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Happy Monday!  We are finally getting a break from the heat down here…at least for a few days.  We are really excited to be having a first little taste of fall!  I’m guessing that we will be working a few nature walks into the coming days.  But for today…on with the blog hop!

 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

 

Welcome to week#3 of the October “You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:

Sometimes, in life, decisions come back to haunt you.  Such is the case in our home right now…every time I go to put Baby to sleep.  Bedtime, naptime…they both present challenges right now that no mother should ever have to face.  It’s all because of one decision made nearly 7 years ago…the decision to let my husband have his way. 

He wore me down, really.  I wrote a post about it, so, if you wish, you can go back and read all about it.  He wanted chickens.  If there was one thing in this world I didn’t want, it was chickens!  It was the one rule I had when we first moved out here.  No chickens.  How hard is that?  Honestly?  Well, apparently it was hard enough, because we did eventually wind up with chickens.  Lots of chickens.Chickens in the barnyard

Most of the time, the chickens and I keep the peace.  They stay out near their coops behind the barn.  I do my thing up at the house.  I happily eat their eggs and feed them to my kids all year.  But, once a year, in the fall, we hatch eggs*.  The lucky ones will grow to be replacements for our aging hens and roosters, but many will eventually grace our dining room table.  You may be wondering at this point what hatching chicken eggs has to do with my story, but don’t worry…I’ll get there.

The weather in Texas during the fall can be a little erratic.  One day, it’s 95 degrees.  When you walk outside the next morning, there’s been a cold front that has pushed through (often with plenty of wind damage in its wake), and it’s only 52.  Never to fear, it will be back up to 85 by lunch.  Chicken eggs require a relatively consistent 99.5 degrees during their 3 week incubation time.  With the fickle weather outdoors, that just isn’t possible this time of year…unless you have a hen with an inclination to stay with her eggs.  We have plenty of hens, but we have yet to produce a hen that is a good enough mother to stay with a nest of eggs longer than about 3 days.  We’re generally happy when they don’t break their eggs…asking one to sit on a nest may be a tall order!  So, up in the loft above our bedroom sit two egg incubators.

Hens hunting grasshoppersThey have been there, full of eggs for three weeks.

About a week ago, we began to strain our ears, listening for the first little cheeps and pecks coming from the loft.  Then, on Friday, it finally came…with a cheep cheep here, and a cheep cheep there…here a cheep, there a cheep, everywhere a cheep cheep.

Now, the eggs are hatching, bringing forth new life to feed us for another year.  The kids get so excited, and watch for their daddy to head up the stairs.  They know that when he comes down, he’ll be carrying all the fluffy little things that are ready to make the move from the incubator to the brooder in the garage.  It’s a wonderful, joyous occasion.

Wonderful and joyous…

…Until it’s time to put Baby down to sleep.

You see, chicks are really loud when they hatch.  Their doing it in my bedroom in the loft, remember?  Baby’s crib is in our room.  So, it’s me, my husband, Baby, and a bunch of hatching eggs.  We’re one big happy family!

Here I sit on my bed, nursing Baby (who isn’t really very good at  the whole sleeping thing to start with).  She drowsily starts to slip off to dream land.  I gently get up to lay her in her crib.  As soon as her little body touches the mattress, “CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”  It’s rather jarring, I must admit.  Baby is now wide awake, and is not pleased that her mother had the audacity to put her down just as the dreaded sleep monster was about to overtake her.  The chickens, sensing my ire, immediately desist.

“Dad-gum chickens!”  I mutter under my breath.  

I pick up my dear, sweet, non-sleeping child.  I comfort her, and she calms down.  She’s not hungry anymore, but maybe she’ll settle for a lullaby and some rocking.  So I sing a few verses of Jesus Loves Me and Baby is getting sleepy again.  It’s time for the dreaded transfer maneuver.  I gently lay her down, and she immediately rolls to her side…a sure sign that sleep is coming!

“CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”

I want to pull my hair out!  No mother should ever have to try to put a baby to bed with a loft full of chicks!  Why me?

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I surrendered during the Battle of Chickens way back in 2010.  Now, despite the fact that “I wouldn’t have to do anything with the chickens,” I now have chickens in my bedroom…my bedroom!  My baby can’t sleep because of the chickens.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d have chicks in my bedroom, I’d have had you committed.

In a week, they’ll all be hatched, dried, and out in the brooder in the garage.  There will once again be peace between the chickens and I.  Only the white noise of air conditioner and noise machine will remain in my bedroom.  It will be back to just the three of us…me, my husband, and the baby.

Well, until the second batch starts to hatch in a few weeks anyway…


*We hatch eggs in the fall instead of the spring because our winters aren’t cold enough to freeze little chickens, but our summers are hot enough to cook them!


 

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WELCOME to FAMILY feature week of the
October “You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your FAMILY week Host & Cohost 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarFamily_zps6gnkp7zk.jpg

This week is FAMILY feature week
Swing by the Family hosting team’s blogs:
Miranda @ The Myrabev Life
Linda @ Country Loving Mom
Elizabeth @ Family Farm School

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!
There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, health, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg



(These features were chosen from the September “You’re the STAR” blog hop)

 Inspiration for Clean, Bright, and Beautiful Linen Storage by From Play Dates to Parties
Find out key elements to creating functional and beautiful linen storage for your home, whether it's in a linen closet or open shelving
Trials of Chronic Illness by Homeschool Insights

Cuba- Day One, Havana by Not In Jersey
Havana, Cuba

10 Facts About Breastfeeding by Simple Indian Mom

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************

We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 

If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.

*******************************************************
All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )

___________________________________________________________________

Today is Rhino’s birthday.  My littlest guy is 3 years old.  Oh, my…how time flies!  Be prepared for a few birthday pictures next week!  I hope this week finds you well.


 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

WELCOME to the October You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:


It’s already fall…where does the time go?  Even though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet (it was 94 degrees here yesterday), that means Halloween is right around the corner.  We don’t make a huge deal out of Halloween around here, but we do like to celebrate it a little bit.  It has always kind of felt like a gateway holiday to me…it really kicks off the holiday season.  My kids really enjoy dressing up as their favorite princess or superhero for an evening of fun.

I know many parents these days worry about the safety of taking their kids door to door, requesting little bits of sugary, sticky goodness from complete strangers.  Indeed, the world has changed quite a bit since my freewheeling days as a young child in the 80s.  I was wontonly set free into my grandmother’s neighborhood every year for this grand tradition (where she knew each and every one of her neighbors…and they all sat around and chatted after all the candy was gone).

You can argue with me later about whether or not we should even celebrate Halloween…that’s a different subject for a different post.  I’m going to assume that if you hang in there and keep reading, you’ve already made that decision for your family.

We live in the middle of nowhere.  We do have a few people who live within a reasonable proximity, however, walking all around a rural “neighborhood” after dark in costumes is just not the smartest move ever.  So, we have to be a little more creative in order to engage in this time-honored holiday tradition.

Take a Treat to Someone Else

Find out if there are any nursing homes, hospitals, or children’s homes in your area.  Often, these types of places will plan events for Halloween.  See if you and your family can volunteer.  Giving back to people who are in a difficult spot in life can be a really rewarding experience for your family.  Plus, it takes the focus off the candy, and puts it on to people who currently need a little extra help.  You never know, you might actually make some new friends, too!

The Mall

Many shopping malls host events for kids to come and trick-or-treat around the different participating stores.  Often, there are also costume contests for different age groups, as well.  So, do a little research, and find out if any of the malls in your area host an event.

