Ode to Winter Composting

I love compost.

I love that, right in the middle of winter when the ground is covered in snow, I can be caring for my garden by throwing scraps of food in a bucket while I make dinner.

And I love what Jesse decides to take pictures of when he plays with my phone, ’cause it actually gives me a photo with which to illustrate this post! LOL (see his little pigs?)

The only problem with composting in the winter is taking out the bucket.

I always procrastinate about this, for two reasons. 1) My children are of the ages (1,3, and 5) and temperament that it is unwise to leave them alone in the house for even two seconds. And 2) it requires getting all dressed up just to run 70 feet out the back door.  It feels like a ridiculous waste of time.

I have come up with a solution for #2:

It’s now my habit to empty the compost barefoot, no matter the weather.  I’ve heard we need to ‘ground’ ourselves by going barefoot regularly. Something to do with electricity. Don’t ask me for research or links to validate this – as far as I know it could be an old wives tale, but it is added incentive to empty my compost.

I charge out, sleet, snow, or ice (I admit, I avoid mud) and empty the bucket into the bin at the end of my garden, sending loving thoughts to my garlic bed as I race past. I always feel exhilarated and a little younger after I complete the task.

Now I just have to figure out a solution for keeping the monkeys out of trouble while I’m gone.

(For the curious. Yes, I have enormous feet. 11-12)

A Glimpse Into Our Homeschool…

In which we take a break from the cliff-hanger Home Management Binder Series to give a glimpse into our homeschool…Binder tips will resume when the desktop gets out of the hospital. (Good news – diagnosis has been made and parts are in the mail!)

Our School Day I look forward to 10 am every day, for that is when I leave my chores, call the kids from their play, and we cuddle on the couch with a pile of books to read. I get to ask questions of my boy that make him screw up his lips in thought, or point things out that cause his face light up with understanding and wonder.

After a page of this and a chapter of that and “one more story, please, mommy?” we head to the kitchen table where I dole out fun activity pages to each of them, passing out scissors and an open a box of markers. They cut and past and trace the letter of the week and, thanks to the colorful Kumon books, it’s all like a wonderful game.

By 11 Jesse is in full creativity mode, and Claire has wandered off to check on her favorite doll, “Sophie-Baby” so I leave them to start lunch or tend to Seth. Our ‘Formal’ schooling is done, but all through the day we dialogue and refer to things we’ve been learning. We know Jessse’s little mind is in full Seek and Learn mode as he continually surprises us with random questions and statements…

“How many Fruits of the Spirit ARE there?”

“It’s bedtime for Africa right now.”

“Are there dog fish? Are they bigger than catfish?”

“Will we still have this house in heaven?”

“Mom, does one of the ten commandments say, ‘no worshiping idols’?”

I knew I’d love homeschooling, but I never thought it would be this fun.

After reading about the biggest animal, a blue whale, we went out in the snow and paced out the size of the whale in the backyard. Wow, they are really big! Mommy got a good workout. Note: I am not this creative every day. LOL

Claire making a snow angel.

Our Routine We love us a good routine around here. It changes frequently as the needs of the kids change, but right now our mornings usually look like this…

8:00 – we eat breakfast and get dressed. If I have slept well, I get up before the kids, but otherwise, not much happens around here before 8.
.

Geometry in the kitchen…Jesse makes a house out of a square and a triangle cut from purple cabbage leaves. He’s also learning knife safety. :)

9:00 I call the kids from play into the kitchen and we do our chores. They clear their breakfast dishes then empty the dishwasher. Claire does the utensils and Jesse everything else. Then we may do some food prep (this morning I attempted sauerkraut for the third time) and usually have a load of laundry to wash or fold. Once we’ve done the chores we can do together, I release them to play and I finish tidying the kitchen.

The sauerkraut Mommy was working on next to him.

10:00 I call the kids to the couch for school. I put Seth in his play pen with a new-from-the-cupboard toy and he is right next to us while we read on the couch. He’s usually happy in there until we move to the diningroom for ‘table school’, then I transfer him to the johnny-jump-up with some good ‘Jumping Music’ so the kids can do their writing and cutting without Seth eating their markers (Literally)

Seth’s favorite school activity.

