So I wanted to ask you if you could, when you have some time, please do me a favour… I have a list of questions I would love to ask someone and I have no one around. I know your children love to work and seem to have a good time working together, and I guess they must also enjoy learning some “academics”, too… could you, as you can and have time, answer to this “list of questions and doubts”, so as to give me some of a realistic model to follow and learn from, or at least some ideas?

-          How do you homeschool the children? How long every day, what method and materials do you follow?  We usually homeschool, starting at 8:30 am.  We use Pathway (this is the Amish Curriculum) for all subjects: reading writing and arithmatic.  We follow the Amish schedule for schooling.  This is how it goes and it feels so much more doable for us: Mondays, Wednesdays we do:  Arithmatic, reading, spelling, and english.   Tuesdays and Thursdays we do:  Arithmatic, vocabulary, bible memory, geography (for the older kids)  On Fridays:  Arithmatic, bible memory recitation (one verse per week), penmanship, art, history, fridays are an easier load.  We often have very little to do on Fridays which is nice.  What we do is about one lesson which is about 2 pages in each book.  Pathway is really great for little ones I have found.  I used many different curriculums in my day and I find this to be the best ever for teaching how to read and write.  Lots of repetition.  Most days we are done before noon.  Then we have a nice meal together, clean up, and work on other projects like sewing, baking, and canning if needed.  Homeschooling is very time consuming and takes a lot of dedication no matter how you look at it.  I can get the feeling of overwhelming frustration at times.  Miles is constantly getting distracted so we have to keep him prodded all day to stay with his school.  Thankfully this year, we have him caught up, usually he is about 6 months behind in all his books.  He is 13 now, and has a good work ethic, in all other things of business BUT schooling. But all his work ethic in real life will pay off one day, we know! 

For the little ones, just a lot of different work books so they stay interested.  Coloring, reading stories to them each day, counting money, folding laundry, helping bake. That all teaches them some math.  Fun stuff.  Keeping it light and fun is important.  And naturally, if they were around other homeschool kids, they will want to do more stuff too.  

-          How do you organize your day so you have time for everything? What time do you usually get up and go to bed? I used to get up really early when I had to do a lot of computer work.  But now, Mark and I usually go to bed around 9 and wake up by 6 am.  We make breakfast together, call the kids down, eat, do all the clean up.  I set timers and tell everyone what their jobs are, they have about 1 hours to get their chores done and be ready to start in on school.  Then if the kids are doing fast work, we offer a break and snack mid morning.  They love that, so it encourages the diligent work.  Around noon, we cook a nice meal and sit down as a family, eat, pray, then we branch off to clean up. The important part is to keep it up.  One day of laziness on anyones part can lead to a monumental tornado of a mess in the home.  We try to MAKE the kids do their part, even if we have to do it by force.  Junior is the one that needs a lot of prodding on the work, but the others are very cheerful by now.  I give them two choices:  You can either do the job cheerfully, or you can do the job after a swift spanking.  Still they will have to do it either way.  They generally choose the cheerful way.  That makes working fun.  Often the children sing and whistle while they work.  After lunch, we pick stuff we can do, the girls like to sew, read, or play dollies still.  The boys love to shoot arrows, play soccer, or football outside.  They keep after that for hours now that they are older.  Miles usually sticks to brushing his horses, cleaning stalls out, feeding the stock, building things with dad in the shop.  He is more business minded at this time in his life.  We are so glad for that.  Around 4 or 5 pm, the girls and I start thinking about what we will make for supper.  Usually, we use our canned goods and throw together a nice one dish meal. 

-          What is more or less the daily schedule you follow so that everything keeps on? I just keep things simple and when I know there is a big butchering or canning get together with the ladies of the community, I double up on the lessons, and try to make sure we wake up an hour ahead to get a dish made up to pass, and the dishes washed and put away.  I hate coming home to a mess.  I hate starting school in a mess.  I can't think, so I just make sure we get our chores done before we do anything else.  It is like this:  We like to finish each thing so we can think about the next thing, it really clears our mind.  One day at a time, too.  Just taking it step by step. I never look at the mountain ahead, I just take one step at a time and then by the time I reach the top of the mountain, it is all downhill from their.  

