I didn’t want to leave you hanging…
This summer we have had several wonderful backyard cookouts. I wrote a story about “getting by” called Make Do, and shared how we have learned to be content and enjoy these cookouts without a modern grill. It wasn’t easy to cook on the campfire and hot rocks, but we learned how to do it and do it well. Cooking on the campfire got easier later on once we got a grate to place over our campfire too cook on. But even without a grate, we were able to cook delicious and nutritious foods “On The Rocks”.
Backyard Cookout On The Rocks
The campfire was built up and allowed to burn hot with fallen branches we collected from the yard. While the fire was being stoked, we placed rocks and bricks on the edge of the fire. I went to the garden to pick vegetables and prep the food, and some of the kids joined me for this, and some stayed with dad to tend the fire. The the fire was allowed to burn up most of the wood, and burn down to a low fire. We allowed most of the wood to burn out and turn into hot coals, or charcoal.
Then we placed the food on the hot rocks, hot bricks, and coals to cook. Stay close by with a shovel, incase you have a flare up of the fire and need to knock it down, and so you can turn the food often.
We turned the foil packets over with the shovel about every five minutes or so to be sure they cooked evenly until they were done.
The smoke from the charred wood permeated the food and resulted in a delicious, labor of love, meal. Below I have posted some of the individual recipes to make a delicious meal on your campfire.
On the Rocks Veggie Packs:
Thinly slice fresh potatoes, onions, and fresh zucchini.
Then season with 1 tbsp. olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne.
Wrap in foil and fold over seams to make packets. We used two layers to be sure the food was protected from loosing steam/moisture while cooking. Then place packets on hot rocks and hot bricks to cook over the coals of the wood fire. Check packets after 15 minutes or so for doneness. The thinner you slice the vegetables the faster they will cook, so watch carefully that it doesn’t burn.
On the Rocks Corn On The Cob:
We also prepared fresh corn on the cob in their husks and wrapped in foil packets to roast over the fire. Then carefully open the husks and remove the silks. Soak the corn in the husk in cold water.
Remove from the water and drain excess water on a towel. Rub the corn with butter, and season with sea salt and pepper if desired, or season after it cooks, just before serving.
Carefully place the husk back over the corn on the cob on large squares of foil.
Wrap the husk covered corn on the cob in foil and fold the ends back over the cob like wrapping a burito, so it is tightly shut to make an enclosed packet that doesn’t loose moisture. Again we used two layers to be sure the packets were sealed shut.
Then place foil corn cob packets on the hot rocks next to the campfire. Allow to cook, turning often for about 7 to 10 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t over cook or burn. Unwrap and serve. If you did not season the corn prior to cooking, then season now. Nothing tastes better than sea salt and ground pepper on the sweet smoky corn. It is a flavor explosion to the taste buds.
A Wholesome Family Adventure:
While the packets of food cooked, the kids cooked hot dogs on homemade spears they made with dad.
He helped them use the pocket knife to whittle and carve spears to hold the hot dogs over the fire for roasting. They enjoyed selecting maple tree limbs and using the pocket knife to whittle their spears. They really enjoyed cooking their own hot dogs too.
At the end of the evening, we let them roast some marshmallows too. YUM!
Sometimes the marshmallows got a little over cooked! LOL!
But it was a fun evening with family and food.
Cooking on a campfire in the backyard can be a great family adventure. The kids can be involved by helping their parents prep the food and cooking the food with supervision. It is a great hands on way for them to learn life skills and enjoy spending time together as a family too.
Be sure to read about the Smokey Garden Fresh Burgers and delicious garden veggies we made on the campfire too. The Smokey Garden Fresh Burger has to be the best sandwich I have ever eaten, hands down! Be sure to check out the recipe!
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We have been doing some outdoor cooking on an open wood fire in the backyard. It is the best tasting grilled food I have ever eaten! There is something special about the natural fire burning the hardwood limbs of apple, maple, and mulberry trees. It flavors the food with a delicious sweet smoky flavor. Be sure to read more about how we set up our outdoor campfire grill to cook meals for our family.
Dinner: Garden Fresh Vegetables and Smoked Burgers
Pictured above here is my complete dinner which included garden fresh red potatoes and green beans, acorn squash, and a delicious smokey sirloin burger with a few veggies inside. All of the ingredients in this dinner (except the bun, and the ground sirloin), were picked fresh from our family garden just a few minutes before grilling them. A few of the green beans were just starting to mature, and so they are quite small, tender, and delicious.
The veggies include:
beside the bun (potatoes, green beans, jalapeno, cilantro, shallots, acorn
inside the burger (jalapeno, cilantro, shallots)
and on the burger (lettuce leaves, sliced radishes, yellow tomato, and onion),
Yeah, I know what you must be thinking, those ain’t normal radishes! Well, they are, they were just some that were left in the ground longer than the earlier ones we harvested. They really packed a spicy punch! And were so crunchy and delicious on this burger.
