Friday, October 26, 2012

Where The Girls Create

Oct 2012 upstairs
     Dear Frances, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of your frogs all taken in by cobwebs. Aren’t they cute? Poor things. I will be sure to clean them up; so that someone doesn't get the notion that I'm doing something for Halloween. I don't do Halloween.  And then I got to playing with my phone camera.

                    Yes, that is the Jake Skrivseth family portrait with a couple of Craver Aunties.  And yes, that’s Grandpa Reynolds with the dog there in his car.  Thought you’d like to see that. Amy who is 16 decorated her room as an attic and framed all the old pictures she could get her hands on.  The other pictures are Frank’s additions to the whole décor in their quarters top story.
                   I was supposed to be sewing and got seriously sidetracked. Can you tell?
 2012-10-26 10.57.09  Frank's old crate. Crates make lovely shelving or night stands. 
2012-10-26 11.06.21

Thursday, October 25, 2012


    It is quiet and tidy at home today.  The fall décor beautiful and undisturbed.  The only sounds are the soft hum of the ceiling fan working to distribute the stove warmth against the encroaching dampness of the chilly outdoors. It is three in the afternoon. No noisy children will come bursting through the porch door yelling. “Where’s mom?”
      I am still getting used to this quiet. I will never forget the hours of prodding that went into school in the early years.  I sincerely rejoice that the children have grown beyond the dilly-dallying with school work. They actually enjoy it sometimes now.
     And we still have room for improvement. Just now Brad needs to learn how to get beyond the rough draft. He’s good at rough drafting; but he doesn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole beyond that. I am considering having him take some of his material, edit and rewrite it this winter for  our language skills subject. He is considering running away. Not really, but you understand.
     School days are precious and transient and gone… so quickly.
     A mom of school children complained lately how they just aren’t getting school done decently…that some of the children simply will not work without supervision.  She confessed dealing with guilt and frustration. She said and I quote, “We are failing.” Heartbreaking!  I believe that every mother of school children whether or not she homeschools will experience feelings of failure.  It is part of the agenda of the enemy to instill guilt and defeatism, to minimize joy. 
      I know we had bad times, too. But, I  have more memories of the good times. Those piles of books, notebooks, undone chores and messy rooms are only a colorful back drop for the treasures that come to mind when I look back.  For instance, we read aloud most days after lunch especially the first years when we had our children in the schoolroom at the same time. I think the children enjoyed those times as much as I did. Our little school room faded while we helped the Kopcheck’s make a new home in a strange village, or sailed with Mr. Bowditch on the sea.  We learned real life stuff during those read-times.
    It takes effort to have work time and play time AND school time. Again I don’t think it makes much difference whether you are home schooling or sending them off to school. (I honestly didn’t get any less work done after we started homeschooling than I did before. While the children were in school I hurried with my housework and read books, to be honest.  After they came home for school, I was obliged to spend my book reading time with them in their books. It was a happy trade off, however.) The only way that I know to get work/play/school done decently is to have the children indispensably involved in all three activities every day. I was told by the homeschool gurus who had been there/done that, to turn all of the household chores over to the children. I was to delegate myself out of the job.They assured me that I would still have more than enough to do with shopping, organizing, teaching, and being a good wife. Since we didn’t have farm chores, we were able to do some of this. The children wanted to play just as badly as I did; so they were happy to team up with me for the work. We liked to make lists and check off each item completed. It was fun for me at least. I’d be happy to hear what they think about it looking back. Even so,I did a lot of dishes while they studied and I always did the laundry and most of the meal prep.  But they did the daily cleanup and weekly cleaning.
   The one most important thing to obtain is the cooperation and obedience of the children. To have them WANT to be part of the team to make the machinery of the home run smoothly is also a must-have reality. Children like order and quiet just as much as we do. Let THEM help to simplify and arrange life for the best fit for the family. Teach them to be prompt and let them teach how to get back to basics.
    Another thing I would say to the “failing” mom is to simplify homemaking.  Cull the excess possessions from dishes to wall-hangings. It is much easier to clean a room that has only the things you really need in it. Go ahead and box up the extras and put them in storage or give them away.  Keep and use true treasures. If you can’t decide what to cull, imagine that you have to pack up and temporarily spend five days of every week for a few months in a different smaller house. We found out one such winter that a large percentage of what we lived and worked around: furniture, clothing, dishes, toys, knick-knacks, and the numerous oddments found in all homes were completely dispensable to comfortable living. What a clearing of the house AND mind!
     It is important to simplify the school work, as well. In Wisconsin we are expected to teach these five subjects: Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Health.  We have always added Bible and sometimes Music, and Home Economics just happens every day. This list appears to be daunting and far from simple. Since every mom knows what her children can practically tackle and learn, it is up to her to make this list within reach of each child’s ability. Not easy to do. Add guilt and a few poorly reached goals and you have this conclusion: “We are failing.” It takes a very courageous mom/teacher indeed, to back the expectations down to a place of actually learning and winning for each individual child. I assure you, nobody is going to criticize with the amount of ground getting covered if each child is busy learning and doing.
     It took a lot of courage for me to take away about half the fluff that comes with Abeka’s science and history curriculum. The guilt was intense. Our children enjoyed both subjects but we never figured out how to incorporate all the quizzes and tests that came with them. I tried to get it all in, with the only result of having them learn to dread and hate the whole business. We ended up opting for practicality and enjoyment by sticking with the text and the questions that were in it for daily work.
     We had one child out of seven who could do most of the available work in each grade. We also had children who could only successfully accomplish a fraction of those expectations. Of course this is a fluid situation. Sometimes I didn’t push hard enough (big time guilt), but always I knew that 20 long division problems is way over the top ridiculous in any case! I could feel guilty, though, even though I knew better. I can still go into a sweat if I think about how we should have pushed composition more, or spent more time in spelling. Some of them are horrible spellers. It is my fault, I’m sure. I don’t know how we could have done better. Still guilt there.  But we have children coping well in the adult world whether or not they could spell during school days.
     Count up the happy things…even the tiniest, little accomplishments each day. Make lists of them. Talk about them. Teach rejoicing by rejoicing. Push down the guilt and defeat every single day. Look what we did today! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dear Stats Makers

