Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Pumpkins than I've ever seen

Our camera doesn't take the best pictures, especially at night. The words you see there say, "Welcome to Kenova, West Virginia. Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture." It is carved into pumpkins. Below that is an orchestra of pumpkins.
There is a conductor and a pumpkin audience. The pumpkin instruments light up when their section is playing. And this is only a small section of the over 3000 pumpkins displayed.

Last Thursday we went with some families from our homeschool co-op, to the Pumpkin House. They were just beginning the carving. What a production. The pumpkins are all drawn on, then scraped and carved. This isn't a commercial operation. The owner of the house supplies everything and volunteers help with the carving. There are pumpkins carved with all kinds of designs. Habitat for Humanity comes and helps drill the bottom holes and uses them to make pumpkin butter to sell. After the display, a farmer comes to take the pumpkins for feed for his cows and pigs.

Sunday night we went back to see the display. What a difference. There were still many pumpkins to go, but just with what was there, it was incredible. Besides the orchestra there was Noah's Ark, a section of birds, a patriotic section, a chorus of cats and much more. Here are some more pictures.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Carnival of Family Life

Family life offers us many life experiences. This carnival is a great place to share them. As it is written in Ecclasiastes Chapter 3:
There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
What to do with dead wildlife? Panic? See Black Belt Mama's reaction in Just My Luck or RIP Little Chipmunk.

Peter Kua shares a question and answer about the passing of a yoga guru in Is yoga a myth? posted at RadicalHop.com.

The American family seems to be growing. Lisa Mitchell asks about The Growing Family posted at Let's Talk Babies.
A right time to plant and another to reap
Kim gives us something to think about concerning our work ethic in Are You A Hard Worker? posted at Blogfabulous.

Nina Smith asks Dana Rudolph about money in Ten Money Questions for Dana Rudolph posted at Queercents.

Kerri Aldrich is enjoying the harvest in The Pumpkin Patch at Fulton Farms posted at Play Library.

Batya shares how shopping has changed in Israel in Oh, my things have changed here.

A right time to kill and another to heal,
Dr Kavokin offers us a health quiz at Hypertension-silent killer posted at RDoctor Medical Portal.
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
Kelly at Pass the Torch completes her first week as a homeschooler. She shares insights gained by her chaotic week in her post, Starting with a Frazzle.

Janice is remembering fondly her childhood and constructing memories with her son in her post I’ll give you a hint – it starts with a ‘D’ posted at 5 Minutes For Mom.
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
Erica Douglas gives us some ideas of how to pass the time in Baby Games posted at Littlemummy.Com.

Liz shares a story of homework, fear and exhaustion in Shh! I?m hiding. Be quiet everyone. That includes me. Shh! Who?s making that noise? Oh, it?s me again? posted at This Full House.

A search for the perfect pair of underwear is related by Madeleine Begun Kane in Secret Shopper posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.

Mary shares the comic relief provided by her daughters. Almost Somewhat Positive: My kids is posted at Almost Somewhat Positive.
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
Brad Montgomery is proud of his little girl. Need a Colorado Magician? Book my Kid! posted at Motivational Keynote Speaker & Humorist Brad Montgomery.

Three cheers for grandparents, especially when they live next door. David presents The benefit of Grandparents. posted at Bruggie Tales.

Carnival founder, Kailani presents the good and the bad about where she lives in, Lucky You Live Hawaii? posted at pinkdiary808.com.
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
Romance and a hot water heater?! Matt shares Romantic Tips for Married Couples: I'm in hot water today posted at Romantic Tips for Married Couples.

Do you and your spouse speak in a secret code? Maybe you should. Linda Freedman presents Speaking in Code: Marital Secret Language posted at Everyone needs therapy? Lessons from a family therapist.
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
Jack Yoest may have to count his lap top as a loss. The Bloggin' Boy. . . is posted at Reasoned Audacity.

DeputyHeadmistress presents The Common Room: I KNEW That Was the Reason posted at The Common Room.

A right time to hold on and another to let go,
If you are holding onto some of these attitudes, it is time to move on. Patricia presents 15 Signs An Adult Is Stuck Thinking Or Acting Like A 3-Year-Old posted at A Better You Blog.

Chris Dolley shows us some "holding on" shots in chrisdolley: Too Fast to be Perfect. posted at Author Chris Dolley's Page.

Mike gives us some ideas of how to establish Work schedule regularity posted at Career and Kids.

Hueina Su encourages us to let go of the ghosts of our past. Is Your Life Haunted? is posted at Intensive Care for the Nurturer's Soul.

