Meow Eats

We school year round with a goal of 3-4 active days per week.  That gives us the flexibility to take days off – or even weeks – when things come up.  This summer we took a little more time off than that, and so we’re playing a bit of catch up.  After company was gone for the summer, I sat down and we formulated some goals to accomplish by Christmas, the first two being the biggest:

  • 50 math lessons each
  • 16 (week) Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLTA) Lessons
  • Complete current spelling book (approx 60 lessons)
  • Complete current science program (approx 8 week lessons)

In the first 10 days, they had barrelled through 23 math lessons and 7 LLTA each.  Whoa.  Here’s the thing: We’re not even losing sleep over this right now.  We’re still maintaining and working the homestead, playing to our heart contents outdoors & in, reading any of box of new books we just got for them (not to mention the bigger box Grandma Chris brought!), and baking like there’s no tomorrow.  Oh, and did I mention arts & crafting, making messes and cleaning up constantly?  Imagine if we were doing only school 8 hours a day… They’d have graduated at this rate!

I don’t want to push the kids so hard that they don’t retain what they learn or get stressed, but you have to keep in mind: I didn’t set the pace.  They are self-motivated, resourceful littles who soak up the world like a sponge.  Why would I discourage them?  I suspect the next few years will bring continued accelerated learning if it’s up to them.

In order to combat my concerns that they’re learning too much too fast (ha!), I’m trying to shake things up with extra activity and projects that will stimulate creativity and fun.  Yesterday, we studied cats.  No, not the furry purr-y kind.  The wild eats kind.  We are studying Cattail & Cat’s Ear. We watched videos, hiked and collected, drew pictures and made cards.

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We didn’t accumulate a lot of information on Cats Ear (or often called “false dandelion”), as we’re pretty familiar with it.  We learned a few techniques to decipher it against a true dandelion.  For one, Cats Ear does not have a hollow stem like Dandelion.  They’re similar nutritionally, and can be used the same, tho’ their stems steamed make yummier eats because of their heartiness.  They’re are rich in antioxidants and minerals, vitamin A & K and iron.


The roots and tender stems can be eaten, as well as the pollen and young flower heads – all prepared different ways.  They say cattail contains 4x’ more vitamin C than an orange (weight for weight?).  It’s high in iron.  It contains phosphorus, vitamin K, B6, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.  One of the cool parts about cattail is that you can use the pollen as a flour alternative, or use the flowers picked off.  It takes a lot of pollen to get a little flour, but if you use the flower, it adds up quick!  Check out this video and you’ll see what I mean.  Gonna do it.  And make something.  Just to see what it’s like!

Plans were underway to feed American soldiers with that starch when WWII stopped… One acre of cattails can produce 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average (Harrington 1972).” – from this link.  Why do we raise GMO-infested, genetically altered high gluten wheat? “To feed the word” you say?  I beg to differ.  Alright.  Rant = over.
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Sending Letters

Some time ago (and I mean a long time ago) I started a “quiet book” for Flynn.  It was a new concept to me, and Pinterest did a great job about getting me overly-excited about something I thought I wouldn’t attempt to try.  It was Etsy’s price tags per page (some upwards of $90) that changed my mind and made me crack down and make our own.  The trouble is, I’m not good at doing a hodge podge job.  I was either going to do this 100%, or not at all.  Because what’s the point of something homemade if it’s not quality and smart and interesting and as awesome as possible, right?  Yeah, it sounds good, but it’s what also keeps me from finishing a lot of projects.

This summer while my step-Mom was here, she asked if she could work on some pages.  Of course she could!  She didn’t over-think it.  She didn’t pine over what to do.  She didn’t throw it to the side because she needed particular supplies.  She made it happen.  And (of course), they were fantastic.  Her artistically inclined motivation encouraged me me to finish the ones I’d started, and to make a couple more while she was pumping them out.


