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Death Of A Dream

Have you ever had a dream die?

I have had quite a few.  I have had goals that I didn't reach.  I have pursued dreams that along the way lost their importance during that period of my life for one reason or another, like pursuing my master's degree.   I have had businesses that failed to be economically viable even after tremendous efforts on my part.  Though many dreams did turn out wonderful, I have had other dreams, wants, and desires that have changed over the years and did not come to pass.

But one dream that has ended in death in my life hurts the most.  It is the dream of holding a child in my arms, and hopes and plans are made, and then suddenly that dream turns to a nightmare when that child has died and I will never hold it.

I recently had a miscarriage.  Today it feels like a dream...a hope that has died...

It is my second miscarriage of a confirmed pregnancy.   I was about 10 weeks along this time when the bleeding began.   I went through 10 days of bleeding and 24 hours of labor and heavy bleeding.  I delivered the baby and placenta at noon on Saturday March 22, 2014 when I was about 11 1/2 weeks along.   A dream of a beautiful child had died.  I was grateful for the chance to hold the small baby and say goodbye.  I didn't have that closure last time and it was much harder to get through the experience. 

On October 19th, 2010  I was 13 to 14 weeks along when I miscarried.  I already had a natural ob doctor, a midwife, and had plans for a doula too.  I had a normal sonogram and blood work, and had already made plans for the new baby.  But when I lost the baby, I was in such shock from extreme blood loss, I did not get to hold it and say goodbye.  That was much more devastating to journey through.  I grieved deeply, and it helped me to reach out through writing down my feelings, and sharing with other women who know what it is like, but it took many months to get through the grief.   I definitely believe I needed the opportunity to hold my child and say goodbye for a healthy healing from the situation.

During this miscarriage and for the week following, I bled heavily.  Then slowly the bleeding decreased until it stopped almost three weeks after the miscarriage.  I took some vitamin K to try to get the bleeding to slow down.  For the first 5 days I struggled to regulate my blood pressure.  The upper number swung from 105 to 165 about every 15  to 30 minutes.  The bottom number swung from 65 to 95 about every 3 hours.  And my pulse ranged from 100 to 115 while at rest.  I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest.  I also suffered from an extreme migraine headache and nausea.  Everytime the blood pressure was in the process of climbing the headache would get intense, and every time it would fall I had a nauseated sick feeling that I was about to throw up.  This lasted for several days.  During this time I also took chlorophyll capsules, EmergenC powdered vitamin blend mixed into water, Concentrace minerals, and spoonfuls of blackstrap molasses to build back up my iron after the blood loss and re-establish my hydration and electrolyte balance.  I had bleeding and severe anemia for 12 weeks last time I miscarried, and I did not want a repeat of that situation.  Finally around day six, things started returning to normal for me and the blood pressure stabilized and my resting pulse decreased to a normal rate and I slowly felt my energy coming back.  About a week later I felt I was on the mend and my stamina started increasing.  I was so thankful it went better this time than last time.

I have read statistics that 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5 pregnancies naturally end in miscarriage.  It is devastating to know these numbers are so high and they have been a reality in my own life and for so many other families.  I was comforted to know a few other women through an online forum of Christian woman, who were miscarrying at the same time I was and we could all pray for each other.  The forum is a healthy eating group forum I am on,but folks sometimes share about other things happening in their life, and though it was heartbreaking, hundreds of other women began praying for us when we let them know what was happening, and many openly spoke about miscarriages they had been through too.  It was bitter sweet and I am grateful to all of those who prayed for me. 

We are a large family and don't believe in controlling fertility.  We have had folks in our life, both family and friends, who had said things like, "be happy with no children", "don't have more than two children", "children are too expensive" and so on.  We have recently even had a family member say sternly when we needed help due to a job loss "don't have more children".  However, we don't agree with our American culture to kill pregnancies with birth control chemicals, or to surgically clip or tie shut the tubes that God created allow sperm or eggs to travel to meet and fertilize.  We believe to do such things is to become a god if we were to take away or prevent life.  The bible says we are created in the image of God.  It also says that children are a blessing.  We believe the bible, and we believe God is in control of life.  We believe we are not to take away life,and that HE is creator, the great I AM, the Alpha and the Omega, our provider, and the GOD OF FERTILITY.  This was a process and decision we came to after several years of marriage and we still believe this to be true, even in the face of miscarriage and not understanding why it has happened this way.

We decided after being married for about 5 years, and through a lot of prayer and our church praying for us to have children, that we wanted to serve as foster parents.  We went through extensive training to become therapeutic foster parents.  After we had been married seven or eight years and was unable to have our own children naturally, the doctor labeled us infertile and wanted to do exploratory surgery and put us on fertility medications to try to improve our chances of getting pregnant.  We prayed about it, our church prayed with us to, and eventually we came to the decision that "no, we would not do any of those things, but would trust God in his infallible and infinite wisdom".  If he chose for us to remain childless and instead do foster care and adoption then that was the route we would follow.  If he decided to allow us to get pregnant naturally then that is the route we would follow.  We continued being therapeutic foster parents, and then went through a homestudy and certification for adoption.  

Our church continued to pray with us that we would have natural children of our own too. About the time we were approved for adoption, a mom of one of the youth in our youth group came up to us and said she had been praying for us and that God told her within two years we would hold a son in our arms.  We accepted what God told her right then. Our whole church gave God praise for this word from the Lord. There is power in faith.
Sure enough, within two years to the day she spoke to us, we had given birth to a son. That was 13 1/2 years ago and I was already 30 years old.  Since that time, God has continued to bless our home with children born from our womb.  We have a 13 year old son, an 11 year old son, a 9 year old son, a 6 year old daughter, a 5 year old son, and a 2 year old son, and two babies in heaven.   God is the God of fertility and he will remain so in our life.

We just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary this past week.  Though it has been a difficult journey, and it has been a long time to see the dream of a family we have today manifest in our life, and some dreams have lived and manifested in wonderful ways, and other dreams have died along the journey, we are greatly blessed to be parents to them all and to have traveled this journey together.   

Preparing For Easter

How do you prepare for the Easter holiday? 

Usually preparations around here involve praying and seeking God for a closer walk with him, locating the bible verses we want to focus on during the week before Easter, a menu plan for lunch on Easter Sunday, cooking food to share, doing a few Easter crafts that focus on Jesus, watching an Easter movie like Passion Of The Christ and perhaps a Veggie Tales Easter movie, going to Church on Easter morning, and some years we have joined in on a fun egg hunt with neighbor kids or in years past at extended family gatherings (those kids are grown now and family moved away).  

I have a few crafts planned out for this week, and a few Easter themed snack foods that will be fun to make.  We will make some of the same snacks we made a few weeks ago that focussed on Easter.  At Thanksgiving our church gave us a turkey and a neighbor gave us a turkey so I baked one then, and froze one to save and make for Easter Sunday lunch.  I will add a few additions to the turkey meal.  We don't have plans to go anywhere that day other than to the church service up the road, then we will come home and eat.  I won't be able to buy gifts or things for the kids for Easter, but we will enjoy our day together in other ways.  If it is a nice day, we might fly kites in the back yard, and if it is raining, we will play board games indoors.  Either way, I hope it will be a special day together.      

Finding a Balance

Things have changed somewhat for me as an adult versus how I grew up.  When I was younger, one side of my family used to make a big deal about Easter.  They spent a lot of energy on what to wear on Easter, a big deal on coloring eggs and holding an egg hunt, decorating the house and yard, Easter baskets filled with candy and toys left by the Easter Bunny, and a huge big deal for extended family get togethers right after church.  The other side of my family did not do these things.  These extreme differences were confusing as a kid, but it definitely helped me learn how to balance the truth of Easter as an adult and get rid of the things that were not true. 