Potatoes and beans:
Spray foil with oil spray. Add veggies of choice. I added sliced red potatoes, young green beans, diced jalapeno, cilantro, sea salt, and pepper. Optional: you can add a tsp of butter or olive oil if desired. I ment to ad diced shallots to this packet, but forgot. I did ad it to a different packet though. Lay another piece of foil over the veggies. Fold the two foil pieces into a packet by folding the edges to make a seal. Be sure there are no gaps in the edges, as the veggies will steam in their own juices and you don’t want any steam to escape. We laid these packets onto campfire and let them cook for 20 to 30 minutes or so. The result was a delicious tender cooked and deliciously flavored vegetables.
For the squash I used acorn squash and sliced it about 1/4 inch thick. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place onto grate on the campfire and cook 15 minutes or more turning as needed until both sides are lightly golden and cooked through. You can set the squash to the coolest part of the campfire if they start to over brown. We placed ours on top the foil packets to cook slowly in the beginning, and then directly over the fire later on. It all depends on how hot your fire is for where is best spot over the fire to cook them.
In a bowl I mixed together diced shallots, chopped cilantro, and diced jalapeno pepper, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Then made the mixture into patties by gently pressing the mixture in the palm of my hand with my fingers until I had a flat and round patty.
I made some patties that were plain too for our kids, and put some uncured all beef hot dogs on the grill too. The kids are not very accepting of green things hanging out of their burgers.
We placed all these wonderful patty’s and other dinner items on the open campfire.
Then we placed it all on the campfire. Here you can see the burgers and foil packets of potatoes and beans over the fire, and the squash is on top of the foil packets slowing down the cooking of them so they didn’t over cook. Then we also cooked them over the direct fire for a time too till they were lightly golden and cooked through.
Their loss is MY GAIN! The kids don’t know what they are missing!
The burger was moist and so flavorful! It was not spicy at all. All of the flavors and sweet smokey aroma complimented the burger perfectly!
Though this meal was cooked outside, over an open wood fire, it was restaurant quality. There is no doubt about it! This was one of the most delicious dinners I have ever enjoyed.
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So what do you do when you don’t have XYZ? You MAKE DO! “It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up”.
Let’s face it, you can’t always get what you want when you want it. Or haven’t you learned that yet?
I learned this lesson at a very young age. My dad used to frequently tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff” meaning don’t worry about things I can’t change and things that in the bigger picture of life really are not that important.
I want my children to learn this lesson while they are young too. I hope that by teaching them while they are young, and leading by example, and as they watch me and my husband cope with difficult circumstances in our adult life where we have no choice but to go without the things we want, or making do with what we have (and do it with a joyful heart), will make a positive impact on them and give them coping skills to handle whatever situations they face in their life.
Sometimes accepting that I will have to “make do” means saving my sanity too. No point in throwing a fit about it. Just accept it for the time being, “make do” or make the best of the situation and the resources I have, and go forward. If I waste my energy on pouting or throwing a tantrum, I miss my blessing. I tell myself that someday I will improve the circumstances if I am able, but until then, be happy.
Our current season of life finds us “making do” with what we have and living without what we don’t have. I won’t mention all of the wants, but one want / need we have is a backyard grill for our large family of eight people. We would love to have a grill to enjoy summer cooking outside.
About two months ago, we moved from North Carolina to Indiana. The old farmhouse in Indiana is hot this summer. I leave the kitchen door open most of the time, because it is so hot in the kitchen. The kitchen is small. It was a porch at one time in history, before indoor plumbing, and then was enclosed and plumbed probably in the 1930’s or so to become an indoor kitchen. It is somewhat frustrating for me to cook in it as I was used to a big modern kitchen, with nice appliances, and lots of counter space for food prep with room still leftover for several small appliances in my previous home. I also had a separate but adjoining dining room so the food was prepared in one area, and eating could take place a few feet away. We enjoyed this lifestyle as homeschoolers, because we use our table not only for eating, but also for school work too, so I could cook or prep food in one area and all six of the kids could study and or play at the table and we had plenty of room for everyone.
I am not complaining, but just pointing out the facts as they are. Being in the small kitchen cooking, or at the kitchen table, means we are all on top of each other. Literally, we are elbow to elbow in the kitchen. I find myself in a very old house with almost no electrical outlets, poor lighting, and the kitchen feels like a dungeon. It is not convenient at all.
