Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homemade is Better

Today I'm canning tomato juice.  Last year I canned very little juice as we were living in a camper during the majority of the canning season. ( Long story that I'll tell some other time. )  Anyway, at the time I thought it would make little difference because tomato juice is fairly inexpensive in the store.  Little did I know how wrong I was.

We use tomato juice a number of different ways.  I use it to make homemade tomato soup, chili, spanish rice, and a number of different casseroles and we also enjoy drinking it chilled as a snack.  Sadly the tomato juice from the store tastes VERY different from the home canned variety.

I soon realized that my home version of tomato juice is really more like a V8 juice.  I put onions, green peppers, and some seasonings in my tomato juice.  The store variety has tomatoes, water, and salt listed as the ingredients.  Also it has a weird metallic taste to it that I can't identify, but do not enjoy.  We even tried the kind that comes in a plastic bottle, and it STILL tasted of metal.

Anyway, my conclusion is that the extra effort that it takes to can tomato juice is well worth it for our family. 

What do you can that can't be compared to "store bought?" 

Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 29, 2011

Foster Parenting Is.......

We are nine weeks into our fostering journey, and what a ride it's been!  Please understand that I would love to post more details, but I want to respect the privacy of our foster children and their birth family, and also maintain a certain amount of privacy for our family. 

Over the last nine weeks I've made some observations about fostering.  If you are a veteran foster parent and are reading this please bear with me as I'm still "wet behind the ears."

Foster parenting is..........

loving little ones like they are here to stay--while knowing they may leave.

having your heart in your throat when you recognize your social workers number on caller ID.

living in limbo while waiting for the next court date.

sleepless nights for you and little ones after a difficult change in their case.

trying to explain to a 2 year old something you can barely wrap your mind around.

giving up a lot of extra activities because what the foster babies need is security and sameness.

sometimes feeling like your life is completely out of control.

having very little privacy due to the steady stream of people in your home.

totally worth it because there are little souls involved!!!!!

If you know someone who is fostering please encourage them.  Tell them you are praying for them.  Offer to cook a meal for them or clean their house.  It may not be apparent to the outside observer how exhausting the job is emotionally, and physically.  To those of you who have done this for years I applaud you.  God bless you for your faithfulness in a hard, but rewarding task!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Romantic or Practical

I received two gifts for my anniversary.


One romantic..............

and one practical.

I liked both of them!!

What type of gifts do you enjoy receiving?

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fourteen Years Ago

I was 18 he was 22.

I was scared, I think he was too.

I had no clue what the future would hold.

How hard it would be, or how wonderful.

We first met at a church youth rally.  My husband and his brother arrived late for the first service, and he noticed me from the back of the church.  He whispered to his brother that he was going to marry that girl, and when my husband says he is going to do something it generally happens.  This was no exception. 

After the church service a group of youth went to Pizza Hut.  When we arrived I was the last one to be seated and guess who was sitting across from me.  We started talking, and something just clicked.  I felt like I had known him all my life. 

I can't believe it's been fourteen years!!  In some ways it seems like yesterday. 

Can't wait to spend another fourteen years together!

(The figurine is the cake topper from our wedding cake.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Can You Say Tomatoes?


My tomatoes are ripening thick and fast.  I have to admit that tomato products are my favorite things to can.  Perhaps it's because they make the whole house smell so good. 

 Saturday I canned 20 pints of salsa.  That isn't quite a full years supply of salsa for us, but I would like to make some pizza/spaghetti sauce and tomato juice next, and if I have enough tomatoes I might make more salsa.

My husband is not fond of salsa that has been thickened with clear gel or other thickeners so I thicken mine by cooking it down.  Saturday morning I started chopping veggies and by noon I had a huge stock pot full.  I started it simmering and cooked it for almost four hours.  By then the house smelled heavenly!!

What are you canning at your house?

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Garden of Weeds

My garden looks--how should I phrase this--terrible!!

The weeds are higher than my head in some places.

I'm still harvesting from it and I'm fairly happy with the yields.

But I'm hoping everyone that drives past our place is nearsighted.

I guess that's pride isn't it?

I was discussing this with my hubby, and bemoaning the state of my beautiful-no-more garden.

Know what he said?

"Don't worry about it, you're growing something more important than a garden."

Made tears come to my eyes.

He's right you know!!

