All Things New

19 08 2013

As I sit in my loft today, working on the last two lessons of the Pieces by Polly quilt along, it is quiet in the house, save for the gentle noises of the dryer with a fresh load of towels, my little Viking humming away and the radio, reminding me with song after song that Jesus makes all things new. It’s been a difficult few years for me, starting with my daughter being enrolled in public school, after which I went into a tailspin trying to find my place in my new world. College seemed the answer, but turned out just to be an experiment in proving to myself (and everyone else) that I could’ve gone that route any time I chose. I excelled academically and was offered a full scholarship upon completion of the first two years, but I realized that I’d been quite unhappy pursuing an education, despite the high marks. It just wasn’t satisfying. It doesn’t even compare to homeschooling my children all day. As a matter of fact, nothing compares to that, as I have discovered. For me, that was truly my calling. And that job is done. I have been so lost.

Before I found my feet, my mom had a stroke, my dad’s abusive tendencies came roaring back from my childhood into my already rocking world, and my husband took a big pay cut with a job change when the company he’s worked for the last decade closed doors. To top it all off, my son doesn’t like college and my daughter isn’t happy in public school.

I have been asking myself how my perfect world became such a mess, and I have truly wanted to just give up. What does that look like? For the first time in my life, I lost my optimism.

Sometime in the wee hours of the night, all this became smothered in God’s grace, as I prayed and just lay in his presence. Today, I know that He has got all of this in His hands, and that I need to just be still. He makes all things new.

And so I will go on about my days, trusting God with all those things….and that, I have decided, is how you go about giving up, when you just can’t take any more.

Lost Blog

9 07 2013

Well, it looks like my blog got lost from my life for a couple of years. That’s ok. In that time, lots has happened! Here’s the skinny:

Earned my Associates’ Degree in Science and decided that I didn’t want to go to school any more.

My son did not leave home for college…he is going locally for now ūüôā

My hubby got a new job. Jury’s still out on that one. We’re thankful he has one at all ūüôā

My postcard trading and letterbox hobbies have fallen by the wayside, and quilting has taken the place of both ūüôā

I still love to garden, cook, read, hike, camp and sit in the sun! (Not that we’ve had enough sunshine this summer in KY for me to feel satisfied.) “Rain, rain, go away….”

I think that’s about it! I took a quilting class midway through my AS and got hooked! I haven’t put an album of my creations anywhere but FB so far (so family can keep up with my projects), but I guess I need to do that, since I’m going to give quilt swaps a whirl and feed my obsession while meeting others who “get it” with the whole quilting thing!

Lots of quilt pics to come, and maybe I’ll move this whole blog somewhere else. First, I’m going to search the net to see if there are any places with tools that I’d love. I’m sure lots has changed since I’ve blogged regularly.

Off to start dinner! Today, it’s Mediterranean Pizza, with homemade thin crust, basil pesto (No it’s not fresh, even though there’s LOTS of basil in the herb garden right now.), feta cheese, red onion, sliced roma tomatoes, and black olives. Yum! And I’ll make a cheese pizza for my daughter, who doesn’t like the Med style pizza! And we’ll enjoy that fresh banana nut bread I made this morning ūüôā

And of course, since the sun is shining today, we may eat on the patio!

The State of Things

14 10 2011

I’m completely out of coffee this morning. My loving hubby has offered to run out and grab me a cup, so I’m waiting for him to finish his workout first. Hahaha. At least I can smile about that, right? I’ve been depressed for some time, as I made the decision not to go for that expensive BS in Alternative Medicine that holds no great promise for a job to pay back 60K in student loans. Smart – I know. So I didn’t register for classes; the summer was simply not enough time to sort it out, since I didn’t take summer off last year and so have not had a break from school through a run of semesters: Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring. Whew! What was I thinking?

I’m breaking now, though, like it or not! And I didn’t like it one bit, at first. After starting on some herbal therapy, though, I’m having a different outlook. I still am not sure of the path I’ll end up taking, but I feel better, and am looking forward to finishing some unfinished projects in the weeks to come.

