Category Archives: Homeschool

Lego Adventures At Homeschool Coop

David and Goliath Lego Adventures at Homeschool Coop.

We had a great time learning about robotics, physics, faith, and retelling a story using Legos at homeschool coop.

David and Goliath with Legos

I chose the bible passage of 1 Samuel 17 for our lesson. This bible passage is about David going to visit his brothers who were in the Israelite Army. They were on the front lines in a battle against the Philistines. The Philistine Army had a warrior named Goliath. He was a giant of a man standing very tall and he was very strong and covered in metal plated armour, and no-one could defeat him in battle. He often said bad things to the Israelite Army and made fun of their God. He challenged them to a fight and if they could defeat him, his army would be their slaves, but if he defeated the Israelite who fought him, then the Israelite Army would be the slaves of the Philistines. David overheard this challenge and the horrible things Goliath said against God. David saw that everyone in the army was afraid, but he was not afraid and knew God would help him defeat the enemy of Israel and the enemy of God. David accepted the challenge to fight Goliath. He trusted in the Lord to help him. He chose five flat stones from a river bed and put one of the stones in his sling, swung it around, and let the stone go into the air. He had learned to fight off animals like wolves, lions, and bears that tried to attack his flock of sheep so he was very good with the sling shot. The stone hit Goliath in the forehead and killed him. David had trusted in God to deliver him from Goliath, and he defeated the enemy of Israel and the enemy of God.

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The kids used Lego’s to retell the story. We also set up a robotic Goliath with Lego WeDo. The Goliath robot is built with Legos, pulley gears, worm gear, lever, motor, axle, and movable joints. The kids programmed the computer software program to tell Goliath to stand up and to sit / fall down. They can time his movements and change the speed, as well as program sound effects. They had Goliath stand up and growl his threats to the Army, programmed the sound of David, and his stone hitting Goliath, and then also programmed cheering by the Army after Goliath is hit with the stone and falls forward.  It is really neat how you can program sound effects to go along with the robot’s movements.

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Everyone took turns manipulating the computer software and retelling the story with Legos.  They also take apart the giant and rearrange the location of motorized lever attachment to learn how placing this in different positions, and rearranging the software commands caused the giant to move (or not move). They could re-engineer the set up and try out different ideas. They also completed a coloring page about the battle between David and Goliath and a vocabulary word puzzle.

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We also did some physics science in the gym.  We used rubber bands for sling shots. We used a large basket placed several feet away on the floor as the target.  We took different kinds of balls (cotton, pompoms, foam, and rubber) to learn what materials would be more accurate to hit a target.  The kids learned about trajectory, mass, stored energy, kinetic energy, and how to aim at a target.  They learned that the more dense their ball was, and the further back they pulled their sling shot, the better and faster the object was able to hit the target.   The kids also spent time playing in the gym.  They played basketball, tag, hide and seek, and raced each other all around.  The gym is such a great place to do a variety of learning, skill building, and physical activities.

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Logos are a great teaching / learning tool that can be used in so many fun ways.  I love teaching and learning with Legos.  I have taught Lego and Robotics Academy Club and several workshops with homeschool and 4H kids in North Carolina for several years, and I have missed it terribly since moving last summer.  I hope in the near future I will be able to host Learn It Build It workshops again in the community, and also start a Lego and Robotics club again and perhaps eventually have teams that can compete in First Lego League.  But right now, started a new class called Lego Adventures and I am blessed the local homeschool coop has invited me to teach these great kids,  and we can learn about science-technology-engineering, and robotics, and use bible stories to build their faith in the Lord.  Be sure to check back each month for more Lego Adventures.

Be blessed!

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Apple Pie at Homeschool Coop

My kids had a great time making homemade apple pies at the homeschool coop! They love to see friends and play games, but baking has a special place in their heart. They absolutely love to cook (not clean up dishes though), and I think baking is their favorite. When they heard we were going to bake apple pies, the were so excited, it is all they talked about for days.