Since I got married twenty three years ago and created a family of my own, the Easter Bunny is not at all a part of our focus, though we have occasionally joined in with others to do an egg hunt.  Also a special outfit never was a priority, as my husband just doesn't think it is necessary to go out and spend money to show off a new outfit at church.   And he is just as happy eating a pizza if there is no family get together for a big meal, either way is just fine with him.  I was ok with skipping a new outfit as it can get quite expensive, but it took me a few years to accept skipping out on a big Easter meal, but eventually I let go of the "have to have a big get together and fancy meal on Easter" and accepted "what ever will be will be, don't worry about it".

Honestly our children enjoy the festivities of any holiday, spending time having fun, and getting lots of candy when either we or others offer it to them.  It has been challenging to teach them the true meaning of holidays as holy days, when faced with conflicting messages in our culture. A few years ago, we joined some neighbors in North Carolina who did an annual egg hunt.  It was fun, but a few days later our kids discussed with their kids that we don't believe in Santa Claus or that he leaves presents under the tree at Christmas.  That mom marched right over to my house and yelled at me to never let my kids tell her kids that Santa or the Easter Bunny wasn't real.  Her kids were 6, 9, and 14 years old.  You have got to be kidding!   I say this not to be mean, but only to make a point about our culture and it's impact on our life.  I am not trying to put her down, but only show that the values of the current culture can control a Christian's life and one can be blinded to the truth.  She was upset that my 9 year old told her 9 year old that he did not believe Santa was real and she wanted to continue her holiday tradition of them leaving Santa and the Easter Bunny letters the night before and getting gifts the next morning on those holidays.  I was sure that her kids had probably already heard at church and in their school from other kids who knew the truth, but it was shocking even still to hear a grown woman talking like this.   I was more determined that ever to help my kids understand the different beliefs about the holidays.

We spent the first 9 years of our marriage unable to have children of our own, though we did foster care.  We had all of that time to really look at what we believe and how we want to raise our kids to believe the truth and escape some of the "have to..." with celebrating the holidays.  So I have had to learn to find and teach a balance in all these things.   

Well anyway, here we are in a new place, new community, and at a new church trying to learn new customs blended with old customs.   Still trying to balance the truth of our faith with the pressures of our culture.  Where do we stand?  We believe Easter is about a risen savior and not about a pagan easter bunny or a goddess of fertility.  How much "culture activities" do we allow our children to participate in?  Thankfully, we live in a free country and we don't have to accept or participate in things that contradict with our faith.  

We have found a few fun ways to celebrate this holiday with our kids.  Besides fun crafts and Christ centered movies, we recently reviewed Egglo which is a cool glow in the dark plastic egg to use for egg hunts that points the way to Jesus as the light of the world and not to an Easter bunny.  

Today I also heard a pastor say that an egg itself testifies of the deity of God.  God is three in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, likewise and egg has three distinct parts and it reminds us of God's creative power (egg shell, egg white, and yolk) and this was a good visualization to share with the kids.  This process is a balance we are still trying to walk out in our life and this isn't the only holiday we find ourselves deeply considering these things.

Heart Preparation And A Song

This year my heart is drawn toward the love Christ felt for mankind.  "For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only son, that who ever would believe in him, would have eternal life."  John 3:16

The love that pushed and compelled God to come to this earth in physical form, to endure the human walk, to bring hope to those he met through his message and miracles, and then to walk down the road to his physical torture and death on a cross. The love that overcame Man's free will to choose life or choose death.

I have recently been asked to prepare a song to sing at church for Easter Sunday. Wow.  It is a huge honor and responsibility!  I am thrilled, and at the same time shaking in my shoes.  I prayed for an opportunity to sing for the past few years.  I longed for a church to ask me to sing for so long it has almost become a lost dream for me. 

If you know me, you know I love to sing.  But when we moved to North Carolina and didn't know anyone, and then attended a mega church that was an hour drive away, and life happened with more and more children, I realized I was needed to care for them and singing in public became less and less a priority.   It has been 6 years since I stood before a crowd and sang.   This seems odd to me because I spent over 30+ years singing, ever since I was a young girl.  How could I let my desire to sing die after so many years being so passionate about it?   I honestly have been praying earnestly for these past 6 years for God to re-open that door.  Now we have moved back to Indiana and I have been given the opportunity to go before a group of people that I only just came to know the past six months of going to church there and do this for them, and bring glory to the King of Kings with my voice.  My only prayer in this is that it will be a blessing to them. 

The Road Of Suffering

For the past several weeks, since I was asked to do this, I have earnestly prayed about a song that I could prepare to sing for Easter.  I kept drawing a blank for weeks! Though I prayed daily about it, and sang in the shower to the Lord, I could not hear him speak about a song for Easter.  Instead I heard him speaking into my life as I sang praised to Him.  

During that time I wanted to search out and prepare a song, but instead I was bombarded by life events beyond my control.  I learned I was pregnant; my husband's job of only 4 months came to an end; then we found out he didn't qualify for unemployment payments because he did not work in the state during the qualifying period; then the stress caused him to develop a digestive imbalance and gout in his feet making him bedridden for a couple of weeks and unable to work on anything around the house or take on a side job while he waited for a new job to open; and we ran out of money;  I had to do a lot more for him;  the stress of no income was devastating while sending out resumes and job applications; then he got several interviews and three job offers each a week apart, but they didn't pay enough to meet the bills;  then I started spotting and went through a miscarriage; and then the next week he got a job offer that would meet the bills, but had to wait another week to start, and then he won't see a paycheck for another three weeks.  We are just barely holding on.  Why GOD?  We have had to tell the kids to wait to get their animals for 4H projects, wait to do this or that, wait to get shoes they need, etc.  There just isn't any money to buy things for this Easter holiday celebration either.  If I don't have it on hand, then chances are we won't be able to go out and get it.  I tell you, I drew a blank about what to sing at church for Easter with all of this going on in my life.

But last Sunday, after the opening prayer and just as the singing during praise and worship began, I closed my eyes and prayed again something like this "Lord, I only have two weeks from today left to get something prepared to honor you on this holiday and share with these folks.  What do you want me to do?" and he answered me with a vivid vision of Christ walking down the middle isle of the church carrying the cross.  

The only thing I could understand from this vision was love.  It was love for all people that carried that cross.  It was love made manifest in a human form.  His love is strength that goes beyond human understanding.  It goes beyond being mistreated, beaten, laughed at, wrongly accused, injustice, hostility, war, being robbed, intolerance and indifference.  His love goes beyond a job loss, income loss, the death of a child, sickness, disease, and heartache.  His love for you and me gave him passion to see it through, to carry the cross even as he bled, to reach calvary and complete his mission, his mission to save mankind from eternal damnation.  His love pushed him to be slaughtered as an innocent lamb and offered as a sacrifice to God.  His love that was completely pure and free from sin paid the price for my sin on the cross.  His love gave him strength to suffer and die for my sake.  He knew the truth.  He knew the end from the beginning.  Through love, He would defeat sin, eternal damnation, and Satan.   Through love, He would redeem mankind to God.  Knowing the outcome, he could continue on through the suffering because of love.  

God spoke to my heart and said it is when man understands this love, that is when their heart chooses to believe and accept Christ's sacrifice, and their heart is redeemed to God. 

God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.

