Even though I won’t be in the classroom this year, I thought I would re-share this free printable I created last year. I was never able to find a planner that fit all of my needs, so I created my own! This is a 2 page per week format and has space for current plans as well as looking into the future. Enjoy!
This is the time of year when teachers all across the country are gearing up for a new school year. The adrenaline rushes in the middle of the night when you realize school starts in 8 days, along with the stress of getting everything ready on time, not to mention those evil “teacher dreams” (showing up on the first day with nothing ready and 30 kids staring at you) make for a difficult few weeks! Normally, I would be in the throws of the back to school preparations, but this year will be different.
It seems like God has put our family on a bit of a roller coaster the last few years as far as my ability to stay home with the littles. Part way through last school year, Gideon got a new job with the company in charge of our digital curriculum for the district. This jump was a bit of a balancing act, as he couldn’t make his official move until a replacement teacher was found. In January, he was able to transition completely into his new position and has been greatly enjoying it! The main reason we decided for him to take the job is that it will allow me (God Willing) to stay home and homeschool the kids! We tried this on one teacher salary when our second child was born, but Oklahoma is now at the very bottom of the barrel for teacher pay…. so that only lasted the year. The outlook for this go around is very positive, and I am hoping it can be a long-term scenario!
My teacher brain is already in full gear, as Finn will start preschool this year. The enormity of what it means to provide my children’s education has been settling on me a bit, but I am extremely grateful to center their lives around the Orthodox Church and the beautiful rhythms it provides for our year. Though I would love to jump in with school right away, there is one not-so-little event impending: little sister’s arrival!! I am 38 weeks pregnant and little miss could arrive at any time! I have decided to wait until about October (after my 40 days’ rest) to begin schooling. Hopefully by then we will have found some sort of new rhythm with all three children and we can get down to business! I will be writing about our upcoming adventures, both with school and becoming a family of 5, so stick around! Glory to God for all things!
Wish us luck! 🙂
One of the best and most fundamental elements to our little homestead is our chickens. We are in the process of starting a new flock because, unfortunately, the last flock we already had met a not-so-nice ending. We raised 12 chicks last summer and were able to integrate them with the 4 that were already in the coop. Our original coop was back behind the house, and while that was convenient, the chickens were not doing much to help us in the garden. We decided to move the coop down to the hill and integrate the flock with the gardening process. The idea was to have the coop in the middle of a two-sided garden; the chickens would ready one patch by scratching, fertilizing, and eating bugs, and then we would switch the plots the next year. Then the chickens would get a new area while having helped us to prepare the new garden area. Gideon moved the chicken coop down the hill and began the process of modifying it to fit the hill.
Things were beginning to shape up well, but we had a vacation planned back to our hometown in California and we were gone for 2 whole weeks. Gideon’s stepdad was gracious enough to come watch the chickens for us while we were gone, but none of us knew how much that was asking! Unfortunately, there had not been enough time to move the coop and secure it as much as it needed to be down on the open hill. While we were away, a red fox (we think) decided that our flock would make a great meal project. Every night, the fox would attack, leaving a very unsightly scene in his wake. Gideon’s stepdad tried to make patches as best he could to fortify the dwelling, but it was not enough. He even stayed up until 4 am to try and catch the darn thing! Despite the attempts, the sly fox had his way and feasted on all but ONE of our 16 chickens.
Needless to say, we were pretty bummed about the loss. Our egg production had just started in full swing and we went from almost a dozen a day to nothing. We knew right away that we wanted chickens, so the first order of business was to rework the chicken coop and the fencing. Gideon did an amazing job rebuilding the coop (and even adding some square footage!).
The chicken coop “before”:
The new and improved “Chicken Chalet”:
Gideon took all of the chicken wire off the bottom area of the coop and replaced it with fence boards. He then decked out the bottom of the coop completely so no critters can get in from underneath He also made a pop-out nesting area!