Those few weeks of public school at the end of the last academic year didn’t scare my daughter into staying home one more year – not that I wanted it to scare her, really – just hoped it’d be less than she’d hoped. So she’s back in this fall, and I am all alone again…without classes for myself! It’s been very hard. I’ve continued with the belly dancing, missing class a few times when I was way in the dumps. I’ve taken a quilt-as-you-go class and finished a small lap quilt with a great deal of satisfaction. I’ve loved quilts for as long as I can remember, putting them together for my babies when they were small, from the directions in books and just my own common sense – no masterpieces in the small collection, but they hold memories for me and for the kids, and they love them, despite the fact that they don’t show great skill. I’ve learned some very useful things now, and have the resources to take classes, and of course there’s the internet with its video tutorials and such to turn to – so this go at learning to quilt should prove to build real skill if I work at it. And I think I will.

We’re watching our children suffer the harms of growing up, offering advice and lots of hugs, wishing we could just make it all go away. Sometimes I really can understand why people join these eccentric communes and alternative societies, because what they are searching for is truth in people and real community. That never turns out well, so I guess I’ll keep treading water in suburbia.

I’ve always been a great patriot, but as much as I try to deny it, there’s less and less to be patriotic about. It makes me sad, what America has sunken to. History in schools is certainly not the same history I taught my kids from home. Now they focus on whether Alexander the Great was homosexual, which presidents had STDs, and label the Sons of Liberty as terrorists. It truly makes me want to vomit. Americans today are always asking what their country can do for them. Parents don’t parent any more – they send the kids to school all day and put them in activities that use up every evening so they don’t have to parent; by the time the day is done, they just plop them in bed. No wonder todays kids are angry, confused and expect everything to revolve around them and life to be easy. To make matters worse, God, who offers refuge, love, and guidance, has been shoved into a nice little box so as to not make us feel guilty for our choices or afraid of the consequences of our actions. No wonder this country is spinning out of control, and on a downward spiral at the same time. Honestly, I do feel like I don’t even belong in this time. I know that technically, I do, because God put me here, but it is impossible even to try to witness to people these days – Christians cannot tell people the truth, not just because they don’t want to hear it, which has always been the case, but because now, they are actually accused of being judgmental and closed-minded. They don’t realize that these are not Christians’ opinions – they’re God’s!

I try not to get all worked up, but when my children are bullied or hurt because they are conscientious and my husband abused because he has a good work ethic and Christians are labeled as fanatics when they speak of Godly values, it just makes me angry. What’s wrong with people?

A New Phase of Life

18 04 2011

I suppose I must consider it growth that I started a blog and did not allow myself to feel burdened by obligation to post regularly.¬† Although these things are always self-imposed, it is strangely difficult to release myself from them once I start something.¬† Hobbies become chores, because I apply some sort of weird notion of responsibility toward them rendering them less enjoyable.¬† I don’t wish to delve into why I have developed in such a way – I just want to change.

And so I am.  Gradually, and not in all areas, but I am beginning to enjoy things just for the enjoyment of them, without attaching strings.  Progress.  I think it all started when I took on more than I could juggle, mentally, and balls began to drop.  When the initial fear and disappointment dissipated, I felt tremendous relief, and then I began to simply throw them.  It was hard, in moments of calm, as guilt about letting someone down tried to creep in, but the truth is that I was so overwhelmed that for the first time, the need to simplify my life was greater than any reasoning that supported continued juggling.  But what to put on the now nearly empty proverbial plate?  That was the question Рand it remains not fully answered.

Homeschooling one child was the only thing I was still doing.¬† And homeschooling a middle-school aged child is not exactly time-absorbing.¬† She worked independently for the most part, which is the goal by that age.¬† I was able to keep the house clean and the laundry done, read for pleasure, and piddle with other interests.¬† And I began to feel restless.¬† I thought volunteer interests could be the answer, but when my daughter became less interested in Girl Scouts than I, we had a problem.¬† Another problem was that what I really wanted was to be a girl scout myself, not do all the planning and paperwork.¬† I taught a small group at children’s church – but that was not the answer, either.¬† Studying the lesson took longer than the short time I got with the kids – and my nature just put me in the position to take other leaders’ kids into my fold whenever one didn’t show up…which, unfortunately was often.¬† It’s not that I minded the extra kids, but the idea of these small groups was to foster close relationships -which was near impossible when the group so often changed.