Romans 5:7-9

As I looked at the man carrying the cross in the vision, I saw love. Then I saw another soldier forcing him to walk and carry it, and then another soldier.  Then I saw Marry, Christ's mother weeping.  I saw love continue to carry the cross.  I heard in my heart "the road of suffering", "love will overcome evil", "love will bring knowledge of one's sin and need for Christ's sacrifice to bring redemtion to God".  Then I heard in my mind a voice singing the Sandy Patty song "Down the Via Delorosa" the road Christ walked to calvary called "the way of suffering".  I knew then it should have been called the "Road Of Love". 

I was so excited through out the rest of the service to finally know the song I was to sing. I leaned over and told my husband that the Lord had spoken to my heart the song I must learn and prepare for Easter Sunday.  I asked him if he would be able to build me a cross to use as a prop if needed.   As soon as service was over I shared this news with the pastor, and the music leaders.  I told them about the possibility of involving the young people to carry a cross down the isle and also to play part of the movie "Passion Of The Christ" perhaps without sound, just pictures only.  I just wanted the folks to view the video of the moments that Christ carried the cross and the suffering he went through. The music leaders said they had a cross they had used as a prop many years ago that it is still around and I would be welcome to use it, and they would see if they could find a video they could use with their equipment.  The details are still being worked out and I don't know for sure how all of this will come together.  But my heart is overwhelmed with excitement that preparations are in the works and something wonderful will transpire no matter what it is.

Then today, I went on a search online to see if I could find the soundtrack for this song. It has been many years since I heard this song (could it be 20 years?), and I don't even know if it is around anymore or how hard it will be to find.  While searching, I came across some YouTube videos.  One video is of Sandy Patty singing this song in the 1980's.  Another is a video is only 4 minutes long, and is of someone who used the movie Passion Of The Christ and added Sandy Patty's song to it to use in ministering to their church in China.  This was amazing, because it was a confirmation to me that what I had felt I was supposed to do, God has also inspired others to do similar things to reach people with this message.

There are also some amazing videos interviewing the actor, Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in the film, Passion of the Christ. This is amazing to me as it is one of my son's favorite actors.   He played in a movie called Madison which is a true story about Madison, Indiana.  He also played in other movies and TV shows.  It was encouraging to watch the interview with my son and learn how much this role in the movie really impacted Jim's faith.  Only God could have made this happen, for my son's favorite character to be a man who truly loves God and acted in the role of Jesus and found his character through learning about the very love Jesus had for humanity.  It was another confirmation that this is the message I am to focus on and to share for Easter.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”   Romans 3:23-24

What is important to you this Easter holiday?  What message do you hope to convey to your children, your extended family, and your community?  

As Easter Sunday approaches, I hope to be prepared to lift up the banner and point the way to Jesus Christ and God's love for mankind. 

I knew the Lord since my earliest years when I was a young child.  I sang for the Lord in church and sang a few times on Christian radio too.  Just before a life threatening spider bite, I was baptized at the age of 8 and loved the Lord with all my heart.  He helped me overcome the suffering of the spider bite, and has helped me daily through out my life.   When I was 13, I went a Billy Graham Crusade and rededicated my heart to Christ.  It was then that God placed in me a passion to sing for him, and he gave me a song based this scripture and I wrote it down and I have never forgot it: 

“People of Jerusalem, open your gates! Repair the road to the city and clear it of stones; raise a banner to help the nations find their way.”   Isaiah 62:9-11
The actual song he placed in my heart:
"Prepare, prepare the way, lift up a banner for the people.  Cast up, cast up the highway, gather up the stones, lift up a banner for the people."    

May HE be glorified through it all.  Amen.

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A Worm Farm For The Homestead

What a beautiful day we had today.  It was a bright sunny day, though it started out as a somewhat cloudy and over cast morning.  It was very wet in the morning, but dried out enough later in the day for us to have lots of fun outside.  I was so happy to see the daffodils had bloomed today too.  They look like sunshine!

We ate a picnic lunch at the lake watching the ducks, geese, and sea gulls on the water. 

It had rained heavy last night, so we ate in our van where we could stay dry but with the windows down, and still enjoyed watching the birds, the water on the lake, and just relaxing.  The lake is actually a reservoir and provides water for the city of Richmond, IN.

Then we headed over to our local 4H office.  We met with Debbie who handles all the 4H business and she helped us with some paperwork.  

Next we headed home to work in the yard.  We raked up dead leaves, and dead plants from the flower beds.  We transplanted a few flowers and vegetables in the flower beds too.

When dad got home from work, he helped us out with a major task. He used a ladder and climbed on the roof to remove a storm window that had broken.  

There were several pieces of broken glass on the roof, several pieces that had fallen into our flower bed, and some pieces still stuck in the frame of the window too.  He got all the broken glass removed for us and no one got cut. 

Then we made a worm farm.  We collected about 100 worms from working in the flower beds, and put them into a tote.  We actually have three matching totes, and was originally just going to use to of them, but later decided we would go ahead and add the third tote tomorrow. The totes will become a worm farm where worms can eat kitchen scraps and turn it into rich soil.  I am very excited about this project.  

The kids helped dad measure and mark places to drill into the totes. They drilled holes into the bottom for drainage and for the worms to travel up through from one tote to the next.  They also drilled holes in the upper sides and lid of the tote for air flow. 

This is a great recycling project.  We read that worms can eat their own weight in scraps each day.  So 1 lb of worms could eat 1 lb of food scraps and turn it into rich composted soil ready to use in the garden or flower beds.  You lay the food scraps on top each day and the worms crawl up to it and eat it.

Into the bins, we placed some of the dead leaves we raked today from the flower beds.  We also added some shredded news paper, pieces of cardboard, and some soil.  I had the kids spray water on everything to keep it moist.  Tomorrow we will drill the last tote and add the third bin into the farm, and collect more worms, and add more layers of paper and leaves, but it got to late to finish it all today. But whether you use two bins or three, it is still a great worm farm. 

We saved a lot of money by making our own homemade worm farm.  To buy a pre-made worm farm with 4 trays costs a $100 to $200.    Our farm cost us $0 because I already had the totes on hand.  But if I had to buy them, our worm farm would have cost us about $15 to make. We also gathered our own worms so that cost us $0, but if we had to buy a pound of worms (400 to 500 worms = 1 lb) it would have cost us $25 to $40.   So everything we used to make our worm farm cost $0.  That is an amazing savings!

I was really happy with all we accomplished today.  The kids did an awesome job helping me clean up in the flower beds.  And they had a lot of fun making their worm farm. 

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Supercharged Science Review

We have been blessed with a six month subscription to e-Science Learning Program by Supercharged Science to finish out this school year.  This is so great!

Supercharged Science is online science curriculum, and their e-Science Learning Program is like bringing the science teacher, Aurora Lipper, and her science lab right into your home.  Aurora has taught science to students from elementary school all the way up through college level.  She has also worked as a pilot and a NASA scientist. She learned through her teaching and working experience that there was a better way to teach science than what is usually done in schools and universities, and she developed Supercharged Science.  She is funny too, and brings a fun perspective and she makes learning science fun.

You can use Supercharged Science as a stand alone curriculum, or you can use it as a supplement to the other curriculum you are using.  There are over 800 lessons with more being developed all the time.  The lessons are divided into units (about 20 different units). Each lesson has text book style lessons, then video tutorials, quizzes, activities and experiments.  There is a PDF print out of lessons and materials you can print if you want too.  There are also tele-classes online every few weeks where your child can join in a live class.  