Jennifer Miner is trying to hold onto being cool while being a mom in Minivan Accessories: A tricked-out family car makes travel with children easier, and possibly fun. posted at Minivan Accessories.

Want a seatbelt for your child on the bus? Lisa shares about Portable Seatbelts For Children posted at Ask Patty - Automotive Advice for Women.

Michelle lets her son go on an grand adventure in Watch Out for Worms posted at scribbit.
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
Do you have any Secrets? Jenny Ryan's husband does. Posted at Using My Powers for Good by Jenny Ryan.

Holly shows us some simple truths that need to be said in Teaching Truths at Holly's Corner.

If you hear this question, "where do babies come from?" it might be best to let a sibling answer, like Sam did.

You might just want to shut up if your wife is Miss Morning Grumpiness presented by ZenKitty at Echoes of Cold Moon.

Who is to blame for your cold feet at night? It's a WE thing: More on BLAME or You Stole the Covers posted at Everyone needs therapy? Lessons from a family therapist.

A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
There often may be war between brothers, but here Heather tells us a story of brotherly love. My Pass The Torch Tuesday is posted at Everything Under the Moon.

Ecclasiastes 3:1-8, The Message

Thank you to all the contributers this week for sharing with us part of your life. I did not put one of my own posts in, but if you haven't visited before, please look around. Enjoy this week's entries. We all love to interact with visitors, so please leave your comments!

This week's winner of chocolate or coffee is Mike at Career and Kids. Please email Kailani for details. Next week the carnival goes back home to The Pink Diary.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Carnival Reminder

Don't forget to get your Carnival Entries in. Deadline is midnight Saturday (Hawaii time.) Submit entries at Blog Carnival. For more details at The Pink Diary.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quick Updates on the Family

There are a few things I've posted on that I thought could use some updating. I figured while I was at it I might as well give updates on the whole family. So here goes.

Kellen (8) has his spreader in and will go back to the orthadontist the week of Thanksgiving to get the top braces on. Great timimg huh? Poor guy I might have to puree his turkey! ;)

Lydia (4 1/2) is just growing up too fast. Tim is getting worried. I think he remembers too well about tennage boys! The other day, she painted her own toenails. She did a better job than I do! She loves jewelery and dresses, though we are still learning about sitting like a lady in a dress!

After talking about potty training here and here, I am happy to announce that Nolan (2 1/2) has finally got it! He still has issues with going away from home, but it is minor. No more tears and screaming, and rarely any accidents! WHEW just one more to go through that with.

Vivian (7 mos) is sitting up, has two teeth and is starting to eat table food. She really doesn't crawl, but she does do a military type crawl and gets about wherever she wants to go, Still not much hair, at least compared to our other babies.

Last week, I posted about a "limbo" we were in and my reaction to it. What was in limbo was Tim's job. He posted a little about it here. Basically, his boss is a mover. Movers often shoot then aim. He closed the store Tim was based at, but didn't really have a plan for servicing the customers that are here, and wasn't really sure if Tim would have a job. I am a Shaper and I need a plan. See the dilemma?

I did feel more at peace about the whole situation last week after I posted. Today, Tim met with him, and Tim still has a job. Keeping Tim though, is partially based on an opportuntity for some Internet sales. If that opportunity doesn't develop, I would be surprised if he kept Tim. So, we are still keeping our options open. We are going to check into a few other things and see if anything else is worth making a job change for.

There is your quick update of the family. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Only a mom. . . .

Only a mom can

bake bread,
wash dishes,
fold laundry,
and feed the baby . . .

All at the same time!

We are masters of multi-tasking. You go moms!

Admittedly, I had help from the bread machine and the dishwasher! ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Carnival of Family Life

This week's Carnival is hosted at Everything Under the Moon. With over thirty entries, there is a lot of reading material to choose from . There are funny stories, reviews, advice and information, all relating to the family.

Next week the carnival is hosted by yours truly. If you aren't familiar with carnivals, it is easy to play. Just pick a entry from your blog that fits the carnival. In this case, anything having to do with the family works. It can be a new entry or an oldie, but goody, like I picked this week. Submit your post at Blog Carnival or at the carnival's home The Pink Diary. You can also visit The Pink Diary for more information. Entries are due by Midnight (Hawaii time) Saturday, October 28th. Then on Monday the 30th I will post the carnival.

Head over to Everything Under the Moon to check today's carnival and submit those posts to play next week!

Friday, October 20, 2006

I am a Homesteader?