So, if you're a mom, and your garden looks bad.

Or, you don't even have time for a garden.

Look at your babies, and know that this is only a season.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Day In My Life

Starting my week with yet another question from Karen.  By the way you should really go check out her blog!!

"What does a typical day look like for you?"

6:00am My alarm goes off and the radio quietly begins the daily news that I rarely remember, but enjoy waking to rather than incessant beeping.

6:05am I stagger to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee and sit at the computer to check emails and read a few blogs.

6:15am The one year old wakes up and I feed him his bottle while finishing up at the computer.

6:30am Hubby is up and in the shower, and I get breakfast for him and my eight year old son. ( he has been going to work with Daddy most of the summer )

6:45am  The two year old and six year old get up and I add bowls and spoons to the table for them to start eating breakfast while popping the baby in the high chair and feeding him bites of cereal.

7:00am Hubby and son are out the door and I start a load of laundry and dress the two youngest and start my day.

7:15am I chat on the phone with my mom a little as I start cleaning up the kitchen, and then head to my bedroom to comb my hair and make my bed.

8:00-11:00am I do my daily chores--settle squabbles between children--change diapers--answer the phone for hubbies business--not necessarily in that order, and sometimes all at once.

11:30am I fix lunch--usually we have leftovers, or sandwiches, and we eat.

12:05pm I put the two year old down for a nap while rocking the one year old with another bottle.  Six year old either reads in bed or plays quietly.

12:30pm When the babies are asleep I lay down for a fifteen to twenty minute nap myself.

1:00pm I get up and start more laundry and do a little office work and return phone calls.

2:00-5:00pm I start supper--tidy the house--fold laundry--finish daily chores, and play with babies after they get up from naps.

5:00-6:30pm Somewhere in here we eat supper depending on if Daddy will be home to eat with us or not.  After supper I load the dishwasher and tidy kitchen.

6:30-7:30pm  I take children out with me to do the chicken chores and check the garden for produce that is ripe.

7:30-8:30pm I give the babies baths and get jammies on.  Usually Daddy arrives home sometime in this time frame, and we spend a little time with him.

8:30pm Put babies to bed and shoo older boys toward the shower.  Set up my coffee maker for the next morning.  Sometimes I put another load of laundry in depending on the need.

8:30-9:00pm I sit down with my feet up and talk with hubby about the day.  We have family devotions, and send the big boys off to bed.

9:00-10:00pm I take a shower, unwind, and go to bed.

This is a typical summer day for us.  This summer has been unseasonably hot so our time outside is mostly in the evening.  Our days are very different during the school year.  Maybe sometime I'll blog about a day that includes homeschooling.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quotes For Your Saturday

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.
~Søren Kierkegaard

The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him. ~William McGill

I've been overwhelmed by an answer to a prayer that I was afraid to pray, but my husband wasn't. 

Have you had an answer to prayer lately?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


green zucchini

Today I'm guest posting over at The North Forty about growing zucchini.  Hop over and take a look!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Do I Blog

Today I'm answering a question from Karen.  She actually asked a couple of questions, but I'll answer the other ones later. 

"How did you decide to start blogging?"

Well, for a couple reasons actually.  I've always enjoyed writing.  In high school I delighted in the writing assignments, but as I've gotten a little older writing has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  It's like therapy.  Nothing makes me feel better than a half an hour of writing.  I don't knit, crochet, quilt, scrapbook, or do a lot of other hobbies so words are my thing.

Another reason I blog is it is a way of recording things that are going on around our homestead and house.  I don't share everything here, but some of the highlights, and in a way it's a form of journaling.

I guess the third reason that I blog is because I LOVE to read blogs.  I do my share of lurking, but I have about ten or twelve blogs that I visit and comment on regularly.  Reading blogs is like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a bunch of moms, and just chatting our heads off about what's going on in our lives.  I can do all this and not even have to get out of my jammies or comb my hair. ( Now you know why I don't vlog. :)

I never dreamed about all the friendships I might make through blogging though.  I just mostly thought I would quietly write, and not get much feedback.  I don't get a ton of comments here on Chicken Scratchings, but the ones I do are from regular visitors.  Some of you I know in person, and some of you I will probably never meet, but I count you all as friends.

So........why do you blog?

