Wonderful Smoked Turkey Habit. You will develop an addiction?

Our Thanksgiving Habit

One thing we do every year, almost as a habit, is smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving. A huge turkey.

I’ve posted about it before, but this year we will make two of them, and I got photos for ya! So here goes:

1. Thaw, trim, and rinse turkey.

Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey

Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey

2. Pour charcoal into fuel portion of smoker.

Enough charcoal for 12 hours.

Enough charcoal for 12 hours.

3. Set into bottom of smoker.

Charcoal in place

Charcoal in place

4. Do whatever you do to light charcoal.

Light charcoal

Light charcoal

5.  Once charcoal is very hot and turning white, add grill, to sterilized it.

Burning off the grill

Burning off the grill

6. Once all flame dies down, carefully remove grill and insert empty water pan in place over (not on) charcoals, and replace grill over water pan. Carefully fill with about 1 1/4 gallons of water.

Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill

Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill

7. Place turkey on grill.

Turkey on grill in smoker

Turkey on grill in smoker

8. Close smoker and go to bed.

Good night!

Good night!

9. Do not check progress by opening smoker!

In the morning, you will have a lovely smoked turkey. The meat should be tender and pink like ham. The joints should be loose or separating. The skin should be crackling in places and dark from smoke. Mmm! Look here!

Any questions? Ask in the comments, below, and I’ll be happy to answer quickly!

Have fun!


Edit to add: Our smoker is nearly burned out. 😦 Worst part is that we canNOT find another like it. Smaller ones do not work. Electric too expensive. The company that made our smoker just does not make them anymore. Help! 😉

 

3 Things Home-Educating Moms Don’t Know about Retirement

Woman resting

We began home educating our kiddos in the early ’80’s, when things were just beginning to fire up a bit and there was almost no homeschool support to be had, anywhere. No advice. And for SURE, no advice about retiring.

Because we spaced out our children*, mostly at roughly four-year intervals, it took me 25 years to finish the job. Then I retired.

I’d like to give you a short list of shocking things I found out about myself and the whole retirement thing. I hope to save you some grief:

1. You do NOT necessarily get more done with all the children gone.

Nope. Sorry.

I know; it was a shock to me, too. I was so sure. I had to think about it a long time before I got it.

But it’s true.

You may have thought: There will be less laundry to do and fewer mouths to feed. There will be NO mud tracked in the door. There will be no more events to chase. I’ll be FREE!!!!

Think again.

You only get more done when they are gone if you keep on doing things.

Don’t feel bad; it took me ages to get this.

I remember my thoughts that first child-free morning:

Ahh—listen to it: NOTHING! The beautiful sound of no clamor, no to-do guilt—nothing in the world stopping me from that third cup of coffee.

PEACE!

Hours later, I was still basking in it, although I had somehow extricated myself from the recliner. I roamed around the house thinking I’d just take inventory and spend a day marveling at how simple life would become, now. Mentally, I gave myself a couple of months to coast and figure out what direction my life should take. I thought longingly about several projects I could now finish.

My stomach growled.

Wow. It was past noon. Hmm.

Ah well, only one sandwich and a cup of tea would take care of all my lunchtime duties. Cleaning only one knife, one small plate, and a cup would get me up and out of the kitchen and on with life. I could even eat in the sunroom, where the recliner beckoned.

And so it went, for days. Many days.

I thought I must have been really tired, to collapse like this.

2. The needs, schedules, and opinions of your children are what get you through it all.

I began to see this when I had my own desires for something outside the four walls. Most of the world works on a schedule and you cannot go to the library to chat with the librarian if the building is locked and she’s gone home. I acquired a young child to tutor. I ran out of stockpiled food (not feeding eight anymore made bulk-buying a bit silly.) I had to organize my life, somehow! Why was I always late?

The answers lay in the fact that, in the past, I did my level best at every task I took on, kept up with the outside world, and kept a brave, cheery face about it because:

  • My children had long heard lectures from me about doing our best at all times,
  • My children needed to be places without the embarrassment of arriving late and needed to see a good example set for timeliness,
  • My children got into serious trouble if they griped or grumbled.

WHAT.

It was about the children? They were watching?