Neighborhood or City Sponsored Festivals

In the town just down the road from us, the Chamber of Commerce hosts an event every Halloween on the county courthouse square.  Kids of all ages are encouraged to come out and walk around the square and trick-or-treat from the local businesses.  We’ve gone every year since we moved to the area, and the kids have lots of fun with it.  Check with your local Chamber of Commerce.  Maybe one near you does something similar.

Church Festivals

Many churches hold Fall Festivals each year, usually within a week of Halloween.  These festival vary in size and complexity from a basic “trunk-or-treat” set up to a full-fledged fall themed carnival, complete with games, treats, and hayrides.  Our kids have had tons of fun playing games at these types of events in the past.  Though, I do have to mention that these festivals often bring out big crowds.  My kids aren’t really used to being around huge crowds of people.  If yours aren’t either, be aware that they may need a few minutes to sit and take in the scene before they’re ready to play!

Police or Fire Departments

Often, the police department or fire department in your town may have a special activity for kids on or close to Halloween.  They will often have safety demonstrations at these events as well.  They can be both fun and educational activities…and who doesn’t like that?

University Events

The university where my husband works always has a couple of student groups who put on Halloween events for kids in the area.  We went to one with our kids one year, but due to the distance, the past couple of years, we’ve opted for something a little closer.  Much like the church festivals, crowds can be an issue for these activities as well.  If you have a university or college near you, find out if there is anything fun going on for neighborhood kids.

Doctor’s Office or Pharmacy.

A few years ago, Monkey was spinning in circles (trying to make me laugh) in the living room two days before Halloween.  He crashed and managed to hit his eye on the side of the coffee table.  The next day (the day before Halloween), he woke up with a huge red spot in his eye.  So, off to the doctor we went.  It turned out that he was just fine, but it sure looked awful. 

All of the kids had a bit of a cold, too.  Bear had been telling me all day that she didn’t feel good.  But, I was so worried about Monkey’s eye, that I kind of brushed it off.  I kept telling her I knew she didn’t feel well, no one felt well…everyone was coughing.  After we got home, she fell asleep on the couch, coughing on and off all afternoon.  Everyone else was starting to get over it, I figured she would be feeling better by the next day too.  But, by that evening, she was struggling to breathe.  Andrew took her to the emergency room while I stayed with the rest of the children.  After a breathing treatment and a course of antibiotics for severe bronchitis, they came home. 

The following day was Halloween.  All of the kids were so disappointed that there wouldn’t be any fun activities because of the sickness.  So, I told them that they could go ahead and wear their costumes out to the pharmacy.  That helped a little.  So, I took Silvermist, Tinkerbell, and a construction worker to the pharmacy to pick up all of Bear’s medications prescribed by the emergency room doctor.  The folks at the pharmacy felt so bad for the kids that they gave them two whole bags of candy for them to save for after they were well (after all, lots of candy isn’t good for a recovering little one!).  I was so grateful to the ladies at the pharmacy for being so sweet to the kids on what has gone down in history as the worst Halloween ever.

So, if you ever find yourself in a bad situation on Halloween, keep in mind that even mundane places (like a pharmacy) can occasionally be a fun place to go…if you have a great costume, anyway!


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WELCOME to GARDEN feature week of the October You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your GARDEN week Hosts 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarGarden_zpsmtrqgy7g.jpg

This week is GARDEN feature week
Swing by the GARDEN Hosts blogs:

Angie @ God’s Growing Garden

Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#1 GARDEN – gardening, homesteading, recycling, outdoor activities &/or preserving (this can include any type of green living,  repurposed ideas, outdoor concerns, posts relating to farm animals etc all while remaining family friendly)



by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg


(All features were chosen from the September 2017 “You’re the Star” blog hop)

Adding Farmhouse Beauty With Plants by Comfort Spring

DIY Fairy Lantern Night Light by la LILY ARDOR



  Fairy Lantern
Who’s That Hanging Out in My Garden? by Gwin Gal Adventures
Rosemary, Insects, Mushrooms, Fungi
Homemade Blackberry Pie Filling by Our Simple Homestead
blackberry pie filling recipe

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************

We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts).

If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.

*******************************************************
All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



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I hope this week finds you well.  We had another busy week here at the farm.  Baby had her 6 month old check up (how is that possible???).  She was well above average height and weight.  I’m used to having tall babies, but tall and heavy together are new!  What can I say?  Each one of these little ones are different.

We officially enter our birthday season this week around here…so expect birthday pictures soon!  Andrew and I start the show with birthdays 4 days apart…give or take 6 years, of course.  Rhino’s is next week, followed 3 weeks later by Monkey’s.  There’s a brief interlude for Thanksgiving, then Lizard has hers a few weeks before Christmas, Bear’s follow’s Valentine’s Day, then comes Baby’s a few weeks after Bear.  Whew.  That’s a birthday (or some other major holiday) each month from now until March.  I guess it’s just a busy time of year!

And now on to the show…


 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

WELCOME to the September You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:


It’s almost Fall here in Texas.  It’s that time of the year when we Texans start compulsively checking the 10 day weather forecast for that first 89 degree high along with a 50% chance of rain.  The autumnal equinox means little to us.  It’s all about that first real cold front.  While we impatiently await the return of fall, I’ve put together a little fall homeschool bucket list of sorts.

Since we homeschool our children, we really have a lot of freedom.  Some times during the year, the weather gets so nice that you just have to take advantage of that freedom…at least a little!  But, alas!  We have to make sure we get our work done, too!  We’ve been cooped up in the house quite a bit because of the dangerously hot conditions.  So, we are really anxious to get out and enjoy some nice fall weather!  Here’s my little fall homeschool bucket list of activities to celebrate the return of fall, but also get some learning done in the meantime.

So, what are some good ways to take advantage of the change of seasons in your homeschool?

A Fall Homeschool Bucket List

1. Plan a fall-themed unit study.

Make one yourself, or find one online.  A quick web search will pull up plenty of options.  Some are free, others will cost a few dollars, but it’s a great option if you just don’t have time to create something of your own.  

T is for turkey, P is for pumpkin…there are plenty of phonics games you can play.  Count leaves for some math time.  Head outside and do some plant identification for science.  The possibilities are endless!

2. Use fall-themed notebooking pages.

As luck would have it, I have some you can download for free.  Print them out, use them for your family.

Using themed pages really helps us get in the mood for fall, even if the weather hasn’t quite gotten there yet.  These pages would work wonderfully to learn about the history of Halloween and the first Thanksgiving as well!

Click here to download your free Fall-themed notebooking pages.

3. Take school outside for the day.

The sun is shining, there’s a soft, cool breeze blowing.  You know full well that no one is going to pay attention to their work while they look out the window, longing to be outside.  So, pack up your books, grab a blanket to sit on, and sprawl out on the lawn for lessons.  The fresh air works wonders for keeping the mind focused!

4. Take a nature walk.

What better way can you think of to celebrate the arrival of Fall than taking everyone on a nature walk?  Collect some leaves, watch some insects busily preparing for the coming of winter.  Enjoy the beautiful weather.  You don’t have to go far…your backyard is probably teeming with life you never take the time to notice!  Have everyone slow down, and take a look at the world around you.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

5. Learn a little plant biology.

Why do leaves change color in the fall?  Why do they lose them?  For that matter, why does that cedar tree get to keep its needles?  Do a little research project as a family and find out the answers to all those fall-related pressing questions.  This one is easy to adjust for different age levels, too.  Your preschoolers will enjoy making the collection (on your nature walk!), and you can turn it into a full-blown biology research project on photosynthesis for your middle or high schoolers.

6. Plant a fall garden.

Turnips, broccoli, carrots…lots of things grow wonderfully in the fall.  Make a little fall garden.  Learn all about root vegetables.  You can even make observations about growth.  Keep a lab notebook and take measurements.  When the project is done, you’ll have a nice little salad!

