Friday, December 30, 2011

Storing Grains

I recently heard the shocking news that you will be on the list for being a potential terrorist if you have more than seven days worth of food stored. So I guess that makes us Pantry Terrorists.   God Bless America! 
That's crazy, right?  (Vote for Ron Paul!)  It's also crazy to have any LESS than seven days stored up! All through history, humans and animals have stored up the harvest.  It's common sense. You can't even buy wheat in a bag that lasts less than seven days, unless you're feeding an army.  And I'm trying to feed a small army.
I've already told you about my grain mill, which I dearly love.  I grind wheat almost every day so I buy it in bulk from a semi-truck that comes through our area from somewhere in Montana.  There's lots of different places that you can buy bulk grains.  I order from here.  It's much cheaper that way.  But it does take a while to use it up. That's why we set out to learn how to store it properly so that it stays fresh until I'm ready to use it.  Here's what we came up with.... the most economical and effective method that we could find.

 Here's what you need:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Recovery Plan

I remember reading years ago in a health-type book that depression is your body's natural response to stress.  I found it surprising, because I always thought of depression as a BAD thing and something to be resisted.  It can become a bad thing, if allowed to go on too long, but it is actually healthy and perfectly natural.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ruthie's Birthday!

The first wave of Christmas company is past. But before we visit with family for New Year's, we've got to celebrate another very important birthday.  Ruth Mercy is 13!!!  Yep, that makes four teenagers in one house.  Lord help us all!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

 Whew!  That was fast and furious.  Yeah, I'm beat.  It's the biggest party of the year.  It takes at least a month to prepare for that one magical hour.  Now it's all over.  Now it's time to breathe.  And nap.  And eat leftovers for about a week. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Considering Santa

Benjamin informed me the other day that kids who believe in Santa are lucky because they get lots of stuff.  I'm not sure what kind of stuff he was referring to.  It seems to me that he has gotten more "stuff" than he knows what to do with.  I guess he means "magical" stuff.

I'm not sure when we decided that our kids weren't going to believe in Santa.  We just never really brought it up.  We also tell them that daddy is the tooth fairy.  Pretty unimaginative, huh.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Surviving Relatives

We've done almost all the shopping.  We've baked our cookies and decorated our tree.  We've planned our menus.  So, now that we're almost there...only a few days to's time for a whole new Christmas challenge.


Yeah, all those people that you love and hate at the same time.

That you miss like crazy, but who drive you crazy when you're with them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spicy Gingerbread Men

The Vaughn family has come to a consensus...  These are the best gingerbread men we have ever baked. (and we've tried a lot of different recipes through the years)  These actually taste good!  Nice and soft, but firm enough to stack and store.
Get a bunch of cheap candy from the dollar store.  Mix up some icing.
Make a big mess and have fun!!!

So, here's the yummy recipe:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Changing Tradition

OK, so I said that I wasn't going to stress out this Christmas.
I've got less than a week.  I haven't stockpiled any cookies.  I am not done shopping.  My craft projects are still unfinished.  I still need to take seven kids to do their shopping.  Our second car's transmission bit the dust last week.  Thus, I do not have a car with which to complete these tasks.  I am not going to stress out.  I am talking to myself.  If I was a yoga person, I'd be doing yoga right now.

But I'm not, so here's my plan...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Surprising Deals

How's your shopping going?
If you're done, You are amazing and you can skip this article.
If you're like me, read on...
Alot of people ask how we afford Christmas presents for so many children.  Sister, it ain't easy!  But, it IS possible, with some creative tactics. First, ya gotta think outside the (wal-mart) box.
This year, there's a surprising bunch of deals to be had at the mall.

All my handsome guys, and my coffee.  ♡

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Epic Sugar Cookies

Oh, yeah, you know you want 'em!  These are super easy and turn out alot like those big, soft grocery store cookies.  Best chilling or rolling.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Humble Pride

Have you ever considered taking pride in your humble circumstances?
What does that even mean???

This Christmas is a good opportunity for many of us to practice.  When your income stays the same, but the price of groceries practically doubles, something's gotta give.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In Honor of Rudolph...

