Everything’s Better With Butter



Ma Ingalls followed this simple rule:

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday.

I’ve always done laundry on Monday,
I try to iron on Tuesday,
my mending piles up higher than Wednesday,
and for the first time in my life,
I churned on Thursday.

Laura liked churning and baking days best.
I can understand baking day,
but not churning day.

Churning Butter

This is one of Garth Williams’ beautiful illustrations,
he certainly added delight to my childhood.
He illustrated about 100 children’s books,
you’ll recognize many of the titles.

We bought the full-color collector’s edition,
and were thrilled.
It’s a treasure you’ll want to add to your collection.

(This is page 31 published 2004 by HarperCollins to show you the beauty.)


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I kinda’ cheated.  We saw a butter churn like the Ingalls’ at an antique store,
but I was too stingy thrifty to pay that much for one lesson.

This “modern” churn was a gift from a relative years ago.

It was displayed in my kitchen when an older friend walked and said,
”I remember when we got one of those!  It made making butter so much easier.”

Their family felt so high-tech by having one of the first updated churns in their
tiny Minnesotan farm community.

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It was supposed to be so simple, just pour in the cream and turn the handle.

We used two baby food jars half full of cream to involve everyone.

My granddaughter, Brookelyn, loved to
shake, shake, shake,
shake, shake, shake,
shake her butter.

Well, for the first ten minutes, anyway.

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The sun was shining, the fall day was gorgeous, so we had to work outside.

A checkered tablecloth helped set the prairie mood.

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A prairie skirt also helped set the mood for butter making.

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In a short time, it was already thickening.

We were excited.

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A little while later, butter chunks started appearing.


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It was so exciting, our neighbor Laura came to join the fun.

She also grew up reading the Little House books,
so was happy to join in our little educational activity.

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Half an hour later, we’re still churning.


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It wasn’t so exciting after awhile, so Ma Mindy helped churn
while the girls ran and played.

No prairie skirt for this woman,
I tried that once, and it didn’t fit.
We don’t have a corset like Ma wore in our dress-up bin.
I wear a gut-sucking tank top,
but I wouldn’t be laced in a corset for anything.


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Beka’s wardrobe change helped build enthusiasm again.


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We were still churning, but it seems we lost progress, instead of gaining.

It’s looked more like whipped cream again instead of butter.

I didn’t know if it was the warm weather,
over churning or under churning.
I do know we were getting a little tired of the adventure.

About 15 minutes of cranking later,
(about hour and a half all together)
we called it “whipped butter” and quit churning.

We were wondering why Laura thought churning was so fun.

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Maybe for this reason.

Homemade biscuits were waiting in the oven, thanks to my oldest daughter, Jana.


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She made butter in her kindergarten class years ago,
so was happy her daughter, Brookelyn,
was a participant in our butter festivities.

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The two baby food jars made butter easily,
the kids just shook and shook and it was done more quickly than the large churn.

It’s an easy way to include a lot of kids in the activity if your group is large.

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I loved having three generations of women making butter
and munching down hot bread with butter and honey.


But, I was so tired from churning in the hot sun,
it was hard to have ambition to clean on Friday.

I certainly don’t bake on Saturday, it’s a family day,
so I just rested on Friday
and rested on Saturday
and rested on Sunday.

After all, I’m Momma Mindy, not Ma Ingalls.


Snow Candy is Better Than No Candy

As a young bride, I received the bestest gift in the world. 

Betty Crocker Cookbook 001

I was thrilled  because even though I’d cooked most of my life,
I  wasn’t a great cook.  I wasn’t even a good cook.

Back then, I’d marvel at other women’s cookbooks, with their wrinkled, splattered pages, and marvel at the longevity of their marriages and their culinary skills.

Now I know the truth, a splattered, tattered cookbook doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good cook.

It could just mean you’ve spilled a lot on your cookbook.