The kids respond well to the routine, and are learning to tell time because each of our morning activities starts with the chime of the clock. You may notice our morning involves a good measure of free play time, too, because we feel that is so important for this age.

A Robin’s nest Jesse made during an afternoon with playdough.

Our afternoons go many different ways, and I’m still working on my tendency to get caught up in a project and leaving them to their own devices till dinner time. I’m asking the Lord to help turn my heart toward my children and away from other passions that steal my attention from them. Revamping my binder yesterday morning in prep for the next post on that subject reminded me how little time I can afford to spend on other things (computer, sewing, pleasure reading) if my goal is to invest well in my children in this most formative season in their lives.

sprouting avocado seeds for science

The Kids’ Books The curriculum we’re loving this year is Sonlight’s Preschool 4/5 Core. It includes lots of story books to grow attention span, tales from around the world (geography), books about animals (science), jobs people do, and the world we live in. We’re reading through the Bible with”The DK Children’s Everyday Bible”, and have a short weekly memory verse. We’re also using the “Get Ready for the Code” workbooks. Our focus right now is letter recognition, counting, and increased awareness of the big world around them. Claire is tagging along, enjoying  the stories and proudly saying her verse each day. Jesse is 5 1/2 and Claire is 3 1/4 years.

The Teacher’s Books My homeschool philosophy is being greatly impacted by the books of Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Right now I’m reading “Home Grown Kids” – the book that inspired both my parents and my in-laws to begin homeschooling almost 30 years ago – before the word ‘homeschooling’ was even in use. Their writing is giving me confidence and joy as I embrace the privelidge of teaching my own children at home. This quote is both convicting and inspiring to me…

“The unqualified parent or teacher is one whose attitude is indifferent to a youngster’s real needs, or whose motives place his or her own freedoms above those of the child. We firmly believe that the greatest teaching talent in the world lies in the warm, responsive and consistent parent whose love makes the needs of his children his highest concern…Parents’ daily on-to-one example amounts to master teaching at the highest level.” – “Home-Grown Kids”

 I also recommend “Educating the Whole Hearted Child” by the Clarksons, and “A Charlotte Mason Companion“, both on the list in the “Mother” tab of my Home Management Book, waiting to be read. (Note: the only thing I can’t recommend about the Moores’ books is their health advice. It’s very dated and doesn’t encourage good fats!:()

What are your favorite homeschool or parenting resources?

My New Best Friend {A Home Management Binder}

From my latest posts you may have figured out that a home management binder is my new best friend. Today I’m gonna walk you through building your own.

photo source

 I know what you’re saying. I said the same things when I first heard about home management notebooks.

“I have to build something? I don’t have time to build something!”
“I’m already a list maker, and I’m pretty organized”
That’s for gals who can’t keep their head on straight.”

Then I became one of those gals.
By the third kid, I was beginning to unravel.  Although it looked like I had it all together — house was tidy, laundry got done (usually), I cooked all our meals from scratch — the truth was, my brain was wearied and confused trying to keep on top of everything. Even though I wrote copious lists and constantly worked on organization,  I was drained by the constant need to prioritize and by the fact that I felt I could never let my mind rest, for fear something would leak out.
 
Enter the Home Management Notebook. When I finally buckled down and put one together, I realized how stupid I’d been to put it off. It really wasn’t that hard, and it has made all the difference!

  • All my lists are in one place. No more searching for that scrap of paper.
  •  I have my priorities always before me, reducing the mental strain of constantly weighing options for my time.
  •  I am more organized than ever, which is finally allowing me to relax and trust that IF I have forgotten something, it is small enough that I don’t need to worry about it.
  • I feel like I have space to breathe – almost as if I DID have Cinderella visit occasionally!

So, now I have you drooling over your own Home Management Notebook, but you’re also staring at the hurdle of Building Your Own.