She left with what she needed to make more that she’ll send home for Flynn.  I finished up the ones above.  Colby was so excited that he started one on his own.  I haven’t helped him an ounce.  So proud of his creativity and care!  His is the mailbox below.  It’s not finished, you may have noticed.  He’s laminating “cards” that Flynn can “send” and adding a fastener & red flag once he hand-sews on the mailbox door.  His stitching looks fabulous; his attention to detail noted!

Flynn may be getting older – and tho’ I worried he may outgrow this quiet book before it makes it to his hands (it’s now in his bag for quiet times), I am certain he’ll cherish it for a long time!

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The house has been full of art lately.  The two older boys are constantly at the piano, filling the house with music.  Kendra has just started her first art lessons outside of our homeschool cooperative.  She’s shown a heavy interest and clear talent for a while now – we’re excited to see where this takes her!

Needless to say, there are oil and french pastels all over our plastic-covered table, as that was the medium used this past week at Kendra’s art class and we had 50% off coupons at the art shop.  If you get a card from us in the next month or so (until ???), it’ll likely be hand-made with an artistic cover.  Because we can’t seem to stop ourselves.  And it’s a good excuse to get an old-fashioned (snail mail) concept back into our modern day world.

come by to see her revolving art gallery in our home

at class

Come by to see Kendra’s revolving mini (wall) art gallery.

Greek Honey Candy

This weekend is the umpteeth Greek festival in Portland. With that in mnd, and having been inspired by a counter side enticement last week, we made sesame seed candy today. Only we mixed nuts in it, mainly chia (it’s what we had). That’s how we roll.


Here’s how we did it:

  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 t. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 c. seeds and/or nuts of choice

Mix honey, sugar, salt and water while heating for 5-10 minutes, until amber colored (or 300 f if using a candy thermometer). Pull of heat and add butter and vanilla. Once butter is melted, stir in baking soda (will get foamy) then add seeds and nuts. Pour onto a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Cover with additional mat or paper and use rolling pin and roll it to desired thinness.  Cool.  Break.  Enjoy!

Be creative.  Shake it up by adding herbs, berries and flowers!  Use different extracts.  Lots of variations to be had here.

Here Fishy Fishy!

I got a little more tuna than I had originally planned, since I’ve all but conquered pressure canning.  I bought 5 pounds of loin, and a whole 25 pound fishy.  I put the loin straight into the freezer for a later use, and went to work breaking down this big guy.  He cost me $52.50.  And here’s what I got:


  • 13 full pints (each with pepper and a bay leaf, canned at 10# pressure for 100 minutes – in theory*)
  • a 3# loin
  • 8 pints of gelatinous stock
  • almost a gallon ground up animal food

A typical small can of tuna is 3 ounces.  A pint is 16 ounces, and held almost exactly a pound of fish.  So if I break it down in “cost” (not including jars), I have this:

  • Pints = $1/each (equivillant to a 3oz can costing me approximately 20 cents)
  • Loin = $3.00 for entire loin (14″ long)
  • Stock = $1/pint
  • Ground animal food = free

Not shabby at all.

Flynn wanted you to gain some perspective on the size of the fish.


*so I didn’t conquer the canner, it turns out.  These ended up in the freezer.  And I learned that I need a different seal, which is on order.

Under No Pressure Canning

Twenty pounds of green beans, thanks to a dear friend who found them pre-picked for a fantastic price from a semi-nearby farmer.  I couldn’t resist.

The two littles and I went to snapping off the ends, then I cut all of them into 1-2″ pieces with the intent on freezing them.  I put a big pot of water on to blanch them.  You know, when you’re preserving something, a lot of times you lose a lot to the chickens.  Peels, cores, seeds, stems…  But with green beans, you have very little loss.  When I looked back at the box of beans, I realized we were going to need to invest into a walk in freezer.  Sure, the beans only took up about 2 square feet, but that’s on top of the other veg, the berries, the casseroles for quick meals… the meats!  I don’t think it makes sense to expand beyond two freezers.  And now that I thought about it, I was game for the challenge.