One thing I have mastered is candy making. I don’t make a variety, but I can make
hard candy, caramel, and fudge. I also dip a lot of junk in chocolate and white chocolate. But, now that I’m thinking about it, I guess that doesn’t really make me a master candy maker.

But, I do know the stages of candy making.

When we were kids, my little brother Allan was always the adventurer, the one to figure out stuff. In a clearance bin at the Capital Hill Mall in Helena, MT,  he found a little vial of apricot flavoring. He was told it was flavoring for homemade candy.

He figured the $.25 to buy the flavoring to make a batch of candy, would give him a higher yield than buying $.25 worth of candy.

So, he opened my mom’s cookbook, found a recipe and made apricot hard candy.

We’ve been making hard candy ever since.

Candy Stages 001

I diligently typed this out with an old fashioned typewriter I musta’ borrowed  and glued it on the very back page.

I’ve trusted this chart over any candy thermometer I ever purchased.

Here’s a great website that explains how to do the cold water candy test.
They recommend using a candy thermometer and the cold water test while you’re making candy.

Candy making is simple.  You boil a sugar mixture until it’s the right stage.
Then you eat it.

Icing or glaze is cooked to thread stage.

Fudge is cooked to soft ball stage.

Divinity is cooked to firm ball stage.

Caramel is cooked to hard ball stage.

Toffee  and salt water taffy are cooked to soft crack stage.

Lollipops and peanut brittle are cooked to hard crack stage.

The longer you cook it, the harder it gets.
Easy Peasy.

Ma Ingalls  made molasses candy for her kids. I can imagine her dropping little bits of the candy into a bowl of cold water, explaining the stages to her girls.  I
can also imagine their impatience. It takes a LONG time to make candy.

We found the recipe for Snow Candy on a website by HarperCollins for Children.
They have a lot of valuable resources for Little House on the Prairie series,
including the recipes, quizzes, teacher resources and biographies. 

Since I am such an expert candy maker, I thought this would be a cinch.

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How hard could it be?  Two ingredients, a kettle, something to stir with and some snow.

That’s right.  I needed snow.  The sun was shining, I was dreaming about sun bathing, but  I needed snow.

I live in a place, FINALLY, after decades in North Dakota, where there is almost no snow.

Since I grew up with the survivalist mentality of Make-Do-or-Do-Without, I knew I could conquer this.

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With our little Igloo, we made snow.

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With my cookbook propped open to teach Rebekah the candy stages, we began our Candy Making Quest.

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However, as soon as she dumped in the two ingredients, she bailed.

She was playing Bananagrams on the dining room  table, ”because I’m practicing Spelling, Mom.”

I was going to say something, then realized we were really following Little House protocol.

Ma made the candy, the kids waited impatiently.

So, with all the pioneer spirit I could muster, I stirred and stirred and stirred, calling her over when I was dropping stuff in the water.

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Then I stirred some more.

Notice how cleverly I magneted the recipe to my stove?

Notice how I didn’t clean off the counters for that perfect blog picture?

Notice the double chin I don’t know how to Photoshop off?

Yea, so this is the real deal, here folks.

No “I have the perfect life” fake bloggy stuff for me.

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If ya’ happen to be stirring and stirring, and your rubber spatula is getting smaller and smaller, ya’ better take out  a wooden spoon to stir until you can go out  and buy a new spatula.

Candy making is challenging on those things, and I  have the proud claim to fame that I’ve melted a Pampered Chef spatula while making candy. This one is from one of those expensive cooking stores.

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Remember my bragging about my candy making skills? This thick stuff was hard to test.

At the end I wait for the candy to speak to me, because when  it’s at the hard crack stage it will literally crack in the water.  I usually yell at the kids, “Be quiet!  Be quiet!  I can’t hear my candy!”

The molasses candy wasn’t cracking a lot, but it was starting to smell burnt.

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We pulled it off the burner and  tried swirling designs on our “snow” like Laura and Mary.