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They washed and peeled lots of apples.  They peeled the apples with both a hand peeled, and a machine peeler.   For the hand peeler, they stood over the sink and their peelings dropped away as they scraped the peeler against the skin of the apple.  This was a lot of work, and fun to do with one apple, but their arms quickly became tired to do very many this way.   The machine peeler does three actions all at once as the children turn the handle.  It peels, cores, and slices the apple into long spiral slices and is called an Appel Peeler Corer Slicer.  It gets right to the point!  It seriously cuts the work of preparing apples into an easy task of just putting the apple on and turning the handle!

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The kids learned to make homemade pie crust from flour, water, and shortening.  They blended these together with a hand-held cutter.  As they pressed the cutter into the flour mixture, it broke it down into itty bitty pieces like small crumbs.  Eventually the whole thing works into a soft ball of dough almost like play dough.

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Next the kids rolled the dough out on the counter with a rolling-pin.  They placed extra flour on the surface of the counter so the dough would not stick and was easy to flip and turn to roll again.

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When the dough was thin enough, they placed the dough over their pie pan and cut away the excess that hung past the edge of the pan.  Then they learned to crimp the edge of the crust to make it look pretty and also to prevent shrinkage.

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Next they filled their pie shells with sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter.  They rolled out more pie dough, and cut it with a pizza cutter into strips.  They topped the pies with strips of dough and made designs.  Some made a lattice design, others made their initials of their name, or some made hearts and others made butterflies, and one also topped their crust with a crumb topping and more cinnamon and sugar.  They could design the top however they wanted too.

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The pies baked in a hot oven at 375 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes until they were golden brown. All of the pies turned out beautiful. Each one had a unique personal touch made by the kids.

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I loved seeing and smelling all of these pies baking at once. Thankfully we had two ovens available to bake all of these pies so they could finish about the same time.

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While the pies baked, the kids got all hot and sweaty in the gym. They actually took turns peeling apples, making dough, making pies, etc and the kitchen adjoins the gym, it so the kids played in the gym off and on between turns in the kitchen. This worked out perfectly! Man I wish I had a gym at home adjoining the kitchen! Just imagine all the pies and exercise we could get done!  Ha, ha!  I could go for a double oven baking area too!

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Fall Tile Art At Homeschool Coop

Creating personalized seasonal art is a great activity to do as a homeschool project. We participated in this project for homeschool coop. My kids had a blast learning how to make Fall Tile Art and will treasure these creations for many years to come.

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To make the Fall Tile Art project, you will need to cut out pictures with a fall theme. This is fun for kids to do and gives the project a personal touch because they chose their own special pictures. We cut out our pictures from fall themed paper bags, but you could also use magazines, wrapping paper, or print them off the internet, etc. You will also need ceramic tiles, modpoge, small felt cushions that stick on one side and are soft on the other, and a sealant.

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Next have the kids place a rough draft of their pictures on their tile so they can see where they want to place them or if they want to change the arrangement. Once it is stuck in place, they won’t be able to change their mind, so now is the time to decide where they want to place their pictures.

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Next have the kids remove the pictures from the tile and place them in the same arrangement on the table. Then have the kids brush modpodge all over the tile. Next place the pictures back in place. Then they need to brush the tiles again a second time, with modpodge and gently brush over the top of the pictures. Set the tiles somewhere to dry. It took our tiles about an hour for the modpodge to dry. We let the kids play games in the gym and exercise while the tiles dried.

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When the tiles were dry, we added small cushions to the four corners of the back side. The cushions are made of felt and are very soft.  If you don’t have cushions, you could glue or stick on a piece of felt too.  Finally we applied a clear spray sealant over the tile. For safety (breathing, etc), the sealant was sprayed onto the tiles by an adult outside in an open area. The sealant will help these masterpieces resist moisture and last a long time.

The tiles are lovely to display, and could be given away as wonderful homemade gifts too.   They can be used to decorate your home for whatever season you chose as your theme.  You can display them flat, or hung up.  The cushions on the bottom should help protect your furniture from scratches, or you could display these in a picture easle, plate display holder, or hang them on the wall.  To hang them on the wall you will need to ad a picture mount of some kind.  If you wanted to keep your expenses down, you could hotglue on a soda can tab as a picture mount and it wouldn’t cost but a few pennies for the hot glue you use.

