Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
This is a place for me to share my journey of faith and life as a stay-at-home mom. My prayer is to inspire and encourage others and record those precious moments of my son's childhood.
I'm so excited about our Nature Journals!! We just got started with these and I hope to make it a regular activity. I have come across nature journaling at various homeschool sites and I've always been intrigued. We love getting outdoors and I find that purposeful exploration is something my son really enjoys and he is learning so much. He made sure I participated too, and I just loved it. We live in a condo complex and so we went exploring around the connected yards and then across the street where there is a lovely pond. We can't wait to do more!
Mommy's Nature Journal Pages:
Things I Collected
Drawings of What I Collected with Details at Bottom
J's Nature Journal Pages:
Things J Collected
Drawings of what J collected
In doing a lot of research over the past couple years on homeschooling and the various curriculum available, I find that I really like many aspects of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. There are a few things that really stand out. The first is the value she placed on the study of nature. She emphasized with her students a daily ritual of spending time outside in their natural surroundings. Taking part in nature walks, creating nature notebooks, these all help children in learning to observe and appreciate the delicate intricacies of the world around them. It is so great to get out in the fresh air and go exploring with my son in our outdoor classroom.
Her emphasis on reading by focusing on good children's literature is another. I've been enjoying discovering the sweet stories of olden days, bypassing what Charlotte refers to as meaningless "twaddle" and seeking instead what she refers to as "living books". A few of our favorites are the Thorton Burgess series of children's nature books, The Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem as well as the books of Beatrix Potter.
Another aspect I enjoy which we've brought into our own homeschooling is narration. My son has an incredibly creative side of him that is really blossoming as we've taken off in our homeschool journey. He loves to tell stories. This fits very well with Charlotte Mason's emphasis on narration as a powerful learning tool. We've incorporated narration as we go through different books and J will summarize as we go along retelling the story in his own words.
I have really enjoyed engaging in this type of learning style with my son in addition to the homeschool program we're doing through Hearts of Dakota (Little Hearts for His Glory). I am so thankful to be able to be home with him in this season of our lives!
Last year, I made corned beef and cabbage and my husband didn't much care for it. I enjoyed it, but since that time I've been searching for a beef and cabbage recipe that my family likes. We've gotten cabbage a couple times through our CSA so I've been experimenting with some different recipes. My family really enjoys this meal. After making it a few times, we've incorporated it into our regular meal rotation. I really like the combination of the red wine vinegar and brown sugar as you cook the cabbage. It really adds great flavor to the meal. It's also another all-in-one meal and those are my favorite.
I originally found this recipe when I googled "beef and cabbage recipes". It was from ifoodTV but I tweeked it a bit.
1 LB ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 T crushed or minced garlic
1 regular sized cabbage
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 T bacon grease
1 tsp white sugar
1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups elbow macaroni or shells
In a Dutch oven or large pan over high heat, cook beef, breaking up into little pieces until nice and browned with no pink remaining.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic. Cook while stirring for 3 minutes or until onion is softened.
Stir in cabbage, vinegar and brown sugar. (I also added a little bacon grease with a little bit of white sugar. It created a nice sweetness.) Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until cabbage is wilted. Stir in stewed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until cabbage is tender.
Cook pasta to desired tenderness. (I like using shells.) Add to meat mixture.
I absolutely love this CD, and have a neat story to tell about it. I was at our local library a few months back and this CD with the quirky title caught my eye. It was called, "Pizza in Heaven". I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the songs and found out this was a children's worship CD. After looking further, I realized that I actually knew the artist, Lori Beil. She was from a church my husband and I had attended for a season in New Glarus, WI. I remember several times Lori spoke during the open sharing time about what the Lord was doing in her life and in her family and I was always encouraged.
Little did I know how much my son and I would grow to love singing these songs together! Her folk-type singing is very appealing to me, and I think I enjoyed listening to it as much (or even more) than my son. I am always encouraged when I listen to God's word set to music. I struggle a bit with memorizing scripture and I find it so much easier to learn scripture through songs.