Extra time on my hands allowed me to take better care of myself physically, spiritually and mentally.  It was a good time, really, beneath the surface stress of not knowing what I would commit myself to.  I lost weight, I enjoyed the pleasure of cooking healthy, consistent meals for my family, I had time to read (the only hobby I have ever not turned into a chore).  I got interested in what it means to be healthy Рno doubt because I felt better physically than I had in years.  This found me trying to figure out what exactly I needed to do to control my blood pressure without the meds that make me tired.  And when my potassium plummeted a few times, what other than a potassium supplement could be done.  And so nutrition naturally became a real interest.

What did I do with the revelation that I was really interested in something beyond the interest that others around me had?  I enrolled in school full-time to become a Registered Dietician.  I had found my post-mommy calling.  <smiling at myself and shaking head>   Once again, I made an interest into work.  Will I ever learn?

Drive-Thru Summer

29 06 2010

It’s hard to believe that is was May when I last posted…not that I haven’t had plenty to say ūüėȬ† Summer feels like a Drive-thru!¬† Summer?¬† You mean that hot time of year?¬† I have managed to lay on a man-made lake beach for one day and hike for a couple of miles.¬† That’s it.¬†¬†Now I did clean my house, plant a¬†few veggies, and do a LOT of Algebra so far ūüôā¬† I’m hoping I can glean some of what’s left of summer fun out of the next six weeks, and that Fall goes gloriously slow, since it’s my true favorite ūüôā

I’ve completed that Algebra class, and have begun another.¬† I sorta kinda get it – but not always ūüėȬ† I’ve gotten much better at not complaining about it.¬† It doesn’t do any good, for one thing, and I’ve just resolved within myself that it is one of many things I must do, whether I like it or not, so I might as well just dig my heels in and do my best.

My Gracious God helped me come to that conclusion, actually (we can never really take credit for our ideas and attitudes, you know).¬† I was praying for strength and resolve when having a particularly hard time – not just with Algebra, but just with life.¬† As He sometimes does, God straightened me right out…no pampering the whining.¬† I opened my Bible and began to read, and was led to read Hebrews 12.¬† I had no idea what was in Hebrews 12, so I turned there and began to read.¬† Turns out it is about God disciplining those He loves.¬† Hmm.¬† Then I got to verses 12 and 13, and¬†they jumped off the page at me.

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.¬† Mark out a straight path for your feet.¬† Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.”

Needless to say, I was instantly overwhelmed with shame for whining.¬† I am blessed well beyond what I deserve, and I became overwhelmed with that sense as well.¬† Sometimes we think that if we aren’t missionaries or preachers or something, that our calling has less impact in God’s plan to save the world, but that simply isn’t true at all.¬† Whatever our calling is at different stages in our lives, we should be grateful that He includes us in his work and that we are on his team in exactly the way in which we are needed at exactly the right time.

God is so good.

Sleepy time

12 05 2010

It is late, and I am tired, but I am not in bed.¬† I don’t know…just a lot of stuff rolling around in my mind.¬† Not bad stuff – just stuff I need to do that I’m trying to remember not to forget to do – like adding stuff to the calendar so I don’t forget about it altogether.¬† Also I keep thinking about¬†a couple of home improvement projects that I’d love to get my hands dirty with but don’t have time right now (like painting the kitchen and stripping the carpet off the stairs).¬† And of course, there’s the large stack of bags of mulch in the driveway that needs distribution.¬† By the way, did you know that it is better to buy your mulch in bags than by the truckload/scoop?¬† A neighbor who works for a pest control company told us that the heat generated by the sun in the enclosed bags kills the bug larvae lurking in the mulch.¬† Who knew?¬† I guess he did!¬† So although it’s a bit cheaper to have a scoop dumped in my hubby’s pickup, we go buy the bags.