Exactly.

And now, no one was.

And the truest self-test of character is to see what you do when no one is watching.

3. Your children work hard.

Unless you’ve already died of overwork, you make your children do a few things around the house.

Mine folded half the laundry, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, kept their own bedrooms clean, dusted and vacuumed the living areas whenever I asked, mowed, tended trash, fed pets—I know I’m forgetting something. Oh, I paid them to do windows.

If you’ve taught your children to help around the house, guess what: Your children graduate and get new jobs. They help around a different house, eventually .

Now days, I fold all the laundry and load and unload the dishwasher. Dust still falls into their bedrooms and the whole house, grass still grows, trash still piles up, and strays still adopt us.

And I still love sparkling windows.

When we first began homeschooling, I remember the serious lecture I gave my family:

“I will be like any mom who works outside the home. I will have many hours when I cannot do housework. I will need help from the whole family, the same as if we were not able to live on only my husband’s income and I was forced to supplement it by going out of the home.”

That truth remains. Just remove the many hours when I cannot do housework, and insert: me.

Me doing housework.

How can you do better?

  • Spend your last year or two seeking God about what He wants you to do in your retirement.
    Get ready for those tasks.Begin walking in them before the last child leaves, so it will be less of a transition and you’ll have your new schedule nearly in place.
  • Keep a to-do list as you always did.
    Make yourself obey it for your OWN good, to please the Lord, to do your best.
  • Work, work, work!
    As we age, we lose muscle mass. Plan on a quick burn, maybe 30 minutes of hard work, every day—the kind that makes you perspire.
    Think of mowing in summer as a lovely multi-task that keeps you out of the weight room, the tanning bed, and the sauna.
    Wrap crime-zone tape around the recliner!

Any more discoveries? Ideas? Solutions? Share! Thanks!

*Those who know me know: When I say “children” I mean anyone under age 18, and several who are 18 or above. Mostly, I just mean “my own kids, grown or not, still living under my roof”. No offense meant to any kids who think they are grownups although still dependent, nor to any 32-year-olds who act like two-year-olds! 😉

The Blessings of Habit—Requiring

This is the hardest part.

Teeth of a model.If a child continuously needs reminders, “forgets” on purpose, he needs more than another reminder.

He needs requirements.

Children do not automatically walk in goodness, contrary to popular opinion.

Some want to stay in bed in the morning.

Some want to skip brushing their teeth.

Some want to play during chore time.

Dogs eat a lot of homework. We know it is better for them if they have good sleep, cleanliness, and work habits. Our good plans for them cross their wills. That is why God put them in homes with parents.

Parents can place requirements on children for their own good. This is common knowledge in all cultures, except the permissive. People who follow the original ways of requiring children to act sensibly, have produced sensible offspring.

Stating the obvious is necessary, these days. I believe my children will always practice brushing their teeth daily, because they are accustomed to having white, clean-feeling teeth, so brown, fuzzy teeth bother them. The same is true for bathing, eating healthful foods, and Bible reading. Oh, they may experiment with departure from the absolute best, but they also will sense a difference, a loss, and choose the right way.

They are not born this way. We require it of them.

The child who habitually eats cake and cola will not sense the ill feeling from it in adulthood. The child who habitually reads anything but the Word will not miss the Word as an adult. The difference between those generalities is most usually the differing requirements they faced as children.

Who wants to raise a loud, interrupting, unhealthy, illiterate adult with crumbling teeth and no knowledge of the sacred? Draw your lines and require your children to heed them. Help them have the excellent gift of good habits.

___________________

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What to Do with Toddlers: Try D.E.S.I.R.E!

baby while making his first stepsNote: You will find this article pirated on the Internet. However, it is mine.

OK, it has finally hit you:  Suddenly you understand why that other home school mom used to be so self-doubting … She had a toddler in her home.

Now, your turn has come and, whew, can it be a challenge! You prepared for receiving that new baby blessing during the school year, didn’t you?  No one told you what to do with the toddler that would result, did they?

My very first toddler to home school is now 30 years old.  She led the way for two brothers to follow in her footsteps.  Yes, I have survived having three toddlers in my school!  The youngest is now 24 and I am still mostly sane.  I hope I can share a few tricks here that will be helpful to you.