I have two feet of counter space to the left and to the right of the sink, and I bump into the table behind me every at every turn. And sitting at the table means your back is to the wall on one side, and bumping into the oven door or fridge door when they are opened on the other side. I currently can’t even imagine how I am going to use the table for school work too. I feel like I am in a camper with the burden of cooking for a large family and don’t have access to what I need. By the time you have the coffee pot, a mixer or bowl, and if there are any dishes on the counter to be hand washed, there is no room left for food prep. There is no dishwasher, microwave, or nice appliances, and gasp. . . no ice maker or water dispenser in the fridge door either. Nope, NADA!
And did I mention it is HOT!?? It makes more sense to cook outside than inside right now in the hot summer. But we don’t have a grill and we don’t have the budget for one at this time either. What little money we have had has gone to cover basic needs for food, gas, bills, and the garden seeds, and a few fruit trees / plants for the orchard. In this season of our life, there are many needs and plenty of wants going unmet.
One thing is for sure, when you accept your circumstances, you can deal with them better. If you fight, pout, and are frustrated about your circumstances, it makes it all that much harder to live with.
I am so thankful for my family, even with the demands of caring for a large family. My kids can be a great source of encouragement in this whole thing, because they are resilient, and optimistic. They may need a little “get over it” time too, but eventually they come around to the idea of let’s “make do”. As long as you are together, and have each other to build one another up, you can get through it.
It is tough! I am not going to lie! It is not easy to set aside your wants. And it is hard to watch those you love suffer, struggle, or go without.
Evaluate What You Have On Hand To Use
So. . . what to do. . .what to do. . .?
First I need to look at the resources I have on hand, and then I can MAKE DO!
If I want to cook outside, but don’t have a grill, why not cook on an open fire? For thousand years my ancestors cooked on open fires. They didn’t have grills, gas ovens, crock pots, or electric stoves. Yet they succeeded in feeding large families with the resources they had.
Well, in theory that sounds good, but in practice cooking on an open fire presents some challenges: a steep learning curve if you have never cooked out in the open, safety for the cook, safety for the bystanders, keeping a constant source of heat or temperature, preventing food from burning, and food from falling into the fire and being covered in ashes, etc. It is definitely challenging, but if I can manage those challenges then I can “make do”.
Resources I have on hand to cook a meal outside:
-open space in the backyard
-shovel to maneuver hot rocks, hot bricks, and charred wood that is on fire
-tree limbs: maple, apple, mulberry, etc.
-matches to start a fire
-foil to provide some protection for food that can burn easily or food that
needs to steam in its own juice
-a pocket knife to whittle wooden spears to hold food over the fire
-fresh garden produce
-bread and buns
With these resources we were able to build wonderful camp fires in the evenings when daddy got off work, and cook fresh food for several delicious and fun family dinners.
In the meal pictured below, we roasted fresh corn on the cob, roasted fresh red potatoes with onions and zucchini that was just harvested from the garden before going on the fire, and uncured all natural beef hot dogs cooked by the kids skewered on our wooden spears.
Within a few weeks of learning to cook on the fire, we acquired a new resource: a grate to place over the open fire to cook on. I was so excited about this “step up” ! I had looked and looked at newspapers, online sources, etc. to try to find a free grill someone was getting rid of, even if nothing on it could be used except the grate, or one that could be bought very cheap. But as the weeks went on through the summer, I could not find one, not even one to recycle.
After a few times of cooking on hot rocks and bricks and spears made of sticks, we finally acquired a grate we found on clearance while grocery shopping. We now have a wonderful grate to put over the fire for under $10 and and a couple of metal
spear/forks for $2 to spear the food if desired, and this made cooking over the fire much easier. Total investment was around $14. We had the bricks already on hand from an old foundation we recycled that was under a shed we took down on the farm. We made side walls with the bricks by stacking them two bricks high and the bricks helped to keep a hot fire going by retaining a lot of the heat and preventing the fire from spreading out to much, and also helped to hold the cooking grate. I am very thankful for the upcycled bricks.
Cooking over a wood fire is lots of work! It takes diligence to gather sticks to build the fire, and constant stoking the fire, and time to monitor the fire so it is just right to cook on. About an hour or more of work goes into making the wood fire before we can place food on it. And there are a few dangers to keep in mind at all times, especially with young kids around, and if the fire flairs up unexpectedly while you are leaning over it!
Though we have been “making do” without a modern grill this summer, we have a good attitude about it. We are enjoying our time together, and enjoying learning the ongoing process of getting by and making the most of what we do have. We are especially enjoying learning the delicious art of cooking over a wood fire outdoors. No grilling we have ever done EVER, has tasted this good!
The food is juicy and has a delicious flavor infused with the smoke from the apple, maple, and mulberry tree limbs we are burning. If you enjoy apple wood smoked bacon, smoked meats like maple wood smoked turkey or smoked brisket, then you will enjoy the flavors of this style of cooking. It is very exciting to the nose and the tastebuds.
