Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stocking up

I have had a busy few weeks.  For different reasons, I've had lots of doctor appointments and even some testing done at the hospital.  But all's well that ends well and I have been blessed with very good results.  I am thankful.

So once again, I can turn my attention more inward to my own home and it's needs.  Though I haven't talked about it too much on my blog, I am a big believer in stocking up my pantry.  Our pantry has seen us through many a hard time and, Lord willing, it will be able to do that again as life calls for it.  I have to sort of ebb and flow a bit with my stocking up.  If a financial hardship comes our way, I will back off during that time.  (And use what I have stored!)  If illness hits us, I'll back off.  There are many different things that could make it necessary for me to stop stocking for a certain period of time.  But then, it will once again be a season for me to do it again.  Planning, plotting, and thinking about what we need and how much of it are always in the front of my mind. 

So yesterday I went to the meat market and made a bulk purchase of 25 pounds of hamburger for the freezer.  I may can some of it, we shall see.  I'm not one to be fearful of a pressure canner, lol.  The canner and I are very well acquainted.  I also went to Aldi's  (the lone bastion of good prices left in my corner of the world) and purchased a good amount of butter and some flats.  I've also had my dehydrator humming along most days for the past two weeks.  I've dehydrated things for years, but just recently I have learned so much more about the vast amount of things that can be dehydrated.  For instance, did you know that Dinty Moore beef stew and chicken and dumplings can be dehydrated?  Yes, they can!  As well as frozen hash browns!  My son has been having a lot of fun dehydrating different flavors of applesauce to make homemade fruit roll ups.  When space is at a premium and you are stocking up, dehydrating makes so much sense.

On another note, my chickens are going to be very happy today because I have cleaned out the refrigerator.  They are always the happy recipient of whatever comes out of it that the dogs don't want, lol.  Today it's going to be a mix of beans with ham, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas and barley.  As for the ham, yes, the chickens will eat it!  Those creatures truly are more of a carnivore than they are given credit for being.  Everyone knows they love worms and bugs but I have even seen them go after and gulp down snakes, frogs, and even baby birds that fall out of the nest in Springtime!

Well, that's about all for me today.  I have hungry chickens a'waiting!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Do you have other homemakers you look up to?

I remember a conversation I read on a homemaker forum many years ago.  The ladies were talking about the little tricks they used to keep them motivated to do a good job with their housework.  One woman entered the conversation and, almost in an embarrassed way, admitted that she would pretend she was Ma Ingles from Little House in the Prairie.  She said that Carol Ingles was a character she really liked and could relate to and so she used that as something to aspire to.  After she made this admission, woman after woman entered the thread saying that she shouldn't be embarrassed because they did the same exact thing.  Some with female characters from The Waltons or Anne of Green Gables or Aunt Bea.  It seems that it was a little internal motivator that many women were using.

I have to admit, that I do something similar when I feel I need a bit of extra motivation on a glum day.  I think about real homemakers that I have known (like my mother and grandmother) or homemakers I have met online (like Lady Lydia or Cheryl from Copperswife.)  And I imagine what they would do if they were in my house as a homemaker at that moment.  Would they leave the dishes undone or get up and take care of them?  Would they do whatever the job at hand is in a half-way manner or would they be thorough?  Well, the answers to those questions are fairly obvious.  It always gives me the little ooomph that I need to do what needs to be done and do it well when I feel like giving into the flesh and ignoring a chore.  Let's face it, some days we need a little bit more encouragement and inspiration than on others and this little trick really helps me to get myself going. 

So what do you do to keep yourself motivated?

Friday, February 3, 2012

A few words on church youth groups

I know that many people have very strong views on church youth groups.  So please know that I'm not writing this to say that either side of the issue is right or wrong and I'm not trying to change your mind and opinion on them.  I simply want to share my point of view and my experience on the subject. 

My church has a very active youth group and my two kids are a part of it. 
Our youth group does not:
* Exclude the parents or other adults in the church from youth events.
* Get the kids together for no reason at all without supervision and senseless games and activities that serve no purpose.
* Encourage separation of children and parents at church or events.  This is totally left up to each family unit and whatever each family decides is best for them gets respected by everyone else involved.

Now, let me explain what our youth group does do:
* Our boys get trained in the capacities they will be called to serve in the church when they are older.  We don't simply plop a boy - who has never been in front of a crowd before - up in front of the congregation to lead a song or read a verse.  In ways appropriate to different age groups, our boys are trained by the men of the congregation on how to do these things with confidence and competence.  By the time a young man is at the age to get up in front of the church to serve in any capacity, he is ready.  He feels good about what he is about to do and feels that he has the skills to lead and speak publicly in the the church.  And I can speak for all the adults when I say we are all so very proud of our boys when they get to that point.  And everyone makes sure they tell these boys just how proud they are and what a good job they did.

* Our girls also get trained in how to teach children's classes.  We have a class for the pre-teen/teenage girls where they are taught about the ways a woman can help and serve in the church.  For the girls who choose to, they are are taught (by adult women in the church) also how to lead songs, read verses, and speak publicly.  This way, when they are grown they will be ready and willing to take part in and teach in things like Ladies Days and Ladies Bible Classes. 

* We do get the kids together for fun activities but we never, ever have an event without a Bible lesson, singing songs of praise to God, and prayer.  Some of these lessons are used as time for our young men to "practice" giving a lesson, leading songs/prayer, etc. 

* Our events always have parental supervision.  I don't mean just one or two parents in attendance.  I mean almost every single parent is a "chaperon" of any given event.  Not only that, but several other adults in our church who do not have children of their own will attend our youth events to help out as well.  This shows our kids that it's not just their parents who are invested in them, interested in them, and are observant of what they are or are not doing.  It makes them feel that their entire church family is behind them and want to see them succeed. 

* As I said, we get our kids together sometimes for fun activities but that is also balanced out by getting together for times of service of education.  In the summertime, our youth meets every Monday night for a devotional, a fun pre-planned game, and a time of learning something very hands-on that they will need to know in life.  Some examples of things that have been taught in these Monday night get togethers are different cooking skills and learning how to start and use a gas grill.  Each kid got a turn from start to finish on starting the grill up and using it.  Needless to say, these things are very well supervised.

* Also in the summertime, our kids meet once per week in the church kitchen to cook or bake.  They make little goodie packets from the things they made and then split off in teams with a couple of adults and deliver them to shut ins in our area.  They take the food and visit with the people.  Our shut ins always look forward to these visits.

Yes, I can say that our youth group does things to help equip our kids for a responsible adulthood.  I can say that being a part of our youth group has helped these kids grow spiritually.  I have seen it in both my own kids and the other kids at church.  I know that many people think youth groups are terrible things that accomplish nothing good for kids.  That they separate families and allow children to run amok unsupervised.  That they do not help them mature spiritually at all.  And if a youth group were guilty of all those things - I'm sure some are - believe me I would be the first person gathering my chicks and running fast.  But I just wanted to represent the other side of that coin.  I wanted to share how great they can be when they are organized and managed (and yes, it takes a lot of managing and participation from the parents and adults) in a proper way.  Youth groups are only going to be as good as the parents and adults running them.  But if you're willing to do the work, they can be very rewarding for all involved.