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Yea, so big deal.  No fancy designs that would be worth writing about in my memoire.

I poured the rest in a buttered pan.  As it cooled, we began playing with it.

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OK, so we had a few shining moments. The ribbon candy is kinda’ cute.

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Just don’t leave your utensils in the pan with the candy, like I did.

How did it taste, you wonder?

If you like molasses, you would like this candy. If you hadn’t had sugar or sweets for a year, like Laura and Mary who are thrilled to get one piece of candy on the rare occasion Pa goes to town, you would like this candy.

But, if you’ve eaten Laffy Taffy or a Jolly Rancher, you’ll be thankful you weren’t a pioneer child.

So, to not leave you hanging on the verge of disappointment, I’m gunna’ give ya’ a freebie.

My favorite candy recipe.

Homemade Butterscotch 001

It’s amazing.  I always thought it was interesting that there is no added flavoring, but it really is butterscotch.

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It’s delicious, I promise.

And it will REALLY make you thankful you aren’t a pioneer kid
who’d never seen a town and had to be content crunching on molasses candy.

Dickshunaree Skillz

During our day covering Chapter 5 in Little House in the Big Woods, Ms. Margie Gray
wanted us to cover dickshunaree skillz. 


Yea, I’m pretty sure the Ingalls family had a huge dictionary that they packed from
Minnesota, to South Dakota to Missery with them.

The little girl who had to play with a corn cob doll certainly didn’t have a dictionary.
But, I think it’s a fine skill to learn, so I pushed on with my usually joyful abandonment.

That’s a line I read once and I’ve been waiting to use it. 


Picking up a dictionary always gives me just a little bit of a frustration flashback.

In the fifth grade, I asked Mrs. Hayes how to spell tongue. 
I was writing an amazing essay on uses for the tongue,
including such wisdom as sticking out your tongue at your brother
behind your parents’ back to annoy them and get them in trouble.

She wouldn’t tell me. With wilting coffee breath foreshadowing her negative command,
she said, “Look it up in the dictionary.”

With all the wisdom a  10 year old can possess, I asked,
“How can I look it up in the dictionary, I can’t spell it?”

She glared at me over her glasses, and I knew the conversation was over.
I was OK that she glared, when she smiled, I had to see her crooked, coffee-stained teeth.

The conversation was over, but not my offense. 
I thumbed through the dictionary with exaggerated huffings and turnings,
mumbled how I couldn’t find it because I couldn’t spell it,
then spelled it TUNG in effigy.

Although Mrs. Hayes discounted my paper for misspelling tongue over and over,
she did take my paper to the teacher’s lounge and had all the other teachers read it.

I guess I won that round.

Dictionary for Children

To my chagrin, (what is chagrin anyway? do you ever use it in speaking or just writing?)
I found myself repeating this instruction to one of my kids years ago.

Then, I repented.  I gave them a little extra advice on how to find a word in the dictionary
when you don’t know how to spell it.

Begin with the first letter.


Guess at the second letter.

If you don’t find it, guess again, thinking of other phonetic rules that might impact pronunciation,
in this case, the schwa rule. If looking up tongue, you can kinda rule out “e” and “I” because they
don’t schwa.


There ya’ go.  You should find your word.

It’s important that kids feel comfortable with a dictionary, it could be their best friend.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it can’t be their enemy.

Understanding all the different terms is a good way to begin.


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This is the outside back cover of the dictionary I use.
My mommy bought it for me.  She is an avid thrift shopper
and has found stacks of great books and workbooks for me over the years.


The hardest thing about using a dictionary, is remembering alphabetical order.
At least in math if you forget a fact, you can count on your fingers.
With this, you’re stuck with singing the alphabet song in your head
and over
and over
and over.

Just teach your kids to sing silently to themselves,
even if they’re the only child in the classroom.
Someday they’ll be out in the world trying to socialize,
and hometeached people who sing to themselves could be just
a little annoying. A lip-moving-while-thinking person is slightly less weird.


(Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1982)



Pronunciation Guide

Macmillan also provides a great pronunciation key.

Flip through the dictionary you’re using and familiarize yourself
with all the tools they provide.

Dickshunaree Skillz Worksheet 001

And because homeschoolers sometimes feel left out
if they don’t get worksheets, I made one using Ms. Gray’s
terms and definitions.

You can use it, too.

It’s ain’t perty, it’s ain’t fancy, but I got ‘er dun.


So, now you know how to use the dickshunaree.


If ewe think I spelt that rong, just go look it up, k?


Why Do Weasels Pop?

We’ve all grown up with the song Pop Goes the Weasel. It was a favorite folk tune when Pa played it on his violin for his family,
it’s still a favorite for kids today.

However, when I was a kid, I didn’t even know what a weasel was.  It wasn’t a species common to Montana.
I didn’t know what a cobbler was, either, or why he had a bench.

It was a catchy tune, with tricky lyrics.

You can look up weasel on the New World Encyclopedia website, but they use a lotta’ big words.
It’s Monday.  I don’t do big words on Monday.  Wait, it’s Tuesday.  I don’t do big words on Tuesday, either.

Here’s a source from the Hylebos Wetlands with smaller words.
Short words are my friends when I’m tired and school must go on.

But, I read enough to learn that even though we think negatively about the weasel,
who by tradition is sneaky and annoying, he provides something useful.
We love ermine, ya’ know, the white fur kings and queens use to trim their purple robes?
That’s  a weasel’s winter wear.
In high elevations, the weasels turn white in the winter, creating the much-desired fur.

No wonder the cobbler was chasing the weasel.
He wanted to make some ermine-trimmed boots!
I would SO wear them, just not in Washington, the animal activist state.

While Rebekah was looking up information on the weasel, I noticed she left the section for DIET blank.

“Rebekah, why didn’t you write down what he eats?  It’s right there in the dictionary.”

“What he eats?  I’m supposed to write down what he eats?  OH.  Because for a woman a diet is what she doesn’t eat.”

Good point, my dear, it’s no wonder you couldn’t finish your homework.
Women do complicate life, don’t they?

Weasels are like brothers, in that they use a anal secretion to ward off enemies.
That’s the fancy Science way of saying fart, but maybe you don’t use that word in your home.
My teacher husband got reprimanded by the principal for using this F word in the classroom years ago.
Apparently, a parent called quite offended.
Now he works in the business world where the F word they use is not the anal secretion word.

The antidote for a weasel bite is monkey secretion.  EEWWWW, is that like monkey pee? Or would that be monkey spit?
Anyway, if you’re hiking in the US and you get bit by a weasel, you’re going to have to run to the nearest zoo.

While we were pondering what the secretion was, we found a map showing our entire state is a habitat for long-trailed weasels.

Then, we found out the collective name for a group is a boogle, gang, pack and confusion.

Bing Images supplies pictures of weasels and tracks to make drawings.

But, after the research, we’re still confused about the popping of the weasel.
Why don’t we have Weasels in our Jack in the Boxes instead of a scary clown?
That would be  a popping weasel.

Just wondering.

Of course, we had to visit YouTube, the intellectually stimulating website.
OK, it’s a site where you can waste a lot of time, but we found what we were looking for.

Pop Goes the Weasel

If you want to hear the Cedarmont Kids sing a cute version, click the link.


David Scrivener is actually play Pop Goes the Weasel on Pa Ingall’s violin!

If ya’ wanna’ play and sing with your kids, here is sheet music.
It’s a little high.  You can play an octave lower, or stand on your tippy-toes.

There’s a lot of different verses, but Pa sang a scandalous one,
about the preacher kissing the cobbler’s wife.
That would be enough to make the weasel pop.

After my diligent research, OK two sites and Wikipedia,
nobody seems to know what POP GOES THE WEASEL means.

