Saturday, October 14, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Turkey Processing Update

Turkey processing day came and went. In the end, it was a success. To share a breakdown/comparison:

2016
Last year we processed 48 turkeys.
We had 1,030 pounds of meat.
This was an average of 21.45 per bird.

2017
This year we processed 30 turkeys.
We had 638.14 pounds of meat.
This was an average of 21.27 per bird.

We had nearly an identical return this year even though we monitored how much we fed the birds much more this year. We did 12 skips flat of feed everyday during their last four weeks.

After we sold 18 of the turkeys, there were 12 left for us. Ten were immediately broken down and ground. The other two will be used for our Thanksgiving dinner and the grandparents Thanksgiving dinner (we are celebrating separately this year.) We will eat our 255 pounds of meat for free.

A few notes:

  • Don't let your kiddos bring the ice to the filled chill tank without specific instructions that loading the ice in a dirty wagon first isn't okay. We had to empty and refill the chill tank to start the morning.
  • Having a freezer break the moment processing began is a lot less than ideal.
  • The Lord always brings the right people along to help us.
  • Turkeys are processed when they are 18 weeks old.
  • Our smallest turkey was 13 pounds and our largest was a quarter of an ounce shy of THIRTY pounds.
  • We are so thankful for the way the Lord always provides the help we need to get the job done. Our new friends Annie and Susie joined us. They are co-workers in Knoxville and really love our farm and have been volunteering periodically. Oh my gosh! We absolutely could NOT have accomplished the day without them and still have been standing at the end of it. So blessed to have them there. We also had our WWOOFer Tijmen here to help. Wow did we need him. (More about him in a bit!) We also helped process our friend Kymberly's five geese. She and her daughters came and helped and then we processed their geese. 
We have decided we will NOT be doing turkeys again next year. We have decided to cut back and this is one of the areas we are going to cut back. However, I think that we would like to do turkeys again in the future, and we may consider doing a few for ourselves in the upcoming year. 

Do I love processing day? I do not. I don't like killing animals. However, I really appreciate seeing our hardwork pay off and what happens when you raise animals the way they are supposed to be raised. There is a great feeling of accomplishment.
This picture is right before we got started in the morning. The turkeys are brought up from a kennel right over grampa's (in hat) head. Susie (yellow shirt) and Annie (white shirt) were absolutely INCREDIBLE. The boys helped the entire day -- although we found the turkey's weight prevented them from helping as much as they do with the chickens.

Our WWOOFer, Tijmen, with a goose feather in his hat after we hit a delirious point at the end of the day. Tijmen's strength was really, really important as getting the turkeys up into the kill cones was really challenging because of their weight. Truly, the Lord brought the PERFECT people along to make for the smoothest possible day!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Funnies

Hannah decided to make a potty out of an egg. I never know how she comes up with these things, but you'll hear her tell everyone that the potty swallows poop and pee:



*****

Sidge corrected Hannah the other day. When Hannah tried to argue, Isaac said: "No, Hannah, Sidge is quite right."

*****

Hannah: "Hey Mom, I'd like this clock in this magazine for Christmas."
Me: "Okay, we could ask Santa for it."
Hannah: "No, I just want it from UPS."

Review: Time in my Pocket


Okay so this is a very cool review for me to write, and one I am incredibly honored and excited to share.  

I actually worked with this author, Gina Dewink, at the RLS Foundation for a number of years. We actually worked remotely together (me from northern Florida and her from Minnesota) so we have only met in person one time. However, we became friends during our regular correspondence through work. I actually ate lunch with her and my co-workers from the Foundation with little Isaac in tow the day before I had to stop questioning my perpetual stomach upset-ness and take a pregnancy test and learned I would be a mother again very shortly.


But I digress ...

This review is for Gina's first book: Time in My Pocket. And folks, it is really, really good. 

I'll be honest. I don't have much time to read. And I love to read. So when Gina mentioned sending me a copy of her book in exchange for reviewing her book, I wasn't sure what to expect. A self-published by a first-time author. Would it be worth my precious reading time?

The answer: YES, YES, and more YES! 

