Monday, April 30, 2012

Feathers, chicks and eggs... o my!

 I'm wondering if there is an exact amount of chickens you have to own before you are officially considered a chicken farmer? lol Surely we have to be well on our way to it if there is! lol  If you have been following this blog for very long at all, you know how much we love our chickens and have so enjoyed the process of having them as pets and enjoying the eggs we are so lucky to get from them. If you have been reading for very long, you have probably also caught on  that we are very much into knowing where our food comes from and making sure that if we eat meat that the animal was treated with love, care and respect....Unfortunately tho, those qualities are hard to come by when it comes to eating chicken and we've become tired of paying the high prices for chicken and still not feeling 100% sure we are purchasing meat from well cared for animals.....  so here comes one big life adventure that we've started on....
 A number of families at our church went together to purchase chicks in bulk. 300+ chicks actually! Only 50 of those came to live at our house and let me tell you, we are getting an education in chicks really fast! These chicks are from a cornish-cross breed which means they are bred to grow big and fast in 6-10 weeks. We will be butchering them as a group with the other church families all at the same time. Now, I've had friends that have made comments in so many words, that they think we are crazy and how could we love chickens and then eat them. Well, here's what it comes down to for us anyways... We DO love chickens. We love the ones that we handle and baby and cuddle with- those ones get names. However, we also LOVE chicken, as in grilled, BBQ and roasted. Everytime I go to the store and have to buy this said meat, I have to wonder things like "Did this chicken ever see the light of day?" "Did this chicken get to play in the grass and feel the warmth of sunshine?" .... and the ones that really haunt me.... "Did this chicken spend its entire life in a cage so small it couldn't turn around?" "Did this chicken have any good days in its life?"
  Now I'm not saying this process is going to be easy. And I'm not even saying that I won't perhaps cry, or that I am personally going to have anything to do with the actual butchering (that was a deal that hubby and I made from the start). But I am saying that I won't have to feel guilty about eating this meat. I won't have to wonder if they were treated kindly or if they even had a "good day" in their lifespan.... I will know that they weren't fed nasty stuff and that in the end, they will have only had ONE bad day.
  I still look at grocery shopping as votes in one of the biggest elections we will ever be part of. Everytime we buy something it is voting for that company to have more power over us.... and I'm sorry but I am not about to give the power to any company that thinks that it is ok to treat animals the way they do. And I feel bad, that we as Americans have gotten to the point that we are ok with turning a blind eye to how our food is produced. My girls and I talk alot about those sorts of things. How God gave us these animals to eat... but how we should still be glorifying Him... and there is nothing about those factory farms that are glorifying God... But each day when we go check eggs and feed our chickens, we give thanks... both to the chickens and the Creator. It probably sounds rather funny but I'm finding more and more about country life to be so much more spiritual  I ever expected . There is not a day that goes by that I'm not reminded about God's love for us.... and I find it in the strangest the feathers, the chicks and the eggs...

While we will be thankful for the meat in our freezer, we will also be thankful for the chickens that we still have...

Hummy, Benelli, Dandy and Tulip out in the grass on a sunny day- their first taste of sunshine! :)

Benelli likes to nap on hubby's chest at night while we watch tv!  There is no question these chicks are loved... even by the tough guy... who of course is responsible for naming this one! lol

A duck egg, an egg from our chicken Daisy and a store bought egg

I have always thought it would be neat to compare the differences in eggs.... The duck egg had a HUGE yolk and lots of white, the fresh egg had a much darker yolk and larger than the store bought smaller one. I asked the girls to tell me the things these eggs had in common and then we talked about the differences. I asked J why she thought they were different and she said that the store bought yolk wasn't as dark because it wasn't allowed to live in the sunshine and didn't get to eat grass... smart kid huh? The store bought egg actually came from Wilcox so I know that they are able to be outside but there has to be something about the way they are raised that makes their eggs have smaller yolk, less egg white and a considerably thinned shell. That duck egg's shell was so tough that I had a hard time breaking thru, and the ones from our chickens have been dropped on the ground and not cracked... the same can not be said for the store bought eggs that have broken in my hands while I wash them!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Co-op joy

I remember the moment and the look on my friend's face one night at our church's family night when she said that the homeschool co-op we'd been talking about was going to happen. Her expression looked like a kid that had just told the biggest secret in the world... we were both just giddy!!! I remember feeling like my head was going to explode from all the ideas and I don't think I slept a wink that night. Hubby and I stayed up till wee hours of the morning going over ideas, doing research online etc. That was one of those moments in my life that I can honestly say I felt God moving me... His presence was not something that could be denied in the conversations we had that night. We were new to that church and He had led us there. I was heart broken and lost without our homeschool family in Texas and He brought this co-op to us too... I don't know how people can go thru life thinking they don't need God. I am reminded every single day that He is in control and this co-op is just one more huge reminder of that! Our God is so good!!

 The first semester of classes started a bit later than we'd have liked but we were working as fast as we could and boy did we have a lot to learn! :) I was teaching two art classes. k-3rd with 21 kids Sure kept me on my toes and the 4th- 6th graders were a breath of fresh air! :)

The scarves we made with the older art class! 

And while I was teaching my art classes.... my girls were being taught knitting, Pioneers by other homeschooling moms! They loved it!!

 For second semester my youngest got to take and Animals class, Literature and Human Body (not bad for a 4 year old huh?)