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Botanical Art At Homeschool Coop

We made the coolest Botanical Art project at Homeschool Coop.  This is such a great project to do with kids.  You can frame these, and hang them on your wall, or give these as gifts, or even use them to create other art projects with.  Or you could make really super-duper cool homemade wrapping paper too.

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We did this art project outside. You need to be outdoors or in a well ventilated area for this project as the spray paint has a strong odor and also can get blown around by wind. It is a good idea to take turns and not have too many kids spray painting at once and be sure they are spaced a little distance away from each other. Adult supervision and safety measures should be taken with a project like this.

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The kids picked out colored paper.  They also picked out various plants and flowers they wanted to use.

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They laid out newspapers on the ground and set their colored paper on the newspaper. Then they placed their plant of choice on the paper, and spray painted over it. After a minute or so, they carefully lifted off the plant from the paper and the result was a beautiful reverse silhouette of the plant.

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I love these beautiful masterpieces the kids made! I hope to get them framed for the wall in the near future.

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Let It Snow

It snowed off and on in Indiana for several weeks from October to mid December.  I enjoyed the snow, but not the ice that also accompanied it.   



    
In early to mid December, we had a beautiful few days of snow with accumulation. Then a week of rain and warmer temperatures, followed by a week of cold temperatures.  By Christmas all the snow (and ice) was gone.  

It is amazing how fast it changes! Everything is temporary.  How could our frozen landscape disappear?  I thought for sure we would have a white Christmas and the landscape would look like this until the spring thaw!  Who knew the spring thaw would happen a week before Christmas?  

While the beautiful snow lasted, the kids enjoyed sledding, exploring a frozen and fluffy landscape and the properties of snow, and building with the snow. 



They love to be outside, and they had a lot of fun playing in the snow.


For several days in a row they made giant size snow balls.  



And hauled snow on sleds over to where they were making a snow fort.  My eight year old son and six year old daughter joined as a team and made a snow fort out of hundreds of small snow balls stacked ontop of each other.  Then they used their gloves to shape the walls as they built them.  They ended up with four walls waist high when they were done.  I could not believe how well coordinated they were to build their fort.  Well done kiddos!



And another snow fort used a shovel, sled, and a plastic box to create snow bricks. 



One son took over where another one left off because he got too cold and went inside to warm up.    He scooped up snow with a snow shovel.  Then he packed and pressed the snow into the plastic box.  When he did this very far from the fort, he then used the sled to haul his box of snow back to the fort.  



Then dumped the pressed snow bricks onto the wall he was building.  He really enjoyed building with the snow.

If we get a chance to build snow bricks again, I think we will take squirt bottles with water and food coloring and spray the bricks different colors next time.  This was a fun building project.  I have challenged the bigger boys to try to engineer arches into their walls next time too.  We could also guestimate square footage and lineal footage too.

Both forts were fun to build and the kids put in lots of hard work to create them.   Both teams built a stack of snow balls for ammunition too.  They had a blast with their snow ball fights and hiding behind their fort walls.   However, the fun was short lived because after two days of building and playing, the freezing rain came and turned everything into a solid sheet of ice.  Their snow ball stashes became solid as rocks.  They made the mistake of throwing one of these at a sibling the next day, and it was so painful that no one had fun and they quickly came back inside.  The freezing rain gave way to just more rain and the temperatures warmed up and everything the kids had built soon disappeared.

About the same time the snow disappeared, the kids came down sick with a respiratory virus and it has been a rough three weeks so far, and it looks like there is a week yet to go.  It started with one child, and he seemed to be the only one with it for almost a week, then boom, one by one everyone else (except our daughter) came down with it.  Playing outside in the cold building their forts, and perhaps lowering their body temperature some and breathing all that cold air, may have made them more susceptible to the virus taking hold, but I don’t know.  We also have not had the protection of raw milk in our diet for several months, so I believe this has also lowered our immunity some.  Raw milk provides oligosaccharides that bind virus and bacteria and also natural vit D, vit C, CLA, vit K, and a whole bunch of other protective qualities.  We truly miss our raw milk and are looking forward to either getting a dairy cow, or finding a source for raw milk soon.  And since we are in a different state with different folks and different illnesses, it just seems our bodies need time to adjust too.  We also heard today that our state has some of the worst cases of the flu in the nation so far this winter.  