7. Make some leaf rubbings.

Ah, the classic fall art project!  It brings back memories of my own childhood!  This is the kind of project that even the smallest of your pupils can enjoy.  Plus, the mess is minimal…definitely my kind of art project!  Just gather several different kinds of leaves (on your nature walk, remember?), then put them under a sheet of paper on a hard, flat surface.  Turn a crayon on its side and rub back and forth.  The results really are quite nice.

8. Make a Thanksgiving tree.

You can approach this one several different ways.  You can use sticks that you may find out in your yard, or you can make a paper tree on your wall.  Then, use leaf shaped cutouts, to write (or draw a picture of) something that you are grateful for each morning.  You could even cut around your leaf rubbings and use them for the leaves on the tree.

9. Keep your eyes to the skies for birds that migrate.

This is the time of year you will start seeing all kinds of migratory animals moving around.  One afternoon, why not grab a blanket and find a nice spot on the grass to spread it out and watch for birds.  

While you’re waiting, make up stories about the cloud shapes moving by.

When you finally see a flock of birds moving by, notice the kinds of sounds they make, and the way they fly by.  Use your observations as a jumping off point for a research project if you like.

10. Start a nature journal.

A nature journal doesn’t have to be fancy.  We just use a $.25 spiral notebook (I stock up on these, though, when they’re on back-to-school specials for $.20 each…we use them for a LOT of things!).  It’s a blank canvas.  Bear likes to draw pictures of things she finds outside.  Once, she found a bunch of snails and had them make trails all over a piece of paper.  She glued the paper inside the spiral.  Then, she wrote all kinds of observations about them on the facing page.  She also writes nature-themed poetry.  It’s quite a collection!  

11. Start a weather journal.

This time of year is famous for its weather changes.  Keep a record of them this year.  It’s fun to look back the following year and watch the differences, too.  Chart the temperature (pick a specific time to record each day), write observations about storms or cold fronts, and note the wind.  Again, you don’t have to be fancy.  A simple spiral will do.  If you want something a little cuter, a web search will return plenty of options!

12. Take an outdoor field trip.

My kids love going to the zoo.  But during the summer, at 105 degrees in the shade, it just ain’t gonna happen!  After that first glorious cold front, however, it’s time to load up and go to all those outdoor spots.  

Don’t forget about historical sights, too.  Here where we live, we’re only about an hour from Washington-on-the-Brazos which is full of our rich Texan history!

I also have a couple spots to see dinosaur fossils, and a cave trip on the radar.  

Do a little digging to find some cool spots in your area.  Lots of places even offer homeschooler discounts, or special homeschool days.  Find out all you can!  It’ll be worth it!

13. Take a trip to see family.

We always take a trip to see my side of the family over the week of Thanksgiving.  It gets us out of the house a little.  It’s also a great time to take advantage of all those cool places the Dallas area (where my family lives) has to offer as well.  

Take advantage of your time with family, too.  Make sure your kids get to hear plenty of embarrassing stories about you as a youngster!  But, also make sure that they hear stories about life when your older family members were growing up too.  It helps bring history to life!  

  • My great-grandparents met during the 1918 Flu epidemic…my great-grandfather’s family was particularly hard-hit.
  • My grandfather hunted a crocodile while he was stationed in New Guinea during World War II.  He was later sent home after experiencing complications from yellow fever.
  • My great uncle trained pilots during World War II.
  • My grandfather’s family were sharecroppers.  His parents had 5 kids, just like we do.

These were real people…my people!  Your kids will never tire of hearing family stories.  Just make sure you’re paying attention, because they will want to hear them over and over!

14. Make a work day to rake up all the leaves in your yard.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from working those brain muscles to flex some skeletal muscle instead. Have a family work day to rake up all those leaves in yard. You’re giving your brains a break, enjoying the weather, and practicing some important life skills all at the same time. Just don’t forget to jump in the piles when you’re done!

15. Learn how to make a fall treat together.

Working in the kitchen with small children can try your patience.  But, it can also be a great bonding and teaching experience if you let it.  So roll up those sleeves and find a fall treat to cook all together!

So, what’s on your fall homeschool bucket list?


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WELCOME to EXTRA feature week of the September You’re the STAR” blog hop!
(Sometimes we will have 5 Mondays in a month – these 5th special Mondays are called “EXTRA feature” days)
Meet all of your STAR Hosts 

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories (except for this special EXTRA day – we will be featuring 2 extra).  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#1 GARDEN – gardening, homesteading, recycling &/or preserving (this can include any type of green living,  while remaining family friendly),
WEEK#2 CREATIVE – arts & crafts, music, writing &/or dramatic arts (this can include sewing, dance, art history, handmade jewelry, computer art, fashion etc – anything creative while remaining family friendly)
WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)
WEEK#4 HOME – recipes, home décor, antique/DIY &/or travel (this can include anything about your home – even history posts – all while remaining family friendly)



by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg

(All features were chosen from the August “You’re the Star” blog hop)

Orange Vanilla Poppy Seed Bread by A Fireman’s Wife

God and Creation by Narrow-Minded Woman
God and Creation

Party Invitations by Howling At the Moon

Plumeria or Frangipani by Comfort Spring

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************
We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts).
If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.*******************************************************

All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



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Welcome to this week’s You’re the Star Blog Hop!  We actually had a fairly uneventful week here, for once!  This week promises a lot of activity.  I hope you have a great one!  Now on to the party…


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

WELCOME to the September You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:


Ah, fall is almost here!  Our first cool front of the season rolled through last night.  Outside, the birds are singing, the children are playing, and there’s a lovely breeze blowing.  We’re topping off at about 85 degrees today, which to much of the country, I understand, is still considered quite warm.  However, here in Texas, it’s about 20 degrees cooler than it has been!  With that in mind, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet so I can go outside and get to play a little with the kids.

Now, here in our little corner of the world, we harvest most of our food in June, before it gets so hot that everything dries up and withers away.  So, we’ve had our vegetables picked and put away for a couple of months, now.  However, in much of the country, folks are just now starting to bring in that delicious garden bounty.  

I know I like to have all of our cans in the pantry look nice and pretty.  So, this year, I decided to make some labels to put on the jars to give them a more organized, uniform look in the pantry.  Also, if we decide to give some of our produce as gifts to our friends and family, pretty labels really make those jars look nice!  Just tie a pretty little bow around the lid, and there you have it!  No other gift wrap necessary!

No other giftwrap necessary! Free DIY printable canning labels. Click To Tweet

So, if you have been busy canning all your produce to keep for the year ahead, why not pretty those jars up a little with some nice labels?  At the bottom of this post, you can find the labels I used.  I’m offering them for you to use.  Please feel free to download them, and use them for your pantry.  I only ask that you direct people to this post if they wish to use them, too!  There are several different styles to choose from.  You can print them out on label paper, or on cardstock to tie on with a pretty ribbon.  Get creative!

Download your free DIY Printable Canning Labels Here


diy printable canning labels

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WELCOME to HOME feature week of the September You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your HOME week Hosts

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHome_zpsvjqg4aib.jpg

This week is HOME feature week
Swing by the Home Hosts’ Blogs:

Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn

Heidi @ Heidi’s Wanderings

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#4 HOME – recipes, home décor, antique/DIY &/or travel (this can include anything about your home – even history posts – all while remaining family friendly)


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg

(All features were chosen from the August “You’re the Star” blog hop)

Easy Barn Wood Book Shelves by Grandma’s House DIY
Easy do it yourself diy inexpensive cheap frugal barn wood book shelves with hidden hardware wood working
July Thrift Polish Share by A Vintage Green

Sweet Balsamic Chicken Skillet by Living on Cloud Nine

 

Two End Tables Get a Sweet Country Makeover by Grandma’s House DIY

Before and after old end tables get a DIY country makeover with white paint and refinished tops

 
If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************
We are in need of more Cohosts (click HERE to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts).  For HOME feature week we  need 2 more Cohosts.
If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click HERE & fill out the form.

