Why do I Have to Clean YOUR House?

My children are getting older, as evidenced very clearly yesterday at the breakfast table.  While discussing the plans of the day and the chores that would need to be completed in the morning, our 8-year-old son was given his tasks of cleaning the living room and office.  He immediately asked me, “Why do I have to clean your house?  It’s not my house, it’s yours.  You don’t have to clean my truck.”  Oh wow.  My sweet, compliant child who loves to do as he is asked has decided he doesn’t WANT to do it!

Perhaps I should make it very clear that although he consistently challenged the rules to cleaning the house yesterday, he always did it politely.  But no amount of politeness would have removed the surprise from my face!  I stammered and stuttered, then turning to Caleb, asked, “You want to answer that one?”

Now, this is something I love about my man.  It’s one of those things that makes me eternally grateful that he is my man!  He doesn’t get fluttered about little things like this very easily.  I could easily flare up, demanding of the child, “What do you mean??  You eat at my table, wear the clothes I give you, etc. etc, and you want to know why you have to do a couple chores??!!”  But not Caleb.  What a blessing to have a man like him!

He simply looked at Isaac, and replied with a slight smile, “That’s a good question!  But you know, we all work together on the house to show others that we love them.  It’s like giving someone else a present.  Every time you put away Ethan’s blocks, you are giving him a present.  When you pick up Elly’s coat, you are showing you love her.  When you are cleaning the living room, Elly is putting away the dishes that you ate out of.  She is giving you a present at the same time!  And if you want, I will wash your truck.  I want to show you that I love you, and maybe I could wash your truck real nicely, then wrap it up, and bring it to you!  Wouldn’t that be great.”

Wow.  I hope someday to be like him.


Enjoy Liver?

How many of us actually like to eat liver?  The answer is probably ‘not many’!  But, us healthy Mama’s out there, who understand the benefits of such a health food try to cram it down our throats.  At least, I do, especially when I’m pregnant.  (Which, is not now, but oh well.)

And then, throwing aside the health benefits, those of us who raise our own livestock and poultry have even more reason to eat the liver.  After all, it is more meat after all the hard work of raising the animal!  We have now processed pig, sheep, cow, duck, and chicken.  Total up all the livers, and that’s a lot of meals we’d be throwing away if we didn’t eat it!  Notwithstanding all the benefits, the problem still comes down to:  How am I going to get my family to EAT all this stuff???  Well, Necessity did it again.  I’ve finally come up with a recipe (of sorts, if you want to call it that) in which my family truly enjoys the liver!  Children will ask for several helpings, and we will easily finish up 3 quarts of Liver Stew in a single meal.

So, if you are wanting to get the benefits without the taste and texture of liver, here’s my recipe.  It’s important to understand, that, like all stews (at least all stews in my house!), this is not really an exact recipe, but rather a recipe with a few things that must be exact.  Feel free to experiment, but refer back to the notes I make.  There are a few things I found that really help with getting rid of the taste and texture of liver.

Liver Stew

Basic ingredients:

Liver, Vegetables, Grains, and Tomato Juice

~Be sure to cut the liver into itty-bitty pieces.  And I don’t mean small, I mean mini.  About 1/8″ or maybe up to 1/4″ cubed mini.  Really tiny.  The best ways to do this is either freeze the raw liver and cut it frozen, or boil the liver in water or juice until it’s mostly cooked through, then cut it.  Don’t try to cut raw, fresh liver.  It just doesn’t work.  I use about 1 pound of liver for every 1/2 gallon of stew that I make.

~ Use lots of different kinds of vegetables.  Carrots, corn, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, peas, and green beans are all ones I’ve used, and liked.  The essential part is to use several different kinds each time you make the stew.  The different tastes and textures of all the veggies help mask the liver.

~ Be sure to add a grain, such as barley or rice.  Personally, I like barley the best, and will use it in this stew every time if I have it!  Again, the reason for the grain is to mask the texture of the liver.

~ Essential:  Do NOT add water to your stew!  Use tomato juice.  The taste of tomato is strong enough to cover the liver somewhat, as long as it’s not watered down.  For a 1/2 gallon of finished product, you will probably need about 1/2 gallon of tomato juice.

~ Certainly add spices to your liking.  Since I do so much ‘winging it’, I’m not going to give exact amounts (I don’t know how much of anything I put in this stew!)  But, some spices I like to use are: salt, pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, and garlic (lots of garlic).  Occasionally I will add bit of beef bullion, just to help strengthen the ‘good’ flavors!

~ Usually I make this stew fairly hearty and kinda thick (although I do not thicken it with flour or corn starch)

And that’s all there is to it!  Certainly add a cornbread or rolls to round out a good (and good for you) meal.  Enjoy!


