Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Locked Out and Invisible

There are a large number of home schooled children in our county, more than 30, when compared to our local public school which has approximately 78 students (grades pre-K - 12) enrolled for the 2012-2013 school year.  School bus service is available only within 3 miles of town.  Farm kids can live 25 or more miles out of town and must be driven into a bus stop 3 miles outside of town or driven to the school's front doors.  I personally think this lack of school bus service contributes to the number of home schooled students within our county.

During the past 16 months, I've had an opportunity to meet many people and families within our community.  I've discovered that a very large number seem to be employed by our county's public education system.  There are administrators, teachers, janitors, kitchen personnel, teacher's aides, grounds keepers, maintenance, etc.  It seems that there are at least 2 employees for every student enrolled in the school.

When we lived down home, my personal experiences found most school personnel to be more supportive of our decision to home educate than the general public.  However, up here those tables are most definitely flipped.  When in a group setting, those employed by the public school system assertively ignore me and other home educators and leave us out of conversations - I even had one person step in front of me and turn their back to my face!  Most just seem to pretend that we are not in the room.  At first I was quite shocked by this blatant rudeness and prejudice.

However, after living here for more than 16 months, I've found that it's not necessarily home education itself these people have issues with.  It seems to have more to do with the allocation of educational funds.  Apparently, our county's public education employees believe they are grossly underpaid and they've decided that home education is a contributing factor to their low wages, remember approximately 40% of our county's students are home educated.  Although every home educator within our county pays the same amount of local, state and federal taxes as anyone else within their income bracket, our state and federal educational system allocates education funding based upon enrollment numbers.  Fewer enrolled students equal fewer dollars.

I am very disturbed that our local public education personal would place blame for a lack of funding on home educators - remember, we pay just as much in taxes as anyone else within our income brackets.  Why aren't  the public education employees taking their issues up with the education bureaucracies who allocate those tax dollars, regardless of whom they've been collected from?  Home educators do not receive, nor want, any tax breaks for opting out of the public education systems.

This has become another reason added to my list of why we choose home education.  If public education employees are so very uninformed as to how their employer, the education bureaucracies, work - why would I want them educating my children?  State and federal bureaucrats need to be held accountable for educational funding - not home educators.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40th Anniversary

Today, January 22, marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade ruling that resulted in the legalization of abortion in the United States.  According to the National Right to Life Committee there have been 54,559,615 legal abortions in the United States since 1973.  That equals 158 per minute OR 2 1/2 every second of every day.

For those of us who are Pro-Life, lets make some decisions to get involved in the movement to change our culture and offer help to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies so they will choose life.  Heartbeat International has many pregnancy care center affiliates across the U.S. that minister to women with unplanned pregnancies.  These centers provide free pregnancy testing, nutrition education, mentoring classes, mothering and fathering classes, birthing classes, marriage enrichment programs and financial courses.  These sorts of programs and classes give women and men facing unplanned pregnancies hope and it helps them make informed and honest decisions that usually result in the decision to choose life.

Equally important are abortion recovery groups like Forgiven and Set Free, Surrendering the Secret, and Rachel's Vineyard.  If Christians are to impact our nation for Life, it is vital that we offer those affected by abortion, including men, the hope and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  When those affected by abortion accept Christ's forgiveness, it enables them to share their personal experiences and realities of abortion with others.  Thus, arming those facing unplanned pregnancies with truths about how an abortion choice could affect one's emotions, mental health, and relationships.

Today, won't you pray and ask the Lord where you would be most effective in the fight for Life?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Didn't Realize It ...

... until today.  I so very much missed being serenaded by OG every single day while my family was away.

My afternoons are normally filled with the soothing sounds of the acoustic guitar and OG's sultry and soulful voice.  Hearing her play and sing is so very pleasant as I move from room to room performing various household tasks.

When AB grew up and left home, he took the beautiful evening melodies of his violin with him.  When OG began playing guitar, she brought the beauty of music back into our home.  This afternoon was the first time she'd played since returning home.  Oh! how I had missed it.

Got Eggs?

Our chickens provide us with an abundance of eggs.  But since my family was gone for 11 days and Grandpa has been up at his log cabin in the mountains for the past 3 1/2 weeks, we currently have an unusually large abundance of eggs.

Yesterday I was able to use 50 eggs in various recipes and still have 13 dozen left.  I cooked up 15 homemade egg mcmuffins, a bacon, bell pepper, onion & cheese egg casserole, a pain egg and cheese casserole, fried eggs for breakfast, omelets for dinner, chicken pot pie for supper (used 1 egg in pie dough), and a German chocolate cake.  The egg mcmuffins, and individual servings of egg casseroles have been placed in the freezer for Mr.B's "to go" breakfasts.

Today and tomorrow I plan to use another 3 or more dozen by making deviled eggs for our church WM's meeting, and a Karbach Haus bread pudding, a family favorite that also freezes well.  Breads, rolls and cookie recipes that call for eggs are also on the list and should use up a few more.

EJ and I are also going to figure out a way to mount our "Yard Eggs" sale sign out near the mailbox.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to sell some.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Frugal Feasting Friday

Can you believe it?  It has been forever since I posted a Frugal Feasting Friday.

This evening we had boneless "shake-n-bake" pork chops, au gratin potatoes and black eyed peas.  This meal for a family of 4 cost only $4.88 OR $1.22 per person.  Here are my money saving tips for this meal.

