Our Notes

Monday, January 26, 2015

Walking January out the door…


It’s been a busy start to the new year. Well, maybe not really any more busy than any other month. The true hectic, rush and busyness is over now that the holidays have passed, but January has had it’s rush as well.

We had our last set of visits for Mickey, our whippet,who got hit by the mailman a couple months back. His hip settled back into place perfectly and without the need for surgery. Sure, he was miserable being penned up in a small kennel most of December, with his hind quarter trussed up like a turkey ready for roasting, but that’s a small price to pay for a dislocated hip and the prayer of no surgery needed. He’s bouncy as ever again now and all is well. Perhaps he recalls why chasing cars isn’t a good thing now…we hope!

Daughter and fiance found out their new arrival will be a boy. His name (as of right now) will be Liam, short for William. According to her, some baby crazy grandmother-to-be took all the favorite names already. Guess I am rather guilty there. I used 4 boy names and 5 middle names with them, so maybe I did leave the pool a bit empty. Oh well…first come, first served right? LOL For the record…that face right there is SOOOO my daughter.

Oldest-at-home son celebrated his 17th birthday, got a new puppy, then went and got a new job. He’s content on all fronts right now. The puppy…yes, I am becoming quite dog poor these days here, but I’m a sucker for abandoned pups in nasty weather. This little girl, an apparent Beagle-pointer mix, has made herself at home and made friends with the other dogs. The chihuahua especially has taken to her and treats her like she’s her own baby. Man, you oughtta see those tiny razor-sharp “I’m going to EAT YOU teeth come out when she thinks someone is mistreating her baby, LOL. Sarah, as she has been named, will visit the Vet next week and we will hash out all the details of her life here, including getting her fixed since she is a female.

That brings me to a discussion online recently. Someone noted the number of dogs I have and made a few select remarks about dog hoarding, the high cost of proper veterinary attention, and what a wasteful bit of stewardship it is to have a dog of little use, let along dogs of little use en masse. While I can’t say I disagree completely, I can say that I am not simply collecting dogs and giving them a miserable existence. Dog food isn’t cheap, and novelty dogs (meaning ‘non-working’) are pricey, but every dog here on the homestead but 2 are rescues that we simply never moved along to other homes. the Great Pyr was a sale barn rescue a friend found for us when we were looking for one, so we don’t count him as a rescue persay. The Chihuahua was also selected specifically…just not passed on as we had intended. Everyone else came from various locations of rescue…a mud and water-filled ditch along a backroad in the middle of nowhere…a daily walk where a pup broke free each time from his rope tether and followed the girls begging for attention until the owner said take him or he can get run over, I don’t care which…a 6 month old abandoned at a local Vet office, scheduled to be put down because she had temperment issues. The original 3 that started the whole thing were puppies that ditch-tied dog gave us, runts of the litter, barely 3/4 of a pound each, one frozen and by all accounts lifeless. We found homes for the others, but kept these 3. They visit the Vet as needed, they are well-cared for, and they are quite loved. Did I need yet another dog? shoot fire no, but this baby was outside in the icy and frozen weather a couple weeks back, and no one in the area claimed her or supposedly recognized her. I wasn’t about to just smile and walk away. So, yes…the crazy homestead lady has another dog now.

Last week, we had to take one of the pups in for a blocked intestine. Poor baby was miserable, and quite blocked. Of course we tried some standard home treatments, but he needed more than we were doing. He spent the night with the Vet, got some treatments and fluids, and appears to be on the mend. Expensive…not so bad for 2 days of treatments and IVs, but yes, I understand the grumbling from outsiders as to the high price of keeping dogs and all. A lot of things are expensive these days. People choose to spend money on what they feel is important in their lives. Here, one of those things is pets. I don’t withhold or pare down medical care. I know my limitations. Just sayin…

Also last week, an unplanned visit to Illinois came up. My grandmother, 95, ended up being admitted to the hospital for her pneumonia issues. She needed rehydrating moreso than was going to be practical or able to be accomplished at home. Plus, she’s 95…folks tend to get panicky over a flu or pneumonia issue with that age group. Better too much caution than not enough, kwim? Grandma still lives essentially on her own, in her own home, though she is a mere 10 foot outside my mother’s back door so she isn’t really living alone as it were. She spent a few days getting her health back on track in the hospital then returned home and was doing quite well when I left. As soon as the family quiets and relaxes from the unexpected crisis, all will return to normal again. It’s been a hard winter season on so many this year. Seems the various flu strains and worse have hit one on top of another all season already, with no seeming end in sight. Bring on Spring is a rather appropriate rally cry I believe.

