Saturday, September 29, 2018


Kate's word for this week is: potential

Just 5 minutes to write, here we go...

We begin each day with the potential to do great acts of service for God, to share joy, and to love those around us. 

Some days we use that potential well, other days we squander it by focusing on the wrong things. It takes a mindset and a heart-set of choosing to follow God to live in our potential. Too often we are distracted but he things of the world. We let the actions of other people get on our nerves and distract us from where we are headed. 

On some of our toughest days it can be difficult to choose joy. When we hear about the death of an acquaintance or when there is more month left than money we can end up focusing on the struggle instead of focusing on the great God who loves us.

Each of us has potential to live a full life in Christ. May we choose today to live in that fullness, to allow God to work through us, and to enjoy that potential to love others and dwell in the joy only Christ can give!

*You may notice a difference in the post today. After Emily spent a lot of time last semester learning about simple ways to help dyslexics have an easier time reading, we are trying a change to the Ariel font. It may not look as pretty as those other fonts, but hopefully it makes it easier for our readers!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Jekyll Island Chronicles

books reviews by teens, Books With Bean, steampunk graphic novels

Title: The Jekyll Island Chronicles: A Machine Age War

Author: Steve Nedvidek, Ed Crowell, Jack Lowe

Published: 2016

Genre: Alt-History, Graphic Novel, Steampunk 

Summary: WWI has just ended but President Wilson is certain that there are still unknown persons hiding in the shadows waiting for the world to finish celebrating peace. Not knowing what exactly to do, President Wilson takes a trip to Jekyll Island off of the coast of Georgia where approximately 1/6 of the world’s wealth lies in the hands of some very smart and very inventive people. People with names like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan and more. Most of the men think the president is finally loosing it but Andrew Carnegie isn’t so sure. He decides to look into things and while he finds the threat is indeed real he also finds several extraordinary people willing to help him stop the evil and stand up for what is right. 

What I liked about it: I loved this book! The graphics are amazing, the plot is well thought out, and the characters  -both the real people and the made up ones are entertaining, interesting and fun. As someone who is always looking for good steam/diesel punk (and hardly ever finding any) it is cool to not just have a good story but having amazing pictures to go with it. The graphics add to the story and fully immerse you into the world that they represent. 

Language: None 

Romance: None

Violence: There is a bit of fighting that while just reading normally I wouldn’t consider very bad, but I do note it here since it is pictured due to the fact that this is a graphic novel and not just a book.

Magic: None, just lots of cool science.

Recommended Age: Because of certain elements in this book (like the violence mentioned above) I would say wait until at least 13 or 14, if not 15. I also say this because while this does take place in our world, it is alternate history and I don’t think it would be a good idea to have a younger kid who might not realize it is not historical fact read it while they are still learning their real history and think the events in the book really happened. 

books reviews by teens, Books With Bean, steampunk graphic novels

Friday, September 21, 2018


This week's word from Kate is: complete 

five minute friday writing prompts, salvation, justification

When I first read today's word, a song started playing in my head. It is one we used to sing in church sometimes, and it digs deep into the truths of Scripture: that we are complete not because of what we can do, but because of what Christ has already done for us.

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
The blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
The blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Singing the song this morning, I was reminded that the growth I have seen recently in my own life is 100% God's work. As I learn how to get out of His way and let Him work in my life by refining me and pruning me, then the Holy Spirit that resides in me can shine through. 

My life is not my own, no matter how many times I foolishly try to take up the reigns and order myself around. My life is hidden in Christ. That means my outside sometimes still looks a bit ragged, like the coreopsis in this picture, but inside, in my heart, where the real work in happening, I am being transformed into something beautiful. Something Christ-like that will spread the seeds of the Gospel. I have been justified, and now I am being sanctified, all in God's perfect timing.

That is what it means to be complete.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Love - word of the year end of summer update

Love, refining, end of summer update

I had planned to do a post that was a summer update about how things are going with my word of the year... but since Fall starts on Saturday, let's just call this an End-of-summer update. 


Songs are sung, poems are written, and it seems everyone has a different definition for what love is or is not. I'll go back to DC Talk's words: "love is a verb." Jesus Christ was love incarnate. The example for each of us to follow about putting others before ourselves. To love someone, we must think of their needs before our own. Oh, as a mom you get lots of opportunities to practice loving your children, but sometimes it is done as a "need to" not a "want to." 

