The Goal Of Our Instruction

We are homeschooling our four eldest this year, and I am very excited to begin. I was telling a friend this week that this is the golden time of the school year, when anything is possible. Plans, goals, dreams for each child’s growth and success are laid out in great detail, and we sit hunched at the starting blocks, waiting for the gunshot. I’m realistic enough now to know that everything I have planned will not turn out ideally, as life is quite often what actually happens when we are busy making those plans. I can be assured, however, that if I put God first, everything else will fall into place.
I came across what will be a wonderful verse to consider in the context of homeschooling- something to keep us all on track as to what is really important that we learn, and keep on learning:

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5

There are some wonderful ideas in that little verse that lend themselves to deeper thought and further study- love, purity, discerning good vs. evil, sincerity, faith. I want my kids to be successful at academics, but it is far more important to me that they be successful at bringing glory to God.
May this school year be a blessing to us all.

Seasonal Scene: Tomatoes

Through trial and error I have worked to make it so that the tomatoes can cook down in the crockpot instead of on the stovetop. Two batches so far have had that cooked-too-long taste, because I still haven’t reached that delicate balance of cooking off the water but not burning the sauce. Last night’s tomatoes turned out best so far- only a corner of the pot was starting to look dark. I used a different crockpot whose ‘low’ must have been just right for cooking the tomatoes all night. A third will go in this week’s lasagna, the rest in some spaghetti dinner in the future. Yum!

By 10:00 This Morning

…All children were put back to bed. I had completely run out of other options to put out the many fires already started so early in the day. With the adventures of A Flat last week and A Major getting baptized last evening (yay!), I am thinking spiritual attack when the house gets this chaotic. What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss. How many times is it “these things happen” until it is “these things happen for otherworldly reasons”? Hmmm.

Just Don’t Call Her Anna Banana

Our little A Flat has had it rough this week. Tonight’s adventure really began months ago. She suffers from many different kinds of skin rashes, has most of her life, and I was told this might be an indication of allergies. So, I watched for the more common ones- dairy, nuts, gluten or berries- to give her some kind of reaction. Then there was a time a few months ago that she just started throwing up one night, and I couldn’t figure out why. No one else got sick, so I guessed it was something she ate. She got sick again the next day and I noticed it smelled like bananas. Hmmm. Weird. I decided I wouldn’t feed her bananas anymore, just in case my hunch was right.
Today at dinnertime, I was feeling sorry that she would have to have yet another meal of peas, as we were out of the other things I usually feed her. I had just gotten some bananas at Meijer, and I thought this might be a good time to try her out on them again. She gobbled the chunks right down, with no immediate effects. But when it was time to wipe her up, I noticed she was rubbing her eyes and her face was all splotchy. Oh no, I thought- this was too much to be a coincidence. I quickly put her in the tub and bathed her, hoping the water would calm the skin and relax her itchy eyes. She seemed to be better after that, and crawled around and babbled while I mopped the kitchen. Then, I held her and tried to feed her the rest of her bottle. She was really reluctant to drink it, and kept coughing like she had a frog in her throat. She finally did drink some milk, and looked like she was falling asleep. Then all of a sudden, the milk and bananas made an encore performance all over her, me, and the rocker. I put us both in the tub this time, and got us cleaned up. This was the first bath I’ve had in a long time, and it was fun sitting in there with her, playing with her toes and laughing together, as she seemed to be feeling much better after the bananas left the building.
This turn of events makes me want to take her in sooner than her 12 month well visit for allergy testing. What if there is something else she could react to that I just haven’t fed her yet? It bothers me not to know. We can definitely try to avoid anything new until she sees the doctor, and keep the bananas in their peels. The latter may be very difficult, as A Minor is a banana maniac. So long as she keeps from dropping any on the floor…

