Wings

If you follow my Facebook page, then you may have seen some photos and videos of a broody hen named Stella. We’ve raised chickens off and on for ten years now, and we’ve had many hens go broody, but they would start setting on a clutch of eggs only to abandon it halfway through. When hens get broody, they stop laying eggs, so in the interest of production that instinct has been bred out of them for the most part. Stella is the first to hatch out and care for a small brood of chicks, so it’s the first time I’ve had the treat of watching a mama hen’s instincts at work. So far she’s doing a great job and her chicks are doing very well. We’re still keeping them separated from the rest of the flock for the protection of the youngsters, so periodically I check on them and provide for their needs. I love watching the little chicks zip in and out from under mama, and listening to her reassuring clucks. It has caused me to contemplate the concept of “wings.”

Picture I took when I first discovered the newly hatched chicks.
For Sheltering
Newly hatched chicks are extremely susceptible to cold. A broody hen is very warm underneath, between 105 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, so newly hatched chicks find the warmth they need beneath her wings. Were it to rain before their feathers had grown in, they would also be kept dry.
A chick peeks out from beneath Stella’s wing.

When I first discovered that some chicks had hatched, I went into the coop to check for any that might have fallen out of the raised nest box. Sure enough, I found a little white chick laying on the floor. I picked it up and it was cold and lifeless, yet I felt its heart beating. I held it in one of my hands while I went to get supplies for the new family. By the time I got back, it was starting to revive a little. After my husband helped me prepare a place and move them, I put the weak little chick up under its mother. When I returned a little later to check on them, it had revived and was getting around as well as the others.

Video of Stella and chicks

For Protecting
As soon as a hen gets broody, she becomes very defensive. When you get near her, she’ll fluff her feathers and growl. If you reach for her eggs, she’ll peck at you. That behavior continues once her chicks are hatched. Here is a video clip of that behavior:

Our hen, Stella, seemed to soften a little bit at that point, but she was still very protective of her chicks. If they had ventured away from her, she brought them back with a certain call, and they’d scurry back underneath her wings.

Stella keeping a watchful eye on me.
Our Heavenly Father

Many times in scripture, wings are used to describe God’s loving care of His people:

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 36:7 New International Version)

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalm 57:1)

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4)

How reassuring it is to know that He watches over us and invites us to take shelter beneath His wings. Watching Stella with her babies has given me new appreciation for that analogy.

Motherhood
The term “wings” reminds me of myself, too, and my role as a mother. Even before my children were conceived, I was praying and preparing for them. As soon as they entered the world, my instincts kicked in. I remember well how protective I felt, and if I could have had a police escort, or perhaps an armored vehicle, when taking our babies home for the first time, I would have. When I took them out in public, I worried that someone might try to kidnap them, so I kept them very close, and if I had to look away from them, I kept a hand on them. That may sound paranoid, but we lived in a huge metropolitan area at the time. My children were (and still are) my treasures. Even now, with them full-grown, I always feel ready to protect them. I have to restrain myself sometimes and let them handle things theirselves, but inside, I still feel like Stella in these pictures. You can see that she’s watching me carefully.

Wings

For Flying
Our children are in the “fledgling” stage now. They’re trying their own wings and even as they fly further and further from the nest, they are always welcome back.

One spring, years ago, I heard a ruckus out front so I went to investigate. At the edge of our yard, by the woods, there were some Blue Jays in the trees. I’m at a loss at how to describe their calls, but they’re very loud and boisterous, much like an alarm. On the lawn I discovered a young Jay sitting in the grass, and the closer I got to it, the more frantic and loud the parents became. It was a fledgling that had tried its wings and had landed in the grass. From their perches, it’s parents were watching over it and encouraging it to try again. They were prepared to defend it from a cat, or me, if necessary.

That memory, which had been stored in the back of my mind, came to the forefront these recent years as first our son, and then our daughter, started trying their wings. My husband and I watch over them and encourage them from a distance. Sometimes their landings are rough and they get discouraged, so we try to boost their spirits and give them the courage to try again. With each attempt their wings become a little stronger. I’m still waiting to see where they will eventually carry them, and hope that it’s not too far away.