Since I last posted, I have completed a semester of college.¬† It feels good.¬† It went by much faster than I expected.¬† I made A’s.¬† So far, so good, aye?¬† Summer session has already begun and I have turned in my first Algebra assignments.¬† It’s not too bad, algebra.¬† It’s not really math – it’s more like puzzle solving.¬† And as soon as I can get myself to think of it that way first, some of my anxiety about it will dissipate. LOL.

I just never liked math.¬† Didn’t stink at it entirely, just never had a good math teacher through elementary and middle school, so I just floated along with bare minimum skills and knowledge.¬† I took Geometry, Algebra I and II in high school and did fine, but I did have to work hard.¬† I didn’t really get it, either – I followed the steps and got results, but I couldn’t have explained any of it to a toad!

¬† Homeschooling my children is where/when math clicked.¬† I found myself having Eureka! moments constantly – even with simple addition.¬† The first time was with double-digit addition.¬† While showing my son how to “carry”, he kept coming up with the answer before I could work through the problem.¬† He’d blurt it out and I’d be baffled.¬† Turns out he just “got it” and explained to me that “adding all the 10’s and then the rest is easier than carrying, Mom.”¬† He had to be, what?¬† About 2nd grade, I think.¬† He’s been doing that to me ever since.¬† So I guess he taught me math, really.¬† I couldn’t believe such things never occurred to me – I just did it how the teacher said and never thought about the numbers themselves.¬† So when I get stuck a bit on an algebra problem (yes, it has happened several times already), I call him in to save the day.¬† I still have those Eureka! moments and think to myself, “Why didn’t I see that?”¬†

He had to choose a book from a list for English class and guess what?¬† He chose my favorite author!¬† I was secretly so thrilled, and I’m really hoping that it inspires him to read more of Michener.¬† He’s reading The Bridges of Toko-Ri (which is one I haven’t read), and he is enjoying it.¬† I’ve already recommended The Covenant, but trying not to get my hopes up.

My¬†little girl¬†is so growing up.¬† It is so bittersweet, too.¬† She wants to add another sport to her life, so we are checking into it.¬† Apparently the local middle school is recruiting home schoolers for cross-country.¬† Soccer she loves.¬† She is so dedicated.¬† Last night she was in the yard pushing herself (after an hour of soccer practice) to get her front handspring back.¬† She could do it a few years ago, but is way out of practice and her rapid physical growth must make it feel quite awkward from when she was able to do it before.¬† She worked hard at it.¬† All for soccer, of course.¬† She wants to be able to do a flip throw-in.¬† Don’t know what that is?¬† Check it out:

This makes me want to video¬† her next soccer game.¬† I haven’t done that yet.¬† Last Saturday, the coach put her on offense for less than two minutes and she scored.¬† We knew she would by the look on her face when she came through with the ball — sheer determination.¬† It was nice for her.¬† She usually prefers being on defense and does really well with that.¬† Most of her opponents are pretty intimidated by her, and her teammates ask her to trade places with them when they get put up against someone who is bigger or who plays rough.¬† She is always glad to do it.

Whenever I end a post abruptly, I am reminded of my Grandma, who calls occasionally and says whatever she called to say or ask whatever she called to ask, and then says “Bye” pretty abruptly.¬† Oh, she takes time to stick in the “Love you” and all, but it is always a mite unexpected when she just up and says, “Well, I love you, honey.¬† Bye.”¬†¬† It’s funny.

So here goes…I’m sleepy now.¬† Bye.

To My Credit… and Pasta, Yum!!

10 03 2010

Funny how the term “credit” is used to mean so many different things, isn’t it?¬† I mean, there’s credit and then there’s credit.¬† Hee hee.¬† Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Having returned to college this semester, I had sent for my transcript from my old university, so that every credit I’d earned in the past could be applied to help my wallet and my efforts to reach a goal.¬† All wapping 15 of them….¬† Hey! It’s a start!¬† Last week,¬†I checked to be sure that they had been officially applied, and¬†I learned that they had only applied 12 of them.¬† The other three had been earned at a community college while I was still in high school and were transferred to the university I went to.¬† They had been on the official transcript that I turned in to my current college, but I supposed that meant that transferred credits don’t transfer!¬† So, of course, since 3 credit hours means tons of actual hours spent working and a few hundred bucks, I sent for an official transcript for those too, from the college at which I earned them.¬† It came today – they were fast!¬†