Can it really be called love if we don't want to do it? I say yes because love is making the choice to do the right thing even when, especially when, it contradicts what our selfish natures want. That's the thing about being a Christian - we are not made perfect when we accept Christ. We are viewed as forgiven, clean, because of Jesus' death and resurrection when we accept Him, but the refining process to make us more like Him is a life-long one. 

So how has this word for the year been working in my life recently? Hmm...

God has been giving me a lot of opportunities recently to sit and listen to others share what is on their hearts. It has been good for me to work on listening, hopefully without interrupting, and hearing not only what people are saying, but what is left unsaid. Sometimes it is the unsaid areas where we need the most prayer and encouragement. 

God has used this summer to stretch me and refine me. Sometimes its not been too bad, other days I'm thankful that the Bible reminds us that these are light and momentary troubles. Because some days they seem heavy and long-lasting. Then something happens and we more clearly see Jesus' face and are reminded that they are momentary trials designed to make us more like Christ.

I was given a lot of blessings this summer. God has lavished opportunities upon me that I did not foresee, but am truly thankful for. He has given me the chance to put my faith into action, and He is showing me the daily working of the Holy Spirit in my life. At times it has been almost overwhelming to think that anyone would love me enough to provide all of these blessings - but then I am reminded that he is my Father, and He knows how to give good gifts!

There have been a lot of opportunities to spend time with our girls, and continue to tie heart-strings. These are moments I will always cherish! I've had a peace that only God can provide, and plenty of opportunities to rejoice. There have been tough days too, but less of those recently, for which I am also thankful!

What will this fall hold? Probably more change, but also more opportunities to choose to love those around me. That will let me love people like God has loved me this summer.

For that opportunity - I will rejoice!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds ~ a review

Water comes as a solid, liquid, and a gas. For different situations, you need a specific one. Ice cubes to cool you in the summer, water to drink when you are thirsty, and water vapor (steam) to open up those stubborn envelopes (LOL!)

Pomegranate seeds also come in three forms: fresh, frozen, or dried. The technical term is arils, but nobody will mind if you call them pomegranate seeds. I like fresh arils best for eating with a spoon whenever I’m craving some fruit, I like the frozen ones to put in my blender when making smoothies, but dried arils are the easiest to bake with! That’s why we’ve been having fun all summer long with the SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds from our friends at!

juicygems, juicy gems, dried pomegranates, pomegranate recipes

We met our friends from juicy gems last fall at the MomsMeet WOW Summit. They are such an awesome group of people who love providing quality fruit to points all around the US. You can read more about their frozen pomegranate arils over in this post.

SweetHearts dried pomegranate seeds can be substituted in just about any recipe that calls for dried fruit. If you have a favorite scone recipe, substitute the SweetHearts for the dried cranberries. Granola recipe that calls for raisins? Use pomegranates instead. Trail mix? Add a new dimension to your mix’s flavor by adding SweetHearts dried pomegranates to your other dried fruits, or switch them out completely. I’ll share some of our favorite recipes below.

There are a variety of other ways to use SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds as well. I frequently toss them on my salads, especially if I’m out of fresh pomegranate arils. They work really well with both chicken and fish. My usual is chopping up the leftover chicken and adding it to my pomegranate salad for lunch the following day. Try adding a quarter cup of dried arils to your breakfast cereal.

Nutritionally, pomegranates pack a one-two punch with Punicalagins and Punicic acid, two healthful substances not found in other fruits. But truthfully, I just know that the flavor makes my taste buds happy and eating pomegranate arils keeps me regular. 

Because juicy gems grows their pomegranates in California, the easiest time to find them fresh in the store is October-February. That’s right, October, as in I'm getting myself some fresh yum real soon, but - if you’re going to be baking - these dried ones are perfect anytime! 

SweetHearts dried pomegranates come in three size offerings: 2 oz, 1 pound, and 5 pound bulk boxes. The 2 oz packages are great to throw in your backpack for snacking on the trail, or taking on a road trip, but since we use them a lot for baking, I’m going to suggest you go for the 1 pound or 5 pound size. Once you get started baking with them, you’ll be glad you stocked up!