We’re going to pressure can today, kids.

We went downstairs and grabbed needed supplies: old dusty canner, new seal, jars & lids.

We’ve got this.


I washed and sterilized everything, packed the jars, added salt and the boiling water that would have been for blanching.  Screwed on lids, placed in canner, lidded, allowed to steam for 5 minutes before adding my weighted gauge on it.  That’s when things got tricky.  Steam and drips were coming out the side.  I thought that they’d let up as the pressure built, but it didn’t.

I sat just inside my screen door (sure, screen will protect you from a pressure canner explosion…. riiiiiight…) texting my canning guru girlfriend that I thought it must be all wrong.  That it was about to blow.  She held my hand the whole time, and finally recommended a re-do.  Once it all cooled down and pressure was released, I checked the rim.  All looked well.  I oiled the seal, as per Denise’s recommendation.  And voila!  The next batch was quitely humming with no steam or drips in no time!  So fast (and stress-free), in fact, that we were done lickity split.  It went so well, I wasn’t even scared.  Let that sink in.  I wasn’t even scared.

I must be growing. That is definitely not my normal response to pressure canning – this whole cool-as-a-cucumber thing.  You’ll remember my last couple of attempts.  I was a total baby about it.

Needless to say, I’m pretty ecstatic.  After a second batch, I’m addicted.  A third is going in today, and then I’m picking up 20#’s of tuna that I was going to freeze… That will now go into superbly packed little glass jars.  This opens up a whole new world of food preserving that I’ve only dreamt to ever consider.

Our canning cellar will have more than jam and pickled things now!

A Little Trippy

We’re far from old or wise, but God has sent people into our lives seeking counsel.  Together with the Bible, we’ve been able to walk hand-in-hand with brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging each other and spurring each other to grow.  One resource we’ve used in the past is What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp.  It’s an excellent marriage seminar that addresses several important topics.  He’s easy to listen to, comical, loving and holds close to Scripture.  We’ve recommended him and have shared his ministry.

But last week something happened.

A fellow by the name of Tullian Tchividjian filed for divorce after extra-marital affair/s.  He was also a pastor (stepped down; license now revoked), an author of christian books, a contributing author to well known (and excellent) Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and Billy Graham’s grandson.  He and Tripp were close, and after a week-long counseling session by Paul, Tripp shared a statement last week with this line:

So it is with sadness that I, along with others, have come slowly and cautiously to the conclusion that his marriage is irreparably broken.

(this post has since been removed from his blog and Facebook page after receiving much backlash, including threats of client-privacy breeches.  It can be found online, and I’ve included here)


Because we live in a world where all information is public – or seemingly so – we know that Tchividjian claims to have “sought comfort” outside his marriage after being heartbroken by a wife who was cheating after 20-some years of marriage.  Obviously, there is plenty to this story that we don’t know (or have any business knowing).  But what we do know is that it’s been six months since Tchividjian says the trouble began.  Most of those six months the couple trying to work it out on their own, only to ask help and expose it 3 months ago to the church.  The church has had 3 months to come along side and counsel.  3 months.

Yet “clearly” their marriage was not fixable.  After 3 months of “work.”  Even less, really, as Paul Tripp states this only after one week of counseling.  Why he felt the need to make a public statement, I’m unsure. To that, Mark Jones quoted 1 Corinthians 10:23: All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. Challies shared Mark Jones’ post on the matter, found here.  I’d highly encourage you to read it.

Again, we don’t know what all this situation involves, but we do know that “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 10:27), and that “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:26).  We do know that a christian marriage is a covenant.  That someone claiming to be a biblical counselor certainly can’t decide when a marriage is over.

I’m disappointed.  I loved that fellow.  I still do.  But this doesn’t match his preaching.  Or Scripture.