When those get applied officially, it will give me 15 hours, and today my daughter pointed out that I was more than halfway through my Psychology book, which should mean I’m halfway through the semester.¬† She’s right!¬† I’m 9 weeks in, with 7 weeks to go (not counting spring break, which maybe should mean 8 to go, since I’ll not be “off” but writing 2 research papers instead).¬† It’s nice to realize that, though, and it is encouraging to see that time is passing more quickly than I thought it would when I started out.¬† A semester seemed like a long time in December and January, but it is already more than half over.

Pretty soon, I’ll have 27 hours down…and a lot to go.¬† I was looking at the program last night.¬† All said, after supervised practice, I’ll have 149 to 158 hours, depending on the path I take that last year or two.¬† Wow.¬† I can’t think about that today.¬† I’ll think about that tomorrow.

I’ve enjoyed my classes so far, and the family support hasn’t wavered in the face of increased household duties for them, which is quite nice.¬† I spend an unbelievable amount of time doing classwork, which makes me question if I’ll ever be able to take on more than 12 credit hours a semester.¬† I suppose if I weren’t homeschooling…but though my daughter is ready to try school, I’m not ready to let her ūüôā¬† That, we will leave up to God, who knows best.

I don’t even want to think about that right now.¬† I’ll think about that tomorrow, too.¬†

The weather was very nice today.¬† It was sunny, and although not exactly warm, wasn’t cold either.¬† We opened the back door and a front window and let the house breeze a bit.¬† It was very nice to smell the fresh air and feel a stirring in the air.¬† I can now begin to believe that spring will arrive.¬† I wasn’t so sure this awful winter.

I actually cooked a real meal today.¬† All semester I’ve been cooking, so I don’t mean to say that I haven’t been, but I have carefully chosen quick-to-prepare meals and enlisted other cooks to either do it all or help, depending on my classwork deadlines.¬† The last week or two, I have seen not a reduction in the workload with my classes – that has remained the same, but I am able to do that work in less time, it seems.¬† So this weekend when I planned the week’s meals, I included a bit more labor-intensive choices. ¬†Today I made pasta with chicken, baked with a creamy basil sauce, with fire-roasted tomatoes, topped with mozzerella.¬† Yummy!!¬† We were all very pleased with the way it turned out, and it will be a permanent addition to our meal list.¬† No, we don’t have an actual list.

I didn’t have a recipe, so if you need one complete with measurements and all, I can’t help you.¬† I had tried a similar dish in a restaurant and had tried to find a recipe online, but each one I looked at either had things in it that weren’t in the dish I tried, or did not have things that were included, so I had no choice but to wing-it.

I boiled and sliced boneless chicken breasts¬†(grilling would’ve been better, but it wasn’t possible this time).¬† I cooked some whole-grain pasta, and tossed both with the cream sauce and baked it in a dish topped with mozzerella.¬† To make the cream sauce, I melted some neufchatel cheese in milk on very low heat, stirred in some basil pesto to taste, and added drained fire-roasted tomatoes.¬† It is simple and delicious.¬† Let me know if you give it a try!

Starting up the Presses…Again

12 02 2010

I just read my last post, and it doesn’t seem possible that it was from this fall.¬† It seems like that was ages ago so much has happened.¬† It is certainly time to get back into the habit of writing – I have missed it.¬† I’ll attempt to fill in the almost six-month gap that I have managed to create.

We still have jelly, and frozen apples.¬† They are being pulled¬†from the pantry and freezer, respectively, as we need them, but there is still enough to last a while.¬† The jelly is just as yummy and the apples are being used¬†most often in Apple Cake.¬† (Although I’ll probably be making Amish Friendship Bread for a while in place of the cake, until we get tired of that.)