Today I am thankful for…


And more importantly, I’m thankful for the dentist appointment that is happening today to remove my wisdom tooth.  Not that I’m happy about having the dentist appointment, or will enjoy it in the least bit, but I will be thankful for it.  After all, the jaw problems I’ve been having for 7 months are soon going to disappear…

What are you thankful for today?

Angel Food Cake Lessons

The following is a blog post I’d written probably 2 years ago that never was published for some reason.  I found it in my stack of ‘drafts’ this morning, and thought I’d share it today.  Hope you enjoy it!  (No, I haven’t made an angel food cake now in a LONG time… maybe I need to.)

Most Sundays I make an angel food cake from scratch.  In my mind, this serves two purposes:  1) We get one last chance to celebrate the weekend  2) I get an opportunity to use up all those egg whites I’ve been saving through the week  (Someday I need to explain that one!  Another blog post.)    I’ve been realizing lately though, that I might just have 2 reasons, but maybe the LORD has a third reason for me.

You see, I love making angel food cake.  It’s easy and goes together very quickly!  I’m not one for having to wait or follow complicated steps.  There’s only one problem with the entire process.  Mixing the flour/sugar ingredients into the egg whites.  If you’ve never made an angel food cake, you need to understand that in order to not deflate the egg whites, one must mix the flour in very slowly and gently.  And you can’t just dump all the flour in at once.  No, only a quarter of the flour can be mixed in at one time!

Maybe you don’t have this problem, but it takes nearly all my willpower to sit there and very sloowwwly fold the flour into the batter.   The kids can’t drive me insane half as fast as folding flour into angel food cake batter can!  A couple weeks ago, while pushing myself through this process, our LORD opened my eyes to the fact that I’m so not patient.  It’s hard for me to wait on His leading in my life.  It’s hard for me to rest on the fact that He knows best, and will guide me little by little.  I want to know the end result NOW.

But, just like that angel food cake, my life can get flat and dull if I take charge, whipping it up as I see fit.  How often can I give an example of this!  So now, I’m thankful for the reminder of the angel food cake.  I’m thankful to remember to calm down, wait patiently, and enjoy the beautiful life our LORD has in store!

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.      ~Psalm 27:14

The Good Samaritan’s Stash

Caleb and I were reading through the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) the other day, when something stuck out at me that I’d never considered before.  But first, let’s take a quick glance through this familiar story.

A man was traveling between two cities.  It was a treacherous road, full of thieves.  As he hurried along, he was suddenly jumped upon by robbers.  They stripped him, beat him, stole all that he had, and left him to die.  He was an ugly sight, laying in pools of his own blood, naked, and pitiful.  By and by, a church priest also came hurrying down the path.  He saw the bloody, beaten man.  Perhaps due to the man’s blood, or maybe due to the leader’s commitment,  or possibly because he was afraid of robbers himself, he decided not to help the poor, pitiful, beaten man.  Instead, he walked completely around the man, having to even go around a tree on the other side of the path to avoid coming near the wounded.  Not long after, another man came walking down the path.  This time it was a helper in the church.  This man followed the steps of the church leader, as he too walked off the path, around the tree, and avoided the bloody man entirely.  Finally, along came yet a third man.  This man was not a church leader, but rather one who had been rejected by the church.  He had his donkey with him, and he promptly got down upon seeing the beaten man, washed his wounds with oil and wine.  He set the poor man upon his own donkey, and walked to the city.  He then brought the wounded man to an inn, paid for care to be given to this man, and said that if the bills exceeded a certain amount, he would pay the rest when he came back later.

There is plenty to glean from this passage, and I encourage you to read through it again in Scripture if you haven’t in a while, but the verse that stuck out to me was the following:

“And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast,  and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

It suddenly dawned on me that the Samaritan had prepared for a situation to come up!  He brought oil, and wine, and extra money.  He had an extra stash, a first-aid kit, to help out those who needed it.  I’ve often heard the moral that we need to help anyone we come across, which is true.  But how often have we thought of preparing for helping?

Our family lives on a main highway pretty far out in the country.  We are 30 minutes from town in either direction.  We are also 30 minutes from any grocery store, gas station, or anything else for that matter.  You might find plenty of cows pretty close to us, but that’s about it.  However, as I said, we do live on a busy highway.  It connects two of the larger towns (if any rural midwest town can be considered ‘larger’), and we have a substantial amount of traffic.  Several times since we have moved here, we have had people stop in our driveway for one need or another.  Possibly it’s as simple as asking directions.  Others ran out of gas when GPS told them to take the ‘shortcut’, and still others had flat tires.  It made us think.  Do we have extra gas on hand at all times?  Do we have a jack?  What about the little things?  Do we have disposable cups to give them a hot chocolate or ice tea to drink on their way?  Do we keep our home in such a way that we aren’t embarrassed to bring someone in for a few unexpected moments?  Are we practicing showing love to our family so that when a stranger comes, it is easy for us to know how to help him best?