I actually found myself yearning for my before-bed reading time so that I could have more time with the characters in this incredibly well-researched and incredibly well-done novel. In fact, I actually brought it with me for the reading time I get during bits and pieces of Abigail's ballet lesson and on the couch with kids swirling all around me. (I very rarely attempt to read during the day as I get frustrated when the kids interrupt me. But I simply could not wait until night time to keep reading.) 

It was THAT good.

Whatever I expected was BLOWN out of the water by this novel. Gina's writing was FANTASTIC. I especially loved her ability to paint a character in vivid imagery and colors. I could absolutely picture each of the characters both in present day and after the novel shifts sixty years in the past.

Did you know that most people in the U.S. check their smartphones 150 times a day? Keep this in mind as you think about what it would be like for a modern day housewife to be suddenly transported back to 1947 Hollywood in the body of a much younger woman?

While all of Gina's characters were well-painted, it is her drawing of Liza Anderson in Time in My Pocket that set the tone for this novel. I love the voice of the frumpy mom from my era suddenly finding herself living in the thighs of a buxom beauty from the 40's in Hollywood. Can you even imagine? 

Gina imagines for us and the voice of this character and the others who walk alongside her are brilliantly depicted in the pages of this novel. I'm sure we've all wondered what would happen if we were younger again. Or if we could live in a different era. But if we were doing so while quite aware that this wasn't our life?

I loved the wit and dangers intertwined into this novel. I loved that it combined romance and modern-day problems with those of the challenges of life decades ago. Oh the importance of a library before smartphones! And while I will refrain from ruining the book for you, I will say that I thought the ending was brilliantly done. Oh, and while there is a small amount of bad language in the book, I did think it was properly placed and overall a pretty clean novel fitting for younger readers as well.

Okay, I could go on and on. Instead, I'd like to do a giveaway of this book as I really would like to share Gina Dewink's writing with others. I also would really like to encourage you to go to Amazon and download or purchase a copy of Time in My Pocket for yourself. Simply leave a comment along with your email address below this post and in one week's time, I will randomly choose a winner!

Well done Gina! I am incredibly proud of you and proud to say I know you!

P.S. Oh and the cover of this book was SO WELL DONE! I absolutely thought it fit the novel perfectly!!!!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures
Brinkman Adventures As my husband and I were growing up, we were big fans of Christian audio adventure series. Some of the ones we listened to are still around, but I decided to try a different one with my children during the last few weeks. We had the opportunity to review the Brinkman Adventures -- specifically we tuned in for the Brinkman Adventure Season 4. 

Prior to listening to the first episode, I lazily did not do a lot of research. However, after Episode 1 which chronicled the family's "failure" of a family vacation, I visited the website and spent some time really browsing around. 

I think that to understand this product, it is vital to understand what goes on behind this product. You need to know that these are based on a real life family and that while the names have been changed, the actors and actresses play themselves! Knowing that makes these adventures really come alive. Sometimes I would think a certain voice seemed a little bit off as I listened. But then I realized that they weren't necessarily using locals to do the voices -- they were using the actual family to produce this. This gives you a whole new appreciation for what you were hearing. In addition, while some of the events are dramatized or changed a bit, most of the adventures are based on things that really happened to this story. 
Even better is that you can read about the story behind each of the adventures on their website. However, you have to be warned that if you view the backstory, it could spoil the adventure for you.

It is always hard for me to "show" an audio program because it is so, well, not visual. But I thought if I highlighted one episode we really loved and discussed it, it would make the program come as alive for you as it does for us when we listened. I have included pictures of our own farm along the side because this episode left us talking about our farm and attempt to "use the land" correctly for quite a long time.
I'd like to take a closer look at Episode 43 with you. This was by FAR our favorite episode, and I should warn you that this will be a spoiler (but well worth it in my opinion!)

This episode looked into the lives of Glen and Rita who serve in a remote part of the Congo where they run a Bible School that trains villagers to be pastors. Glen also flies into these villages with no roads between them using a powered parachute and will show these people the Jesus Film. Most people have never even seen a movie so seeing videos (and even ones that Glen has taken of them are incredibly amazing to them.) 