*******************************************************

All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



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Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the path of Hurricane Irma, as well as those who are still trying to clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey this week.

In other news, here at the farm, Bear had quite a spectacular fall at the splash pad Monday afternoon.  She has quite an impressive gash on the back of her head, but thankfully, no concussion!  Also, Baby finally let her first tooth break through.  She’s been working on it for about a week, but yesterday, it finally popped up.  She’s still pretty grumpy, so I think its next door neighbor may be making an appearance soon, too!

Never a dull moment…


 

Last week we were asking for help with Hurricane Harvey relief and now a week later we are dealing with a new storm – Hurricane Irma.  We don’t yet know the full extent of damage from this new storm but if you feel so led – please donate (click button below):

Samaritans Purse

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by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

 

Welcome to week#3 of the September “You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:

My kids have toys.  Tons of toys.  Toys, toys everywhere.  They have so many toys, they don’t all fit in their rooms at the same time.  Plus, in case those aren’t enough, they get more toys every Christmas and every birthday.  That’s 10 new toys coming into the house every year…not even counting the grandparent contribution!  So, what do they do with all of those toys?

Well…sadly, not much.  Don’t get me wrong, they do enjoy the toys, and they play with them from time to time.  However, most of the time, I note them playing with all sorts of other things…not toys.  It does beg the question, “Why do we bother?”

Here’s my list of some of my kids’ favorite not toy toys.  See if you can relate:

1. Sticks

What is so cool about sticks?  I guess it’s because they can do anything you want them to!  The biggest ones are often made into clubhouse teepees.  I’ve also seen fishing poles, horses, guns…pretty much everything can be mimicked with a stick!  Plus, once you’re done with them, you can throw them in the pond and make the dog chase them…and who doesn’t like making the dog take a swim?

2. Rocks

We have a plethora of rocks around here.  Not only can the kids dig them up from the dirt, our driveway is also made from rocks.  If we go on a walk, our road is made of rock.  So, we have no shortage of rocks.  We go out walking empty-handed, and by the time we come home, I’m carrying a huge load of rocks in the stroller, my pockets, and even in my hands.  Wait, why am I carrying all the rocks???

Once back at the house, they are investigated thoroughly.  Then, the ones that contain the proper level of sparkliness will go on to become eggs in a pretend bird’s nest, or dinosaur nest, or turtle nest…you get the picture.  The ones that don’t make the cut either go back in the driveway (if they know Mommy or Daddy are watching) or they are flung into the pond one by one so that, you guessed it, the dog will chase them.

3. String

Oh, all the uses of string!  Tie some string to a stick, and now you have your very own fishing pole.  If you can find a piece that’s long enough, tie it together at the ends, and now you have a glamorous necklace to use for your next ball (it’s starting in 5 minutes in front of the refrigerator).  Bear once tied several knots on one end of a piece of string to make something that vaguely resembled a dragon.  Everyone else immediately had to have a dragon pet of their own.  We had string dragons floating around the house for days!

4. Cardboard box-small

Ah, the cardboard box…it’s infamous!  Any time we receive a package in the mail, the children immediately claim the box and the bubble wrap (see #6).  Why do children like a cardboard box so much?  We adults will never understand.  I guess all our make-believe magic grew up and moved away…or maybe got packed away in one of those boxes!  Cars, trucks, boats, aquariums…those little boxes can be magical! 

You never know what they’re going to put in the box, either.  Last night, I came out of my room, after having fed Baby.  When I emerged from my room, I was confronted with a highly suspicious sight.  Three out of four of my mobile children had found a box that my dad had sent something to us in.  They were standing around the box, and Bear was hurriedly closing the top of the box.  

“What do you have in that box?” I demanded in my most authoritative Mommy voice.

<Giggles>

Bear flashed me one of her patented sheepish grins and piped up, “Monkey!”

Maniacal laughter from inside the box ensued.  Then all the children started laughing.  Monkey popped out of the box.

Their dad and I started laughing too.  “Alright,” I admitted, “with you four around, perhaps I should have asked who!”

I have no idea what kind of game they were playing, but it sure was funny…especially after it aroused my suspicion!

5. Cardboard box-large

Need I say more?  What parent hasn’t bought their kids the best toy of the century only to have it thrown by the wayside in favor of a refrigerator box?  Shocking, but true.  Jails, castles, houses…the possibilities are endless!

6. Bubble Wrap

Lizard starts jumping up and down any time she sees the delivery truck bouncing up the driveway.  She’s already calling out, “I get the bubble wrap! I get the bubble wrap!” before I even get out the door to claim the package.  I have to meet our drivers at their trucks…they’re scared of Patch (as are all the meter readers, and the guy who works for the county grading the roads).  LIzard’s still bouncing when I come back in, and I can barely make it in the door, because they now all want a piece of bubble wrap.

Oh, the disappointment that ensues when a package comes with brown paper stuffing instead of bubble wrap!  There is wailing and gnashing of teeth!

I have to avoid the shipping materials aisle at WalMart just as meticulously as I do the toy aisle.  At least if I want to keep the “Momma, can I have?”s away.  You should have seen Lizard’s face the first time she noticed the shelf full of giant rolls of bubble wrap!  No birthday or Christmas morning has yet been able to compare to the joy and desire mirrored in those little eyes that day at WalMart!

7. Strangely melted metal

They call this little gem “Rudy”.  When they first found it in the yard, one of the children decided that it looked like the big, bad dinosaur creature from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs that Buck called Rudy.  I’m not actually sure what it really is, but we’re pretty sure it originated from the burn barrel.  Don’t worry…we checked it for sharp edges.

8. Shovels

Yes, my kids play with shovels. Not the toy shovels you find in the sandbox seasonal aisle or the role-play toy aisle, they ‘play’ with real, full-sized shovels.  Every once in a while, someone gets a hankerin’ to dig a hole.  It makes no sense to me, but, hey…they have a blast.  Their Daddy will give them shovels and real jobs that need to be done.  They get a shovel, Daddy gets a fence post hole, and, after they’re done Mommy gets a quiet afternoon nap time since they’ve exhausted themselves digging a hole!

9. Pile of bricks

A few years ago, while we were visiting my parents’ house up in the DFW area, we were over at my grandparents’ house, visiting with them one afternoon.  My granddad had a pile of bricks stacked up next to the shed behind their house.  It was a fairly decent-sized pile of bricks.  Bear found them while playing outside and immediately set to work building a pint-sized castle.  She asked to go back over to their house every afternoon.  My granddad was so amused with her building, that at Christmas (the same Christmas that the giant Lincoln logs appeared), he sent at least half of his pile of bricks down with my parents so that Bear could have bricks at her house too.  Since then, they’ve been castles, walls, chairs, stages, corrals for wild stick horses…you name it!

10. Old coffee cans

Oh, the fun you can have with an old discarded coffee can!  My husband buys his coffee from Sams, you know, the big, giant 2 pound canister.  When he’s used all the coffee inside, the cans (or rather, plastic canisters) meander out to the barn where they are then given a second life as a feed scoop, or egg transport device.  If, however, the children gain control of them first, however, many interesting things can happen to these unsuspecting containers.  They make fantastic sandbox toys or mud pie makers. 