In the last year or two, christians have been disappointed many times by “heroes” that have fallen.  It continues to remind me that we cannot rely on man.  That we cannot lift them as idols, or have unreasonable expectations.  We must be careful who we receive/follow instruction and wisdom from.  Just because they’re in a position of leadership, have a public platform, or have solid affiliates does not make them any higher, smarter, wiser or godlier than another brother or sister.  Perhaps more accountable/answerable, or with larger potential consequences, but no more holy or righteous.

“It reminds all that there is a difference between talent and character and that talent is never a measure of spiritual maturity.  Good preaching behind the pulpit and good communication ability even to share spiritual truth isn’t a measure of the maturity of the preacher.  We must pray for all of our pastors.” Edgar V., referring to Tchividjian’s weakness.

All christians are called to be biblical counselors.  For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 – and look at Ephesians 4:12-16).  I know that all people (myself abundantly included!) are flawed and in need of grace and forgiveness perpetually, and definitely can’t assume perfection by any stretch, but both of these fellows have chosen a platform of public leadership, holding them to a particularly high standard.  For Tchividjian to accept a position in a church right now (this week) mid-divorce, and for Tripp to continue marriage counseling after publicly stating a marriage was irreparable without apology… That’s not sound.

I’m hopeful for a change of heart.  And I pray no one ever gives up on our marriage when we run into rocky times, especially those we seek counseling from.

We’re praying for the entire Tchividjian family, the church who hired him, and the Tripps’ building of faith and understanding in the Chief Architect of reconciliation and restoration as they pursue ministry in this arena.

The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. – Phil. 1:12-18

Thanks to our favorite neighbors letting us know the band would be in town, we had the privilege of seeing The Durocher Family band last month in Camas.  The Durocher’s are a family of 14 that are musically blessed, the father a pastor.  Afterward, we spent some time with one of their girls in the back, who really emulated love for Christ, not simply obedient politeness.  Impressive.

We were really blessed by their music and words.  And noted their genuineness.  When perusing their humble product table in the back, we picked up a cd, as well as a 5-session dvd called Building Strong Families in Post Christian America.  Wanting to invest our time wisely, we’re starting the series this Friday evening, leaving the latest Marvel movie in the gutter for the sake of learning as a family (and with friends!).

One thing that we really appreciated about the Durocher’s ministry is their strong encouragement to hold fast to Family Discipleship.  Sure, it’s some coined phrase that is loaded with boxed-up assumptions and some negative connotations, but the concept is one that is clearly valuable.  It really resonates with us and lines up with our philosophy (and understanding of Scripture) to live modestly, focus on our family (small and large), and keep it as real and close to the earth as possible.  The family & home being the foundation of christian living.

When our surroundings to do not look like we believe good and right, or even optimum, we always bring it back to the home – and to share and be a light from an organic place by living by example and sharing completely.  If it’s a new concept to you, I’d encourage you to read Mr. Durocher’s blip in magazine (subscribe here): What Is Family Discipleship?

It brings home the reason why our kids are most often with us, be it Sunday morning service, or at endless meetings or otherwise “adult” engagements – not to mention working alongside us always.  They learn by being a constant part of things, by interacting with all ages and professions and situations.  We see it as offering them more experience and opportunities than limiting their exposure to age/gender-specific learning techniques that are prevalent today.  It also allows us, as parents, to filter, train, and guide them based on knowing their intake of information instead of relying on others to do what we believe is our job – and what believe God has been so gracious to allow us the flexibility to do.  We are blessed to be in a season that I can stay home, that we can run a homestead business, and that Scott’s hours and income accommodate this.  In no way do we think this is the only way to parent, but is the optimum way for us to at this point.

Here is where I’d be remiss not to note the man I married.  Never one to lead with a strong hand, he is the most humble, gentle, loving and kind man who encourages and leads our family by being an example and stretching us to always focus on truth.  Leaders come in all shapes & forms (as do the led), and I’ve never doubted that God truly blessed me by putting his shape & form into my life.


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