Saturday, February 27, 2010


Picture this...
It's another day in the life of  You wake up, do your morning routine, go about your business, and do your thing.  Then...out of nowhere....something catches your eye.  Just a little shine, a little sparkle...enough to make you do a double take.  You look more closely and realize is a DIAMOND!!  It was right there...waiting on YOU.  All you had to do was notice.  Little diamonds can be found all around the smile of a friend, a kiss, a little hand reaching out for yours, a conversation, a look, the breeze playing in your hair, the sun warming your face, the sound of water giggling over the rocks, the way the sunlight looks streaming through your window, a night drive on quiet, snowy roads, the grass under your feet, the falling rain, the way the dew sparkles in the sun, the iridescent wings of a butterfly, an unfurling flower, a loving gesture, a hug....  we only have to notice them, reach out to claim them, and hold them ever present.  They will be those joys that last, the ones you reflect upon in your quiet moments, the ones that make you smile inside, and the ones that make you take a fresh look at life and the beauty it holds.  So, just for today, slow down ...and notice.  See how many diamonds you can spot...and hold them close to your heart.  <3

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do People "Need" to Celebrate?

To celebrate .... or not to celebrate?  My husband and I have been back and forth on this one....  On the one hand, everything seems so commercialized.  For Easter, you have baskets and chocolate bunnies and peeps; for Valentine's Day, "every kiss begins with Kay" and flowers and chocolates are in order; for your anniversary, it can go from cards to romantic getaways....  and Christmas....well, Christmas can quickly get waaay out of much so, that folks are still paying for those "perfect" gifts six months later with interest.   Birthdays tend to follow the same route as Christmas...only you're buying for one person instead of the 60 people you feel obligated to awe with a Christmas gift. "Obligated"...that's where the hitch comes in.  That is one of the main reasons we (my husband and I) have this discussion....well, that and commercialism.  As far as celebrations go, we've done it both ways ...  we've celebrated big and we've pretty much passed "holidays" and "occasions" without so much as a second glance.
However, it has come to me in my contemplations lately that people really do need to celebrate. The desire is in us to capture moments of time and relive them and feel some of the joy or to simply feel as tho things in life are truly worth celebrating.  When we pass by events such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's day, Christmas, etc without celebrating, we forfeit an opportunity to step outside the trappings of our daily routine and celebrate life, love, and living with someone who means something to us.  Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not advocating stocking up on peeps (tho they are tasty...LOL) and running up the credit card at Christmas.  I'm simply saying acknowledging these events boosts our spirits and gives us a moment to take another look at those things we take for granted.  Simple gestures, such as a note, hand picked flowers, a walk, a sit by the river, something homemade for Christmas....something infused with time and love, can go a long way and remind others that we are grateful they are in our lives.  And okay, an occasional store bought gift never hurt either....LOL
Having come to the end of this, it somehow seems less profound than when it was swirling in my head.  I think maybe I had convinced myself that we don't need to celebrate....and then it occurred to me, that yes....our spirits do need it...we need times of rising above the mundane...times of festivity and cheer.  We need to feel the joy that comes from making someone else feel loved and cherished, and we need to feel loved and cherished.  And that's just how I feel about it.  :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making Goat Cheese

Soft goat cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make.  It only takes a few ingredients and some molds.  To begin, you pour two quarts of fresh goat milk into a stainless steel pot and heat it to 72 degrees.  Add 2 tbsp of buttermilk (we use buttermilk made from our goat milk of course and 3 tsp of diluted rennet (dilution = 1 drop of liquid rennet into 1/4 cup cool water).  Rennet is made from the stomach of a cow and causes the curd and whey to separate.  {I found this about rennet very interesting....  According to, "HISTORY OF RENNET:  Presumably, the first cheese was produced by accident when the ancients stored milk in a bag made from the stomach of a young goat, sheep or cow.  They found that the day-old milk would curdle in the bag (stomach), yielding solid chunks (curds) and liquid (whey).  Once they discovered that the curd-chunks could be separated out and dried, they had discovered a means by which milk, an extremely perishable food, could be preserved for later use. The addition of salt was found to preserve these dried curds for long periods of time.
    At some point, someone discovered that the most active portion of the young animal's stomach to cause curdling was the abomasum, the last of the four chambers of the stomach of a ruminant animal.  (In sequence, the four chambers are rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum.)  In particular, the abomasum from a suckling kid or calf was especially active.  The abomasum was cut it into strips, salted and dried.  A small piece would be added to milk in order to turn it into curds and whey."}  - okay, that might have got a little "weighty" there at the end...LOL!!!

