Homeschooling in the Country

We left the big city to move to the country, and along with the country, experience the many daily goings-on of country living. We homeschooled back in Maryland and now, this is my ninth year. I currently teach an eight grader, sixth grader and 1st grader. To make things a bit more fluid, I teach Bible, History and sometimes Science, all together.  The other subjects the guys do on their own. You know, though, the academic subjects are sort of mixed in with the country living. For example, the boys take care of the animals once they wake up (this includes caring for the chickens and goats). I can set my own schedule and we loosely do school throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Breaks are taken, lunch, talking, etc. and then we usally finish up in the early afternoon sometime. 

Over the years I have researched and used a HUGE variety of curriculum. Some have worked while others we didn’t even complete. Primarily, I wanted them to read early so they could start reading instructions within different subjects. I had never taught anyone to read before homeschooling. When first thinking on it I thought, there is no way I can teach someone to read.  This was way back in kindergarten and I was so intimidated by not knowing how to teach Hayden how to read.  Well, we learned a lot together and that year, he learned how to read. It was amazing, really, seeing him put sounds together and then words and then, reading! I even remember telling Aaron I would only homeschool kindergarten and he was cool with that. Nine years later, still homeschooling. 

You know, I thought it was going to be REALLY hard once I started teaching two – Hayden and Caleb but for some reason, we got through it (or, I should say, somehow) and Caleb also started reading and putting words together. Finally, when Eli came along I REALLY wasn’t sure how to do any of it. I guess I just planned each year and dove in. Additionally, all this time, all other parents were sending their kids to posh private schools or even public ones and I never really had a lot to talk about with them while all the kids were playing outside.  Still, we did our thing and they did theirs. 

I remember early on (and still sometimes do) thinking I was not qualified in the least to teach my kids. Many would tell me how I am depriving them of social skills, or they would ask if I was qualified and so many other questions. I let it get to me a lot but don’t really care about it much anymore. I think a lot of new homeschool moms go through this. I certainly didn’t think myself qualified or able but then again, I wasn’t sterring this path, was I? God was always guiding and building me up to have what I needed at that time. I just cannot look back and not see His Guiding Hand upon those early years. It still is this way, actually. He is the one steering; I am the one complaining and questioning. Still, He doesn’t give up on this stubborn country girl. 




I received this beautiful cup for Christmas from my mother-in-law. She finds the most personal and local items and I just LOVE this cup. Already, the coffee tastes much better and each time I look at it, I think of her. So, thank you, Karen. I am truly blessed by this and by you and your wonderful gift ideas!


This is where we live!

this is the other side of the cup…


Where we live is really quite unique…from boating in the summer to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, well, it is pretty nice. This mug will be utilized so much this winter as I have some of my favorite coffee each day. 🙂

X-Country Skiing…for the FIRST Time

My body aches. My muscles are in pain. I LOVED ALL OF IT! Today, Aaron and I went X-Country skiing together…we just bought our first pair of skiies, boots, etc. I was a bit hesitant because this can be a pain-inducing sport…but, I think after the pain, it will all be worth it.  We live near a mountain, and in fact, can see it from our driveway, just over the tip top of the trees…it is Mt. Schweitzer. This mountain offers amazing downhill, cross-country and snow shoeing, just to name a few things to do up there. Many have condos there, as well. Today, we set out to try out the skiis. What a beautiful day of silent snow falling, swishing in the ski track and eventually, reaching our destination – Picnic Point…here is a picture of us at that point:


Ok, I look a bit tired because I did NOT sleep well last night – my blankets kept falling onto the floor…so, excuse the tired eyes. Back to skiing…behind us you can see part of Lake Pend O’reille and if the camera was turned a bit to the right, your right, you would see parts of downtown Sandpoint.  When we first got up there, it was snowing. My toes were numb and I wasn’t sure why.  Soon, I realized I wasn’t doing the ski stride correctly.  As soon as this was remedied, my toes sort of started thawing out. It is nice, because there exists a professional, deepish x-country ski track and when I got really tired, I popped in there and swooshed along.  Aaron and I took turns doing that. Yes, we both fell, but it wasn’t too bad, really. Just took some getting used to – the feel and movement of x-country skiing.  Aaron took another picture of me atop the hill:


The funnest part of this type of skiing is the enjoyment of the surrounding woods, the nearly-silent environment and the downhills…you truly “earn” those downhills after slodging up a big hill…makes the skiing feel like an accomplishment.  I just loved the experience and this is something Aaron and I started because we want to do something together.  The kids are getting older and our older ones stay with our youngest and well, it is real nice getting out with my guy and doing stuff. We both realized how fun it is just to get out and fall down and laugh and spend time together. It was a neat experience.