I cooked deer for supper.  I know, it's called venison.  But when you chop it all apart in your very own kitchen, it still seems like deer.

I mean, chicken is still called "chicken" right?  I've also cooked chickens that we raised and slaughtered.  But this deer thing is a whole new thing.  We've been eating chicken our whole lives, so we're used to it.  Home-raised chicken tastes the same, or better.  It tastes like chicken! But the deer is another story.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Homemade Cards

Here's an easy project for making homemade Christmas cards.

I did this printmaking project in art class yesterday with seven 2nd and 3rd graders.  We were all pleasantly surprised by the results.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Family Glue

Have you decided on a Christmas craft project yet?  Or maybe you're way ahead of the game and you've been working on it for weeks already.  I'm impressed!  But whatever the case, I'd like to encourage you to do some crafting with your kids.  These really are the memory makers... that bonding time when you're giving your children your full attention, helping them with something that is really important to them.  And having fun together.  As you can see in this picture from last year, it is a real mess.  There's going to be piles of supplies in the corners of your kitchen and stuff drying on the windowsill.
 You might even be asked to bake some toxic-smelling stuff in your oven in between batches of cookies.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Van Moments 2

Yes, we actually put our Christmas tree INSIDE our van!  I'm not sure why, that's just the way the Captain wanted it so, there ya go.  We got a great deal at Kroger, of all places, and were starving so we bought a loaf of bread, too, and devoured it on the way home, which explains what is

Crafting With Toddlers

Here's a quick,  fun craft project that little kids really enjoy.  It's also cheap and easy to clean up, so moms can enjoy it, too!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Busy Little Elves

Hey there crafty ladies!

Yesterday at co-op, some friends were asking me about Christmas craft ideas.  The criteria was that they needed to be easy, fun and CHEAP!  Here's a fun project that works for toddlers to teens, and also makes a nice little gift for grandmas.  : )

Snowflake ornaments:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peeps to Teenage Chicks

After only two short weeks of living in our garage, these girls were just about ready to move out.  They like it to be about 90 degrees the first week and then just a little cooler each week.  Since it was July, we barely even needed the heat lamps, except for at night, so they could move into the coop and still be warm enough.
Life in here is getting a little crowded!

A New Perspective

Just sitting here at my mac enjoying the windchimes outside.  I think winter might finally be on its way.  Hmmm.  I can deal with that.  As long as Christmas comes with it.
It IS the most wonderful time of the year, you know.  :)

Most years, at about this time, I start making lists like a crazy person.  What to bake, Where to shop, What to buy, etc... I scour sale ads and traverse from town to town searching out the deals.  It's all pretty stressful, and not very wonderful.

Not this year, though.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Raising Peeps

In honor of the momentous occasion that our chickens actually started laying eggs, I'd like to share the story with you.  We are new to this whole chicken-raising thing, so it's been a real learning experience and a fun adventure.

Our First Egg!

Today our hens laid their first eggs!  Can you tell I'm eggcited???  Sorry, couldn't resist...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Training Horses and Kids


People who train horses really amaze me.  A well-trained horse is such a joy to own, but I don't know a thing about how to train them.  I just know from experience that a horse that has been properly trained can be ridden just about anywhere with very little stress.  A well-trained horse trusts its owner and almost always willingly follows commands. You don't need to be afraid of being bucked or kicked or bitten when you are around a well-trained horse.  You can bathe, brush, feed and lead a well-trained horse with very little trouble.  It's actually enjoyable.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks for the Memories

Isn't it weird how the holidays bring up so many random memories?  I'm busy stirring the gravy, telling my kids about how Grandma makes hers.  Then the coleslaw reminds me of Nanny, who I greatly miss, and who had the corner on the coleslaw market.  The tradition that comes from my husband's side is the Stove Top stuffing... but I still make my mom's recipe, too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Hold on Christmas!  I mean, I love ya and everything, but let's not skip Thanksgiving.

I absolutely love Thanksgiving.  It is one of my favorite holidays.  There are no presents to search for.  There's lots of food.  And the theme is being thankful.  How perfect!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Buck Stops Here

This was the most excited I've been in a long time.  Weird, right?  I jogged all the way to the back of our property when I got the news.  And I'm not a jogger.

