July 31, 2010

Keeping On Through Discouragement

The Big Picture

It has been a week of crossing some finish lines after difficult races, and encouraging others while fighting my own discouragement.  Sounds like a typical week in the life of a homeschool mom, doesn't it?

The Details

House Happenings...

No big cleanout yet, but I am growing a bit anxious about whether or not I'll be able to get rid of enough of the "stuff" that is cluttering up my house before the window installers arrive!  We're going on a camping trip, and the windows go in about 4 days after we get home.  Between the tear-out, installation, and then staining/finishing of the interior wood panes, they'll be working for a week, I think.  Probably we'll just keep the camp cots and mats and bags out and sleep in the basement until it's all over with, LOL!  Guess it's not a bad time for a camping trip afterall!

Homeschool High School & College Notes...

On Thursday morning, 9am, Nathan and I arrived at the college for his final exam in the 5 week INTENSIVE English Composition II course he undertook this summer.  At 9:30am, he walked back out, a FREE MAN!!!  We have since learned that he got an "A" on the exam, and an "A" in the class! 

The other class he took this summer, also through the college, was Geometry.  It was a "flexible" learning course, meaning there was no classroom, no teacher...just himself and the textbook.  Most kids have a hard time doing math that way...but for a homeschooler, it just seemed normal!  (Wow, they can get a book and teach themselves stuff!  Remarkable!)  This class allowed 7 weeks to get through the entire text book, which covers what a typical, year-long high school geometry class covers.  We left for our Mexican vacation during the first week, and though Nathan did some math during that trip, it slowed him up just a bit (the ocean was wayyyyy more fun than geometry, even for a guy who loves math).  So, I urged him, and he agreed, to take an "incomplete" in the class.  It's a very allowable option for this type of class (it was on the course outline and syllabus, that's how we knew about it!), and all he had to do was complete the final test by the end of the Fall term...which is in December!  Nathan was so wiped out from that English class, I didn't know if he'd be able to complete geometry before we left for camping.  Turns out, he will finish the last lesson of the last chapter tomorrow (Saturday)!    He plans to take the chapter test (in the book, they use them for practice before going in to the college to take the exam that counts) during the drive to our camping trip, study a little bit each day on the camping trip, and then take the last exam the day after we get home.  So far he has an "A" in that class, too...he figured out that he needs to get a 78 on this last exam to keep his "A."  So between that and the fact that he has, technically, until December to take that last test, the pressure is officially OFF this kid!

Bryan, on the other hand, has to keep slogging away at the schoolwork, non-stop, until he graduates high school in December.  He is happy for his brother, but it's been a week where I've needed to encourage him a lot since there's just no end in sight that's close yet. It's all good stuff, it's just relentless.  I believe, with all my heart, that I will be happier than he will be when he finally completes the high school classes!!!  This has been a long haul.

Bryan and I have decided that when he completes this first semester of Communications/Speech class, which will be in a week, that rather than going on to the next book in that series alone, I'll take a look at it and pick and choose some assignments from it, and then we're going to hit the dyslexia "working strategies" and therapies HARD as he begins his college courses.  It'll include brain integration therapies (Dianne Craft), spelling strategies for dyslexics, and testing and evaluating color overlays for improving reading ability

He will be taking speech again at college (required for his degree), so my goal has been to take this dyslexic guy, who struggles at times to get the thoughts in his head to come out of his mouth as words, and walk him through his first few public speaking assignments, gently coaching and correcting, and training him how to cope with the difficulty that his dyslexia causes.  But the therapies we do really make a big difference...we just have to do them.  And they take time.  So they will become part of his "communications" course-work; they DO improve his communication! 

The Kline Creek Farm agricultural staff and volunteers (of which Bryan is one) showed the sheep once again at another county fair on Thursday morning.  I couldn't be there because I was taking Nathan in for his final exam...*sniff-sniff* ... so no pictures this time!  But Bryan said that his supervisor felt that their showmanship was much better than last week, so they did great, but the competition amongst the sheep at this fair was harder, so the sheep didn't do as well. 
My Creative Side...

Nothing happening.  Truly, nothing!  I am a creative lump of clay, waiting for action.  Have just been too busy this week!

Kitchen Happenings...

