Monday, October 22, 2007

How is Your Prayer Life?

That was the question in the Misselette before yesterday's readings. If you haven't noticed before, take a look at the Liturgy of the Word section in your Misselette. Before each group of daily readings is a couple of paragraphs explaining their message and then a question to ask yourself. You know the kinds of questions, thought provoking assessment types.

I read the couple of paragraphs and the question, How is Your Prayer Life? My instant response was, "lacking". My mind immediately thought about Adoration, Daily Devotions, Daily Scripture readings, and all the other forms of structured prayer and found myself believing my prayer life was lacking. But as father unfolded his homily and gave me some food for thought, I recognized my prayer life is not lacking. It is just about right for a homeschooling mother of four. Prayer doesn't only happen when the eyes are closed or focused on words. Actions can be a form of prayer. Laundry is a time of thankfulness that we have abundant clothing and towels. We only have towels because we have water. Meal prep is a time to pray in thanksgiving for our abundant food blessings and electricity. While reading with my 6 year old, I thank God for the blessing of fertility and for me having teachers who taught me to read so long ago. As DH walks out the door at 6:00 am to begin the daily work of cranberry harvest, I pray thy will be done, God. What, for a moment, appeared to be a life lacking in prayer was discovered to be a life filled with prayer. Sure there is plenty of room for improvement. I would like to pray the rosary on a regular basis; I would like to pray a memorized morning offering each time my feet hit the floor in the morning. Both of these, once habits, will be easily incorporated into my daily living, just as my one-liner prayers are now. And when I'm just too tired or too emotionally drained or too something I can dip my finger in the holy water and bless myself and whoever is closest for the simplest form of prayer of all.

Breakfast Compliments

Lee: Awesome breakfast, mom! You make the best pancakes.

Me: Thanks. Lee, you are just too good to me.

(five minutes later)

Lee: Awesome banana, mom! (pause and then a smirk) You sure know how to buy the best bananas.

See what kind of wit and sarcasm I have to put up with around here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nature Notes

About 10 days ago we were at, what I thought was, peak autumn color. The maroons, oranges and yellows were fantastic. And teamed with the sunny days, made for beautiful drives into town. Then the extreme winds came, knocking all the those colors right to the ground. The days grew cold and dreary; it appeared the bright fall colors were done. But, here we are again with a second round of beautiful autumn color in the woods. The poplar trees are the most amazing shade of lime green and in yesterday's sun they almost glowed. Today we are back to cloudy skies and off and on rain, with predicted thunderstorms moving in for the evening, but still beauty can be found.

The birds have been performing nicely for us. We have the usual fall birds - goldfinch, purple finch, black-capped chickadees, nut hatch, blue jay, and juncos. All these have been lovely, but the most stunning has been the Evening Grosbeak. Never before have I seen this bird. The bright yellow forehead stands out, even on the dreariest days. Although we've tried, in the wind, in the rain and in the sunshine, to get a picture, this bird is so shy it is always flying back and forth between the spruce and bird feeder, never staying in one spot long enough to capture a clear picture.

Mushrooms are in abundance, as are all fungi, lichens and mosses. It seems everyday I am being pulled outside to look at the most beautiful mushroom in the world, Mom. And even with my Audubon Field Guide I still find it difficult to identify many of them. None the less we are aware of our natural surroundings which brings an appreciation of the awesomeness of God's creation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pictures and a Recipe Link

Cranberry Pecan Pie - one of my favoites this time of year

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Truth Hurts

(I'm standing in the kitchen.....wondering what to do first)

Ray: (running and then jumping over a pile) Mom, me won't step in your pile of rumbs (crumbs).

Me: What pile? I haven't even started sweeping, but I guess I better start with that.

The truth is I've neglected my kitchen floor and porch floor and carpeting under dining room table and probably the bathroom floors as well. And now it hurts, because I'd rather be reading blogs and news and my recent magazines, but I'm off to detail the floors, as many as I can before we head to violin.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Total Package

I just love this picture of the boomed cranberries; I think it's the first harvest picture I have with the sheds and house in the background. Saturday was mostly sunny until the afternoon. The clouds moved in just long enough to make it cold and miserable while DH did the beating. And they moved out just in time for all night frost watch. Today was miserable - cloudy, windy and drizzly. Only 12 acres left to beat and that'll be done Thursday and Sunday, if all goes as planned. But you know what they say: Want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.

Truthful Toddler

As I was barraged by three kids screaming at different levels "Mom, Ray broke the ruler", one straggler, Ray himself, finally appeared with broken ruler in hand saying with a big you're gonna be proud of me smile: I did it, mama! I did it!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Early Preparations

(this morning)

Me: Lou, what are you doing? You are supposed to be brushing your teeth.

Lou: In a minute, mom, I'm counting my money for vetrinary college.

How could I argue with that? At least she has a plan.

Wisconsin Crop Estimate

Wisconsin Projected Production Down But Still Over Half of World Production

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today's Photo

The first day of harvest has come and gone; today is actually day 7. I intended to share a picture from each day, but between homeschool harvest tours, raking and cleaning fruit for our own personal use, music lessons and just the uncertainty of what each day will bring, my blog time has been basically nill. So in an effort to make up for lost time, here are two photos from today.

