Monday, February 24, 2014

Raising Little Woodsmen

The children in our family have grown up playing in the woods.

They have spent hours building tree forts, tearing them down and building new ones. 
 They have bounded through the trees and out of sight to play since they could toddle. 
 They are very comfortable in the woods, and we think nothing of it.  
...until someone says something out of astonishment at what the children are up to.   

  Come free time in the afternoon, they head off down the trail and out of sight.  
After a while a thin column of smoke is seen rising out in the woods
 and I know the general whereabouts of our little woodsmen. 
They have built a fire near where they are playing to keep them warm.  
They probably have a mess kit by which they are sipping some hot broth or tea.  
The play scenario is likely that they are stranded, someone is wounded and needs to be cared for, 
a litter made, an emergency shelter built, and the patient tended to.

Daddy has seen to it that they know all the woodsmen basics:
                                        how to build a fire with matches or flint and steel
                                        how to make a lean to shelter
                                        how to shoot a bow
                                        how to shoot a gun
                                        how to use a pocket knife correctly
                                        how to tell what direction is north
                                        how to cook over an open fire 
                                        how to skin  and gut an animal
                                        how to find edible plants
                                        how to use a compass
                                        how to use cover and concealment
....and the list is ever growing.  

Here is Ben (9) and Jim (12) getting their fire going with flint and steel.

Besides being a good use of their time, these skill sets teach the boys responsibility,
 and give them that sense of manliness that makes them walk a little taller.  

Recently, they came in from their outdoor time and were not hungry for tea. 
"No thanks, mom, we got hungry out there, so we dug up some cattail roots and cooked them. 
 They were pretty good too." 
At least it was not an unfortunate squirrel or bird this time.

We want our boys to be capable and skilled indoors and outdoors, 
creating a good balance that will serve them for their entire lifetime.

They have practiced making fires for hours and hours, and are now accomplished.
This is a simple thing to do in the yard, with a rock or piece of wood for a base
if you don't want them burning the grass.
 The have to come up with a good natural tinder ball,
such as an old birds nest, a bunch of dried grass, small twigs, or the like
and get it going well enough to add the next layer of twigs and sticks.
 Once they can do this with matches
(no more than 3) then later with only 1,
they work at the fire making with the flint and steel.
The age we begin them learning this skill is about 6 years old.

Blessings to you this day, and to training up your little woodsmen,


Friday, February 21, 2014

Of Colds and Lego Genius

House decoration

While it is fairly blizzarding outside,
 we are fevering inside.
Tis the season to share the flu and colds with one another, 
as we have done thoroughly this week.  
First one, then to another, and so on, until the whole house is ringing
 in a symphony of 7 people coughing non stop.

This week has been full of reading and napping amid a pile of pillows and stacks of blankets, 
of continually sipping tea to soothe the throat, 
and the less romantic: teaching little ones to blow their nose, 
a humorous and inefficient process, to say the least.

When feeling pathetic, everyone wants to be held and snuggled, 
which means our days have looked like this:

Mama and the littles have been the last to fall to this undesirable virus, 
which means that the older boys, who became ill first, are beginning to feel better. 
 They have been busy in their room doing what they do best:  
creating  lego  structures, vehicles, 
and all sorts of science fiction-ish things imaginable.  
Their talent at building lego anything is nothing short of amazing.  
I can build, like, 
a box.  
What they bring down to show the blurry eyed sniffling mama on the couch just must be shared, 
and since some special folks have specifically asked, 
here they are:

A castle ruins

An original helicopter

A speeder or two

I do hope that is inspiration for some little boys out there,
 and that ya all stay well away from this here bug.


Friday, February 14, 2014

New Ideas From New Mexico

Anna just sent me the rest of the pictures we took when I was visiting her in New Mexico, 
and I just had to share them, 
so many of them were especially
for you.
So many creative and beautiful ideas-

this first one is Anna's friend Kristin's idea,
on her dining room wall she has made a "Gratitude Tree"  for her family.
 They add leaves that have what they are thankful for written on them.
 Love this!

Anna has another friend who actually owns more books than I do.
(a rare find)
Here were three that really piqued my attention, and are now on my wish list:

Anna took me out to lunch several times.