Been making meals ahead of time for the camping trip...my freezer has ziploc baggies filled with yummy camp goodness in it!  One thing that we'll make is campfire eclairs, they are sooooo yummy!  It's just crescent dough that you wrap around a 1.5 inch dowel rod then roast like a marshmallow (takes 5 to 7 minutes...patience!); once it's all golden, it slides right off the dowel rod, and into the hollow you squeeze vanilla pudding (I put it into a ziploc baggie then snip off a corner to make a "pastry bag").  Nummm nummm! 

In the Garden...

My Friday FarmGirls at Heart post yesterday tells it all...

Where the Lord and I Walked This Week...

Nathan and I enjoyed Ecclisiastes 12:12... "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh."  He can smile upon it now; Bryan has weary flesh!  I so want to just take a break from encouraging, from driving, from pushing and checking work, from all of it right now...but I know that this is my last semester with Bryan in high school, and then I will no longer be his teacher.  Satan often gets to us when we are sooooo close to something so amazing, so Heavenly, so much bigger than we can even realize because we allow that devil to cloud our vision with discouragement and with weariness.  How often have I been like a person wearing a blindfold, trying to find my way around a room, grasping at air, reaching for my desired destination, and then turning away to go another direction trying to find the desired end, completely unaware that I was just inches from it, and had I only kept going one more step, I'd have been there? 

That's how homeschooling high school can feel sometimes.  I know we are soooooo close, and that God has us in the palm of His hand.  I just have to put those blinders on, like the kind they put on horses so they can't see anything off to the side that will frighten or distract them; put those blinders on that block out the world's shouts of, "give up, it's too much, you can't get it all done!" Walking with Jesus is sometimes a happy hop, skip, and jump...other times it's one foot in front of the other, trusting the One who holds my hand and leads that He will see this good work which He began until the Day of its completion.  I don't have to make it happen.  He'll do it.  I just have to follow and obey.
Blessings,
Lori

July 30, 2010

Friday FarmGirls @ Heart ~ Spicy Goodness

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar!  You can grab code HERE.

Oh, my FarmGirl Heart is just going pitter-pat, pitter-pat, today!  My 16 year old son, Nathan, took his final exam this morning for an English course he took over the summer at the local commmunity college.  He thinks it went really well!  But that's not what's got my FarmGirl Heart a-fluttering...

We got home an hour earlier than I had thought we would, and Nathan said that it felt more like summer to him now!  So, I said, "let's go see if the plants on the side of the house are dead." 

That may sound like an odd thing to say in celebration of summertime and the end of school for a few weeks, but these plants were an experiment.

The areas of my home where I can plant vegetables (in pots/containers only) are on my concrete back patio, which faces northeast to east, and a new place I wanted to try this year, the side of my garage, which faces south to southwest.  I've tried to grow tomatoes and peppers on the patio, but the peppers never made anything but foliage, and the tomatoes struggled to turn yellowish red, and then were bitten...one bite out of each one...by chipmunks.  That or they got that blossom-end-rot thingy.  My friend told me that peppers, especially, want heat and sun.  Plenty of it.  My eastern-exposed pation didn't cut it.

So, I took some steel Metro shelves that were sitting in the basement holding junk, and had the boys haul them up the stairs and out the door and around to the side of the garage, behind the tall evergreen trees which hide the wheelbarrow and the doggy-p**p can, where I thought that MAYBE there would be more sun, and the reflection off of the light beige aluminum siding would create a little "micro-climate" for a pepper plant.  My dear friend gave me one of her prized plants, and some tomatoes and cilantro (sounds like salsa in a pot, doesn't it?), which I put into organic soil from Whole Foods in my self-watering planters from Garden Supply Company. 

Last week, I looked at my plants...and I had nice green foliage, and...NO FRUITS.  Not a one.  I was so bummed, my experiment had failed!  Organic soil expense and all.  FarmGirl sadness reigned.

UNTIL...today, when we went to see if the plants were now dead, as well as fruitless.  "Look, Mom...they're not dead!  They look healthy to me.  See, here's a ladybug on the leaf, too!"  I got in close to enjoy the bright red of this sweet little lady, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature...



Pepper!!!!!!!  Yessssss...I have grown foooooood!!!