-          How do you organize your meals? We cook the same every week more or less and I am still somewhat lost! Well, I do not think far enough in advance to plan my meals for the week.  I just make sure I sit down with the girls about 1.5 hours before the meal to figure out what we feel like making.  I try to make enough food for lunch so that I can throw the leftovers together in a batch of soup for supper.  That makes it really easy for the end of the day when you are already tired.  

-          What do your “Casseroles” usually consist of? They do sound nutritious! Do you have some recipes at hand that you think I might use?  One casserole I enjoy making that really stretches across a few meals for our family is my Mexican casserole.  First I make about 4 cups of rice which takes 8 cups of water.  I boil and simmer the rice until fluffy.  Then, I take about 2 cans of my spaghetti sauce that we canned, a quart of cooked beans, a quart of tomatoes, a quart or 2 pounds of ground meat of your choice, mix and bring to a boil.  Then add chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin powder.  Now you can make a Hay stack dinner.  You grate some cheese, chop up fine some onions, green or red bell peppers, avacado, lettuce, sour cream, and crunch up some corn chips.  This would be the first go at the meal.  You start stacking the haystack with a scoop of rice, then a scoop of chile soup mixture, top it with all the fixins and you have a very yummy dish to eat.  Next meat, you find a oval roasting pan with a lid.  You put your rice on the bottom, then layer on the chili, next, the leftover fixings like onions, bell peppers, avacado, and top with cheese.  You save your lettuce and sour cream and chips for the next meal.  Heat the casserole up until the cheese is bubbling on top.  Scoop out your portions and you can add the lettuce, sour cream, and chips again to this meal.  After that is through, there will still be a lot leftover, so we take all of this and dump it into a stock pot, add water, more seasonings, maybe another can of tomatoes and you have a taco soup.  That is one idea.  I do this about once every week.  Another casserole I have made lately, is Chicken lasagna casserole.  I crunched
up a bunch of Kale into my canned chicken breast chunks, added some rice noodles, one cup of cream cheese, seasoned it with onion powder, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, onions, and top with cheese. That is really really good, too.  

-          How do you do the “Bologna” you often talk of when talking about butchering and canning? We cut all the meat off the bones while it is raw. Then you have to measure how many pounds and add seasonings, grind it all up, add some water until smooth and then pack it cold into quart jars with wide mouths.  It is pressure canned for 90 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.  

-          I am, to sum up, quite lost as how to train myself first to keep the house working, and how to take the girls alongside with me.You need to be sure to include them in EVERYTHING you do.  They need to be your side kick.  It is harder to get things done while they are small, but believe me, that will pay off when they are Molly and Megan's age, running the house themselves with very little encouragement.  They just grow into that type of work load.  

-          I think I tried to have the girls “do everything with me” so much that they got tired of it and I never got to get anything done. They still like to help me, but I am still finding it hard to know how to balance work together with classes and with their own interests… I never find so much time in a day!! Could you please give me some ideas?It would be best if you could try to only pick one thing extra in the day.  Try to set one goal to accomplish besides the normal routine.  One can never put too many irons in the fire unless they want to get burned from it, or I should say, burnt out!  I have been there and done that.  Now, I try to keep our daily lives very structured and the same as every day so that it becomes like second nature. Kids really thrive when they know what is expected of them all day long.  Then for the little time left over, you can pick one thing to tackle as they hold interest.  If sewing is something they would like to try, just say that you will spend about one hour each day in the afternoon when all the schooling and chores are done and they will enjoy that.  It could be a myriad of other activities as well, but making sure to make it a reward type of time.  Never let the children do these "extras" until the other things are put away and cleaned up.  That makes for them a good habit of cleaning up after themselves.  I just never allow new projects, even for myself if things are not cleaned up first.  If we bake a cake, I expect that my kitchen is fresh before beginning that task.  I never want to make a mountain of a mess for us later.  When I bake, I put things away immediately, and then the task is a lot smaller to clean up.  I wash my own bowls that I use.  And before we sit down to a meal, I usually like to have all the pots and pans dried and put away.  That way, the big stuff is done ahead of schedule and the kitchen looks nice when you sit down to a nice meal. 