So for the past two weeks for all the kids, and three weeks for one of the boys, we have stayed bundled up inside, going through fevers, coughing, and very bored.   We have watched Christmas movies, played games, built with Legos, and read books an
d they are bored.  They miss playing outside.  The kids are begging for more snow and for their colds to go away so they can get back to playing.  Thankfully they had Christmas to look forward too and that kept us going with hope.  It seems to take a full two weeks of yucky symptoms to get on top of this illness.  Most of the children are over the worst part of the virus now except the oldest. The oldest son seems to have the worst case of it.  It is very hard for him to cough it out and he had the highest and longest days of fever than the rest.   As a parent, it hurts to watch your children suffer and go through illness.  I want to take the pain away for him.  
He started the symptoms exactly seven days ago, and I hope he shows improvement and gets better in the next few days.
Everyday the children anticipate more snow.  I have even heard a couple of them pray for snow.  I say “let it snow”, but please “don’t let it ice”!  

 “Let It Snow”.  
   
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Fundanoodle Review


Oh where does the time go?  I can’t believe my son is already preschool aged!  It seems like it was yesterday that he was a toddler.  He is growing so fast and he loves learning.  He is so proud to be a big boy and have his own school work.  He has been having so much fun using Fundanoodle products in our homeschool learning adventures.  
 
    

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He is using three of the ORANGE Level Fundanoodle products:  I can Cut;  I Can Do Math Level 1;  and Max and Alphies Adventures Level 1 .
 
    

I really like these activity books too, partly because my son likes them so much, and partly because they are produced on heavy quality paper, each book is spiral bound, and they all have a hardback. 

    

This makes them very user friendly for a preschooler.  They are portable too and we can use them at the table, on the floor, outside on the porch, or take them in the car if we want too.  We are using these activity books for 20 minutes every day, and my son loves them!  He loves them so much that he begs to do his school work!


I Can Cut

                         
I Can Cut
Tablet and Safety Scissors: Level 1
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $7.99

My son is learning proper cutting skills as he snips and cuts his project pages.  The scissors work for both left and right handed kids.  My son is left handed and had no trouble. This activity book is full of different cutting exercises that help develop eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.  He is also learning to cut along the boundaries and getting better at holding his paper still.  He is so proud of his skills and doing a good job.  I can see he is becoming more confident in this task, and this book makes it really fun for him.


I Can Do Math

                        
I Can Do Math Level 1
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $5.99

He is so excited about math!  He is constantly telling me the new numbers he has counted.   In this book he is learning while he colors and counts and is having fun with math.  He is learning numbers (1-10), number words, shapes and lots of math skills for preschoolers.  I am so proud of his accomplishments!  And he is too!

     


Max & Alphie’s Adventures!

                        
Max & Alphie’s Adventures! Activity Book 1 
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $5.99

Max (a monkey) and Alphie (a boy) are two friends that love learning adventures.  My son can really relate to Alphie.  This activity book is full of fun and I am sure your child will enjoy it just as my son has.  This activity book is designed to improve hand control and endurance, build confidence and develop fine motor skills. My son has had a lot of fun learning with this activity book.  He enjoys connecting the dots, navigating mazes, finding hidden objects and coloring.  He is learning to stay within visual boundaries too.

     

Preschool age children learn best by “doing”, and playing, and being active.  These products are great for building confidence, problem solving, following directions, and hands on skills with crayons, scissors, and learning skills such as counting, color recognition, number and letter recognition.   But just remember, preschoolers do not need to spend a lot of time doing activities at a table.  Use your own judgement, but I would limit preschool age coloring / writing / math / painting / etc. practice time (fine motor and writing) to 20 minutes maximum at the table, and then have them take a break.  Some ideas are to have them do something that involves movement such as: play games outside, play inside, jump, dance, catch or kick a ball, etc.