Arlene is usually the one who bakes our scones. This batch she made bison shaped, because we had just added a bison to our cookie cutter, umm, I mean scone cutter collection. :)

juicygems, juicy gems, dried pomegranates, pomegranate recipes

Here is our scone recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz butter
2.5 oz milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit 
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar + salt
Add butter (cut into pieces)
mix with fingertips until crumbly
pour in milk and dried fruit, mix until dough-is
place on floured surface and roll to 1/2" thick
cut into shapes
bake for 12 minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack

Arlene found this recipe in her Recipe Holder book from, which I believe is now out of print.

I like making some trail mix for whenever we head out. I have these nifty Ball® brand freezer jam jars that are plastic with rubber lids that fit really well into a cupholder. So if it is just going to be me, I’ll make a small batch of trail mix in my tiny stainless steel bowl and just fill one of them. If there will be several of us out, I’ll make a bigger batch, pack a couple jam jars for the trip, and leave the rest at home in a quart jar for the next trip. In the winter I usually add chocolate chips, but in the summer I don’t want one giant chunk, or a gooey mess, so I skip the chocolate but often add in coconut flakes or another nut variety instead. This summer it was usually cashews.

My basic trail mix recipe is:

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup organic raisins
1/4 cup dry, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup cashews (summer) or chocolate chips (winter)
1/2 cup SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds

Mix, put into reusable container, and enjoy! 

juicygems, juicy gems, dried pomegranates, pomegranate recipes

Trail mix made with dried fruit is a terrific snack to keep in the car. Since the fruit has already been dried, you don’t have to worry about it sitting in a hot car for the day, like you would with a banana or grapes. Plus, with the resealable lid, what you don’t eat on your ride home today will still be waiting in the cup holder for you tomorrow. Ta da!

Granola, granola, granola!

Oh how I enjoy a good bowl of granola. I have one specific brand that I buy at the store (and add fresh, frozen, or dried pomegranates or blueberries to) or I make it myself. I’ve experimented with a few recipes, because even though I like to bake, granola just seems to come out better if I start with a proven recipe and then tweak it to my individual taste. If you've never made your own granola - try it -  it really is not that difficult! My current favorite recipe is one I found on and tweaked a little. Kate adds the dried fruit at the end after baking, while I like my granola chunkier and find it holds together better for me if I add the fruit before baking.

Here is how I made my last batch, which was delicious!

Granola recipe:

4 cups rolled oats
1 tsp sea salt (next time I’m going to try 1/2 tsp of salt)
1 tsp cinnamon (if you’re not a huge cinnamon fan like I am, cut it back to 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup SweetHearts dried pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit 

line 2 baking sheets with parchment (I use jelly roll pans just to make sure none of it rolls off the side and gets lost to the bottom of the oven

mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (at least 3 Qt size)

in a small bowl or pan, mix honey and oil, add vanilla - then pour slowly over dry ingredients in large bowl - slowly mix until well coated

pour half of granola mixture onto each lined baking sheet
press flat with back of mixing spoon (if you press it together you get more lumps, for looser granola, just spread it out)

bake until golden 20-25 minutes (Do not over bake!)

Let cool completely, then break into chunks and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

If you think you won’t eat it all in a week, you can store half in the freezer, just toast it back up for a few minutes in the oven once it defrosts. (But who wouldn't eat it all? LOL!)

juicygems, juicy gems, dried pomegranates, pomegranate recipes

I hope you will give SweetHeart brand dried pomegranate arils a try soon! Come back by when you do and let me know your favorite way to eat them - I'm always looking for ideas!

Disclaimer: we received free product from juicy in exchange for an honest review. We were not required to write a positive review, nor were we compensated in any other way. We are disclosing this in a accordance with FTC regulations.

1 Corinthians 12:6

Scripture Writing, hand lettering, Bible verses

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dollar Days at SchoolhouseTeachers!

Just in case you have missed the notice, the month of September is Dollar Days at

Just what does that mean for you? It means you can try out any (or many) of the more than 400 courses available for just $1 for the first month. 