I realize that not everyone has the same opportunities that we have.  But everyone has the opportunities appropriate for their own life.  Perhaps in your life it’s a stressed-out mom in the grocery store.  Do you have a little book or toy you could give the child to help occupy him while Mama shops?  Perhaps it’s an elderly couple walking in the rain without an umbrella or hat.  Do you have an extra one on hand that you can give them?  Perhaps it’s a young man caught up in the lusts of the world.  Do you have a simple, truthful tract you could hand out to him that he would appreciate reading?

I encourage you to think about what preparations are needed in your life.  Let’s each make a stash – A Good Samaritan Stash.

Domestic Economy Dollars, Er.. Mom Bucks

Are your children in need of fresh ideas, full of life and fun, learning and responsibility?  My children have needed this kind of idea for a while now, and I’m pleased to say, it’s here!  First, though, to give credit where credit is due.  The original idea and the photos on this blog post were provided by Erin over at the Keeper of the Homestead blog, and I would encourage you Mamas to go over there, check it out, and of course, grab the freebies she offers!

In a time where my children were suffering from lack of responsibility and industriousness, I read this blog post that put a fun spin on life!

Mom Bucks!

Our home, in the last several days, has turned into it’s own economy.  Each child holds responsibility for his own work, and is rewarded for all he accomplishes, while being held to a standard for all he doesn’t accomplish.  This is the way it works:

I first made a list of all that needs done around the house.  Sweeping floors, putting away dishes, doing laundry and cleaning the table are just a few of the items I added to my list.  I then decided how much I would pay for each chore.

Just before starting the game, I took advantage of Erin’s free Mom Bucks printables.  And yes, you need to do this too!  She provides a PDF  printable of all the Mom Bucks you will need.  Click the picture below to go to her website to get your free printable!

The children all enjoyed getting a few Mom Bucks in their pocket, and then the economy (and the game) took a really fun turn!  I opened the Mom Bucks All-You-Can-Eat Restaurant.  Each meal and snack is available for purchase.  But, it is only available by purchase!  It took just a few minutes for the children to understand this concept, but they have been trained since they were little that “if you do not work, you shall not eat”.  I’m happy to say that I’ve never had a child miss even a single meal, but this Mom Bucks game really shows them what it is like in real life!  The boys, especially, are so proud of their accomplishments as they tell me, “I’m working and paying for food, just like Papa!”

And then, the Mom Bucks game takes another turn:  Enter the Judge.  Caleb explained to the children that if an adult fought with someone else, and the police came, then they would have to go to the judge to get the problem solved.  He also explained that when you go to the judge, you have to pay the judge money.  Bingo!  Mom Bucks!  Now, when the children are arguing, I allow them a few moments to solve the problem themselves.  But if it starts to get out of hand, the judge comes to the scene, Mom Bucks are paid, and the problem is solved.  Squabbles have disappeared almost entirely in our home in just the last two days!  Not only are they not fighting, but they are also learning to work things out between themselves, because they certainly don’t want to pay the judge!

Most of my children are too young to strive for more than just the paying of their meals.  Which is fine, for their age.  However, Isaac, at 8 years old, understands the concept of earning, saving, and using his Mom Bucks.   He is earning roughly 4 extra Mom Bucks daily.  He does extra chores, walks away from contentious siblings, and on his own decision, occasionally decides to skip his snack (depending on what is being served).  If this was a meal I felt he needed to keep healthy, you can be sure I wouldn’t allow him to skip it.  But, since it is just a little something in the middle of the afternoon to give variety to the day, I allow him to choose if he wants it or not.  He amazes me with his focus on this economy of ours.  He told me one day, “This is fake money at the stores and stuff, but it’s REAL money here in our house!”  Oh, yes, it is!  And this boy needed something to grab his attention and keep him working toward a goal.  Mom Bucks is a part of meeting that need.

So, the question is asked, what am I doing differently than Erin, at Keeper of the Homestead?

I do not know the ages of Erin’s children, but I think it’s safe to say that most of them are much older than my little ones.  And, knowing you, they are probably much older than your children as well.  So, how do we adapt this system to our little ones, who range between 1-8 years old?

My youngest child to play the game is Ethan, who is 3.   All of his chores are accomplished with me by his side.  We empty the washer together, tidy the kitchen together, or put away the dishes together, and he gets a Mom Buck.  I make certain that he accomplishes enough chores in a day to pay for all meals and snacks and have at least one Mom Buck left over to give him encouragement.  Also, all of his meals are 1/2 price in the restaurant (rounding up if need be), and he does not have to pay the judge.  In truth, he is playing like he is playing the game.  One day he will be old enough to play the game in reality, but for now, it is good enough the way I have it set.