Many of you are likely ROTFLOL right now...but this FarmGirl@Heart is doing the happy dance!  And not only did we find a pepper, with all its spicy-goodness ripening on our vine, but we found these little guys, too:


Them's tomatoes, yes indeed! Oh, I can just taste the salsa now...

What a joy when one thinks something has failed, only to find that it just hadn't had enough time yet!  It really didn't dawn on me that it would take until the very end of July to see fruits on these plants.  Maybe a little fish fertilizer???  Or is it too late to put that on now?  (I do NOT want fishy-salsa!!!)

Thanks for sharing in my FarmGirl joy, out here in the uber-suburbs of Chicago!  Oh, btw...this is my dawg, Sunny, who came out to see what all the fuss was over.  She is 10 years old as of July 10th.


 

FarmGirl Blessings,
IllinoisLori

Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

July 28, 2010

TTAT ~ Bidding You "Adieu"

"Got teens? You lucky dogs.
Spend time with them; enjoy them; listen to them; and love them.
They are the most incredible people, these emerging adults,
and they can become the best friends you’ll ever have."
~Diana Waring, Reaping the Harvest. The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling~

A long time ago, I learned a very valuable lesson in life: things have lifespans.  Not just things like people, animals, flowrs, but things like groups, clubs, and even friendships.  They begin, they may flourish, and they may die down or even go away entirely.  And it's not that we've somehow failed, it just is, sometimes.

TTAT was something that I was really excited about, and others seemed to be excited about, too; but, in the end, it didn't turn out to be something that many joined.  It never flourished.  And that's OK!  I enjoyed it! It's just run its course, I believe.

So, in the spirit of uncluttering my life, my schedule, my blog, etc., I've decided to bid TTAT "adieu."  I thank those of you who have ever, even once, posted something for this meme, it was really wonderful to hear from you!  And all the lovely comments that have been shared have blessed me so much! 

I will continue to share a little TTAT, though it will now be a TAT (drop the "Thursday" part!), within my Weekly WrapUp posts, which I typically get to on Saturdays, but will attempt to finish on Friday nights when possible.  My weekly wrapup is often heavily centered on my homeschool and life training activities with my awesome sons, so TTAT and WWU overlapped every time.

Thanks for joining me along the way, and keep writing about your awesome teens...how about putting it in a Weekly WrapUp post and joining me and the others over at Mary's place, the home of Weekly WrapUp with CanadaGirl?!!

Blessings,
Lori

July 27, 2010

Homeschooling Through High School

I am happy to report that I was able to transfer all of the articles I've written about our experiences homeschooling high schoolers over here to my blogspot blogsite.  Now they're home! 

What I needed to do, since this site only allows one page that accepts dated posts, was create a "sub-blog" where the dated posts were transferred, and it is linked from the page that lives here at Plans4You, tabbed above. 

That sounds pretty convoluted...in reality, it's quite simple, and it works!  So if you're interested, click on the "Homeschooling High School" tab above, where you'll find the link to the new "sub-blog" page.  I will be organizing the articles by title and group ASAP; for now, there is a "search by category" option.

I hope they may be a blessing to you! 

Lori

July 24, 2010

Weekly WrapUp

The Big Picture

Began the week overwhelmed with deadlines; finished it delighted with projects finding their completion, and a renewed commitment to uncluttering my life so I can feel His peace and delight more in the precious gifts He has given me... 


The Details

House Happenings...

Nothing major here...we have boxes of stuff that had found its way into my small craft room/office area that now has to find its way to the correct location! Some of it will find its way to the trash can or the Goodwill...

Meanwhile, we are doing the big "cleanout" before a new year of homeschool high school begins in August.  We got a call from the window people, and our windows are done (replacing all the windows in the whole house except the basement ones) and we are on the schedule for early August.  MESS IS ON THE WAY, LOL!!!  So cleaning up and out is needed now, as we'll have too much happening in the house once the window folks arrive!

Homeschool High School & College Notes...

Nathan turned in the 2nd of two big research papers for his English Comp II class at the college on Thursday morning, had lunch, and then went back to the college to take his 3rd of 4 math tests for his summer class in math.  It took a fair amount out of him...he came home that afternoon about 2:30 or 3pm, and went to bed...slept until almost 8pm!  I was worried about his blood sugars since he slept thru dinner time, but God was so good to protect him, and he was fine.  He woke up happy, hungry, ate dinner, visited with dad, then went to bed again and got a good night's sleep.  I told him to take all of Friday off...which he happily did, and we spent the day at the County Fair with Bryan. He has one more week of classes left, and then it's all over this coming Thursday.  WHEW!

