Swinging Math

Today was sunny and beautiful, and the boys were so restless! We had to make a mad dash to the mailbox to mail some bills, so we turned it into a race. I felt like it was such a shame to go right back inside when we won’t likely have too many more beautiful days like this! So, we do a hybrid–school plus exercise! I sent Action A in for the math flash cards, and we all headed for the swings. I found that this combo of action plus drilling facts actually worked quite well! The boys all got chances at saying the question and answer.

I remember reading that the brain actually learns better, at least for some learners, if drill is combined with some sort of physical activity. For example, jumping on a trampoline while shouting spelling words, bouncing a ball while reciting times table. It’s easy to get into the “school box” and try to do school just like regular schools, but this is one of the best reasons that we school at home–so we can break out of the traditional box and go outside and do math if we feel like it! And I think that we probably learned just as much this way as trying to keep order indoors!!


Carrot Top Pesto

Today I found an ingenious recipe!  I am so proud of this, because it really is smart!

I was digging up some more carrots for lunch, and remembered that many years ago, I had read in a cookbook about using the carrot greens for soup–carrot top soup was the actual name of the recipe.  I thought that was a great idea to use some of the greens that way, so I chopped up quite a few and threw them into the black bean veggie soup that I was cooking.  More nutrition!

I still had a bunch of greens, so curiosity led me to google what other people do with the carrot tops.  I came immediately across dozens of recipes for carrot top pesto.    I had not even dreamed of anything like that to do with the greens!   I wasn’t scared to try, since just a couple of weeks ago, I had sampled some pesto made from kale, which was wonderful!  I figured that carrot greens made into pesto would probably be similar to the kale pesto.

So I started chopping, and didn’t bother to tell my family what I was experimenting with yet.  I just would let them try the finished product, because I knew I’d get some wrinkled noses.    I loosely followed a recipe, making my own vegan adjustments for parmesan cheese, and adapting what we had on hand.    The results were yummy!  A bright green pesto that, unlike basil pesto, stays green!   I didn’t take a picture, because it pretty much looked like any other kind of pesto I’ve ever seen.  We ate it with carrot sticks as a dip, on crackers or bread, and mixed into brown rice.  The whole family ate heartily, so I knew that the carrot top pesto was a great success!

And I am very glad, because, at least for now, we have quite a few carrots growing outside, and so, until the tops freeze back (which Banana Man says will happen soon–boo!), I plan to make good use of these tops.  And to think that we’d been just chunking them into the compost heap!  Shame on us!  As a side note, carrots and parsley are in the same family, and although the carrot greens don’t taste quite like parsley (actually, they are much milder), they sort of look like it, and would make a nice substitute for parsley as a garnish.

Here’s what I put in our pesto:

Carrot Top Pesto

1/2 cup raw cashews (could use walnuts, pine nuts, maybe almonds, or pumpkin seeds)

tops of 4 carrots, chopped (probably about 4+ cups–filled about half of our blender)

3 garlic cloves

2 T Nutritional yeast flakes

sea salt to taste

1/3  cup, more or less, olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

handful of garlic chives, chopped

Blend in blender or food processor on a low-medium speed while pushing everything down.  Process until chopped well, and the consistency of pesto.


I would have added fresh basil if I’d have had some.  That would have been really great, but this was great as it was too!

Hope I don’t forget to make some more!

Carrots for lunch


Here’s a sample of the first fruits, well, first veggies from the winter garden. I can take NO credit, except for the one time I did pull weeds in the carrot bed, so I guess I was a small part!

We have yellow, white, and red carrots here, Banana Man assured me that we do have orange ones growing too!

Here’s the vote of popularity: 3 out of 5 prefer yellow–Banana Man, Mom, and Action A; 1 prefers white–Little Acorn, 1 prefers red–Ambulance Boy.
I didn’t care too much for the red, as it tasted a bit watered down to me.

But they are all pretty!


The Brew Crew

Twas the day before Thanksgiving
And all through the house
Everyone was stirring
With the Head Honcho, my spouse!

With the boys all still sick
There was no point for school
But what Daddy was doing
Looked pretty cool!

