Tuesday, January 08, 2013

How to Make Decisions about Entertainment - the Simple Way

Every day we are bombarded. Not with bullets, but with media choices. Our cultural globe spins so fast, churning out new entertainment options daily for our families to consume, it is difficult sometimes to stop long enough to decide what to allow in and what to keep out. The bombardment is so thick at times you can't even think straight, let alone make decisions concerning the entertainment. So many questions! But what are the answers?

Should our kids read and watch Harry Potter? What about the Twilight series? What if my kids are hungry for The Hunger Games? Is Justin Beiber okay - he seems harmless? And yea her name is strange, but Lady Gaga isn't all that bad is she? 
And what about violent video games - after all, they are not real bullets?  
Isn't Downton Abbey uplifting - everyone is watching it?
And surely there is room in everyone's weekly entertainment for the likes of Honey Boo Boo, right? Or Duck Dynasty? Or America's Got Talent?

Though we don't have all the answers, we have come up with a simple 2 question "entertainment grid" through which we filter each and every entertainment choice that comes our way. It's only 2 questions because it needs to be that simple. Simple means sustainable. Complexity promotes procrastination and indifference. So, keep it simple. Here goes:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I don't know about you but I LOVE TRADITIONS. 

I love the expectation of knowing what is to come....the anticipation of doing that "special thing" usually once a year.....the joy and comfort that comes with a well loved tradition.   On the flip side I hate that feeling of loss when a tradition goes to the wayside, especially one of those that was so well loved. 

As Micah and I began our family 16 years ago, I was very excited to establish our family traditions that would stay well loved for years and years.  What I have come to learn is that some of the things we have incorporated have stayed, and some of them have dropped off.  What I thought would be a set in stone one time decision, has changed and morphed into new things every year.  I love that some traditions have come from our childhood families, some have come from our early married days, and most have come after we had our beautiful children. 

I am constantly looking for new things to incorporate into our family holiday traditions.  I am going to share with you some of our favorite traditions for Christmas, and I would love it if you would in turn leave a comment listing some of your favorites. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Garden Bounty

The garden has been occupying my (Johanna) mornings, days, and evenings lately.  So thankful for the bounty our land is producing however.  Yesterday I harvested 25 cabbages and a bushel of potatoes--and that was only 1/8 of each of those harvests.  

Kale and broccoli plants

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spring happenings

I noticed that we haven't been very good at posting.  So, I am going to show you what has been preoccupying our time these days.  Spring is such a BUSY time of the year on the farm.  I have to admit it's one of my favorite times however.  Everything is waking up, starting to grow, babies are appearing...there just never seems to be a dull moment.

New Piglets!  Five of them.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What is a girl to do without her daddy?

A phone call jarring me from sleep at 5:45 am exactly five years ago.  On a Monday, what a way to start the week. 

Five years.

I was awake this morning at 5:30 am.  Remembering the series of events for that week and the following week when my uncle died.  They are stamped in my memory banks, never to be erased.  Memories.  A curse and a blessing, all wrapped into one.  Those of you who have lost a close and dearly loved one can relate I am sure. 

I had a hard time getting through church yesterday without some tears.  The memories just flooded in......church was the last time I saw or talked to dad.  After service he said "Have a good Sunday daughter."  It is so hard for me to comprehend that so much time has passed.  Emma was a tiny baby, now I have two more beautiful daughters.  I still feel robbed in some ways.  I hate that they will not know their grandpa.  However,  the one thing that got me through that time five years ago was the fact that God is Sovereign.  I know His character, I know Him, I know He loves me, I know He knows what is best for me.....I choose to rest in that knowledge. 

I haven't gone back and read anything from the funeral or those weeks following his passing.  Today Mom, Jess and I are sharing the morning and reading some of the cards, writings, and thoughts of dad.  I decided to pull out what I wrote to be read at his funeral before or time down memory lane. 

I still wonder why he had to leave us at such a young age.  We still need him in so many ways.  Yet the impact his passing had on Micah and I was so profound.  His death and our reflection on his life of faith is one of the direct reasons we made such a life change and are now serving with Family Life.  Consequently, God has grown, molded and changed us into different people, all for the better.

Here is what I had written and shared at his funeral.  It was good to read it again, there is something healing in each step you take on the grief road.  Even five years later there is healing that needs to take place.  God is good, every day, every hour and every minute.  Even the ones where you feel like you are dying.  God is good. 

Daddy, how do I even begin to put my thoughts to a page?  So many memories, all of which are good, some are great, and some are wonderful!  My heart feels as though it is literally broken in two.  what is a girl to do without her daddy?  My first memories of you were following your footsteps at the farm.  I thought you were larger than life and could do no wrong.  You were my knight in shining armor.  I loved to just be with you, milking cows, working in the garden, being in the garage, just spending time with you.  You and I had so many projects together.  If you weren't concocting something new we could do, then I was.  