After warming the milk and adding cultured buttermilk and rennet, you stir the mixture thoroughly, cover, and let it set for 12-18 hours.  During this time, the curd will separate from the whey.  
You will want to have your molds ready before the 12-18 hours are up.  These can be bought OR you can do it yourself :D  I read somewhere, that you can drill holes in plastic cups and have basically the same thing...for much cheaper.  Sooooo, I started with some cups the kids had received from a Library Summer Reading Program {don't be offended librarians...they are being put to a greater use LOL}.  They are about 4 1/2 inches tall. The lip of the cup has a diameter of 3 1/2 inches, curving down to 2 1/2 inches at the bottom.  {Did you just hear all those numbers??  It came so close to feeling like math that I nearly got dizzy there for a sec...LOL}  I got out my husband's drill and went to work.  When I first got started, I was a tad skeptical....the drill was jerking my arm off.... LOL.  I finally figured out that I needed to hold the cup pretty firmly and just go at it.  I drilled around 28 holes in each cup, putting about 1/2 inch between each row.  Okay, cups - ready.  It is really very cool to remove the lid and see the separation the first time. Okay..I'll admit, I think it is pretty neat every time!! :D  
When you remove the lid, what you see is a solid layer of curds on the bottom and the liquid whey floating on top.  I put a small cooling rack in a pan and sit my cups on that so they can drain without making a mess.  Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop the curds out and put them into the cups/molds.  Cover the molds with a paper towel just to keep out anything that might find its way in uninvited.  Leave this sitting on the counter for two days.  During this time, the remaining whey will drain out and you'll be left with a 1 to 1 1/2 inch round of soft goat cheese.  Remove from the mold and salt all surfaces lightly.  
My kids LOVE this with Wheat Thins... even my little two year old, Isaac, eats it....sans the Wheat Thins.  :D
It is such a neat process and very satisfying to know you've taken it from milking the goat to making cheese.  All natural and farm fresh!!!  

The whey has separated from the curd and is floating on top - now isn't that just fascinating??  :D
 The curds after being scooped into the cups.

 Side view - notice the drilled holes - and you can see the level of the curds at this point.  The finished cheese will be a little less than half that size. 

The finished product!!!  Yummy!!!  :D

A Post by Special Guest, Sarah six year old Princess.

homeschooling is the coolest thing ever .  i like learning with unit studies. i think my math book is kind of fun.  i love to do lapbooks.  my favorite lapbook i've done so far was my bird lapbook.  we are getting ready to do a lapbook on giant pandas and i think that will be my favorite.  i can't wait to do it, because i love panda bears.  i also like to homeschool because i get to stay home.
Doing Horzions 1st Grade Math

Showing off her Bird Lapbook :D

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life.  ~John Burroughs

Monday, February 15, 2010

A little friend who sits quietly by as I am doing my milking.  Shhhh...don't startle her....

As I was walking through the enchanted forest, I spied these pine needles drying themselves on a branch! 

My Winter Wonderland :)

Update From the Farm....

