Country Life is Healthy For Kids (But You Can Meet Nature Needs in the City)


We had been reading about pioneers in much of our read aloud times; Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sarah Whitcher, Kirsten, and so I should not have been surprised when she came to me, eager and pleading with a faded prairie skirt that I was to put on. I hesitated at first, I had lots of real life pioneer work to do; caring for the goats, folding up the line gathered laundry and watering my thirsty fruit trees, but as I saw the disappointment in her face at my hesitation I complied. I slipped the bulky skirt and thread bare apron on over my jeans and tromped about the property doing my chores while trying to be as Ma like as I could with my modern busy mind.

As we worked and played I reflected on an article I had read earlier in the day. This study was conducted in Australia where a school had their safety conscious playground removed and were left with a mud hole and some spare parts. The results were amazing. Suddenly kids were engrossed in creative play and as a result anti social behaviors decreased. This article talks about even more health and wellness benefits which come when children are allowed free play in the great outdoors. 


Many of these benefits I simply take for granted. With homeschooling and country life we are free to adapt to our children's needs. Instead of putting a child on medication to help them focus in class, I can set them on an exercise ball to finish a math lesson, and then send them outside to jump on the trampoline to get some wiggles out. It would never even occur to me to make a child sit indoors under artificial light all day and then pressure the parents to medicate him so he would comply with my unreasonable demands. When did adults forget that children need time to play, to explore and to think their own thoughts? When did school administrators get so enslaved by the idea that all children should learn and test the same things at the same time that it would be worth putting non food substances in their body to make them able to comply? When?

I realize how privileged we are to have the freedom and the means to live in the country and to homeschool. And I was still privileged when we lived in a tiny suburban house with a tiny lot. During those intervals when I couldn't just send the kids out to run circles around the property, or bounce on the trampoline to release energy, we had to be creative. It often meant leaving areas of our small yard unadulterated so the children could plant flowers or build minuscule roads for their matchbox cars.

He's smiling because he just walked through a creek!

And no matter where we live we have made forays into the natural world a priority. Hiking trails, creeks, beaches and ponds all offer calm and creative places for our children to explore and connect. Where better to encounter Father God, who is the source of all life than in the natural world that He created with such care.


Looking for a good read aloud about a girl who got a little lost in nature? 
check out Sarah Whitcher's Story (affiliate link)

Linking up with Welcome Home Wednesdays


Parenting From The Bathroom

Yesterday was an interesting school day. I was so excited for a full day at home and started off with a special breakfast with the four youngest children. The older kids were all away at school or work for the morning but when I went to check on my daughter's dog, I could see that she was in labor with her first set of pups. I quickly called my sister who is an expert in these matters and she got me set up with a list of what to do. Although she recommended I move the dog out in the living room, where I could watch her and be a part of the family, the dog had other ideas. What she really wanted was to be on my daughter's bed, but since none of us wanted that kind of mess on our beds, I ended up closeting myself in the bathroom with the laboring dog. 

This meant leaving my four youngest children to manage themselves without my supervision for a few hours until their sister arrived home. Although the oldest of these children is 13, they are the youngest of my children and as such, not as used to being in charge. My oldest daughter at that age could have run the house just as well as me, but my younger ones generally need pretty direct supervision.

However, when I finally was able to leave the birth room, er bathroom at 4:00 pm, I was happily surprised that the house had not caved in around our ears. The kitchen was relatively clean and some of the schoolwork had been done. They had also only watched one movie. This was not as bad as it could have been, in my estimation. We also had a one hour visit from a tutor, during which no fights had broken out and the children had all stayed indoors.

A few things that helped these young children manage themselves without too much destruction were the good habits, chore lists and assignment sheets that they have been taught to use. 

Even though I wasn't out there checking every thing they did, I could at least say, "Do your schoolwork," and then, "Have you done everything on your assignment sheet?" when they came in to tell me that they were done. They also got the awe inspiring treat of seeing tiny puppies just moments after birth when they came to check in with me.

Although this was by no means an ideal day, it did result in the safe birth of two puppies which will hopefully help put my girls through college. It was also an opportunity to develop more self management skills, which although these skills can be hard to give our children the space to learn, they are valuable skills to learn.