School with my daughter has become much, much easier.¬† I think she¬†must have¬†been going through a phase…or maybe it was me.¬† But she doesn’t hesitate to come to me when she has finished her independent work or when she needs me.¬† She has matured a lot in other ways, as well, and has taken to doing some of what needs to be done without being asked (like putting the clothes in the dryer if she is closer when it buzzes), and has a better attitude in general.

The biggest change around here is that I am going to school myself full-time now.¬† It’s a long story, so you may want to grab a snack ūüėȬ† I didn’t finish college the first time around, and I didn’t think I’d ever go back.¬† For almost 20 years, I had not thought of one thing that I was interested¬†enough to want to get a degree in and work at every day.¬† Since my oldest started middle school (he’s in 10th grade now), I’ve been praying from time to time that God would give me direction, because for the first time, I fully realized and accepted that I would not be homeschooling forever, and would not feel fulfilled staying home after that phase of my life ended.¬† At first, I thought that I would volunteer full-time, either in one place, or several places, on different days.¬† This plan seemed like it may be right for the next year or so, as I came upon many places that I would like to invest in.¬†

It was sometime during October that I feel like God revealed to me his plan for me.¬† He made me realize that I have always been interested in¬†food and health, and how food affects health and how food can make health issues worse, cause them, or help manage them.¬† I have always taken¬†a multi-vitamin and¬†other supplements, given them to my children, modified recipes to make them healthier, and just generally been interested in diet.¬† He revealed to me through my own high blood pressure and family members’ health issues that peoples lives¬†can really be affected by the way they eat.¬† So I am working toward a degree in Dietetics!¬† ¬†It can’t be my plan, because I would never¬†have thought of it myself, even though in retrospect, I remember my sister jokingly saying once, “You should be¬†a Dietician.” when I was casually suggesting to my mom that she could make a recipe much healthier with a few changes.¬† I would also have never had the confidence¬†to enroll in college again.¬† My first go at that was such a nightmare.¬† I was young.¬† There just seemed to be so much pressure to declare a major – and nothing interested me that much!¬† I was trying desperately to take the advice of my advisor, and just take “basic” classes until I figured out what I was interested in, but I got a “C” on an English II paper, and it just simply sunk me like an anvil in a pool.¬† I had never received a “C” in writing!¬† And I couldn’t handle it.¬† I dropped out of every class – unofficially, which means my GPA is laughable.¬†

After that, feeling pressured to do something, I went to cosmetology school.¬† I liked playing around with it, with friends and family, but I knew pretty early on that I was not going to do¬†it for long.¬† I¬†stuck with it about 2/3 the way through, and got put on¬†bedrest¬†early in pregnancy and had to quit.¬† Frankly, it was a relief, because it gave me an excuse to quit¬†that¬†I didn’t have to feel guilty about.¬† My biggest problem was that I was trying to please others instead of following my path, and I didn’t have the relationship with God then that I¬†have now, so I didn’t know how¬†He could direct me if I’d just ask.

Homeschooling was His plan, too РI had never heard of it when He placed it in my path as an option, and compelled me to do it.  I have been oh so content following His lead since then, because He was very, very spot on!  I have never doubted for a moment that I was supposed to home- school.

I feel that way about this now, too.¬† It just amazes me that He didn’t reveal¬†it to me until it was time…I’d have messed that up somehow, I’m sure, probably by either trying to take a few classes to “get started” before His timing came, or by chickening¬†out totally and not going through with it.¬† As soon as I was sure that I was hearing¬†God right, I¬†sent for my old transcript (15 hours I won’t have to do over) and applied for admission.¬† When I got my transcript in the mail and my acceptance letter, I immediately made an appointment with an advisor, applied for a student loan and enrolled full-time.

The¬†week¬†before classes started, I felt a bit panicky¬†about having¬†a full class load and wondered if that was a mistake that I’d regret.¬† Of course, I alternately prayed and cried and¬†believed.¬† But 5 weeks in, it is going very well.¬† I’m keeping up, doing well, and enjoying it very much.¬† Some days I still feel a little overwhelmed, but my super-hero family kicks in and does some of the non-school stuff that’s contributing to my insanity and all comes back to a balance ūüėČ

It’s about¬†time to pick up my daughter, and that’s about as thorough an update as I can manage tonight.