Back to the sewing basket as we say farewell to this month and wander into February. I’m thinking a nice dinner date is in my future…unless a certain spouse gets wrapped up with work and forgets he has a wife, and an anniversary coming soon, LOL

Monday, January 12, 2015

Preparing and Using E-Books

I love using e-books in our schooling. there are just so many resources out there I would never have in my home library if it weren’t for e-books. Here are some tips from Living Books Curriculum to help you prepare and use your e-books effectively…


As we prepare for our 3-day 50% off sale of all digital books, including our grammar books and teaching guides starting Tuesday, January 13 at 5am...

I thought this is a perfect time to give you some tips about how best to print ebooks.

First, ebooks definitely have a place in your homeschool. I have used them for 15 years. They are no substitute for a library of "real books" but can be quite useful especially when stretching your budget for homeschooling.

1. Get a good, affordable laser printer

I use a HP Laser Jet 1012 (the latest is 1020). This is a very afforable printer that will last a long time. I have had mine almost six years with constant use. I have the cartridges refilled for $35 and they last over 6-8 months. Don't try to print ebooks on your printer that has expensive replacement ink. The end cost is too high. You might be better to find a place that prints them for .08 each (or less) and save yourself the hassle.

2. Get copy paper

Depending on how much you're going to be using ebooks, you may want to consider a case. Office supply stores often have good discounts. Half should be plain white and half three-hole punch white. I explain why below.

3. Three important items to have on hand

Three important things to have on hand to make printing a snap: metal book rings in different sizes, brass fasteners in different lengths (I use 2-inch most often) and three-ring binders. Watch for sales to purchase the binders. It helps quite a bit if they have the plastic front where you can insert a cover page.

4. To bind at home or at the copy center--which one?

Decide how you will use the books.If it is one of our subject guides that will be opened many times, then you would best print a copy and ask your local copy store to bind it (coil is best but comb is acceptable) and laminate the cover (title page). Then you will have a durable book that will last many years.

If it is a work of literature that is likely to be read only a few times then you can print it on three-hole paper and put it in a notebook, make a pretty cover page and slip it in the plastic front. To store the books so I don't have too many binders I use brass fasteners or metal book rings.

5. Storing ebooks

When your printed ebook is in a binder keep it in a bookshelf. You can purchase spine labels from and office supply store and label each book. It makes it soooo easy to find. If your keeping the books bound with rings or fasteners, store them in a clear plastic bin and label the contents so you can see at a glance.

Now that you know how easy and useful  it is to have a ebook library head on over to our ebook sale and load up on teaching guides, history, grammar, stories, poetry and more.

All the best,

Sheila Carroll


Link Processing...

Just a heads up...as I wander around the blog here, I am pruning the links along the sidebars and footnotes, and trying to get rid of old links, update folks who have moved blog sites, etc. If you find something, let me know. It's a slow process when you have limited internet working.

A few Photos of Winter Happenings…

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An engagement….

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…bottle babies who still get away from the barn and make a bee-line straight to the front door and call out to be let inside…this is so going to be a problem when he’s 200#, LOL


…quick ear warmers for frosty morning, and several orders from town for hats in this frosty weather. Yes, even in The Deep South we get frosty, though it’s fairly short-lived compared to the still frosty northern states!

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…but as soon as those hats are finished, I’m hitting the needles for plenty of yarny baby goodness! There’s so many projects in my head and so little time! Good thing the wee bairn will be a summer babe…I can prune a bit of my want-to-make list because of the weather.

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…The Queen has been put to good use this season, especially this past week when we saw single digits and high winds. My only issue with her is she’s too small…between dogs and children, there’s never much space left to warm my own toes!


…The sweater I crocheted for the company Christmas party…and a  rare photo of chunky ol’ me in need of that weight loss I spoke about in the last post. I’m not monster huge, and I’m certainly active enough, but there’s always room for weight loss, right?


…and a special, secret wedding project in the works here. It’s going to kill me not to be able to share along the way, but I guess that’s where the secret part comes in, heh?

Education Concept

In the School room…

We are readjusting the schedule…yes, every year I lament about filling in those dates with pen and highlighter instead of just the non-committal pencil. We aren’t terribly out of schedule, but it needs some adjustment. With the new computer, setting up the Switched-on-Schoolhouse subjects I have was much easier. No, I’m not going over to electronic school work, but I wanted to test a few things with Wild Child and see if perhaps he operates more smoothly with the SOS in a couple areas over the textbooks, lapbooks, and audiobooks. So far, so good.

Like I said, we aren’t leaving behind the textbooks at all, just looking for new ways to encourage better work efforts around here. We have been putting Living Books Curriculum to use in part or in whole over the past 3 seasons and are enjoying it. This year adding in some Queen Homeschooling resources as well, though currently just t for science (this year we grabbed A Nature Walk With Aunt Bessie from their Discovering Nature and Science Series, and it won’t be our last selection)  I still seem to schedule our year around a history core, this year being Westward Expansion. Math and English work still revolves around Rod & Staff textbooks, science is following the Nature Walk book I mentioned above, but all reading, lapbook work, some bunny trail science issues, and our creative projects work all follows our History core. No matter how many times I try to rework the whole vision of schooling around here, I end up with the same general plan…History as our Core. One of these days I’ll stop trying to reinvent my wheel so to speak, LOL.