Well, I knew this CD had made a huge impact when something interesting happened one morning. I can't remember where we were going, but as I was buckling my son into his car seat, he started saying words like "Peace, Patience, Love" just out of the blue with a big smile on his face. I told him I was curious what made him think of those words. He was so cute as he said "Because Jesus put them on my heart, mommy!" It was then that I realized he was repeating the fruits of the spirit, which happens to be one of the songs on the CD and is my favorite (Fruit of the Spirit song). I started singing the song and he sang along with me; it was just precious.
Then something really cool happened. Recently, I started a little part-time work at our local YMCA and was there for a training session. At the training, I thought one of the gals looked familiar. It turns out she was Lori's daughter whom I met while we attended their church. I got a chance to talk with her a bit and told her how blessed we'd been by her mom's music and Pizza in Heaven. She told me she couldn't wait to tell her mom and that this would just make her day. Well, I was blessed again when I ran into her mom (who was picking her up from the training). Her daughter had called ahead and here was her mom with a brand new CD for me called We Want to Know You. She wouldn't even let me pay for it, but said how sweet it was to hear my story and she wanted me to have the CD as a gift. I was so touched. It is such a nice worship CD that I like to listen to when I have that precious time to myself.
It tickled me that God had connected us in this way through the CD and I was so glad I got to tell Lori firsthand the story about my son J and the Fruit of the Spirit experience we had in the car. I love how God is always at work, I know I shouldn't be surprised but it always tickles me when something like this happens. I just love it. Her website is called Pizza in Heaven. This link takes you directly to the Pizza in Heaven's lyric page. When you click on the individual songs, you will hear an mp3 clip. I hope you enjoy listening to her music too!
I always love to try new recipes, and was excited to find this one. We love spaghetti in our house. In fact, my husband could literally have it every week. Yet I wanted to find something to mix up "spaghetti night" in our home and was glad I found this. It was from the Gooseberry Patch website. I enjoy their cookbooks so much, I check them out from our library regularly. They are fun to read! They have all kinds of neat country drawings and wonderful cooking, kitchen and home tips on every page. I signed up for their monthly newsletter too and now own my first Gooseberry cookbook called Blue Ribbon Family Favorites.
So, I had high hopes for the recipe but it wasn't as scrumptious as I'd hoped! I think my husband and I just didn't like the bread-y-ness of it. If I made it again (which I might), I would put spaghetti noodles on the bottom of it instead of the bread. I think that would help make it a bit lighter. Sorry the picture doesn't look the most appetizing. The picture on the Gooseberry website is much better ;)
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel with 1/3 less fat)
1/2 c. light mayonnaise
1 t. Italian seasoning
1/4 t. pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Homemade meatballs (I use the meatball recipe from Taste of Home's spaghetti and meatballs)
28-oz. jar pasta sauce
Arrange bread slices in a single layer in an ungreased 13"x9" baking pan; set aside.
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and seasonings; spread over bread slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese; set aside.
Place meatballs on top of bread, then spaghetti sauce.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4.
Now that Halloween is over, I'm thinking Christmas. I love the Christmas season. And I'm realizing how much I like to start early. I will admit, I start listening to Christmas music in October. That way, I get to listen to my holiday favorites for two months!
Here are some of my favorite things of the season:
*Listening to Christmas music
*Baking warm, yummy treats (breads, cookies, muffins)
*Decorating our home
*Lighting fragrant candles (couple favorites: Spruce, Vanilla Brown Sugar)
*Creating an Advent celebration
*Celebrating Jesus' Birthday, keeping Christ in Christmas
*SNOW!!! I really can't wait for this part. I love all things snow like ice skating, making snow men, snow shoeing and skiing, and above all just WATCHING it snow!!
You'll notice I found some cool graphics to add a Christmas touch to my blog. Thank you to Blogamation and their free animated designs! I had fun adding these to the blog to kick off the Christmas season. They give you easy step-by-step instructions for how to add the code to your blog.
Another thing that's been fun for me is putting together a Christmas Planner binder. One area I really enjoy is organizing. I stumbled upon some great Christmas planning sites this year and made my first Christmas planner.
It took me a while to scour the internet and find exactly what I wanted/needed. The amazing thing is so many printables are free! I have included links to all the websites where I found the ones I'll be using. It is so great to get a jump on this season in a way I just never did before.