The ramp is now on hinges so it will go all the way up to make room for cleaning. There is a largennnew door on the front also to make cleaning easier, and we will have doors on each side to let the girls out to whichever side of the garden they are working on. Right now the door is cut on one side, but the locking contraption is pretty complicated. We have been discussing different ways to make the daily chore of letting the chickens in and out a bit easier since they are down on the hill now. Gideon has been researching automatic doors (I know, fancy, right?!) and we finally settled on an option. It works on a photocell, so it will open and close with the sun. It just came in today, so it will be ready in time for the new chicks to move into their digs!
Speaking of chicks, we got our new flock on Friday! We bought 16 chicks of 4 different varieties. We have 4 Black Sexlinks, one Barred Rock, 5 White Rock and 6 Brown Leghorns. We have only had the Leghorns in the past, so this will be a good experiment. The chicks have all settled into the brooding box and seem very content. Here is to another try and a hopefully successful year of chicken raising!
I spend the first part of my school day looking forward to lunch. It isn’t so much that I need a break from my students (though there are days) but more so that I know that within that little lunch bag lies a yummy sandwich made from the best homemade bread out there. We have been making this bread for about 3 years now. Every so often we have had to buy bread from the store due to a lack of time, and each time it has confirmed for us that there is no going back; this bread is a game changer.
When we first started, we were buying flour from the grocery store. We quickly realized, however, that going bulk would be a better option for us. We purchase our flour in 50-pound sacks from Azure Standard. If you have never heard of them, I would recommend a look. We have done some tweaking of the recipe over the years and have settled on a half/half mix of whole wheat flour and white flour. It gives all of the good nutrients without being too “whole wheat” in the taste.
We make our dough in a bread maker. We make our dough only, we don’t bake the bread in it. We have found that baking the bread in the oven makes much better loaves – and let’s be honest – the smell of baking bread is one of the best parts of the process! If you don’t have a bread maker, you can make the dough by hand, just use the same ingredients and look up the process for the kneading and rest times.
So without further ado… the recipe for honey wheat sandwich bread:
This recipe makes 2 loaves at a time. If you only want 1 loaf, be sure to half the recipe.
2 cups of warm water
4 dollops of honey (we buy ours by the gallon from Azure Standard)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
6 cups flour (3 whole wheat/3 white)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
Place water and honey, and yeast in the bread maker. Let the yeast dissolve for a few minutes to react with the honey. Next, add the oil, flour, and salt. We premix the 2 types of flour and the salt to get a good consistency through the loaves. Start the dough cycle on the machine, ours takes 1 hour and 50 minutes including a pre-heat time.
When the machine is finished, separate the dough into 2 greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.
We usually let the dough rise until it just crests the pan. The bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. We actually bake ours for 32 minutes because the extra time gives it that beautiful golden brown finish. You will need to play with your timing on your own oven. When the loaves are done, turn them out immediately onto a cooling rack. Resist the urge to cut into them right away! Remember, once you open this Pandora’s “bread” Box, there is no going back! Enjoy!
I recall a conversation that we had with our priest a few years ago about why so many people have gotten away from self-sufficiency. His opinion is that modern society has taught us that we CAN’T do things for ourselves. I have pondered this for a while, and it makes sense. We have grocery stores with pre-packaged meat and we have no connection to where it came from. We have mechanics and Jiffy Lube places that change the oil in our cars, and landscape companies that cut the lawn so we don’t have to worry about it. Today we have grocery stores and fast food restaurants; not only do we not have to grow our food, but we can get anything we want within minutes. It would seem that we have evolved as a society and that things are just easier now- but what have we lost in the process?
When we bought our house 3 years ago, we decided that we were going to make use of our 1 acre and live from it as much as possible. We also wanted to learn how do to as many things for ourselves as we could; it is important to us to show our boys that we can grow our own food and bake our own bread, among other things. The idea of being good stewards of what we have been given goes right along with our Orthodox faith, and we want them steeped in that as much as possible. We have a long way to go as far as self-sufficiency is concerned, but we have been working on some routines which are putting us on the right track.
