Thursday, September 27, 2007
So, here are my pictures. Much prettier than the detergent made with Colgate Octagon, which was a khaki color. The scent is also milder. I finally placed the scent of Zote. It smells a lot like Murphy's oil soap. I love that smell! Something else I found out while checking into Zote soap. Apparently they use it to make catfish bait. REALLY!!! It is reported to be irresistible to catfish. Check it out online. Well, I had better go wash some clothes. Bye for now!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
My husband has been completely unable to get any farm help. I believe he has gone through five new folks in the last month. He hasn't had a regular full staff since they expanded nearly three years ago. People beg for a job, then don't show up. They show up for a day or two, then walk off the job in the middle of the day without a word. They come in late. They leave early. One young man, after arriving over an hour late for work, asked to leave early to take his mom grocery shopping. Seems he wanted to leave at lunch time since she doesn't like to be out after dark. He had only worked two out of the previous five days. My favorite, and this one has occurred a few times, is the folks that don't show up for work for a few days - no call or anything- and then show back up to work as if nothing happened. Then when they get replaced, they apply for unemployment AND GET IT!!! What is the deal?
So, in the mean time, my hubby is doing all their work. And he is tired. And I am tired because I am picking up the slack from him working all the time.
Which brings me to my rant of the month - OUR LAME IMMIGRATION LAWS! Why is it that people fear bringing people into this country to work? Why do people fear that foreigners are going to take American jobs? There are plenty of jobs out there available. The thing is they require hard work. And so many Americans want a free ride. Now, I will try not to generalize too much. We do let SOME people into this country. We let Canadians cross over about any time they want to. We let European and Asian tourists come over at will. We don't extend the same courtesy to Latin Americans.
Here are a couple of examples I know of personally. My SIL is from El Salvador. Her daughter, who was 16, wanted to go to El Salvador for the summer. They did not want her to travel there alone. So....my SIL tried to get her sister to fly up from El Salvador for a two week visit, and then have her chaperone my niece on her flight. So they attempted to apply for some sort of temporary visa (I don't know all the proper terms). Our government happily accepted her more than $100 application fee - then refused her request. My SIL and BIL turned over all their financial info, wrote letters for appeal stating that they would be responsible for her during her two week visit, etc. - request denied, repeatedly. She wasn't allowed to even come for a two week visit! Okay, another example. I know a man who moved here from Honduras. He tried to get his wife and daughter a temporary visa to visit for a week - request denied. He tried to get his wife a working visa ( I think we could find her a job at the farm - no one else seems to want it) - request denied. Seems if he would like to see his family, his only option would be to leave the US. Of course, I could be wrong, but I doubt they would grant him permission to come back.
Why is someone unable to obtain a work permit, legally enter this country, as long as they retain employment, be paid minimum wage or more, and pay income tax, and not receive any government assistance? Would it not be easier for our government to monitor nonresidents?
I received a copy of an email that has been circulating the Internet. It shows pictures of an alleged dumping ground somewhere where people are reported to be crossing illegally into our country. It states that these people coming into our country are filthy people, and that this dumping ground is just an example of what they are going to do to our whole country. The email tells us that we need tougher immigration laws to protect our country from these people.
I don't see immoral people thumbing their noses at American laws. I see desperate human beings searching for a better way to provide for their families. I see moral people forced to do what is required to survive and avoid detection when other options have been exhausted. I see fathers and mothers who want to provide more for their children than the meager existence they are able to.
Of course there is good and bad in everything. There are people who take advantage of what this country has to offer. Unfortunately, my experience has been that a majority of them are people who were born and raised in this glorious country. They have never experienced true hardship. And they don't recognize the opportunities they have.
I am aware of a growing population of non English speaking people in this country. I don't want bi- or tri-lingual signs any more than the next person. But I don't think not giving people an opportunity to visit or work in this country is the answer to that, or any other, problem we face. I knew a guy when I was in college who had been in the USA for more than ten years and spoke NO English. I have met several others like him. But, they were all legal residents! So, require people here to work, study, live, to learn English - but let them come!
Where would this country be if we kept the doors closed? Where will we find ourselves if we continue to try to keep them closed?
Thanks for letting me rant! Hey, you know anyone looking for work? That likes hard work, and smelly animals?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Last years speakers included Andy Stanley, Donald Miller, Louie Giglio, John Maxwell, and Marcus Buckingham among the incredibly motivational and educating line up. We were surprised to hear Jeff Foxworthy as part of the entertainment (didn't know he was a Christian). The praise team was unbelievable.