Bryan, has been on the slow and steady road of working his way through those last 3 classes of high school work.  He went through MANY hours of educational testing  with a local group to document his dyslexia so we can get him accomodations at the college this fall.  What a shame you have to do all that...I was 100% correct in my assessment of my son and what he needed, but do they listen to parents?  Nooooooo...anyway, I talked to the office of special needs there, and got Bryan an appointment in early August to give them his test results and get set up.  I'm so excited for him!  They may even have some more neat software programs that I don't know of which could help him to be even more independent in his work, so I'm all ears for that!  We'll let you all know if we learn of anything neat and cool, as I'm sure lots of you out there also have kids who could use some assistance.

The Kline Creek Farm agricultural staff and volunteers (of which Bryan is one) showed the sheep at the County Fair on Friday morning.  They took several thirds, including a third for the best flock.  Our lambs were pretty small compared to the others, so third was good!  Bryan did an awesome job this year, and Mark (his supervisor) said so as well.  He'll show the sheep again at another County Fair nearby next week.


Below, Bryan is in the green shirt, next to the woman in the purple shirt.  The judge is walking by.
Back straight (the sheep's, that is!), hind legs stretched out, hooves parallel, neck stretched up...
Parade...
Watch the judge...check the sheep...watch the judge...
Below, the flock is judged (that's Mark Johnson, Bryan's supervisor at Kline Creek Farm, on the right w/the smile on his face ~ a good sign!)
What place will we get?
We took 3rd Place!!!  Congrats to the winners!

Celebrating the end of the show...

Water for the sheep...then it was off to lunch for the show team!



My Creative Side...

Still not doing physical crafts, it's been all e-crafts.  Our small, family-integrated church takes an annual camping trip, and it's coming up in a week.  We do a communal dinner each night, and I'm the meal coordinator this year, so have been plotting out meal/food assignments for the 100 people camping this year. I also did up a quick website so all the info would be in one place, to take some of the pressure off of the campout coordinator of having to answer phone calls and emails of people who lost their info!  I can't share the website as it's a private one, but it was a lot of fun to do.  Mary and Shani, all that yarn of yours is getting to me, though!!! Soon...

Kitchen Happenings...

With it being so busy and deadline-heavy here this week, we've been eating a number of the freezer meals I'd made months ago, made for just such times as these!  This coming week will devoted to pre-cooking camp meals and freezing them, so they'll be ready for the Coleman cooler! 

In the Garden...

Nothin except pulling some bindweed off of my Cotoneasters and trying to give our hot, thirsty perennials enough water to live off of!  With the extreme heat and hot winds this week, it's like they've had hair dryers blowing on them!

Where the Lord and I Walked This Week...

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)
There are many things in my life now that are not as I would like them to be.  Some are not of my doing; others are definitely of my own doing!  I can change the things that are of my doing; for those that I cannot change, I am so grateful that I can run to the strong tower of my Father and take refuge in His name, in His perfect plan. 
Selah.

Blessings,
Lori

July 22, 2010

FFG ~ My FarmGirl Heart!

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar!  You can grab code HERE.

I am SO very excited to kick off the first week of what I hope becomes a really fun meme for everyone! I am not a true farmgirl...I just wish with all my heart that I was, but my sweetheart is a city-lovin' boy, so here I am, my country-heart making a life in the uber-suburbs of Chicago!  I don't know if I will ever live in the country, but I am blessed to take an occasional vacation to beautiful places (the suburbs are not beautiful), and those times away fulfill my need of peace and God's monuments instead of man's.  I struggle, in the crazy-fast paced way of life out here that is all-pervasive around me, to find ways of slowing down, of doing on our own instead of shortcutting by "calling someone," of growing it ourselves (even though it's just a little, since I don't have a yard that is good for growing veggies so I have to grow in containers on my concrete patio), of learning to sew it instead of buy it, etc.  

