Sunday, August 31, 2014

So far, so good with our new school setup.  I'm impressed with the University Model, and how organized and thorough the teachers are even though it's only the 3rd year this school has offered this model.  The godly staff and small setting has been a blessing to me.  The hardest part so far has been covering 6 textbooks with brown bags!  Not a fan of that job.  All 3 have a little bit of catching up to do in their reading level, but i'm hopeful now that it's on my radar, we can concentrate more on that and improve.  I'm doing a lot more driving these days, but i like using the car ride to talk to the boys, since they can't run away from me it makes for good discussion time!   Adam has made a couple friends, and when you are a twin i think you are automatically a hit.  At the 'meet the teacher' night the twins walked in and another boy was there and says "twins in my class!  this is the best day EVER!"  ok then.

i remind myself at the end of every summer that just because school has started doesn't mean we can't still make memories!  We got to a Barnstormers game this week, and had a great time.  I like going when there's not many people there, the boys get more time with Cylo and an easier time getting the freebies.

These shirts came from a game we went to a couple years ago, they were giving them out.  Clay was stumbling over his, so he'll have to wait to wear his. 

And the boys had their 2nd Annual Labor Day Cousins Campout.  (We need to shorten that title).  They were very excited to go and had a fun time playing baseball and camping out together.  They got much less sleep then i did that night!  Thanks mom for making it happen again. 

We were just outside enjoying a campfire and firecrackers when some heavy rains came.  I planted some fall garden this year and am glad for the rain!  The most interested thing in my garden right now is popcorn.  I pulled an ear yesterday and we took off the kernels and dried them.  Tonight I popped about 1/3 cup of kernels.  It was so cool to grow my own popcorn, I'm thinking easy Christmas gifts right here! 

Happy Labor Day.  Now that i'm a teacher part-time i should look into what Labor Day is!

Monday, August 25, 2014


For entertainment purposes, the following is this year's sting count for the family...

Mommy - 7
Clay -   4
Daddy - 2
Adam - 1
Ben - 1
Brad - 1

Not too bad considering we have tens of thousands of bees on our property!  And with the exception of one of Clay's stings, we've only gotten stung while back at the hives, doing inspections.  We can be right next door on the swing set minding our own business, and the bees don't bother us. 

After our hive swarmed we needed the original hive to make another queen.  They can't do that without eggs in their cells, and there weren't any eggs because the queen left in the swarm and she's the only one who lays eggs.  So i transferred a frame from another hive with eggs in the cells and pulled out a full frame from the queenless hive, to make room for the egg filled frame.  (i'm sure that made no sense)  I cut off the capping (bees cap the cells with wax after the honey gets to the right humidity/consistency) and set the frame in a big bucket and let the honey drip out.  This is what we got from that! 

It was an exciting morning.  And the shiny that you see on this frame below is honey, so once it's extracted the proper way we will get much more honey just from this one frame.  i am anxious to see how much honey we get total.  i think i said before we won't get a huge amount, because we started from scratch and the bees had to make all their own comb.  Now next year we will reuse these frames and the comb is already drawn out.  They can get right down to honey producing. 
The dark areas are just cells where there once was brood; baby bees that hatched.  It darkens the cells for whatever reason!

A selfie in our bee suits:
Clay is really trying to figure out how he can eat that apple:
The original hive did requeen so all 3 hives have a queen now, i think.  Our hive that swarmed in July might not make it through the winter, they probably won't have enough honey stored up for themselves and they will likely starve.  But we'll see!  I'm having fun with beekeeping.  I'm anxious to 'harvest' in 2 weeks.  We're borrowing an extractor and 2 other families are joining us with frames from their hives.  There will be many an angry bee that night!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School

today the boys started at their new school, 2nd and 3rd graders!  They were very excited, i am proud of their courage.  There are so many good things to say about this school, but starting the day off with 10 minutes of outdoor play?  that there stole my heart.

It's a small school, 11 kids in B and B's class.  13 kids in Adam's.  I love that more then words can say.  They also do not send kids home with homework, but they work hard while at school.  Makes sense to me!!

Adam go to school 3 days and week and will do the other 2 days at home with me.  The twins go only 2 days a week, and will do 3 days at home.  Sounds confusing doesn't it?!  Next year, they will be on the exact same schedule.  This model is called University Model, (UMS).  The vision for this model is to get children ready for college by putting them in a similar arrangement now, by having a couple days of classroom time, and doing a lot of work at home, like they apparently do in college (I never went to college!)  This model is not new, there are a lot of these schools in other states, but this is the only one offered in PA. 

I am not oblivious to the reality that the home days could be challenging!  has anyone ever spent time around Clay?  And i have concerns about one boy that has trouble with focus, and 2 other highly inquisitive boys as well.  But knowing this, i still have peace about this and am so happy for them to have this structure which to me feels like the most ideal setting for THEM.  Each family/child is different and thrives in different settings!
We know quite a few families in the school, so it's nice to have familiar faces right off the bat.  We feel like the school is going to grow, quickly.  A mom said today that it looks like twice as many kids as last year.  It's such a neat concept and a good in-between option for a lot of families.

I cannot believe that I didn't take a picture of them today!  totally forgot....BUT I did get a picture of the awesome clothes I got at a TWINS YARD SALE on Saturday!  Everything is matching or coordinating.  I've never been to a better twins sale in my life, i couldn't have dreamed it up any better.  it was massive, and good quality clothing, it was unbelievable.  I took down her name and number and I think i'll call and see if there are any sets that didn't sell I'd like to look at them again!  I was never so giddy at 7:30 in the morning before.  we got over 40 things for $60.