In the episode of The Mysterious Palm Feller we are transported via the powers of audio to their mission which is on 1,000 acres of land that has been with their ministry since the 1930's. They talk about the people in this area are hunters and gatherers which means they often kill any animals they can get a hold of whether they are young or old. As a result, wildlife has become scarce and the only thing they can really plant, corn, is very bad on the soil. So they started to cut down trees to make room for more corn to be planted.

Glen and Rita are using their 1,000 acres to show people in the area how to take care of the land. This was so interesting for our family to listen to being as that is what we are trying to do on our 100 acres in rural Tennessee. They are showing people how helpful planting trees are and also that you can raise domestic animals for food to help save more of the wild animals. 

I love what the website says about the "real story" about this episode 
when the author writes: "It is hard to convince people who are hungry and barely surviving to trust that the extra work will be worth it." This really resonated with me. This is how I feel here on our farm. Not that we are hungry, but the old farmers around us don't understand why we would waste our time doing the things we are doing! One of the actors in the story said of Glen's mission: "I can see that as a mission, you're not just dealing with people's spiritual needs, you're dealing with their physical needs." And the response is: "Yes, I like to call it a holistic ministry!"

In this particular story, someone was chopping down the palm trees on their mission's land. They were trying to catch the person responsible but were not fast enough t do it. He ended up confronting a man he thought might be responsible and was lead to a local witch doctor which is who they were collecting the palm sap. He ended up confronting the witch doctor and bringing him to Christ! It was an incredible story.

This is just one example of the great stories on these adventures. When this episode was finished, Abigail begged for me not to turn off the radio, and she ended up listening to the next one all by herself! We ended up listening to all twelve episodes but in various ways. Sometimes one child would listen to one. Sometimes we would all listen to one together. Sometimes a few children would listen together. We did it in various ways. We really enjoyed all the episodes. 

Both of my boys said that Episode 43 was also their favorite. But Abigail really enjoyed Episode 42 "The Crashed Kitchen." 

The Brinkman Adventures is produced by Beachglass ministries which is a non-profit and non-denominational Christian organization. Take a moment to check out the Brinkman Adventures on Facebook by visiting here! 
Brinkman Adventures Season 4

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Tribe Life Tuesday: Community & Honor


A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!


Hi! I am Carrie and I am so excited to be sharing with you today. As we dive in, I’d like you to consider the following questions:

  1. Am I happy? 
  2. Am I with people who make my life better? 
  3. Am I contributing to making the lives of others better? 
Continue pondering your answers to these questions as we begin our discussion of two subjects I’m deeply passionate about: community and honor.

Community: 
A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals; joint ownership or liability

Honor:
High respect; esteem; a privilege

So, how do these two gifts pair up? I immediately think of a hot air balloon – it’s massive, there are two main parts, it has a unique woven design that is stunning when it rises to fly, and it doesn’t explode under pressure.

In this metaphor, community is the balloon (referred to as the envelope) and, like the beautiful colored balloon, the tapestry of humanity choosing to share life with each other is a design that is unmatched. Your community is much like the balloon with its fabric intricately woven together. It is no accident that you have ended up where you are, with the people you are with.

Now honor is definitely the basket. It’s the weight that contributes to the sturdiness of the entire structure. It holds everyone together.

The balloon doesn’t fly without the basket and the basket doesn’t fly without the balloon. You see, community won’t be all it can be without honor and honor can’t be fully achieved without community. And, none of this happens without a little fire! There will be moments in community where fire is present, it will get hot and probably uncomfortable, but the balloon has a protective sealant preventing it from burning up. Covered with the right coating, the fire is an accelerant that allows you to take flight.

This is COMMUNITY!

When you are with the right people, even the difficult moments, like having an honest conversation, setting healthy boundaries, and being vulnerable, don’t seem as hard because you are covered by the right people who will protect you.

So how does this apply? What does this look like walked out day to day?

Well, one of the most important things to keep in mind as we pursue being in community with people is keeping the main thing the main thing. We have to be sure that we are seeing people in their best light and not looking for fault or failure in them. Community really is about coming alongside and helping each other live our best lives.