It’s really not that hard – Let me talk you through it.

First we shall collect our materials. I’m going to give you two options. If you’re desperate to start one and don’t have time to run to Walmart first, here’s the bare bones necessities you’ll need that you probably already have around the house…

  • Binder (1 1/2 -2 inch spine)
  • Lined paper with holes OR any paper and a 3-hole punch (I got mine at the thrift store!)
  • Old file folders for dividers. 

There’s going to be sections in your book, and I’ve found old file folders, cut up the spine and hole punched, work good for dividers. The above is enough to get you started. – you can upgrade to a pretty binder or dividers with pockets later.

This is your shopping list if you wanna get a little fancy…

  • Binder (Target has some Gorgeous ones!)
  • Lined paper with re-inforced holes
  • Avery Tab Dividers with Pockets
  • Plastic sleeves – glossy finish
  • Wet Erase fine-tip markers

That will make you a fancy-pants book, let me tell you!

Next step is to decide how you wanna order you’re binder.I recommend you wander around a bit for inspiration. Everyone’s got their different ways of setting it up and all. The power of your binder comes from having it customized to your goals and routines. My set-up is kind of unique, inspired by my friend Gretchen’s binder. But there’s lots of great stuff out there - I’ve pinned some of my favorites on Pinterest to get you started. If you’re already feeling lost and don’t want to wander further into the unknown, don’t worry, I’ll be back shortly to talk you through how I set up mine, ok?

{Many thanks to my friends Gretchen, Jessica, and Diane whose examples of pursuing organization finally prompted me to build my own binder. :)}

Not sure if a home management binder is for you? I told you – neither did I. Until I tried it! I’ll never go back. What would ‘room to breathe’ feel like in your day?

My List of Ten for 2012

All week I’ve been planning to post about one of my favorite things…New Year’s Resolutions! But while I was reading some of my favorite blogs on the topic and something dawned on me like an orange globe in a pink winter sunrise…

I can’t say it better myself, so I won’t even try. 

Whether they scare you or excite you, whether you make tons, or make it your goal not to make any at all, I highly recommend these great reads…

Tsh detailed two tips to actually make progress on your goals. Laura shared how she’s rejecting the automation her Type-A self is so good at, and making completely different sorts of goals this year. If you only make one goal, let it be this one, summed up in Kat’s 12 word post. Tiny Twig took a fun, casual approach, and I’m inspired by her list of ten. That’s doable.

So, here’s mine – shared with you because accountability is one of the secrets to success.

1. Beautify my studio. You know it’s bad ’cause you saw the video.
2. Try the GAPS diet for a month. We’re 5 days in…follow our journey at Real {Fast} Food Facebook page.
3. Learn to make Kimchi. DONE! Did it this morning! Three days till we find if it’s edible.
4. Be a reader of books. I plan to drown myself in books. Yum.
5. Study Massage Therapy. A life-long dream. I’m finally taking steps this year.
6. Finish Deep Cleaning every corner of this old house.
7. Have a Garage Sale with the findings.
8. Be the person I want my kids to grow up to be. So much in 12 words.
9. Keep track of every penny I spend in cash.
10. Take this seriously: Thousand Gift’s Challenge.

To find out just why I love New Year’s Resolutions so much, and how I transform them from resolutions to predictions, check out my little post over at YLCF this week.

Do you make ‘em? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Go ahead, rant. I’ll listen.

P.S. Don’t miss this – Lindsay’s blog goals for the new year promise some really good reading over at Passionate Homemaking in the coming months. I’m so inspired by her passion for Spirit-led content, and excited and challenged to be part of the team. 

Of Mice and Men and Pride

Prideful thoughts are kind of like mice. You know they’re there, but must of the time they stay hidden. Until one day that prideful thought grows a little too confident and goes public, like a sleek, fat mouse, suddenly waltzing across your kitchen in broad daylight like he owns the place.

This is not just a squeaky metaphor folks. It’s an all-too-accurate picture of my own life. Both pride and mice have revealed themselves to me this month in a big way.