Cinnamon Rolls, Part II.

The Cinnamon Rolls stayed in the fridge all night and this morning, I took them out, put them on the counter for an hour and then, baked them for 25 minutes.  The snow was so nice outside, blanketing the ground. The air was cold – I can tell inside of our house if the night was figid or not because the air has a cold tinge to it.  I thought that the kids waking up to Cinnamon Rolls would be nice.  The house would smell of warmly-baked bread and cinnamon.  Well, I frosted the rolls, went into the bedroom and when I came out, three were gone!  So glad. Kids kept coming back for more.  Here is a picture of the final product –> I ate this one 🙂  Oops, let me include a (before) picture from last night, right before being put in the fridge:


This is the finished product:


This was after taking them out of oven and frosting them.  Boys kept coming back for more, so I think they turned out ok. I will keep tweaking and trying because I know it can always be better.

Here is the recipe:

(taken from
Prep time
1 hour
Cook time
30 mins
Total time
1 hour 30 mins
Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Breakfast, Dessert
Serves: 17-18
  • 1 packet rapid rise dry yeast (~1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • ~ 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • scant 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp low-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over warm water and allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth, adding in 1/2 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs, honey, salt and stir, then add remaining 3.5 cups flour to the mixture. Mix until well incorporated and then transfer to a lightly floured surfaced.
  3. As you knead add the 1/4 cup softened butter to the dough and continue kneading, adding flour to reduce stickiness when needed until the dough is smooth – 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled – about 1.5 to 2 hours.
  5. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a large rectangle and brush with 1.5 Tbsp melted butter.
  6. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the butter and then starting at the long side covered with sugar, roll up the rectangle as tightly as you can and pinch the seam together as the dough allows.
  7. With the seam facing down, cut into 15-18 equal pieces (~ 2 inches), depending on how tall you want them. Place the rolls in the dish and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse your bowl for making the glaze in the morning.
  8. In the morning remove rolls from the refrigerator and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  9. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze: Melt butter in your mixing bowl and then whisk in the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whisk until a smooth paste forms adding more sugar as needed. Spread the glaze over the warm rolls and serve immediately. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh for several days.


Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

You know, I have not ever been too gifted with making yeast rolls, breads, etc.  However, I am getting better. I’ve realized that (for me) it takes practice, practice, and more, yes, you guessed it – practice. I’m feeling more confident in using yeast.  This evening, I’ve made up some dough for overnight cinnamon rolls.  Here is the first picture:


Above, the dought is rising and after this picture was taken, it had doubled from that size. I then, rolled out the dough, spread melted butter on it, and a mixture of brownsugar, a tad of melted butter, and cinnamon. I sprinkled that mixture all over the top.  Then, I rolled up the dough into a tube shape and cut out about 18 pieces and here is the final product:


After being in the fridge overnight, I will bake them and then, glaze them with frosting.  So, I will take a picture of the final product tomorrow morning. Bonne Nuit!

Chef Eli (with brownies and overnight cinnamon rolls)

Chef Eli and I just whipped some brownies together. Fitting for the task, he wore his apron and chef’s hat he received for Christmas. It fits perfectly!  So, thank you to whomever gifted us with this most adorable cooking attire. Since Christmas, Eli has wanted to bake something with his baking set, he also received two days ago. We are pretty sure Auntie Sarah gave this to him – thank you, Auntie Sarah and kiddos! So, about 45 minutes ago, Eli made his first bakery item – brownies of course ;), and now, we await their delicate, chocolatey taste.  First, here is Chef Eli:


And now, here is the first look at the brownies…not done at all. I ran out of cocoa powder half way through and added melted chocolate chips. I use whole wheat pastry flour and it seems to work pretty well.  


Another project I am working on is overnight cinnamon rolls. This recipe also, calls for whole wheat pastry flour. I like this flour because it is a finely ground flour and whole wheat. The taste is actually pretty good and using it in cookies, I think it is better than all-purpose flour.  So, Eli and I bloomed the yeast and added flour, honey, salt and flour and this is what we have for this project, thus far:


We will roll out the dough, add some cinnamon and brown sugar, atop some melted butter, roll up into a long tube, cut out the cinnamon rolls, drizzle with a decadent caramalized sugar syrup and then, place in fridge to rise even more, overnight.  Tomorrow morning, the baking will take place and then, the frosting. 

Ok, back to the brownies…they are baking nicely and here is the finished product:


a bit done on the sides but we shall see how they taste…smell good 🙂


Where do We Get our Milk?