Here are a few tips that you can keep handy as you do life with others – consider this your pocket guide to community:

  • Everyone is welcome into community 
  • Community is about relinquishing the desire to control others
  • Community is a gift 
  • Honor makes us better humans 
  • Be wildly rebellious, brave, & strong & find community
See you next Tuesday!

Carrie

Monday, October 09, 2017

Review: CTCMath

CTCMath
Hang on to your hats folks -- this program is simply and utterly AWESOME! I raved about it when I first reviewed it, and I am raving about it again!

Rave Reviews
Those of you who read my Blog regularly will not be surprised with this review. I have raved about this product since I was first asked to review it back in August of last year. (Rave is really not strong enough of a word in explaining how much we love this program.) CTCMath made our Review Crew's list of 2016 favorites. And I included it in my own personal "favorites" list as well which you can read by clicking here. You can read my original review by clicking here. And now for the most awesome news of all! CTCMath's Single Membership is now available for you to try for free! You do NOT want to miss this opportunity.

Quick Summary
We have a Family Membership to CTCMath. We use this program with our sons (who are doing third and fourth grade math) and my daughter (who is in kindergarten but is now doing first grade math with the program.) My individual child logs into the program with their unique login and password. He/she then goes to the next lesson in their list. They watch a short video on that lesson and then they answer questions that go with that lesson. Each of my kiddos work through each lesson individually and without parental involvement or help. If they have trouble with a lesson and get a poor score, then Dad or Mom will watch the video with them and they will try it again. 

Breaking it down
To give you an example, let me focus specifically on my six-year-old daughter Abigail (pictured with her Daddy to the right) and her work in the first grade portion of the program. 
This is what the "outline" of the first grade program looks like. (Please note that I broke down the individual lessons in "Whole Numbers" and "Addition" to give you an idea, but didn't do it for all the lessons in each unit.)
  • Numbers, Patterns and Algebra
    • Whole Numbers
      • Place Value
      • 1 to 100 Number Chart
      • Counting to 100 by Tens
      • Numbers to 100
      • Writing the Numeral
      • Ordering Numbers
      • Before and After
      • Ordinal Numbers
      • The Number Line
    • Addition
      • Looking for Tens
      • Adding to 10
      • Adding up to 20
      • Adding up to 20
      • Number Line addition
      • Rolling Dice
      • Addition of Larger Numbers
    • Subtraction
      • For the sake of time and space I am not going to continue listing individual lessons; hopefully you get the idea. :)
    • Multiplication
    • Division
    • Fractions
    • Patterns
    • Money
  • Measurement
    • Length
    • Area
    • Capacity and Volume
    • Mass
    • Time
  • Space and Geometry
    • Plane Shapes
    • Solids
    • Position
  • Statistics and Probability
    • Graphs
    • Chance
Lesson by Lesson
Each of the square bullet points are "Lessons". For each "Lesson" there is a short video and then questions to answer to gauge the students' understanding of that particular lesson. Here is Abigail sharing about her experience with CTCMath's individual lessons.


Reports
I can get detailed reports telling me exactly how Abigail did on each lesson that she takes. It will tell me her "Efficiency Rating" and will tell me what her result was on her first attempt and what her highest attempt was. It will also tell me how many times she took the lesson in an attempt to pass it and what date she passed it on. I also can get reports emailed to me (which I do!) and get information about when and for how long my student was logged into the program.

Other Features
In addition, there are a few others features sort of "off-the-beaten-path" that I wanted to emphasize. 
  • Speed Skills: Work on speed in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division!
  • Times Tables: Provides a game for your student to practice their multiplication skills.
  • Swap the Pieces: A logic game that requires some major thinking!
You have two choices when purchasing this product. You can order a single membership by month or for the year. Or you can purchase a family membership which allows all children in your family access to the program. 
CTCMath

Two great offers!
Homeschool parents can currently received 60% off the normal purchase price PLUS they get SIX bonus months. To use this offer, please click here. 

Just by reading this Blog post, you can get TWO FREE WEEKS of the program. Click here to use this offer!

As always, feel free to contact me individually at wkitsteiner@gmail.com with individual questions about this product. We never get complaints when it is CTC time! We just LOVE this product and plan to use it for MANY years to come!

CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}

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