I’ve never thought of myself as a very prideful person (I know – denial is a sure sign it’s a problem). I’d figured out my main weakness was more along the lines of fear, and pride didn’t rule me like some people. In fact, I felt like it was such a non-issue, I would occasionally ask the Lord to reveal areas of pride, just so I could feel a little more normal and have something to repent about in that area. Wow — writing this out is making it rather obvious this was a bigger problem than I thought. 

And then I went to Relevant. And learned about the concept of Upside-Down blogging. And I was smack in the middle of a community of passionate, God-following women for a whole weekend. And I was being my normal, ditzy, short-fused self, and I couldn’t hide it from my roommates. Or myself. Any longer.

Pride was alive and well in my heart.

You see, I hadn’t realized until then how much the cultural messages in the blogosphere had affected my blogging. All the advice about growing stats, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), finding your writing voice, networking, monetizing, and otherwise taking your blog seriously had disguised themselves as wisdom. I’d bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Whoops – mixing metaphors here. Let’s try, Cheese, Bait, and Trap. I said I wanted to honor God with my blog, with my online presence, but I was completely caught up in the way the world does blogging. Nearly everything I did online was centered around making myself look good, self promotion, and getting more people to think I was awesome enough to subscribe to.

Now, a lot of this was because I was trying to sell a book, and conventional wisdom said this was how one made money. And we needed money! But I was forgetting the God-factor. Yes, there were things I could prudently do to put my book out there. But stressing like I was and acting like it was all up to me — well, that was an entire lack of trust and a whole lot of pride.

And finally, just like the mice in my kitchen, my pride got bold enough to come out in the open.

It was on the drive home from Relevant with my roommate. We were just miles from the hotel when I made my first navigational error, causing us a 10 min. detour, confusion, and sweaty palms.

And anger. At myself. Why could I not just get from point A to point B without getting lost – even just once? The 30 min. ‘detour’ we took on the way down was enough to keep me humble, wasn’t it?

I expressed to my dear roomie my frustration, and in doing so realized how much I wanted to impress her with my navigational skills on the way home, if only to prove that they weren’t as bad as it had appeared on the trip down. Right there is where I saw the mouse – I mean, the pride. And suddenly, it was everywhere – it was in my appearance, it was in my conversation, it was in my blogging, it was in every relationship – it was an infestation!!!

I was overwhelmed. And that’s when my dear, sweet, roomie spoke words of wisdom that have given me direction as I try to deal with the infestation. She said,

“I always tell my kids, ‘embrace every opportunity to humble yourself, for if you don’t, God will have to do it for you, and that is a lot more painful.’”

Right there she gave me the secret to trapping the pride so I could toss it out of my life. Embracing humility means throwing down the mask of having it all together – in front of your friends, your husband, your kids, or the blogosphere. It means repenting openly and frequently when you recognize sin. It means trusting God with your reputation, your future, and your stats.

For me it means – no more worrying about subscriber count, if my writing is unique enough to get me noticed, or if my post fits the formula to go viral. It means just being myself here on my blog, and trusting that God will accomplish His purposes, with or without my harried attempts at fame. It means from now on I’m going to write what He leads, as honestly and openly as I can, with the simple, yet worthy goal of encouraging whoever comes my way. And praying daily and sincerely that He would continue to humble me and cleanse me from pride and all unrighteousness, which is His promise to those who confess their sin. (1 John 1:9)

Thank you for joining me on this journey. For coming to visit me even though the occasional vermin peaks his head around the dishwasher while we’re trying to converse. I’m doing my best to deal with the mice, and the pride.

Blessings,
Trina

P.S.  Anyone have any tips for trapping the mice? They are not at all interested in peanut butter in the traps – I think there is just too much great food available, risk free, around the toddler’s chairs in the dining room…eeek!

Thrill Therapy

There is something therapeutic about riding a Roller Coaster.

As a mom, I have so much responsibility. Three small children, managing a house, cooking 3 meals a day, being a wife, running a business – so much depends on keeping it all together. Some days I feel like the Elephant in “Horton Hears a ‘Who’” when he makes the sobering realization – “I’m the one holding the spec!”