I then have Nethaneel and Elly (5 and 6) playing the game.  They are my procrastinators and squabblers.  The game is working wonders for them, even though they only care to have enough Mom Bucks to be able to eat.  That is fine.  I make sure that their daily tasks, if completed on time, without a lot of squabbling during the day, will cover all their meals and snacks.

One more vital tip that I found was essential for these three children was the Mom Bucks Envelope.  I took an envelope, wrote their name on the BACK of it, then taped it to the wall.  The kids can keep their Mom Bucks in their own envelope, keeping the loss of Mom Bucks to a minimum.  I allow Isaac to keep his Mom Bucks in his own wallet.

If you read further at the Keeper of the Homestead blog, you will come across this post which is a fun read.  At the end of the post Erin offers a free PDF of a timecard, which the child can mark which chores he’s done during the day, and be paid at the end of the day.  I’m sure this would be an excellent resource for those with older children, but it’s entirely impractical for my little tots.  For the littler ones, they need immediate gratification, which would be accomplished by paying them as soon as the chore is completed.

You can see on the board above that Erin offers her children $10 of real money if they get 100 Mom Bucks.  We do the same except it is only $1 of real money for every 100 Mom Bucks.  The reason for this is because all of our children are young enough that $1 is the same as $10 which is the same as $100.  Money is money to them, and a penny is better than a dime or a quarter because it’s brown!  Someday I may have to increase the amount I am giving for 100 Mom Bucks, but right now it works just fine.

Another tip that I discovered:  I have at least one child who is slow to act when given a simple task (such as “please get the milk out of the fridge”)  He dallies, and talks, maybe complains, drags his feet,  and finally gets what he is told.  I have been randomly giving out Mom Bucks just because a child does as he is bid with a smile on his face and a light to his step.  Which reminds me.  I was once asked, “Why don’t I get a Mom Buck when I _____ (get a diaper for the baby, put the eggs away, etc)”  I explained that we all need to show love to others by doing little things for them.  When they are bidden to do a short, little task, then Mom Bucks are not always rewarded because their reward is being able to show others love.  My children already understand the concept of how good they feel to show love, so it was an easy explanation for a different kind of reward.

In conclusion, my favorite result of the Mom Bucks system came last night in the form of a comment Isaac made.  He said, “Mama, you can make me pay for meals, and snacks, and fighting.  But you can’t make me pay for the most important things.  Like wisdom, and praying, and loving others.  Those things are free!”

Oh he gets it.  He gets it.  And this Mama’s heart is full to overflowing with the fact that the training we have given him is slowly coming to fruition.  May we all, always understand this fact:  our leaders might destroy our economy.  They might make us pay for health insurance, schooling, abortions, and all other things we abhor.  But they can never make us pay for the most important things.  Like wisdom, and praying, and loving others.  Those things are free, and always will be.

Relief for Mama… And a Giveaway!

How many times have you had the perfect schedule, great resources to accomplish all you wanted to get done, excellent ideas for the day, and yet, day after day, it fell apart?  I suppose that’s how it’s been going in my life lately.  I have finally gotten to a point in organization that my house stays clean, for the most part.  The children are ready to learn their 3-R’s, and due to Pinterest, blogs, and Facebook, I have more amazing ideas than I can use.  Yet, the days would whip past like a freight train in the country, no schooling would be done, and the bare necessities of housework would be accomplished.

This has been going on for way too long, which would explain why I haven’t written anything lately!  I pinned it all down to an attitude problem.  We are all tired of this winter dreariness, and it effects the way we behave.  Squabbles break out often, making the bed might take up to an hour, and whining is in order all day long.  But the solution has arrived, and Mama is breathing a sigh of relief!  I know, now I’ve got you ramped up to hear this awesome idea, only to tell you that you will have to wait a day or two before that post comes out.  Soon… very soon.  I promise, I will post it.

Yet, in the meantime, I think I’m back to blogging at least a bit more than I have been doing!  And to begin, I’m going to share with you this great giveaway that is going on right now at the Keeper of the Homestead blog.

She is giving away a handcrafted drying rack!  I have never bought drying racks because every single one I’ve seen is wobbly and falls apart in short order.  However, Erin comments on her blog post that, “The racks can withstand heavy, heavy quilts and heavy room area rugs.  You can put a quilt on one side and it will not topple over like the accordion style wooden drying racks the Amish make.”  It’s sounding good!

I could use a drying rack.  We have laundry every day that needs drying.  And if I didn’t have so much laundry, you bet I’d be hanging Great Grandma’s quilt on the rack.  What would you use it for?

I encourage you to head over to Erin’s blog and check out her drying rack giveaway!

A Pioneer Rack Giveaway