in summer!

Elsie is my lover of summer. This has become quite clear as she tells me often, "I like Christmas, but I don't like wintertime because it's cold and has snow." I get such a kick out of her ability to articulate this feeling so succinctly...and frequently. Also, asks often when it will be summer. On a few lovely days this spring she asked if it was summer but Rory would always tell her, "no, these are just great days in springtime." He feels strongly that we have to have some sort of spring and not let winter melt into summer.

But on Friday night Mimi called to see how Elsie was feeling after she had two nights with a fever. And while she was checking in we got to talking about Monday and our plans for Memorial Day. At some point while I was still on the phone with Mimi, I told Elsie she'd need to bring her swim suit on Monday. Elsie asked, "Because is it summer on Monday?!!" And I told her yes. Monday was going to definitely be summer. 

Elsie went completely bananas. She started dancing around and laughing. She ran to her room and found her swimsuit and told me to "pack it for Monday!" as I continued to make plans with Mimi. Then she picked out her tank top and shorts that she would wear and brought them in my bedroom too. And she proclaimed, "I am so happy that I am laughing and I might cry! Like you cried when you had me because you were so happy!" She was positively deliriously happy. Then Ivar came in the house and I heard her yell to him, "Ivar! It's summer on Monday! And we need to bring our swim suits to Mimi's!"  He came and showed me that he picked out shorts that matched Papa's fishing boat. And then he ran to the garage and found the beach toys and put them in the jeep. 

It was Friday night and we were all packed and ready to go. For Monday. When it would be Summer.

So it officially began. We grilled burgers and hot dogs, ate watermelon and ruffles, played in the sand, went for a boat ride, Ivar taught Uncle Kyle how to use his equaler (calculator), the baby rolled around on a quilt in the shade, and I read a Real Simple magazine outside while looking at the lake. This summer is off to a good start!

a fish named Whopper

Part One: This past weekend I joined in on a group garage sale. It was awesome. We all have kids, so the night before the sale we basically bought each others' stuff. The next day my kids came with me and Elsie picked out a little kitty carrier with a stuffed kitty in it.

A few days later Ivar took the kitty out and a florescent orange slip of paper fell out that read, "Congratulations! You have won a gold fish at the Aquatic Pet Store! Come and get your fish!" Well you can imagine the excitement this stirred up in the house. A free gold fish! What good luck!

So we went as a family to pick out the newest animal to join our farm. On the way Ivar announced, "and I already know what I am going to name him. Whopper." I could not have been more proud.

We walked in and the owner scooped up the fish that was destined to be Whopper and after buying rocks, food and a fake green plant, he made a fifteen dollar sale off of a free 35 cent fish. If I were him I'd be placing those florescent orange free fish tickets all over the town.

Whopper got a nice view on our dash board and we went and got ice cream cones and took a walk around town before heading home to introduce Whopper to his new fish bowl. He's going to be well loved.

Part Two: I wrote that post on Wednesday night with the intent to take a picture of Whopper on Thursday morning and then publishing the post. But instead we found Whopper floating in his fish bowl Thursday morning. The kids were very matter-of-fact about it and Rory said he'd go back and get a replacement Whopper. I suggested we get two fish, thinking maybe that would be a less solitary life.

I asked Ivar if he would name the next fish Whopper Junior, and the joke was lost on him and he insisted it would just be called Whopper. Elsie was bouncing her butt on the couch while we asked her what she was going to name her fish. As she bounced she said, "ummmmmmmm. I'm going to call it Couch-a" (a quality naming strategy: Find the nearest object and add an A ending)

So now we have Whopper and Coucha. And we're proud to say they've been alive for 24 hours. We're going for 24 more.

a nice thing to do

Ivar and I went to visit the goats after lunch. I told him on the walk back to the house, "Ivar, I would like to read my book outside while the girls are napping. Maybe we could get a blanket and lay and read together."

Ivar was quiet for a moment and then said, "I just like how that idea feels. Doesn't it just feel like it would be a nice thing to do?" And I agreed. The idea and the reality both felt really, really lovely.

how to best use the freezer

This week we are eating out of the deep freezer. Rory has challenged me not to go grocery shopping until June 1st so that we eat up all that we have. It is actually a good challenge and strangely we've been eating great.

But in the deep freeze I came across a bag of rhubarb, all sliced and prepped that I clearly never used in the 365 days since I threw it in the deep freeze. I knew this because as I found this bag all prepped and ready to go I realized I had fresh rhubarb from this year waiting to be cut and used. I left that frozen bag out on the freezer in the garage thinking I'd give it to the chickens in the morning and it thawed and leaked rhubarb juice all over everything. A total mess. But then it dawned on me. We never ate that rhubarb because I never felt inspired to thaw it and make muffins. Here me out on this, because I've got a hot tip coming your way...

