The Day My Son Did Not Need Me In The Kitchen Anymore

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The day has come.  My son no longer needs my help.  I’m officially no longer his lifeline to having food.  He is cooking on his own and so he has indeed learned what he needed to.  

I am saddened and relieved but mostly in complete awe since he is only six.

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How It Came About…

A little over a year ago I decided that I needed an elective for our homeschool program.  Something different that would last him a life time.

Life skills!  That’s What I decided was necessary.  Tractor Man had recently shown interest in cooking so I searched that and found few result for kids cooking courses.

Finally after narrowing my search results farther I found it, Kids Cook Real Foods.  An e-course dedicated to teaching kids to cook on their own.

I instantly purchased the all access to all threes levels.  I figured this was our best choice since Tag Along will eventually need these same skills.

We have been working through the lessons slowly and often repeating, that’s our choice to make sure he fully understands.  Currently we are a few lessons into the intermediate level.

Today was a shocking moment though.  All I did to make our blueberry oatmeal muffins was read the words.

What He Can Do Now

I have to say I’m impressed by my six year old.

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He spreads,,cuts (yes with a knife), he measures.  He Can follow a recipe once the wording is changed to the terms he understands.  He is stirring and flipping pancakes!

Flipping pancakes! He’s is only six!

Through the Kids Cook Real Food course he had learned so much.  And we aren’t even half way through the lessons yet!

It has been amazing to watch him grow in the kitchen.  He now tells people what is healthy and what isn’t.  For a young boy he is really impressing his Mama.

Where He Is Headed Next

We still need some work cracking eggs.  Although he did get it right today, with no shell’s I might add.

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He is making such great strides in the kitchen that our next big thing that need to happen is for Mama to let go a little bit.  He wants to experiment with flavors on his own.  And I need to start giving him those opportunities to try the new things to add to what he loves for his pallet.

I’m looking forward to the garden this year.  Being able to share the joy of fresh home grown produce will be wonderful and it will open new opportunities for them both while they learn to cook.

I’m planning to let him try a few new things as well while we are camping this year.  I was excited to see that one of the e-books also available with his course is one on cooking while camping.  For me this will be a perfect time to let him have an opportunity to prove himself as I will will want the break and hopefully clean up will be easier as we are outside.

I know we are still a long way from Tractor Man or Tag Along being able to do all of their own cooking and that is ok with me.  But I must admit I am so happy and proud of my children for learning to cook real food.

Find your joy today.

**If you are interested in this course I have included my affiliate links to Kids Cook Real Food.  Please check it out.  Currently the owner is offering a free downloadable e-book on “10 Healthy Snacks Kids Can Make”.  Enjoy! **

 

Teaching Life Skills From “The Past”

As a Mom I am always trying to find new and creative ways to engage my children when it comes to their education.  Having two very busy and inquisitive boys makes it a further challenge but also one that I am willing to try to win.

With the holidays just around the corner I could not help but think that gifts outside of the normal box (literally) would be a great choice for our kids.  Why not an experience?

More and more parents in our society are stepping away from the store bought goods and working to engage their families in experiences.

For example learning to cook and bake from scratch.  Kids, including my own, are now learning the basic skills to cook that many children knew when they were three and four back in the day.

When I say back in the day I should make note that we have just finished reading Farmer Boy and started The Adventures in the Northwoods Series for the boys for school.  “Back in the day” when all you had, you had worked for every moment of the day.  When a loaf of bread took four hours of work and not just a stroll to the store.  I think you see what I’m saying.

There is no more humble way to show your child their lesser qualities than to read books like this.  It is a rather abrupt way to explain better behavior.  Children being seen and heard, doing chores, never talking back to an adult, knowing where their food came from and actually being part of processing it.

These life skills that were the norm in the olden days are finally making a comeback and I for one want my children to have an opportunity to join in.  But it is not just “country kids” doing this.

You now see in cities beekeepers, small gardens and even chickens.  Parents are striving to teach their children where their food comes from.  And really that is a fantastic life lesson for them to know.  Plus they are earning it.