One of the simple routines that we implemented about 2 years ago is baking our own bread every week. This was the slippery slope that made us want to do everything ourselves! There is absolutely nothing like taking a loaf of bread out of the oven and buttering a slice to devour while it is still warm- delicious! The fact that we know exactly what goes into the bread and that there isn’t a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients is also a great comfort to us. We regularly make 2 different types of bread- honey wheat sandwich loaves and french crusty bread; the sandwich bread is our go to for weekly lunches, and we love the crusty bread for just about everything else! We have passed the recipe to many friends who now make their own bread and vow to never go back. I will give them each their own post with recipes and pictures, so you can see how easy it is! The honey wheat loaf will be up first!
What are some things that your family does to get back to basics? I would love to hear from you!
This week I was privileged to attend the Advanced Placement Summer Institute at the University of Tulsa. I have been to this conference before, and APSI always does a great job for our teachers! The week was full of great discussion, “brain oil” (as my teacher called it), and fellowship. Summer professional development offers the opportunity to meet like-minded teachers, to get some awesome resources, and to get a much-needed recharge; I am thankful for it!
I will be going to a “Google Bootcamp” this week in preparation to become a Google Educator. I have learned so much about Google and it is a game-changer in the classroom! Not only will I be able to use Google apps with my students, but there are some that make home management easier too! Stay tuned for some specifics- maybe you will be able to find something to help your day!
As of press time, I will be teaching both English II Sophomores and Pre-AP II Sophomores next year. I have taught Pre-AP before, so I am excited to have the opportunity at my new school. The longer I am a teacher, the more I realize how much of an art teaching actually is; I have so much to learn and am just beginning to scratch the surface!
We will be reading some great texts in Pre-AP this year- Oedipus Rex, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Night. Each of these texts has strong themes that will hopefully get the kiddos thinking and reflecting. Actually getting through to students and getting them to take ownership of their learning is a constant challenge. Gideon and I love our school because we can really strive to make a difference in the lives of our students. “Unfortunately” for many of them, they get us both during the day; I tell them that we have the same brain and that they will hear the same words coming from both of us many, many times! Almost 15 years of marriage and more importantly, the Holy Orthodox Church, has given us a firm foundation of belief and a world view that allows us to provide the students with stability and positivity. One student told us that we are the model of marriage for her life, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be there her and for those other students who may not have that in their lives. Thank God!
I have been thinking a lot lately about this blogging adventure and what I would like to see for the future of Life on a Little Hill. I have so much more to share and have decided we need a more permanent home. To that end, I have created lifeonalittlehill.com!
I am so excited to welcome you to the new site and to get some new posts up soon! Thank you to everyone who has been reading!
I apologize for the lack of posts within the last year; it turns out that one Oklahoma teaching salary alone does not quite fill the budget gap to allow me to stay home with the boys. We had to make the tough decision at the beginning of last school year for me to go back to work. Fortunately, Gideon and I were both able to get jobs in our little town and had a great year giving back to our community!
We are working behind the scenes to diversify our earning potential, and I will be posting as things go forward. In the meantime, and now that I am on summer, I hope to get back to some fun blog posts and show you all what is happening on our little hill!
First up… BEER!!
Yes, you heard me right! Beer! Though I don’t drink beer myself, my husband is quite the aficionado and has been brewing his own for the last seven years. He has written a guest post about the process and the hopes of one day being able to help support the family with this endeavor! We are still working on a great name for the brewery… comment if you have a suggestion for us! Enjoy!
I have been brewing now for about seven years or so, and have appreciated good beer for much longer than that. In Oklahoma, good beer is not an easy thing to come by. With strange regulations left over from the prohibition era such as 1) alcoholic beverages over 3.2% are prohibited to sell in grocery stores, 2) liquor stores are prohibited from refrigerating their stock (UPDATE: This law JUST got changed a few months ago), and 3) liquor stores MUST be closed on Sundays, voting days, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. So, if you are planning on doing something over a holiday weekend, make sure to get your REAL beer or adult beverage of choice on Saturday!
Contrary to my wife’s better judgment, she has graciously agreed to let me guest blog on her site. Today, I’d like to share a little about our garden, what we are attempting to achieve, and how we are going about doing it.