They like to collect rainwater in these cans and turn them into “soup”…the main ingredients of which appears to be water, dirt, leaves, grass, and sticks (to give it just the right amount of texture).

Sometimes, though, their stick horses become stick cows, and the rainwater in the coffee cans is actually milk.  With the milk they collect, they can make cakes or ice cream…both of which look strikingly similar to aforementioned “soup”.  Woe to the onlooker who guesses incorrectly!

I could write an entire post about all the uses for old coffee cans…maybe I will!


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WELCOME to FAMILY feature week of the
September “You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your FAMILY week Host & Cohost 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarFamily_zps6gnkp7zk.jpg

This week is FAMILY feature week
Swing by the Family hosting team’s blogs:

Miranda @ The Myrabev Life

Linda @ Country Loving Mom

Elizabeth @ Family Farm School

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!
There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, health, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg



(These features were chosen from the August “You’re the STAR” blog hop)

 10 Ways To Eat Real Food Without Breaking the Bank by Mama Finds Her Way
Real Food On A Budget | 10 Ways To Eat Real Food Without Breaking The Bank 

Master Bathroom Reveal by Grandma’s House DIY
Master bathroom reveal after fifteen months renovating my grandparents' 100 year old farm house diy do it yourself double slipper bath tub

Finally!  Another Family Movie To Recommend: by Ready to be Offered

Sunset on Ft. Lauderdale Beach by Comfort Spring
Sunset on Ft Lauderdale Beach

 

 

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************

We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 

If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.

*******************************************************
All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )

___________________________________________________________________

Once again, we don’t know how to keep our lives boring here on our little farm.  My  husband stepped on a screw while cleaning out chicken coops on Monday evening.  By the next morning, we were sure it was seriously infected.  My husband was barely able to walk.  So, off to the doctor he went.  He’s doing much better now, and can almost walk normally again.  But, I’ve been busy, busy, busy trying to help him out.  This coming week promises to be busy, but at the moment, rather boring!  So, here’s to hoping for a “boring” busy week!  Now, on to the party!


 

The effort to cleanup and rebuild after Hurricane Harvey will take an unknown amount of time and money.  If you feel so led – please donate (click button below):

Samaritans Purse

___________________________________________________________________by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

Welcome to the second week of the September blog hop called “You’re the Star!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:


Since it’s been a busy week, I wasn’t able to post anything new this week.  So, in the spirit of the injury my husband received near the chicken coops, I’ve dusted off an old post this week.  My very first ever posted here on Family Farm School:


Six and a half years ago, our lives changed forever.  We bought a house in Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas.  Then we moved from our nice, conveniently located house in town to our new little piece of property that was an hour away from anything.  At the time, Bear was around 18 months old, and we were expecting our second.  I was so sick, and so busy taking care of a toddler.  Andrew had to do pretty much all the moving by himself.  I was useless!  What were we thinking???

Once we got moved in and at least nominally settled, we had to get to work on a way to keep our agricultural tax exemption.  We had always intended to stock the place with animals.  I only had one rule.  One rule, never to be broken, when I agreed to move out to the middle of nowhere: 

NO CHICKENS!!!

No chickens.  How hard is that rule to obey?  We could get anything else…cows, goats, sheep, horses, even llamas.  Just no chickens.  The possibilities were endless.  I always assumed we would get some cattle.  I mean, this is Texas.  Of course there would be cattle.

 But then, my dear husband started with the crazy talk…

He wanted to get…chickens.  Yes, chickens.  I thought I had made myself perfectly clear.  Why on earth would he want to mess with such foul, disgusting fowl which are useless for anything except feeding the local bobcat and coyote populations?  My uncle had chickens years ago when I was a kid.  I was certain that this one experience in my youth made me an expert on the matter.

Unfortunately, my husband did make some good points.  We did eat a lot of chicken.  We ate a lot of eggs.  We would know what was going into our food.  It would be cheaper to raise them than to pay full price at the store.  It was starting to become clear that I was going to lose this argument.  But, I held fast and firm to my decision.  

NO CHICKENS!!!

Eventually, after many conversations about chickens, I finally made my fatal mistake.  Instead of my patented “No chickens!” response to end one of these little talks, I said, “I don’t want chickens!”

“So,” says my husband, smiling mischievously, “You don’t want chickens.  But that means I can get chickens.  You won’t have to mess with them at all.  They’ll be my chickens, my business.”

I was nearly 8 months pregnant, and I was tired.  I finally conceded the loss.  

“Fine.”  I pouted.  “But understand me now.  I will NOT do anything with those chickens!  They are yours, just like you said.  I won’t touch those nasty chickens.  And don’t come crying to me when the coyotes get them!”

We had finally reached an agreement.

A few days later, my husband came driving home from the feed store with a box full of chicks that he had ordered.  Thirty of them.  Thirty!

They were kinda cute.  Even my hard heart had to admit that.  They were all fluffy and yellow, with all the little cheep cheep noises.  But I still wasn’t going to have anything to do with them.  Nope…no way!  Wasn’t gonna happen!

My husband had a big crate in the garage that he turned into a brooder for them.  It was fall, it was actually rather cool, and chicks have to be kept very warm until their feathers come in.  He put chicken wire over the top of the box, and a piece of plywood on top of the wire to keep the heat from the lamp in the box, leaving enough room uncovered for air to circulate.  He weighted down the wood on the top to make sure it wouldn’t come off.

The next morning, as my husband was leaving for work, he asked me to come out to the garage every few hours to check the brooder to make sure the chicks weren’t too cold, and make sure they had enough food and water.  Remember, that I was eight months pregnant.  The walk (waddle) from the house to the garage was no small undertaking!  But, the compassion for these poor little babies in my hormonal pregnant heart was stirred.  So much for being completely hands-off with the chickens!  My resolve had lasted less than 24 hours.

Tragedy would soon strike our household, however.  The third day after their arrival, after my daughter was down for her nap, I went out to check on the chicks.  My pregnant, hormonally-charged brain knew something was amiss the minute I stepped into the garage.  It was too quiet.  There were no sounds of cheeping and scuttling about as I approached the box.  The lid was knocked off, and the chicken wire was pulled up on the corner.  Oh, what a horrible, gruesome scene I found in that brooder!  Something had gotten into the brooder and killed every single chick save one…but when I looked, I didn’t see the live one.  It must have been hiding in the corner under the light.  I thought they had all been killed.  

They had not been eaten.  They had been eviscerated.  The perpetrator had extracted the parts he wanted with surgical precision from each and every chick.  The rest of the parts were scattered about the bottom of the box, untouched.  This MO suggested that a raccoon was to blame.  I cried and cried and cried.  It was too much.  My emotional state was already unstable.  I didn’t even want those silly chicks.  And now I had to deal with this grizzly murder scene.  I called my husband at work, and I cried at him for about 5 minutes before I could make any words come out.  Of course, this resulted in a panicked husband.  Imagine your very pregnant wife who is alone with your young daughter out in the middle of nowhere, calling you at work, unable to do anything but cry.  I finally managed to pull myself together enough to tell him what had happened.  He was also upset, but told me he’d take care of it himself after work.  When he got home, he found the one chick that had survived.  I held and cuddled that little chick while he cleaned out the brooder.  All those poor, helpless babies were just gone!

It was the first of many life and death lessons we would learn about how hard, and sometimes vicious life could be out here.  Andrew fixed the brooder up and made many improvements so this would not happen again.  He also went on a raccoon hunting spree, the first of several.  We got more chicks.  In fact, since there was one survivor, we had to get more chicks the very next day.  Our lone survivor would get too cold without some compatriots to keep him company.  Andrew built coops and fenced enclosures when the new chicks were ready to move out of the brooder.  Since then, we’ve grown our flock quite a bit.  We keep a permanent flock of layers, and hatch out some as replacements for our older layers, and some for meat for our family each year.  