I need to organize my teaching papers so tomorrow can run smooth.  It's my first day!  Feel free to breathe a prayer!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Canning & Freezing 2014

I love canning.  This past winter I noticed almost every dishwasher load had at least 1 canning jar in it, we really eat a lot of what I can in the wintertime and it's so handy. 

This year I'm taking better notes of what and how much I'm canning and freezing.  I don't have a lot of space in my freezers, (those chickens and bunnies take up space:)  so I try to can more then freeze.  Plus i like the handiness of grabbing food off the shelf and having an instant meal/side, rather then having to thaw things out, I don't always plan ahead good enough for that.  Some of my canned things are in a cardboard box on my basement floor, so you don't need to have glamorous storage space for your jars.  There is the debate that canning zaps out more nutrients then simply freezing your items.  I haven't found a clear answer for that.

A couple things, like red beets and corn, I didn't need to put away much of because I still had some from last year.

Here is my current list of what i canned and froze so far in 2014:

Green beans - 62 quart (I always run out, this should be enough) 48 canned/14 froze

Corn (froze) - 10 quart

Chicken broth - 21 quart (made from our butchered chicken's carcasses)

Red beets - 9 quart

Meadow tea - 8 quarts of concentrate (will make 8 gallon)

Beef stew (pictured above) - 14 quart (a new favorite- it's an instant meal.  it's delicious, the carrots and potatoes came from the garden.  it also works well as a quick meal to give to other people.  i found the recipe in my pressure canner owner's manual)

Tomato juice - 15 quart

Diced tomatoes - 37 pints

cabbage (froze) - gallon size bag of leaves to crumple in soups

Orange/lemon meadow tea mixture, concentrate - 14 quart, to make 14 gallon

fruit for smoothies - freeze- (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and peaches)

green peppers (chop and freeze)
applesauce (using the oven canning method) 
kale (freeze for soups and smoothies)
Lima beans (from an Amish farm, will freeze) 
pumpkin (pureed and frozen)

I chip away at many of these things as they are ready in the garden.  I did not do all 37 pints of diced tomatoes in one day!  I did it 3 different times as they ripened.  I like to do it that way because I don't need to make it a full day event, but rather a couple hours in the morning or afternoon.  That way I can just fit it in with other things I have going that day rather then focusing only on that project for the entire day.

If you are looking to start preserving veggies, green beans are an easy one to start with.  Kale and spinach are too.  you don't need to cook the leaves first, just put them in a ziplock bag and freeze.  you can then take out what you need and crumple in soups, casseroles, eggs, or smoothies.

School starts soon!  new school update coming soon...Happy weekend

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beachin' it

Ah, what a nice 30 hour beach vaca that was!  It was long enough for me, Rod wasn't along and i don't know if i could have hauled all the beach stuff down to the sand one more time!

We enjoyed spending the first day with some family on my mom's side.  The boys and i stayed overnight and spent more time on the beach the next day.  We had a blast on the boardwalk that evening too, from 5:30-10 we ate pizza, hit up the dollar store, explored the beach, got water ice, and just enjoyed strolling the boardwalk, taking in the entertainment and fulfilling some traditions like feeding the seagulls, getting the free taffy balloons and getting samples from miscellaneous food stands.

I love the boys ages right now.  A year ago i wouldn't have wanted to do this without Rod or mom with me. (neither were able to come this time)  Or maybe i would have, but it wouldn't have gone this smooth!
Adam and Isaac

Clay and Jenna
1st and 2nd cousins
Boys doing their thing
Not quite everyone here..

BIG pizza
You can't hide the country boy in them... 

Pretty morning on the beach with the new bubble machine
10am swim at the motel = pool to themselves!

I saved this boy's life 3 times
The aftermath
He was asleep before i could say...'what was your favorite part?'  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


A new favorite side dish here is Pioneer Woman's Sesame noodles.  Really anything with sesame oil in it is delicious in my opinion.  These are very easy to make and sooo good.  I like to add pork or other meat to it and make it more of a main dish, then a side.

Simple Sesame Noodles:
12 oz thin noodles, cooked & drained
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T rice vinegar
3 T pure sesame oil
1/2 tsp hot chili oil (*make your own by combining 1/2 tsp oil & a pinch or two of cayenne pepper)
4 T oil
4 whole green onions, sliced thin

Whisk all ingredients, except noodles and green onions, together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.  Pour sauce over warm noddles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Danny part 2

Did I seriously just host a kid from the Bronx for 7 days??!  wow 7 days is a long time, but not long enough to change someone's sleeping and eating habits!

It was a good experience overall for all of us.  I'm glad we did it.  But when you commit to it and get your match, you really have no idea what you are getting.  Danny was a pretty good fit.  We didn't need to worry about homesickness or shyness that's for sure :)  He was mostly respectful to Rod and I, adored his 'brothers' even though they fought their fair share, and was a good sport with the things we did.  He spends most of his time at home playing video games but never complained once that we don't have any video games.  He said he thinks he lost weight :)   He learned kick ball, riding bike w/out training wheels, setting off a chinese lantern, picking green beans, feeding animals, and most importantly Bible stories.  Just knowing this makes all the extra work worth it!!

We will miss him,  not sure what we'll plan to do next year but will consider bringing him back again.  I just can't go there right now.  I'm still too exhausted!