I learned that my father here on earth is to be a reflection of my heavenly father in heaven.  Daddy, I was truly blessed, I could not have wanted for a more beautiful representation here on earth.  You were always a shining example of a Godly Man who was seeking after Christ with his entire being.  You have taught me so much by your actions.  I have observed you and how you handle situations.  I grew up living by faith because you showed me how to trust God for everything.  this seems so surreal that I hm writing this about you and that I can't be telling this to you.  
What is a girl to do without her daddy?  

I know that you would tell me to trust God in everything, the big and the small.  And yes, this is big, but through him all things are possible.  I know that you would tell me that my heavenly father loves me so much more than you ever could or did.  thank you for the truth that you imparted to our family, for your desire to place God at the center of our family and for the wisdom that you were always giving so freely just by being you.  I will miss your happiness every time you saw me, and gave me a big smile and said "hello daughter dearest", your laughter, your "huhes" when you were exasperated with me, your knowledge of how to do anything under the sun, your godly council, and just you.  

The legacy that you are leaving behind is so overwhelming.  Every time I look at your grandchildren I am reminded of you.  Josiah and his sensitive spirit so like yours, his understanding of the bible surpasses anything that a 4 year old should have., I pray he can become a man of God like his grandfather.  Ethan, who looks so like you, I see you in his eyes each time I glance at him.  He loves life so much, my prayer for his is that he will embrace life to the fullest as you did to enjoy every moment of every day, to live just to glorify his heavenly father, and to have no regrets.  And little Emma, you were so proud of her, she too has so many resemblances to you.  five short months seem entirely too short of a time that you got to spend with her.  I hope that she will grow into a godly young woman that will continue to bring you joy and pride.  I sorrow because they will not have the privilege to really know you, to learn from you, to be shown the wonders of Christ through you.  May God help us to leave your legacy with them. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Laundry Soap

It's expensive to live.  

Profound huh? 

I am constantly looking for ways to trim our budget.  There are certain things that can't change, the check to the mortgage company each month, the cost of our health insurance, the fact that we must drive our Suburban and this requires filling it with expensive gasoline.....the list goes on and on.  

There are things we can control, how much we drive, how much and what we eat, if we eat out, how many "things" we purchase, if we allow the kids to be involved in a million activities.....again the list goes on and on. 

I came to the profound conclusion about 3 years ago that food is not the area to be cutting back the budget--INSERT LOUD GASP-

I know, I know, from all of you coupon mamas out there I just spoke some sinful words.  Now, let me explain, I used to coupon and hunt down the bargains with the best of them.  That was before I started learning what it means to eat traditionally.  Since then I have made desperate strides to eliminate packaged, processed, sugary, preserved foods from our diet.  Guess what....there aren't a lot of coupons for the foods or the places that I purchase my food.  So......no more trimming the budget in the food category.

I have been making my own laundry soap for about 3 years.  It is pennies for a load and if you ever come to our house on laundry day you will see how that savings works itself out exponentially.  I have always made the liquid laundry soap.  For this soap you grate and then boil down the Fels Naptha, then add in some other ingredients--the end result being a gloppy, snotty looking soap.  Great description huh?  Seriously, I have been pleased with it, I used it for over 3 years after all.  I will admit that I miss the smell that a load washed in Tide produces but for a penny or two a load I got over that really quickly.

Recently I came across a recipe for a powdered soap.  I was elated!  Why?  I couldn't ever find a container to store the liquid in that was overly convenient.  I also thought that the liquid was kind of a pain to mix up, easy-yes, but I just didn't like cooking it, waiting the day and then it was in a five gallon bucket that sat on my laundry room floor.  

I have been using this powdered version for several months and I am VERY pleased with the results.  I also feel that it is somewhat better at stain removal than the liquid, probably the added oxi clean.  It still isn't the best at getting out pesky stains, you will want to pretreat!

Here are the players:

One       4 lb 12 oz box      Borax                                                      found in the detergent isle
One       4 lb box               Arm & Hammer Baking Soda                 found in the cooking isle
One       55 oz  box           Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda    found in the detergent isle
Three       bars                  Fels-Naptha soap                                     found in the detergent isle
   ( I realize there are only 2 pictured...I think I had already grated one)
Two     3.5 lbs total          Oxy Clean or store brand Oxy Clean       found in the detergent isle
   (The Oxyclean is optional)

Start out by grating all of the Fels Naptha just like cheese.  This will make your kitchen smell really, really clean!

Next, place all of the ingredients in a 5 gallon bucket or other large container that is lined with a garbage bag.

If you have a small and adorable helper, let her help mix it up.  Just be sure you have it nicely secured and don't let her little fingers punch holes in the sack.  Not that I would know about either of those scenarios.

Last, have your assistant help you pour the soap into a container.  I made mine with stickers and a glass container from Walmart.  The soap filled up this container and I had 1/2 of a garbage bag left.  You could easily put it in a tupperware.  I wanted something that looked a little nicer since my washer is in an open closet by our back door. 

I made this months ago and I don't remember the cost of the ingredients.  I am estimating that they were under $20 total.  Not bad for months and months of soap!