Just this morning it dawned on me that I haven’t talked much about where we get our milk. For about 1.5 years now, we have, every Wednesday, picked up two jars of milk at Eli’s old school. A farmer up in Bonner’s Ferry (about 25 miles North of us) brings the milk down and drops it at the school. The milk is straight from the cow, milked that morning, delivered to us. Now, the best part for me is the heavy cream, on the top. The farmer told me one day that a local doctor specifically asks for this cream for his coffee. He said I should try it. Oh my goodness – no need to buy heavy cream from the grocery any longer (at least I don’t want to) The cream has this unique, creamy, natural flavor. The top of the milk (before shaken) is thick and there is about two-three inches of cream there. I skim it off and put it in my coffee. Once I’ve taken the cream, we shake up the jar and pour it in another pitcher. This is full-fat milk; right from the cow; farmer tells me nothing added to the cow’s feed, antibiotics, growth-hormones, etc. It is a very small dairy up there and we will keep getting milk as long as Farmer Bob provides it 🙂  Here is a picture of the jar:


Here is an up-close picture of the thick cream:


Test subject #321, Custard, lapping up the cream:


Suffice to say, before I knew that this cream was the bomb in coffee, I used other stuff. Not sure how this affects my arteries and what not but it sure tastes good.  

With this being the day after Christmas, now I shift focus to this week of skiing, snow boarding, boot shopping and other break-type things. The kids and I are on break this week from our schooling.  I haven’t mentioned in previous posts, but I homeschool and have done so for the last nine years. That post if for another day. 

A Beautiful Sunrise on the Snow

I was absolutely awe struck this morning as the sun rose in the East.  The colors of orange/pink/yellow were like no other sunrise colors I have seen, since living here.  Driving a bit from our house, down an adjoining road, the sun’s rays upon the snow, higher up, were absolutely breathtaking. There was this almost surreal, ethereal look to the snow on the mountains. So, I just had to get out and take some pictures.  The sunrise in the East is the first of the pictures, followed by the gorgeous colors on the moutains.



Below Zero.

This morning I WANTED to go out and feed the goats, chickens and other assorted animals we have because it is *officially* below zero up here. Not since living here, of what I can recall, has it hit below zero. With two minor upper layers, a warmer one and finally, my huge, heavy coat (with leg warmers, my Ugg boots) and gloves, I went outside to see what it feels like to be out in below zero temperatures. It was frigid but not so bad, due to all my layers of clothing.  My biggest concern since this cold snap has hit is that our bantams (smaller breed chicken) would not be able to withstand the dropping temps.  They now reside with the goats in the heated ,small shed. Additionally, there is lots of hay in the shed to keep them animals warm. The bantams sometimes burrow into the hay, leaving small, round indentations, which of course, looks like a small nest. Anyway, all animals (chickens and goats) were fine and were quite receptive to the all-stock feed and sweet oats I fed them.  

Here is the thermometer reading: -1.3 F


When I got up it was actually -2.1 F, so, things are warming up! It’s funny, because last week, when it was 14 degrees, I thought how balmy and nice it would feel if it were 30 degrees. Now, I fondly recall the tropical 14 degree weather. 

One other thing about these cold temps – our chicken door scrapes the ice-encrusted dirt where it becomes nearly impossible, each morning, to open that door. Each day, we must use a pick-ax to chisel out the ice and dirt from under the door, just to open it. Another aspect of living in a very, very icy, cold climate, far North.

With Christmas around the corner, things are getting busy up here. It has been so much fun getting the tree, wrapping presents, sending boxes to family in different states, trudging through the snow to the mailbox to check on mail, baking, and all together, preparing for the most special celebration of our year – the birth of Jesus, our Savior. Many Christmas blessings and wishes to you and your family.


of our home.  We have a very curious and adventurous cat. Custard is his name because he LOVES custard. At one time his name was Custer, as in, General Custer. (I used to work at Mt. Rushmore and Custer fits this cat, due to his adventurous and at times, reckless attitude) So, here was Custer, one morning this week, at his usual place in the kitchen, doing what he loves doing – and that is, drink water out of the fish bowl. I place fresh water for him in the garage and on the floor but he merely sniffs it and walks on, eventually jumping up on the kitchen counter for the “good” stuff. Who knows why he likes the fish water. It is his first place each morning as he runs in from the frigid temps; it is his usual hang-out place at lunch time. At night, he appears from the depths of the house and first thing, jumps up on the counter.  So, I took a picture the other morning, with him drinking from the fish bowl, while one of the fish was staring up at him. Let’s see, if the fish could talk, what would it say? Perhaps, “oh my, what a big cat!” or “is he going to eat me?”  Who really knows. It is the picture I got and I will let you make up the story.