For those who don't know me yet, I have 2 sons, one who is entering college in the fall (community college, close by so he'll still stay home, yay!) and is on track to becoming a sheep farmer, and another who starts his junior year in our homeschool high school this fall, and plans to go on to college and get his Masters or, Lord willing, his PhD in engineering.  So different!  Yet they are each other's best friend, PTL!  I am in the process of turning the oldest son's story, which I'd blogged in the past, into an e-book...watch for it on my blog at the "e-books" tab above, it shouldn't be too much longer!  It will be free, btw.  It's called, "I Wish I Could Go To A Farm ~ A Homeschool Story of Vision and Hope."  

So, my FarmGirl@Heart offering today is my homemade blueberry pie, made with blueberries we picked in Michigan and froze last summer.  I had one bag left in the freezer, and had picked up a fresh quart at our local farmers market on Saturday, so I took a chance on how good the year-old berries would be and made a pie to take to my Mom & Dad's when we went there for dinner this week.  I didn't have any lemons on hand, and the recipe calls for lemon zest and juice, but I had some limes.  We've just returned, a month ago, from a dream trip to Mexico, so I kind of like limes now (!!!)...blueberries and limes sure look pretty together, why not try it?  I cut back on the sugar by almost half, too.  Guess what?  Blueberries and limes taste great together, too!!!  I had one piece leftover tonight...and it called my name.  Yummm, what a delicious way to end the day!
My cup of tea is in my favorite china cup that I found in an antique shop here in town. I have searched for more of this pattern, which is no longer in "circulation" and have only found one dessert plate online.  It's by Royal Tuscan, and the pattern is called "Florida."  I would sure love to have more of this one!  (Tina?  You're such a pro at finding cool things on your shop walks...keep one eye open for this, would you? Thanks!) 


OK, that's my story for today...I'm looking forward to hearing from other FarmGirls, both real AND "at heart," like me!  I will visit each and every one who joins and comments, but know that it will be a little later on Friday afternoon and evening, as in the morning I'll be at our County Fair, watching Bryan (my oldest) show sheep for Kline Creek Farm!  (Pictures will have to wait for my Weekly WrapUp post this weekend.)

Blessings,
IllinoisLori

Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!


TTAT ~ One VERY Happy Boy!

"Got teens? You lucky dogs.
Spend time with them; enjoy them; listen to them; and love them.
They are the most incredible people, these emerging adults,
and they can become the best friends you’ll ever have."
~Diana Waring, Reaping the Harvest. The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling~
Today I want to highlight a major accomplishment of Nathan's. He has been working incredibly hard this summer in the two courses he's taking at the community college. One is Geometry, which he's cramming a year's worth into a 7 week course, and the other is English Composition II, which crams a college semester of writing course into 5 weeks. Today, Thursday, marks the end of week 4, and the due date of the 2nd big research paper that he's had to write.

These photos are from last night (Wednesday). This is the time on the clock (PM)...
when he finally...
FINISHED!!!

This was the last big paper, and now he's done with college English classes...for good!  He does have one more year of high school English (American Lit) left to complete before high school graduation in May 2012, but he can now take those last two years of high school to complete it, because he busted his hide doing this summertime intensive class. I have a happy boy! And I am a very proud mama.

Join the fun with YOUR GOOD WORDS about your teenagers! Have a blessed week!

Anyone & Everyone can join TTAT on any given week...here's how:
  • Simply write a positive post about something (or things) that your homeschooling teenager has done which impressed you this week. Keep it focused on good/encouraging/growth-maturity-related things you’ve observed about them; lessons they’ve learned, or that you’ve learned through them.
  • Link back to me (Lori @ Plans4You) in your post somewhere, so your readers will know where to go to join Thursday TAT. If you’d like the link-button to put on your blog and/or at the top of your post, you can get it HERE.
  • Sign the Mister Linky below.
  • Be sure to leave me a comment, and then visit the other participant’s blogs and leave comments there, as well!

July 18, 2010

Hard Work This Summer...

The Big Picture

It's been a tiring and emotional week...good as well as not so good.  God has been showing me a number of things about myself and my life, and I am grateful for the friends that He has given me! 


The Details

House Happenings...