If you like the courses, or the planners, or the transcript tools, or any of the other feature (like World Book encyclopedias) you can continue your membership for the discounted price of $14.95 monthly. If you decide not to continue your membership, it has only cost you $1. I really think you'll decide to continue your membership once you get started, but no hard feelings if you don't. :)

All those resources for a dollar? That my friends is a seriously good deal!

If you're wondering what they offer, go check out and choose what you want to do first. There are courses for every age from pre-school through adult.

I thought you might really want to check out one of the newest courses: Achieving Art Success with ArtAchieve. You may remember that Arlene and I reviewed some of these ArtAchieve lessons in 2017. If you are looking for art for your kids, be sure to look at these as there are lessons for multiple age/ skill ranges.

Also, if your child, or you, needs to work on their keyboarding skills, check out Keyboarding with The Typing Coach David Kimball. These are no-nonsense lessons that really do teach you how to type well. Find out more details by reading my review.

That's it for now. I just wanted to make sure you knew about a couple great resources available on that you might want to check out during Dollar Days!

Have a great week!

10 Years of 4-H ~ did I really learn anything?

This is a guest post by Arlene. She originally wrote it in June, but somehow it got lost in the activity of summer. It is long but worth your time to read until the end.  :)

4-H, life lessons, perseverance

As you probably know, this was my last year of 4-H and mom and I were both looking forward to its end. Not that it was bad, but I’m glad that I can have summers free to do other stuff now. Maybe I’m deceiving myself (remember I’m still new to the adulting thing) and I will be even busier next summer then I was this summer but for now I’m simply looking forward to moving on and moving forward. As I look back over the many projects I did in my 10 years of 4-H I occasionally wonder if I really learned anything. 

The more I think about it the more I realized that I learned quite a lot, and I’m not just talking about learning to make button holes for sewing or how to use a table saw for wood working. I learned many things that can't just be told or taught, but lessons that only come for trying new things for myself. So while I know how to use the rule of thirds to compose a good photo, how to shoot a muzzleloader, and how to press leaves to save for display, I’m here to talk to day about the things I learned in 4-H that helped me grow as a person. (If you want know however what I learned on the technical side of 4-H I will be glad to talk about that later). So to really remember what I learned each year we should start with a list of all the projects I have done over the years.

Let’s see all the projects I have done, I started with wearable arts, forestry, weeds and woodworking my first year. My second year I picked up shooting sports and sport fishing. my third year picked up photography and sewing and dropped sport fishing, weeds and wearable arts. I dropped woodworking in my 4th or 5th year and added fine arts in my 5th or 6th.  I did one year off needle craft in there somewhere but I don’t remember when that was. And last year I did miscellaneous arts and crafts for the first and last time. The only project I have done all 10 years is forestry but I have done sewing and photography for 8 years. As for what I did each year let me think...

* indicates the project went to state fair. (*) are one’s where I don’t remember of they went or not

Year 1
Woodworking I don’t remember, I think a napkin holder or something.
Forestry was a leaf collection
Wearable arts I decorated a sweatshirt.
Weeds was a collection of weeds from around the state 

4-H, life lessons, perseverance

Year 2
Wearable arts I decorated a T-shirt to look like a Jersey for my favorite football player. Hines Ward.
Woodworking was a step stool
Forestry was a different kind of leaf collection about different kind of leaves.
I did a poster for sport fishing 
Weeds was a collection of weeds from around the state that were toxic or poisonous *
And I took archery and rifle for shooting sports 

Year 3 
Woodworking was a book rack
Sewing was a sundress
Forestry was about forests, I did a report on our local state park 
Photography was a 10 print color board
Shooting sports was archery and rifle again 

Year 4 
I didn’t keep as good of records starting my 4th year so this is a little more guess work from here on out.
Woodworking was table top corn hole game
Sewing was a backpack*
Photography was a 10 print color board
Forestry was… I think a report on wildfires *
I think this was the year I did needlecraft and I embroidered a pillow 

Year 5
Photography was again a 10 print color board 
Forestry was a report on state parks (although I may be mixing years 4 and 5) *
Sewing was a two piece outfit top and skirt (the skirt being one of the few sewing projects I still have/wore after fashion revue was over)