Here in the Mid-West we have just finished up hunting season.  Every year the facebook post comes up on someone’s page showing that famous statement saying we should “buy our meat at the store where no animals were harmed”(and I paraphrase there).

WHAT!?!?!

Yes, that’s right some people still do not know that their food, though in a grocery store, still came from an animal.  Do you think the same thing could be said about many of the other goods we purchase?  I bet so.

My search to educate my boys on all things life skills led me to several great resources.  I hope you will take a moment or two to visit the links I have attached below.

While I feel strongly about food preservation and gardening I cannot help but think that my boys would love a boat building or blacksmithing course.  And really where else will they see these lost arts?

Note** our county fair still has a blacksmith come in one day so be sure to see if yours does as well.  It is a joy to watch and makes you appreciate every spoon you own.

So now is your chance!  Go out an google search your area for some of those folk skills that are passing us by.  Be the trend setter in your area to step out and have your child learn to cook or shoot a bow and arrow.

These lessons are some of the most influential.  And I’m sure they will be the ones most talked of and never forgotten.

Happy homeschooling and homesteading.

First I would like to say that I in NO WAY get any type of compensation from the below listed opportunities.  This is simply a list of things that I have found in our area that are jam packed with life skills that I hope to pass on to my children.  A chance to preserve a tradition in time.  Enjoy and please let me know which you love the most.

Kids Cook Real Food is a wonderful online course that you can purchase for your children.  I love this course for my kids!  Plus you purchase the course and you have it forever!  We got the lifetime membership of all three courses.  Montessori based and fun for the kids.  My boys love Miss Kimball.  Registration opens periodically so be sure to check back often.

Fiber Spinning Classes Independently run and currently participating in “pop-up classes”, Angora Gardens, offers a chance to take wool and make it into so much more.  Step-by-step instruction and hands-on help readily available.

Black Smith or Wood Crafts and much more. Boat building, jewelry, tools, art, weaving, food preservation, the list is endless with this place.  They also offer family courses. North House Folk School will soon be seeing my family and I once our boys are a bit older.  So thankful I found an opportunity like this close to home.

Sustainable Living or learning about growing your own food.  Try Eagle Bluff Skills School.  There is not better way to understand how to survive than to take part in a sustainable living or self-wellness course.  And if you are up for a fun weekend with the spouse why not try the homemade beer making course?  Prices are very reasonable!

 

Homeschool, Quit Comparing

I’m a mom and a teacher.  Sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it is a curse. Being a homeschooling mom I find that the line between the two is very difficult to see, until I have crossed it.

Tractor Man is in kindergarten and it is a very exciting and challenging time. He is exploring learning and finding interests but he also struggles with concentration and structure.  This has been a concern for me but I keep reminding myself that he is simply 5. 

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Fun at the library using individual ramps


At the age of five I used to fake sick everyday after lunch so I could go to work with my dad who was a self employed carpenter.  Unfortunately the school and my mom caught on after three weeks. The point is I get not wanting to do school when other things are more fun.  That’s what kids do.  I think adults would join them if they had the choice.

Yesterday I stopped at our local small town post office and ran into a friend. Between my feiend, the post office lady and myself a conversation started up on young kids learning. My friends kids are older than my own and she has one of each. The post office lady was talking about her daughter who is the same age as Tractor Man and how she is already making progress on the 100 book challenge.

Homeschooling, I couldn’t stop myself from comparing so I of course asked what the 100 book challenge was.  I felt so ashamed to find out that her daughter was already reading books on her own!  I mean great for her but all I could think was “oh crap, Tractor Man is behind for his age.  I have failed him!”. 

That’s what we do as homeschooling parents. We put these huge expectations on ourselves to have “the perfect school year” but lets face it, life happens. 

In college I learned a huge lesson, probably one of the most important things to stick with me from there and my years teaching public school.  No two children learn the same.

Did you catch that?!?!

No two children learn the same!

So why are we trying to force them to?  Why am I comparing Tractor Man to this little girl?  Shouldn’t I allow him to learn at a pace that is good for him? I can see he is growing in understanding his phonics lessons, he is challenged but making progress.  For now that is enough.