When you subscribe to this program, you are given access to several units to master and then each month you are given access to several more.  This helps break down the huge amount of information into managable parts.  But you can also access lessons through grade levels too if you prefer.  The program focusses on teaching science from the "inside out" with a strong focus on hands on experiements to keep kids "hooked" and passionate about science.  Unit Topics include: Mechanics, Motion, Matter, Energy, Sound, Astrophysics, Chemestry, Light, Electricity, Magnetism, Alternative Energy, Thermodynamics, Electronics, Life Science, Biology, Earth Science, Science Fair Projects,Teacher Resources, Summer Science, e-Camp, and more.

The monthly subscription retails for $57 a month. There are other pricing options available, and several free gifts that come with subscription options so be sure to check out which option is right for you.  There is also a free trial too.  The program is for K-12 grades. Kids K-3 grade will likely need parental help, but kids older than that can probably do most of the program independently.  

Here is a link to a video where Aurora explains how to teach science to kids.  

How We Used Supercharged Science:

I was so thrilled to be selected to share this review with you.  I am going to tell you right from the start that my kids and I absolutely love this curriculum.  It is so easy to use. 

We set aside time each day for science learning.  Everyday I set up the kids on the computer first for our science lesson.  We did these lessons together, and we have a big family and everyone wanted in on the learning.  

You can either choose theme units as your approach which works very well when working together as a whole family, or choose a grade level, K-12, approach to hone in on specific age appropriate lessons.  You can jump around between grades and lessons too.  We chose to work in grade specific lessons for the purpose of this review.

Usually either the oldest son or myself read the lesson to the other children.  Then they watched a video with a related science experiment.  Then we gathered up our own materials and repeated the experiment.  You can replay and pause the video as much as you need to and progress at your own pace. 

I let the kids browse through the program.  We chose to work together in the 3rd grade lessons for the purpose of this review.  They really wanted to study the weather unit in Earth Science.  3rd grade is divided into four areas of learning: Earth Science, Physics, Astronomy, and Life Science.   My son who is 9 and about 3rd grade level, doesn't like to read.  So having the kids work on this project together and reading it to him helped him and the younger kids enjoy the program even more.

We completed the Earth Science portion on weather, and completed all but two of the experiments where we lacked thermal paper.  We have also done several lessons in other areas too. In WEATHER, they had a lot of fun building and experiementing with:
Anemometer - measures wind
Barometer - measures atmospheric pressure
Hygrometer - measures air moisture (kids used a real human hair to make this)
Thermometer - measures temperature
Rain Gage - measures rain fall
Cloud Tracker - follows cloud changes in the sky (we haven't finished
this experiement as we didn't have thermal paper yet)
Sensing Temperature Changes
Heat & Radiation "Soaking Up Rays" - observing infra-red radiation 
transfer of heat  
Liquid Crystal Thermal Sheets (we haven't finished this one yet
 as we didn't have the thermal paper on hand)
Seasons - seasons affected by axis tilt of the plannet

Check out this free video by Supercharged Science on how to make a cloud tracker.


These are the goals listed in the program for 3rd grade Earth Science Weather Unit.

About the same time we made the anemometer experiment, one of our favorite engineering shows on TV, called Hillbilly Blood, also made an anometer too and we got to see how they callabrated wind speed with theirs.  They hooked their anemometer to a voltage reader, drove down the road while holding the anometer on the outside of their truck, and measured the amount of voltage they created.  They checked the voltage at different speeds: 10 miles and hour, 15 miles an hour, and 20 miles an hour.  They then used this knowledge to create a homemade roof top windmill and convert the wind into energy to re-charge car batteries.  They knew how much energy they were creating by how fast the wind blew.  The kids were so excited to see something they had just learned about in science be used on the show on TV in a way that actually made something usefull like energy to power equipment.  All of their materials came from recycling junk from a junk yard and from scraps discarded in the woods.  This real life application inspired the kids even more to work on their science projects with excitement.

Even though the kids are working together on their science learning, the oldest two are working on their own grade levels at their own pace as well and have skipped around different subject matter based on their interests too.  Aurora has also showed them how to make a good science journal to keep track of their experiemtns and progress. One of the older boys wanted a journal, and the other didn't, so I let them do what .  I love using delight directed curriculum methods and Supercharged Science can definately be used this way.

I encourage everyone to give this curriculum a try.  Try out the Free option first and see how this wonderful program can meet the needs of your own family.  It is a great product and our whole family gives it two thumbs up!  Right now, Supercharged Science is offering our readers a special opportunity.  They are offering their e-Science Learning Program for a 30 days for only $1.  It is a steal of a deal!

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Check out what other families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Supercharged Science. Scroll down to the bottom of the Schoolhouse page for the link that takes you to 100 great reviews of this product.

4H Rabbit Club Wayne County IN

It's a new year in so many ways.  New green grass and trees that beginning to bud and turn green are a definite welcome sight after a long winter in Indiana.  Several of our early season flowers are just about to bloom.  Driving down the road we see several farms with cows, horses, goats, sheep, etc. that are having babies born.  We can also spot the wild Canadian goose sitting on nests near water sources with her mate near by.  It won't be long until we see baby geese, baby ducks, and perhaps even baby deer as we drive along.  Everything in nature seems new now that winter has passed.

We added a new activity for our family and joined the Wayne County, Indiana 4H in January 2014.  Enrollment for the entire year is only open for a few weeks during January in Indiana.  That is new to us as you could join 4H at any time of the year in North Carolina.  Anyway, we got enrollment done for 5 of the 6 kids.   Three kids are in regular 4H (ages 9 and older) and two of the kids are in mini-4H (ages 5-8).  They are all looking forward to the new activities they will be in for this 4H year.  

Each of the kids have several projects in several different areas they are working on (rabbits, goats, chickens, garden, fish, Legos, etc).  We are also attending two different official 4H club meetings, rabbits and goats.  When you have animals, it is a good idea to attend those club meetings, but many other non-animal kinds of projects are self directed.  The kids will make project record books for each of their projects.  They will show their projects in the county 4H fair in June.  

One of the clubs the kids have been attending is the 4H Rabbit Club.  It is directed by a homeschool mom with 6 kids, just like our family (homeschooling 6 kids and in 4H)! It is so fun to meet families with similar interests.  There are several youth in club leadership (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc.) who help run the business proceedings of the club and also help with demonstrations.

The Rabbit Club is large.  Over 100 kids signed up for this club in January to raise and show rabbits.  We have had both regular club meetings, and special showmanship clinic meetings so far.  There are so many families in the club, that all the seats and tables are full and usually there is a large group of people standing or sitting on the ground too.  

The meeting begins with everyone standing and saying the Pledge Of Allegiance to the United States Of America.  Next while standing, they say the 4H Pledge.  Agenda's and worksheets are handed out.  Then the club discusses old and new business. Next they have a discussion, demonstration, or learning time.  At one of the meetings the kids also made cute crafts too.  They made little rabbits that sit in a rabbit pen with a water bottle, feeder bowl, and little shredded paper litter.  There is also a volunteer community service project, as well as fund raising projects scheduled soon too.  The group has a facebook page where folks can post questions and the director can post information about deadlines for the fair requirements and club information about meetings, fund raising, and community service.  

The kids are learning so much about rabbits and they think the meetings and handling
rabbits is a lot of fun.

Up till now, the kids have borrowed rabbits at the meetings to learn with.  They have learned how to safely pick up a rabbit, flip the rabbits over and give them a health check, they learned a few showmanship skills.  We have a long ways to go, and we need to get the kids their own rabbits soon.  