Isn’t that the way it is?

So, the fact remains.  If you’re hiking in Washington and you run into a boogle of weasels and the anal secretion doesn’t warn you in time and you are bitten,
you better run, don’t walk,  to the nearest zoo for a monkey secretion antidote.


Don’t Be Owly!

Pa told a story about an owl scaring him in the woods
when he was a young boy,
so we had to learn about owls.

As we began learning, I keep hearing my Dad’s voice in my head.
hen we were grumpy and crabby, he’d always say,
”Don’t be owly!”


I never understood it, until I watched YouTube videos on owls.


This owl showed up in someone’s yard.


Yea, it could sound like little kids bickering and snipping at one another.


This is a little baby owl “trilling.”


They say cutest owl ever, they aren’t kidding.




This is the printable we used from Daily Coloring Pages.
I was thrilled to find this resource with almost a bajillion
coloring pages for alphabets, cartoons, holidays, sports, etc.

Ya’ wanna’ bookmark this site and come back.


We used The Owl Pages to find the information on habitat and diet.

She had to look up words she didn’t know, like nocturnal and fledgling.

To help Rebekah more quickly navigate the online world,
I taught her

CUT – control C
PASTE – control V

to place words she didn’t know into


Teaching Tip:
To keep a child safe in the online world, research ahead of time
and drop safe sites in your taskbar.
If there are too many, or ones I will only visit once,
I send myself an email with the links I want to use for each topic.


After listening to several owl videos on YouTube,
we decided we didn’t hear any that sounded the way Pa described it
in the story. 

Maybe his owl story is like most men’s fishing stories,
they get better with time and telling.


Through our study on owls,
Rebekah came to the conclusion that she didn’t like them,
because they eat all the cute little animals she loves.


I realized birds are not my favorite either,
because I didn’t have any bird books on my shelf.


But, I won’t be owly about having to study owls,
OK, Dad?

Turning Beka’s Heart to Her Daddy

In the Little House books, honoring and obeying parents
is a recurring theme, as it was in those times.


Times ain’t what they used to be.


The assignment said,
”Laura’s father was an important part of her life.
What does Malachi 4:6 say?”



In looking for a visual of this verse,  I found this amazing website with free verse downloads.

Inspirational Bible Verses

But, I wanted to do something more than just look at a cool picture
and talk about Malachi 4:6.

I needed Beka to
the verse in her heart, mind and soul.

I’ve learned Satan loves to come between Christian parents and their kids.

The wicked one first sticks a toe of doubt, disappointment or hurt,
then wedges his way between the two parties.

A small offense can be harbored by Christian kids for a long time.
It might be something a parent said or did by accident or the heat of the moment.
Usually satan’s ammunition is not something intentional on a parent’s part.

To help win the battle for my kids’ souls,
I help turn their hearts to their Daddy.

It had been an unusual week for our family,
Daddy had business meetings that kept him past dinner all week.
He normally goes into work early, so he doesn’t miss family dinner.
The kids missed Pops all week,
but need to be reminded he works hard because of them.

During an ice-breaker session at a work event years ago,
the employees had to introduce themselves and list their hobbies.

My husband said, “I am Scott and I have a wife and six kids.”

We are his hobbies.

But, sometimes he’s distracted from work and doesn’t listen very well.
Sometimes he’s exhausted and he doesn’t have the energy for the Honey Do List.
He falls asleep every time he watches a movie with the kids.
He forgets things, because he has so much on his mind.

But, he’s busy and tired and stressed because
he is working for his family,
the only hobby in his life.

As moms, we need to help remind our kids to admire and love their Dads.

I decided Beka needed to create something for her Daddy.

Daddy cover

She folded several pieces of yellow paper together and sewed a seam with
my sewing machine.

She picked out her favorite picture of her Daddy for me to print.


Malachi 4 v6

She illustrated our theme verse.