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Pumpkin patch picking.


At this point my friend piped up and also reminded me of another key thing about teaching. Boys versus girls.  Yup that’s right I said it.

We cannot compare boys levels of comprehension and learning to that of girls. Girls mature more quickly. Boys, well they are boys. And I mean that in the best way.

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Big Island Rendevous, a time for reliving history.


Boys are rambunctious and enjoy adventure. Sitting still all but disappears once they learn how to roll and crawl. 

Simply put, boys and girls should not be compared to one another when it comes to education.  Especially in the early years.

Homeschooling is a difficult task.  We all need to remember to not only put so much pressure on our children, but on ourselves in the process.

The key to a great education for young children is ingraining the important things deep.  At a conference I attended Andrew Pudewa once said and I paraphrase here “We want education to be an inch wide and a mile deep not a mile wide an an inch deep”.  Kids have different time lines for teaching those levels, so accept that and plan to spend the extra time helping them.

Although homeschooling is a challenge it is one worth the effort for our family.  Perhaps it is for yours as well.  Just remember as you go that no matter how challenging moments can get, forward progress is the sign that you are not failing your child. 

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Enjoy the ride.


I hope you all have children that are an inch wide and a mile deep.  You can increase the inch as they grow older…happy homeschooling.

Spicing Up My Homeschool Year

I am super excited to be starting our first year of full-time homeschool.  Tractor Man will be in Kindergarten and it is a very exciting time for both of us.  He gets to really dive into his education and I finally get to make lesson plans and be a teacher again.

The biggest obstacle that I have found with homeschooling, aside from the overly high expectations of mom, is my yearly school budget (here is my Kindergarten Checklist).  Last year I really did not have to worry too much as I was able to purchase everything that we needed for a solid introduction for under $350 (see this post if you are interested).  Prior to that I was a public school teacher and I was given a decent budget to work with, plus I was able to utilize grant money to cut costs for students.  A full-time school year at home is new to me.

My goal for the homeschool conference this year was to get Tractor Man’s books and supplies for under $400.  I had no idea if that was going to get me anywhere close but I was hopeful. 

I was able to get all of his main books and keep within that budget.  But to be honest I really felt that my curriculum was lacking fun in a big way.  I had reading, writing, math, science, and all of those good things but I needed something to really engage him.  Something he could find fun in while not really noticing he was still being educated.

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Tractor Man's cookie he piped icing on.

If you saw Tractor Man’s last birthday picture, you would know that he loves to cook.  As luck would have it a blog that I like to follow showed a link to Kids Cook Real Food.  At first I was skeptical and even thought that I would never need to purchase an online course for my child, after all I’m a teacher and I cook three times a day so I can handle this. 

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His first homemade creation. Peanut butter and honey sandwich.

After looking at her online information that is provided I realized that the instructor is someone just like me!  She is a former teacher, turned stay at home mom and simply wants her kids to have a solid foundation in life skills so they don’t go to college and live on Ramen Noodles. 

The style of teaching is very Montessori based and stated in a way that is easy for kids to understand.  So easy in fact, that Tag Along now can get the measuring cups and measuring spoon that I am asking for.  He is only two!  I cannot remember but I’m pretty sure I never could have done that for my mother when I was his age. 

After seeing just that one lesson on the measuring spoons and measuring cups and how the kids responded to it I decided this was something we would do as a family.  We decided to purchase the lifetime membership.  This is good for forever and gets us all three levels of the cooking courses.  My kids are little so this just makes sense.  And honestly at under $70 how can you not. 

We are able to use the course as much as we want.  The instructor also strongly encourages those that purchase the program to share it with others.  We are planning come September to do mini-cooperative lessons with a neighbors’ children.  How amazing is that?!?!

I’m thrilled to say the kids are looking forward to the class and are learning a ton as we go.  We are going very slowly right now and practicing each skill for several weeks before we move on. I want to make sure that Tractor Man has the directions well ingrained in his head before we move on to the next step. 

It is thrilling to see him making his own food.  A new sense of independence has come into his life and now Mom is no longer needed for peanut butter sandwich making (although we did have to talk about not licking the knife and using it again). 

