That’s a Wrap!

And that’s a wrap!

My time home schooling is officially over.

We got the last child educated, graduated and celebrated!

Everything went really well – despite the spitting rain and frigid temperatures.

The food was plentiful, the house was bursting was family and friends, and the popcorn machine was a huge hit.

And now it’s officially over.

Windy Ridge Academy is closing it’s doors.

And we’re all on to new adventures!

So what does life look like for a home school mom emeritus?

First – a long nap.

Then I need to find everything we hid in a panic before the guests arrived.

And then – it’s grand baby time!

“To everything there is a season…”




The Gentle Art of Persuasion

786px-All's_well_that_inks_wellBuddy’s writing assignment last week was to write a persuasive letter.

Which he did.

In style.

I have given this same writing assignment to all of his siblings, but no one has ever turned in an assignment quite like this one.

I laughed out loud when I read it and thought you might enjoy it, too.

Here it goes…


Dearest Angel Girl,

As you are undoubtedly aware, the eponymous movie Cinderella has a showtime this weekend in the local Princess Theater. I have reason to believe that you are formulating plans to go and see said “flick” and I am writing this letter to try to persuade your persona to allow me to venture with you.

Now, we have gone to movies before and you’ve realized that I am a very fun person. It would be a grand time, two siblings, making a night out of it.

You might say that I am an annoying person, to which I offer no counter, but even so, said ability to perturb is occasionally a method of great enjoyment. It would not be fair to judge me on that alone.

Of course, if we went together, it would be a great time for sibling bonding. I might also be persuaded to buy part of your ticket. It could be of monetary gain for you to let me come with you.

All in all, I hope that I’ve managed to peruse your curiosity in order for you to allow me to venture along with you.

Your affable brother,



He got an A on the assignment.

And a ride to the movies.

Never underestimate the power of persuasion!

Photo credit to Chris Wightman

Crash’s Bash

He did it.

Or rather – we did it.

We got Pedro graduated!Pedro's graduationIsn’t he handsome?!

The ceremony was meaningful –  I didn’t trip or do anything to embarrass myself – and we had a nice group of family members to help us celebrate.

Somehow – after everything that went wrong in the weeks leading up to graduation- all the details fell into place perfectly!

We had a beautiful day for Pedro’s party.  The house was cleaned, the flowers planted, and all the food was ready.

And plentiful.

Ten gallons of Chex Mix was more than enough! 🙂

Crash's bashWe even had a new calf and baby kitties to show off.  Such cuteness!

There was a steady stream of people in and out the house.

Family, friends, neighbors.

Young and old.

cousinsPeople who meant so much to us, each one giving up a Sunday afternoon to celebrate our son.

Jan and I felt blessed.

And humbled.

And very tired.

But so thankful. We have much to celebrate!

Way to go Crash! We love you!


Unskilled Labor

Three of my kids were in Des Moines this week attending Teen Pact.

Which meant my house was really quiet, dishes were limited and whenever Jan needed help outside there was only one option – me. Poor guy, he had definitely reached the bottom of the barrel.

After all – I am definitely unskilled labor.

I can carry water to the pigs – 4 trips to Jan’s one.

I can feed the chickens and gather eggs.

And I’m getting pretty good at chasing the calves back in their pen – if I can catch them before they head down the road.

But this was a week to expand my horizons and increase my limited skill set!

I can now open and close gates for Jan while he feeds a bale to the cows.

I have learned how to walk the fence line and check the wires to figure out why the fence is shorting out and the calves are in my yard again.

I learned that screaming loudly and swinging a big stick will remove the cows from the hay bales – but that it is wisest to leave the bull just where he is until my husband comes home.

And – are you ready for this – I even drove the tractor!

Yep. I did.

White knuckled, without a bale, in low gear. But I drove it. Five times even.

And I parked it in the shed – by myself – and didn’t hit anything.

Although Jan still laughs when I let off the clutch too quickly and give myself whiplash. (Wait – that is called the clutch – right?)

I have even progressed to the point that I can switch gears without assistance.

Yep. I definitely expanded my horizons this week!

And – as exciting as it was – I’m quite ready for the kiddos to come home!

They can go back to the chores they do so well and I’ll head back to my house and garden.

Washing dishes never looked so good!

Of Rye Bread and Borscht

The Opening Ceremonies of any Olympic Games is traditionally a big deal here.

We study the foods of the country and design a meal to give us a flavor of the region.

But this year I will admit that Russia didn’t inspire me. It had been a busy week and I was ready to make a homemade pizza with pepperoni in the shape of the Olympic rings and call it a night. 🙂

But Buddy insisted.

He even researched. And when he uncovered a Zakuski – or Russian buffet – I decided we could pull this off.

It looked somewhat similar to the Swedish smorgasbord we enjoy with Jan’s family at Christmas. We started out with deviled eggs, sausage, cheese, and crackers that we pretended were rye. So far so good.

Then we had Bitokes (meatballs) in sour cream sauce with potato dumplings.