Teaching Tip:
I try to have one project each day where
spontaneous creativity
is encouraged.
There is a time to follow directions,
and a time to just create!

i love my daddy

We talked about how much we love him.

i admire my daddy

We talked about how much we admire him.

i admire my daddy1

And when the project was done,
our hearts were refreshed with love and admiration
for our Pa, the head of our household.

And when he opened his gift of love,
his heart was filled with love for his Beka-Boo.

It wasn’t really an assignment,
it was a labor of love.

Hunting for Rust, Not Bears

Rust is my friend.
I love the way it flavors my eye-candy displays of old junk in my yard.


Rust was not Pa’s friend. 
His life depended on his ability to keep his tools from rusting.


If his gun was rusty, it might misfire. 
If it misfired, it might kill him.
If the misfire didn’t kill him, the bear would for sure.


We studied about rust and how it forms.
When I asked questions about the gun-cleaning passage,
she couldn’t answer very clearly,
so I  read the passage out loud and Beka acted it out.
We don’t  have a gun in the school room,
because there are no bears in our yard.

Teaching Tip:
Reading out loud can increase reading comprehension
and vocabulary. Read the material slowly, taking time
to explain parts and have them repeat new words they hear.
It will increase their understanding and retention.


Since we can’t bear hunt,
ya’ know,  I sent my daughter hunting for something else….




She didn’t come back empty handed.


Enjoy my rusty eye-candy.

Remember, rust is my friend.

Got Manners?

Our assignment was to talk about manners,
all because Laura was rude enough to interrupt Mary.

I’m not sure what I think about Emily Post,
but I’m pretty big on manners.

Manners in the 1870’s were different.

My husband and I never agreed with the
“children are to be seen and not heard”
theory at our dinner table.

We welcome our children in the dinner conversation,
but they cannot rule the table.
We love good, respectful, spiritual conversation,
but I have to admit,
laughter is the main characteristic of our family meals.
We love being together.


Not that all family meals have good manners.
Don’t say, “Please pass a roll” because it will literally be passed.
Like a football.
Just don’t tell Pa Ingalls, OK?

In my other, other blog, I blogged about it,
the bad manners, that is.


Yea, thanks for asking,
I have another blog, because with six kids,
two in-laws, one husband, one cat and three grandchildren,
I have so much free time on my hands.


It’s called Momma Mindy’s Moments
and you can follow it  here, if you have free time,
or just want to find out why I wear sticks in my hair,
or what is  Grandpa-Renting.

There’s a great video I made about
my husband’s manners,
but it didn’t migrate to WordPress.

I will link you to Blogger, but iffin ya’
wanna’ follow my other blog,
go to WordPress.
Please and thank you.
Phew!  I almost forgot my manners!

So, I had to teach my daughter manners.
If ya’ watched the above video, you figgered out I was on my own.


The family wasn’t going to be much help.



Studying Manners
Beka pulled these books off the shelf  and stacked them on the table in front of me.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
”Beka, have I ever told you about how the Lord provided these books?”


She smiled, and said no, with a look that told me she knew a big story was coming on.


Just like the Ingalls, I have stories I pass on to my kids.
I have a passion to share with them
the provision of the Lord,
the protection of the Lord and
the power of the Lord.

I don’t want them ever to forget what He’s done for our family.



The story I told Beka goes like this:


Once upon a time were living in Wichita, Kansas, where Daddy was teaching business and math at a private Christian high school.

Packrats, mice, opossums, and brown recluse spiders shared living quarters with us in a single-wide trailer home in the country. One of our neighbors had cows, so when I did dishes, I could look out my window and watch the Hereford cows grazing around a small pond in a treed area. It was beautiful. We were so thrilled to be living in the country.

Our student loan bill took 25% of our salary, the car loan the other 25%.  Over and over I’ve added up the bills and it always comes way over what we made.  We survived because of the Lord. Anything we needed, we relied on the Lord to provide, which was a joy and delight to Daddy and me. It was an exciting, happy time for us to serve the Lord and grow in Him. We were also and happy to have the Lord bless us with  children.