Year 6
Forestry was a report on the invasive emerald ash borer which is a bug that eats trees (*)
Photography was a 10 print board however that year I switched to black and white *
Sewing was a 3 piece outfit top, jacket and pants
I did non-wearable sewing in year 6 or 7 (I can't remember which) and I made placemats
I think this was the year I added fine arts and I did a pencil drawing.
I also did fashion review for my sewing outfit *

Year 7
Fine arts was a water color and another pencil drawing 
Sewing was a sundress and jacket
Photography was a 10 print black and white board
Forestry was on old growth forests *
I also did fashion review for my sewing outfit that year as well *

Year 8
Forestry was on the Indiana big tree register *
Sewing was a sundress *
Non wearable sewing was a small quilt that worked as a chess/checker board *
Photography was a 10 print black and white board*
Fine arts was an ink drawing and a water color
I also did fashion review for my sewing outfit that year

4-H, life lessons, perseverance

Year 9
Non wearable sewing was a large quilt with a T.A.R.D.I.S on it*
Fine arts was a pencil drawing and a water color 
Forestry was on maple syrup*
Photography was a 10 print black and white board
Arts and crafts was a scarf a wove myself and a binder to go with it

Year 10 (this year)
Sewing is a three peace free choice outfit made up if a bathrobe, and Pajamas pants and a button-down top
Photography is a 10 print black and white board*
Forestry is a report on Yellowwood State Forest* 
Fashion Revue for my sewing outfit*

I think that is all of them, if you want to know more details ask because I remember almost all of them. And yes, I still have almost every project here at home somewhere, I can only think of 2 that I gave away.

Yes it is a lot, I apologize now to my poor mother because up until last year it was not just all of my projects but all of mine and my sisters that she had to help us with and/or pay for. 

Anyway moving on from what I did we get to what did I learn from it all? Well, lets start at the beginning.

Year 1, Getting it done yourself: In year one I learned that you have to do it yourself, it's not going to get done for you by someone else just because you don’t feel like doing it. I had always done stuff as a kid. Growing up homeschooled lessons were always really hands on but my first year of 4-H was when this lesson of having to do things myself really came true for me. I’ll give you an example. My grandfather is good at wood working and I wanted to learn so I went over and he taught me how to use a saw and hammer and sand wood and all that important stuff, but a trip to grandma’s was always more about fun and I will admit I was not the best student, working outside even in the shade in Indiana’s hot June days was not always fun and I would have much rather been inside watching TV and talking with grandma. It was this year that I learned that deadlines are a real thing (something I had not known as there were no real deadlines in homeschooling when I was little) and that to get something done in time and really learn what you needed to know you had to apply yourself to it all the way to the end. This was a good lesson to learn that first year because I would have to remember it all the years following it (although I admit I did ignore it a lot in later years).

Year 2 rules are there to be broken… NOT! This was the year I learned that paying attention to the rules is important. These days I read all rules for projects myself several times over instead of relying on others to tell me what can and can’t be done as I was nocked down from what would have been a higher placing for my project simply because I forgot one important card. Reading the rules and fully understanding a project before it starts is so important so that you know what to do and how to do it both creatively while still being inside the necessary perimeters. 

Year 3 I did it my way: This was the year I learned that it is ok if your project is not the way everyone else thinks it should be done as long as you still like it. When I was in 5th grade I made a sundress. It was my first year of 4-H sewing and I was excited. I had sewn before but never for 4-H and I couldn't wait to get the big ribbon that is reserved only for sewing projects at our county. That year however we had a very particular judge and while I met all the rules and did a very good job on my project (except for one small thing that didn’t look quite right) the judge gave me a red (the equivalent of getting a B in school), as a kid who was always a blue ribbon project kid this was devastating to little 5th grade me. So was the day a week later when I got another red ribbon in photography which was the other project I had picked up that year. It was that year that I really began to learn that sometimes others have a different way of doing things that they think is the best way and if you do it differently you can butt heads sometimes. But that's ok at then end of the day if you did the project the way you liked it and it still met the requirements, it doesn't matter if someone does it differently. You did it your way and you learned something along the way which was the main point. This is a lesson I have had to take with me over all my years of 4-H and even other events in life as you always come across people who think of things differently. This was something I even had to remember last year when my photography got a red again for the first time in 4 years. I loved my project, I loved my pictures, and I still love them but the judge was more of a lover of formal photography, landscapes and portraits and that sort of thing and not of my more whimsy style. But you know what - its ok. I did it my way and I love what I did so it doesn't matter (of course I was devastated that day but I soon got over myself and remember what I had learned that day in my 3rd year).

