children don't listen we know what to do about it," one said with a gleam in her eye.

But the answer that stuck with me was this, "If we are compassionate and understanding with our parents, that is the best way to ensure that we won't be obstinate as old people."

Now really, my parents are not winners only because they listen to their children. They just keep on keeping on even when life gets hard and then harder yet. 

Keep them and us as children in your prayers as we make adjustments to life in a new phase.

Who are the winners you know?

Are you a winner?

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Twice this week we've actually seen some snow. Amazing! Nothing stayed on the ground at our place. Some places in the area saw the ground covered though. We have had some cold spells though. The pond froze over enough that a calf got on it and couldn't get off by himself. The younger boys were hoping it would freeze hard enough to skate on. Maybe that will happen this week.

A few cows were added to the fields this week. Within a few days one of them died. Not a happy proposition! We aren't the owners of the cattle but we do feel for their losses.

Stephen and Sylvia completed their assignment to help Grandpas this past week. They returned safely last night. My brother-in-law brought a load of things up and we hope to get the rest this week.

Matthew went to church today again after being at home for 2 weeks. We went to Thomas' mom's apartment for lunch. Then leaving the younger ones there we went to sing at the local old folks' home. We didn't think it well to drag our coughing sons in there.

I recently led the devotional for our women's sewing day. We are studying the book Lies Women Believe. The lies I studied were related to our sin. I can sin and get away with it. My sin isn't really that bad. God can't forgive what I have done. I am not fully responsible for my actions and reactions. I cannot walk in consistent victory over sin. Of course, these are all lies. And the totally opposite is true.  If you haven't read this book I would recommend that you do.

The preacher brought out a lot of similar thoughts from the mid portion of James chapter 1 today. No one is responsible for my sin but me, myself and I. Just because I've been taught to do right doesn't mean that I don't commit spiritual sins- the kind that no one but God can see. Or so I may think.

Austin cleaned one half of the breezeway yesterday. I should have taken before and after photos. But I did get one of him at work. Unfortunately some of the clutter just got relocated until I have time to sort through it and dispose of or file it as necessary. It is so good to have that much done though! Grandpa's small upright freezer gets placed next to the chest freezer.

This is a cabinet Thomas made almost 20 years ago. It was made to set against the wall. Therefore the back was unfinished. But to use it for an island in the kitchen we decided to paint the back. The two youngest did the painting.

It's already has things piled on it in the kitchen. 

And this is an old sewing machine that I've carried hither and thither with me over the years not wanting to get rid of it until I knew if it was worth something. I finally contacted an antique dealer this week and he assured me it was really worth nothing. Too bad! Well, now I know. It never has worked since I had it. It was my mother's. Any of the Troyer family want it?

We were surprised to see James and Betty Hershberger in church this morning! They chose our church house as a meeting place. They came from two different directions and were traveling toward home.

What kind of randomness is happening in your life?

Are you physically warm? Or cold?

How about spiritually?

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I am excited about a comparatively new product the Javita company has come out with. Flex is a product designed to help your joints. We keep hearing how it has been bringing quick and lasting results. A friend in the business says how it has helped his sciatic pain. He was very skeptical about whether it was actually helping him so he stopped taking it. Oops! Now he's hurting again. He tried this three times before he decided to believe it actually helped.

An old time friend tried it recently and got tremendous relief in her hands and elbows. She works at school and she said that helping the children cut and paste really made her hands sore but the other day she thought about it that she's not even hurting. She called me after taking it about a week. "My fingers have loosened up so much! I wasn't even able to open a canning jar. Now I could play the piano if I knew how!" She was so excited and I'm so happy for her.

My own experience has been that it initially helped my sciatica. More recently I had a fall where I whacked my ribs and rump really hard on outdoor steps. (Slow down Mama!) Drinking Flex helped me through that and continues to help me as I deal with back pain since then.

It works so quickly that people don't believe that is what actually helped. Want to try it?

Click here to order and/or to find more information.

And please call me anytime with any questions you have!


Friday, January 15, 2016

OK friends, look out! I've been educating myself. "What kind of education?" you ask. "Business," I reply. "Why should I look out?" you ask. Because my teacher told me to blog daily. And I'm going to try it. So if you get tired of me you'll have to either remove yourself or ask to be removed from the email list. Or just hit delete. You know where that button is? Very good. Now let me proceed.

The sun is shining and according to the weather report we will have one more relatively warm day (upper 40's) before we get more cold weather (20-mid 30's). Maybe I can finish washing some windows today. Yay!

We have had a very mild winter so far. Sometime around Christmas we discovered the forsythia was blooming! Strange. The orchard owners are concerned about the fruit crop for this year.

Matthew has been sick for almost 2 weeks. I wonder if he had strep or pneumonia. I'm not a run-to-the-doctor type of person but prefer home remedies.  Since oregano oil is supposed to be antibiotic I had him taking it heavily. Raw onion slices on the soles of his feet for fever. He started out with fever and headache. That left him after a couple days and then he had bad sores in his mouth and sore throat. After a few days he could eat again but then he said food had no taste. Then he developed a cough. He's still coughing. This is the 3rd or 4th day that he's done his math work again. Before that he just lay around not doing a whole lot. I could tell yesterday that he was a good bit better because he wasn't lying down nearly as much and was actually able to do a couple small chores. He doesn't go down very easily so I was rather concerned and am so grateful to see him climbing out of it.

Stephen and his cousin Sylvia are spending the week with my parents. We are still stepping toward getting them moved to our house. There are a lot of last things to complete.

And I have a lot of things to complete here as well. Cleaning and emptying my room and the extra kitchen. My friend so graciously came and did some cleaning for me this week. Now the kitchen is ready and the bedroom/bath nearly so.

It takes a bit of work to upset the fruit basket and find new spots for things. I'm thankful to the Lord for faithfully showing me where things belong. It has also been good for my decluttering journey. It is freeing to get rid of things!

Well, that's enough for today. It's time to wash the dishes. The boys are doing their math lessons and Thomas & Austin are off to work.

Have you had your cup of coffee this morning?

What about tea?

Check this out.  (Warning: a few under-dressed folks in the before & after video.)

Reply to this post or contact me by text or phone call if this has piqued your interest.