One day we met up with some of her friends at this quaint place called "The Lunch Box."
  They have some very innovative decorating ideas-

I really do think I will do this tree thing in the boys room, it was pretty awesome.
But no bicycles on the wall for me,
that would surely end up with someone in the hospital.

Happy Valentines Day to each of you!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Betsy Knits

I need to learn to knit. 
 I have a rapidly growing love of all things hand knit, 
especially socks. 
 I tried to convince my daughter to learn to knit, then she could knit socks for me, 
but that hasn't worked so far. 
 I guess I am just going to have to buckle down and get it figured out. 

 In the meantime, we were blessed by a sweet lady who made socks for us. 

 I had the opportunity to meet this industrious woman, Betsy, 
whom has become a great inspiration to me, and I am sure, to you too after you read this.

 Betsy was in the process of knitting 160 pairs of mittens and hats 
for the under-privileged children of a local grade school!!! 
 Not only that, but she knit hundreds of hats that she sent to Japan after the devastating earthquake that wiped out complete villages, including the one her son was teaching in.  (He survived)

Betsy lovingly knits and knits, then gives all that knitting away. 
 Her generosity is exemplary, 
her industry enormous, 
and her spirit, sweet and gentle. 
 What a godsend she must be now to thousands of recipients of her knitting!  

Betsy reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman, 
of a woman I would like to be like.
She is a keeper at home, 
yet blessing people all over the world by "working willingly with her hands."

Betsy "reaches forth her hand to the needy," as she mails  home made goodness 
all across the states as she hears of needs.
This is a gracious woman!

Hand knit socks are simply the best.  
But, wearing them has been made even sweeter knowing the kind heart who made them.
And, as I do wear mine nearly everyday, 
I am reminded at the sight of them to make steps towards being kind, 
gracious, industrious and generous 
like the knitter.

Thanks, Betsy, 
for being such a wonderful example, and of course, 
for the fabulous socks!

 I hope telling you about Betsy inspires and encourages you too.

Happy Knitting!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Breakfast at the Log Cabin

It has been snowing since I arrived home from Anna's.
We are glad for the snow pack, which means a green summer.
The children are loving hours of sledding and making of snow forts each afternoon.
Meanwhile inside, I am planning yummy things to eat,
a favorite pastime of mine.

My thoughtful daughter Anna bought me the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook. 

 If you love your cast iron like I do, 
ya'all need this book. 

So far, we have tried three recipes, and they have all been OUTSTANDING.  
This morning, I made the Breakfast Fritata for the family. 
 Anna had made this for me when I was visiting her.  
I knew my family would love it as much as I did, and sure enough, Jim said,
"MMM can we have this EVERYDAY for breakfast?!"

Sausage, spinach (they didn't even notice or fuss), eggs, milk, feta, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Very simple. 
 The ingredients are common for us, so I had them all on hand.  
Little cleanup since it is a one dish meal, love that, 
and all the children ate it happily. 
 Really, really love that!

For the actual recipe, you'll need to get that book. :-)
Happy cooking to you!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Promoting Sibling Kindness with a Mailbox


Honestly, I have not had the greatest success in encouraging my children to be best friends; 
even though "Be kind and loving to each other" is without a doubt the most quoted phrase 
of any in our house.
 I am, therefore, always on the lookout for new ways to promote loving kindness within the family.  
I do have a new idea, 
and I am excited about it. 
 I am not sure what, if any, the results may be, but we are going to try it.
Today is the first day of February, a good day to begin, 
as my desire is to display love to one another in a variety of ways throughout the month, 
not just on Valentines day.  
The big idea is a Lovingkindess Mailbox.
It all started when I was looking up fun stuff to make with cardboard on Pinterest.  
There I saw a cardboard mailbox, and bam!  The whole idea struck me.

Yesterday, the younger children made us a mailbox. 
 I wrapped it in paper to help improve the looks. 
Next to the mailbox is a stack of 3 x 5 cards and a bunch of Valentines stickers.

Here are the rules:
1. Each day, everyone in the family must write a nice note to one family member and stick it in the mailbox.
2. You must write every person  in the family before you repeat a note to a person.
3.  Mail will be handed out every day at dinner.

The children were enthusiastic about getting started., and 
I am interested to see how things turn out at dinner tonight!

Please ,do tell, what do you find helpful to promote kindness in your family?

Awaiting your ideas,

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