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Indoor picnic.


I can comfortably say that I really look forward to our educational choices for the coming school year now.  Tractor Man will be learning all of the basics and several life skills as well.  Being able to watch my children grow and learn is amazing and I look forward to what they can do in the kitchen soon too.

Happy homeschooling!

My Homeschool Kindergarten Check List

After the homeschool conference this year I decided I really wanted to focus on some key things to teach Tractor Man for his kindergarten year of school.  For me, setting a specific list of expectations for the up coming year is more of a goal for myself than it is for him.

Tractor Man will learn almost anything I attempt to teach him.  Even though we are homeschooling I still want him to have a strong foundation of skills often taught in the public school setting.  Knowing his name, address, and phone number are great life skills.  But we will be adding the pledge of allegiance as well.  This is a wonderful foundation set by our country that needs to be instilled in our children as well.

Reading with the kids is something we do before bed every night but adding some daily reading time will strengthen not only Tractor Man’s but also Tag Along’s verbal skills.  I encourage you to visit the Read Aloud Revival to find a wonderful listing of wholesome books you can read with your children.  The podcasts are fantastic as well.  This one by Andrew Pudewa is by far my favorite.

If you are planning for your upcoming school year start with the basics and then add content from there.  Be sure to select content you feel is important to pass on to your child.

Basics to Include:
Reading, writing, math.
Anything more than that needs to be in moderation.  This is kindergarten after all.

Add On Options:
Science-once a month we will do a science project and keep it very simple.  Discussion on animals found at the zoo will be based towards this as well.

Art– I’m not a like crafts for kids person-too much mess.  Having a biweekly, well planned project is something I am willing to push myself to do.  Its for the boys not me after all.

History-teaching the kids some basic survival skills and talking about explorers and pioneer’s will be our focus.  A trip to Mount Rushmore and Crazy horse may happen as well.  This isplanned with a trip toward my sister in law’s.

Literature-our books and stories are linked back to what we are talking about with history and the pioneer’s.  Little House on the Praire, Farmer Boy, etc.
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Physical Education-this is a tough thing to provide in a homeschool setting.  Especially if you don’t want to be traveling constantly to provide it.  The wrestling program lovally for is has been wonderful!  We joined last year and plan to again this year.  Our boys are very active naturally so I am only planning the one sport at this time.  Remember here that adding too much is not always a good thing.
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Life Skills-cooking, gardening, and animal care will be three possible things we add on if Tractor Man can handle beyond his basics.  Life skills are so important!  Knowing how to cook something without power is a great skill that everyone should have. Knowing how to patch a hole. Yup great life skills.
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Don’t overload yourself.  But do remember to do yourself one big favor.

Make a basic schedule and stick to it!!!  Wake up,eat breakfast, brush your teeth, say a prayer, etc.  Following those basic starts everyday will help to keep you and your family organized and prepared.

Good luck as you prepare for the upcoming school year.  Remember to give yourself a break if things don’t go according do plan.

Happy homeschooling.

Our Kindergarten Check List
Pledge of Allegiance
Address, phone number, write full name clearly
Tie shows
Art projects biweekly
History-survival skills, think pioneer!
Religion- topic for the month Saint Valentine, Saint Patrick, Christmas, etc.
Reading-phonics books a and b
Wrestling push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.
Science project monthly
Handwriting books
Literature List (new book every 6 weeks) Farmer Boy, Northwoods Adventure Series (1-5), Little House on the Praise
Math addition and subtraction Field Trip once a month (zoo membership, reptile zoo, historic locations, caves, etc)

Feel free to add what is important to you.
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Hang on. Its going to be a great year!

Education Meets the Outdoors

Being a home schooled family can be very challenging at times but it comes with benefits as well. In public school settings the majority of students’ time is spent at a desk in a classroom.  For our home schooled family that simply is not the case.  We enjoy taking education outdoors!

Here on our homestead education regularly meets the outdoors. In fact it is almost on a daily basis.  One of our favorite lessons is charting the weather on a daily.  This is by far my favorite way to teach and also Tractor Man’s favorite way to learn. He is a hands on kid.