You probably can guess that the acronym D.E.S.I.R.E. stands for six choices of tactics you can take with your toddler. The word helps you to remember, while “on-the-run”, what ideas you have not tried yet.  Happily, I can say that with this plan, you can master the fine art of home schooling with a toddler.

D is for Discipline.  Discipline is another way of saying, “consistently train by habit and example.”  You must discipline your toddler.  Many people do not know about this idea, but it is crucial to your success with this child, for his whole life. If you do not discipline your toddler now, you probably never will be able to manage this child and he will suffer all his life for your wrong choice.  Actually, your whole family will suffer.

There are many ideas floating around about how to discipline, but I strongly urge using the Bible way, which is the rod.  How to use the rod would make an entire article in itself, but there are many good resources to help you obey God about this, already in print.

You can and you must discipline (train) them to maintain quiet during teaching, oral reading, testing, study, dictation, etc.  Consider “quiet” to be the home school subject the toddler must learn. (Of course, it will be easier to train the little ones to do right if you are acting that way yourself.)

E is for Entertain.  This is playing school. I always loved this part.  My toddlers did, too.  Sometimes my first graders even looked longingly at our inventions!  I loved giving my toddlers blunt scissors to cut the corners off 3×5 note cards. They learned how to cut and how to identify a triangle.  Then we pasted the triangles to another paper to make flowers, boats, and other “pretty pictures for Daddy.”  This supervised play, they thought was school; they were right.  They learned other manual dexterity tasks by working with homemade play dough, real cookie dough, extra large crayons, educational toys, chenille stems, and my favorite, the chalkboard. The reason I prefer chalk (white only) so much is that no matter if they taste it, step on it, put it through the laundry, or use it on the walls, it is no problem.

S is for Seclude. Face it, sometimes they need to stay in their own place.  That is when a playpen, screened porch, high chair or other restraining device can come in handy.  Never leave them unattended in these places; stock them with toys, too.  Do not make being restrained a punishment (if he needs the rod, do not substitute rejection!) but do make it a choice, such as, “You will stop crumbling sister’s papers, or you will play in the playpen for a while–which do you want to do?”  This is especially important during times that would be potentially dangerous for him, such as science experiments or baseball games.  If you can anticipate the need, you can emphasize the fun aspect of it:  “Here, let’s sit in the high chair so you can see brother’s ice cube melt and boil!”

I is for Include.  Every toddler can learn to mimic and enjoy many of your activities.  This goes for Bible memorization, singing, PE, reading, phonics drill, outdoor housework, educational videos, and foreign language.  Although my first home school toddler could not recite the entire book of James as her brothers were memorizing it, she could insert the next word, whenever we stopped.  She received this by osmosis.  One of my toddlers learned to read via the signed alphabet.  His siblings were learning it and he knew what the signs meant.  If we signed c-a-t to him, he could think momentarily and say “cat”–he actually sounded out signed letters into spoken words.  At age three.  While he was a verbal child, he also showed the benefits of being included.  You can include a toddler, too, by writing his name on your chore chart so he can receive stars like everyone else.

R is for Relish.  Leave well enough alone, let sleeping babes lie, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!  Soak in those moments when this toddler is content just to exist. If he has helped himself to math manipulatives and lined them up all over the floor like a train track, unless it is forbidden behavior, do not scold, or even speak, or even breathe.  He is OK.  Let it be. If he is contentedly looking at the science book you needed to use right now, change gears and let him look.  If he has fallen asleep in Daddy’s chair, tiptoe around him; do not disturb him so you can use the chair for an oral reading lesson.  Also be sure not to miss the delightful memories of this little one’s life; keep your camera just as ready for him as ever, home school or not.

E is for Endure. There it is, the teeth-gritting-with-a-smile part. This darling is a part of your family, after all. He will not be tiny forever, either.  If you can find a place for him on your lap, sharing your chair, helping you sweep, or even carrying real school papers to siblings, he will be learning how to function as an older, usable person.  The busier you can entice him to stay, the longer you can endure helping him learn how to help, the better for him.  Even if he really is in the way, even if you could do it faster yourself, even if the paper gets droolies on it…you are making progress toward civilizing the little one and you should do so, and with a smile.