The workshops at Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators (MACHE) conference are so practical and topics are so immediately applicable ranging from discipline at all ages, teaching manners, working on your marriage, motivating your children and my personal favorite this year: food preparation.

This workshop was sixty minutes of mealtime suggestions, aiming to help the mom when she finds herself in the kitchen three times a day. The workshop presenter had lots of practical tips but this was my favorite: "When ham goes on sale around Easter, be sure to go and buy three hams for such a good price. But then do not go home and throw them into your freezer. A frozen ham at 4:00 on a Tuesday is no help to you. Instead, pick a day that week that you are going to bake all three hams. Your oven will be on all day. And as each ham comes out of the oven, slice it, cube it, prepare it to be eaten and store it in family-sized servings in your freezer. This way it will be cooked and ready for you at 4:00 on a Tuesday when you decide you are going to have sliced ham and scrambled eggs or cubed ham in wild rice soup or sliced ham and potatoes au gratin..."

Doesn't that change everything?!!
It's why I never used that huge bag of frozen rhubarb. Because it would have been better to have made rhubarb muffins one day during rhubarb season and frozen those. This way, at a moments notice, I could grab a bag of muffins to eat with my sliced ham and scrambled eggs supper. So guess who has been baking muffins all morning? I doubled the recipe, made four dozen muffins, and will put them in freezer bags (this is key! it's not worth all that work for freezer burned food!) to eat later this year. Unless my family keeps eating them, which seems totally plausible at this point...

She encouraged the same sort of thinking for whole turkeys, whole chickens, pounds of hamburger. Cook it all, the slice it, shred it, cube it and freeze it in family meal-sized portions and you'll LOVE YOURSELF at 4:00 when you remember that dinnertime is coming up, like it does every 24 hours all. life. long.

honey for a child's heart

Rory and I attended the Minnesota Home Educator's conference back in April. I am eager to share a few thoughts on that weekend, as I came home with lots of ideas that could be applied to all parents, no matter how they are choosing to educate their children. But today I'm going to tell you about this book, Honey for a Child's Heart, that was mentioned over and over again in the workshops that we attended.

These paragraphs sort of sum up the author's thesis:
"That which is excellent has a certain spirit of literature present. The sensitivity of the reader says, 'This is true.' 'This is real.' And it sets in action something in the reader which profoundly affects him. It has been an experience- spiritual, imaginative, intellectual, or social. A sense of permanent worthwhileness surrounds really great literature. Laughter, pain, hunger, satisfaction, love, joy -- the ingredients of human life are found in depth and leave a residue of mental and spiritual richness in the reader. 

"If we familiarize our children with this kind of writing, then they have a ground for making comparisons. Not everything they read will be excellent, but they will know a story's possibilities. It will set their reading patterns into motion."

I found my copy at our town's book sale and got it for 50 cents, but my copy was published in 1978. Zondervan has continued to publish this book ever since, and you can get your copy here. (With a new picture on the cover, that makes you feel like reading might be fun!) If I had the means, this is a book that I'd buy by the case and hand out to each friend I know. Last week we had a playdate every morning and I kept my copy in my bag so that I could tell each friend about it.

The first half of the book sets the motivational ground work for why books are so powerful. I think we could all answer, "well duh" to that premise, but I am telling you the way she lays out the chapters was so inspiring. I have never been so excited about the great privilege of being the one who gets to present good books to my kids!
The second half of the book is her personal recommended book lists, divided by age group (preschool-3rd grade, grade four to six, teen and mature readers). It is so helpful! The lists are placed in order of complexity, so if you  have a preschooler you would start at the beginning, but you can find where your kid is in the mix. And she doesn't claim that the list is exhaustive, but does say that it would be a shame for your kids to miss out on any of these books before they leave your home. (Also, her list is not just Christian authors or Christian stories. A well written story will have the ring of truth.)

Then she has a section called Poetry is for Pleasure and gives her picks for  how to introduce poetry to your family. I've never been captured by poetry the way many are. Which is odd, since I do love words! So I am excited to introduce poetry to my kids with hopes that I catch the spirit too...

The final section is again divided by age groups and is titled, "Helping Preschoolers Through Third Graders Grow as Christians" Then she recommends books for 4th-6th graders and again teens to mature readers.
I am so grateful for this resource book and helping me in this area of my parenting. If you have kids that are going to be home for the summer, I would think you'd want to get your hands on Honey for a Child's Heart right away. Or if you have grandkids, nieces or nephews or kids in your life, I would imagine this would be an awesome resource to refer to when picking out gifts. Happy Reading!