Wings
Mama Phoebe

Even as I write this, the front door is open, and from my chair where I’m writing I can see the bird feeders. I’m watching hummingbirds, blue jays, cardinals and others, flying to and fro. We have a large flood light mounted to the peak of our roof, and a mama Phoebe built a nest up there and is raising some chicks. When I’m in the front yard I can hear them up there clamoring for food, and I see mama flying to and from the nest, doing her best to fill those hungry mouths.

Empty Nests

Spring is when birds build their nests, raise their chicks and teach them how to fly. It’s also the season of graduations and marriages – young adults take wing and their parents join the ranks of empty nesters.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it.

Wings
Helpful Links
Mid-Life Blogger on Facebook
Related Reading


Gardener’s Lament ~ A Poem

Gardener's Lament

The Ups and Downs of Asparagus

I’m far from being an expert on asparagus. In fact, I’ve been a little disappointed in my asparagus harvest, so I decided to do some research to see if there’s something I can do to improve it for next year. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned, along with my experience, the ups and downs of asparagus.

A Favorite Veggie

We love asparagus! It’s so easy to prepare, and even tasty right there in the garden. It’s amazingly sweet and delicious. It’s also a perennial, which means it comes back year after year. It can grow in part-shade which is a bonus to gardeners that don’t have enough full-sun areas, but it’s more productive in full sun. It’s also one of the first harvestable vegetables, coming up in early spring. When you’ve gone through the winter without harvesting anything from the garden, it’s a sight for sore eyes!

The first emerging spear. How exciting!
First Lessons

I don’t remember when I planted my first crowns, I’d guess about five or six years ago. That first batch I planted in one of the raised beds in my veggie garden, along with strawberries. They actually grow very well together, but I found that when it came time to harvest strawberries that it was annoying trying to find and pick them while asparagus ferns were poking me in the eye or getting caught in my hair. Also, when I planted them I really didn’t know how large they would get. With that first bit of experience I decided I wanted to move them out of the raised bed and to somewhere in the ground where they wouldn’t take up that valuable real estate and would have more room to grow. I tried to dig up those crowns to relocate them. A few I wasn’t able to dig up at all, and the ones that I did get out and tried to transplant didn’t make it. Another lesson learned: plan carefully where you want to put your asparagus, it can live twenty years or more and does not like to be moved.

The above picture shows a few of the original crowns sending up some spears earlier this season. You can see the various stages of growth. The very tallest one is starting to make a fern. The next tallest ones are beginning to separate the tips. Then there are a few visible ones that are at the perfect stage for harvest, about 8-12″ with tightly closed tips. (The strawberries relocated themselves to another bed, so those are some older plants, too, but that’s a different story. In the back right corner is some cilantro, and in the background you can see some guineas at work in the yard. In the foreground is a “walking onion.”)

New Experiment

Just about a year ago I decided to plant some new young crowns in my front yard flower garden. I may live to regret it, but I thought I’d try planting some among my flowers.The Ups and Downs of Asparagus The ferns are actually kind of attractive in bouquets, and as a backdrop to the other plants. Some of the crowns have taken off and are doing very well. I think they’re the ones near other plants that draw my attention when watering. Others, in more remote areas of the garden are slower to get going. At the moment, I’m glad I did, because the roses make a pretty backdrop to the asparagus, and the contrast makes it easier to see the fine foliage. The ferns get quite tall, about four feet, and quite often flop over.

The Ups and Downs of Asparagus
Although my camera didn’t focus very well on it, the rosebush behind it makes it easier to see this fern developing. It’s about four feet high.
The Ups and Downs of Asparagus
Close-up of fine foliage.
Genders

Did you know that asparagus has male and female? They’re quite easy to tell apart. In fact, if you tried, you might be able to guess what their differences are.

Female plants send up shoots that are thinner and shorter than males, and they also produce seeds. I didn’t have a photo of the seeds, but they’re just little red balls. I was showing my son the asparagus and telling him about them. I found a few seeds so I gave them to him and he sprouted them, along with his other seeds. Here’s a picture of his seedlings to help you with identification.