All of the ingredients in this dinner (except the bun, hotdogs, and the beef), were picked fresh just a few minutes before grilling them.
The fresh veggies in our meal include:
next to the bun (potatoes, greenbeans, Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots, acorn
inside the burger (Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots)
and on the burger (lettuce leaves, sliced radishes, yellow tomato, and onion),
Though this dinner was cooked outside over an open fire, this meal was restaraunt quality, there is no doubt about it! Pictured below here is garden fresh red potatoes and green beans, acorn squash, and a delicious garden fresh sirloin burger.
Our country has been so blessed to have easy access to so much modern technology and appliances. These modern conveniences have made cooking easier for our generation. Past generations had a much more challenging time preparing foods and cooking delicious meals for their families. Yet they learned to master the art of cooking both outdoors and indoors (in fire places) over an open fire.
I am excited to post some upcoming stories about outdoor cooking over the open fire that we have been enjoying this summer. Stay tuned and I will share with you some delicious foods you can easily cook in your own backyard with your kids and you can make them on the grill, in an electric skillet, or on the campfire.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to embrace the circumstances you find yourself in during different seasons of life. Give “making do” a go and I am sure you will get through the toughest of times. It will inspire you and your family to keep believing that one day the circumstances will change and they will be able to get the things that are needed and wanted, but for now we can and will endure with with a joyful heart what we have on hand. We can “make do”.
What ways are you making do in your life? Have you shared this experience with your children? Please share your comments below. Thank you.
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“It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up”.
The Blueberry Festival in Greenville South Carolina is a wonderful family activity. This event is hosted at the Roper Mountain Science Center on the second Saturday in July.
Instead of taking the bus after parking the car, we opted for the long hike! Good for us you know, to get out and walk. We live an hour’s drive away so it felt good to walk after riding in the car for the past hour. But they do offer a shuttle service if you want to use it. This is a huge campus to walk, check out this map and you will see what I mean.
During the festival, venders were available on site selling fresh blueberries, blueberry plants, and various blueberry theamed items. There were also lots of learning opportunities for the kids to learn more about blueberries, science, and history in the various science buildings and outside in the Living History Farm. More about these adventures will be posted in part 2.
All of the blueberry plants for sale were loaded with sweet juicy berries. I love to show the children the plants that produce our food. This was a good opportunity to see the plants up close. I only wish I had an unlimited supply of funds to buy lots of these wonderful plants and bring them home and plant them in our yard! Plants that provide nourishing food year after year in your own yard is a win win situation!
At the festival we met lots of venders with fresh picked blueberries for sale. Some of these venders we have met in previous years at the festival and some were new this year. You could find ripe juicy blueberries for sale by the pint basket, half gallon basket, and gallon bucket.
Gentry Farms had huge gallon buckets for sale of fresh berries.
Marvelous Pies had fresh baked and unbaked pies for sale. We bought one last year and it was delicious. We were really hoping she would be here again this year. Sure enough, she was here with lots of marvelous blueberry pies!
Several venders offer free samples of blueberries and various products made with blueberries. My children were happy to assist in sampling the blueberries!
Happy Berry Farms had fresh blueberries and several flavors of jams on hand.
One of our favorite bakeries was here again this year. Great Harvest Bakery seems to have just about anything your hearts desires when it comes to baked goods. They are so fresh and delicious.
Last year we had purchased blueberry lemon bread and we were hoping they would be here again with this vender would be here again with their delicious breads. Yes indeed! They had way too many breads, muffins, scones, and deserts to choose from.
Check out this video about Great Harvest Bakery in Greenville South Carolina.
You can pick anything you want to sample, and believe me, a sample is a huge slice of heaven on earth! They are not stingy when it comes to samples. And you are welcome to have more than one. We tried cinnamon breakfast bread with butter and with blueberry jam! Oooh it is so good!
Blueberry swirl bread, spread with more blueberry jam was delicious too.
Whole Foods also had a delicious cooking workshop, and fresh locally grown South Carolina organic blueberries and homemade blueberry sausage balls and South Carolina grown maple syrup for dipping. YUM!
There were more venders selling ice cream, homemade soaps, lotions, fresh honey, and various other items. They also host venders selling fresh locally raised organic and grass fed meats too.
Bluegrass music played through out the festival.
Living History Farm
We love visiting the farm at RMSC. It is alive with characters in costumes re-enacting life from the past. Most of the farm portrays what life was like in the 1800’s.
We enjoyed walking into each of the historic log cabins and learning how people lived 200 years or so ago, what toys they played with, how they ate, cooked, hunted, gardened, read, built, slept, and so on.
There really is a lot to see and do. It is a wonderful family adventure!