This is Noah's first deer.  An eight point buck and I'm just as proud as punch.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Love My Nutrimill

OK, today I've got to share something amazing with you.  Seriously,  you should want one of these!

I LOOOOVE my Nutrimill grain mill.  I saved up for two years of Christmas to buy mine and I am so glad I did.   It is so easy to use, even my 12 year old daughter grinds fresh wheat for pancakes on Saturday morning.  If you know that whole wheat is better for your family but don't really like the taste, you've got to try FRESH ground whole wheat.  It is a totally different thing than the flour that you buy at the store or even whole wheat bread that you buy.  With my Nutrimill I can bake 100% whole wheat foods that my entire family loves, cheaper and easier than buying flour.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's Talk Gossip

Oh the D-R-A-M-A!  Where does it even come from??? Why is it so common among Christian people? What is wrong with this picture?

This article is in response to a letter from a young mom friend of mine.  She was asking my advice on how to handle a frustrating situation where lots of confusing, negative information was having a snow ball effect and causing division in a group of friends. 

For what it's worth, here's my advice.

Monday, November 14, 2011

W. W. ?. D.

Remember the old WWJD days?  Yep, been there, done that, even got the T shirt.  When faced with a dilemma, you were supposed to ask yourself, "What would Jesus Do?", and then you'd supposedly know what to do.  Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  Only one major problem... Jesus was a single guy.

As a young mom, I remember trying to make it work.  I know that Jesus would be patient and kind, etc.  And we have lots of examples of how He handled various dilemmas.  But what about marriage?? Child training?? I needed some serious help back then, and I still do.

What I really needed was an older woman.

I needed to be able to ask, "What Would Mom Do?" or "What Would Grandma Do?" Problem is that my own mom, grandma, aunts and siblings weren't around.  Six weeks after my first baby was born, I moved with my new little family to a military base twelve hours away from every single person I knew.  There I was clueless and alone.   What would Jesus do?  Hmmmm.   Ask for help!  I found some kind older ladies who had mercy on me and took me in.  I also read LOTS of books!

Back in the day when people didn't move around so much, communities were closer. Young moms were surrounded by good examples.  These days, it might take some searching.  If you happen to live close by wise, older relatives, then by all means, turn to those ladies for your example.  But if you don't, find someone you want to be like when you're older, and imitate her.

I was talking with a young mom the other day who was telling me that she wished that she could come be a fly on my wall.  She wanted to observe how we do things, but didn't want to be any trouble.  I remember feeling that same way.  Like my babies would be disruptive to someone with no babies.  I've just gotta say... How in the heck are we supposed to learn if we can't get right in there and observe??

When I was younger, I was blessed with a wise friend who was a few years and a couple of babies ahead of me on the same road.  She used to welcome me into her home and let me talk her ear off.  The whole time I was able to observe her household.  It was not perfect. (Sometimes I would show up just to clean her bathroom.)  But it was GOOD.  She was honest about her struggles, and that gave me a realistic perspective...something that we don't get from TV, magazines or even Christian books.  Being there is what mattered to me.  I'm sure my little kids were annoying, but she never let me know it.  We worked through all sorts of struggles.  You know-- Why is my husband being such a butt-head?  What should I spank these kids with? When do I teach phonics?  How do I cut up a chicken?  --- basic woman stuff.

Here's me and a dear friend figuring out how to cut up chickens together. 
I've been blessed with a handful of kind older ladies in my life.  Some were very organized.  I learned to manage my household from them.  Others were very hospitable.  I learned to always welcome drop-in visitors from them.  Some were country women.  They inspired me.

According to Titus 2:3,4, one of the PRIMARY roles of older women is to train the younger.  Train them to do what?  " love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands..."  These are skills that are seriously lacking in our society.

Verse 4 in Titus goes on to say that the young women need to learn these things so that "no one will malign the word of God."  Now that's pretty serious business!  We're not talking about perfection here.  No Suzy Homemaker.  Just honest-to-goodness, nitty gritty stuff.  Like staying married, raising well behaved kids, managing your home.  The credentials for an older woman to be qualified to teach aren't too tough, either.  Just don't be a drunk or a gossip.  If you're an older woman with a really messy bathroom but you don't go out partying or go around gossiping, you love your husband and children, and you love the Lord, you probably fit the bill. There's a young woman out there who needs you.