The two straight seedlings are those of asparagus. They, too, will form tiny ferns, and that’s the stage I discover them in the garden.
Close-up of asparagus fern

The male spears are thicker (stronger) and taller. Their spears are often as thick as my thumb. If you look back up at the photo from the raised bed, you can see that some of the spears are noticeably thicker and taller than the others.

Easy

I’ve found asparagus to be pretty easy and low-maintenance. They can get pests and diseases, but I really haven’t had a problem with either. They perform best in enriched, well-draining soil, which explains why they liked my raised bed so much.

I’ve been amazed at how easily asparagus self-sows. I find little seedlings quite often in my gardens. If you don’t want that, then you’ll want to collect the seeds. Also, it’s possible to buy only male crowns. Occasionally, I’ll gather seeds and go toss them at the edge of the woods. I don’t know if they’ll grow there, but I thought that would be a fun surprise someday if they did. Can you ever have too much asparagus? I didn’t think so, either. Have you priced it in the stores lately?!

Brushing Up

Okay, now to do a little reading to see what I might be able to improve upon. Here are a few mental notes I made:

  • I read someone suggesting to cover asparagus crowns with leaves for the winter. With my gardening practices that happens on its own. I usually leave some of the dead stems, simply to mark where the growing crowns are so I don’t accidentally damage them before the new spears start to appear again. Asparagus also likes organic material, so that seems to be a good practice.
  • There are some references that describe how to prepare an ideal bed for asparagus. I felt like that was done in the original raised bed, but not so much in the front yard. If you’re getting ready to plant yours, you might want to follow Rodale’s advice.
  • Asparagus, especially young crowns, doesn’t like to compete with other plants. I’ve read to weed around them and heavily mulch them.

I’m thinking that I may just need to keep up what I’ve been doing and be patient. The crowns in the front yard are still very young, and there aren’t very many of the older ones in the garden. I didn’t find anything that I’ve done terribly wrong. Patience may be the key word with asparagus.

Harvesting

When – You want to harvest asparagus when it’s about a foot tall, or so. You want the tip to still be tightly closed. Asparagus grow amazingly fast, so you’ll want to check it often during its growing season. Once it begins to make a fern, it’s too late. You don’t want to harvest all of the spears because the plant needs to store energy through the ferns for the next year, so leave some spears to mature. Later in the season when they’ve yellowed, you can cut them back, or remove them altogether. I like to leave a few “stumps” just to mark where the plants are, for their protection and also so I’ll know where to start watching for spears the next spring. The harvest season varies with the age of the crowns. You don’t want to harvest any for the two years. The third year you can harvest for about four weeks. When they’re four years or older, it’s about 8-12 weeks long.

How – I think the easiest way is just to grasp the spear and snap it off. You can use a knife to cut them off, but you might not get all of the woody part off, or conversely you might cut off some of the tender part. If you’ve already cut them, or bought some from the store, hold the spear with both hands and bend it until it snaps. It will snap in the perfect place! Easy! Fun, even. Show young ‘uns how to do it and let them help. Harvested spears will keep pretty well in the refrigerator for several days. I put a little water in the bottom of a glass, stand the spears upright in it, and put it in the fridge.

Eating

One of my favorite ways of cooking asparagus is amazingly easy. I place the rinsed asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over it. Roll the asparagus around a little, then sprinkle garlic salt over it. I roast it at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, taking it out halfway to roll them around a little more. If I’m baking fish I’ll sometimes add the asparagus around it.

I also like to chop up fresh asparagus to add to salads, and it’s also awesome to add to creamy pasta dishes!

Preserving

I haven’t had enough asparagus to worry about preserving it. I really don’t like it canned because it’s too mushy. I might try freezing it if it gets to where I have more than we can eat. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful with that.

If you have tips on growing and preserving, please share them. I would love to learn more about one of my favorite vegetables!

This post was shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop and the Homesteader Hop.