I will post more about the Blueberry Festival in a future post and link Part 2 back here. If you are near Greenville South Carolina during the 2 weekend of July, be sure to spend your Saturday morning over at Roper Mountain Science Center.
If you would like to check out more family adventures our family has enjoyed at RMSC, please read the posts listed here.
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No Time For Flash Cards
Not a day goes by that I don’t find myself in a sticky situation. With six kids, “sticky situations” are the norm at our house.
I just entered the STICKY SITUATIONS CONTEST by Wet Ones and Mom Central going on right now through December 28th. They are asking moms to share tips on how they handle sticky situations with their kids.
You can Enter The Contest and submit your ideas for a chance to be featured in an e-book that will be distributed by Wet Ones in 2013. Several prizes are being offered, including a chance to win an iPad Mini, and tickets to Six Flags amusement theme park. It is real simple to enter, and only takes a minute to fill out their form and submit a picture if you have one. I entered the contest and I hope you will too. Please vote for us too.
OUR STICKY BUSINESS
Below are a few pictures of the sticky situations we have found ourselves in. I thought it might be fun to share some of our family’s sticky business with you.
Whether we are at home or on the go, life can be sticky! I find us in all sorts of sticky situations at the park, field trips, when visiting friends houses, playing at the lake, eating out, while shopping, trips to the zoo, traveling in the car, and anywhere and everywhere we go, our life is filled with icky and sticky situations.
I am so blessed to have all of these little hands and feet to clean. I wouldn’t trade it for a minute. They have an inquisitive way of finding the dirtiest, messiest, ickiest, and stickiest places to investigate.
Learning moment by moment, each new experience brings a deeper desire to know more. Creatures of all shapes and sizes are held tenderly, snuggled close, and played with. No matter how horrified mom might be at the sight.
Touching brings new understanding of the world around us. It also brings exposure to more than a few “germs” and toxins. Some exposure to these germs is important in helping us build a strong immune system, but many are not and we need to wipe the dirt and grime away or wash off when we are through. Soap and water are not always available, so I reach for the wipes to do the clean up.
And when it comes to eating, my kids seem to think food somehow tastes better when you can wear some of it too. I am so excited though to see them on their “first” of trying something new. Like when my baby tried his first taste of ice cream, and a few months later, his first taste of cake too.
I just accept that eating is a sticky business when you are young. So I plan ahead and keep a stash of wipes with me to clean up after eating.
I am constantly reaching for the wipes to clean up the sticky mess before it spreads like a wild fire to other, not so easy to clean, places.
Let the kids get sticky, icky, grimy, and messy as they explore and learn about the world around them. But keep a stash of wipes handy at ALL times!
1. I keep wipes in my purse for wiping off unexpected buggers and snot that
needs cleaned up before going into a store.
2. I keep wipes in my purse to wipe off the handel bar of a shopping cart, and
to wipe the kids off after they have touched the check out counter at the store.
The kids are better off after having a great “sticky situation” and
“hands on” learning experience.
Disclaimer: I participated in a Wet Ones campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting. I received a promotional item in exchange for participating. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.
I homeschool my children. As homeschoolers, we have a lot of opportunities to do lots of different things. But there are a few aspects of public school I miss having opportunity for and one specific thing is singing and band classes.
I think it is challenging for parents of public school and homeschool to give children opportunities that we feel will benefit them in their development as caring individuals. I definately think singing lessons help benefit a person, and can help improve a talent that can be shared with others in ministry.
I attended public school growing up. I always sang in choirs and talent shows. I started with my voice, and eventually added learning to play the clarinet in band. In middle school I began competing in voice competitions for our school. We would travel to large music festivals and sing as a choir and as soloists. In highschool I got serious with my talent and put in many long hours learning songs for choir, solo competitions, and music theater. While many kids stayed after school for sports, myself and several other kids I knew stayed after school to sing and rehearse. I also sang in church. In highschool I began singing for funerals and weddings in my local community too.
This opened the door for me to go places, meet people, and have a wide variety of experiences. I had wonderful opportunities to sing, and travel to performances and competitions, just like sports teams travel for games. This also opened the door for me to go to college and take vocal lessons and study in vocal performance. I sang in college choir, and I was once in an amazing production of the opera “Carman”. These are life experiences that were incredible and I will always treasure the memories.
After graduating from college, I went on to sing in church ministry for the next 20 years. I loved singing to the Lord and leading folks in to a place of praise and worship. I also have sang in many nursing homes over the past 25 years. This too has brought me a lot of joy.