Climbing into a roller coaster, getting strapped in place, rattling up to the top of the first hill I feel completely out of control – there’s nothing I can do – any moment the world is going to drop out from under me and I’m going to be screaming at the top of my lungs with fear.

Yet everything is actually fine. The safety bars and padding hold me from falling or experiencing any injury – even when I’m upside-down!

And suddenly I feel very free. I’m totally out of control, but I’m ok. Something bigger is holding everything together.

It feels really good.

Kind of like remembering that God is ultimately in control.

But then, a gentle carosel ride feels good, too.

Where are you? Carousel or Roller coaster? I’m definitely on the latter right now, holding on for dear life as God leads me into the realm of Upside-Down Blogging. I just have to keep remembering He built the track, and has His hand on the levers and switches. I’m trying to enjoy the ride!

Short and Random

Past: 

  • Homeschooled all the way
  • second eldest of 7 kids
  • grew up in Fl., N.C., and N.Y.
  • Lived in a tipi
  • Then a log cabin
  • Learned to grow a {huge} garden, exercise hospitality, and eviscerate a chicken {in 6 seconds} while living on a homestead
  • Married my {awesome} pastor’s {awesome} son in 2005.

Present: 

Future:

  • Write and publish the story of my family’s 9 year sojourn on the homestead
  • Mother many, many children
  • Offer massive hospitality that refreshes and encourages many
  • Learn the art of massage therapy
  • Be {madly} in love with my husband in our 90′s

Of Tea and Seasons

I made Kombucha Tea today for the first time since Seth was born. Why, when I believe so strongly in the health benefits of this and other fermented drinks, would I quit making it for over a year?

The answer is the same reason as it was in this post – “Seasons”. I was in season where extras like something to drink other than water or milk, especially if they required preparation, just weren’t happening. Also, Seth didn’t seem to like the caffeine or to much acidic stuff in the first months of his breastfeeding. Oh, and did I mention I didn’t drink it when I was pregnant, either? Yeah – almost two years without this awesome super-beverage in my diet. Why was I OK with this?
Because I have learned to accept seasons in my life.

There is such freedom when you recognize what seasons mean in life. It goes back to Ecclesiastes – in which the Preacher tells us there are times
to be born, and to die
to kill and to heal
to break down and to build up
to plant, and to pull up
to weep and to laugh
to mourn and to dance…

We know and understand seasons of a garden – planting and pulling. We know in life there is a time to be born and a time to die. We accept this. Then why do we chaff against seasons in life and motherhood? Why do we resent a season in which we do not get enough sleep? If we recognize it is a season and it will not always be this way, can you see the peace that would come in that?

Let’s get back to the tea again – and why I didn’t stress about skipping it for a time. I’ve come to realize that eating as healthy as I know how to takes a lot of time and energy - two resources that have many other draws on them in this season of my life. Stressing about my inability to achieve all my goals in the area of nutrition will only add more stress to my life – which itself is as unhealthy as munching a candy bar for breakfast. Resting in the season I am in is much better for me and my family.

Perhaps you are trying to eat healthier, and learn more about good nutrition. I would encourage you not to obsess about it, as I have done in seasons. Unless you have an urgent health issue that makes major diet changes priority, give yourself grace. Try one new recipe or technique at a time until it becomes familiar and routine, before adding another thing to your plate. If you just can’t get the hang of a recipe, or can’t find a source for something you’ve come to think of as essential (like raw milk), or you can’t afford to purchase coconut oil in bulk right now – relax. Take a deep, cleansing breath, and do what you can do in this season.

For me that means committing to a bit more planning and effort in the kitchen this week, to prepare some refreshing summer beverages to take on our road trip at the end of the month. (I’m going to make Kefir Soda and Fermented Sun Tea, too!) Taking my own treats will keep the temptation at bay to eat too much junk on the road. Now that Seth is less sensitive to acid things in my diet, it’s time for me to once again focus on my goal of regularly supplementing each meal with a little something cultured or fermented to aid digestion and nutrition. 