In the Barn…

We have had coyotes running too close to the barn too many nights. Loud little buggers, they so far haven’t stopped to check out the chickens or the goats, but they are well into the property making their rounds through here. We need to deal with that. And there’s a possum interested in the chickens. Haven’t found his home base yet, but every few nights he wanders up to the run and spooks a few hens. The dogs haven’t taken much notice yet, being secluded in the warmth of the barn during the cold. I’m sure they’ll take care of my problem now that the weather has leveled back off some. If not, there’s a shotgun for that kind of problem. Same for the coyotes, though scatter-shooting will take care of them.

Around the homestead in general, we had some wicked wind come in with those single digit temps last week and that posed a new-to-us problem…the roof lifted open along the peak.

Yeah, I was sort of dumb-struck with that concept as well when we saw it. I mean, it’s our roof for crying out loud.

This is Mississippi. This is a mountainside. We live in a doublewide mobile home. On clay muck. Apparently, even with 10 years of our living, compacting, framing, jacking up, lowering down, and all that, this house still settles as it pleases and the mood strikes. We have dropped/settled the front half alone over an inch it seems. This settling, coupled with the high winds, lifted and peeled back the roll paper, liner, and shingle stuff along the peak. I was standing inside, lamenting the fact that they just don’t make wood like they used to because it was COLD in here despite a roaring fire going, and I turned around in time to see fist-sized bits of dust and insulation rain down from between some rafters. Not exactly an everyday sight, even with our constant state of construction around here. I walked over to peer up through said beams, and was greeted by a pretty blue sky and a few clouds. And a whole lotta wind.

Now mind you, I have zero construction saavy, but I like to think I’m well-read enough to know that that just ain’t normal. Of course,being a new adventure in homestead life, the kids were totally impressed by it all. That is, the younger ones were impressed, the older ones had their enthusiasm quelled a bit when they had to get up on the roof and try to fight the wind to roll everything back over the peak and re-nail into place. Not an easy task when you have 35mph winds and temps in the teens to boot. The end result, to avoid further damage, was to roll it all back and line my peak with cinder blocks.


Cinder blocks. On my roof. Yes, we have surely arrived to the land of hillbilly now. This is why I like living in the middle of absolute nowhere. I would have been a bit self-conscious if we lived closer to town, to normal folk and all. Out here, pffft…who even notices? Still, in the back of my mind was the whole ‘I never thought I’d have cinder blocks on my roof’ thought. But, whaddya do…sometimes it just is what it is and you have to roll with it.



Just Thoughts…

I’ve been contemplating some changes, but I just can’t find a good sense of peace with some of them yet. I’m pretty sure everyone who visits here knows I’m Plain, as in headcovering, dresses, aprons, etc. (Yes, that’s a skirt in the photo of me up there. Thought I’d spare the worksite gossip a bit by dressing more normal for the gathering…). Does a ‘hairstyle’ even matter when I’m covered? Not a bit, yet lately I have really been pondering a change in my hairstyle. On so many levels it’s just silly, but still, the idea just sits in the back of my mind. I don’t know, it’s just a season I’m in I suppose.

Another issue I’ve had lately is the need to cull friends and groups I don’t really interact with as often. Problem is, I do keep up on prayer requests even if I don’t chat and check-in much. I have limited a few friends lately simply because what little we had in common once, we no longer seem to have. And I prayer that is on-going for another friend who has marital issues and doesn’t seem to notice. I’m hardly an expert anything, but when your entire life is micro-managed by a husband…from what you are allowed to eat, how much weight you are expected to lose in what amount of time, to what time you are to get up and go to bed, who you are allowed to speak to and interact with, and so much more…I see trouble. Maybe my own husband should exert a bit more control around here…as many a conservative, Patriarchal, Plain friend has mentioned…but the day my every thought and step is micro-managed like my friends life is will be the day the world comes screeching to a halt and falls off its axis. There are certainly many discussions to be had over husbands standing firm in their God-appointed leadership, but that kind of micro-management is simply emotional abuse imo. Perhaps that’s another soap box for another time though.

I imagine a few more friends will hit the proverbial door with that comment. sigh. I’m too worldly for the Plain folk, and too Plain for the worldly folk. It’s both a curse and a blessing I suppose. Needless to say, prayer is big part of my online life gatherings. Prayers for my own control as well as the various prayer requests of others. Scattered as my presence may be online, I’m always lifting a prayer for a friend out there. I don’t want to lose that.colossians[1]

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