I still don’t like the chickens.  I like raccoons even less.  And, despite all my big talk at the beginning, I was the one crying when predators got to the chickens.  Whatever my opinion on the matter, the chickens are here to stay.  I even have to mess with them occasionally.  Guess who takes care of them when Andrew is out of town?  Yep, that’d be me.  And guess who has to make sure their water misters get turned on every day during our scorching Texas summers?  Yep.  Me again.  I have to admit, I do like the fresh eggs, and producing our own food is pretty satisfying.

So…I deal with the chickens.

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WELCOME to CREATIVE feature week of the September You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your CREATIVE week Hosts 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarCreative_zpsvodufzbt.jpg

This week is CREATIVE feature week
Swing by the Creative hosting Team’s blogs:

Colleen @ Butterfly in the Attic


Darlene @ Let It Shine

Anna @ Cuddlebug Cuties
Angel @ Sew Crafty Angel
This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#2 CREATIVE – arts & crafts, music, writing &/or dramatic arts (this can include sewing, yarn work, dance, art history, handmade jewelry, painting, computer art, fashion etc – anything creative while remaining family friendly)


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg


(These features were chosen from the August “You’re the Star” blog hop)

DIY Custom Fabric Rug by Penny’s Vintage Home

Tanzmariechen Marie Crochet by Frau Tschi-Tschi

“Under the Sea” Ornaments by Debbie-Dabble Blog

Star of Felt by Hobby e Creativita
Star of felt

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************
We are in need of more Cohosts (click HERE to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 
If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click HERE & fill out the form.

*******************************************************

All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



___________________________________________________________________

Whew, what a weekend it has been!  As you know, we live in Texas, and we’ve had enough of Hurricane Harvey!  We live quite a bit inland, but are still dealing with a lot of rain.  At the time of writing this post, we’re over 12 inches…and it’s still raining.  We haven’t actually seen the worst yet, according to the weatherman.  They tell us it may not stop until next weekend…yikes!  Fortunately, for us, it was so dry when we started that we were able to take on 5 inches of rain before it even started running off.

We have a lot of friends, and some family as well who live on the coast.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and everyone else who has been impacted by this devastating storm.


 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

WELCOME to the September You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:


Since we’ve had such an eventful weather weekend, I thought I’d share a few photos of things here around the farm.

 

This is the pond that sits in our front yard.  I took this picture from the front porch of our house, just a little while after Harvey made landfall (several hours away) on Saturday morning.  At this point, we were only getting  showers from the far outer bands of the storm.  We’ve had a fairly dry summer, and as you can see, our pond was several feet low…hardly more than a mud puddle.

 

Here, you can see a few of the kids running around in their swimsuits and rubber boots.  You see, it’s not really out of the ordinary for me to allow them to play in the rain like this…as long as it’s warm.  They begged (and by ‘they’ I mean Rhino) to go to the splash pad…to which I replied, “In a hurricane?  Of course not!”  I was then informed that there wasn’t any thunder.  That was true.  Then they wanted to know if they could go play in their swimsuits outside.  “Ok, fine.  But if it starts getting windy, you have to come in!”  So, I sat out on the front porch watching my children play in the rain.  They had great fun!  In the end, I was glad I let them.  The weather really was quite tame still at that point,  and I knew we were going to be stuck inside for a while once things got serious.

This is the pond by Saturday evening.  A bit higher, but not extraordinary.  We’d had about 6 inches of rain by this point, and it was starting to run off.


  

This is the view that greeted us on Sunday morning.  We tried to leave to go to church, but the road out was totally impassable.  So, we’re stuck.  It appears doubtful that my husband will be able to go to work tomorrow, and indeed, the university has closed up shop on Monday and Tuesday.  We hope we’ll be able to move freely again by that time.

My kids are getting cabin fever.  One of them is actually sick, though he seems mostly unphased (as usual).  It’s going to be a long week.  Our schoolwork will probably be a welcome distraction!  Kids in our district were supposed to head out for the first day of school tomorrow.  But they announced today that the schools will all be closed.  There’s one more good thing about homeschooling, I guess…inclement weather won’t stop us!

It is still raining.  They say it will keep raining for several more days.  There are a lot of folks who have had MUCH more rain than we have here (and wind or tornado damage as well).  Harvey seems to have taken up residence along the coast, and doesn’t seem to notice that he is an unwelcome guest!  He’s taking his own sweet time leaving.

So, this week, if you get a chance, say a little prayer for us down here in Texas.  We need all the help we can get!

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WELCOME to GARDEN feature week of the September You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your GARDEN week Hosts 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarGarden_zpsmtrqgy7g.jpg

This week is GARDEN feature week
Swing by the GARDEN Hosts blogs:

Angie @ God’s Growing Garden

Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#1 GARDEN – gardening, homesteading, recycling, outdoor activities &/or preserving (this can include any type of green living,  repurposed ideas, outdoor concerns, posts relating to farm animals etc all while remaining family friendly)



by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg


(All features were chosen from the August 2017 “You’re the Star” blog hop)

Beautiful Surprises in a Small Suburban Yard by Run Ran Fam

The Serpentine Style of Garden Design by Sweetly Dreaming of the Past


If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************

We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts).

If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.

*******************************************************
All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )

___________________________________________________________________

It is hot, hot, hot here in Texas!  If we’re going to go outside, you’d better believe we’re going to get wet!  I hope this Monday you’re staying cool.  So, put your feet up, take a look at some of these great posts, and enjoy a little air conditioning.


 

 

 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

WELCOME to the August You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:


Recently, something happened that has made me think…a lot.  In fact, it really got under my skin.  I’ve been considering things a lot in the wake of the event.

How it all began:

an annoying, baby-waking dogMy day started out much like my days always do.  My husband got up about half an hour before I did.  When I got up, I was a little grumpy.  It had been raining overnight, and the dog had been acting strange.  She had woken me up at 4 am.  I tried letting her out, but when I opened the door, she didn’t want to go.  She then followed me into the restroom and growl-talked (those of you with dogs will understand what I mean) to me.  After I’d finished in the restroom and started back to bed, she reclaimed her nightly spot on the couch and laid down.  I got a drink of water, and headed back to bed, hoping I’d be able to get back to sleep in the 2 hours I had left.  As I laid back down, here came Patch, running back into our room, growling and squeaking…and waking up Baby.  

I fed Baby and put her back down to sleep, but was faced with less than an hour left before I knew I’d have to be up and ready for the day.  

I was irritated with the dog, and seriously grumpy to start my Monday.  Stubbornly, I lay in bed, seething and rebelliously pretending I still had enough time to go back to sleep while my husband got up to start his day.

Just as he was going out to tend to the animals, I got up, emerged from our room, and was angrily stalking towards the shower.  He noticed, and made a little joke about my being grumpy…which almost immediately diffused the situation.  I was still mad at the dog, and I was still grumpy, but he had made me smile.  I would be able to get myself back under control.

Andrew went off to take care of the animals, and I wearily shuffled off to the shower where I managed to wake up a little.  

By the time Andrew headed out to work, I was still feeling a little “off”, but functional.  We joked a little more about my being grumpy as we were saying goodbye for the day, and both laughing about it.  

From there, our day here at home progressed normally.  It was Monday, so the kids were all off our routine from the weekend…and there was occasional fussing about an assignment, but nothing out of the ordinary.

After breakfast, I sent Andrew a message to tell him that we needed milk and a prescription picked up before he came home…I wasn’t really expecting an answer, so it came as no surprise that I didn’t get one.  