This year, in addition to some returning speakers, the line up will include Rick Warren and Dave Ramsey. Not only do we have an opportunity to learn from some incredible speakers, but we get to travel there with some of the most incredible folks with a passion for Christ you have ever met. Did I mention I can't wait?!
I look back to the way I used to live my life. This is what God had in store for me? Don't get me wrong, I still have struggles and hardships. But I never knew I was deserving of such blessings. I never knew that God had this family and these friends waiting on me. Life is good!
Atlanta, here I come!
Monday, September 17, 2007
These bars contain lemon grass & lavender, and a little bit of bergamot essential oil. The specks you see are crushed lavender flowers ( I like texture).
They will need to cure for 3-4 weeks before being used. In the meantime, my laundry room smells lovely - very lemony!
I am going to make my second batch this week. I think it will be almond vanilla with oatmeal. I just may be on my way to becoming a soap making addict. Oh, but how clean we will all be!!!!
Friday, September 14, 2007
I am striving to live more simply. I have always tried to cook most of my meals from scratch. After all, it is healthier, and I can monitor what is going into the bodies of my family. Next year I will garden and can and freeze my crop. But since we have been trying to sell our house this year I didn't want to try to tackle a garden just to abandon it.
My house is filled with cleaning supplies. I have cleaning supplies stuffed under two bathroom sinks, one kitchen sink, and overflowing the shelves in my laundry room. What can I say? I like to clean. But how much of it is really necessary? I started by making my own daily shower spray and have been really pleased with the results. I have been developing some awful scent allergies over the last few years, and have little tolerance for many of the perfumes in store bought cleansers. This way I can adjust the scents.
Next, I made my own laundry detergent, and abandoned my fabric softener for white vinegar. My clothes have come out so clean! And my towels are much more absorbent. They don't smell like vinegar, or perfume, but fresh, as if they have been dried outside on a clothes line. I also use my laundry detergent, diluted in water, for household cleaning. I fill the sink with warm water, add a little detergent, and use it to clean my bathrooms and kitchen. I even add it to the toilet for toilet cleaning. It cleans, disinfects, and deodorizes.
I have started making my own sugar and salt scrubs for the shower, and a milk bath for the tub. I have been so pleased with the results. My favorite new cleanser, however, is my new face cleaner. I have oily skin and have trouble wiping out the oil and dirt on my skin without really drying out my skin. I hate to dry out my skin, then try to moisturize, as then my skin looks and feels very shiny and oily just a couple hours after I apply the moisturizer.
I mixed ground up uncooked oatmeal with plain yogurt. Yes, it has to be refrigerated, but it is SO worth it. I take a spoonful out of the fridge just as I need it. I have been using this just over a week and absolutely love what it is doing to my skin. I had one of those boil-like pimples on the side of my face the first day I used this cleaner. Within two days it was gone! No red spot! No scar! No pain! My face is staying smooth. I have not had to use moisturizer. Best of all, after a whole day at the zoo (temp 98 degrees) 'glowing' in the heat, my face was not shiny at all, and my foundation wasn't running off my face. And the 'character lines' around my eyes and on my forehead that really stand out when my face is dry have smoothed out.
I should warn you that after I rinsed it off the first time, I almost followed with a regular cleanser. My face didn't feel clean. It felt oily!!! I was so used to my face feeling stripped of oils, and associating this with 'clean'. But, trust me, once you dry your face off it will feel incredible. Clean, soft, and moisturized.
For those of you wanting to try your hand at natural cleansers, here are a couple recipes that I have had luck with:
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
6 drops dishwashing liquid
2 teaspoons dishwasher rinse
24 ounces Water
1 bar Fels Naptha soap**
1 cup Borax
I cup washing soda*
1/4 cup OxyClean
**I had trouble finding Fels Naptha, but it is the most recommended. You can also use Zote, or Colgate Octagon, or your own homemade soap.
*This was at the store under the name brand Arm & Hammer. Make sure you pick up washing soda and not just regular Arm & Hammer laundry detergent.
I'll let you know how my soap turns out. And those of you who know me may be getting some for Christmas. ;)
What do you do to simplify your life? Have any tips for others?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I thought I would surprise the girls with some pancakes today (One of Kasi's favorite food groups - the other is waffles!) In skips Kasi. I say "I made you heart shaped pancakes today" (with my biggest smile and sweet motherly voice). Kasi's head drops as she sighs, "I was hoping for puppy pancakes". *In my head* "Puppy pancakes? Who makes puppy pancakes? You're lucky to be getting pancakes! And heart pancakes to boot! I bet Sweet Pea (our pig) would like heart pancakes." ~Out loud~"We'll see, sweetie."