That young lady might just be asking the question, "What Would SHE Do?"

Don't be afraid to invite her over and show her.

Happy visiting,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Old Doc's Advice

It's that time of year again...everyone's sniffling and sneezing, we're passing around the hand sanitizer in the van with more enthusiasm than usual, and I actually remember to pass out vitamins on most days. Honestly, though, we are rarely ever sick. Our pediatrician didn't even know who we were when we all went in for check ups!  I guess that's unusual for a family of NINE.  I know lots of people want to chalk that up to our kids not being at public school, and that DEFINITELY helps, but here's something else that has made a real difference.  Some good advice.
Years ago, back when I had about three kids, I was at the doctor's office as often as most moms.  We used to deal with ear infections on a regular basis, and strep, and the list goes on.  Enter antibiotics, and you've got a whole new bunch of digestive problems and ongoing issues. Right?  So I finally got the bright idea to ask for a really old, experienced doctor and then proceeded to drill him on how in the world to keep these kids healthy.

Here's his sage advice:

Never medicate for cold symptoms or coughs, unless the cough is preventing much needed sleep.  In that case use Delsym cough suppressant, only if it's an unproductive cough--you know, the dry, tickle cough.

Use straight Robitussin (guaifenison syrup) to loosen things up--it doesn't really have side effects, and is helpful for sinus and chest congestion. (It makes snot runnier)

Advil or Tylenol are good for fever, but only use them if the fever is especially high, because fevers kill bad germs. (You probably knew that, but fevers suck!)

They will get better faster, with less secondary problems if you just help their body along with lots of rest and fluids, rather than shutting down their natural germ killing defenses or trying to dry up snot by using cold medications.  This old doc told me that the only time to dry up a runny nose is when it is caused by seasonal allergies, in that case...

Use plain Benadryll.  All that snot is a great place for new germs to grow, that's why an allergic kid catches more colds, thus the whole reason I found this wise old doctor in the first place.

The old stand-bys
A few tips that we've added over the years...

Keep hand sanitizer in the van and use it EVERY time you get in after being in public--Wal-mart and church, especially.  This goes for everybody, except baby who isn't touching anything yet.  It took a while for my husband to join us on this, so be persistent!

Use a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a pot of near simmering water, cover your head with a towel, close your eyes, and breathe.  Beware, this stuff is strong, but works!

We use lots of herbal tea.  Nothing fancy, it's just for comfort mostly, but there are lots of good teas for sinus congestion and stomach upset that really seem to help.  Again, with no side effects.  Just read the box.

Our favorite comfort teas

Use a humidifier in the bedroom at night when somebody's stuffy.  This helps with easier breathing.
Vick's Vapor Rub helps with that too.  It seems to loosen up head and chest congestion when rubbed on the chest.

Almost forgot... Vitamin C!  Lots of C!

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.  I'll add more as I think of it and we fight our way through "cold and flu season."
Keep in mind, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. (duh) These methods have worked great for us, but should not be considered professional medical advice.  Just professional mommy advice.  : )

Happy health,

You'll Always Be My Baby

Mile marker day, yesterday.  My baby turned 18!  When did THAT happen??
So of course I did what I usually do on mile marker days... wrote a song.
And then we all went to the mall to hang out and grub on some Chipotle.
Jacob bought a lottery ticket.  He said it must be a lucky day, 11-11-11.  It was lucky for me because I am blessed with such an amazing young man for my son.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Socializing Them Home Learnt Kids