-          How long did you allow your children to play just on their own, imagining things or whatever? What thing did you or do you play with them? I liked to allow the children to play on their own, but only if they asked first.  I wanted to know what and where they were at all times.  If I heard some disagreements, I would take them all together, find out the real story, if they could not get along, then they can't play this time. They have to do work or sit down for a period of time with each other, hand in hand until they like each other again.  I love to work with the kids, I find little time for play.  Sometimes I make things with them, like a card, or a puzzle.  Sometimes I will sit down and read to them.  There is just so much work to do that work becomes a game and responsibility becomes play.  It all works together for the good to those that seek peace and order in their home.  

-          This is an extra J Do you think the girls would like to share their German cake recipe? I know we would be thrilled to try!!  This recipe, we got from a very old betty crocker cook book.  I found the very same recipe online to share.  We used spelt flour instead of wheat because Molly is highly alergic to wheat.  
German Chocolate Cake Recipe from Betty Crocker

Just for a reminder…

Tea Time Talk Show Tuesday Upcoming Schedule:

Tuesday, May 1, 2018  at 10 am CST will feature Co-Host Owen Newman

  • The following Tuesday will be featuring Owen Newman from the hills of TN talking about homesteading and the simple life.  He has a lot of wisdom and experience living with less and making the most of each and every resource they are given.  If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment below or send us an email or message on Facebook from the Keeper of the Homestead page.  

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0 thoughts on “Some Questions from Another Mother

  1. Dear Harrison family, I recently purchased your DVD, and fell in love with your lifestyle. I live in California with my husband and 3 children, two that are adults, 22 & 23, and a 13 year old I home school. (I wish I would’ve homeschooled the older ones) The simplicity of your life style is to be envied, it is so fast paced here, everyone is busy doing everything and anything except spending time with thier families. My husband works in the construction industry, which keeps him away from home all week, M-F. I started looking for ways to put money away so maybe one day he would’nt have to be away from home. We grew a summer garden, I canned…. A LOT! You’ve given me other ways to save money and provide healthier meals for my family. I think your videos were heaven sent. The way I dress has changed, also, it’s funny….years ago I used to love dresses, long skirts, jumper dresses with turtle necks underneath, simple…..I changed all that (which I loved) to make my mother happy, she hated to see me dressed like that, said I dressed like an old lady. Well, the “old lady” is back, and she isn’t going anywhere again, your article was so right on…….fashion or old fashion, I choose the latter. Thank you so much for sharing your lives with perfect strangers. It is a blessing to me. May God keep you and yours always. – Veronica Story

    • I really do know what that is like to change to please others because it can feel so intimidating to not be “like” the norm. I have had the same struggles with certain people who make comments, but I am glad that most people accept me the way I am now, even if they did not, I would still have to do what I feel is right for our family. I am glad that you feel encouraged by things I have tried to share here. It was a real blessing to hear from you and how your journey goes. God bless you, Veronica Story!!!!

  2. Mark and Erin, you moved!! The kids were just saying, “We don’t see Mr. Harrison drive by anymore.” And I realized, I didn’t see the Harrison mobile go by anymore either! We are sad, but very, very happy for you! How wonderful to be debt free! And what an opportunity to live as you are. I have always meant to ask if you worship with Amish? Witness to them? We’ll have to talk about it sometime. Until then, the Lord’s peace and blessings to you and your family!!

  3. Mark and Erin: You life sounds very busy but wonderful. I just wish I had done this when my children were younger and at home. I’m alone now but still dream about living the way you do. I have to deal with people telling me I could never do it financially, I’m too old and I would have no help and be on my own. Erin, when you talk about putting things away as you are baking and having the pots and pans washed, dried and put away before the meal it sounds just like when I was growing up. My Mom and I used to do the same thing and I still do. Thank you for a wonderful blog.

  4. Thank’s for sharing such a good ideas. I start to homeschool my child. But also I work, and have a lot of writing papers to do, so from time to time I just let some editor make may tasks. I really appreciate it.

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