With buckets and motors
And and PVC parts
The promise of mystery
Grew in little boys’ hearts

Then add the water
And bubble some air
And double check
That there are no parts to spare

Soon doggies came ’round
To sneak stinky fish
And a cool cat named Buzz
Had to sample the “dish”

And I in the midst of holiday cooking
Peeked out on the porch
To see how things were looking

And I found one tall man
With sleeves pushed up high
With three fine young fans
Just waiting to try

You see the concoction
Was a compost tea brew
To go on the plants
That Dad already grew

So getting it right
Was going to be fun
Especially with the boys
Watching how it was done

This thingy you see
In the picture below
Was a gift from a friend
Who we don’t even know

He made it
And tried it
And tested for kinks

Then perfected the process
And his plants took the drinks

Then they grew like, well…weeds
So we wanted to try
So he packed up his idea
And shipped it in a big box
So the experiment was ours
But the idea was Rock’s!

This poem is digressing
So back to the brew
Which bubbled and sputtered
And smelled kinda musty

But we just kept it going
‘Cause we knew Rock was trusty

That tea kept on bubbling
For thirty-three hours
And then came the time to
Give it to the flowers

And even though it was dark
In the dead of the night
My faithful spouse trekked out
To give his plants a bite

And though I wasn’t there to see how it happened
I heard about greens doing dances and jigs
When Ol’ Dad fed them tea
From that bucket so big!





A Thanksgiving Birthday!

My brother hit forty last week!  Not exactly on Thanksgiving Day, but just three days before, so we did a little celebrating before we had our actual Thanksgiving meal.   We had a nice time wishing him well and sharing a few good-natured jabs.  I think it was appropriate actually, to include his party on Thanksgiving, because we are all very thankful that he is a part of our family and that he had this milestone birthday!

Happy Birthday, “Uncle Jimmy”!  We all love you!

Counting Our Blessings

Our Blessings Tree

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

We have had fun this month of November counting our blessings.   Some days we chose a random name to think of what we appreciate about that person, and I thought that this was a very nice way to encourage thankfulness of other family members (even brothers).   Many days, though, we just got to say what we were thankful for at that time.  We normally counted our blessings after our morning family worship, and this set a nice tone for the day.    On Thanksgiving Day, we took it over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and let everyone who gathered count their blessings too, before we ate our meal.

We are a very normal family.  Hence, we have plenty of sibling rivalry, as you may imagine between three boys.  It is easy as a mom to become bogged down in the mire of petty complaints, and to start to gripe at the gripers.   This is one way that we found helps our family.  I want to remember to continue it on past the “thanksgiving” holiday season and into the rest of the year too.  We have already started talking about making a winter blessings tree too, maybe an evergreen tree that we hang pine cones, snowflakes, or birds on.  Just something as a visual reminder for all of us, that we do indeed have many blessings to count!

And if you look closely, you may see your name on the tree, especially if your name is “friend”.

Getting a Taste of My Own Medicine

Have you ever tried to make a kid take something yucky against his will?  It is certainly a challenge.  With our eldest, a big challenge and show-down would ensue every time I brought out the special blend of herbs.  🙂  I tried all of the traditional “it’s not that bad” and “just do it quickly and it’ll be over” techniques, but he just would not be convinced that this terrible stuff was for his good.  I will say, that time and stubbornness (on my part) did prevail, and the sore throat did abate after several doses of treatment, much to my and Action A’s relief.    Then, I did have the nerve to ask him, “was it really worth all of that drama?”, to which he replied that, yes, it was quite horrible stuff.   And I inwardly rolled my eyes.

Guess what?  Last night I started to feel that irritating soreness creeping into MY throat.  Hmmm…I did have some of the left-over herbal blend from Action A.  But I found that I didn’t rush right over to the fridge to get some.  I waited until I was really sure that I was coming down with the bug, and reluctantly, scooped out some for myself.  And swallowed it.  And almost felt my toenails curl with all of that garlic!  Whew!  I have kept at it all day, and have not worsened, but I now freely admit that the cure is a hard pill to swallow, even if it’s only liquid.  It is not the cayenne’s hotness that is the worst of it (and I do not like hot stuff), but the taste and effect (when it hits your stomach) of that raw garlic!  Banana Man always makes sure to do things right, and when he grew this garlic, he made sure that it was the strongest available, the Siberian variety.  And it is strong and potent!   So, I have now admitted to Action A that he was right; the stuff in the spoon was very hard to take, but it will probably make us stronger for having done it!