Today is homeschool co-op day.  It is also the most hairy morning of the week because everyone must wear socks and a reasonably normal-looking outfit.  Thankfully, we don't leave the house until 10:30!
It really doesn't matter much though because most of the kids there are really nice and would never think of teasing someone over their outfit. (Probably because they had just as much trouble deciding what to wear as my kids do.)
If you are homeschooling a gang or just one, a co-op group is a great place for life lessons in small doses. In our particular group all the moms participate.  We all teach or aid another mom in teaching a class. I get to teach an art class, Benjamin gets to finger paint with the preschoolers and Noah's biology experiments actually get done! It's really helpful for my kids to experience sitting quietly, raising their hands to speak, getting assignments done on time, and getting positive feed back from someone other than their own momma.
They also get to experience peer-pressure and gossip and drama.  All the fun stuff that life is made of!  They get to play games in a gym with kids close to their own age, which is a totally different thing than playing kick ball with a three year old who runs all the bases backwards.  It is true that homeschoolers will turn out just fine without knowing how to play parachute, but getting along with a big group and following directions is a very useful life skill.  Besides, even my three highschoolers loooove playing parachute!
And back to the drama part...drama is, unfortunately, a part of life.  Learning how to deal with it gracefully and not get all caught up in it is immeasurably helpful.  Since co-op is only one half-day a week, we have plenty of chances to talk about what's going on and then we can work on it together.  It's such a great learning experience.  Character building, too. 
I almost forgot one of the most important aspects of homeschool co-op...BRIBERY.  Yep, it's sad, but we homeschool moms need all the help we can get!  So, if you do not stay caught up on your math you'll be sitting with me during gym, and we don't want that, do we??
Happy Socializing,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Van Moments

Just wanted to share a glimpse into the very back seat of our big, white van...

  Here's Ruthie, Ben, Elijah and Patience surrounded by a giant bunch of balloons that a random car dealership guy gave us.  Yeah, he just opened the side door and shoved them in.  Now that doesn't happen every day.

Office Day, Or Is It?

Today is supposed to be "Office Day" here at the home front.  Yep, I read yet another home management- type-book and I've been trying to put it to good use.  The idea is that each day of the week has a specific area of focus...Monday: laundry, Tuesday:  kitchen,  Wednesday:  office,  etc.  (I'll tell you more about it later)  Anyways, I started out with good intentions.  Spent the morning sorting papers, checking bank stuff,  making phone calls, cleaning up my desk area.  Office stuff.  The problem begins when I go out to get something in the kitchen and start sorting out the junk drawer.  Gotta feed somebody by then. Back at my desk, random spelling test, time to dig through the deep freezer so I make my way to the garage, realize that it's a mess, too, and tear into it.  That usually happens when it's a nice day.  From there I've got to visit with the chickens, end up fixing something in the yard.  The whole time I'm oblivious to the fact that it's "office day." Turns out I don't really like office day.  Feels too much like work.  I think my thoughts run a lot like this, too.  I guess that's why we're told to take every thought captive.  If we don't, they just have a mind of their own.
Hopefully I'll do better with "Town Day" tomorrow....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dog is God Spelled Backwards

    Today is my puppy's 1st birthday. We bought her from a farm in Kentucky while we still lived right in the middle of the city.  It was kindof a Valentine's Day surprise for me from my Hunny.  The ad in the paper showed little baby border collies. When we drove over an hour on hilly, curvy back roads to go see her, however, we were surprised to find that the cutie puppies were really small dogs.  How could I resist, though?  I mean it WAS a sweet Valentine idea.  I'd been wearing that man down for several years so that we could get a dog. Now or never.  It was another leap of faith, really.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Joy in the Journey

I've been meaning to start this for quite a while...a really long while, actually.  Ever since our big family up and left our hometown over three years ago, we have been on the adventure of our lives.  We did the craziest thing.  You know it would make a good reality show.  "Family of nine leaves behind all security to follow an invisible God into an unknown land...Yeah, they've lost it."
At the time it felt like a pretty secure thing to do.   At first.  That's how it is when you walk in faith.  Gotta hurry up and DO it before you chicken out.  There's so much grace at first. That's the easy part. The really hard part comes once it's too late to turn back.  That's the test.  There were times that we did alright--ya know, God-must-be-pretty-proud-of-us times.  But there were plenty more times of "What in the heck is He doing???" than we'd like to remember.  We have all learned so much!  I'd also like to share the journey with you.  The ups and downs, struggles and victories.  If I can encourage you to keep on keeping on by showing you some glimpses into where we ended up thus far and how we got here it would make me happy.