The Ups and Downs of Asparagus

 

Rainy Days ~ A Simple Pleasure

I love rain. Rainy days make me feel like nesting. Maybe that’s because God is taking care of my watering chores, and when I have seeds sown and new plants getting established, I especially appreciate the help that a good soaking rain gives them. Rainy days give this gardener time to catch up on a little housework. I’ll open a few windows, light a scented candle, and do some chores that have been neglected.

Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures, for me, are things that are readily available to most everyone, for free or close to it. Being able to identify and appreciate simple pleasures goes a long way towards leading a happy life.

Cares Float Away Like Bubbles

When my kids were little, I used to sit on the porch with them and blow bubbles. You’d think they’d pop right away, but the opposite was true. They lasted even longer and we watched them float out into the rain, reflecting opalescent light on their way. We’d see how many bubbles we could get going with all three of us blowing as quickly as we could. It was a relaxing way to enjoy the weather with the kids.

A Spring Break to Remember

Once, when we lived on the coast, my sister came to visit for Spring Break, bringing her young son. I think mine were about six and two, so her’s would’ve been about four. Down there on the coast we occasionally got tropical depressions that would bring 10-11″ of rain in a day, and that happened soon after she arrived. We lived in a small canal house at the time, so we were stuck in the house with three small children all day while the rain poured. At the end of the day the rain let up a little bit and we were able to have a pizza delivered. That was the highlight, I think, of her visit.

Puddle Fun

When heavy rains left puddles, I let our kids go out and run through them. They had fun running, splashing, and laughing. I enjoyed watching them, and I still enjoy those memories.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the Love of Porches

I’ve always had to have a porch where I could take a drink (or maybe some bubbles), sit and relax, and listen to the rain’s “music.” I also love the aroma of the air. Being able to open some windows while it’s raining is something else that’s important to me. I’ve kept those things in mind while shopping for new homes. I inherited the love of porches from my mother.

Rainy day from the porch.
When Enough’s Enough

Now I live on a hill in the Ozark “mountains.” I don’t have to worry about flooding at my home, but we have a lot of “low water crossings” that can flood and make it difficult to get around. At times it’s very difficult to get to town.

Road closure due to flooding.

We average such a flood about once or twice per year. When the rain lets up, we usually drive down to the bridges to see how high the water is. During the worst of them, there is often a lot of debris floating down the creek-turned-river. Several years ago, during one such flood, a lot of cattle got swept downstream. We were at the bridge and the water had risen quickly, stranding some motorists on the far side who had to wait for the water to recede. Along with them was a tired cow that had pulled itself from the flood waters.

Black cow and traffic waiting for flood waters to recede.
Flooded Low Water Crossing

When we moved to the Ozarks, “low water crossings” were new to me. I was nervous to cross them when they had a little water over them. Learning to tell how much is too much is an important skill around here. They are the first areas to flood.

Another Flooded Low Water Crossing

The Ozarks have a lot of creeks and springs. The springs become more noticeable after heavy rain.

Gushing Spring

I started writing this post a few days ago during a torrential downpour. At one point we lost our internet due to flooding. That’s where I draw the line. (LOL!) I’d had enough. Luckily, it wasn’t off for too long.

Back to the Porch
April Showers Bring May Flowers

Our ducks and geese seemed to enjoy the rainy day, too. They all waddled happily around the yard.

My preference is to enjoy rain at home, watching it water my gardens. Sometimes I’m even blessed to see a beautiful rainbow, reminding me of God’s promise.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9:8-16

You can’t have rainbows without rain.

It doesn’t cost a thing to slow down and enjoy a rainy day. It’s another of my simple pleasures.

More Simple Pleasures

Solitude

Open Windows

The Clothesline

Rainy Days ~ A Simple Pleasure

 

On the Hunt for Redbuds and Phlox

Now that spring has arrived, I’ve been really busy. I’ve been gardening like a mad woman. In my flower garden I’ve been weeding and pulling up grass, as well as planting and transplanting. One of the corners of the front yard has been neglected, and while working out there I kept thinking about what it needed. I finally decided that I wanted to plant a Redbud tree there.