Recently, Phelan listed me as a fellow homesteader. I was flattered to be listed in her Saturday BlogRoll call, but I wondered am I really a homesteader?

Until we moved here, if you would have asked me what a homesteader was I probably would have given an answer having something to do with a covered wagon, the Oregon Trail or the land races of the 1800's. I guess my definition is a bit outdated.

After moving here I joined a Yahoo group called Homeschool_Homestead. I was really looking more for homeschool support. I didn't really understand what the Homesteading was all about. What I found were a group of people who were living simply, gardening, preserving, and raising animals while homeschooling. There was much more information about things I remembered from my grandparents farm, than about homeschooling. These were all things we were doing or interested in, but I still didn't label myself a homesteader. I just considered it part of being frugal.

Then I entered the world of blogs. I mostly hung out in the frugal and mommy blogs. Then Get Rich Slowly had Phelan as a guest, posting about homesteading. I checked out her blog and found that they were also planning to build an underground home. Of course, I was thrilled by this and have been reading since.

Before I know it she has me listed as a "fellow homesteader." I wasn't offended, but I had to think does this really apply to me? I looked up some definitions in Dictionary.com. Homesteading - establishing a homestead. Homestead - a house especially, a farmhouse with adjoining buildings, or settling land under the Homestead Act (See like I thought the 1800's!) Modern Homesteading - no entry. Urban Homesteading - refers you back to homesteading.
Ok, that was really no help!

Daycreek.com (BTW this is a site where you can learn about cordwood building. A technique we are considering using) offers three definitions. I think I like this one the best:

"Homesteading has more than one meaning. It used to mean qualifying for free government land because you lived on it, built a house on it, and so on. Now it means living on the land and trying for at least some degree of home production of your needs, especially food. When people who were raised in cities try to accomplish that, I believe it can be every bit as much of a challenge for them as crossing the plains was for our pioneer ancestors. People go to all kinds of places to do their homesteading: the suburbs of their city, the mountains of Appalachia or the western United States, the northeastern United States, the Midwest, northern California, Alaska, Canada, Mexico. No matter where you are or go -- if you can grow a garden and raise some animals, you're a homesteader. And a fortunate human being!" --- Carla Emery, The Encyclopedia of Country Living

By that definition, we are definitely homesteaders! I've also been reading some other blogs by people who are homesteaders. There is a huge variety of people out there who are trying to be more self sufficient for a lot of different reasons. There is a lot that I could find to disagree with. We don't all see the world through the same lenses, but we all can learn from each other on this journey to become more self sufficient. So, with all that said, I am a homesteader.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Fall View of Our Road

My Foundations Exposed

We toss around a lot of phrases so easily. Such as "Christ is my strength, joy, and peace. He is my foundation. He is everything." Those things are true. In our heads we know they are. We read it in the Bible and we repeat it, but is it our reality? Do we really believe, to the core of our being? Do we "see it" with our hearts?

Sometimes I don't think we know until we are rocked out of our comfort zone. It could be a death, a betrayal, an accident, a sickness, or a lost job. Something that throws us for a loop and exposes where we really place our trust.

I've been in such a place recently. Don't worry, nothing major has happened, but something we thought we could count on has been placed in a state of limbo. How foolish I was to think that anything, outside of Christ, could be counted on. The only thing we have here is Christ and him crucified and our new life in Him.

I've been angry, depressed, scared and just generally distracted by the whole situation. This "limbo" has exposed my foundation. It is not entirely in Christ. I still stand on, take comfort in and depend on the things of this world.

We do have all things in Christ, but "seeing" them is a process. It does not happen all at once. Five years ago in a similar situation I would have been in a panic. I'd be looking for how I could fix things and get back to my comfort zone. I am not doing that now. I am waiting, somewhat patiently. I am praying, "Lord, open my eyes, that I might see you." Ephesians 1:17-19.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of our mind having been enlightened, for you to know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of the might of His strength.

For more on finding our foundations in Christ, I highly recommend The Right Foundations Series, from the Akron Vineyard. This is excellent teaching whether you are a new Christian or have been a Christian for decades. I will be revisiting it soon!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tea anyone?

On Friday we did not have a tea party.

For school this year Kellen is doing a series of unit studies centered on the Chronicles of Narnia. The study is called Further Up and Further In if you are curious. One of the suggested activities for Friday was to have tea.

Kellen did a little research about tea in England. He made a menu and helped prepare it. The menu was ham sandwiches cut in small circles, crackers with cream cheese and salmon, grapes and coffee cake. We got out some fancy little glass plates and cups my Great Aunt Hazel gave me. We invited Ashley and Miles (they were off school.) But please do not call it a tea party!