If I haven’t scared you too much, I’ve referenced the site below that gave the recipe.  All of the ingredients are actually very beneficial for your health.  When you’re a wimp like me, they are pretty strong, but I will say that they do seem to work.

This is from the website Herbal Legacy, which highlights the works of old-time herbalist Dr. Christopher


Here’s the formula:

* One tablespoon of pure honey
* ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
* Four cloves of garlic pressed through a garlic press

Those are the proportions, but you’ll need more than that, so take four tablespoons of honey, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and sixteen pressed cloves of garlic, and mix that all together. Take ½ teaspoon to one teaspoon of the formula every 30-60 minutes.

Don’t wash it down – let the honey coat the throat, then the cayenne, being a rubefacient, will bring blood into the area, and then your immune system will be stimulated with the garlic. Garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, so anything that may be causing the sore throat the garlic, along with the cayenne and the honey coating the area, will take care of the problem.

How long does it take to get over strep throat with the standard medical procedure? 10 days. This herbal remedy will generally get you over strep throat in 24 hours.



Our recent “most favorite” book

If you click on the above link (if it is working), you will see the title to a book that our family read very recently.  It is a book that we didn’t want to stop reading, so we tore through chapters one after another, but when we got to the end, we wished there were more chapters to go!  When I looked at the Amazon.com reviews, I was not at all surprised to see all five stars.   If I were to tell you what the book is about, it would spoil a surprise, but we were SO impressed with the testimony of this young man’s life.   It is a spiritual uplift and a book that will make you want to ask more of God in your own life.  You can read it to all ages.  Our youngest is six, and he was just as into the stories as we as parents were.  I believe it is important to read good, true books to our children, to give them an example of how real people have lived to serve a real God.  This man did just that.  It is a real-life “dare to be a Daniel” book.   I can not recommend this book enough.  And, if you’re a relative of ours, don’t be at all surprised to find this little book under your tree come holiday time.   It’s THAT good!

It’s called One Miracle After Another: the Pavel Goia Story



It seems like forever since I have sat down to even think about posting anything!  All I can say is that life goes on, and sometimes it seems to carry you along more busily than other times.   These lase few weeks have been like that.  Nothing so terrible, and nothing so dramatic, just life.

One thing that has been different is that Banana Man Daddy took a couple trips out of town, and life is quite different when he is away.   The most recent trip took him to NY to help with the Hurricane Sandy clean-up.   That turned out to be a good experience, and it appears that all along the crew found favor in the eyes of the people they met while working.  One particular lady was just like a mother to them, fixing them pasta dishes for lunch, home-made cookies and brownies, pumpkin bread, and just making them feel welcome while they were working away from the home circle.  This news was encouraging to me at home, since wives tend to worry about what their husbands are finding to eat  when it’s totally up to them  (I know what Banana Man would rely on–very basic fare that didn’t require cooking or prep time).

While Daddy was away, Action A sprang to life as the “man in charge”.  He got up regularly to help make a fire, keep it fed, and even joined me in my 2 a.m. adventure with the greenhouse plastic.  He really was a trooper.  I think that little boys like to feel like they are helping to do something important, and he really was a big help to me for the almost two weeks that Daddy was away.  The other boys are good helpers too, but somehow the first-born seemed to fill in the role of “man in charge” more naturally since he is the oldest.

We have been keeping busy with the sanctuary classes for kids two nights a week, and now the boys are finished building their model sanctuary.  Hopefully I’ll post a picture soon of how it turned out.  We enjoyed the meetings, and I was very proud of the boys who all memorized all fourteen verses of Psalm 27.    Ambulance Boy was the youngest child who memorized the whole thing.  They all worked hard to do this, and I am thrilled that they persevered.    I am also, quite honestly, glad that the meetings are done.  Getting to bed way past our bedtime two nights per week has taken its toll.  School has been more disorganized and difficult, just with everyone being tired.  We’ve been doing more running around than usual, and that all makes it difficult to keep the continuity of a school schedule rolling along.

Just when I hoped life would settle down, the BUG came to visit.   It put Action A out of action for several days, and now the BUG has invaded Little Acorn, and is starting to hit Ambulance Boy.   The last two are not exactly on death’s door yet, but it has knocked some wind out of their sails.