Nature Study

Since they grow wild here, I set out to find a baby one that I could dig up and transplant. I knew they had heart-shaped leaves, but they were just starting to open and young trees don’t bloom yet, so I started by finding a mature one to study.

Once I had a better idea of how to spot one, the hunt was on. It wasn’t hard to find them, but I wanted one that was small enough that it wouldn’t be too hard to dig up. I wasn’t successful until the third or fourth one. Their roots go down into the rocks, making it hard to dig down, and also to get enough of the root to hopefully be successful in transplanting. I actually ended up with two. One was about five feet tall. The other one was very small, maybe about two feet. I planted it in another bed near the house.

Why a Redbud?

That corner of our yard needed some height, but I didn’t want anything that was too large and obtrusive. Of course, a Redbud in bloom is very beautiful, but I like them when they aren’t blooming, too. I like their heart-shaped leaves and their open and airy growth habit. I even thought I’d enjoy shaping it over time.

More Free Plants

Down by an old home on our farm, there are daylilies and irises that were planted long ago and have naturalized. I dug up some of those to put around my Redbud tree, as well as elsewhere around the yard. I don’t know what they look like, so that’ll be another surprise someday.

Spring Beauty
A beautiful patch of phlox in the woods. See the creek behind them?

The wild phlox are blooming and they’re so beautiful this year. They seem to be more bountiful. I couldn’t help but take some pictures before digging up a few to bring home. I don’t like to disturb nature too much, so I dug up some that were growing in the middle of the driveway and might be trampled anyway.

Blackberry blooms.

In other nature news, the blackberries and raspberries were already starting to bloom! Before you know it, I’ll be out picking those berries.

Mayapple Blossom

The Mayapples are also blooming. They’re so short, at about 8″, that it’s hard to get low enough to get a picture of the blossom. They have a very strong fragrance that reminds me of honeysuckle with a hint of furniture polish (LOL). I’ve never been fortunate enough to get the ripe fruit. I imagine the critters get to them first.

Back at Home
Surprise! The pink Phlox that suddenly appeared in my garden.

When I returned home I was anxious to get the new plants tucked into the ground as quickly as possible. It was a warm day and they were already wilting.

A few years ago I had tried transplanting some Phlox and thought I was unsuccessful because they never bloomed. All of a sudden, last week, a pink one appeared in my garden. That excited me and made me want to add more. The new ones I dug up were blue.

The Blue Phlox in their new home.
Newly transplanted Redbud with irises and daylilies.

I planted the larger baby Redbud in the corner and added some irises and daylilies around its base. I had read that you should trim the leaves of irises when you transplant them, so I went back later and cut them shorter.

The new Redbud is so spindly that it was hard to get a good picture of it. The mound behind it is oregano. Behind that you can see some newly transplanted plants. We’re finally getting some rain, so now I’ll have to wait and see if it survives. I sure hope so. Hopefully, with a little time, this corner of the yard will soon be prettier.

Close-up of transplanted Redbud.

Spring seems so fleeting. There are already so many flowers that have come and gone. It goes much too quickly for me! I hope you enjoyed our walk in nature. I just love spring (and free plants)! Don’t you?!

On the Hunt for Redbuds and Phlox

Build a Strong Foundation at the HEAV Homeschool Convention

No matter what stage of homeschooling you’re in, from just beginning your feasibility study, to graduating your student, the Home Educators Association of Virginia’s Homeschool Convention is one you won’t want to miss. There are many compelling reasons to attend a homeschool convention, especially one as comprehensive as HEAV’s. There’s even a giveaway for a free Family Registration to the 2017 HEAV Homeschool Convention! Scroll down to the end to enter.

Strong Foundation

HEAV’s 2017 theme is “Building a Strong Foundation,” and there’s no better place to begin your homeschooling journey, or do some shoring up.

Research

If you are in the beginning stage of learning about homeschooling, a convention is a great place to gain experience through full immersion. Through observation, you can see for yourself that homeschooling families are all unique, but not “weird” as you’ve been led to believe. You’ll see socialization in action, and how homeschooling affects family ties.