I hope to start making "learning about rabbit breeds, rabbit health, and rabbit showmanship" part of our regular homeschool learning for the month of May.  During the remaining weeks in April, we will read through their project materials.  I will also be looking for a good unit study on the subject or I will make one myself if I can't find what I need.  Their dad and I need to find the kids rabbits to show and build rabbit hutches to house the rabbits.  I hope we can get it all done. 

It is hard to believe that the fair is only two months away already and we have so much to do and learn between now and then.  Hopefully the kids will learn all they need to and gain confidence in their new skills by the time they have to show their rabbits at the Wayne County 4H Fair in June.  They are really excited about what they are learning.

Have you tried projects in 4H with your family?  I encourage you to check out your local 4H office and see how what they have to offer might fit into your families needs and likes.  It can be lots of great learning fun.

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Sharing Time

Captivated Review

How much time is your family captivated by media (TV, Phone, Texting, Computer, Gaming)?  I was convinced that my family is"captivated by media" when we watched the Captivated DVD by Media Talk 101 .  
Captivated Movie Review
Captivated DVD
For Adults, but can be viewed by the whole family.
Retails for $16.95
DVD is 107 minutes long
Discusses the history of media and how it has changed, how it influences our culture and our worldview, how it can have an negative impact on our faith, and why we need to balance time spent using media with other positive activities.

My husband and I had already felt media had too much of our attention with ourselves and with our children and we were slowly making changes over the past year to fix this in our family. But watching the DVD really makes it clear to realize just how much my family utilizes media in it's various forms, and the possible consequences, and perhaps even harm, of not balancing media usage more proactively in our life.

We have six kids.  When our oldest two kids were young, we had very strict limitations on the amount of TV they saw.  It totalled less than five hours a week for TV programs, and a few hours a week for movies.  We only had six or seven TV stations on our old TV.  We were always busy with farm chores, and a healthy food store to run, and there just wasn't allot of free time left over.  But when we moved off the farm for five years to NC, and as the children were getting older, there was less to do around the home, except for a couple of trips to the local park each week, a few clubs we joined, and weekend outings / field trips.  When there was less to do, the kids became more vocal, and they demanded more time using the TV, and begged for gaming systems for Christmas and birthdays, etc. and I let go of many of those original restrictions.  We also went from only a few TV channels to over 250 channels to choose from.  We also gained high speed internet while in NC and learned how to do so much online.  We even switched from paper banking to auto automatic electronic banking.  We were suddenly living in the "modern" age.  But I am not sure we did the right thing by allowing more of this into our life. 

Technology has changed so much over the past few years that I can hardly keep up. The oldest two kids are now 13 and 11 and they have more knowledge about current technology than I do.  They also have lots of scheduled TV programs, movies, and computer games they enjoy and they are able to verbalize their desires more so now than when they were little, and it has become harder to restrict their use of these sources of technology, for better or for worse.  And the younger children are observing them and following in their footsteps too.  It is amazing how much the younger children look up to the older children and model their choices from them too.

This past year we moved back to Indiana to a farm and to start over homesteading and reaffirm our goals for raising our family. We knew media had taken a bigger chunk of our family's focus and we wanted to get the kids out of the subdivision and back on the farm.  We want to raise the kids out on the farm so they can learn about caring for livestock, learn how to work the land to produce crops, learn how to build things, and teach them about raising their own food.  

We didn't feel we had that freedom while living in the subdivision, because it had "rules" that limited animals, go carts, building things, noise level, etc. One subdivision we lived in didn't even want our van parked in our driveway (it was too large), or the work truck my husband drove they forced us to cover up the company logo everyday when he got home.  The other subdivision we lived in had a problem with even riding bikes or playing outside, as it sometimes resulted in grouchy neighbors complaining about kids playing to loud.  Several times our children and the kids across the road from us were playing innocently and were yelled at by a neighbor who didn't like kids.  She would complain her dog was napping and the kids had disturbed it, especially on nice days when she had her windows opened.  If her dog noticed the children outside, then she would yell at the kids.  She raised a special breed of dogs for show and if it got anxious, it made her mad at the kids. She didn't want them riding their bikes near the culdasac near her house.  It was discouraging.  We kind of lost our freedom when we moved to NC and we wanted it back. We saw what was happening with too much time on their hands for media and too little freedom to do things outside. 

It has been very challenging to try to get the kids refocussed off media.  Somethings make it even more difficult.  For expample, we just went through a very long harsh winter.  We were cooped up inside for months and it is boring!  When it is zero degrees outside, nobody should be outside.  So media continued to play a big role in our daily activities through the winter.  I often tell the kids we are having an "electronic free day" and I hear lots of grumbles and complaints, but soon after they realize I am serious, out comes the games and dice and soon lots of laughter can be heard around the table.  

We homeschool, and though we have used textbooks and workbooks etc, many of our curriculum products we have used this past year have been done on the computer or it uses the computer in some way.  We have never had a year that used this much computer, but it worked out this year that we were given several online subscriptions for curriculum.  So even if I want to restrict using the computer for a few days or for a week, I feel defeated at times, because we need the computer to complete the school work we are working on.  

For us as parents, we are captivated by media too. My husband constantly uses his smart phone for work, emails, texts, news, and contacts.  It is a computer in his pocket and he is efficient to pull it out when needed and get his contacts made or answers found out.  I am way slower than him, and prefer the computer rather than the phone. Over the past few years I have been the moderator on a few groups, and I write this website all of which have taken a lot of time.  Though I have cut way back on the time I spend writing this past year so I can spend more time with my family.  But I also check my emails and facebook each day and answer folks questions or pray with those in need.  I talk on the phone, and text back and forth too with my husband when he is away from home.  It is almost hard to remember when media didn't play a big role in our life, and I have to ask myself "Are we setting a good example for our children to follow?"

Thankfully, winter is over, and spring is here and we can step away from media devices more.  The past couple of weeks we have enjoyed walking around the yard and fields with the kids.  And the kids have really enjoyed riding their bikes and playing outdoor games.  This past Sunday afternoon, we made a picnic lunch and took the kids to the park after church.  We had such a great afternoon together.  We have missed being outside!

I love the way this young man explains why he went on a media fast and how it transformed his life.  He has hit the nail on the head, and I hope every young person and parent will listen to what he has to say.

Here is a short clip explaining why over use of media is so dangerous to a developing brain for young boys.

Finally hear what this scholar has to say about making our relationships "robot like" and loosing the very essence of human relationships.

Watching the Captivated DVD helped affirm that our decision last year to reduce the amount of time our family spends using the computer and various technology media was the right choice.   We are motivated now more than ever to get the children outside more, to enjoy the country life where we can have freedom for animals and outdoor hobbies and give our kids positive activities.  Though this winter kind of set us back a little in these goals, now that winter is over, we can get back on track with filling our time with positvie hands on adventures.  Less media time was and is the right decision for us. 

Be sure to follow updates for Captivated and Media 101 
Twitter: @CaptivatedMovie

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A Milk Cow And A Friend

I've milked many a dairy goat and cow over the years.  My favorite dairy cow of all time was Elvyra.  She was a beautiful light brown Jersey cow.  She was so smart and fun to spend time with.  But I did not choose her, she chose me. 

                          Elvyra and Cutie Blue, two of our Jersey milk cows eating hay in our pasture.