It’s so interesting to have three children who are so very different.    When Action A came down, the world had to stop.   All drama and tears; my life certainly revolved around trying to keep him comfortable.  He seems to feel everything so much more dramatically than others!    Hallucinations with his fever, and now a yucky cough.  Everything for Action A is drama, and it’s all about now!    When he’s good, he’s really good–zipping thru the house, singing loudly, and gotta be doing something!   When he’s down, it’s all groans, sweat, and extreme pains.  And I’m not actually suggesting that it’s all exaggerated, although some of the reactions may be.  He just seems to feel and experience life much more colorfully than some people!

When Little Acorn got hit, he just kind of wilted.  Yes, there were tears, but it took me a little while to catch onto the fact that he was actually sick and running a fever!    Once I recognized that he didn’t feel good, then he seemed relieved.  He was sick, but still smiley, and now every time I ask him how he’s feeling, it’s “my head hurts a little”.   I almost forget that he’s sick, because he is reluctant to complain.

Now, Ambulance Boy has a different approach.  He seems eager to jump on the sick bandwagon.   When I told the older two boys to lay down and rest after breakfast, Ambulance Boy asked if he could too.  “Well, I guess so.  Are you sick too?”  “Yes” (a good excuse to snuggle with his blanket, I think).    That was the end of it until lunch when I asked him to please set the silverware around.   Then he responded with “I can’t; I’m too sick”.    So, I played right along and took his temperature, and was I surprised to see that it was over a hundred!   What a goofy boy!  He will smile at you and say “I’m sick” and he doesn’t look or act a bit sick.   He just came up and asked me if I wanted him to go take a hot and cold shower.  I asked him if he was still sick and he said yes, so I told him to go ahead.  So, he’s in there singing and counting to thirty when the cold switch comes.  Wish I looked and acted so chipper when I was sick!    And he also is planning to join the slumber party in the living room where the sick people sleep.   🙂  I’m just hoping we can all kick this thing soon, because we have only two days til Thanksgiving, and my brother is coming tomorrow, and we wanted to join in on the 40th birthday celebrations for him.   I know he wouldn’t be thrilled with us sharing a sick bug with him.   We will have to have quite a turn-around, though, in the next twenty hours or so…

School has seemed more hit and miss here lately.   We’ve been doing more audio books and just life experiences, which are interesting, but kind of hard to document…Actually, one day a week alternating A’s have had opportunity to go with Grandpa to work at our church’s community service food distribution center.   Their job is to open the door for the people who have come to make food baskets.  This has been enjoyable for the boys as well as a good service opportunity, plus and education into how our community service centers operate, at least at the food end of it.   I like it that my dad suggested the job.  He volunteers there once a week too.

Plenty more has been happening, but not everything in life can be written down.    Those are just a few things as a reminder that life does not always happen in neat, tidy, little planned out schedule squares.   But, some day soon, I hope to find my planner again and start to at least do some things I actually write down!

Is it Service, or is it Fun?

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Leaf Day!

We had had enough of the regular school routine for the week, and autumn air was crisp and perfect, the sun was shining bright, and we had a secret service appointment!  That is, an appointment for lunch at Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt P’s, with a service appointment for fun.

The best kind of service is fun, and this trip was just a great opportunity for almost a whole day of outside time.  Grandpa and Grandma have five huge maple trees, with golden and orange leaves that had made a thick carpet along the front of their house.    All that was needed for a great day of fun were a few rakes, three eager boys, one agreeable Grandpa, and of course, a blower!  Add a cat or two and you’ve got quite a potential for a little mischief as well as work.    In no time, the leaves had been raked up, piled up, and blown up into a substantial heap.  Next, of course, came jumping, dropping the cat into the mountain (Grandpa’s idea), and driving full-speed into the leaf mound.    No real casualties amounted from the day’s work, although we did have quite a time finding Ambulance Boy’s shoe that “got lost” when it “fell off” somewhere in the heap.  I was glad, too, that we ended up locating the shoe, since we had a meeting to go to later on, and I had started to wonder if I’d have to run out and buy another pair of shoes before then, or just take him with one.

I will say that the boys all worked hard!  Even though it was fun, raking is still physical work, and they kept at it for a good part of the day.  Lunch from Grandma and Aunt P certainly helped with the energy stores, though.  I wish we had more Fall days like that one was.  As I write this, the air has already cooled considerably, reminding us that winter is just around the corner.    But we plan to squeeze every bit of glory out of Autumn before the chilly fingers of Winter come and try to wrap themselves around us.