While watching the graduation ceremony, you’ll see that homeschooling through high school is possible, and share in the joy with proud parents.

By attending workshops you can begin to learn about different homeschooling approaches and student learning styles. Your eyes will be opened to the freedom and blessings that await those who choose this lifestyle.

HEAV offers three “Homeschool Success” workshops on Thursday, June 8th, that are free and open to the public.

Homeschool Success workshop. Photo courtesy of HEAV
Get started

Once you’ve made the decision to start homeschooling, the next question is “How?” The HEAV convention will have over 350 vendors with everything homeschooling. You’ll be able to look at the products and ask questions of the vendors, many of them homeschooling parents themselves. You’ll also have the opportunity to compare your favorite curriculums in person. You can see the whole list of vendors here.

Tip: With so many products to consider, you might find it helpful to do a little research on them ahead of time and note the ones you want to make a point to see.

Save Money

You can actually save money by attending homeschool conventions. When buying curriculum in person you’ll save money on shipping, and vendors often offer discounts at conventions.

HEAV also has a used curriculum sale where you can buy books and materials, as well as sell the things you no longer need.

Build a Strong Foundation
Used Curriculum Fair, Photo courtesy of HEAV

One lucky winner will save even more money by receiving a free Family Registration. Be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Connect

Support is extremely important for homeschooling families and conventions are a great place to make these connections.

Photo courtesy of HEAV

Join Home Educators Association of Virginia  – HEAV is a non-profit organization for the state of Virginia. You can read about all the great services they provide by visiting their “About” page.

Home School Legal Defense Association – HSLDA is a national organization that provides many services to homeschooling families. Their members can rest assured that if they have a problem with child protective services, the local school board, or government, that they can call HSLDA for advice or legal assistance. They also serve as watchdogs, scrutinizing proposed legislation for any threats to homeschooling freedom. Consider joining HSLDA not only for the protection of your family, but also for others who may need their services and for the future of homeschooling.

Encouragement

By attending workshops you can build your confidence in teaching your children. This year’s workshops span all subjects, as well as specialized areas such as special needs, adoption, and learning disabilities. One homeschool mom said that she “didn’t feel so alone and intimidated,” because of attending a convention.

J. Michael Smith, HSLDA
J. Michael Smith, photo courtesy of HSLDA

J. Michael Smith, of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), is one of this year’s keynote speakers. I recently had the opportunity to interview him and you can read what he had to say in “Homeschool Heroes.” Click here for the list of speakers and their workshops.

Tip: Plan ahead and make note of the sessions that you don’t want to miss.

The convention also offers a Leaders’ Luncheon and a Single Parents’ Luncheon. These events require pre-registration, so follow their links to learn more.

Leaders’ Luncheon, photo courtesy of HEAV
Fun for the whole family

I’ve never seen so many activities offered. Even if the convention required traveling it would make a fun trip for the whole family, not to mention that it’s in a historic area. Here are some of the special events, but be sure to visit their website because there are more than I can list!

Photography Team, photo courtesy of HEAV

Activities for children and teens such as art, photography, chess, a math tournament, a music competition, a dissection lab, and more.

Graduation Ceremony, Photo courtesy of HEAV

Graduation ceremony

A College and Career Fair – follow this link to see all of the colleges, tech schools, military branches, and companies that will attend.

There’s even something for pastors.

Registration

Admission is priced by the family. Pay one low price for a Family Registration, and your spouse and dependent children attend FREE!

There are opportunities for free admission for qualifying families and grandparents. To see if you qualify for free admission or to apply for a scholarship, click here.

Accommodations

All the information you need to make hotel reservations and find your way there, can be found on the convention website. There’s even a shuttle service. They’ve thought of everything!

Prepare

9 Easy Steps to HomeschoolingHomeschool conventions can be overwhelming, especially one as large as HEAV’s. If you’re new to homeschooling, I’ve written an ebook called “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling,” that takes you through some exercises that are beneficial in the beginning. It may be helpful to work through before attending the convention.

