Archive for March 2017

Kids, I Promise   Leave a comment

I really am attending to your statements that I need to not hover so much.

Just like Princess Atta in A Bug’s Life, I have a tendency to overdo and overanalyze and over advise my children.  So when they literally say, “I can’t count when ya hover like that!” I know what they want.

I really truly honestly I promise am learning to honor their need to do it themselves.

I promise I am listening.  I often think of something I could say–but I don’t.  I could have done something for you that you didn’t need help with–but I didn’t.  I stop to evaluate whether my instantaneous reaction to a problem is really the best thing to do–and I hold back.

Thanks for telling me.  I am getting better.

Posted March 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Download   Leave a comment

I am working on re-organizing the school supplies in my front room. It always been the room where books, toys, games, teacher’s manuals, textbooks, math workbooks and all have been kept.  Plus, there’s a worn blue loveseat we always sit on to read or go through problems together, a chair with a footstool and a table with a desk lamp where we pile up the day’s/week’s materials or crafts, puzzles or projects.  OK, not that many crafts really if I’m honest.

Life has been so full for the past ten years I can’t remember the last time I really purged materials.  I haven’t had the time or the energy to do so.

But, this winter, I have felt the desire to download and re-arrange gradually coming over me.  My youngest is 12 years old.  I know that I won’t be using the kindergarten books again.  I don’t need all the fun science books we used when the kids were little.  Yes, I do plan to keep many of the best toys.  The bins of cars and trucks, the Playmobil animals, the marble run–these are permanent fixtures because we have younger company often enough that they get lots of use.

For that matter, I will probably keep the marble run until they take me to the nursing home.  I love that thing.  The wooden marble dropper too; it’s a stress reliever in the guise of a children’s toy.  You drop a marble in the top bowl and it rolls around, dropping into a lower colored bowl, and so on down six times with the most peaceful noise of marble on wood.

But realistically I see that I am not going to need all the art supplies, the puzzles and the books we have used over the years of homeschooling.

And facing that is harder than I thought it would be.  I actually found myself thinking that perhaps I should save all the historical fiction and read-alouds from our curriculum because I could end up homeschooling someone else’s children.

No offense, self, but barring a miracle that is utter nonsense!

So–realistically I must accept that the time has come to change the look of the school room.  I want to move my computer desk there, where I can enjoy the beautiful curtains and the great morning sunlight through the bay window.  My office can be there when the kids are all grown.  It’s a good thing to contemplate having time and space to do some more writing, research, advocacy and–who knows what else?

It’s still incredibly difficult to box up books.  It’s a life, it’s a season, but it’s a season I’ve been living for many years.

And I don’t want to let it go.

Posted March 13, 2017 by swanatbagend in homeschooling, transitions

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Ordinary Day   Leave a comment

On any given normal day, I don’t think much about how normal it is.  I don’t think about the responsibilities I normally have or the tasks I complete, maybe not even about the people I know I can expect to see.

But after I get back from vacation?  or recover from a really bad cold?  or pass through a crisis of some sort?

Then, normal starts to look pretty good.  It starts to look like something downright amazing.

If I live a day of my life, and there’s no aches and pains in it, no illness, no coughing, itching, gagging or fever, it is a pleasant thing.

A day without hassles. One without arguments.  One without overdue bills, fender benders, or speeding tickets.  One without hospital stays, illness, rehabilitation, therapy…a day without death, tears, anguish, or heartbreak.

an ordinary day.

If I have ordinary, it is a gift.

Posted March 9, 2017 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Home Gleanings   Leave a comment

Here are a few helpful bits of information relating to homemaking that I have discovered.

Ginger Tea

You’ve heard that ginger is a great anti-nausea, and so it is.  But if you want to deal with morning sickness, or any other cause of nausea, may I recommend fresh ginger tea.  Buy a piece of ginger root at the grocery store.  Grate about a teaspoon of it through a large-holed grater.  Steep this with boiling water in any tea ball or strainer that you have.  The longer you leave it, the stronger it gets.  Then add a bit of honey.  This knocks out nausea and is a lot more appealing, and fresh, than a stale dry ginger snap.