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Tractor Man pointing out blossoms on a tree.


So what wonderful things can you teach your children in the great outdoors? Really the possibilities are endless.  Here are just a few things that I can think of off of the top of my head.

Physical education, plant science, plant growth, animal behavior, tree species, weather patterns, animal life, domestic vs. wild animals, types of root systems, survival skills, animal calls, animal habitats, ecosystems, and the list can go on and on. Feel free to let your mind wander and become creative with your surroundings.

Right now Tractor Man is just five years old so our outdoor sessions are not too in depth. He can do some basic physical education-this is fun after all because he is five.  Teaching him some skills such as climbing, jumping jacks, correct push-ups, and wrestling warm ups are all some of his favorite things.  He is slowly adding those into his daily life.

Today outside we discussed edible plants found in the wild. Tractor Man knows of berries and how to tell the basics but not to know which are poisonous.  Definitely something we can work on there.
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Today we discussed dandelions. This seemed only natural as our yard has suddenly been overtaken by them.  By the end of the lesson he even tried eating the greens of the dandelion to see what they were like.  He wasn’t completely impressed but he said if he needed food he would eat them.

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Edible plant education.


Nettle is growing in abundance around our homestead as well. Being that the property has been vacant for over four years I thought this would be a problem this first spring.  I am not brave enough to stew some up but I think I will mention it on our next trip outside as an option.

The lesson on plants continued as we planted our seedlings into the garden. Looking at root systems and understanding that not all plants grow at the same rate has been a challenge for him to understand.  Tractor Man has also taken on the added responsibility of helping to water the crops.  He seems to be becoming quite the little farmer.

Educating our children is a top priority for Sir Swine and I but the challenges of home schooling bring us such joy. Although it can be trying on myself and the boys from time to time we do find happiness in being able to explore and learn all around us.

We are able to teach them skills that will lead them to be self-sufficient leaders in the future. It gives me a great deal of pride knowing that my children are learning how to stand on their own two feet. 

As a former public school teacher I know that not all lessons are learned from books.  Creating that balance of exploration and education is what we aim for on our homestead.

Educating your children in the outdoors opens new areas of exploration for them to become interested in. Studies say girls do not like science, if you put them in the outdoors doing the things they love to do science becomes more interesting.  Go with your child.  It is an adventure in education you will not want to miss.

If you cannot explore the outdoors try bringing a touch of it into your home. We recently did art work on fish and how they travel in schools.

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Creating fish schools with goldfish.


Happy homeschooling on the homestead.

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Ideas for Working With Little Ones

It seems as though everytime I am trying to really get something done my kids are right there with a different plan in mind.  Unfortunately, it is usually a plan that involves more time and a whole lot more clean up.

When it comes to getting things done around the house I have found the best response to a little face asking if they can help is to give them a job.  I might add that it is very important to be clear in what the job is they are expected to do.  Tractor Man tends to drift off if not given a very direct responsibility.

I would really like to add that Sir Swine and I are big believers in hardwork for young bodies.  Both of us grew up on hobby farms and had our share of work in our youth.  Responsibility for  kids is a piece of character that needs to be learned early on.  After all, it is so much easier for them to understand and take pride in things like caring for the dog and keeping their own room clean.  Believe it or not but Tractor Man’s greatest joy is when we tell him we are proud of him.

Small children can really provide big challenges when it comes to trying to accomplish tasks. Here are some simple ways to allow your little ones to help you!

Cleaning the House

  • Buy a small hand held broom and let them sweep under the table, chairs and small places.

  • Set and clear the table
  • Five minute frenzy ( 5 minutes of cleaning as much as you can in each room-it’s a race!!!  Kids love this one.)
  • Make them the laundry gatherers
  • Sorting and putting away their own toys
  • Washing their own toys (we call this a car wash-prepare for water on the floor)
  • Give them a damp rag and spot clean floors and furniture
  • Mini vacuum for the stairs-this one is a huge time saver for me!