According to my son, a tea party is a girly thing requiring pink dishes and flowers. He could participate in no such event and was quick to correct anyone who would dare to call it a tea party. It was Afternoon Tea.

We also had a "teachable moment" about milk and lemon when the girls put cream into their lemon tea. They were all quite amazed and it was quick on the spot cooking/science lesson.

Call it what you may, we all enjoyed our tea, and it was a fun lesson for a Friday afternoon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Remember Drivers Ed. . .

Talk about boring! I took it outside of school so I could get my license sooner. Many of my friends took it in school. I remember taking drivers ed in this over stuffed, hot room with an instructor who spoke in monotone. We were all bored out of our minds.

I don't think there were any options besides school or in a private classroom. Times have changed. A sponsor has asked me to look at this site. Now you can do the class portion of drivers ed via correspondence or online courses at your own pace. I wish I would have had that option!

Got a driver coming up? This may be an option to look at!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Coalwood, WV

On Saturday, we travelled to coal country. I had never been in this part of WV. It is beautiful. It is sad. We were headed to Coalwood, home of the rocket boys.

Do remember the movie, October Sky? In case you haven't seen it, it is the true story of Homer Hickam, a boy from coal country. He and some friends overcome many obstacles to build a rocket, and win the national science fair. Homer went on to work for NASA and has authored several books, one of which is Rocket Boys, on which October Sky was based.
Coalwood has a festival every year. Homer comes as do many of the rocket boys. Miles, Ashley (my nephew and niece), and Kellen were interested, so we decided to make the trip.

And a trip it was. Coalwood is, according to Mapquest, about 3 1/2 hours from us. We got up at 5:00 AM, because we wanted to make it for the parade. The six of us were going as were Mamaw, Papaw, Eric and his kids. We were in two vans.

Have a mentioned that there are almost no straight or flat roads where we live? It is worse in coal country. Have I also mentioned that Miles (my nephew) has a very weak stomach? Glad he was not in my vechicle! Mamaw gave him motion sickness medicine and they still had to stop three times on the way there for Miles to . . . well lose his breakfast.

We were following mapquest directions. There was a road we were supposed to turn on, that didn't exist. We ended up making a big loop to get where we were supposed to be. As you might guess, we missed the parade.

Coalwood was interesting. It was easy to imagine what it would have been like when it was a company town. The are two roads lined with houses. There are only a few styles of modest homes. A few of the homes are very well kept, but most show their age. There are large buildings that are falling apart. They were the Olga "club," company store, offices, maintenance and multifamily buildings. (I have pictures, but I can't find the camera right now. I will post them seperately.)

The festival is small, but we saw license plates there from at least six states. There was a parade (which we missed,) vendor boothes, and music. Homer's alma mater, Virginia Tech, had free activities for the kids. There was a trolley that took you to a rocket launch site. We also missed the rockets because we waited too long. The main attraction was Homer. He stood on the church porch all day long signing books or shirts and meeting people.

He seemed so genuine. He took his time and talked with each person. He had a smile. Mamaw asked if he ever got tired of meeting and signing. His answer, "Never." It seemed sincere. All proceeds from the day went to the local restoration group.

What a story his life is. It is a true American story of rags to riches, an inspiration to us all to reach and work hard for your dreams. It is also a picture of something that seems to be increasingly rare, someone who has succeeded, but remains humble and real. It was worth the drive!

Friday, October 06, 2006

There is no Potty like Home

Nolan is doing really well with the potty training at home. At home he mostly goes by himself. Sometimes he needs a reminder. When I remind him he goes without a fuss. No major accidents.

Perfect right? Wrong! He will not go on any other potty, but those at home. He won't even use Mamaw's potty. He goes outside when he is at her house. This week he had two major accidents. He waits until he can't stand it. He gets very grumpy and impossible. I try to get him to go, but he refuses to. Out and out throwing a fit refusing. Nothing seems to work. Then he goes in his pants. Last Sunday at church, I took him outside to go. Going outside is not a problem. He will pee anywhere if we are outside.

A friend of mine used to carry her sons potty seat with her everywhere. He used one of those that sits on the big toilet. She would wrap it up in a plastic bag and stick it in a big duffel bag and take it everywhere. I used to think she was nuts. I may have even thought those forbidden words, "I will never do that for my child." What I wouldn't give right now to be able to carry Nolan's potty seat with me. I would do it in a heartbeat! Unfortunately, Nolan refuses to sit on a potty seat. He goes on the big potty, at home. I can't carry our toilet with me!