Cracked Skin

This happens to me every winter, or any time I have to wash my hands often.  This winter I definitely learned to use rubber gloves when doing dishes, but you can’t really complete all life functions with rubber gloves on, so, eventually, I had one or two places next to my finger nails, on one side or the other, that were cracked and raw.

I hate this!

It doesn’t seem to matter how much water you drink or how much hand lotion you use to try to combat this, it will still happen.

I used to put a tiny dab of petroleum jelly on these spots at night, top with a bandage and this would at least prevent the wound getting any worse overnight.  However, once the bandage came off in the morning, which it inevitably did because it got wet, then the spot was still there.  There was no actual improvement.  I just had to wait for it to heal.

This winter I tried coconut oil.  What a difference!  If you use a dab of virgin coconut toil and top with a bandage, not only does it protect the crack while you’re sleeping, in the morning, it is actually better.  I had one spot heal basically overnight.

I have used coconut oil before for peeling skin on feet, and it is wonderful for curing that as well.


How to Get Foam off Broth

If you’ve ever made homemade meat broth, you know that most recipes will tell you to skim the foam that rises to the top of the pot.

What I’ve always wondered was how on earth should this be accomplished when you are getting burns from the steam that is rising up in clouds?

Maybe this solution is obvious, but it wasn’t to me.  I’ve been making broth for several years now and most recipes tell you to bring the meat or bones to a boil with the water, then skim the foam.   What I do instead is put a couple of chicken backs or a beef soup bone joint in my stock pot, and add filtered water to cover or about 4-5 inches deep.  Then I put the pot on and turn it to high.  While it is heating up, I get out a slotted spoon and a small glass dish to drop the foam into, as well as any herbs I want to put in the stock, sea salt and some fresh onion, celery or carrot.  I always put in a bay leaf for either chicken or beef broth.

So now putter around the kitchen doing anything else you need to be doing, such as making lunches, etc., because you don’t want to leave the room. When you see that you are getting a few bubbles and just a tiny bit of foam, probably several minutes before it actually comes to a boil, (I love my glass lid for noticing this!), remove the lid.  Over the next 60 seconds or so, you will start seeing more foam.  Start scooping it out now with the slotted spoon.  It will continue to form and you will skim it off.  By the time the broth or stock actually comes to a boil, you will have most of the foam off, and you will have done it without burning your hand.

I have found that once the stock comes to a boil, if you turn it down, the foam breaks up into small chunks which slip through the holes in the spoon, making it a lot harder to get out.  This above technique has made the process a lot easier and more comfortable.


Homemade Sour Cream

I had no idea how relatively simple this is.  If you like sour cream but you want some without additives and stabilizers, you can make your own.  I used one half of a commercial package of yogurt starter, and two cups of cream.  You heat it up just like you would milk to make yogurt.  I believe it is to 180 degrees.  Stir occasionally to keep the temperature as even as possible.  Then let it cool back down to lukewarm, pour a bit of the cream into a clean jar, add the starter, and stir it in.  Then pour the small amount back into the larger amount in the pot, stirring well.

After that simply put your cream in a clean, sealed jar, and let it ferment.  I let it sit 24 hours because I’m currently avoiding lactose, and that longer ferment time is supposed to get rid of  lactose.  If you don’t have a yogurt maker, you can put the jar in a small cooler with warm water.  Change out the water every so often, to keep it pretty warm.  After 24 hours, or maybe less if you like the consistency and aren’t trying to remove the lactose, put it in the fridge and chill.

Fooling with a cooler is a bit of a hassle, but not too bad.  And, I have actually done better with using a cooler than with a commercial yogurt incubator–I think it was too hot.

Voila, you have made sour cream.


Posted March 2, 2017 by swanatbagend in food, health