Hello, all of you people out there.  All one hundred a day of you.  And only 1% of you bothers to comment. All I want to know is why do you look at my blog? What is the attraction? Happy Autumn Rainy Day, amg

Monday, October 22, 2012

What’s in the Header

The Stone House
     We’ve owned  it for almost 26 years. There were times when we first bought it that we worried that perhaps it was a white elephant or a “boat anchor” to use Elv’s terminology. It came with a lot of not so obvious problems. Not to two green farm-raised young people who had zero experience, at least. I suppose if someone had pointed out the issues the first time we looked at it, we might have been deaf to it.
I loved it from the first time I laid eyes on it. The problems that were pointed out to me could have been true for anything of this vintage. In other words, we were financially fit for a fixer-upper and to my mind it might as well be unique.  We had all the time in the world and we weren’t uppity folks. Most of all it was our own. Our own privilege and problem to do as we wished with a piece of property. What more could one, ignorant couple ask?
As it turned out, we asked for a couple of changes effective immediately. We took out a the wall between the front porch “bedroom” and the interior room creating what has been our living room ever since. You’ve seen a few pictures already of this room.  Someone had refinished the interior throughout with a tan tile for the floors and pale tan paneling for the walls, upstairs and main floor. It drove me crazy. You couldn’t get away from the flat boredom of the interior. This led to the discovery that you can paint and wallpaper paneling. Oh yes, you can, and we did!
Before too long we had to replace the joist, the floors, the roof, the well, and the sewer. It was amazing! It is good we didn’t know what we were in for when we purchased.  Thank God for a carpenter who believes that the customer is always right even if he’s really wrong and that anything you want is possible even if it isn’t kosher. We cut corners to fit our budget and splurged at other places to fit our dearest wish, like half log siding on the top story to go with the stone. 
This old house isn’t done even today. It needs a few more new windows, a proper kitchen, and a bedroom addition on the main level.  It isn’t happening anytime soon…certainly not in our tenure here. When we sell, the realtor is going to tear his hair out trying to convince us what all we should do to get a better price. That’s okay. We’ll get whatever dollar value God wants us to have at that point and the buyer can have all the personality that goes with this old house. It’s been unofficially for sale for a long time and doesn’t sell. That only makes this whole venture even more exciting to me. It’s God’s and for now He is letting us call it home.
To us it is home. To the local native children it is a haunted house. Smile That little piece of folk lore has only served to keep things a little less prone to walk off when we’re gone, we think.  When the Native American children come in they always ask if there is an upstairs.  Always! Sometime, I hope someone can tell me why they ask. They don’t want to see it, really, they just want to know. 
Who built it? Not sure, but the stone work was put up around a frame house in the forties. It’s the same style stone work as is Al Capone’s lodge that is near here. What a wacky distinction.