Year 4 Keep on: Another lesson from sewing surprise surprise! I have a lot of these from over the years. This was the year I learned that even if something is really hard you still do it to the end. You don’t just give up, that year my sewing project was hard. It was much more complicated than the year before and I made a lot of mistakes but you know what in the end it was worth it! I kept going, got to the end and when I took it to be judged I finally got that coveted big ribbon and it was the first of my projects (besides weeds which doesn't really count as there were only 2 people in the whole project) to go to the state fair! Hard times and hard projects aren't there to tell you to give up, they are there to remind you that you are capable of so much more then you know when you push yourself to be better. 

Year 5 plan ahead: There is no rule in 4-H that says you can’t start your projects until the month before judging. However, this seems to be the unspoken rule in our house as we always said next year we will start sooner and we never did. Until that year. It was a good thing I did too even thought it was only on one project because I know if I hadn't I would have never finished. Planning ahead and starting early is so important! That year I was making a pleated skirt not a hard task in and of itself the hard part was matching the horizontal strips that went all around the bottom. I know for a fact that that project if it had not been started earlier would never have gotten done. It may seem like you will have time later but isn’t it just better to get it done with so you can go enjoy yourself without having to worry about the project later?

4-H, life lessons, perseverance

Year 6 it’s ok to change your mind: Remember what I said earlier about hard things being there to help you grow? Yeah, year 6 was the year I ignored that rule and went for the easy option instead. This was another lesson I learned from sewing and it is one I keep in the back of my mind for times (like this year) when things aren’t simply too hard but don’t even make sense. That year I was making a three piece outfit: pants, top, jacket. The pants went fine (they go with the skirt from 6th grade under the I actually still wear it category), the jacket was harder but with mom’s help I made it through, the top however was a different matter, I was not used to being independent on my sewing projects yet, at least not my wearable ones, and so I made it about 1/3rd of the way through the top - picking and choosing which steps to follow -before throwing it (I think actually at my mother) and sobbing telling her I wasn’t doing sewing anymore. Looking back with the skills I have now I could probably make that shirt but I was not as confident back then or as determined and willing to not just cry when something didn’t go the way I thought it would. Mom however was mom about it all and soon found me more fabric and a much simpler pattern. I learned that year that sometimes you just need a break from whatever is frustrating you. Coming back to the project refreshed and with a better plan of attack is so helpful and in the end you can still do what you thought was too hard originally.

4-H, life lessons, perseverance

Year 7, don’t do too much: This year (and several before it) I learned that not everyone wants to know everything about everything you know. This is a very important life lesson for everyone in all sorts of different aspects of life. The thing was when I learned a lot about something new I wanted to share everything I had learned with new people. This lead to several years of forestry posters (Yes, I know, I learned lessons from something besides just sewing!) that were crammed full of tiny text telling absolutely everything I had learned about that year's subject. It is a lesson I try to remember in other aspects of my life because I have a tendency to talk too much and at a point I realize that the person I’m talking to doesn’t really care and is only still listening to be polite. Sharing new information is good, and education on any matter is important, but you have to be able to read your audience and learn when they are ready to move on instead of trying to keep them with you when they are clearly done. 

Year 8, reach out to learn more: This year was another year of lessons from forestry. The Indiana Big Tree Register is a project done every 5 years or so mostly for fun, cataloguing the biggest trees of the native species in Indiana. Unfortunately, while I had the previous Big Tree Register, I did not have the one that was compiled the year before as the Indiana DNR has many important tasks across the state and the Register, unfortunately as it is not mandatory to be printed, had gotten pushed to the bottom of the to do list. However I learned that year that just because things don’t immediately go the way you want them to there are other ways to do it that will get you the same result (similar to what I had learned before with my sewing projects). I looked everywhere for the Register but couldn’t find it. Thankfully, however, I had somehow gotten the business card of the woman in charge of the project and was able to email her and obtain the information I was looking for that I had not been able to find online. By evaluating what I had I was able to find out what I wanted to know but didn’t, and put together what was my best forestry project in a long time. There are many people willing to share what they know, you just have to find the right ones who know what you want to learn about and most of the time they are more then willing to share. 