If you have a question for me you can go to this post and ask it in the comments.  I'll try to answer them as long as they aren't too personal. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life With Autism

Today I'm so happy to have Betsy from My Five Men guest posting.  Betsy and her blog have been a big encouragement to me as a mom and housewife.  She faces some unique challenges as a mother.  Her positive, cheerful attitude makes every visit to her blog like a pleasant chat with a friend.

Hello! :) My name is Betsy. I am married and have 4 sons. Our oldest is Taylor. He is a normal, healthy 20 year old, a junior in college and majoring in business. And we have triplet boys. Harry, Spencer and Alex are 17 years old and they have autism.

The more I thought about how to describe my life with three boys with autism, the more I felt like this post would be too long, too complicated and too overwhelming to write! I was afraid one detail might lead to long explanations and it might be easier to write a book! :) But I've finally concluded that maybe I can touch on some highlights and low-lights and if it in any way leads a reader to have some compassion on a family who is dealing with autism or if it will lead to a family with autism to be encouraged, then that would be great.

The autism spectrum is huge! A child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes. What used to be one in 10,000 is now 1 in 120. And the diagnosis is broad. Someone with autism can seem completely normal to people around them. They may have some quirky habits or compulsions. They might need some tutoring in school, or they may be lower functioning, nonverbal and obvious in their diagnosis. My boys were completely normal, healthy guys until just after their 18 month vaccinations. Now I know that there will always be controversy as to whether the preservative thimerosal had anything to do with their autistic symptoms and that it may not ever be proven. But let me just say that thimerosal (mercury) used in the vaccinations in the 1990's was 100 times the amount the FDA approved for safe dosages in adults. And that was for a single vaccine. So, imagine when my boys were given combined vaccinations (to save us a trip back at a later date as the nurse stated) how much mercury was injected into their little bodies. Mercury poisoning has almost identical symptoms as lead poisoning....and autism. They soon lost the few baby words they were saying, lost all eye contact, didn't react to noise, started playing alone, lined up objects instead of playing with them appropriately, and all the other typical symptoms. Fortunately for children now, immunizations can be given on a better schedule, preservative free, and autism diagnosis and treatments are earlier and vastly improved than they were 15 years ago.

So, jump forward to today, when I have 3 nonverbal, teenagers. They are still improving little by little, doing well in school (special ed. classroom with aides and therapists) but life is certainly not normal. In fact, it is downright difficult. They have food hangups, feel the need for sensory stimulation in the form of hand flapping, rapid blinking, lining up objects, etc. Crowds and loud, noisy places bother them. They feel anxious out of their normal routine. They can become frustrated if they cannot communicate effectively, especially with people who do not know them, and on we could go. They lack social skills and awareness. They don't embarrass and don't pick up on things that we learn by imitation. Because of these things, it is difficult to do normal family activities. We can't all go eat a meal at McDonald's, for example. Only one triplet would eat the food and he has been known to grab someone's fries or coke as we walked by the tables. Yes, it's true. Ha ha. I've been humiliated so many times that I don't even embarrass anymore! lol. Vacations are extremely difficult (we have tried a few) and it has even become more stress than it's worth to have company for dinner or even try to have all six of us sit together to eat. (Someone invariable looks at our plates and gags/throws up just at the thought of having to look what we are eating.) They have different diets among themselves, too, I might add. So I make their individual plates for each meal, and then something totally different for the rest of the family.

We have problems with an inconsistency in their motor skills. If they are interested in something, they are very motivated and very skillful, such as typing on the computer to search their favorite Internet sites on the history of the railroad or to find a favorite movie clip or song on you-tube. But to get them to shampoo and rinse their hair is a real effort. Work an electric razor to shave themselves? No way. They get 'fish hands' as I like to call them...dead, floppy and weak. So we are constantly working with them to do more things on their own. They can dress themselves but can't tie shoes, and usually all of their clothes will be on backwards...even the underwear. :) And the list here could go on forever. They don't have healthy fears, such as traffic or strangers, which keeps us on our toes! :) And if you read my blog with any consistency at all, you know that they leave the refrigerator open, faucets running and are known to turn off the washer and dryer mid-cycle because they don't like the sound. Yes, never a dull moment here and we are always counting heads, monitoring activities and checking for anything dangerous or unusual happening. :)

