Friday, May 29, 2015

Homeschool Highlight - Summer Baseball Our Way

   Last week we started up yet again what has become a Summer tradition for us. This is our 6th year of organizing baseball get-togethers for the homeschool community in this area.

 It all started the year that Aaron was 5 and Jonathan 7 and they were interested in baseball. So Ken thought we should sign them up to play. That was what most people did - wasn't it?  So we signed them up. The schedule ended up being so that I needed to take them 4 mornings a week for 6 or so weeks. It took a large chunk of my morning (as I was not inclined to just drop them off - I had seen one poor boy get dropped off and then it started raining hard and they cancelled and he didn't know what to do - that was not going to happen to my boys.) and it was cold pretty much the whole time - we do live in Northern MN after all and it was fairly early mornings in June and July. Also it was gardening time - this was taking valuable gardening time. The other thing - it was during the day so Ken was at work. He did take off time some to take Jonathan to some games but mostly it was me going out with all the kids.

   I know that all sounds pretty complaining of me - and it is. I could have totally made it work if I felt it was really important, but I didn't. So I decided there must be a better way - at least a better way for my family - obviously the normal method works for many people. So I thought about it and thought why not have a once a week (more manageable for us) baseball time that would be done in the evening so those dads that are really interested can come. We could invite others from our homeschool community and the parents could be the coaches/pitchers. We would have it all summer so there would still be a lot of opportunities for playing but it wouldn't be so overwhelming.
A picture of kids in the dug-out a few years back.
We tried it and it worked! We reserved a field at our local high school (that is free) and invited others to come every Thursday evening unless it is raining (though we have been known to play in a little rain).  Kids from 5 and up (originally we stopped at 13 and teenagers could play in another field if desired but now we allow the older kids too but do often split it up according to age) can play. We divide into teams each time and don't require that people come every week - but many do for the most part. We get together a little before 6:30 and allow the kids some batting practice and then usually get a game or so going around 6:45 pm. We usually play until after 8 pm. At that point we have a snack time - everybody brings something to share.

  We have once in a while had a very small crowd and the kids really get to bat a lot, but generally we have good sized gatherings and have enough kids to split into two different age groups on two different fields. The most we have had was around 60 kids. This year so far we are running between 30 and 40 kids playing (and lots of little ones running around outside) - as the summer goes on it will probably get bigger. For the smaller kids we use a soft baseball so that nobody gets hurt (at least not to badly).

  Besides the fun that the kids have playing baseball it has also been a very fun way to build friendships in our homeschool community. Many people (probably especially the moms) seem to like that aspect of it most. It has been a big blessing in our life and others have told us it has been for them as well. I am so grateful that we were able to figure out something that would work for us.

  That is one of the things that homeschooling can help you to realize - just because it seems like everybody is doing something doesn't mean it is right for you too. It is important to truly consider what is best for your family. Don't be afraid to step outside the norm and do what works best for you - you might find that others will really appreciate your leadership in that way.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Life for an Old Broom

 If you have been hanging out around here very long you probably have started to realize that I am not to fond of throwing things away. I don't like buying new either. My preference is to make things last just as long as possible. I love this saying....
This week we (Jonathan that is - at my direction) were able to give new life to an old broom and that made me pretty happy so I thought I would share it with you. At our house now with all sweepable flowers we have decided it works best to have a broom available upstairs and downstairs. So we did buy a new broom so that we would have two. Shortly after doing that the handle on our old broom broke.

Our broom was truly pretty old but it was still working so I was sad that the handle had broken. Jonathan thought that he could make a new handle though. So that is what he did. He got a small tree/piece of brush from outside and carved it down and made it the right size and then attached it to the brush part. It works just great.


Maybe we can get a few more years out of this broom. I was using recently and thought about how much more I enjoy using this broom that has been fixed up and has a handmade handle than I do using one that I went out and just purchased. I truly love handmade things and I also truly love getting the full use out of something and not being wasteful. I find this sort of activity very satisfying.

  Do you like to fix things up or repurpose things?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chivalry Isn't Dead

  Our day yesterday went a little differently than expected but left me feeling grateful for the community that we live in and grateful that chivalry is not dead - at least not around here. I thought it would be fun to share the story with you....

  After church the girls and I along with my niece Heidi headed to Menards to pick up some things we needed. (Ken had gone to his office and the boys were spending the afternoon with my brother.) In the store we quickly found the gloves that I needed and then headed back to get the mortar that I needed to finish up my rock project. When we were back at the mortar the younger girls noticed a man from our church a little ways off and went over to say "Hi", meanwhile Mara and I started to team lift the 80 lb bags of mortar into the cart. I can lift them by myself but going down into something or up from something can be challenging and it just seemed safer to work on it together. Darrell saw what we were doing and quickly came over to finish loading them for us. So nice. Then when he was done with that an elderly man came by and wondered if he could help him put something heavy into his cart too.

  We then went and checked out and headed to the van. Mara and I figured that we would do the team lifting again but Darrell happened to be parked near us and spotted us again and came over to help unload the cart too. Then he headed back to his car.

  After unloading everything I noticed that the back of the van was really sinking especially on the side where the mortar was. Well that kind of made sense but it seemed a little extreme as I had only gotten a few bags and I have had far more in there before. But I decided I should probably rearrange things anyway. So I did that but it still didn't help the situation. Then I thought I should probably check out the tire. Oh dear! The tire was flat. Not just low but really flat. I could see a gas station (with air) from where we were parked but it didn't seem like a good idea to drive on that flat of a tire even that far.