Three Grandchildren
We took a walk yesterday. Two year olds can walk miles without any carrying. You can’t be in a hurry. And you must be interested in bugs, leaves, sticks, and playing in the road. I recommend it to anyone on a Sunday afternoon.

For our three stoves. We enjoy firewood work.  We heat our house with wood burning stoves.
Oak Leaves
All over our yard this time of year. Just so you know, oak leaves have to be raked up and removed. No they do not make good mulch because they don’t rot in a month of Sundays. They have to be coaxed and cajoled into heaps in the woods at the edge of our property. We haul huge tarp loads of leaves over to the woods every fall and again in the spring sometimes and dump them on last year’s heaps. For those of you still having the notion that you can usher them into usable mulch, be my guest  and come fetch them anytime you wish. If I know you’re coming I can just leave them there on the lawn for a few more days and you can have them fresh off the trees. Offer is current and good for one more week.
The Roads Surrounding The Stone House
Back and front and just through the woods the roads hem us in. We don’t try to keep pets anymore. We have had too many dogs and cats just disappear or get hit on our roads. We value privacy because we have so little of it due to these roads. It’s like living in a fish bowl.
But they also provide us endless biking and hiking to the lake and back.  Big redeeming factor.
In summary, life is good. We have made a lifetime of memories here. And there are more to come.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pictures Just For Anyhow

I would really like if I could write all around these pictures.  Never have figured out how to make any of the blogger tools I use do exactly what I envision. This picture was taken on one of the highest spots in Sawyer county on County Road N. What I really wanted a picture of was the point up there in the middle of the picture where you can see miles  of color and trees.  But what I see and what my camera sees are two different things. Which is, of course, my own silly fault. The same principle applies for why I can’t draw to save my neck. So this one is for all you girls who miss fall in Wisconsin.2012-10-04 12.25.43
I stepped out of the van and decided to take a picture of all those leaves. 
2012-10-04 17.47.13
2012-10-04 17.47.35
  Elv and Benny have a Sunday afternoon watch of Tom and Jerry sometimes. Please don’t ask me to explain, okay? It’s a man/boy thing, not meant for girls at any age.
2012-10-07 19.12.49

My Grouchy List

1. The changes in our world. Non resistance is not popular. Mine is pretty thin. I have a indiscreet yen to straighten things up a bit. Just ask my poor family having to listen to me.
2. My expired drivers license. Now I have to go trotting off to town this morning instead of staying at home and cleaning our dirty house.
3. I hate it when people tout attitudes as virtues! (Don't laugh.)
4. There are payables on our desk. Always. But I don't want to even see them today.
5. No, I do NOT want to go to prayer meeting by myself while Elv has a meeting!
6. I want life to be normal! (Yelling)

Psalm 37: 3,4
Trust in the LORD, and do good:
Dwell in the land, and feed on His
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires
   of your heart.