One day I had to drop off Daddy at work and drive to an appointment in a part of Wichita I wasn’t familiar with.  There was around $3 in my wallet, so I planned on stopping at a thrift store if I could find one. Daddy and I had a deal.  If he ever took a dollar to buy a can of pop at work, I could have the change. At the end of each day, I emptied his pockets and squirreled up the change.  The early years, pop was  $.50, so I was guaranteed two shiny quarters on pop day. After two pop days, I only needed a few pennies to cover tax, and I was ready to shop. I could buy three items of clothing for the kids in the $.29 bin.  A dollar had power back in the early 90’s.

I walked around the store, giddy with my $3 shopping power.  I headed back into the children’s department, excited to buy some toys or books for my three little ones.  On the children’s bookshelf was a row of nearly-new, hardcover books by Joy Wilt Berry, a series I had longed for. I picked up the stack and counted the books.  I looked around for a sign with prices, but didn’t find one. I opened my wallet and recounted my money. It seemed doubtful that I could afford all the books, but couldn’t decide which ones to put back.  Since the store was so far away, and we only had one car, I knew I wouldn’t be in that part of town again for a long time.  It would also take a long time to save that much money again. The kids played happily around me while I crouched near the bookshelf.  I prayed.

With uncertainty,   I walked up to the counter and asked the young clerk how much the books were, explaining prices weren’t posted.  She spread the books out on the counter, but didn’t find prices on them.  She counted the books. I can still feel the eternity of waiting while she figured and I prayed. Finally, she looked up and gave me a price.  I had enough to buy ALL the books.  I had more than enough.  I could buy all those books for my precious babies. At that moment the counter was an altar, as I worshipped the Lord for His gracious provision.


For over 20 years, these books have been loved and read by our family.
However, they teach more than just manners and correct behavior.
They preach the glories of Jehovah Jireh, my Provider,
whose grace is sufficient for me.




First Day of School!

I was so excited to jump into blog journey through
The Prairie Primer,
I didn’t start at the beginning,
which is a very good place to start.

I even blogged  about how I organize our curriculum.


Welcome Back!

After a cup of coffee,
I wrote a greeting in my best Palmer Cursive. 
How did our teachers write against a wall?

It’s not a feat for teachers with a weak back or shaky hands.

My mom, who taught in a one-room school in North Dakota,
has the very best cursive in the whole, wide world. 
I spent hours practicing, even in college,
trying to imitate her handwriting.

I never could.

First Fourth Grade Math Lesson

Beka loves her desk, a $30 Craigslist find.

We’re using a 1930’s Arithmetic book,
so she copies each problem first.
(I’ll blog more about this curriculum later)


Math Lesson

While homeschooling my children,
I discovered I need to see and touch to learn.
So, I teach that way.

I love using a chalkboard or a whiteboard,
and have invented manipulatives over the years
for concepts we struggled with.
Grammar Girl says you can end a sentence with a preposition.)


Teaching Tip:
Kids learn in different ways.
Some need to see.
Some need to hear.
Some need to do.
If a concept isn’t easily grasped,

I’ve also learned to listen to what’s important to my kids.
Rebekah asked for our first day be Prairie  for both of us,
in dress, words, names and lunch.

That meant pulling dress-ups over my t-shirt and jean shorts,
and tying the skirt on because I’m not an skinny as my daughters.

She assured me we could have other days as regular people,
but the first day it had to be totally “back-then.”



Back to School! 012

Recess was running in a long skirt and picking flowers for the teacher.


Doncha’ love homeschooling?

Once Rebekah was bemoaning she never “went” to school.
I listened to her Kindergarten complaints, then simply said,

“Do you know when you go to public school,
you have to wear the same clothes ALL day long?
And, you can’t wear dress-ups to school.”