Well, I had made hearts and plain old round pancakes. I could use them for the head and jowl. All I needed was ears, nose and tongue (remember those simple little doggies we used to draw as little girls?!). And voila............
I know I am completely warped! Add to that the fact that I made a mock bananas foster topping for my non-picky eater and myself, and I think I have completely lost my mind. The eyes are Christmas baking chips I bought for a quarter a bag first of the year. This definitely has to be my 'cheat meal' for the week.
No frozen waffles for my young'uns today, man!!!!
By the way, today the girls are making their first very own sourdough bread starter. Mmmmm, sourdough bread.
Hmmm, maybe I had better start going to the Y again.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
My mission is Koinonia. God wants my family to build a koinonia community. Remember back in Acts when such a community was formed? There was fellowship. There was communion. There was unity. There was prosperity. There were miracles. The Lord added daily to the number of people being saved. Does that mean that people didn't have worries or concerns? No! They were people. But think about how much easier it is to remain strong when you stand united with others. When you bear one anther's burdens and victories, and hold each other accountable.
We do not mean to isolate ourselves from others. We just mean to strengthen ourselves. We are commanded to be salt of the earth and a light to the world. But a spotlight lights a greater distance than a candle alone. Matthew 5:13-16.
So what does all of this mean? What are we really planning here? God wants us to build a community where we can live in close proximity to one another. He wants us to live using the Holy Bible as a model for living. He wants us to be servants for our fellowship of believers, and those who have not yet come to know Christ. He wants us to be servants for Christ. He wants us to be a powerful witness of what Christian people can accomplish when they put God's will before their own. He wants us to brighten the light of Jesus Christ within us, to shine collectively, so our light shines more clearly in the darkness. He wants us to create a gathering place, where people can assemble, learn about Jesus Christ, and teach others about Jesus Christ. He wants us to create a place where people will have the opportunity to witness the miracles he is performing in our lives.
He wants us to be parts of a body. We want to be able to work together to make the body function effectively.
Koinonia implies sharing. We want to be able to share our resources. By doing so, we should be able to live more abundantly, and give more, as we manage God's resources more efficiently. Think of how much more we can accomplish is every household doesn't require its own truck, lawnmower, or shop full of tools. We don't mean to pool everyone's income as some cults are known to do. People should have their own homes and own possesions.
Here is an example of what we envision. We can build a community work shop. We can pool our tools together - auto tools, woodworking tools, etc. What would this result in? First off, everyone would spend less on building their home, because they would only need a carport for vehicle shelter, and not a garage to lock up their tools and equipment. Secondly, your family would have more equipment at their disposal, without having to spend a ton of money. Thirdly, you may have someone in the community more skilled than you to do the repair/building that you need. Or you may be that skilled person, and be blessed by being able to help your neighbor. And finally, the community workshop would become a place for people to work together, fellowship, hold each other accountable, and even discuss the Word of God.
Sounds great to me! I will be sharing quite a bit more about Koinonia. It will become a reality.
So, what is your Mission - Possible? Nothing is impossible with Christ.
The NC Zoo has the most amazing aviary. It is not only filled with beautiful birds flying freely all around you, but also with amazing plant life. If I ever have several hundred extra thousand dollars, I think I would like to build one at my place. What a wonderful place to sit and pray. But....since that is unlikely to happen, I'll just keep visiting the zoo.
They have a new tree frog exhibit. They have all these little neon colored tree frogs. It is like looking into a hidden puzzle page to find them. You would think, considering their blue, yellow, and red coloring, that they would just stand out, but they don't. You have to search. An interesting fact I learned via the zoo newsletter: poisonous frogs are not poisonous in captivity. Seems they form their poison from eating some kind of insects (I think it was fire ants, but don't recall for sure).
We had the most amazing thing happen at the polar bear exhibit. Wilhelm the polar bear was resting when we arrived (it was 98 out). But he got up and started cooling off in the water. We were watching underwater through glass and he came over and started checking us out. I got the most amazing picture when he put his paw up to the glass, and Alea put her hand up to it. Kasi was too frightened, but really enjoyed watching.