I know I haven't mentioned much about the farm lately.  It's winter here.  Not a whole lot happens during the winter on this farm....except the daily chores in the snow, cold, and rain.  Yee-Haw!  Since it has been so cold, I've moved my choring time up from around 8 am to about 2 pm.  I know, I know, my great grandmother, who milked her cow every morning, would probably gasp in horror to know my goat doesn't get milked till 2 pm.  It bothered me at first, but I'm over it now.  LOL.  We have had more snow this year than we've had in many years.  And when it's that cold, the water tends to freeze in the buckets.  And the chicken waterers - that have screw on lids - refuse to be unscrewed....without much labor and huffing and puffing.  Oh, and another thing, when there is snow or ice on the ground, my milk goat has a phobia of getting on the milkstand.  She acts as though she's unsure of herself.  So, I stand beside her and pretend it doesn't bother me that I'm getting rained on, my feet are sinking in the mud, the chill is cutting right through me...while she looks around, butts at the cats that are awaiting their daily bowl of warm milk, rolls her eyes around, and shifts from one foot to the other.  But she's still producing a half gallon a day, so I try to be patient with her.  :)
The chickens, surprisingly, are still laying quite well.  We are still getting almost a dozen a day. 

I am also very pleased to announce that I purchased my first pair of muck boots a few weeks ago!  I am delighted!  They are soooo cool.  I don't know how I ever made it without them.  :)

After all the snow we've had, I am very ready for spring.  I long to feel the warm sun seeping into my bones and driving away the chill of winter. I'm ready to smell freshly turned dirt and watch the first little green sprouts pushing their way up through the soil.  I'm definitely ready to get out of the house and breathe some fresh air that doesn't freeze you to death.  Darren and I are already discussing what we want to plant where this year.  We are both looking forward to doing a little gardening together.

My other doe is pregnant and due sometime around the first of April.  I'm excited to see what she will have...boy or girl.  That also means she will be milking about 8 weeks later when we wean the kid off.  Not sure if I will continue milking Annie (current milking goat) after Sugar (the pregnant goat) begins providing or if we will let her (Annie) freshen before breeding again. 
Beauty lives in many forms....
{Discovered during my daily walk by the creek}
- Sycamore Seed Ball - 

Animal Track Identification

We have started our Mammal Unit Study.  I have been using a lot of the printouts in Considering God's Creation.  Last week, the activity for the day was to make an Animal Track Booklet and play a "tracking" game.  I was to lay printouts of various animal tracks on the floor and using their Track Booklet, they would identify the animal that made those tracks.   Before we started this, I received a rather humorous call from a frantic Fed Ex guy who was sitting at the top of my driveway and refused to come down.  He was verbally wringing his hands for fear his "heavy truck" would get "stuck in the mud"....okay, so it was muddy, but he would've been fine.  At any rate, I assured him I would come to the top of the drive and retrieve my package and his truck AND job would be safe.  :)  As I was making my way to get my parcel, I noticed numerous deer tracks on my driveway!  Imagine my excitement!  It was animal tracking day in our unit study...and here are actual tracks in the mud!!  The thought then occurred to me that there would most likely be additional tracks at the bottom of the drive around the creek.  So, off I set on a most determined mission to find more tracks.  What luck!  The creek area provided raccoon and possum tracks.  I was elated....seriously.  I so love it when something we are studying can be taken into everyday life.  I went back inside, got the kids, and took them outside to see our treasures :)
We took pictures and they identified the animal tracks.  I was thinking it would be so cool if we could pour some plaster in the tracks and make molds.  However, I was out of plaster ....then, it started pouring rain so I assumed we were out of luck.  After the rain, we checked on our tracks.  Every sign of the possum and raccoon had been washed away.  Upon inspecting our deer tracks though, we found them to be in great shape.  I purchased some plaster ASAP and off we trekked to see if we couldn't capture the footprint of a deer.  A cardboard ring was placed around the track and then the wet plaster was poured into that.  I wasn't sure how well it would work since the ground was still quite muddy.  We left the plaster to work its magic for the next 30 minutes and retreated to the warmth of our abode :)
30 minutes later, Jacob accompanies me outside to check on our adventure.  We were anticipating greatly the outcome...   I picked the casting up and it had about an inch or more of mud stuck to it....we couldn't see the hoof - if it was even there.  We brought them in, sat them on paper, and began a tedious job of trying to remove the mud without damaging the hoof.  I googled it and read that you can hold the plaster under running water to remove mud from animal track castings ....just don't submerge it for any length of time.  That worked perfectly!  The hoof castings looked great!!  We painted only over the impression with brown paint and VOILA!~  A near perfect deer track casting.
What began as a printout animal tracking game, became a real life science lesson, an art project, and another lighting of an educational fire.  I so love the opportunities that arise from homeschooling.  I love how you can go from one depth to another and keep going if curiosity demands.  I love how they get so many hands-on applications.  I love to watch my children learning and growing.
One of the deer tracks on the driveway.
Double hoof casting ~ still muddy.