Some good resources that we have used for developing good habits and order are:

Managers of Their Homes- Steve and Terri Maxwell
Managers of their homes: A practical guide to daily scheduling for Christian homeschool families br /> Home Education-Charlotte Mason
br />

What are your favorite resources for developing an orderly home?

(This post contains affiliate links)

Linking up with Welcome Home Wednesdays


Cherry-Almond Granola, New Kids and a Flood

No sooner did I make an inspiring list of goals for the year than I got hit with a few major interruptions. First, our goat became a first time mama. The three kids are a delightful little distraction but it is easy to lose an hour staring at them when I only meant to quickly check on them.

In the midst of the fun our drain backed up, leaked out a faulty pipe and ruined my lovely kitchen floors. This necessitated digging a four by four hole in my laundry room floor which has left me in one of the worst situations for a large family. No laundry facilities!

However, I still yearn to spend quality time with my children and feed them healthy food so in the middle of the chaos I decided to enlist their help to turn some of my bulk purchased oatmeal into a hearty batch of tasty granola.

Cherry-Almond Granola
Preheat oven to 300
Mix in large bowl,
8 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds
2 T chia seeds
1 cup coconut
(You could substitute any nut or seed in place of the almonds/chia seeds/coconut)
In a small saucepan melt together
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Cook and stir just until melted and combined. Pour slowly over the oats mix, stirring thoroughly. 
Once all ingredients are evenly mixed, spread on two large cookie sheets.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
After removing from oven add 1 cup dried cherries.
(You could substitute any dried fruit on hand. I prefer to add after granola has cooked so the fruit does not dry out, just a personal preference).
Once cool, place in airtight container and enjoy.

As you can see, this was a fun and easy recipe that my children loved helping out with. It is also flexible enough that if a child does not measure exactly, it won't be ruined.

Linked up at Welcome Home Wednesdays


A Fresh New Year With Fresh New Goals

Photo courtesy, Emelie Pepito

I love Christmas, but as soon as the day is past, I am ready to get organized for the new year. One of my favorite New Year's traditions is getting the decorations put away and the rooms dusted and vacuumed. It is so nice to have everything fresh and clean again. Another of my favorite traditions for the first day of the year is making a whole new set of goals to help define the coming year. 

Although I have read many books on goal setting, one of my favorite systems was well explained by missionary wife Colleen Adams at a women's meeting I went to. Thankfully my creative friend Rebecca, beautifully explains the whole system here, visit her page and you will find a very clear explanation of each area of goal setting. The short story is that, instead of trying to make A, B and C goals, or just a big list of general goals for the year, Colleen's method has you break down your goal setting into eight different areas. Also, instead of making goals for the whole year, these goals are meant to be for a shorter time period, such as three months.

Although, some of last year's goals, have found their way back onto this year's list, making goals and working towards them is a useful way of starting to develop the good habits that make up an orderly life and a civilized world.
Photo courtesy, Emelie Pepito

As a starting point for your 2014 goal setting, I have included my goals for the first three months of the year, in each of eight areas.

1. Self Care
Pilates 5 times per week (planning for 5, might help me get at least 2 in!)
Drink 5 glasses of water per day (coffee doesn't count)

2. Spiritual Life
Finish Experiencing God (Henry Blackaby)
Spend first 30 minutes of the day in prayer/Bible study

3. Intellect/Emotions 
(for me right now, these are some homeschool goals)
Finish Algebra with second daughter
Consistent school with youngest children

4. Relationships
Spend friendly time with hubby when he arrives home 
(complaining about the day, or asking him to do a project does not count)
Read aloud to children daily

5. Time Management
No phone/computer until priorities 1, 2 and 3 are done
Up and productive by 7am

6. Nest Management
Keep my room clean
Keep the laundry room clean
(2 hot spots that make me feel better when tidy)

7. Uniquely You
(This might mean weekly pedicures, or more time spent on self care, 
but those aren't my top priorities right now)
Consistent blog upkeep
Keep closet organized

8. Financial Stewardship
Make a list of accounts
Organize household filing system

I hope these give you some ideas for your own goal setting. Be sure and pray through your goals and let God give you inspiration about what you should be doing. Then, once your goals are written down, find a friend to be your accountability partner and enjoy seeing all that you accomplish this year.

The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord: and he delighteth in his way
Psalm 37:23

Linked up at Welcome Home Wednesdays