My home looks like a tornado hit it much of the time!  I've been quite tired...exhausted is a better word.  Bryan and I have been doing the farmers markets with his knife-sharpening business ~ we do 2 each week ~ and being out in the high heat and humidity for 7 hours each time (one is a morning until noon market, not too bad; the other is 2pm to 7pm...the PEAK of the heat) the last 2 weeks has done a number on my now 50 year old body!  I feel like I've been baked from the inside-out.  So meals are getting made, and the dishes are getting done, and I got laudnry finished yesterday, but that's about it.

Homeschool High School & College Notes...

Nathan is doing his high school geometry course through the community college this summer.  It is a course designed for the college student, so it's a year of high school geometry done rapid fire in one semester.  But since it's summer session, it gets further crammed into an 8 week course.  He has 2 more weeks to go, and because of our trip to Mexico, he is about one week behind where he would like to be.  PLEASE PRAY for him if you get a chance!  He's working really hard..REALLY hard.

He is also taking English Composition II at the college, alongside the math class.  2 research papers (he's on the 2nd one now) plus lots of in-class essays.  The class meets Monday thru Thursday, 2.5 hours each day, for 5 weeks.  This class also ends in 2 weeks, and there will be a final exam (likely on all the different styles of citations {MLA, ALA, Chicago style, etc.).  As I said, he is working REALLY hard!!!  But the payoff will be huge for him...it gives him a year of math and a year of English for his high school...all done in 2 months or less.  He was in a really bad mood 2 weeks ago, but now that he's on the downhill with the end in sight and our annual church camping trip happening 2 days after he's done, he's one really happy guy!

Bryan, who will graduate high school in December but starts college in the fall, is also working hard at his classes, but isn't under quite the time-gun that Nathan is.  He is one speech away from getting his first semester of speech class done!  Then we'll do the final semester starting in August, so he can complete his English credit requirements by December to graduate high school.  His other high school classes that need to finish in December are geometry, which he is about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through now, and English Literature, which he is 1/2 way through now and actually ahead of the schedule we created.  That doesn't sound like much, just 3 classes, but on August 23rd, he will add 5 full college courses, 2 of which have labs, as well.  So he is fighting this summer to get as far ahead in those 3 remaining high school courses as possible!  I'm so proud of both of the guys. 

My Creative Side...

If you're reading this, it means you're at my new bloggy-home!  This week I was designing my new "living room" here and transferring over my posts.  I still have work to go in getting all the homeschooling through high school things organized, and a few other things, but e-creativity was the craft of the week!  By the way, please do check out the new meme that I've started, Friday FarmGirls@Heart. It's a great place for everyone to share homemade/homegrown/homespun things, whether craft items or from the kitchen, or a book, or some other thing that touches your FarmGirl Heart!  (And I live in the Chicago suburbs, so you do NOT have to live on a farm...just be a farmgirl at heart now and then is fine, too!)


Kitchen Happenings...

I made a blueberry pie last night...that was my favorite thing of the week, sooooo good! 

In the Garden...

I have grown a few veggies in my self-watering planter boxes on my patio each year for the last 3 years.  This year, I decided to splurge and buy the organic potting soil from my local Whole Foods store.  "Wow, we'll really eat healthy veggies!" thought I...

Everything on the patio is anemic if not dead.  I have NO produce. 

I tried to see if putting some green pepper plants on the south side of my house (patio faces east), where they would hopefully get some light reflected off the beige siding, would help me to get more than tall green plants with flowers that never turn into peppers.  It didn't. 

I am a good customer at the farmers markets where Bryan and I work, LOL! 

I didn't plant my usual pots of annual flowers this year since we went to Mexico in early June, and then made the decision to replace every window in the house (actually, the windows made that decision); didn't want to spend money on annuals and then have a huge mess trample and smash them all.  So the edging and weeding is done, but there's not much color here this year.  Just as well to save the money since I have to buy so many veggies this year.

Where the Lord and I Walked This Week...

I am going through a very difficult (for me) situation w/in-laws (the situation is not due to anything I have done...it just is what it is, and it's not fun).  I'm pretty alone in it.  A dear friend (thanks, sweetie!) reminded me of what God expects of me in my role as a wife, and what happens when I go outside of the protection that He offers me as long as I do what He has asked ME to do.  Though the situation is still difficult, and is likely to remain so, the road I am on in living with it sure gets smoothed out when I live in obedience to His Word regarding submitting to my dh's leadership on it, even though it's the polar opposite of what I would want to see done!  I've known this about leadership and submission for many years, and have followed it for many years, but this situation got me off track.  Thanks, Shani, for the wonderful reminder you shared in Todd Wilson's sled-dog team analogy!  My soul is quieted already! 
Blessings,
Lori

July 16, 2010

Friday FarmGirls@Heart ~ New Home, New Meme!