My dad taught me to sing and read music from the time I was very young. I remember sitting on the floor at his feet as he sang to me and my family. My dad was a musician and loved to sing and play the guitar. He knew how to play 21 instruments, but his main instrument was his voice. It was incredible. He had amazing control over his voice. He sang in church choir and was the song leader in his church for many years. He taught myself, my sister, and my brother how to sing together in perfect harmony and sound wonderful. Everywhere we went, folks always requested for our family to sing a song for them. It just became expected that where ever we went, we would sing. It was part of our identity. It was part of who we were as a family, and as individuals. We were the family that sang together.
My dad learned to sing from his mom, my Grandma. She too has an incredible singing voice. Even now, at the age of 84 she still loves to sing. She has been directing the senior follies (music theater)in her home town for the past 20 years. She is an incredible inspiration to me. Since I was very young, she took me with her to sing in Veterans hospitals and nursing homes. She played the piano and sang and taught me to harmonize with her. We were always singing, in church, at every family gathering, and going to visit the aged and the sick. Singing has always been a passion for my Grandma. She sang on the radio in the 1940’s when she was a young woman, before marrying my Grandpa.
Every since having children in 2000, I have sang to my kids too. They go to bed each night with a song I wrote for them soon after they were born. Through out the week, we include some form of singing or music appreciation in our day.
In 2008 we moved away from our home in Indiana, to a new state, North Carolina. I also had four kids and was pregnant with my fifth child at the time. Somehow, life took us in a different direction and I no longer had a place, a church, to sing because of our move and my pregnancy. This greatly discouraged me. I have gone on to have two more pregnancies, (one child with us and one in heaven). I never have felt free to join a church choir or praise and worship team because of the needs of my growing family. I haven’t felt I could leave them at home so that I could attend choir practice each week, etc.
For the past four years, since moving to North Carolina, I have continued to sing in my own home with my kids. We love to sing songs together. But I have longed to sing in the nursing homes and church ministry regularly as I did before. I would love to teach my children to read music, and to learn to harmonize the way my Dad and Grandma taught me too. I can not afford voice lessons for my kids at this time. Also most choirs here in my area are very expensive, and only take one age of kids at a time for their choir, and we tend to everything together as a family at this time, so that is not a viable option for us. We need a way we can all learn and perform together. So I am proceeding with teaching my kids to sing on my own.
When we moved to North Carolina we joined the local homeschool association here in our town. The homeschool association has a nursing home ministry, sometimes it meets monthly and sometimes several months go by with no meeting. We have gone to visit some local nursing homes on a couple of occasions with the homeschool group. But this is during the week, and does not always work out for us when they offer it. I have babies and toddlers that nap so afternoons are hard for us, and are not feesible to go to functions with all of them.
In 2010, my children and I began our own nusing home ministry that worked out for our schedule and accomidated nap time for my younger kids. We began visiting local nursing homes every weekend for a whole year. This was not part of a larger group activity, we decided to do this together as a family activity. It was challenging to go every week. But we did it. We reduced our visits in 2011 to twice a month. Since then, we have have maintained the twice a month schedule and visited a local nursing home every other weekend for the past year and a half. It has been a big commitment for us and has required us to plan other family activities around this. I am really proud of my kids for being willing to go, being dedicated to give up part of their day every other weekend, and love on the elderly.
Up till now, we haven’t gone to the nursing homes to sing, we simply go to visit the residents, and talk with them and encourage them.
We spend about one hour there, though a few times we have stayed longer. We visit inside in the dining room, the living room, the activity room, and the residents rooms sometimes, and also outside when
the weather is nice. Sometimes we go for a short walk on the grounds too.
We do occasionally have the opportunity to sing with the residents. We have not made singing a regular part of our visits yet, because I feel I have my hands full trying to coral toddlers and I have been pregnant off and on and too lazy to prepare and practice a music program. I felt it an impossible task to try to do a performance while chasing after the kids and that would not be enjoyable for me. But informally, we have sang a few songs during visits and joined in with the residents to sing on occasions. Especially during activities when other singers or bands are there and we can sing in the audience with the residents, and on holiday parties like at Christmas.
Just a few days ago, while visiting with the residents, they asked me and my children to sing while we were visiting outside on the porch. I beamed with joy. My kids and I sang several songs together with them. We sang the Star Spangled Banner (it was also Veterans Day), Amazing Grace, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Happy Birthday, ABC’s. I didn’t get a picture of the children and residents singing, because I had my hands full with the baby, but we sang with about eight of the residents. This was such a blessing to both the elderly folks and my family. It makes me think of the years singing with my Grandma during our visits at the VA hospital to sing to the veterans.
I enjoyed singing with my kids. I am looking forward to going to sing “on purpose” more in the future. I do not mean to sound prideful, but I am looking forward to “performing” with my kids in the future and bringing joy through sharing music to those in need.
Do you sing in public with your kids? Please leave a comment about your experience below. Thank you.