Gardening or Yard Work

  • Have toys handy for this…outside only toys.
  • Trucks for hauling dirt.
  • Put them in charge of their own area for planting and tending to in the garden
  • Swings, slides, sand and mud pies
  • Pick up stick duty-our boys use their gator for this.

Cooking

  • Measuring cup man (teachable moment-fractions)
  • Stir master
  • Let them choose the sides and if safe get them from the freezer or pantry
  • Set and clear table
  • Buttering of the bread
  • Saying grace-let them lead
  • Shopping list check-off

Laundry

  • Sock matchers
  • Dirty clothes pick-upers
  • Sorting if they know colors and textures
  • Help put away things that cannot be unfolded easily-socks, hanging shirts, etc.

There are several other things that you can add to this list depending on your child and your home needs.  The key thing is not to be afraid to have your children help.  They are part of the family and should contribute in thier own way -and that does not include only making messes.

Try to make it a game! Tractor Man is all about being a frontiers man super hero, he made it up himself. No reason work can’t be business…
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And fun!
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That’s more like it.

Happy homesteading everyone!

4 Ideas to Counter “Fed Up With Learning”

I love teaching and to be honest most days Tractor Man loves learning.  But, there are days where learning for him is on the back burner.  To be honest some days it’s not even in the kitchen or if it is, it may possibly already be going up in smoke.

I have a very stubborn, opoinionated, strong-willed choleric child.  To be honest I think I may have two but with Tag Along it is to soon to tell (I hope).

But I also have a very strong-willed, compassionate, determined to help child.  The problem is that his heart is in the right place but it can get him in trouble too.

Like when the dog comes to beg food at meal time.  Tractor Man will slip him food if he can but then is agast when there is none left for him to eat.  Plus the mood he gets into when the dog later tries to take food from his hand.

Lately he has been fed up with learning.  That is putting it lightly.

We have been forced to do all of his school in the morning because by 1pm he is in shutdown mode.  Head down, rolling around, whining “I can’t”, done for the day mode.  We have done story time then, but sometimes even that is a lost cause.

This new fed up with learning ideal of his is not one that I want to be a normal thing.  Breaking the habit that it seems to have become is even harder than I had anticipated.

So, here is our new game plan to get him back into learning.

  • Create Excitement:  One thing that young children can not seem to turn away from is excitement.  If it looks fun and sounds fun then it must indeed be fun. ( Oh, to be young again where that was all it took to try something new.)  I am taking all of the key things he needs to know and making them more exciting.  Counting practice is more fun with live animals and M & M’s.  Learning to count money is better with the real thing.  Purchasing something on his own is the best lesson for him to learn, hands on.  Fractions?  Try making cookies or pie!
  • Games and Creations:  We have implimented craft time now as well as game time.  Tic-Tac-Toe is now a MUST that we do after every math lesson is complete.  Plus, it helps him to practice his x’s and o’s, which is writing practice as well.  In the summer we will be doing the old fashioned hop scotch.

 

  • Let him drive:  Take this one within reason.  First, NO I do not mean to actually let him drive (Tractor Man is only 4 after all).  This is ment to help you direct the learning back to your child’s interests.  There is no sense forcing him to learn about the history of Motzart if he is more inclined to like the history of agriculture in the United States.  Yes, your child still needs to learn basic skills but writing practice can be a list of words they want to know.  Letters are repetative so any practice is good practice.  Reading falls into the same category (we are reading My Side of the Mountain).  Counting can be done anywhere at anytime, so do it!
  • Patience and Flexibility:  While I know that the above steps are being taken to encourage and get him back into love of learning mode, I also know that nothing is perfect.  Staying patient and being flexible are things that I must remember to do.  Some progress daily is better than none at all.  As long as we keep moving forward he has a lifetime to learn.  And really he and I are both learning something new everyday.  Stay calm and it will all work out.  Remember though that flexibiltiy does not mean to stop all education but rather to curb lessons toward your childs’ interests and attention span.

In an ideal world our children would never tire of the things we want to teach them and we would have all the answers for their questions.  The reality is that we really don’t.  Teaching your child is a challenge.  Learning is a challenge.  Making the best of it, in my opinion, is one of the biggest challenge of all.