My husband and I waver back and forth in needing help, asking for help, or not. Most of the time it is more stress than it is worth. People were much more willing to help out when the guys were adorable little toddlers. And let's face it, helping a teenage boy with toilet paper or getting in and out of the bathtub isn't as fun and some people are just plain uncomfortable with it. We have people volunteer to do something with them but quit after a time or two. I don't think they realize how long it takes to learn each boy by their habits, mannerisms, be able to anticipate what they would like or not like and why. And all three boys are different! It takes months of contact to be able to know them well. Since they are all autistic and triplets, they tend to be lumped together. Most don't realize that something Spencer might love to do or at least tolerate, might send Alex into a rage. We've had kind, well meaning people offer to help that have fizzled out after only a few tries. And on the opposite extreme from that we have been burned and hurt by what turned out to be nosy, gossipy people who really just wanted to be 'in the know' about our family and use the information against us. News travels fast in our little village and I don't think they realize how it eventually gets back to us, too.

Autism has taught me a lot. It's shown me how strong and resilient I can be. How the sun comes up even after the most horrible of days. And it's increased my faith in God and broadened it in directions that I never thought possible. Do I have all of my 'why' questions answered? No. But I'm a better person because of what I have gone through and continue to live with. I find myself content when others are complaining about the pettiest of problems. I don't sweat the little things. I feel I have a broader perspective of life and remember to see the big picture. And I feel I truly find beauty and happiness in the smallest of life's gifts. Why does God allow some people easy, carefree lives and others to have such heartache? And I worded that last sentence the way I did for a reason. Did God make my boys autistic? Does he give someone cancer? No. I believe he knows it will happen and still allows it to happen even though he could prevent it if he wished to. Yes, he allows the good and bad to happen to us. Being his child doesn't come with promises of a carefree life. Life is full of ugliness, hurt, and hardships. He knows what will happen and offers us strength and grace if we ask for it. Why? Well, for a lot of reasons, I think. One answer is in a scripture verse on my sidebar. "What a wonderful God we have. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

If you know a family that is dealing with autism, I hope you will try to encourage them. Simple things can mean so much. When you see them, don't look away or ignore the child standing right there. Say hello directly to them and use their name. They might not like to be touched so just be friendly, get down on their level and look in their eyes if they will let you. Include the whole family in circles of friends and try to make them feel comfortable. They will appreciate your extra effort so much. And if you find your interest goes beyond those simple things and you want to become more involved with that family then start to get to know that child better. Learn everything you can about them so you can be a reliable sitter and friend if they would ever need you. But most of all, we families of kids with autism just would like some love, acceptance and genuine concern. A little kindness goes a long way.

And if you have a child with autism, I hope I've encouraged you to keep plugging along, be thankful for the little triumphs and know that you aren't alone. Get the best treatments you can for your child and don't be afraid to speak up for them and for yourself. I would also say we all need to give up the little chips on our shoulders. I hear, especially in blog-land, mom's of children with autism saying things like "My child is not a puzzle" (in reaction to the puzzle piece international symbol for autism) or "My child is not autistic. He has autism" I just cringe when I hear things like this. No wonder people stay away and don't want to help if you are offended at such things. I'll be the first to say my boys are a puzzle...three big puzzles and all of the pieces are the same color. And out of 10,000 pieces, I only have half put together and many key pieces are missing. It's a perfect analogy, in my opinion. I hate the ultra politically correctness that we can get wrapped up in. I would also remind you to ask God for strength. And, find your sense of humor! Laugh, because not only does it lighten your stress and put things into perspective, but it is a valuable survival technique.

Thanks, Rebecca for asking me to do a guest post! I hope this in some way educates or encourages someone!

Friday, August 5, 2011


I've been rather busy this week--thus the lack of posting.

I've also been feeling a little uninspired for subject material.

So............I thought maybe you could help me.

Is there something you would like to know about me?

I'm open to your questions.

Just leave them in the comments.

Maybe that will give me a jumpstart.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


His chubby fist clutches tightly at the neckline of my dress, and he sighs a contented little sigh--finally asleep.

As I gently place him on fresh sheets for a nap his hand continues to entwine in my clothes and I carefully pry it loose--and I think.

Do I clutch at "things" that make me feel secure?

Do I place more value on "stuff" than souls?

Do possesions entwine themselves so deeply in my heart that I can't hear God whispering "trust me?"

Do I lack a place of rest in my life because I refuse to "let go?"

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28