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We had a lot of excitement around here for the Fourth of July. For the past few days, Dad took the kids to some firework dealers in NC, and in SC, to hunt for just the right snap, pop, screech and boom, and the kids had such a great time shopping for “this” and “that” to make it an extra special celebration.
We have talked about the July 4th being the birthday celebration of our country. We have also learned a little about the history of fireworks. Earlier today, my oldest son and I also watched a program on the history channel about how fireworks are made and took a virtual tour of a fireworks factory. Then we learned how cities set up fireworks for the 4th celebration, and how they are connected to be ignited, and timing is controlled by a computer with special effects and music. At the end of the night, we watched a program on the history of our country. How we became a country and some of the inventions, wars, and culture that shaped who we are as a nation. Wow, there is so much to learn about fireworks and about the history of the 4th of July and celebrate our heritage as a nation of people.
This year, rather than going out of town, or even down town to view fireworks, we decided to stay home and celebrate the 4th of July as a family. The day was filled with lots of anticipation. The children were thrilled when it was finally time to bring out the fireworks.
They spent some time SNAPPING! on the driveway while dad and our 7 year old son grilled burgers and hot dogs. I got the other food ready in the kitchen, but had to come out and enjoy some of the snapping and popping and watch the kids enjoy the fun.
Yes, I know what you are thinking, “they need a new grill” and right you are! We had a dandy grill on the farm in Indiana. It was a big, stainless steel gas grill. We could cook for a huge crowd on it. But we couldn’t bring it with us when we moved 4 years ago. It was very heavy, and we were out of space on our moving truck. Unfortunately, we had to leave behind so many things that we enjoyed.
So when we arrived in NC, we bought this small grill to get us by until the time and finances allowed us to replace it. It has been to the lake, the camp ground, and non stop use for 4 summers of grilling up yummy food. The kids have ran into it with their bikes and broke the handle. The paint burned off and the top is now rusted. It has cooked food for lots of company and has been to two homeschool cook-outs too.
There is a very valuable job this grill has had. It has been used to teach my three older sons (ages 7, 9, and 12) how to grill food, a very valuable life skill. I can’t wait to share those pictures in a story about them learning this valuable skill.
I’ve gotten way behind on writing about our learning adventures. If you can imagine I take up to 1,000 + pictures a week over the course of seven days, but only post about 20 or so of these pictures in three to four stories a week, so I am way behind! Sadly, now my camera needs replaced too. Besides wearing it out with all these pictures, I fell in the rapids of a small river with it a few days ago, and it took on some water damage too. It was such a beautiful day to explore and I tried getting an up-close picture of my son floating down stream when the current and slippery rocks ended my exploring adventure. I am covered in bruises and my muscles are very stiff from the fall. I taught a science class in the park a few days later and felt like I could barely move, and my camera wasn’t doing much better than me. So you will see lots of water spots in this story and future stories until I am able to get a new camera. I have entered a few contests to win a camera and a grill. I sure hope I win! Wonder if they offer a contest for a new body too. I could sure use one of those too. Hum, something to think about anyway!
For our supper, we enjoyed grilled burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw, fresh raw vegetables (button mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes), pickles and olives, and bbq chips. For desert, we made ice cream sundaes. It was a delicious 4th of July meal.
Then until dark we played basket ball, flew a remote controlled helicopter, rode bikes, and played frisbee, and popped some more snappers and fire crackers. The driveway and yard was a flutter of activity and lots of used paper wrappers covered the ground.
As night approached, the kids excitement grew. Over the tree line, we could see and hear lots of fireworks from other families. All around us, the sky line lit up as the children would hear a BOOM! then a crackle…then ligh
ts in the sky.
Four years ago, we went back to Indiana and had a party with family and friends and a huge fireworks display. Three years ago, we visited Johnson City,TN and enjoyed their fireworks display. In the previous two years, my husband and older boys went to watch the fireworks in Hendersonville, NC and waited to set ours off until the following night. I stayed home with the younger children and we watched the sky from our porch. Even when Hendersonville relocated them last year due to construction we could still see them. But not today. It seems they may have re-positioned them in a different location again, further from our view, and we were not able to get a visual of them this time. Thankfully, lots of neighbors let off some really pretty ones for an hour and we could enjoy those from our yard.
The kids truly were on the edges of their chairs and overflowing with joy to get to the bigger and brighter fireworks. Dad helped each one of the older boys light their fireworks through out the night while the younger three children and I watched. My camera caught a few of the exciting moments, but the majority of my pictures did not turn out.
Though we had lots of fun setting off fireworks in the night, by far the brightest light in the night sky was part of God’s creative fun, the moon and the stars. Our “lights” lasted a few seconds, and then they were gone. But the lights God created in the night sky shown bright all night as they have done through out history.