Hello Everyone! I apologize for my recent absence… I was bringing new life into the world! Aidan Matthew was born on February 27th (10 days overdue). He came in at a whopping 10 pounds, 3 ounces! We have enjoyed the last 8 weeks getting to know one another, hosting a rotating door of family from California, and celebrating Pascha, the Feast of feasts! What a blessing!
We named Aidan after St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, keeping with our Celtic names. His middle name, Matthew, is in honor of our little chapel and its patron, St. Matthew the Apostle. We feel so blessed to be a part of this parish family.
Here is a little about St. Aidan. Hopefully now I will be able to get back to sharing what is happening with our life on this little hill. 🙂
*Photo courtesy of Katie Cariker Photography
St Bede (May 27), in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE praises Aidan for his humility and piety, recommending him as a model for other bishops and priests to follow. He was not attached to the things of this world, nor did he seek earthly treasures. Whenever he received gifts from the king or from rich men, he distributed them to the poor. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would fast from all food until the Ninth Hour (about 3 P.M.), except during the paschal season.
From Lindisfarne, St Aidan traveled all over Northumbria, visiting his flock and establishing missions. St Oswald, who knew Gaelic from the time he and his family were exiled to Iona, acted as an interpreter for Bishop Aidan, who did not speak English. Thus, the king played an active role in the conversion of his people.
One year, after attending the services of Pascha, King Oswald sat down to a meal with Bishop Aidan. Just as the bishop was about to bless the food, a servant came in and informed the king that a great number of needy folk were outside begging for alms. The king ordered that his own food be served to the poor on silver platters, and that the silver serving dishes be broken up and distributed to them.There is a charming illustration of this incident in the thirteenth century Berthold Missal in New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library (Morgan MS 710, fol. 101v). Aidan, deeply moved by St Oswald’s charity, took him by the right hand and said, “May this hand never perish.” According to Tradition, St Oswald’s hand remained incorrupt for centuries after his death. St Bede says that the hand was kept in the church of St Peter at Bamburgh, where it was venerated by all. The present location of the hand, if it still survives, is not known.
St Oswald was killed in battle against the superior forces of King Penda on August 5, 642 at a place called Maserfield. He was only thirty-eight years old. St Aidan was deeply grieved by the king’s death, but his successor St Oswin (August 20) was also very dear to him.King Oswin once gave St Aidan a horse and a cart for his journeys (the bishop usually traveled on foot). Soon after this, Bishop Aidan met a beggar and gave him the horse and cart. The king heard of this and was disturbed by it. He asked St Aidan why he had given the royal gift away when there were ordinary horses in the stables which were more suitable for a beggar. Aidan rebuked him, asking if the king regarded the foal of a mare more highly than the Son of God. At first, he did not understand. Then he fell at the bishop’s feet, weeping tears of repentance. Asking for forgiveness, Oswin promised never again to judge St Aidan’s charitable deeds.
St Aidan raised the king to his feet, declaring that he had never seen a king who was so humble. He prophesied that Oswin would soon depart from this life, since the people did not deserve such a ruler. His prophecy was soon fulfilled, for St Oswin was murdered at Gilling on August 20, 651. St Aidan departed to the Lord on August 31, less than two weeks later. He died at Bamburgh, by the west wall of the church. The beam on which he was leaning to support himself still survives, even though the church was twice destroyed by fire. The beam may still be seen in the ceiling of the present church, above the baptismal font.
On the day St Aidan died, St Cuthbert (March 20) was a young man tending his master’s sheep. Looking up, Cuthbert saw a vision of angels bearing someone’s soul to heaven in a sphere of fire. Later, he learned that Bishop Aidan had died at the very hour that he had seen the vision.
At first, the holy bishop Aidan was buried at Lindisfarne on the right side of the altar in the church of St Peter. In 664 the Synod of Whitby declared that all the churches of Britain must follow Roman practices, and that Celtic customs were to be suppressed. St Colman (February 18), the third Bishop of Lindisfarne, was unable to accept this decision. Therefore, he decided to retire to Iona, taking the bones of St Aidan with him. Celtic customs survived on Iona until the eighth century.
*Information from the Orthodox Church in America website (oca.org)
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