One day, I walked out into a field in Ohio to look at two Jersey cows a dairy farmer had for sale.  They were amongst 20+ cows that lived on an organic dairy farm.  I was only going to buy one cow, and either of these girls would do just fine for our family.  But this other cow kept coming up to me and stuck her head under my elbow.  She clearly wanted me to pet her.  I rubbed her neck and chin.  Then walked away to look over the cows that were for sale.  Again she followed me and nudged my waist and then stuck her head under my elbow and through the gap between my arm and torso.  She rubbed on me and looked at me with big brown eyes.  Over and over she repeated this process as I tried to walk through the field to observe the other cows.  She chose me and stayed by my side the rest of the time I was there, and we became friends. 

I asked the owner about her.  The owner quickly replied that she was not for sale.  But it was clear this cow was not going to give up, and neither was I.  After looking at the cows, I spent sometime looking over the farmer's organic dairy operation.  I was amazed they made a living on milking 20 organic Jersey cows.  They had a small farm and kept their expenses to a minimum.  But amazingly their milk was sold to Organic Pastures and was collected every other day.  I sampled the milk, and it was delicious!
The operation was very clean and efficient even on this small scale for a dairy.  I have been inside both "Englisher" (a term for anyone not Amish) and Amish dairies.  Dairies are not always the cleanest places.  So it was really neat to see this small organic operation and how much better it was than most of the other dairies.   I told the owner I wanted time to think about the cows they had for sale, I just wasn't sure.  A few days later I got a call.  They said that since I really wanted Elvyra (she's the cow that chose me in the pasture and wouldn't take "no or leave me alone" for an answer), then they would sell her to me.  I went right back and bought my family milk cow.

Three Goals:

My goals in getting a milk cow was first and foremost to aquire the freshest nourishing food as close to the source of production as possible.  When food is stored long term, its nutritional content can diminish.  Pasturized milk and homoginized milk have huge nutritional deficiencies because they have been altered through pasturization and homogenization processes and also because the milk has been sitting around  in refridgerated tanks on trucks, in warehouses, then more trucks, and grocery stores, for several weeks before you finally buy it at the grocery store.  It is not fresh.

Goal 1:  My first goal was to feed my children and family the freshest milk possible.

Goal 2:  My second goal was to feed my animals both baby animals, and supplement my chickens diet with extra protien as I did not give my chickens soymeal.  

Goal 3:  My third goal was to help feed my community.  We are part of a community of people wanting fresh milk.  So we set up a cow share program where several families share in the expense of caring for the cow.  To make it fair, each family bought a share of the cow and paid a monthly care expense.  In exchange, each family recieved a share of the milk the cow produced each week.  When a family no longer needed their share, they were free to sell it back to us for the price they paid for it, or to another family on the waiting list.

Labor Of Love:

Our homesteads have always been grass based.  The cows forage for most of their own feed by eating grasses and weeds in the field.  They have a fenced pasture to forage.  We rotate the cows on different areas of pasture to allow the pasture to grow new grass in areas that have been foraged.  We also overseed the pasture with clover in the spring and fall to build up the nutritional value of the pasture.  We supplement their foraging diet with timothy grass hay, clover hay, and orchard grass hay.  In the winter,  the cows eat more hay than in the spring, summer, and fall when fresh grass is plentiful. 

For the dairy cows, we also feed them alfalfa hay.  This hay helps to provide extra nutrients to give lactating cows a consistent and nutrient dense milk supply.  To lure the milking cow into the milking parlor be milked, we simply opened the door and called her by name.  She always anticipated a fresh flake of rich alfalfa hay top dressed with about a cup of a seed-herb blend that I made myself.  The seed blend contains oats, sunflower seed, flax seed, kelp, diotomacious earth, and raspberry leaves.  This is the same blend I feed my chickens too.  I do not feed grain or soybeans to the cows as it interferes with digestion and production of congilinolic acid in their milk and muscle.  But I do give my dairy cow 1 cup of this delicious seed herb mix to encourage her to stand still and to boost her nutrient production in the milk.  We placed this at the front of the milking area.  She simply walked in and up to her little bucket of hay and she let us tie a rope through her collar to keep her in position.  Then we could beging the milking process. 

For years I milked by hand.  Then one day I decided to strive for Grade A milk so I would have the freshest and cleanest milk possible and could share it with others, and I bought a milking machine that could milk one cow, or two goats at a time.  It is a stainless steel milk can, a claw of four milking sleeves, tubing, and an air compressor like machine.  A wonderful invention that definately is worth the investment


While the dairy cow ate, we could clean her and attatch the milker.  We offered her pure alfalfa hay and a homemade mix of sunflower seed, flax seed, kelp, and raspberry leaf blend to encourage her to stay while we milked her.  We did not give her grains like corn or soybeans that is typically fed to "modern" cows but was not fed traditionally. This was intentional, and the reason we avoided feeding these grains to our cows was to protect the quality of the milk and ensure a higher concentration of CLA.  

To clean her, we simply sprayed a mist of water on her teats and udder and wiped them off with a paper towel or a clean rag.  Then we would spray out a little bit of milk from each teat to be sure there was no bacteria from dirt or blockages inside the teat. To attach the milker, we turned on the machine and placed the teat sucker cups onto each teat.  The machine would pulse air presser and the rubber sleeve inside the teat cup acts as a hand and pulses on the teat.  It simulates a hand or a calf milking its mother.  The cow releases the milk in the teat and the pressure sprays it into the milking sleeve or claw.  The milk travels through tubing to a receptical.  Our receptical was a sealed stainless steel milking can.  She was always done eating before we were done milking. But she was a sweetie to continue to stand still until we were done.  It took about 10 minutes to milk her with the milking machine and we recieved about 4 gallons of milk each milking.  

After milking her we rubbed her teats with an herbal salve to prevent cracking or chaffing.  Then we turned her back out onto the pasture to join the other cows and her calf if she had one.  If she had a calf, then we would let them spend the day together and not milk her again in the evening.  But we would put the calf in a seperate pen at night so that she did not nurse first thing in the morning before we got the milking chores done.  
We quickly poured the milk through a strainer and into 1/2 gallon glass jars.  Elvyra's milk would generally fill 8 or 9 of these jars.   Then the milk was capped and placed in a large stainless steel sink filled with ice water and topped with more ice.  Our goal was to reduce the temperature of the milk down to 34 degrees as quickly as possible.  

We wanted the best, freshest milk and this is how to achieve it.  If you can chill the fresh milk below 36 degrees within 30 minutes of milking the cow, it is considered grade A milk.  Our milk was better than Grade A.  It only took us about 15 minutes max to achieve the 34 degree temperatures.  

While the milk was cooling, then the milking gear was cleaned in another sink in a back room, and hung upside down on hooks to dry.  The room the cow was milked in was quickly hosed down to remove any mud, poop or pee, or spilled milk.  This prevented flies and critters from trying to invade the milk room. 

Once the milk was chilled, the jars were dried off and placed in a cooler or refrigerator to maintain the 34 degree temperature.  Our milk would stay fresh, and no change in taste or texture for weeks using this method.   Fresh milk, handled correctly is truly a super food.  It will not spoil.  Eventually after about three weeks, it will change into a naturally soured product similar to runny yogurt and sour cream.  It is still very usuable for making things within this naturally cultured state.  You can control what it becomes too by inoculating it with your own chosen cultures if you want certain types of sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.  My favorite way to use naturally soured milk was in baking cakes and breads, and also making chocolate deserts like cakes, fudge, puddings, etc.  