Neat stuff. Now, this is learning!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
In the past, we had a Treasure Box, and everything in it had a price (5 tickets, 10 tickets, 15 tickets, etc. - mult. of 5) The girls earned their tickets by completing tasks, and certain behaviors:
- Help set table
- Help clean up food and dishes
- Clean up toys without being told
- Only need to be given instructions once
- Do good work in school
- Complete daily chores
- Do not ask for anything while shopping
- Get ready without being told (get dressed, make bed, brush teeth)
- Mommy or daddy get a compliment on your behavior from an adult
- Say something nice to everyone in the family to make their day brighter
- Memorize a new memory verse or Bible book group
- Complete weekly chores
- Go through entire day without arguing with mommy or daddy or fighting with sister
- For Alea, read a book (10 or more pages) to mommy or daddy
- For Kasi, learn to write a new word, and it's meaning
They would also lose a ticket for arguing, fighting, saying something mean, leaving toys out after being told to pick up, telling a lie, or using a whiny voice.
At the end of the week, they could go shopping in the treasure box with their tickets. They had the option of buying a bunch of cheap stuff or saving up for big items. It was really a great lesson.
It worked pretty well.......until the sibling fighting really kicked in. It got too hard to keep up with the tickets they were losing. I abandoned it until their attitudes got better.
So, that's the history. Here is the new plan.
I am adapting an 'activity box' from a boredom box idea submitted to Family Fun magazine by Suzette Garvey of Grand Rapids, MI (thanks Suzette!). We are going to have different colored cards in the box for different categories, kind of like in Trivial Pursuit. I will have different activities for them to complete on each card. For example, on a Geography card, I may tell them to go locate Belize on the globe, and using our books and/or the Internet find one interesting fact to tell me. For math, I may ask them how many sides is in a hexagon, and find something in the house that has the same number of sides. I will put easier stuff on the lined side (that is my 5 year old's side) and harder stuff on the blank side (my 8 year old's side). I even got some books with mazes, puzzles, facts, and brain teasers for their activities to make them more interesting.
They will earn tickets for correctly completing activities. Then they get to shop from the treasure box. I know it is going to take a lot of planning, but I think it will be worth it. I told the girls that it may take me a week or two to get it up and running, and they are super excited. I'll let you know how it turns out. And, hey, if anyone has ideas to throw into our activity box, I would love to hear them.
Friday, September 7, 2007
I keep becoming frustrated trying to teach my children from books and worksheets. Alea will miss more than half the problems on her work (daily!). This isn't just a back to school thing. It is an all school thing. I get to where I feel like I am beating my head against the wall, and think I am teaching her nothing. Then I catch her in her 'free time' designing a game about the classification of animals. And she sits and explains to me how normally eels in their natural habitat are aggressive, but ponders why the ones in tanks are docile (her vocab, btw). She is learning. Just not from school work.
I am increasingly discovering that my girls aren't really retaining much of their 'book learning'. But they are learning! They are learning when we sit around and talk about things. When I read to them. When they read on their own. They are learning when we explore things first-hand. They learn when I make the time for them to help me cook, and with things around the house. When we stand around the kitchen and experiment to try to create something new and tasty. They learn by following the example we set. I'm embarrassed to say that the example I was setting was one of a frazzled, defeated mother who was trying to cram a ton of stuff into a tiny window of time - and failing miserably.
In trying to school my children, I have been missing the most important moments with them. I have not been allowing us to work together. I have needed them to stay out of my way so I could get it all done-all by myself. I have not been working on 'love building'. I have not been taking the time to smell the roses. Most of all, I have not been allowing God to work through me. I have been trying to control - not submit.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 It really makes me stop and think. What do I want to train my children for? I want to train them to be passionate about Christ. I want to train them about relationships. I want to train them to work hard, and enjoy life. I want to train them how to take care of their household, and the people they love. I want to train them how to bring honor and glory to God. I may have to skip some of the finer points of Medieval History and Mythology along the way. But, hey, if I can instill a passion for reading and learning, they will learn it anyways.
Today I am giving Alea free reign in the kitchen to create her "secret recipe". I know it is going to be ultra sweet with one cup of honey, and one cup of sugar. But hey, that is how you learn. As for my human knowledge sponge, Kasi, she is going to help me create the supper menu (covering all food groups) and write my recipes for home made bath soaps and cleaners. And we will discuss vitamins and minerals that we find in our foods. Who knows, it might lead us to discussing the layers of earth and the mineral composition of them. Or maybe I'll save that for another day.
Sooooooooo, out of those of you still reading - any radical unschoolers out there? Any ideas? Know of any blogs by other such creatures? Where can I go? Who can I talk to?
Thanks guys! I feel so free!
"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child."