Today is the day that I finally finished the design of my blog's new home...for now, anyway! I've been "prompted" to offer up a new meme, and I decided that now is as good a time as any.

So, welcome to...
Friday FarmGirls @ Heart with IllinoisLori!
(You can grab a 150px wide button below...)

I am so drawn to all things agrarian, even though we live in the uber-suburbs of Chicago!  I love to try my hand at growing food, though I have to do it in pots and containers on my concrete patio; I love to look into the eyes of sheep and goats while I scratch their faces, though I have to do it at either our County Fair or someone else's farm, to which I have to drive long distances; I love to shop at my local farmers markets, where I ALWAYS ask, "did you grow this yourself?"  before I buy; I love to support CSA's and local organic food coops when I can afford to; I love to take agrarian vacations and do agrarian-related activities whenever possible.

In short, I am a FARMGIRL @ HEART!!!

So, who should join in the fun of this new meme?  Anyone who has written or would like to write about:

*Something they've grown, or are growing...

*Something they're cooking in their kitchen that is made from REAL FOOD,
not processed food product...

*Something they've made themselves with their own two hands instead of buying it a ***-Mart...

*Something they've done with their way of life that's connected them back to this beautiful green earth (what's left of it!) that God has given us...

*Their "Farmers' Heart" dreams, for those who, like me, live in the cities and suburbs...

If you can see yourself in any of these, or if you have another idea that fits in here, write a post and link up!  You do not need to join in every single week...but I'd sure love it if you did! 

Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you.  I have 3 styles you can choose from:


Plans4You

Plans4You

Plans4You



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog, http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ 
so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well.  If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

I look forward to reading all the neat things you have to share!  Have fun with it!

Blessings,
IllinoisLori

July 15, 2010

TTAT ~ Melting Moments

"Got teens? You lucky dogs.
Spend time with them; enjoy them; listen to them; and love them.
They are the most incredible people, these emerging adults,
and they can become the best friends you’ll ever have."
~Diana Waring, Reaping the Harvest. The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling~
The title of this post might lead you to think that it will include a recipe for really good cookies made with lots of cornstarch...but it won't.

No, this one refers to what we've been experiencing as the boys and I have been operating their sharpening business at local farmers' markets this week. In the blistering heat and sweltering humidity. With few customers to at least make us feel like we were doing it for a reason, since they didn't want to be out in the heat and humidity, either!

But, it's been getting done, they're sticking to the promised schedules, and ~ all though they're not making much $$ right now at it compared to other years ~ it's a great lesson in keeping promises, honoring contracts, and serving others even when it would be wayyyy more comfortable to sit in an air-conditioned house and sharpen there.

Good work, boys!

Join the fun with YOUR GOOD WORDS about your teenagers! Have a blessed week!

Anyone & Everyone can join TTAT on any given week...here's how:
  • Simply write a positive post about something (or things) that your homeschooling teenager has done which impressed you this week. Keep it focused on good/encouraging/growth-maturity-related things you’ve observed about them; lessons they’ve learned, or that you’ve learned through them.
  • Link back to me (Lori @ Plans4You) in your post somewhere, so your readers will know where to go to join Thursday TAT. If you’d like the link-button to put on your blog and/or at the top of your post, you can get it HERE.
  • Sign the Mister Linky below.
  • Be sure to leave me a comment, and then visit the other participant’s blogs and leave comments there, as well!

July 8, 2010

TTAT: Making Another Joyful Noise!

"Got teens? You lucky dogs.

Spend time with them; enjoy them; listen to them; and love them.

They are the most incredible people, these emerging adults,

and they can become the best friends you’ll ever have."