A couple of hours went by.  We were hard at work.  Soon after lunch, Baby started fussing, right on schedule at about 1:15.  Time for her afternoon nap!  I gave instructions to the other kids as to how they should use their time while I put Baby to bed.  Then, I brought Baby in to our room to feed her before she went to sleep.  

I often do a little internet surfing to make sure I don’t fall asleep while I’m nursing Baby before her nap.  It’s dark, it’s quiet, I have to sit still.  If I don’t have something to keep me from it, we’re both fast asleep!  Then I wake up an hour later, while the older kids have been doing who knows what in my absence, and I have a crick in my neck from sleeping while sitting up.  It’s just not good.  So…I play internet.

The news:

my husband's car
My husband’s car

This particular afternoon, I opened up my laptop and checked my email…nothing of consequence.  Then, I headed on over to KBTX, the local news station’s website to check on the weather.  It had been raining off and on all day, and I wanted to check the radar.  But, I never made it.

My heart stopped when I saw the top story on the KBTX homepage.  There was a picture of a small champagne-colored SUV, smashed beyond recognition.  The headline underneath read, “Fatal car accident this morning on Highway 21.”

I couldn’t breathe.

Andrew drives to work on Highway 21 every morning in a small, champagne-colored SUV.  But the one in the picture was in such bad shape that I just couldn’t tell if it was his or not!  I was trying to stay calm so I wouldn’t upset Baby.  I slowly managed to click on the link to the story, desperately hoping that it was the wrong place on Highway 21.

There wasn’t much more information.  But, it did tell me where on Highway 21…and it was not the wrong place.  My husband drives that stretch every single day.

Panic set in.

I realized I had to calm down so I could get Baby down for a nap.  I couldn’t do anything.  There were rocks in the bottom of my stomach the whole time she nursed.  She took 22 minutes.  It was all I could think about the whole time.

“What if it was him?”

“There are thousands of SUVs that color.”

“He should have been at work already.  But how long did it take the news station to post the story?  It didn’t say what time it happened.”

“I texted him a while ago.  He hasn’t answered.  What if he’s dead on the side of the road and I’m sitting here texting him about milk, and not thinking about something important?”

“It can’t be him!  It can’t be him! Please, Dear Lord, don’t let it be him!”

I laid Baby down in her crib and quietly left the room.  For once, she didn’t scream when I put her down.  I walked across the living room to get my phone.  The older kids were in the kitchen, washing the dishes we’d used at lunch.  I picked up my phone just as I received a message…

Was it him?

It was from Andrew.

“Thank you, Lord!”

He wasn’t dead on the side of the road.  He said he thought there were still a few gallons of milk in the garage refrigerator, and asked if we had to have the prescription that day, or if it could wait for a day or two.

“Really?  I’ve just been through the longest 22 minutes in my life!  You’re worried about milk!?!”

But then I came back to reality with a jolt.  He had not been here during my 22 minute panic attack.  He probably hadn’t been on the internet all day, so it was unlikely he had even seen the story.  Andrew was working…blissfully unaware of the emotional roller coaster from which I had just disembarked.

I checked the outside refrigerator…no milk.  So I answered his message, and went on with life.

I talked to him on the phone a little while afterward and told him all about the incident.  He looked on the news page and agreed that it did, in fact, look a lot like his car.  But, the back window (one of the only things left intact) wasn’t the right shape.

Apparently, I need to pay more attention to back windows.

Thoughts

Often, when I’m faced with a scenario, I have a tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusion…just as I did in this case.  I convinced myself that my husband was gone in an amazingly short period of time.  It was only afterward, however, that I started to consider what it might have meant to our family if something like that were to happen.

What if my husband weren’t here anymore?  What if my children lost their dad?

What if my husband weren't here anymore? What if my children lost their dad? Click To Tweet

I know he would be in a better place.  I have no doubt of that.  But, the selfish part of me keeps reminding me how much we would miss him.  He does so much.

husband working on the tractorMy husband keeps this family moving.  He works hard to make money to provide to us.  Then, he comes home and works hard to grow food to provide for us.  Then, he comes inside and often cooks dinner and takes care of the kids while I put Baby to bed each evening.

What would we do without him?

I know we’d find a way to manage…but, how?

Our kids would have to grow up without their dad.

This evening, as I sit here and finish writing this post, I have been alone all day and all evening with the kids (though, in a house full of 5 kids, can one ever really be “alone”?).  Andrew had a rare evening when he had to stay at work late into the evening playing with NMR spectra…extra points if you know what that is!  I often don’t realize or appreciate how much he does to help our family.  But, when he’s gone, it really hits me full force.  I didn’t manage to finish getting all the kids in bed until after 10 tonight.  It turns out you can’t cook dinner and nurse a baby to sleep at the same time.  I need him here to make things run smoothly.  

I need him because I need him.  He’s my husband…the father of my children.

Our kids need him.

We’d be lost without him.  

My heart aches for the family that did lose someone that day.


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WELCOME to HOME feature week of the August You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your HOME week Hosts

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHome_zpsvjqg4aib.jpg

This week is HOME feature week
Swing by the Home Hosts’ Blogs:

Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn

Heidi @ Heidi’s Wanderings

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#4 HOME – recipes, home décor, antique/DIY &/or travel (this can include anything about your home – even history posts – all while remaining family friendly)


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg

(All features were chosen from the July “You’re the Star” blog hop)

Guest Bedroom Reveal by Rickety Pickets
Twin beds in guest bedroom

The Art of Collecting by A Day of Small Things….

Thrifty Decorated New House by Thrifty To Nifty

 

Our First Camping Trip by Mille Fiori Favoriti

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************
We are in need of more Cohosts (click HERE to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts).  For HOME feature week we  need 2 more Cohosts.
If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click HERE & fill out the form.

*******************************************************

All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



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It’s hard to believe it’s already the third week of August.  This year is going by so quickly!  It’s been miserably hot here this past week, with triple digits forecast at least through the end of the week.  I’m grateful for air conditioning this week, and praying that our units all keep holding on through the rest of the summer!  On to this week’s blog hop: 

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by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

 

Welcome to week#3 of the August “You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:

 

 


Ok, so it’s been quite a while since I posted about my post-partum weightloss journey.  I’ve got to be honest…life has been getting in the way!  I actually gained 7 pounds.  Eek!  I went the wrong way!  Though we’re back to school now, we recently took a month-long break from lessons, which means we kinda took a month-long break from any kind of structure that even remotely resembles a routine.  Things have been totally crazy!  Plus, it’s been so insanely hot outside…it’s Texas, and it’s summer…of course it’s hot!  I have lots of excuses, don’t I?

So, here I am, dusting myself off, and getting back on the fitness wagon.  

What’s Next?

I’m going to keep up with my water intake goal, and try to keep on track with that one.  That’s pretty easy, I can do that!

I recently found a fantastic program for homeschooling moms (though I personally think any busy mom could benefit) called “Homeschool Mom Fitness”.  I have only been through one week so far, but, I feel like I finally have some hope for getting fit again!  I’m back down to 229 pounds after my high of 230.  My biggest problem with getting myself in shape has always been this preconceived notion that I have to find a big block of time every day to “work out”.  I just isn’t there.  I’m always doing something.  I flutter from doing dishes to folding laundry to sitting at the kitchen table teaching lessons to…well, you get the picture.