Life and Jelly

9 09 2009

Why is it that there can be so much going on in my head, but when I place my fingers on the keyboard they sit motionless while I struggle?¬† I suppose it’s just hard to know where to start sometimes…

“What have I been up to?” you ask.¬† Ok, so you haven’t ask, but for posterity’s sake, let’s pretend.¬† I need someone to ask today, and since there’s no one around, I shall indulge myself in imaginings ūüôā

I’ve been up to lots of things.¬† I’ve been trying to be a full-time teacher to my sixth-grade daughter, for one.¬† I have found it easy, as a home educator, to leave my children on auto-pilot for a few hours each day, while I¬†keep other responsibilities under control, but I’ve discovered that this approach doesn’t work quite so well with this child as it did with the first.¬† Siblings can be so different!¬† That’s another conversation entirely, and I’ll stay on the current one.¬† Staying near my daughter as she works, being available to answer questions (she won’t search the house for me like her brother did), asking about her progress regularly (to inhibit daydreaming – or whatever it is her mind turns to), and moving her from one task to another (to eliminate the time wasted when she fails to come to me when she has completed what I have given her) is sooooooo difficult some days!¬† In case you haven’t concluded so yet, today was one of those days.¬† By the time we finished the school day, it was 4:50, and I truly thought I would implode before dinner was cooked.¬† Some momma-chosen tunes and self-control, along with the cooking assistance and companionship offered by my love helped put out the fuse!

I’ve really slowed down in the hobby area, simply because of the lack of time.¬† I’ve set up and made only a handful of postcard trades since school began a month ago, and letterboxing was completely ignored¬† through the entire summer (although I did think about it many times).¬† Hiking is not happening, either, but I have probably spent more time dreaming/planning about where and when I can hike than any other single pleasurable think I have been able to allow my brain to escape to these last few weeks.

My mom and niece came for a visit over the weekend, and it so happens that I had been planning to make apple jelly on Labor Day for two weeks.¬† My daughter expressed a desire to know how jelly was made, and see the process, so the homeschooler in me delighted at the chance to indulge her curiosity and delight in her eagerness to learn something new, and I forged ahead with it!¬† Although my mom had made jelly many times when I was growing up, I don’t remember ever helping past the point of helping gather the fruit,¬† so I had no experience making¬†jelly from fruit.¬† In college, I made jelly from canned fruit juice once, but that was the extent of my experience with jelly-making.¬† So, I became excited easily about the prospect of going through the entire process using fresh apples from a local orchard.¬† That my mom just happened to be here to see the process along and share in the fun, was just perfect.¬† The jelly turned out great, it is delicious, and though not a requirement, it is¬† absolutely gorgeous!¬†¬† But out of the whole experience, I was most excited to learn that you don’t have to have whole apples to make apple jelly.¬† It may not be a surprise to you, but I was elated to learn that all you need to make apple jelly are the apple scraps!!¬† The cores and peelings alone result in wonderfully tasting, beautifully colored jelly!¬† The first batch we made was made from whole apples,¬† We left on the peels, but tossed the cores and the result was a very flavorful, light peachy-pink jelly, perfect in sweetness.¬† When I looked at the¬†huge bowl of apples remaining and began to discuss making another batch with my mom, she suggested that I freeze or dry some of the apples for other uses, since there were really enough apples left for two more batches.¬† It was during this discussion that she revealed that all we needed were the scraps from the apples we¬† would freeze or dry to make another batch of jelly.¬† I couldn’t believe it at first, and then it sunk in as we discussed the ‘old way’ and how it would never have allowed for the ‘waste’ of good fruit just for jelly.¬† True.¬† And I couldn’t wait to try it.¬† I am still ecstatic with the result ūüôā¬† And I still think it’s so cool that you can make lovely, sweet, scrumptious jelly from the parts I usually throw away!!!¬† And to make my new knowledge even more amazing, the ‘scrap’ jelly is much deeper in color – never again will I think of peelings and cores as garbage!

Check out the difference in the color…(the taste is pretty much the same, I think, but my tastes of each weren’t within moments of one another, so there could be a slight difference).