Year 9 no project is too big... well maybe a little too big: Last year I learned that sometimes when you dream big you dream too big and you need to come back down to earth a bit. I learned this while slowly floating back down to earth using my queen sized quilt as a parachute. You see the problem was this: almost every year at out state fair there would be a quilt made of blue styled to look like a T.A.R.D.I.S. the time traveling vehicle from one of my favorite shows, Dr. Who. So I decided that this was the year, I wanted a T.A.R.D.I.S. quilt and by golly I was going to have one if I had to make it myself. This grand idea started with my quest to find pictures of dozens of different T.A.R.D.I.S. quilts and design a pattern to make one for myself. At first this didn’t seem like it would be too hard but then I remembered that I hate math and that designing patterns is not for amateurs. In the end it turned out the pattern designing was the easy part the hard part was figuring out how to quilt a Queen sized quilt on our normal sized sewing machine due to the fact that I couldn’t rent one until I was 18 and the only person I knew with one couldn’t help me as her son was getting married during the time I would need her help and obviously the wedding was her main priority. In the end, with a lot of help from mom simply holding half of the quilt while worked on the other half, the project was finished and I learned the importance of evaluating a task before I start and seeing if the end is worth all the time and effort I will have to put into it.  

4-H, life lessons, perseverance

Year 10, how to give up and start over: In year 9 at the end I had spent so much time on my projects that to be allowed to finish my 10th year I was told I had to have all my projects done before my birthday at the end of May and that I could only do the 3 I was both good at and really liked so mom could actually have part of a summer. This year I was originally so excited for my sewing project. I had had the pattern and the fabric picked out since the year before and was ready to start. But as the fabric was expensive mom said I first had to make a practice coat to make sure it fit. It was a good thing I did because the coat was a pain and honestly there are still days now where I want to take it out of my closet and cut it into 100,000,000 pieces. It was then that I remembered all my lessons about perseverance and dedication and pausing and evaluating from years past and decided with only a moth left to do my projects to switch what I was going to do and do something totally different. In the end it was for the best and I did get my projects done before my early deadline and it made me wonder why I had never done such a thing before as now I have the summer ahead of me and no projects to worry about. This year I reflected on past lessons learned and realized that I had learned so much more from 4-H then just how to sew and how to do reports. I had learned how to evaluate what I wanted to do with my life and stick to a project start to finish to get it done not just on time but early and at a quality I’m not ashamed of. 

In conclusion, I have learned so much from my 10 years of 4-H and I encourage people who don’t know much about it to learn more and if they can to join a club. 4-H now as far as projects go is different than when my grandmother did it, it’s different than when my mom did it, really it’s different than when my sister started 12 years ago and when I started 10 years ago. The projects change, the way clubs work change, I mean even the program itself varies from state to state as my family who does it in Illinois can tell you from the conversations we have had about it. But the one thing that doesn’t change is that 4-H can teach you great life lessons that you can’t learn in a classroom, you don’t have to do it for 10 years like I did, you may only do it a few years and them move on to other things, but I encourage you to try. Who knows, you may find a project that ignites an interest in you that you didn’t know you had. If you had told me 10 years ago that forestry would be the one project I did every year for 10 years I would have told you that you were weird that I liked being outside but that I didn’t like Science. But that forestry project was what led me for years to having a dream of being a naturalist at Yellowstone Park, a dream I carried up until just a few years ago, when I realized again that science wasn’t my thing. But you know what? You don’t have to be a Ph.D. in science to enjoy the outdoors and you can love learning new things even if it seems like you will never need to know them. Sometimes it’s ok to go outside your comfort zone to learn new things and make new friends. Maybe later I’ll tell you about the things learned from 4-H that are actually a result of the projects, but for now know that life isn’t just about checking off boxes to make sure your kid learned what you are required to teach them, it’s about the real lessons that they can only learn through their own trial and error.