What about you? Is there something you need to pick up in this season? A skill you need to grow? Or is it time to lay something down and embrace a season of rest in an area that is stressing you? Let it go, honey. There will be a reverse season at some point in which you can tackle that goal – Scripture assures us of this. Do what you can where you are and rest.

IRL {In Real Life} Adventures

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve had the immense pleasure of having a contact made through the blog turn into a face-to-face meeting – getting together with someone I’ve never met before, and ending our time as friends in real life. How cool is that!? Both visits happened ’cause these gals took my open invitation seriously and bravely took me up on my offer to come and stay. They and their families were both willing to drive over an hour to make a wonderful weekend of sharing and fellowship possible, and for that I am so grateful.

Our first guests were a family of 8 - whoo-hoo! OK, I admit to being a little nervous about hosting such a crowd, but I reminded myself that we used to do this all the time on the homestead, and pulled out my recipes that work good for feeding lots of mouths!
(Curious? We had BBQ chicken, salt potatoes and sauteed zucchini, baked oatmeal, scrambled egg casserole – all from the book! – and chili and cornbread)

The H— family was a delight to host – with their 6 enjoyable children, sense of humor, and adventurous spirit. They were from the city and were delighted whenever an Amish buggy drove by (which happens a lot ’cause we have a large Amish community around us). They brought their pop-up camper out to stay Friday night. We spent Saturday visiting several state parks in the area (one ticket gets you a day pass to all of them!), swimming, and getting some good sun!

In the evening I let the girls try on clothes from my costume closet. They had a blast, and I had fun seeing my dresses get some use!

Making new friends is so invigorating, and we discovered we had much in common to talk about late into the night around a bonfire in the back yard. They even stayed a second night and joined us for Church the next day. We were sad when they said goodbye, and in awe of how, as believers, we can connect and bond so quickly and enjoy such rich fellowship with people who were just strangers the day before.

Our other guest was a new reader who found my blog. . . liked what she saw and . . . proceeded to read my entire archives! I was shocked and flattered, but most of all delighted when the relationship we had begun to form via the blog and email promised to jump to the next level when we set a date for a meeting in real life. She and her husband came to stay in the guestroom for one night and we cooked and ate and talked until {way too} late at night. And you know what she brought me? Flowers. A big jar of un-arranged flowers because she knew I liked them that way. How sweet!

The next day, while she helped me clean my garlic harvest, I quizzed her on her impression of the blog as a whole. Where there any gaps? Questions? She said she wondered why I hadn’t posted my home birth stories? While we peeled the layers of dusty garlic skins to reveal the pungent, purple cloves, we brainstormed together about how I could share these stories without it being TMI {Too Much Information!} for my readers. Look for Seth’s Birth Story later this week!

It was so much fun talking to one of my readers IRL {in real life} and I so appreciated her feedback. (Thank you, Dear!) Thanks to input from both her and her techy husband, I plan on making a few housecleaning changes around here – nothing big, but hopefully make the site more accessible and coherent. (By the way, have you noticed the blog now has a new address? I changed it to www.trinaholden.com to make it easier for you and I to share the blog with friends in real life – no more trying to remember how I spell my dutch name. ☺)

It’s been a wonderful month of opening our home and enjoying the blessings of hospitality. Thanks to every one of you who have made the effort to let the relationships we’ve begun here on the blog blossom through your comments, email, interaction on facebook, and even meeting in person.

Do you want to come visit? We are throwing around the idea of another open house like the one we hosted the year we moved in. If we had an evening of food, fellowship, fresh cider, and dancing in the orchard, would YOU come? Leave an answer

The Guest Room Is Ready!

 Last month we moved into our new bedroom, meaning the green room at the top of the stairs could now officially become the guest room.

 It’s quite spacious, with a queen bed and a smaller toddler bed ready to host even a whole little family.

Flowers compliments of my mother.

Do come and visit!