Both castings....cleaned and painted!  :)

Lessons I've Learned While Homeschooling My Children

I have decided to post weekly of the various lessons I have learned while homeschooling my children.  :)
There are plenty....  LOL

Lesson Number One:

One lesson in a fifth grade math book can strip you naked of all ego.     

My kids think I'm the greatest mom ever while I'm showing them how to make deer track plaster castings. Then my son gets out his math book and he is asked to draw a diagram of a shape with the volume of 14 cm and ......    NOT being a math person, I immediately take a seat, and get a pencil. By the time I think {out loud} about "volume" and how it is found, and which way to draw the 3D width,  he is writing an answer...and saying "Mom, you're confusing me.  Don't worry about it...I've got it."  Goodbye ego.  :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow Blossoms

I was admiring the way the snow was holding fast to the branches of the trees flanking our house, when I noticed the "snow blossoms" in our Tulip Popular.  I found them utterly enchanting.  ;)



Monday, February 8, 2010

Pictures from the History Pockets "Greek and Roman Myths"

History Pockets ....LOVE these books!! :)

Front cover for "Greek and Roman Myths"

Pandora's Jar

Medusa!!  :)

Arachne's Web
 Melanion's Golden Apples

Persephone Puppets

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ancient Greece Study

We have just finished our Ancient Greece study.  Usually I put together my own unit studies using lots of library books and internet resources.  This time I used a prewritten one.  I must say, it was nice to have most of the work done for me.  :)  I still used several books of our own and added a few things from the internet but mostly it was completed using History Pockets. 
It was probably our longest running unit study yet... whether that was because we used new unit study books or if it was due to us just taking our time, I'm not sure :)
At any rate, it was an enjoyable study.  We used History Pockets "Ancient Greece" and History Pockets "Greek and Roman Myths".  This was my first experience with this particular publisher and I must say, I loved it!  The kids seemed to get a lot out of the activities.  This particular one was geared to 4th-6th graders, but Sarah did the study right along with the boys and did really well.  The idea is that you make various pocket folders (paper folded over to a 12" square forming a pocket) for the topics covered.  For Ancient Greece, the pockets included such things as Military, Literature, and Daily Life.  They took turns reading the initial information aloud (Sarah at age 6 did an amazing job sounding out the larger words).  They really enjoyed the art projects included in the different topics.  Jacob especially enjoyed making his own theatre mask :)  I was very pleased with the way the book handled all areas of interest and provided lots of different ways to teach the topic.  There were writing exercises, art, coloring, books...  The kids thoroughly enjoyed it and loved showing their daddy the finished project.  I will use their books again.  Actually, while we are working on our mammal study, I've decided to let Sarah work through another of their books, "Folktales and Fairytales"  ..geared more for her age... while the boys work on writing book reports and research papers.  :)
The front covers of their "Ancient Greece" Pocket Folders....
From the "Military Power" folder....a pennant for Alexander the Great.

Sarah's Mosiac...I added the Greek Life book from
gods and goddesses books

Jacob's beloved Theatre Mask :P

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Baring Myself....