There you have it: the way I survived three toddlers in a row.  It was not easy, but I can say we usually completed all our work and we usually stayed peaceable.  Why not try DESIRE!

_________

baby while making his first steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should an Ill Mother Have Any Rights?

A most horrific case of the State taking over in a family’s life, stripping them of all rights! Read this introduction and please click through to see the whole outrageous and terrifying story:

Even Sick Mothers Have Rights

HSLDA Seeks Justice for Mom Accused of Faking Her Kids’ Illness

When parents have a sick child, the last thing they should have to worry about is being falsely accused of child abuse. Unfortunately, this appears to be a more and more frequent pattern in the United States.

HSLDA is undertaking a new case that reveals a very troubling example of this problem. Any of us could be this family. We could be the parents falsely accused of abuse. We could be the ones who have our children removed from us at the very moment when they most need us—when they are genuinely ill.

Lane Funkhouser, his wife Susan, and their two children (whom we will call James and Kat) were all very sick. They went to their family doctor, who was unable to diagnose the problem.

Because the children were not getting better, their attendance at public school became an issue. So Lane and Susan decided that they would homeschool James and Kat while they searched for a diagnosis and treatment.

School officials filed truancy charges against the family, which were quickly dismissed. But, as a result of these charges, the family became embroiled with a social worker named Michael Austin, an investigator for the Clarke County, Virginia, Department of Social Services (DSS).

False Diagnosis

Austin is not a doctor. He is not a nurse. He is not a psychologist. He is not a medical professional of any stripe.

But Austin determined that Susan was suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This outdated term refers to a psychological disorder in which a parent contends that her child is ill to draw attention to herself. It is extremely rare, and it requires a proper diagnosis by a qualified professional.

There’s one thing we know for sure about this case: laboratory results showed that the children were actually sick with difficult-to-treat illnesses, and it was not the result of Munchausen by proxy.

 Now go here and see how much worse it became and why we must keep watch over our homes!

Where Is Your Favorite Vacation?

Alpine Vistas

Alpine Vistas

I live about an hour from the loveliest little spot for a vacation. Seriously, it has EVERYTHING!

Let me count the ways:

  • Antiquing. Lots of antique stores for your viewing/shopping pleasure. One huge mall and many small near-museums with absolutely everything. Seriously, I almost hate to share this part of it. I want it all for myself…
  • Horse racing. If you’re into that. I’m not.
  • Art. Galleries galore, including such well-knowns as Kinkade and Chihuly, and several with geological finds that have been made into art, such as geodes. It’s been judged the fourth art-friendliest city in the nation.
  • Riverboat ride with dinner and live music.
  • Al fresco dining in a below ground restaurant–always cool by dinnertime.
  • Real museums, including a Tussaud wax museum.
  • Amazing architecture. Totally astonishing architecture, at every turn.
  • Breath-taking vistas
  • Impeccable groundskeeping
  • History, history, history–built with government moneys, yes, by your great-grandfather’s hands to keep your great-grandmother alive, before we paid people to do nothing.
  • Food. Oh my. And prices that make you want to live there. One whole restaurant devoted to the breakfast of your dreams. On fun place decorated all over with pennies glued to the walls. Another, gourmet and pristine, a sanctuary for its guests and for its workers, who are legal immigrants, escaped from Romania, who wait on you perfectly and cheerily, with charming accents.
  • Hotels. We’re talking, here, of totally expensive, but enchantingly historic, insanely beautiful, antique hotels…
  • And–tada–fountains. Fountains full of water so hot, you can use it to make your tea; so pure, it’s piped to the public straight from the ground, to drink. Famously healing hot waters…

And now you know where it is: Hot Springs, Arkansas.

So impressive, the first time I went there, I was five, and even then, I knew I had to go there someday when I could see the whole thing.

Been there so many times, and haven’t seen it all, yet. Talking about it (to my history-loving heart) is never overdone.

Our Grandfathers' Handwork

Our Grandfathers’ Handwork

For more photos, view here.

For more about Hot Springs, view here, and here.

So…Where is YOUR favorite staycation?