There just isn’t any extra time in our schedule for a big block of half an hour, or even 20 minutes for me to take on my own.  But, this program is different.   Each week, there are 5 sets of 3 exercises to complete each day.  You can complete them all at once, or just take them a set at a time.  The first week, you only have to go 20 seconds per exercise.  That’s 60 seconds 5 times a day…that’s all.  The second week is 30 seconds per exercise.  It increases each week.  Even I can find a single minute here and there throughout my day.  As I become more cognizant of my extra time through the day, I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding time to squeeze in exercise in spots I thought were totally jam-packed.

How to Work In the Work Outs

Consider this…

How often do you find yourself standing in the kitchen, waiting for something to cook?  It takes a few minutes for those pancakes to cook on each side, but not enough that you can leave them and go do something else.  You’re a captive.  But…why not squeeze in a set or two of exercises while you’re there?  You’ve already started your day out right!

Or this…

You’re sitting on the floor with your baby while she has some tummy time.  That’s a great time to do something a little entertaining for her…why not make it some exercise.  My baby thinks it’s hilarious to watch Mommy exercise.  I get a step closer to being a fit mom, and baby grins all at the same time.  Everybody wins!

If you’re homeschooling…

These would make great P.E. exercises to do with your students.  Work in a few with your kiddos.  Now, you’ve covered a class subject, and you’re all better off than you were before!

We’re back to school here in our house, and our routine is back to normal.  I feel like I have even less time to myself with all of our school work to oversee.  But, I am still going strong, finding those few minutes here and there.  It’s only Tuesday, and the hardest part of the week is still to come…we’ve got a swimming day scheduled tomorrow (how’s that to stay in a routine?).  But, for once, I have confidence in my ability to stick with this program.

To learn more about Homeschool Mom Fitness, hop on over and check out their website.  For one low price, you get lifetime access to all of the materials…there is no monthly fee.  So, even if you do fall off the fitness wagon (it happens to us all), you still have access to the materials to get yourself back on track again.  There is a fitness tracker, access to videos to show you the proper form for all the exercises, access to a Facebook group (which I have really enjoyed so far), and more.  The program was created by a homeschool mom and her husband, who happens to be a certified personal trainer, so you know he knows his stuff!  I really hope you’ll drop by, and check out this program.  Join us, and let’s all get back in shape together! 


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WELCOME to FAMILY feature week of the
August “You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your FAMILY week Host & Cohost 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarFamily_zps6gnkp7zk.jpg

This week is FAMILY feature week
Swing by the Family hosting team’s blogs:

Miranda @ The Myrabev Life

Linda @ Country Loving Mom

Elizabeth @ Family Farm School

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!
There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, health, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg



(These features were chosen from the July “You’re the STAR” blog hop)

 Homeschooling:  It’s Not Meant To Be Easy by Homeschool Insights

New York City – The MOMA & More by Not In Jersey
The MOMA & More

DIY Rustic Tic Tac Toe Board by Welsh Design Studio

Looking After Your Body by Comfort Spring

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************

We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 

If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.

*******************************************************
All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )

___________________________________________________________________

Happy Monday everyone!  We’ve had a busy week here.  We’ve been trying to get back to our school routine, but with a weekly doctor’s appointment for an allergy shot now thrown in the mix.  I think I finally have all of our technology glitches worked out so we can at least work on some Spanish and Biblical History while we’re in the car!  I’ll be writing a post about car-schooling soon, so stay tuned!  And now, on to our regularly scheduled blog hop!  Share those links and make some new friends!

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by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

Welcome to the second week of the August blog hop called “You’re the Star!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:


A couple of years ago, we realized we were watching way too much TV.  That’s mostly because, well, we were turning it on at all!  Our children were growing older, and we were becoming more and more sensitive to the messages coming through that little box straight into our home and our minds.

We subscribed to a popular satellite provider.  For the first two years, we got a fairly decent price…you know…the special new customer contract pricing designed to get you hooked.  Once the special pricing ended, however, the price skyrocketed.  Of course, we knew ahead of time that this would happen…it wasn’t really a surprise, but it really affected our family budget.  We had a new baby, and were a brand new family of six…and living on a single income.  We were always looking for ways to cut our costs!  We started doing a careful analysis of where exactly our money was going…and more importantly, was it worth it?

We took a long hard look at satellite TV.  We were paying a lot.  It was sucking down more money every month than it cost us to feed all of our animals!  But were we using what we paid for?  We we getting our money’s worth?  

The short answer was a definite, resounding, NO!

We were paying for hundreds of channels, but only regularly watched about ten.  Our children watched some cartoons on the kids channels, of course.  We watched our local news station.  We watched mostly sports channels in the evenings.

Now, for the more important question in our analysis.  Was the money we were spending for these channels (the small fraction that we did watch) helping us raise happy, healthy, faithful children?

Again, the answer was a big, fat, NO!

Sure, there were kids shows that the children enjoyed.  Some of them were even “educational”, and though not completely devoid of social engineering, they were fairly innocuous.

However, when we started considering what our kids were seeing on some of the other channels we were watching, it started making us uncomfortable.  We enjoyed watching a good football or baseball game, and yes, we liked watching bull riding too.  Those seem fairly safe, right?  I mean, what could be more important than encouraging that good ole’ American sportsmanship?

But, then came the commercials…all those commercials intended to get into your head to sell you something.  They’re supposed to be flashy, they’re supposed to stick with you.  There were scantily clad women dancing around.  There were spots touting how awful and confining it was to be “tied down” with children.  There were even segments advertising our culture’s favorite ways to prevent that from happening…some of them nearly pornographic.

No, these were not the sorts of things we wanted being tucked into our children’s young, impressionable minds night after night after night.  Satellite television was definitely not a tool that would help us raise happy, healthy, faithful children.

It would have to go, we decided.  I called our service provider, and cancelled the service.  They offered me all kinds of deals to try to get me to change my mind.  But I held firm.  Still, more than two years later, I still receive little love notes from them in the mail.  They tell me how much they miss me, and how much they will do to get me back.  Such desperation is kind of sad, really.

We kept the TV hooked up to the DVD player, and yes, the VCR (we’re still a little old-school).  We can watch a movie any old time we want.  VeggieTales is often on our “Feature of the Day” list.  The TV schedule can no longer rule our day.  I can choose to turn it on, or send everyone out to play.

To be honest, we don’t even miss it.  Our evenings are full of family time.  Our days are full of laughter, learning, and play.  There are days when we go the entire day without any screen time at all…and we’re better off for it!

Life isn’t about prime time.  It’s not about sports or cartoons.  It’s about spending time with your friends and family.  It’s about making sure your children grow up happy, healthy, and faithful.  You won’t remember the score of that baseball game in ten years.  But, I’d be willing to bet that your kids will remember all the time you spent with them instead.


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WELCOME to CREATIVE feature week of the August You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your CREATIVE week Hosts 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarCreative_zpsvodufzbt.jpg

This week is CREATIVE feature week
Swing by the Creative hosting Team’s blogs:

Colleen @ Butterfly in the Attic


Darlene @ Let It Shine

Anna @ Cuddlebug Cuties


Angel @ Sew Crafty Angel

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#2 CREATIVE – arts & crafts, music, writing &/or dramatic arts (this can include sewing, yarn work, dance, art history, handmade jewelry, painting, computer art, fashion etc – anything creative while remaining family friendly)


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg


(These features were chosen from the July “You’re the Star” blog hop)

Newly Crafted Patriotic Ornaments by Debbie-Dabble Blog

Altoid Tin Padded Box Topper by Reviews, Chews & How-Tos

DIY Bunny T-Shirt by Keeping It Real
A new bunny T-shirt DIY

Pretty Lil Pocket Packs by Stone Cottage Adventures

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

*******************************************************
We are in need of more Cohosts (click HERE to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 
If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click HERE & fill out the form.

*******************************************************

All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



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