Pack

There are many good reasons to attend a homeschool convention and with HEAV’s being the second-largest in the nation, it’s even more worthwhile. It’s important for your homeschool to have a strong foundation and you can build it by choosing great curriculum, strengthening your confidence, and connecting with other homeschoolers – all at the HEAV Homeschool Convention! If you’re ready to make your arrangements, please visit HEAV’s registration page.

Giveaway

Enter here for a chance to win a Family Registration to the HEAV Homeschool Convention, valued at $79. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and notified by email.

 

Build a Strong Foundation
Helpful Links

HEAV Homeschool Convention

HSLDA

Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

Visit Richmond, Virginia

HEAV Convention


A Green Thumb Grows

It was such a beautiful day! All week I had been looking forward to spending it in my front yard flower garden. For a variety of reasons, I hadn’t been able to spend very much time out there lately. It was something I just had to do, for my own well-being as well as for the garden’s. As I was sitting out there pulling up grass and weeds, and enjoying the warmth of the spring sun, I thought about how my green thumb has grown over the years.

Some of my earliest memories involve flowers. I remember my mother growing red tulips when I was very young, maybe four or so. I remember enjoying the scent of peonies when I was about five. My mother loves gardening, so it’s not too surprising that I have grown to love it, too.

I’ve had this angel many years. My mother bought her for me and she has made many moves with us.
Seasons

When my kids were young, I didn’t have very much time to devote to gardening, so what time I had was given mainly to flowers. Even if it was a pot of petunias on the porch, I needed some natural beauty to enjoy.

When we moved out to the country almost ten years ago, our kids were getting older and more independent. We had the space, so my husband built some raised beds and fenced them in. That was the beginning of the vegetable garden. Each year I’ve spent more time in there, broadening the range of herbs and vegetables that I grow. Our kids didn’t show much interest in it, and I didn’t force it on them. It was something that I wanted to enjoy, not spend the time fussing at them. I had come to gardening on my own accord, and I wanted them to have the same choice.

Now that the kids are grown, I’m able to indulge my love of gardening even more. I’ve always admired the pictures of beautiful gardens in magazines, and now on Pinterest, but I had to be content admiring others’ works of art. I’m not sure my gardens will ever look like that, and that’s okay. It’s the journey that I enjoy – learning by doing, being free to experiment and make mistakes, and asking “what if?” Gardening takes a lot of time. Not only the investment of my time now, but seasons for things to mature. Because we’ve moved around a lot in the past, I was never in one place long enough to see that maturity.

Slow Change

The front yard was bare dirt when we first moved here. Our home is on a rocky hilltop with great drainage, so it dries out quickly. It wasn’t until my husband built a fence around the front yard to keep out traffic, both human and animal, that I was able to start working on transforming it. Every year I’ve started new beds, and planted more. The yard is finally starting to get filled in.

I bought this rabbit years ago while shopping with my mother and he has made many moves, too.
The Gardening Bug Bites

A few months ago I wrote a post called Homegrown Salads ~ A Simple Pleasure that included a giveaway for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. A few weeks afterward, I was shocked to find out that my son had ordered some seeds from them! I was amused by what he chose. I guess, like me, he wanted to try new things. He ordered seeds for yellow and white strawberries. (I’ve never grown strawberries from seed, much less yellow or white ones.) He ordered some eggplant. (That’s one thing I’ve never grown, because I wouldn’t know what to do with it – that’s not something I eat very often.) He has some other things as well, like corn, peppers, tomatillos, and lupines. All of a sudden, my son that had never shown any interest in gardening, was sending me daily texts with pictures of his seedlings. And we’re now having conversations about plants. You just never know when the gardening bug is going to bite!

A text from my son
A Rewarding Hobby

Gardening is a rewarding hobby. When I was younger, I enjoyed arts and crafts, but now gardening has taken over as my art form. I love playing with the colors and textures while at the same time working towards some other objective, such as attracting birds and butterflies, having sweet scents, or food to eat. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of gardening because there will always be new things to try. A green thumb definitely grows on you!

This post has been shared in my favorite blog hops.

A Green Thumb Grows