Seasonal Scene: Pinto Beans

Once upon a time, I planted some Aldi pinto beans in quart jars for the children to watch grow. I said to the children, “They might not come up.” A few days went by, and though there was some sprouting of the beans, I still maintained that they might not come up, just because of the nature of the bean we were working with. Lo and behold, they did come up; every single bean grew into a healthy, green beanstalk that climbed my kitchen window. I thought to myself, I gotta try these out in the garden this year! So I planted two rows of them, in between the black beans and green. They were ready to harvest so I picked them and shelled them yesterday. Here’s the amazing thing- they look just like pinto beans! I can’t get over the fact that a handful of beans netted a 2 lb. bagful. Luke has inspired me to keep back this harvest and plant it next year. If all goes well, I get ten bagfuls from this one, I plant two bagfuls and have eight to last me all year. This, combined with tomato and pepper preservation in the coming years should have me swimming in free chili very soon.

Twice Trounced

Do you ever have “one of those days”? Days for me usually will pass along at a pace, no real complaints, then, WHAM! we hit a brick wall. Today was that day, and I’m pulling mortar crumbs out of my teeth.
After breakfast, we started our morning cleaning jobs, and an altercation between two siblings led me to add a second cleaning job to the offender’s list of things to do. This didn’t go over too well, as the offender was set on convincing me she was really the offended party, and got busy talking her way out of the job. While I stood in the hallway defending the merits of instant obedience, I was paying no attention to what was going on in the kitchen, where the youngest bunch were playing. Immediately I realized my neglect as I heard a tumbling down the basement stairs and the baby scream. First of many miracles- she was not dead, something I had imagined happening countless times. (I have some fear issues.) As I comforted her and looked for injuries from her fall, I only could see a small red mark on her cheek. We sat in a chair for the next few minutes, her placidly drinking her bottle and me shaking with sobs. Many reasons for tears went through my mind.
Most strong was the feeling I didn’t deserve to have her be alright.
Most strange was the relief I felt- that picture I had in my mind of her broken body on the cement floor wouldn’t have as great a hold on me in times of weakness and fear.
Most awesome was the mercy God showed in not allowing her to suffer harm.
Most heart-breaking was the reality that, had I not neglected the training in obedience of my other children, this moment of neglect might have been avoided.
So, I’m feeling a healthy heaping of humility that follows a sound whipping tonight. And unspeakable joy, because I have a chance to do it all over again tomorrow. Only much differently. Thank You so much, Father. Your love is beyond comprehension.

My suffering was good for me, because it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees. Ps. 119:71

Seasonal Scene: Too Many To Mention

Green Beans- We had fun snapping these and putting most up in the freezer.
Green Peppers- I tried one of my pepper varieties and was disappointed with the thin walls and bitter taste. I decided I would let most all of the rest proceed to sweet, colored status and hope for bigger and better taste by then. One of the kinds I planted is called ‘Fat and Sassy’- here’s hoping she lives up to her name. I’m going to miss my frozen diced green pepper, though- the final bag of last year’s harvest went in a casserole only a week ago.
Banana Peppers- I’m wishing I had the equipment to pickle these this year. Nice to know I can produce those fancy pepperoncini jars myself someday.
Potatoes- I think. My friend gave me a bucket of seed potatoes this spring and Luke decided to just pour the whole thing in the box, cover them with dirt, and see what we got. The plants looked lovely, with little purple blooms. Then, one by one, they yellowed and keeled over. A few days later I noticed a beautiful red potato sticking up out of the dirt, and figured it must be new, since it had no sprouts attached to it. Luke dug up a few more for me, and I fried them, diced, with onions. Delicious, and probably the freshest potatoes we have ever eaten. A week later, I thought I would look for more, but the ones I found I couldn’t tell if they were the old or new, with all their warts and sprouts. Let this be a lesson- don’t plant the potatoes so close together!
Tomatoes- I picked one Early Girl a few days ago. Starting tomato plants from seed has been a roller coaster ride; they have finally made it to fruit-bearing stage with many ups and downs. Now I wonder if the fruits will get any larger, or ever turn red.
Cucumbers- harvesting just enough to keep us crunching.
Thank You, Lord, for this bounty.