Have you ever felt like you've lost a part of who you are?  Like something essentially "you" is missing? 
I am there.  We have had some turmoil in the last few months (mine has been both external and internal) ... the kind that crawls down inside you and snakes its way around your innermost being.  The saying is "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" but I don't totally agree with that.  Sometimes what doesn't kill you has a way of numbing certain parts of you.  It seems you can go about your daily life - laugh, talk, smile - but unknown to those around you, the inner part of you has lost its radiance. The shine inside has lost its sparkle.  Its strange, I still like to laugh and smile and make people laugh, but the part of me that really believes in anything has been boxed up and taped shut.  I think I put it away to avoid looking at it and contemplating it.  I don't think I want to know what the last several months have made of me.  Maybe I am afraid.  Maybe I realize that when I do take a good look at my inner man, I will be forced to take action ...  to look at the different stages of decay, assess them, and tear them out.  I'm not sure I can do that right now.  I don't want to have to act.  I want to stay in this dull numbness and not feel the plethora of emotions that will most assuredly assault me.  I am living - but as an actor in my own story.  The real me is sitting in the audience, watching the actor, knowing the scenes played before me have so much more depth than the actor playing them realizes.  I'm not sure how long I can view the scenes of my life unfolding before me without removing the actor and being who I am ... or was ... or who I was created to be.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I love it when the kids are into their work and have papers all over the table.  It just screams "learning" to me :D  This is the day we worked on the Zoo Adventures pages from Considering God's Creation.  ~  Which is an absolutely wonderful book!  It includes animals, plants, rocks, planets,etc....  There are so many hands-on things to do and great little projects to get them involved.  We have just begun our Mammal unit study. All the vertebrates have been covered except this one.  Hopefully this study will prove to be lots of fun.  I plan to include research papers in this study.  We haven't really done a lot (or any) of that, but choosing an animal is an easy way to narrow down the topic and information will be rampant.  I'm looking forward to covering a new unit with my kiddos.

LOVE this Birthday Gift!!

Bev convinced her husband to create this amazing drawing of "us" for my birthday!  Wow!  What talent!!  I love it!!!

Batgirl and Robin

If you should see some strange flashes of light in the midst of danger, have no's only Batgirl and Robin...saving the world.  Somehow my friend, Bev, and I have been ordained superheroes (don't ask who ordained us....I'd have to tell you that we are self-made...LOL).  Hey, as long as we've had our morning cup of cappuccino, we can handle any villain.  :)

This is EXACTLY what you DO NOT want to happen...

when you are milking a goat!!  I was showing my friend, Bev, how to milk a goat when she (the goat) got a little cranky, because it was taking longer than usual, and pulled her leg out of the tether.  Of course it landed directly in the center of the milk.  The cats got an extra helping of milk and I got to clean out the pot and begin again.  Ah well, such is life  :)  BUT, Bev learned how to milk a goat!  Hurray BEV!!

I Want to Be Just Like Daddy.....

Daddy has some big shoes to fill ...  but Isaac is getting an early start.  

This Gives a Whole New Meaning To "I Wanna Lick the Bowl!!" :)

The Resident Entomologist has a Birthday

Have I told you about the most remarkable birthday gift I ever received?  It was the most amazing, unique, perfect gift ever.  My firstborn child was laid in my arms and it became a day much more special than a day I had celebrated every year...  It became the day we celebrate together...  <3  I love you sweet Malachi!!

This year, in honor of his budding entomology interest, we threw him a buggy birthday.  He had a sugar cookie spiderweb and chocolate cake with spiders adorning the icing.

I can't believe how much he's grown....  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming.  He already possesses strong leadership qualities and is such an inquisitive sort. He truly makes this day special for me. <3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Love….  What does that mean?  Does it mean loving someone when they have a smile, a good attitude, an amiable disposition??  Well, it certainly makes it easy when that’s the case.  What about when the one before you is at enmity with you?  What if they have no concern for you?  That changes the readiness in which we extend our friendship, doesn’t it?  Isn’t it amazing that God chose to love us in our sin???  The Bible says “while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”  He didn't wait till we were all washed and clean and sparkly on the outside.  He reached His hand down, found us in our dirt and filth, and extended His LOVE.  That humbles me.  He knows what we are, knows our shortcomings, knows our impatience, our inconsistencies… and yet, He LOVES us.   I think this time of year reminds me of how frail human love is….how it hinges so much on other people and their actions.  It reminds me that even the human loves that we view as strong are so fragile compared to His LOVE and what He daily extends to us...loving us the same no matter our failings.  Valentine’s Day takes me back to the greatest gift of LOVE ever...God giving His Son for us –in our sin and Jesus accepting our  guilt and shame and dying for us-in our sin.  It makes me stand in awe of Him and such a perfect LOVE.