Apple Jelly  Apple Jelly

This jelly still needs a name.¬† I just haven’t been able to come up with something creative enough – it’s one of those “I’ll know it when I hear it” sort of things…suggestions are very welcome!!

In case it helps, the apples used were Empire, Jonathon, and Cortland.¬† “Think, think, think.” says Pooh.¬† ūüėČ

We also canned two whole pints (hee-hee) of the jalapenos growing so well in the garden.¬† I promised you pictures when it was all in full green…sorry about that; I never took photos and now it’s in that not-so-lovely stage, where the lettuce is gone, the tomatoes and bell peppers, some scallions and herbs are still green and producing, but mostly just the jalapenos are thriving!!¬†¬†Maybe I’ll get pictures during it’s peak next year.¬†

I’m also getting ready to start back volunteering in the children’s ministry at church.¬† Not writing for them as I had hoped, but God has other plans for my writing ūüôā¬† I’ll be teaching Kindergarten boys – such cute little bottles of energy and curiosity, and I am very excited about it and implementing the changes that have been made in the progression of the hour we have them.¬† I am working on a postcard-sized newsletter to send home weekly to update the parents on what their boys are learning and encouraging them to help reinforce it at home.¬† I need a few creative group activities to use with them in a whole-family group setting, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, they are welcome!

Even though the preceding barely touches the surface in attempt to tell you what I’ve been up to, I’ve sat still long enough and have to move on to something else.

Speeding Through Summer

8 07 2009

I can’t fully comprehend how it is that I find myself nearing mid-July, when I have little recollection of the preceeding summer months.¬† To say that summer is speeding by would be a simple enough statement.¬† This July 4 was spent relaxing with extended family at Cherokee Lake in Tennessee.¬† It was very nice.¬† The weather was warm and sunny, with only a little rain on the last day, so I can’t complain about the weather, for a change ūüėȬ† It’s always so great to have all the cousins together, playing and to listen to their conversations.¬† I find it absolute pleasure that they seem to just pick up the relationship in all it’s ease, even if it’s been months since they’ve seen or spoken to one another.¬† Wouldn’t it be nice if adults were so free in their meetings?¬† We always hold back, wary of the possible judgement or hidden agenda held by the other.¬† That’s what comes from experience with people, I suppose.

I’ve neglected my site here to lavish time and effort on the postcard trading hobby – it is very enjoyable, and affords me the chance to meet peoples from all over the globe, who have similar interests and agendas for our dealings.¬† It does take quite a bit of time of organizing, having to keep my online trade album updated with what I have in stock, keep up with addresses, preferences, and such, but it is fun.¬† I’m indulging myself with more time to spend with the hobby right now, because I know that when school begins, I will have to seriously cut back.

Speaking of school, I am elated that our school district has decided that middle and high schools should begin school an entire hour later than in previous years, but still release at the same time!¬† I can’t exaggerate the good things that means for our household.¬† This past school year being the first that we’ve had to deal with considering “out of home” school schedules in 9 years, was quite an adjustment for all of us.¬† Since I will not send my son, who never seems to be full of belly, out of the house on a meager, cold breakfast, I raised myself from the bed every morning (there were about a dozen exceptions – most exusable because of surgery), to cook his meal at 6am.¬† Now, you may consult any home educator about this – 6am is early!¬† Three to four mornings a week, I went back to bed after my son and husband left, which meant that I slept later than I would’ve¬†if I¬†had¬† not gotten up to cook and laid back down, which meant that home school for my daughter started and finished later than we’d like.¬† For my husband, this change of schooling type meant that he got a hot breakfast every morning, which he loved, but it also meant that he had to take our son to school and deal with traffic he could otherwise avoid if our son missed the bus.¬† Even though our son managed the earlier beginning and later ending to his day quite well, he will savor every minute of that extra hour he gets to sleep!

I am also researching Kentucky and its history, which has taken me away from regular hobbies and things.¬† Right now I’m particularly looking for quirky facts and quotes by Kentuckians.¬† It is particularly difficult to find quotes from KY women in history, so if you are interested and would like to help me out, it would be greatly appreciated!