Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm


It has been a while since I’ve done one of these 7 QUICK TAKES, but today is a snow day, so I’m taking advantage of the extra time…

1.  SNOW DAY!!! 

One of the great things about living in Arkansas is the way we handle (or don’t handle) snow.  Here in Northern Arkansas, we get just enough snow that everyone owns a sled and a decent pair of snow (or farm) boots.  But we don’t get enough snow to be really equipped for it.  In other words, at the first sign of a flake, we all rush to the grocery store to stock up on batteries, bottled water, and junk food.  And when it hits, whether its 1/2 an inch or a foot, school is closed, businesses shut down, church services are cancelled, and we all get an unplanned staycation.  When the snow started Wednesday during school, chaos ensued.  Parents showed up at the school in droves to extract their children lest they be stranded.  Those children (and teenagers) who remained could not be restrained from jumping up to look out the window every 30 seconds to check accumulation amounts.  The excitement was electric.  In the end, school was dismissed at 12:45, the roads remained clear, and we received little to no accumulation.  However, by the next morning it had sleeted just enough to give us the rest of the week off!  Here’s the way things look at our place…


We are expecting a litter of rabbits on Sunday.  This is particularly exciting because this doe, Penelope,  is a first-time mother, and this will be our first litter of Flemish Giants.  We are also a little nervous because this is our first time to breed a doe that has never kindled (had babies) before.  I’ve heard horror stories of first-time rabbit mothers eating their babies. What a ghastly surprise that would be down at the barn.


Okay, not really.  For my mother’s birthday this year, I bought us a class at a place called Painting with a Twist.  We attended a Paint Your Pet workshop.  I sent them photos of our dogs, and when we arrived, they had sketched each of them onto a canvas for us to paint.  It was a lot harder than I thought, and the instruction was minimal, but it was incredibly fun.  However, in retrospect, as much as I love our French Bulldog, Lily, I wish I had painted my rooster or a buffalo.  How cool would that have been!  Still, for someone who can’t even draw a straight line, I was pretty proud of my finished product.



I write for another blog called What Kids Are Reading that reviews popular YA books.  This blog is not about what we wish kids were reading.  Otherwise, I would be reviewing Anne of Green Gables and Oliver Twist. As a 9th grade English teacher, I wanted to at least be able to enter into a conversation with my students about their books choices.  But recently when I tried to read Beautiful Creature.  I just couldn’t do it.  Why isn’t the cool new teen genre Historical Fiction?


I am reading Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Father Michael Gaitley, and I cannot recommend it enough.  Fr. Gaitlely combines the Divine Mercy with Ignatian spirituality and the teachings of Saint. Therese of Lisieux.  The result is life altering.  (If these Quick Takes were in order of importance this would be #1.)


Maybe it’s time I accept the fact that I can’t combine all new healthy food obsessions with chocolate.  I have spent untold hours concocting coconut oil chocolate smoothies, coconut oil chocolate bars, coconut oil chocolate ice-cream topping… you get the idea.  Truth is, most of these experiments have been delicious.  Quinoa is proving to be much more difficult to disguise with chocolate.


And for the rest of the youth in our parish.  I’m hoping this will be a good way to enhance our religious education program.  My goal is to post prayers, Catholic trivia and teachings, reminders, and links.  I would appreciate any suggestions – especially good websites and blogs for Catholic teens.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.  God Bless!

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New Blog…

No better than I’ve kept up with this blog in recent weeks, maybe now isn’t the best time for me to be starting an additional blog.  But I am.  As the mother of two teenagers, an eleven year old, and an emerging reader, I am realizing more and more how important it is for me to be aware of what my kids reading.

Actually, when they were small, I was very selective about what we read.  I selected their picture books, not merely on the basis of their entertainment value, but  based on what these books  could add to my children’s lives – beauty, truth, or humor.  This ruled out a lot of what passes as children’s literature.  Still, we spent hours cuddled up together reading and talking and laughing. (I still try to read to The Littles every night and will continue as long as they’ll let me.)  I’ve tried to instill in all of my children a love of good literature.  Yet, now that they are selecting books and reading on their own, they are naturally drawn to popular fiction.  Fortunately, a lot of popular fiction is very good – but a lot isn’t.  To help me know what I want them to read, what I don’t want them to read, and what questions some of their reading might raise, I’ve started a book review blog.  My goal is not to tell other people what their children should and should not read, but just to give parents a heads up about what’s out there.

So far, I’ve only reviewed two books, but I’ve asked some friends to contribute as well.  I’m also working on the blog’s appearance.  For example, I’d like to include a photo of each book’s cover, but I’m not sure about copyright laws.  (I’ve still got a lot to learn about blogging.) In time, I hope we will have a nice collection of reviews for our readers. Please check out my new blog.  And be sure to click on the ABOUT tab to learn more about why I started whatkidsarereading.wordpress.com .


Rethinking Thinking…

I’ve always been fascinated by learning styles. You know, the concept that all of us fall into one of three categories.  We are either visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners.  I love this idea!  It makes so much sense to me, and as a homeschooling mom and a teacher, I’ve always found it thrilling to find a way to tune into a particular child’s learning pathway. So this summer when I found out one of my grad school classes was on learning styles I was thrilled – I didn’t expect to have my whole way of thinking about learning called into question.

One of my assignments is to write a paper debunking the concept of learning styles. I’m still working on it, but it turns out, there is plenty of evidence to suggest we’ve all bought into bogus idea.  And when I look around at all the manipulatives, games, gadgets, and gizmos (many of which I bought when I was homeschooling) created and sold to cater to various learning styles, not to mention the various books, articles, and workshops being produced on the subject, I have to admit that learning styles has become its own multi-bazillion dollar cottage industry.  In other words, there is a lot of money to be made by keeping the learning style myth alive.

Lest I sound like a conspiracy theorist, I am not suggesting that someone has made up this whole concept just to make money.  In fact,  just as there is a lot of evidence debunking learning styles, there is also a lot to support the idea.  For now, I’m still on the fence.  Still, this is kind of huge because a few days ago, I didn’t even know there was a fence.  I just took learning styles for granted.   If I find out this is all a bunch of nonsense, I’m sure going to feel silly about mummifying that GI Joe when the kids studied Ancient Egypt – actually, I won’t.  That was a ton of fun!


To have your way of thinking about thinking challenged, start with the video link above.