This labor of love was good for the whole family to help in.  We all had a special part we did.  Dad and one of the boys would call in Elvyra to be milked.  She walked in by herself and they would close the door behind her and hook her collar to a leash on the wall.  One of the kids would help feed her while dad or I cleaned her teats.  Then dad or I would hook up the milking machine.  After milking, dad would hand the milk can off to me to filter and pour into jars in an ice bath while he cleaned the rest of the equipment and hosed out the milk room.  The kids would help with each step of the milking process, help give the milk to the cow share holders on pick up day, and also take bottles full of fresh milk to the caves or young goats or to feed the chickens each day. The kids learned about where their milk came from, how to take care of it and how to use it to nourish a variety of life on the farm.  Homesteading is good for the whole family. 

How we used our fresh milk:

Elvyra's milk tasted like melted ice cream.  It was so rich and delicious in your mouth.  Her milk was ranged from 40% cream.  Sometimes in the spring and fall when new grass was plentiful, her milk might climb to almost 50% cream.  The extra nourishment in the new lush grass produced an even richer milk.  Our other Jersey cow, named Cuttie Blue gave milk of about 30% cream.  

If you drink the milk within the first several hours of milking, there is not much separation of milk and cream.  However if left to sit for several hours or overnight, there is a clear separation as the cream rises to the top. If drinking milk older than a few hours, then we would save the top 1/2 inch or so of "top cream" (the thickest kind of cream) to make butter or whip cream.  But we always kept the rest of the cream together with the milk as it truly is a healthy food source.  

We usually drank milk that was straight from the cow in the mornings, and only a few hours old in the afternoons.  To drink it we just shook the jar vigorously to mix the milk and cream together if they had separated. 

Every day I fed my children fresh milk at each meal and if desired at snack time too.  The milk that was left over from our share, was made into cheese, kefir, yogurt, and deserts, or fed to baby orphaned cows, or fed to the chickens and turkeys.  All of it was consumed and it never went to waste.

I know we were healthier and stronger for having consumed fresh raw milk this way.  We did not get sick as often as other families in our local area.  We seemed to have a stronger and healthier disposition from the nutrients and protection provided by the fresh milk.  Our animals were also heathier for consuming the milk too.  We fed baby animals (calves, sheep, goats, kittens, puppies, etc) with the fresh milk.  We fed extra milk and milk by products like whey to the chickens and turkeys too.  

Fresh Milk from grass fed cows contains way to many nutrients for me to list here.  But a few key nutrients I will say is congilenic acid (CLA), coq10, vit. K, vit. D, vit. C.  It also contains beneficial enzymes and olygosacarides.  Oligosacarides bind with harmful bacteria and viruses in our digestive system, and allow them to pass through us, and stop them from causing harm to our bodies.  There are at least 8 or 9 of these different oligosaccharide that help us.  You can't get this amazing nourishing and protective combo anywhere else in your diet and this is why I believe it is so important.

Can you feed yourself and your community too?

Yes.  An average Jersey milk cow will yeild 3+ gallons of milk each milking. Some might yeild as much as 5 or 6 gallons a milking.  If you milk her twice a day then that is at least 6 gallons (and upto possibly 10-12 gallons) of milk each day.  If you don't need all of it (fresh beverage for your family, cooking and making deserts and yogurt and cheese, baby animals on the farm (all baby farm animals love milk), or for animal feed (use the whey from baking and cheese making ) for the chickens, pigs, etc), you can share it with your community!   

Let me say that again, I want to be sure you heard me.  YOU CAN SHARE FRESH MILK.   If your state allows you to set up a cow share program, then do it!  If they allow you to sell fresh milk right from the farm as they do in South Carolina, then do that too.  If they allow you to sell it pet grade then do that.  Barter with it too.  Share it with your community.  People in your community need access to fresh nutrient dense milk.     

It is currently illegal in many states in the USA to sell fresh milk.  But there are many states that do allow fresh milk sales or allow cow shares.  It is illegal in Indiana to sell fresh milk for human consumption.  You can sell it for pet consumption or "pet grade" and you can also have herd shares in Indiana.  We offered a cow share program on our Indiana farm.  Other families in our community could buy a share of the milk cow, or milk cows (we had two), and pay for the room and board and labor to milk the cow and care for the milk.  In exchange, they could pick up a share of the milk each week.  We shared the milk with 9 to 10 families each week.  

A typical share of a dairy cow is equal to a gallon of milk.  Basically to find the amount of shares a cow can produce you look at her yearly average of gallons of milk she can produce, then divide that by how many share holders you have.  A share is a one time fee and the farmer or another person can buy back the share when the family no longer needs it.  

You can set the price of the share at what ever price you decide.  Our shares cost $50 one time fee and $20 monthly room and board fee.  Families can buy as many shares of the animals as they wish or that are available.  So a family who bought a share for $50 (refundable when they no longer wished to participate) paid a monthly boarding / labor fee of $20 (non-refundable) and came out each week to pick up a gallon of fresh milk.    

We have had many friends in Indiana cow share programs and the prices can vary alot. One friend with 20 cows had about 400 families picking up milk each week, and had a waiting list of close to another 100 waiting to buy shares.  At her farm, it cost $100 a share and $40 a month for room and board in the summer, and around $60 a month in the winter due to increase hay usage.  I also had an Amish friend who set up a cow share program.  They charged $1 for the share, and $8 for the monthly room and board.  Each farmer can use their own discretion in setting up share prices and room and board fees.  Then generally you sign a herd share contract to seal the deal.  It is a win win for the farmer and the community.

I am hoping to get a milk cow again someday.  We sold our farm in Indiana in 2008 to move to North Carolina.  It was hard to say goodbye to Elvira.  I cried many tears for many months over saying goodbye to her. Though we love farming, my husband makes his living in construction.  The economy in Indiana (as many states across the nation) was experiencing a deep recession and he took a construction management job in NC.  While we lived in NC we bought raw milk across the state line in South Carolina.  I was so thankful for the SC raw milk resource so that we could continue to provide raw milk for our kids even though we were not on a farm with our own cow.

We moved back to Indiana around the end of May 2013, and we are slowly setting up a homestead little by little.  I would love to have fresh milk again as I firmly believe it is so important for children to have this nutrient dense resource.  I believe it is good for all of us, but especially for my children who are growing and developing.  I would even love to have a nubian dairy goat again too. I love making feta cheese, fudge, and homemade soap with goats milk.  But I don't know when or if this will happen.   I don't know if I will ever find a cow as wonderful as Elvira again.  I still miss her.  She was a great milk cow, a wonderful family pet, a great resource to the community, and a friend.

Want to learn more about real nutirent dense foods check out the Weston A Price Foundation.   http://www.westonaprice.org/

Where to find REAL MILK in your community, (click on the link inside the real milk website called real milk finder):

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Happy Spring 2014

Happy Spring!

Can you believe it is finally here?  I was beginning to wonder if ...

This has been one of the longest winters I can ever remember.  I am so glad the new season is here, and new life, and new hope can spring forth once again.

These are the first of my flowers to bloom.  They are so beautiful!  They are a tribute to an awesome Creator.  They are full of such promise for new life and such courage to defy the wintery cold weather that has continued to linger and hold them back.  Just look how they have pushed through all the dead debri from the previous year, pushed through the soil, to reach above it, and grab the sunshine, and bloom in all their magnificent splendor!  

Like these lovely beauties, I too am ready to bloom.  I am ready to spring forth into this new year with courage and defy all the hardships that have lingered and have tried to hold me back this past year.  Hardships I am currently walking through will melt away as the snow and ice melt when the sun shines forth.  Grief that I can hardly bare from this season will have to move aside as I push up and push through.  I am ready to defy winter's death grip and emmerge from its hibernating hold.  I have survived.  I am ready to rise above, and bloom where I am planted and bring glory to my Creator.

May your Spring and New Year be filled with promise and purpose!