Happy Birthday USA!
God said, “I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show the time for seasons, special days, and years. I command them to shine on the earth.” And that’s what happened. God made two powerful lights, the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the stars. Then God put these lights in the sky to shine on the earth, to rule day and night, and to separate light from darkness. God looked at what he had done, and it was good”. Genesis 1: 14-18
The Bible, CEV.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.”
I was 21 years old, and was a bride, 21 years ago.
He was 23 years old, and was a groom, 21 years ago.
It has been an adventure
of love, marriage,
of victories and some losses,
of joys and some sorrows,
of building a family, and a life together,
these past 21 years.
He is still as charming and irresistible as ever.
My knight in shining armor.
My best friend. My confidante.
Never a dull moment.
He is full of love and spontaneity.
Life with him is an adventure.
Happy 21 year Anniversary My Love.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out.
Song Of Solomon 1: 2-3
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A journey. A destination. A moment in time. The view from my window reveals hope.
It was raining. Smoky clouds hovered low, just above the valleys and ridges of the mountains. The journey was darkened. The mood was darkened.
The road was busy with travelers going somewhere. We were headed somewhere. I was headed somewhere.
Rain, but not to much. But still, it dampened my hope of watching the sunrise and enjoying the views on the journey. I longed to point out the amazing sites to my husband and children as we traveled. I hoped they would enjoy the journey too.
Round and round and up and down the road travels through the mountains and valleys. Seconds go by, minutes go by, hours go by. Precious moments on the journey. But rain and clouds cause the journey to be darkened. Speed as we travel causes the view to be blurred.
The journey is like life. Somedays are cloudy. Somedays have rain. Some days the view is hard to appreciate. Somedays I see clearly. Somedays I rejoice.
The journey forges ahead. Where are we headed? Where does this road take us to? Are all these travelers headed to the same place?
Then the rain stopped. The sky was a beautiful blue. My view improved, and I could see a lot more of my surroundings. The white pillowy clouds stood out in contrast to the blue sky. Some clouds still hovered above the valleys, not wanting to give way to the sun.
Soon though it was bright as the rain faded and the day lit up the sky. Mountains rose high above the valleys below. We were able to enjoy the view for a time.
Until we entered a dark tunnel. The road goes through a tunnel. The road goes through this mountain, not above it, or around it as it did before. This time, we must go through.
Much like life. It is bright and cheery until a crisis happens. Until a life event happens. Then you find yourself going through it, closed in, and unable to turn to the right or left. Only forward or backward can you go. But better not go backward, or you might crash as other travelers are going fast on the same road. No, backward is not the right answer. Forward is the way. Forward through the scary dark moments to reach the other side.
Everything changes in the darkness. Darkness distorts the eyes and the color of the day. Who knows if it is night or day. So deep in the base of the mountain, inside the earth, it is dark, and all knowing of day or night or seasons is removed.
As you leave the tunnel, the light is much brighter than previously thought. Coming out of the darkness and into the light is a major event. It changes your perception. Yes, it is life changing.
Everything is magnificat. Things you didn’t notice before, now seem special. Things that once seemed important, now don’t seem that significant.
Life tastes sweeter as you advance on the journey. Moments are precious, victories are memorable, life is valuable.
The huge sky above, and the huge river below speak of a special creator. Intelligent in its form and design. How did it come to be, a sky and a river?
The tall mountain peeks that reach to the sky know who created them. Why does man not understand what he sees?
The gorges and valleys in between speak of an amazing creator who is interesting, tender, and kind. Who could have created such balance and beauty?
Who is this creator? Who engineered all of this to function in unison, in harmony with every element around it? Who is this artist that used heaven and earth as his canvas? Who could have created such a glorious place for us to dwell?
The whole earth speaks of his glory. The whole earth testifies of his majesty.
The one who owns a cattle on a thousand hills. Jeshua. Jehovah Jiirah. The Alpha and Omega. My provider. My healer. My comforter. My deliverer. My creator.
He travels with me on this journey. He awaits my arrival at an appointed time that only he knows. Until I get there, he travels each day, each place, each precious moment with me.
He travels with all of us, on this journey, on this road of life. He is along through the crisis and tunnels, through the mundane, and the victories. He speaks to us through his marvelous creation. He speaks to us through his word spoken to the prophets of yesterday and today. He writes his word on our hearts.
He awaits for us to accept him. He awaits for us to accept his love. If we reject him, the rocks and all creation will testify against us and will praise him in our place. We were created for him. We were created by him. We were created to bring him glory in the place we dwell. He asks us to accept him as our God, accept his son Jesus, and bring him glory with our life on this journey, so that others can know him too.
Here are some wonderful verses from God’s word for you to ponder as you look through the window and view the journey of your life.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
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