One Big Adventure
An opportunity to log in some of the thoughts and activities of our homeschooling family of eight. We love books and good food and aspire to a Christ-centered, multi-generational, agrarian life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis the Season: Be flexible and let the Lord speak to you!

Some years ago, our now-older children looked forward to Christmas. Every time they saw an evergreen tree, especially one with lights or decorations, they would exclaim with great glee, "Look Momma! Look Daddy! It's a Christmas!"

Of course the best Christmas of all was the one we had in the living room at our house.
Try as we might to explain with words and other family traditions that the trees were not Christmas and that Christmas was Jesus' birthday, we could not seem to get the message through.

Vern and I talked about what might finally help the children, so we had a smaller tree and gave the creche a more central place in our already limited decor. That didn't work either.

Somewhere in there, we must have finally asked the Lord for wisdom. He sent us a dog. She was a black lab and would be about six months old at Christmas. I was also seven and a half months pregnant with our fourth child.

We talked about simplifying Christmas, since we had a very active puppy and a very pregnant mommy, and had the bright idea that maybe this would be a good year to skip on the Christmas tree. Some of our friends and family thought we had really gone off the deep end, but after Christmas, Vern and I agreed that not having a Christmas tree significantly decreased our Christmas stress. We would certainly keep open the option of skipping the tree the next year.

We skipped out on Christmas trees for eight years, and somewhere in there, our children stopped calling them Christmas. What a huge relief that was.

Two years ago, for our first Christmas in this house, Owen, who was then 11, found a tree that would need to be cut down anyway and asked if we could have a tree. He volunteered to cut the tree, set it up, decorate it with the help of his sisters and take it out after Christmas. We all agreed, since we couldn't keep the tree watered, that it would only be in the house for three days--it came in on Christmas Eve and it went out the day after Christmas.

Since Christmas trees no longer seem to be a stumbling block to anyone, we are free to enjoy having one. It no longer causes additionally stress and it doesn't detract from our celebration of our Lord's birth.

And that helps us keep Christ in Christmas!

Merry CHRISTmas!

This post is part of 'Tis the Season Carnival--Keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas--hosted by Hannah and Mckenzie. You can find more Carnival posts here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Those birthday photos...

James had a great birthday. He has a couple of little travel pillows that his Nona, my mom, made custom cases for. We tote them EVERYwhere. They go in the car, to appointments, and for diaper changes/bag emptyings. They make his life much more comfy.

So this year, he graduated to the next up size pillow... not quite full size, but still very portable.

And with PIGS... and farm stuff on the new custom cases!

For a long time during treatment, chocolate ice cream was a mainstay for James. Then we tried to cut back on sugar and sweetners because he was having trouble with yeast overgrowth. It had actually been a good while since he had had or asked for ice cream when we asked James what he wanted for his birthday dessert.

And James signed, "ice cream." Loud and clear.

So, Hannah made ice cream towers.

We pretty sure he liked them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick, Cheap, Nutritious Salmon Patties

Hands down, Salmon Patties are my favorite 'save' meal when I don't have a plan and need something nutritious, relatively quick for a scratch meal and inexpensive. Everyone in the family likes them... most love them!

Since we are feeding eight hungry people in our house, we multiply the recipe. In the summer, we can get by with a double batch (which makes 12-1/3 cup patties). We serve it with potatoes or brown rice and LOTS of garden veggies with butter! In the winter, when fewer veggies are available, we triple the recipe (which make 19 - 1/3 cup patties).

Don't panic! The above photo shows all the ingredients for a triple batch! (Except for the frying oil.)

First we'll figure out the cost:

3 cans wild caught salmon, undrained (I buy 4 packs from Sam's for $7.48; $1.87 for one can)
3 eggs from hens on pasture (We raise our own hens for eggs, but figuring $4/dozen, one egg is 33 cents)
3 rye crisp-type crackers (I buy packs of 32 Wasa light rye crackers from Big Lots for $1.80, one cracker is 5.6 cents)
3 handfuls of parsley, rinsed and drained (This is a great time of year for parsley in Georgia. I bought 3 plants for $9 last Spring and have harvested at least 30 handfuls, so one handful costs me 30 cents or less)
1 cup, approximately, coconut oil (organic virgin), for frying (I buy my coconut oil in bulk at an international market in Atlanta. My cost is $2.26 per pound, 1/3 cup costs me 38 cents)

Ingredients for my triple batch cost me $8.81....divided by 8 servings is just about $1.10 per serving.

Making the salmon patties is the easy part:

Dump the salmon into a bowl, add eggs, crumble in crackers and mix.

Pick the parsley apart into small pieces. Stir in.

Measure 1/3 cup servings....

And fry in coconut oil.

When I am in a hurry (and thinking), I will use my electric skillet instead of a frying pan.

This post is a part of Kimi Harris' Pennywise Platter. Click over to Kimi's blog, The Nourshing Gourmet, to find more low cost, nutritious and yummy ideas for your family!

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis the Season - For Unto Us a Child is Born

Inspirational DaySpring Movies

This post is a part of 'Tis the Season carnival. You can head over to Hannah or
McKenzie's site to read more Christ-honoring Christmas posts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I have been whining lately, wallowing in my own little pity party and it all boiled down to two things. Not trusting God and choosing to see things from my own perspective instead of His. I was getting so well-practiced at seeing things from my own perspective, I didn't even realize that was what I was doing... and even when I wanted to see God's perspective, I was unable to.

Thankfully, God is merciful. He moved in my heart yesterday, preparing me for His message today.

This morning, our pastor gave several examples of seeing things from God's perspective (that's when I realized how far off-base I had gone). They convicted and encouraged me.