My first area of savings comes from purchasing an entire pork loin for $17.48 and then slicing the pork loin myself into 27 boneless chops thus, costing only $.65 each.
I also used homemade shake-n-bake at .$.28 per batch.  One batch coats 4 pork chops or 4 pieces of chicken.
By purchasing potatoes and cheese on sale, growing our onions and using homemade cream of anything soup mix, the au gratin potatoes cost only $.29 per serving.
I purchased the black eyed peas in a bulk bag at 5 pounds for $4.00 (yeah, any southerners reading this will find that price outrageously expensive but, that is more than a 50% savings up here in eastern Montana).  Adding a few chunks of ham, an onion and some spices the black eyed peas are only $.21 per serving.

Do you have any money saving ideas for meals you'd like to share?

Easy Thank You Notes for Kids

EJ's mustache thank you note
I am one of those parents who require her children to send thank you notes.  For young children thank you notes can seem overwhelming.  To help reduce the stress of thank you notes for our children, I came up with a simple postcard format.

I use the Microsoft Publisher program to create the postcards.  We can print 4 postcards per 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of card stock.  On side one of the postcard we like to put a photo (usually a funny one) of the child along with the "thank you" words.  I've also added horizontal lines to the postcard which helps younger children have neat handwriting.  On side two of the post card I type the child's name and return address in the upper left corner (not shown for privacy) and leave the middle section blank where we write in the recipient's address.

Since going to the postcard format, our children seem to be able to endure the task of writing thank you notes.  Since it is less expensive to mail postcards, we also save on postage.

Do you enjoy receiving thank you notes?  Does your family send them?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back in the Saddle

They are home .. It's been less than 24 hours, am I already tired?  I am so happy the Lord protected my family and brought them home safely.  The children had so much fun.  I hope to soon go through the photos and find a few to share with you.

 I awoke to what looked like the aftermath of a tornado that had steamrolled through our house.  I already miss the clean and the quiet.  Maybe being home alone for such a length wasn't the best idea?

Unfortunately, I'm the one of those who struggle with clutter, and sometimes noise.  It is very clear that I never think our home is clean enough.  Even while home alone, I thought it could have been much cleaner.  I resisted the urges to clean, clean & clean because I knew taking the opportunity to get much needed rest was more important.

Most of the bags have been unpacked and items put away.  The gifts have been opened and all the wrappings disposed of.  Our home is almost back to a pre-vacation state of tolerance.

My big priority for tomorrow is to get thank you notes written - OG and EJ's favorite task (hee, hee).  This will be their language arts / writing assignment.  I also plan to ease them back into the school routine by assigning a math lesson and indulging in some oral reading.  Even at the ages of 14 & 11 they still like having others read aloud to them.  I LOVE that they have not yet outgrown this activity.

Well, my cocoa cup is empty signaling that it is time for me to drift off to dream land.  I pray you have very sweet dreams tonight.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Home Alone - Day 11

Well, today was it.  My last day at home alone.  Mr.B and the littles should arrive in about 3 hours, therefore, I am preparing my last uninterrupted aroma therapy bath.  I am not sure I will be able to enjoy this bath because Mr.B INSISTS on driving in despite poor road conditions.  OG phoned me from their last rest stop asking me to convince him to get a hotel room because the ice, snow and cars off in the bar ditches have her scared.  As always, when returning from a trip, Mr.B seems to loose all common sense and control of himself and becomes overtaken by some weird force compelling him to get home as fast as possible, regardless of speed limits or travel conditions.  I HATE traveling home with him - I am terrified the entire time we are in the vehicle.  All I can do is pray for a safe arrival home.

I spent a portion of my day preparing for my family's arrival.  All their Christmas gifts are neatly arranged near the hearth.  I also cooked myself a very traditional southern New Year's Day supper of black eyed peas, fried cabbage & cornbread - YUM!  It was excellent.  I wish my family had been here to share it with me.  There are plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.

The big boys and I wished each other a Happy New Year via telephone this afternoon.  I was so very happy to hear that AB and BT's Christmas boxes were both finally delivered late yesterday.  Both boys, seemed very happy with their homemade gifts.  All three boys also received their gift from their Aunt C and, as always, were thrilled that she remembered them.

I have sincerely enjoyed the past 11 days of relaxation and reflection.  I think I am now ready to begin a new year.

Home Alone - Day 10

I enjoyed not having a set amount of time to blog.  Since I'm the only one home, I was able to take as much or as little time as desired.  I only had to be aware of getting the evening chores done before dark.

For this New Years Eve I tried a new chicken dip recipe I found at the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog and watched 5 hours of Pride & Prejudice mini-series -- WooHoo!  I'm a wild one aren't I?  The  dip was so good it was the only thing I ate after breakfast all day -  I ended up eating the entire dish for lunch, snack & supper!  I'll probably be hating myself next week because of the 100 pounds it will put on me.  Man! this stuff is delish.  If you'd like to try it the recipe is here: ( ).

While watching the mini-series, something I never get a chance to do uninterrupted  I also worked on my little crochet project.  I'm should be able to finish it off within a couple hours.

I hope your New Years Eve was safe and pleasant.  I pray your new year will be filled with love, laughter, kindness and prosperity.

Happy New Year!