End of conversation.

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Granddaughter Brookelyn joined us for recess and picked a love offering.




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I rang the bell and the students came back to class.


It was a perfect first day of school,
although we know not all days of homeschooling go this well.

The best days are life rafts
during one of those other kind of days.
We cling to the memory until shore is in sight.


Back to School! 021


In keeping with First Day of School traditions,
this was my husband’s contribution.
You can read about it
(didja’ notice the wrapper?  didja’ didja’?)


No Sympathy really needed for our
First Day of School.

I’d say, it was a Symphony of Success.


Can I take off this long skirt now?

Pa Saves the Bacon!

In Chapter One Pa heard squeals in the middle of the night,
so like a man of that time, grabbed his gun and headed out the door.
With no neighbors nearby, he probably ran out in his union suit.
At least it wasn’t whitie-tidies.
As my daughter would say, “eewwwwwww, that’s totally gross.”

A big black bear is trying to grab their pig,
Pa shoots and misses, but assures the family-

Saved the Bacon with red

(Little House in the Big Woods, Scholastic Book Services, 1974)

Of course, I had to look up what that meant.
It wasn’t even in the curriculum.
I’m just snoopy like that.
Maybe curious.
I just gotta’ know stuff.

I went to my first source.
Dictionary.com says the term “save one’s bacon” is an informal idiom.


They define it as “ to allow one to accomplish a desired end; spare one from injury or loss.”

Their example sentence:
Quick thinking saved our bacon.


They further state:
At the time it was first recorded, in 1654, bacon was a prized commodity,
so perhaps saving one’s bacon was tantamount to keeping something precious.

When you’re teaching, do you end up on an educational bunny trail?
You just can’t help but stop and teach about something else that came up
when you were supposed to be teaching about something else?

We did an IDIOM bunny trail.

Back to Dictionary.com to find the definition of an idiom.


I love using Dictionary.com, my favorite online school resource.

They also pronounce the words for you.

I have always been an avid reader, but for the past 25 years I’ve been around primarily people
who begin life with no vocabulary, move into limited vocabulary, and when they have a
vocabulary suitable for adult conversation, they move out or get jobs or find other ways to be
away from Mommy all day.

So, I know words, I don’t know how to say them.
When I’m around grown-ups, I sometimes ask them if I am pronouncing a word correctly,
because I’ve never SPOKEN it I’ve only READ it.

Like genre.
I had to ask someone in my writers group how to pronounce this word.
If you’re proud, you don’t learn.
The opposite of proud is embarrassed.  I often embarrass myself.

Then I went to find a list of other idioms to share.
Idiom Site is a great source, even they don’t have “save the bacon.”

Then I moved onto Bing Images, with my filter set to “strict.”
You have to check back often to update your preference,
I don’t know why it won’t save
your setting forever and ever and ever and ever.
They should.

I realized America is obsessed with bacon.

People eat bacon for meals, snacks, and for deserts.

There are  bacon t-shirts, candles, crafts, air fresheners and candles.

We’ve gone hog wild for the stuff sliced usually so thin
your in-laws will never come back.

Just look at this bacon pie.
A man lover’s pie from
Comfort Food From Louisiana.
That’s some pig!

Back to the idiom.
In Pa’s case it wasn’t an idiom, it was the true encounter.

Did Pa use the idiom in context for humor?

We’ll never know.
But we know, he saved the bacon, and for that,
America is truly grateful.

In Chapter Two,
Pa saves another pig’s bacon from a bear,
Pa saves his bacon by shooting the bear,
then saves his family’s bacon by feasting on bacon and bear.

Here we learn that
bears go better with bacon.

And now, you’ve followed my exciting adventure on an
idiom bacon trail.

Teaching Tip:
Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat, it saves the bacon.
Go with your gut, explore and learn along the way.
Unintentional learning sometimes sticks better
than intentional learning.