Here are some of them:

1. When someone hurts us, it is natural to want to return the favor or withhold forgiveness. That is our human perspective. God's perspective is for us to embrace the trial, to look for the good God is accomplishing through this. (Count it all joy when you meet various trials... James 1:2) Is the Lord teaching us patience, frugality, or perseverance through this trial? Is He helping us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Is He drawing us closer to Him so that we can know the Lord and His truths in a deeper way and be better able to communicate those truths to others?

2. When someone who is younger dies or someone is sick(younger being someone who hasn't lived as long as we generally think we should live--it could be a child or it could be someone who just hasn't, in our view, reach the point of having living a long, full life), it is often natural for us to think it was unfair or unjust, to blame God, to think those left behind got a raw deal. But if we look at this loss from God's perspective, we can learn that what seems important is not what is truly important. We can learn to value relationships and the 'little things' more when we experience an 'untimely loss'.

3. When children misbehave or are strong-willed, it is natural to fuss at them and to get frustrated. Sometimes we might even curse them in our frustration, unintentionally tearing them down. Our pastor told of how he once accused one of his sons of 'being like a bowling ball'. When this son got in an accident, he told his dad he was nothing but a bowling ball. He gave examples of how we could, instead, look at the positive side and encourage or praise our children. One little boy brought a bug to him and after they 'freed' him safely outside, he encouraged that little boy and told him how he was going to grow up to be a mighty man, a protector of all those around him. The little boy beamed!

I will need lots of practice to renew my perspective, but I am convinced that it will be worth it!

What helps you the most to keep God's perspective during life's trials?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Five years ago we arrived in Holland. At first, there was a lot to learn. We had to find our way around Holland. Now, we mostly feel like we live on the outskirts of Holland. It is a nice place to be.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Jamesie!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nuts and leaves

Last year, we raked up a good bit of leaves from a friends place. They have pecan trees and leaves are plentiful. We thought we had nearly gathered a lifetime supply of leaves, but it turns out we could have used four or five times as many as we collected.

A cousin in Minnesota has the richest garden soil we have ever seen. She attributes her fine soil to the addition of large amounts of leaf and leaf mold over the winter. The leaves degrade and become great soil and the leaves on top are mulch, keeping in moisture and keeping out weeds.

Since our goal is ultimately for our garden to be like Cousin Marian's, we started implementing the leaf plan. We noticed a difference in our soil this year and bugs were not near the problem they were last year!

So, we set out this fall to collecting as many leaves as we could. We were filling lawn and leaf bags, but decided it was more efficient to use a friend's trailer. We've raked hauled and spread more than 40 leaf bags and six trailer loads of leaves!

We also found nuts (heart nuts and acorns) which we shared with our hogs.

The flower bed is in need of pine straw. So I guess we'll be looking to rake up a trailer load of that soon, too!

Monday, December 7, 2009

'Tis the Season: Advent helps us keep Christ in Christmas

This post is a part of 'Tis the Season: Keeping Christ in Christmas carnival hosted by Hannah, over at her new blog, One Southern Girl, and her friend, McKenzie, from Pecan Pastures. Hop on over to Hannah's blog to find links to more Christ-honoring-Christmas ideas.

Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and Special Occasions

I don't remember where I found our copy of Family Celebrations, but I know we have been using it for about 15 years now.

We really enjoy this advent celebration. Although we keep saying we are going to try something new or different each year, we nearly always come back to this book. (One year, we read through Jotham's Journey--it was also very good, but had no 'props' to really involved everyone.)

The advent celebration in Family Celebrations includes a tradtitional advent wreath with candles, a banner with a Christmas tree and homemade felt ornaments appropriate to each night's advent devotional, and devotionals with hymns to sing for 24 nights leading up to Christmas. Initially, I thought that repeating the same thing every year for advent would be boring and less meaningful, but, after 15 years, it seems that the repetition is both beneficial and comforting to the children. It's kind of soothing to us adults as well! Even though the devotionals are scripted, we can tailor it with different questions and extra thoughts, but it is still the same story and the same, timeless ideas.

The book also has a Christmas worship service and an Epiphany Party plan. We use the Christmas day celebration most years and we enjoy doing the Epiphany Party whenever we can.

The Epiphany party is a great wind-down and wrap up of the Christmas Season. It includes a feast (which is relative to whatever you want to make--we have done real feasts and we have done soups with homemade bread), a pageant (in which the children re-enact the Christmas story--ours have been better if they have a chance to plan ahead) and a service (during which time we read all the advent devotional scriptures and take down the ornaments from our tree banner and sing some of the Christmas hymns.) It makes for a late night, but lots of sweet, Christ-focused memories.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Glorious eggs!

Eggs have been in really short supply around here. In the fall, as the daylight time gets shorter, the hens slow down their egg production. We didn't even talk about supplementing them with light this year. We completely forgot about it.

In addition to shorter daylight, the hens go into a moult--they shed their feathers and grow new ones. Feathers are made of protein, so when the hens are growing more feathers, there isn't enough protein to make many eggs on top of new feathers.

This year egg production dropped a lot more than I was anticipating and we have only been getting one or two eggs a day! For a while, a dozen eggs was costing about $7 in feed!!! Recently, egg-laying got better (we think they are finished growing out their new feathers) and we are getting three to four eggs a day. We were able to save up enough eggs to have them for dinner. What a wonderful treat!

Katie made several batches of Mexican Roasted Potatoes (these have become a real family favorite) and we cooked up a big batch of homemade bacon from our homegrown pork. Most of us had poached eggs. Vern prefers his fried and I got this photo of these wonderful looking egg yolks!

We're already talking about what kind of egg meal we'd like to have when we've saved up enough eggs for another one!