And my oldest got to take etiquette, math games and science experiments! I LOVE being a homeschooler and the freedoms it gives us... you know they aren't teaching etiquette in public school! lol

 We just had our family share night last weekend. It was a great chance for family and friends (mostly Dads tho) to see what we'd accomplished and it was great for the kids to get to show off the things they learned and made. I think that is so important for kids... The girls and I wanted to give a little something of thanks to their teachers so I made up these soaps. Well I didn't make the soap but I did put the words in it! I think they turned out nice. You can see how to make them HERE.

 The kids made their own Wild Things in Literature class

These amazing quilts were made by the teens!!

The kids bodies from Human Body class were hilarious to see hanging in the entry of the church!

 This semester I got to just be a helper which was a welcome break after the busy 1st semester but I must admit I am anxious to get back to teaching and am already looking forward to next semester as we have already started planning classes for the fall. Every time we get together to plan for the next semester I am amazed at what God can do with a group of women dedicated to teaching their children. The amount of hard work and energy that goes into making a co-op successful is so worth it when we get to do it together! I am sooo thankful to be part of this group and this church and this community.... not that I ever doubted it but God knows what we need... sometimes even before we do! I am so thankful for our crazy, tiring, overwelming at times, homeschooling life!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seeds Family Worship Review/Giveaway

It's not very often that I find a product that I am so excited about that I want to shout it from the roof tops so the fact that I am writing about this with so much excitement really is a big deal!! I literally want to shout it out about this GREAT company and the products they sell.

 About Seeds Family Worship

"Seeds Family Worship was planted when worship leader, Jason Houser, was asked to write some songs to help kids remember the verses from his church’s summer Bible school.
Jason began writing songs and singing them for the kids and families at church. The songs were well-crafted, catchy, and taken straight from scripture. Families liked them. . . a lot.
From just a handful of songs, Seeds Family Worship was planted – providing God’s Word set to music for thousands of families all over the world. We are gladdened by stories of worship times at home, scripture memorized, and object lessons taught using Seeds songs. The sixth Seeds Family Worship album – Seeds of Character – has just released. In total, Seeds has grown to over 60 portions of scripture set to music!"
 What a wonderful way to introduce your family to scriptures and have them really stick in their mind!! I know our family is very involved in our church's AWANA group, which means we are constantly working on new memory verses so these CDs are just perfect for our family!! Not to mention, they are really good and enjoyable to listen to for everyday use too! I've been listening to them while I clean, or sew and simply sit and fold laundry and I feel more uplifted as I go about my daily schedule. It's definately been a WIN WIN for us!! :)

The best part about their cds? Other than how fun they are to listen to... for each cd you order, you actually get two. One to keep and one to give to a friend. How cool is that? And what an easy way to share the word of God!

Another amazing thing this company offers is that you can listen to ALL of  their music online too!
Seeds Family Worship was kind enough to send me a sampler cd to listen to and review and a second one to share with one of you!

Please go and check out their music and let me know which song you liked the best! Come back and leave me a comment and I'll have my little helpers draw a winner on May 1st! :)

 I am proud to be a Seeds Family Worship affiliate! If you would like to purchase any of their items please use my links and help me earn more fun music for my family and church! :)

I received a free copy of the Seeds Family Worship cd sampler  for a frank and unbiased review.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tea for two... or four!

 I knew when I walked into my Grandma's house while visiting in PA, that I was going to be in trouble.... I saw the doll boxes on the table and the stack of beautiful clothes (made by my wonderful Aunt) sitting on top.... I knew this was going to start something and how much my girls were going to LOVE IT!!! Boy was I in trouble! lol

Meet Abby and Olivia!

We started talking about the girls' birthdays and rolling over ideas... The girls have been asking to have a sleep over. Gosh I can't believe they are old enough to be having sleep overs! How on earth does that happen?! So of course I wanted their first sleep over to be extra special. What would be more perfect than a birthday sleep over? :) So the plotting began....

We decided to start off small... each girl could invite one friend... and those friends just happened to be sisters too! Then we got to thinking how fun it would be to have a tea party too! So we were off to do some thrifting....

 Talk about a total SCORE!!! I got tea cups, saucers and some extra plates ALL MATCHING!! And even better yet... all on sale!! I ended up getting them each for about $.24! Each of the girls will get to take a tea cup home with them! Now isn't that a better favor than a junking toy that will break before they get home? :)

And standing by my Stash Bash pledge... I found these canvas bags at a good price who knows how long ago and stocked up! Well, I found them while cleaning out some craft supplies and thought this would be a great project for the girls to do at the sleep over! I love how they turned out and the girls were so proud to have their own personalized bags! :)

 And of course a sleep over wouldn't be a sleepover without cute pjs! :) I used a baby blanket from my re-purposing stash and turned it into matching pjs for each of the girls' dolls!! :) I had enough for three night shirts and then had to make a pink one with just the sleeves matching. I think the girls were tickled! :)

And finally... what's a birthday party without a cake?! I must admit, this part was a last minute effort as I had no idea how I was going to make a tea party themed cake! I ended up using two cake mixes and baking each of them in one of my metal mixing bowls and then icing them together to make that round shape... the spout and handle were just made out of card stock!! Ta-da!! I think it turned out super cute and the girls all ooohed and aaaahed over it... my mission was complete! :)

In addition to those details... there were floppy hats for the girls, little hats for the dolls and while the girls were working on their canvas bags, I sat making flower clips for each girl and doll! They were a huge hit with the girls! It's amazing how the simplest of things can truly make them happy! :)

I love birthdays, down to the last details of it all. I love seeing kids get a kick out of the projects and games and the memories that are made... Happy 5th and 8th to my little ones!


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