~Diana Waring, Reaping the Harvest. The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling~

Every 4th of July, our small, family-integrated church has a gathering to celebrate our nation's Independence Day. We have a potluck meal w/burgers and dogs (every family brings a side dish and a dessert to share), there is active and not-so-active fellowship (the young people love to play frisbee and volleyball, and we "old folks" love to talk!), and, after the meal, families and friends put on skits, sing songs, make music, and/or do recitations, serious and/or funny. Once that's all done, we head out to watch the local fireworks show. It's a wonderful tradition, very much looked forward to by all.

This year, my boys joined with their good friends and formed "The Men's Freedom Choir." They got together every week for about 2 months and practiced. Here is the result...enjoy!

Entering the Stage: (Nathan, 16, is in the white shirt; Bryan, 18, is in the blue shirt)

The Performance (be sure your speakers are on; give it a moment to load, it may still be "processing" for quality at YouTube since I just uploaded it):


Join the fun with YOUR GOOD WORDS about your teenagers! Have a blessed week!

Anyone & Everyone can join TTAT on any given week...here's how:
  • Simply write a positive post about something (or things) that your homeschooling teenager has done which impressed you this week. Keep it focused on good/encouraging/growth-maturity-related things you’ve observed about them; lessons they’ve learned, or that you’ve learned through them.
  • Link back to me (Lori @ Plans4You) in your post somewhere, so your readers will know where to go to join Thursday TAT. If you’d like the link-button to put on your blog and/or at the top of your post, you can get it HERE.
  • Sign the Mister Linky below.
  • Be sure to leave me a comment, and then visit the other participant’s blogs and leave comments there, as well!
  • To see who else has participated, simply click on the Mister Linky below...any participants names will appear for you then.

July 7, 2010

Sharing A New GiveAway Contest!

There's a neat new giveaway happening over at AllyJo's Erudition...really beautiful handmade vintage-style stationary and stuff...check it out HERE!

July 6, 2010

Mexican Vacation Highlights

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, we took, in mid-June, a wonderful vacation trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Zihuatanejo, pronounced "zee-WAH-tan-AY-ho" and called "Zihua" (ZEE-wah) for short, is a lovely, quiet fishing village that has been discovered by enough travellers to now have some beautiful resorts and great restaurants, but not so many that it has lost all of its character as a fishing village. It is located on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Guerrero, near to Ixtapa and 150 miles north of Acapulco. If you were to sail westward across the Pacific, you would arrive at the Hawaiian Islands.
So it is VERY tropical and lush...also very warm and humid! But the lovely ocean breezes and abundance of water to swim in mitigate that quite well. One learns the reason for the "afternoon siesta" pretty quickly!

We stayed at the Club Intrawest in Zihua; here is a picture taken from the balcony:
...and here are pictures of the resort taken from the bay (notice how mountainous the region is):
In addition to the great experience of being in another culture where we did not speak the language (our Spanish lessons gave us the vocabulary of a 2 year old), we enjoyed learning and experiencing...
Living "Outdoors"
Well, not completely...our vacation home had sturdy walls and a roof, but not so many doors, so it gives the "feeling" of living outdoors:


This was the room we started in...called a "1 bedroom" but really it was more like a studio. The couch with the pillows on it turned into a king size bed for the boys, and the "master bedroom" was right behind it...not actually a room. (The little kitchenette is visible to the left.) It was pretty tight.





We asked if there was a 2 bedroom available that we could upgrade to, and there was! (What a blessing!) It was about 3 times the size, and had 2 "true" bedrooms, so we didn't even have to take apart the living room furniture every evening to create a bed for the boys. Still, the living room had "doors" that we mostly left open...but when the late afternoon humidity and sun coming in got to be too much, you could slide them shut, and that would automatically turn on the air conditioning. For most of the day, though, it was not needed.



Here is the view from our living room, our balcony, and the master bedroom...I'm doing it with a video that I took at around 6:00AM, so you (and I) can hear the lovely sounds that we were blessed to be awakened by each morning. The constant "background noise" you hear is the surf from the ocean waves. There is a bird that I called a "marine whistle bird" because he sounded like a bosun's whistle to me:




I'll close this "highlights" edition here because this HSB software is constantly removing what I write. To tell you the truth, I have been working on this post for about 6 hours...replacing what this goofy software keeps removing. Very frustrating (HSB, Kristin, SOMEBODY...what's up with this???)

I will share much more about our cultural experiences next time! Thanks for stopping by, please let me know you were here so I can visit you!

Blessings,
Lori

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