Be blessed!

Mint Chocolate Chip Breakfast Shake

Happy Saint Patricks Day!

In honor of this fun day, I have a delicious SUGAR FREE shake to share with you.  This is real fast food!  It only takes a minute to prepare!  It has a wonderful array of nutrients like calcium, b vitamins, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D, selenium, iron, potassium, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, 32 grams of protein, and so much more.  

Mint Chocolate Chip Breakfast Shake

This recipe makes a 16 oz serving shake. It is just the right size for breakfast, or drink half for a snack now, and freeze half for a snack later.  It is an S meal or S snack using the Trim Healthy Mama method.  


1/4 cup FRESH mint leaves or 2 tsp mint extract (or both if you like it green and extra minty!  Fresh mint has all kinds of health benefits including vitamins, chlorophyl, oils, fiber, and antioxident properties).
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (this enhances the mint flavor)
1/2 cup cottage cheese (I use Daisy brand, as it has only 3 ingredients and no preservatives or fillers)
3 tsp Truvia (or try 2 tsp Truvia plus an 1/8th tsp or a few shakes of NuNaturals Pure White Stevia to make it sweeter)
1 capsule probiotics emptied and capsule discarded (or 1/2 tsp of probiotic powder)
8 ice cubes
2  to 3 tbsp dark chocolate or THM Skinny Chocolate recipe.  (If you want chocolate chips, try to find sugar free, gluten free, and dairy free dark chocolate chips. I like the Enjoy Life brand).
1/2 cup plain almond milk (depending on how thick or thin you like it use up to 3/4 cup as needed.  I find if I stick to 8 ice cubes I don't need the extra fluid, but if I go up to 10 ice cubes when I want it super cold, I need the extra liquid to blend everything and break the ice into a creamy ice cream)
1 tbsp of vanilla whey protein powder (from grass fed cows), or you can increase to 4 tbsp to increase the protein if desired when using as a meal replacement. 4 tbsp is about 2 scoops with the scoop that came with my container.  You can also use a plain or chocolate protein powder in this recipe too for more variation.

Blend everything together until smooth.  This will result in a thick creamy minty chocolate chip shake.  I love the bits of dark chocolate thorughout, and if you use the fresh mint leaves, you will also have bits of "green" throughout the shake too.  YUM!

1) Try adding in 2 tbsp of cocoa powder for a Double Chocolate Mint Breakfast Shake.  IT IS SOOO GOOD!

2) If you prefer to eat scooped ice cream, you could freeze this shake after making it until it is very hard, then scoop it out into a bowl (or cone) and eat as is, or make it into a Mint Sundae.  See my Double Chocolate Breakfast Shake and Sundae to see an example of how to do this.

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Double Chocolate Breakfast Shake

Last week I shared my recipe for Chocolate Chip Breakfast Shake, and instructions for a variation of it to make a Mint Chocolate Chip Shake.  This week I am sharing my recipe for Double Chocolate Breakfast Shake with you. 

I like them all, but I think I like the Double Chocolate Breakfast Shake the best.  There is just something so delicious about lots of chocolate!  I hope to develop a Chocolate Heath Shake recipe yet that is THM approved.  I love the taste of the Dairy Queen Chocolate Heath Blizzard and I want to recreate a healthy version I can make at home.  I am not sure how to pull that off yet, but I will let you know as soon as I develop a recipe for it.  But for now, the Double Chocolate Breakfast Shake is keeping me satisfied.  

In this recipe, I increased the amount of cottage cheese and almond milk, and added a probiotic to make it even more nutritious.  I found this small increase made a huge change in the creamy texture and thickness of this shake.  Plus the kids all want a sip of my drink and by the time I get a moment to enjoy it myself there is only half of it left. This recipe makes 2 (12 oz) servings, if you want to share it.  LOL!  This tastes as good as any DQ double chocolate shake, though not as sweet.  I find that I don't need too much sweetness first thing in the morning, like I desire later in the day.  So this shake fits my need for a less sweet chocolately breakfast.  It encourages endorphins in the brain, so you feel good, but it doesn't send out insulin for a sugar crash.  You feel satisfied for several hours.  And best of all, it is sugarfree, glutenfree, and full of healthy proteins, amino acids, probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and more.  It makes a great breakfast, snack, or desert!

Double Chocolate Breakfast Shake
This recipe makes approximately 24 oz, or 2 (12 oz) servings, depending on the amount of ice you use.

1 cup cottage cheese.  ( I use a cottage cheese that is all natural, no preservatives or fillers.  Daisy brand only has three ingredients and is available in most grocery stores).
3/4 cup plain almond milk (any will do, but homemade is best if you are able to make it yourself).
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 probiotic capsule contents or 1/2 tsp probiotic powder
1/4 tsp of Trace Mineral Drops. (I use Concentrace Trace Mineral Drops with over 70 trace minerals, similar to sea water, but with 99% of the sodium removed). 
8 +/- ice cubes
2 tsp cocoa powder. (I like Rapunzel cocoa powder, or use other all natural organic cocoa, add up to a tablespoon for even more dark chocolate flavor.)
2 tbsp dark chocolate, or THM Skinny Chocolate
2 packages of Truvia (Truvia is a sugarfree sweetner combo of Stevia and Erythritol with no bitter aftertaste, and I love it!)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until thick, creamy, and smooth.  Check out the options below to blend with your shake.  I use the grassfed "low temp" protein powder and make this nutrient dense shake for breakfast.  It is very satisfying, though it is not extra sweet.  If you want it sweeter, try a sprinkle of NuNaturals Pure White Stevia added to the shake.  It will add a lot of sugarfree sweetness with no additional carbs to spike your blood sugar.  Pour into a glass and enjoy with or without a spoon, and it is also fun to drink with a straw!

Option: 1 scoop of whey protein powder from grassfed cows, processed at a low temp. (Or use your own whey from yogurt making that is filled with live probiotics, protein, and enzymes).

Option: If you need to repair cartilage in your joints, or heal your gut, I would suggest adding 1 tsp of gelatin powder (from grass fed cows processed at a low temp) to this smoothie.  It is tasteless, but will add some thickness.  The purpose of this gelatin is that it nourishes and heals major body systems with nutrients otherwise unavailable in our modern diet.  I love adding this powder to my soups too.  This option would really increase the nutrient value of this shake making it even more of a complete meal.

Option: add a fresh egg yolk from a pasture raised chicken.  This will give a complete spectrum of proteins and amino acids as well as additional vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Option: add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 tsp turmeric to the shake. These will enhance the flavor of the chocolate, and provide additional health benefits.

Option: Increase the healthy medium chain fatty acids in this shake by blending in 2 tsp of melted coconut oil.  Lauric acid in coconut oil also has added immune system benefits.

Option:  Make is a  Mint Chocolate Chip Breakfast Shake with Double Chocolate by adding in 1 tsp to 2 tsp of pure mint extract, or 4 or 5 fresh mint leaves with stem removed, before blending. 

Option: Make it a Double Chocolate Breakfast Sundae!  After blending the shake, freeze in the freezer until frozen.  Scoop 1/2 of the frozen shake into a bowl. Top with nuts (my favorite is roasted cashews), Truvia sweetened whipped cream or whipped coconut cream, and drizzled with melted THM Skinny Chocolate. 

I only use 1/2 of the shake when making this into a Sundae, so the above shake recipe gives me two Sundaes!  One for today, and one for tomorrow!  Yeah!

This is so YUMMY!  

This is nourishing REAL food!  This qualifies as an S Meal or S Snack on the THM program. 

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