After raking my fruit, I dump it in this cleaning rack. The bottom is made from hardware cloth which allows air to flow through the cranberries to dry them and also allows leaves and chaff to fall through. I sort through the cranberries, brushing them back and forth, picking out rot and debris, throughout the day until I'm left with nothing but beautiful red cranberries. Then I freeze them in gallon ziploc bags or can them into juice or sauce.

Someone is getting a spa treatment, but I don't think it'll be me. I believe her name is either Felicity or Kailey. I found this in the fridge this morning chilling, next to the baby carrots and thawing italian sausage.


Acts of Random Kindness was the theme for Evan Almighty. It was our family movie night pick this week and what a dandy it was. There was the bible trivia woven into the script which made it interesting enough for us adults. I will never forget Gen. 6:14 states ....make yourself an ark of gopherwood.... There were the animals for Lou and Ray and just enough comedy and plot for Grace and Lee to agree that the movie was awesome, even though when I described the movie as a modern day Noah's Ark story they turned up their noses and sighed, another one of mom's picks. Let me just say that all of my picks including Akeela and the Bee and Facing the Giants turned out to be absolute family winners. We've all been a little more aware of ARK's this week. The bickering about who's a better fill in the blank continues, the squabbles over game pieces happened already this morning, but still I find the kids smiling because they just performed a nice little thing for someone else. Not bad for a box office hit.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In Denial

The thermometer read 52 F. The winds were out of the West, 25 mph and yet she's still in the mood for the beach. Notice the beach towel and flip flops teamed with the hat and mittens. More power to you girl!

Cranberry Harvesters in Action...

and a couple of books, too.
We started off the week harvesting a bed ourselves; just a tiny bed of Hy-Reds, a fairly new variety. The kids wait for dad to push the berries to them so they can scoop them up.

Grace with a full rake, heading for the drying boxes.

I didn't just take pictures, I got in on the work as well.

And now for a couple of books related to cranberries.

Cranberries: Fruit of the Bogs - we've checked this book out from the libary, lots of nice photos explaining cranberries and cranberry harvest

Very Cranberry - a nice little book of recipes using fresh and dried cranberries

Cranberry Autumn - this is one in a series of "Cranberry" books, others include Valentine, Birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and more

Cranmoor: The Cranberry Eldorado - history of Wisconsin cranberry farming for adults or very interested teens (scroll down almost to the bottom if using the link)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Phoenician Bread

I've been adding links to our history basket (in the side bar) so you might have guessed we are studying Ancient World History, time period 800-560 BC. Each week we tackle approximately another 100 years. Last week we studied the Phoenicians using the Story of the World text and activity book. We tried our hand at making purple dye using the cabbage method, which worked well, but then when we dyed our Rigatoni (for use in noodle necklaces and bracelets) the noodles turned soft and black and never dried quite right. The project kept our hands busy, but there was no end product to speak of.

Food is always good and relating it to history is even better. So we made the Phoenician Bread.

Lee mixed up the dough which was quite stiff.
Time to knead.
And knead.
And knead.

And knead. Let's just say the dough had plenty of kneading.
Grace patted the dough into circles.

Lou shows off 3 of the 10 rounds made.

For eating we spread the bread with butter and sprinkled cinnamon sugar. I drizzled on a little honey, too.

And there you have it, us making our daily bread.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Happy Autumn

Each day's weather is completely its own. Yesterday it was warm, slightly humid - we turned on the whole house fan. We woke to thick fog and dewy grass. The sun poked out a few times, but mostly it was overcast. The Asian lady beetles took cover and we were able to come and go through our door as we pleased, much different from yesterday when the sun was beating on the front door and lady beetles were crawling everywhere. Later in the afternoon the winds picked up and then the rain came and came. Now at 10:12 p.m. the radar shows clear skies for awhile. As we drove home from violin tonight, Grace and I noticed just how dark it is at 6:45 p.m. Each week the drive is darker and darker. Autumn arrives and the feeling is bittersweet. No more afternoon swims in the reservoir, Popsicles loose their excitement, winter will soon set it. The sweet part is ever so sweet. The brightly colored leaves flitting in the breeze, the crunchy leaves on the roadside waiting to be shuffled through, pumpkins peeking from around every tree, crimson colored cranberries dipped in caramel. All signs of autumn; all evoke beauty and comfort. As we took a walk around the yard today I snapped a few pictures. My digital camera basically stinks, but I can't help posting a few photos from autumn in my neck of the woods.

beautiful fall colors across the marsh

edible rubies

Harvest Time

The pumpkins have all been picked and the garden put to rest for another year. Yet, harvest time is just beginning at our farm. Cranberry harvest that is. In the spirit of cranberry harvest I have a couple of links for you to check out.

Stay tuned for more recipes and photos of cranberry harvest '07.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Weekend in Numbers

1 mother daughter lunch date with another mother daughter pair at Culver's

2 beautiful wall lamps installed by DH so we can read in the evening together in the same room

3 giant leaf piles in the dark

4 happy hunters (3 kids and 1 dad)

5 card games of Spoons on Friday night

7 new friends for Lee to play with (all siblings)

8 bags of sliced apples in the freezer - just waiting to be made into apple crisp

11 elk steaks for Sunday supper

12 trap stakes cut

14 quarts of applesauce canned

27 autumn colored leaves collected