~George Bernard Shaw~
"Play is the highest form of research" ~Albert Einstein~
God, you have blessed my family immensely. I thank you for the opportunity to be home with my family. I thank you for blessing me with these people to spend my time with here on earth. Please help me to submit to your will for my family. Help me to stop trying to be who I am, but allow you to form me into what you would have me become. Work through me to teach these girls what you would have them learn. And help us to show more love for each other every day. Lord, make our home a place of peace. And make your presence known at the center of it all. Amen.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
First off, I made my first batch of laundry detergent. I couldn't find Fels Naptha or Zote laundry soap at Wal Mart, Harris Teeter, or Food Lion, but I did find Colgate Octagon, and used it. It gives it a funky khaki color but it smells great. And I test drove it on some whites. They look good to me. Here is the recipe I used?
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 bar Laundry Bar soap, grated (Fels Naptha, Zote, Octagon, etc.)
I did grate the soap in my food processor. I think next time I will shred it with my Kitchen Aid on the small grate setting.
The other thing I made is falafel. When I was nine, my family moved to Tel Aviv, Israel. We lived there for almost a year and a half. Being the healthy eater that I was (aka. chubby), I developed a love for the food of the Middle East. They had falafel stands all over the place. Kind of like hot dog stands in the North East US. Falafel is made of ground chick peas mixed with onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro, parsley and sesame seeds. The paste is formed into balls and fried, and served in a pita pocket. In Israel they would fill the pocket with falafel, salad, tahina (a dressing made with ground sesames), pickles, and sometimes french fries or a yogurt dressing. Even though they are fried, they are relatively healthy. They don't really absorb much oil, and although filling, don't leave you feeling heavy and bloated.
I found this very cool blog , The Hummus Blog. http://humus101.com/EN/ Along with all kinds of cool info, they have several recipes. I followed their recipe for making falafel from scratch (with dried chick peas). I put mine in pita pockets, and covered them with tomatoes and tzatziki sauce that I bought at Costco. Yummy!!! Everyone but Kasi, my five year old, loved them. Of course, she prefers, but rarely gets, chicken nuggets. I also discovered she had a fever, and she didn't eat anything but bread.
~Wow - spell check does not like Arabic!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Ter knew he was doing a dangerous job. He developed a hunger for flying under dangerous conditions while he was a med evac pilot for the Army in Viet Nam. Rumor has it that he flew two tours and was shot down once. I don't know for sure though. For all the stories he told me, he never shared anything about Viet Nam. But he loved to fly. And he was happiest when he was flying a 'sky crane'.
Here is the weird part though. Did you know that in the state of California, if you are married to your job (aka. single), any workman's comp claim due in the event of your death go to the state? Not your brothers or sisters, or anyone who would be handling your memorial and estate. But the state of California! Not the people who want to pay off all your debts. But the California government! My pockets aren't feeling light. As a niece I wouldn't be entitled to anything anyways. It just does not make sense to me.
And due to some legal loops that I also fail to understand, neither Terry's family, nor Andrei's family are due any compensation for the mechanical failure. Andrei, who is originally from Russia, is survived by a young (20 something) wife, and young daughter. What do you think their take is on the US justice system? These men gave their lives protecting the lives and property of California citizens. And they are owed no compensation.
I really don't believe in lawsuits, and I know that God has his own justice system. There is no reason for me to be so upset about this. It just pains me to realize that when people can be awarded millions of dollars for getting fat eating burgers, or sick from smoking, or even getting hurt when breaking and entering, that our government is not willing to reimburse for the lives of individuals who die by no fault of their own, protecting the lives and property of their citizens.
That's what I'm thinking about. Thanks for letting me vent.
Monday, September 3, 2007
I have found several recipes for liquid and powder laundry soap. I think I am going with a powder soap that you make in a food processor. I have read several reviews. But I want to know if any of you have tried this. What did you think? How did it work? I have a HE washer and believe that it will work great without all the sudsing.
Any other home made recommendations from anyone? I would love some recipes. I am going to make home made goodies for my friends and family this year for Christmas and would love some recipes for things I can add to their goody baskets!
We decided to take the scenic route home. We followed the Creeper Trail. I think this route added about 2 hours to our return trip. But the view, when I wasn't afraid to look, was gorgeous. I periodically saw signs along the road that said "The Crooked Road". Nifty! I am not a big fan of crooked roads. Everyone knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I like straight roads, whether in a car or on a motorcycle. Most of the closely spaced curves displayed a 15 mph sign. I was okay with that. What I didn't understand were the occasional 'Maximum Speed Limit 55 mph' signs. There wasn't enough straight road to build up to 55mph! unless you were going over the edge!
Anyways, it was a blessed 24 hour getaway. We were blessed to have time together in such a beautiful setting. And we were blessed to have time together with some wonderful friends. God is good!