Deep down I know this is a phase he will outgrow. He will learn to go to the bathroom when he isn't home. Right now though it is infuriating. Have any of you had this problem? Any ideas how to solve it? Besides never leaving the house or letting him pee outside everywhere?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Stress Breaker

The last few days I have been feeling very stressed. OK well, maybe the last few weeks. September is a hard month for us. Tim is off most of June and part of July. His schedule picks up about mid August, peaking mid September and coming back to normal anytime soon! :)

It is good. This is where the bulk of his commission is generated for the whole year. It is bad. At peak, he is working three 12+ hour days a week, 2 eight hour days and every other Saturday for 4 hours. He is exhausted and never home.

I also feel like I am working overtime. I am exhausted too. This week it has hit me pretty hard. I think because it is October and the busy time is supposed to be over and it is not. (good and bad again!) Also, the last few weeks have been busier than normal with doctor appointments and the like. It throws us off schedule and makes homeschooling and normal daily stuff like laundry that much harder to accomplish.

I have had little patience with the kids and yelling much more than I'd like. I spent the better part of this afternoon feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and sorry for myself. Then I sat outside for a bit holding the baby and watching the other kids play.

It was a beautiful evening. I was enjoying doing nothing. We came in and had a quick and easy dinner and I sat down and ate with the kids instead of trying to do laundry or dishes. As a family, we almost always sit down for dinner, but I find when Tim is not home I tend to serve the kids while I am completing some task. I enjoyed my time sitting with the kids even with the dishes piled and bags of apples calling my name.

I realized that I had been focusing on all these tasks. I was stressing over apples, black walnuts, dishes, laundry and even blogging. Yes, all those tasks need to be completed. OK, so blogging doesn't need to be done, but that is what I want to be doing. There are always tasks to complete and usually more than I could ever get done, but those tasks are not my primary purpose. Tasks are not what we are here for. We have been created for relationships. Firstly, our relationship to the Lord through Christ and then relationships with people.

Spending time with the kids this evening, instead of spending time doing things, was just what they (and I) needed. No, the rest of the night was not perfect. I still had to remind them to do this and that. I still had to threaten to spank Nolan to get him to do just about anything. (He is the most stubborn two year old!) But underlying, the frustration, the feeling of being overwhelmed and the self pity were gone. There was a peace.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Can you see it?

Can you see what I've been tackling? Really what I've been tackling is laundry, apples, and black walnuts, but those projects are not complete. In fact, laundry around here is never complete.

Well, I guess, to be honest, the project I want to share today is an ongoing process too. I've been tweaking my template. I have added graphics, and lists and played with the colors a bit. I have been doing that here and at Stop the Ride. I am not sure I am entirely happy with the changes I made, but it is a start. I guess my blog template is kind of like laundry around here: never complete.

Want to play Tackle It Tuesday head over to Five Minutes for Mom.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Holiday Recipe Exchange - Manhattan Style Seafood Stew

Time to share all those yummy recipes! The recipe I am sharing originated with a friend of the family. I know it is not your typical holiday recipe. It is a family favorite on my side and a little pricey to make, so it has become the meal we have when the family gets together for Christmas. An added bonus to this is that it can mostly be made the day before, so we don't spend the whole day in the kitchen. We usually serve this with homemade bread, salad and very decadent desserts. Cheesecake and Amish date pudding are usually among the choices.

Manhattan Style Seafood Stew
5 bacon slices, chopped 1 1/2 large onion, chopped
5 green onions, chopped 3- 28oz cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained
3-8oz bottles clam juice 3/4 c dry white wine
3 bay leaves 1/4 tsp red pepper
1 lb. small white potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced
24 clams well scrubbed (or use canned minced clams)
1/2 pound sea scallops, halved crosswise
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
30 fresh basil leaves
1 TB lemon peel

Cook bacon in heavy large pot for about 5 minutes. Add onions and saute about 8 minutes. Chop tomatoes and add along with clam juice, wine, bay leaves and red pepper. Simmer 20 minutes.

Add potatoes to stew and simmer about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (This can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Return to simmer before continuing.)

Add clams. Cover & simmer until clams begin to open- about 5 minutes. Add scallops and shrimp. Cover and simmer until clams open and scallops and shrimp are cooked. (about 3 minutes) Discard any clams that do not open. Mix in 1/2 basil. Transfer to large serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining basil and lemon peel.

Category: Soup or Main Dish

Head over to Overwhelmed with Joy to add your favorite recipe or to check out others' favorites!