As you implement these four basic things into your teaching plans let them serve as a gentle reminder that none of us are made the same.  Embrace this difference and do your best to grow with your child.

Home schooling is lots of  hard work, but I know you can do it.

Happy homesteading everyone.

Learning through Lent

Every year as a practicing Catholic I feel compelled to “give up something” for lent. However, as a person that needs improvement as a wife, mother and human in general, I find it is better to rather try something new or improve myself rather than focus on a negative.

My decision has been to improve myself through positive character building. Compassioon for others. Less for myself and more for them, whom ever they may be.

This year with Tractor Man learning all that he can with home school I decided that we would add a simple task for him, daily prayer for someone else. Sounds easy right, but he is only four so learning to pray for others beyond the basics is a bit of a challenge for him.

This morning however it was an easier task. Sir Swine called me to tell me that I will be helping him make an emergency run to the University of Minnesota with some deceased piglet specimens. He thinks we may have PRRS.

To those of you unfamiliar with this it is a terrible swine illness that sweeps through your herd causing bred pigs to abort, little pigs to die of dehydration (even while nursing) and months of damage to the breeding and production of pigs. It has caused the collapse of many farms from Texas all the way up to Minnesota. It is also the reason that the price of your pork has gone up so much in the last few years. Decreased herd numbers means higher priced meat.

We have been fortunate to have been one of only three farms in our area that did NOT get it two years ago or since that time. Now it looks as though it may be at our door. Only the testing will tell.

After telling Tractor Man that our pigs are in trouble and that it might be a good idea for us to pray, he readily got down on his knees and asked God to keep our piggies safe. He almost started crying telling God he didn’t want all our baby pigs to die or their mamas (PRRS does not often kill the mamas).

My boys really are pig kids. It is in their blood. Both have helped a sow farrow before they were two. Once they could walk they have been helping with the chores, walking show pigs, and just simply checking on them a million times a day (even when they don’t need it).

The thought of a life without pigs is shocking to all of us. It is what we do. It is who we are. I can no more see our lives without pigs than I can see me without my garden every year.

We must stay positive and hope that all will work out with the pigs.  Test results will be in tomorrow so we will know soon enough.

Though it is a scary thought to have the possibility of losing our herd, it is a wonder to hear Tractor Man so readily offer up a prayer for others.  He is only four but I know that he means every word.  It gives me some much needed hope to know that I am doing something right with him.

February Spending Freeze 2016

Here we go again!  Another year and another February Spending Freeze.  I am excited and as always a little nervous for this challenge.  I will admitt though I am feeling very determined to save like crazy this year!

My preparations for our spending freeze started a few weeks ago.  I took an inventory of our pantry, freezers, and canning shelves.  I then planned this ( February 2016 Meal Plan ) lovely monthly meal plan for us.  It is complete with lunch, breakfast and several snack ideas included.  I hope it helps you dream up some new meal ideas even if you are not doing the spending freeze with me.

If you are joining me in this wild idea to help save money, what are the plans that you have made for the money you save?  We would love to say that it is for something fun but for us it is paying off some debt.  That could either be a student loan or a little extra towards the house.  For us, we really are trying to pay things off.  Student loans have been dragging us down for to long and we are ready to send them on their way!

What are you planning to do with the extra funds you save?  If you still are not sure, here are a few ideas that might help you decide.

  • Pay off a debt- credit card, student loan, car, house, whatever.
  • Do a repair or improvement to your home.
  • Start an emergency fund-it is reccommended to have 6-9 months saved.
  • Save for something fun-like that vacation!
  • Purchase meat in bulk-did you know you can get great meat products from farmer or butchers at cheaper prices by buying a quarter or half an animal.
  • Invest in something rewarding-a new tiller, greenhouse, canning jars or tools.
  • Start a Christmas Club account at your bank! Start saving now.

Your options are endless!!!

I hope you will consider joining my family and me as we go on this spending freeze adventure. Be sure to follow along and use some of the information we provide, like that premade meal plan up above.

Happy homesteading everyone!