  So changing a tire seemed like the next course of action after we unloaded all the weight in the back of the van which Mara and I did. I have changed tires before (not that often, but Jonathan and I had worked together last summer to do one on the van so I kind of knew how the van situation worked) and so I wasn't that worried about getting the job done. So I proceeded to get everything out and figured out. At first I wasn't sure I knew how to work the jack but I got that figured out but then wasn't quite sure where to actually put the jack. I was studying on that when the guy parked next to me asked if I would like some help. I said that I would probably be fine but if he would be willing to point out where the jack should go I would appreciate it. He did that (he wasn't so sure at first either as newer vehicles seem to have a lot more plastic) but then he was like "Are you sure you don't want more help?". I said - "Well if you really want to...."

  So this young guy who I didn't know plopped down on the ground and got to work at jacking up the van and changing my tire.

   Meanwhile another guy came over to check on us but when he saw that we were being assisted went on his way. Then 2 different families that we knew came by - one of them stopping to make sure everything was going fine. And then Darrell and family came driving by again too. Though we already had help it was so nice to live in a community of this size where if I really needed assistance I could have had it in abundance.

  When the guy was done jacking it up (that was the part that took the most time) and was actually changing the tire another guy drove up nearby and saw that we were using one of those little wrenches that come with the van and offered the loan of his nice X shaped wrench instead. So we graciously accepted.

  Anyway the young guy finished up the job and I thanked him and I did offer him some money (I debated on doing that - not that I didn't appreciate it but somehow offering money somehow seems to cheapen the good deed that he did - does that make sense? I am very torn on what is the right thing to do in that case) anyway - he declined my offer of money but accepted my thanks and gave me advice to go make sure the spare had plenty of air in it before going much farther.

   Anyway what could have been an unpleasant experience was instead one that left me with a very grateful feeling of how kind most people are and how blessed I am to live in a place where that is so. Chivalry is indeed not dead - I was reminded of that several times that day. I imagine seeing four females dressed in skirts may have made them more aware of us possibly needing help but I think that they would have been gentlemen even if we would have been in work clothes.

  Have you had experiences that have reminded you that chivalry isn't dead?

 That evening when Jonathan got home his comment was - "Why did you have to have a flat tire when I wasn't there to help you!?" He would have enjoyed the whole process and I would have appreciated having him like I did last summer. I do hope that we can train our sons to be ready and willing to help others too.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Why I Believe The Church is Important

There are some who want to follow Christ but don't think that the church is important. I would disagree with that concept and here is why.....

Christ thinks it is important - He is the head of it.
"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." Colossians 1:18

"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." Ephesians 5:23

We need the other parts of the body - we aren't complete without them.
"For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Romans 12:4 & 5

"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way." 1 Corinthians12:12-31

We are to have unity (Be one) in the church.

"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." 1 Corinthians 12:12 & 13


"So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." 1 Corinthians 12:25-26

"Therefore, laying aside falsehood speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." Ephesians 4:25

When we read about the church - Christ's body everything seems to point at people getting together, working together being a part of one another. Not just Christians randomly - disjointedly doing God's work but rather Christians working together. I think that biblical teaching truly points toward not only being a part of the body of Christ made up of all Christians world wide through the ages but also a local congregation where we can work together and do God's work better than we could have be ourselves.

 I would love to hear your thoughts on the church.

Today's Progress on the House

  We are still busily working on the exterior of the house. We dreamed of getting the whole lower front of the house done today but that didn't happen. But we made progress so that was good. And we did have some excuses for lack of speed. Ken has the bug that I had earlier and so was working a little slower and I had to go deliver flowers for a wedding too.

   The picture above was taken this morning before we really got much work done.
 This was the state of the front entry way. Friday night I had put the rock up above the door but had not put mortar between the rock yet.
 I got the mortar in and more rock put up on the sides and also down right above the door. That section was pretty tricky because I had to hang some rock upside down with mortar with it. The rock actually stuck all right but I am still struggling to get all the mortar that I need up there. Thank-fully progress was made.

  We had lovely weather today. I actually was out in just a t-shirt and it has to be pretty warm for me to do that.
  Ken busily worked at siding (I did help him some with it before lunch too) and I worked on the rock.
 The look of our front entry is really changing. It will be fun when we get our steps done too.
 Does that entry look welcoming? I hope so!

10 pm and Ken was still hard at work. He did get that section done before he came in. Siding looks so much nicer than house wrap I think!

 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We Have Ducklings!



 We have 15 little ducklings at our place and they are super cute. Chicks are pretty cute too (and we have 60 plus of them here too) but Ducklings are just a bit more adorable than chicks. Especially with how they will follow the kids around. And their love for playing in puddles.
  We have a Mama duck named Gwendolyn which Megan got last Spring along with another duck but that duck was taken by some wild animal. Gwendolyn is an Indian Runner duck and was a yellow duckling.
 Some friends from church gave the boys a male Khaki Camel duck who they named Sir Francis Drake. He and Gwendolyn have gotten along wonderfully and follow each other around all the time. They do not like to be separated in the world of chickens that they are a part of. The kids love taking them for swims in the river which they seem to enjoy somewhat but quickly head home again after just a little time in the water.
 Daddy Drake is brown and every one of the 15 ducklings seems have taken after him. We are curious though if they will stand tall like their Indian runner Mama or stand more like their dad. So far it looks like they are going to be more like their Dad.
Gwendolyn has proven to be an excellent egg layer and Khaki Camels are supposed to be even better so we have high expectations for these ducklings.

   We are trying to be really careful and wash our hands carefully after handling them as we don't want to get any salmonella this year! (Megan seemed to have had a bought with it last year).
 

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