Distance Learning

Today marks 19 school days of Distance Learning for Noah and Hannah. Their teachers prepped for more than a week before school was closed to be able to transition their classes as seamlessly as possible to Google Classrooms. After 1.5 weeks, the students had a day off from classes so that the teachers could get together, virtually, and reevaluate their distance teaching and make changes as they saw fit.

When our governor announced school would be closed another 2 weeks, and then indefinitely, both kids were upset and angry. They want to go back to school. They want to see their friends and be in classes.

This distance learning, though frustrating at times, is keeping them engaged with their teachers, continuing their learning, and developing self-motivation skills.

Since I work at home, I was a bit overwhelmed when school first closed. Over these past 4 weeks I have enjoyed watching them work and helping them as needed. We are blessed that they have their own work spaces and can be apart when they want or need to be. Noah works mostly in his room, and Hannah splits her time between her room and the kitchen. She also does some of her work with my mother-in-law.

Even though they are learning from home, this isn’t homeschool. Nor is it cyberschool. This distance learning was an emergency decision and none of us were prepared for or chose this. We are learning to give grace. To each other and to our teachers, because we are all learning this system together.

I am enjoying having my kids at home. My work is slower so I have more time to assist them as needed. I think if I had my same workload of soapmaking, etc. I would feel overwhelmed again, though. I am talking to my kids more and I feel closer to them.

School stress hasn’t gone away for them, but it has changed. This has been a tough year for Hannah, but over the past month I have seen her smile more and her personality soften. I enjoy talking with her, and listening to her talk – even when she’s supposed to be doing schoolwork.

Noah loves to be outside and work. He is looking at the farm to see what projects need to be completed, then sets out to do them. He’s learning responsibility and ownership.

Even in this season of uncertainty, there are blessings. God hasn’t turned His back on us, but continues to provide for us. Sometimes in big ways, but sometimes in small ways.

Amazing Lavender

This evening I was pulling out some Pennsylvania smartweed but didn’t notice the bumblebee among the flowers and was promptly bitten.  I immediately remembered what my friend, Jenny, had told me after my encounter with a yellow jacket last month…  ” Lavender essential oil applied immediately r-e-a-l-l-y HELPS!  Almost no swelling/pain!” 

Well, I don’t have any lavender EO in the house, but I do have lavender plants in my perennial garden.  I plucked a few sprigs off a plants, crushed the leaves and held it to the bite.  I honestly wasn’t sure if it would help, even though I know lavender is wonderful for burns (more about that later).  Within a few minutes I had no pain!  I continued working in the garden and picked a bunch of beans!

…now to lavender and burns.  Back in college I worked at The Body Shop and learned that lavender can speed the healing of burns.  This was discovered by someone who was working with lavender oil a long time ago, got burned while doing his experiment and accidentally spilled the lavender oil on his hand.  The burned area that was covered by the lavender oil healed much faster than the rest of the burn. 

I have gotten burned in the kitchen several times and applied crushed lavender leaves immediately.  Viola!  Pain relief and quick healing. 

A few months ago I was having soup for lunch…it was much hotter than I thought it was.  I burned my mouth so bad…I don’t think I’ve ever burned my mouth that bad before!  I took a big drink of cold water, but I remembered that I read somewhere that sugar helps if you burn your mouth…not sure how or why…but I got some sugar out. 

Then I thought about the lavender…so I ran out and picked some leaves.  I put them in a sandwich bag with the sugar and crushed the leaves so that the sugar could absorb the lavender oil.  I picked out the leaves and let a couple teaspoons dissolve in my mouth.  The pain subsided slowly and I took a couple more teaspoons of sugar later that day.  Do you know how after you burn your tongue you can’t taste anything very well?  That evening my mouth felt better…and, even more importantly, I could taste my dinner.

If you’d like to make your own Lavender Infused Sugar, simply add a teaspoon or so dried lavender buds to a cup of sugar.  Store in a canning jar or other jar in a dark place for 2 weeks.  Shake the sugar every day or couple days so the sugar can absorb the oils.  You can strain the buds out or leave them in.  Enjoy!

Catching Up…

I have been neglecting my blog because of all the “stuff” that’s been keeping me busy.  Here are some highlights for now:

*went to Ohio for the Great Lakes Sheep and Fiber Show, and organized the Tunis Wool Show.

*did a spinning demo for 3rd graders’ Colonial Day at a NJ school.

*plant, weed, water & mow garden.  (….repeat)

*moved Hannah into a toddler bed.

*help stain deck / help keep kids out of stain.

*looking at new tractors because lawn tractor caught on fire and is now dead.

*still spreading around the 3 truckloads of woodchips that I got from a tree service (for free). 

Stay tuned for pictures and stories!

More Snow Pictures

Here are more pictures of our snowy farm!
Why buy an expensive weeping cedar tree when all you need is a good blizzard?!

Hannah and Noah in the snow.  Noah has been having lots of fun.  Hannah, on the other hand, asks to go in the house 5 minutes after we get outside.  She can be bribed to stay outside longer if we go see the animals.

The sheep and goats going up to their pasture.  Dave shoveled paths from the barns to the pasture and to the house.  He also shoveled out a big area for the sheep in their field.

Giant icicles on the front of the house before I knocked them down.

Me holding some of the biggest icicles.

We’re supposed to get more snow today and tonight!  I hope the forecasts that say only 1″-2″ are right.  🙂

Fixing the Oven

Noah and I decided on little quiches for lunch on Monday since he’s learning the letter “Q” this week at pre-school.  Well, about 5 minutes after I turned on the oven to warm up I heard a weird banging noise from it.  I looked over and saw something glowing in the oven.  I jumped up and turned it off and saw the problem…the “bake” heating element seemed to be melting in one spot and that’s what was glowing. 

Broken Heating Element

After finding something else for Noah and Hannah to eat, I sat down at the computer to search for a new heating element.  Apparently our oven is old because I couldn’t find the model number anywhere I searched.  I called GE and got a part number, and went back to the internet to find it.  I ordered the part from partselect.com and got it the next day!  Dave switched the 2 and the installation took less than 5 minutes.  Here’s a step-by-step for the installation:

Empty Oven

Step 1:    TURN OFF BREAKER TO OVEN!  (do this before removing old heating element)

Step 2:  Screw wires on new heating element to stove wires.

Attaching wires

Close-up of Wires

Step 3:  Push wires into hole so silver plate is on back of oven.  Tighten lag screws.

Tightening screws

Step 4: Put door back on oven.

Replacing Door


We have heat!