Today must be verb day. Trust! in the LORD. It is something to do for grouchies.
Dwell! Settle down and be quiet. Delight! Okay, this one is hard. Last thing I can muster is delight just now. But since it's in the LORD...that is easier.

*Writing this reminds me... last week one day when life was especially difficult, someone in my life was "prompted" to send me an email with a one line encouraging word. It was as if God reached right down through the ceiling and said, "I've got it all under control, and I love you." Bad day went away, completely! Thank You, God. And Thank You, you know who you are, for being obedient on short notice while you hovered over the send key. Actually, that incident helps this week's grouchies, as well, in thanking you this way. I hope you're getting as much blessing as I am, now that I am remembering to count.

Monday, October 8, 2012


                                                                     Monday List

This has been a day of puttering around. That's what my mom would call it. Everything home making is up to Brad and me this week again. We chose to leave the Sunday evening mess for this morning. Not usually a fine thing to do, but today it didn't turn out so badly.

After coffee with Elv and the men getting off to work I started the laundry and dishes. Dishes took a long time partly because of my sore arm and partly because I cleaned out the refrigerator freezer, too while I was at it. Elv will be glad to know that the shelf that has been acting like it was broken was only because the holders had fallen off and were laying at the bottom of the mess. Major accomplishment there. Cleaned and put back together like new.

There is a roast in the pot and dinner rolls rising on a pan by the fire in the living room for supper. As a fun bonus because we had so much extra cream cheese on hand I created two pumpkin cheesecake pies. They came out of the oven looking delicious and lovely. No camera....again!

The LP tank is being filled today, too. No more worries that my oven is going to fade out in the middle of a ticklish baking project. The gas man came to the door to tell me how generous he had been to not charge for a leak check which he had to do because the tank was empty. Saved us 75 dollars. I see. Moral of the story is to not let it get empty. What a good idea!

Ironed four muslin and lace curtain panels to take up to the cabin this week. I laid them over a dining chair back just to look at them along with a sunflower table runner. No camera.

Taped birthday cards to the side of the black file cabinet. That old fashioned idea came from looking up Kim Jacobs art while hunting for an idea for creating us a scrapbooking area for winter here where we live without compromising too much living space. Kim Jacobs, herself, looks a lot like my childhood friend, Jennifer, I discovered today. Didn't get any good ideas about an in house studio. Derailed hunt.

The reminder of Jennifer brought back the old flood of memories and questions. I didn't want to think about all that on Monday, so I didn't. Just settled for the pleasure of seeing her like that there in Kim Jacobs picture, rosy face, dark parted hair, apron, and gardening. Lovely. What's the chance anybody sees a beautiful me in some unexpected place? Okay, that was a bunny trail. Sure wouldn't mind hearing from you, though, Jennifer.

Cozy indoors and rainy outdoors. Lovely fall this year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Falling Leaves

It is so beautiful outdoors today.  They tell us that today is our last nice day. It has been a lovely, warm day. The golden glow of color is absolutely amazing this year. At the risk of sounding mystical and silly I would say that it answers something deep inside us and causes a strong sense of worship. Except that worship is definitely NOT silly.  So today is our last day and it is slipping away quickly.

If you are one of those folks who cannot see this beauty without grieving or mentioning that winter follows; then I feel sorry for you. The leaves have been falling all day. Our lawn is covered thickly in them already. It only adds to the beauty. Oh I know, this also means that one of these days we will have to rake them up.

I believe God made this beauty just to show us that He still can recolor our whole world any time and in any awesome color He chooses. Same goes for the rest of our world. No matter who gets to be the next president and what that person might be able to do to the "economy", it doesn't change God at all. And I'm banking on God. If He can paint the world with leaves, He can do anything else with us and our world He wishes, the media and anybody else making noises notwithstanding.

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