    
 
We think Fundanoodle is not just a funny word, but also a fun way to learn!  Be sure to follow Fundanoodle for great ideas using their products on their Blog,  Facebook, and Pinterest and check into their on-going contests.  Fundanoodle is so much fun!

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Stop by to read what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Fundanoodle activity books and learning kits.

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Home Schooled

Each year I contemplate “Is Homeschooling the best choice for our family?” and “What do I want to achieve in teaching my kids at home?”  I spend time in prayer, asking God for wisdom for the coming year and it’s challenges.  

We set goals and look for curriculum resources that line up with our goals.  I will share our curriculum choices for this year in a future post.  Sometimes, I question if we are headed in the direction that is most beneficial. Sometimes, we go all year with the original choice.  Then sometimes we change direction with curriculums and schedules midyear, and go with different ones if the need arises.  I love having the freedom to choose and to make adjustments when needed. 

Alot of people think homeschoolers are geeks, nerds, or odd, etc.  That is ok with me.  I am glad that my kids don’t have to deal with the constant peer pressure from others in the public school system to be a certain way, dress a certain way, or join a certain group, or clubs and sports.  We join clubs, participate in sports, or choose to do activities and things we enjoy, not because we are pressured by others to do so.  It makes life much easier and enjoyable to live this way.  The public school is such an artificial setting and puts unreal pressure on kids and teachers to conform.  I am thankful for our freedoms.

As I was making plans for this homeschool year, and again, going over decisions and choices to be made and wondering how it will all turn out, I came across this info graphic on Homeschool Statistics and outcomes.  It is amazing!

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Source: TopMastersInEducation.com

Those are amazing statistics, don’t you think?  The site that put this together promotes college masters in education degrees. This article is listed as one of their most popular articles.  It was very encouraging to read.  Homeschooled children can and do excel in our nation, in their homes, colleges, communities, and productivity as citizens.  Homeschooling is a viable, productive, awesome choice for education. 

As I pray about and contemplate homeschooling and various curriculums, I have always come away from that inner conversation each year with a “YES” answer.  Yes, I believe we are making the right choice to homeschool our family.
  Yes, Yes, Yes, I am glad our kids are HOME SCHOOLED!

Praise the Lord! 

I am excited that we are a Homeschool Family! 


Linking up with:
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time

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Schoolhouse Expo

Don’t forget to register for the Schoolhouse Expo webinar!

The Schoolhouse Expo is coming up August 19th through the 23rd. 


Schoolhouse Expo



Be sure to register for your tickets!  Cost is $24 and you can attend all 5 days.

It is hosted as a webinar so you can attend right from your own home.  You don’t have to sit at the computer either.  You can listen in from 1 pm (12:30 pm) to 8 pm EDT as you go about your daily tasks if you want.  You can also “chat” online with the presenters too during question and answer sessions. 



30 Awesome Homeschool Speakers will be hosting workshops through out the webinar. Here are just a few names of the wonderful speakers:


Diana Waring
Dr. Jay Wile
Dean Butler
Adam Andrews
Todd Wilson
Ray Comfort
Carol Topp
Heather Laurie
Malia Russell
Andrew Pudewa
Jessica Hulcy
David C. Gibbs III
Hal & Melanie Young
Kim Kautzer
Davis Carman
Evonne Mandella
Terri Johnson
Tyler Hogan
Andy Harris
Marie Rippel
Deborah Wuehler

And MORE !!!



Disclaimer: This is a promotional post, with admission to the Expo as my reimbursement.  All opinions expressed are my own personal opinion.

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Make Do

So what do you do when you don’t have XYZ?   You MAKE DO!  



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.
 


“It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up”.
                                                                 Proverbs 14:30


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
            -rocks
            -bricks
            -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
            -meat
            -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
                 squash)
            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”.


Que
stion:
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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