I even made Russian black bread. Which was actually brown. And didn’t contain any rye flour since I got sick on rye bread when I was pregnant with Matt 21 years ago and haven’t been able to look at it since.

Jan liked it. But then Jan likes everything. The kids weren’t as excited. They might have even spit it out. There’s still 5/6 of a loaf on the counter if you’d like to try it. Anybody?!

And then there was the Borscht. Honestly – could we have a Russian meal without this iconic food?

But I must confess –

DSC_0238It came from a bottle.  And the potato dumplings were actually Italian gnocchi.

I’m afraid some Russian grandmother just rolled over in her grave.

At least the faux potato dumplings tasted pretty good in the sour cream gravy.

While the Borscht could best be described as interesting. Think warm pickled beets.  Things got even worse when the bowl got around the table to Dagmar – our EMT. She took one look at the contents and exclaimed “Yuck! It looks like blood clots!”

And thus it became blood clot soup.

And we lost our appetite and gave the rest to the pigs – who were much less squeamish.

For dessert we had Russian Tea cakes – which probably aren’t even Russian. But they sure did taste good.

While this may not have been the tastiest Opening Ceremony meal we’ve ever shared – but it sure was the most memorable!

Black bread anyone?


Angel Girl turned 15 yesterday. (Not quite sure how that happened so fast!)

To celebrate she asked to hang out with her home school friends.

Why not a potluck picnic at the park?


We had lots of friends join us.

And lots of silliness.

And food. There’s always plenty of that!

(Glad to see that Buddy was eating so well – chips, Oreo cookies and a Popsicle?!)

Angel Girl got to do all her favorite things – hang with friends, take lots of cute pictures,
DSC_0210and chase adorable littles up and down the play equipment.

She was in her element!

1011766_489476501122456_822853665_nHappy birthday Angel Girl!

Photo Finish

Can I be a proud momma for just a minute? Again.

(I know – I know – it’s two weeks in a row – but it is really exciting!)

Angel Girl's prize photo

Angel Girl got a blue ribbon at the state fair. 🙂

The blue ribbon itself isn’t what I most proud of – she’s gotten those before. But this ribbon is in photography.

Her passion. Something she”s been working very hard on.

Last year none of her photos made it past the stiff competition at the County Fair.

But her judge was wonderful. He spent a lot of time looking at her pictures and gave her some very construction criticism.

And then he told her that she had a natural gift for photography – the artistic  eye needed to find the great shots. All of the other aspects of getting a good picture can be learned – but the ability to see the shot is a gift.

And Angel Girl has it.

(Why do those words make me want to cry – even a year later?)

She soaked up the encouragement, studied the criticisms, and took thousands of pictures over the next year.

And one was chosen for the State Fair.

And got a blue ribbon.

And I just had to share it. 🙂

A Proud Momma Moment

I interrupt my regularly scheduled posts to bring you an exciting announcement!

Dagmar did it!

Dagmar passed!

She passed the National EMT test – the very first time!

We now have a Nationally Certified EMT in the house. That means she can begin driving ambulances and saving lives.

She’s very excited.

We’re very proud. So proud I just had to share it!🙂

Life Lessons

We started school this week.

All the curriculum came out. The books got dusted off and the pencils sharpened.

But I find it interesting that the most important lessons learned this week didn’t come from any books – they came from life.

Lessons like responsibility.

When you are the one responsible for getting up and feeding the pigs – and you happen to oversleep – pigs don’t like it.

They bend the fence in order to get out and run around the yard in search of food.

Your mom and your sister are not very happy when they have to help you get them in – and then figure out how to keep the fence together until your dad comes home.

Over an hour of the day is lost.

And your dad is not pleased with the bent fence.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”                   Proverbs 6: 10-11

Or generosity.

That sacrificing the time to run to town for extra ingredients so you can work in a hot kitchen to make meals for those who just got out of the hospital makes you feel good.

Especially when you see the looks of appreciation on the faces of the recipients.

That taking the time to sit and down and visit when you delivered the meal was just as important as the meal itself.

And that by the time you left – you felt just as blessed as the ones you brought the meal to.

“A generous person will prosperous, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

This is what I would call real education.

There are some things in life that just can’t be taught in a textbook.


A Man Project

Pedro turned 16 this week.

That’s a big birthday in Iowa – it means that he can get officially get his driver’s license.

So what does he do to celebrate?

Well – since he’s had a steady summer job and some money just itching to be spent – he bought himself a pickup.

(I think I just heard my mother gasp!)

Don’t get too excited. This is a 1985 Toyota truck with the engine in two pieces. It arrived here on a trailer – it’s primer grey paint shining in the sun – with half of the engine laying in the truck bed.
Peter's TruckHe didn’t buy himself just any ol’ pick-up. Nope. He bought himself a “man-project”.

His daddy told him by the time he had that thing running he would know every inch of that truck.

And Pedro grinned.

He’s still grinning. Despite the excessive heat and humidity he’s been out there under the hood every day.

He’s tackling a man-size project – one piece at a time.

And that makes this momma proud.