Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking toward 2010

You know there is something about the new makes you think of fresh starts and clean, organized homes (well, that's what it makes me think about!) I'd like to clean every surface, declutter every corner and have a place for everything before the new year. What's that you say, that's in TWO days...the new TWO (2) days!! Okay, so my plans are a little lofty.

The revamped plans are as follows::
  • Continue lesson planning for homeschooling (which begins again January 4th)
  • Declutter and clean as time and energy allow. Then continue this trend into January, and February, and March, and so on and so on, and so on. Is this ongoing for anyone else?
  • Post my re-cap of 2009 and unveil my word for 2010
  • Love on my family and friends
  • Keep the main thing the main thing--my relationship with God.
Here's to the last TWO days of 2009!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Music that Ministers

I so enjoy music and often I find that it soothes my soul, expresses thoughts and feelings I'm having and reminds me of the hope we have in our faithful God. This is one of my new found favorites.

JJ Heller has a fun blog that I've already enjoyed reading. The words of this song have been my companion this holiday season. He holds us in His hands!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Galloping the Globe--Japan

I am working through Galloping the Globe with Bethany (2nd grade). Preparing the lesson plans for each country has been a downfall of mine--until now. I'm determined to stay ahead (said with deep conviction and gusto!) Several other homeschool bloggers have made planning lessons for each country so really I have no excuse.

Here are some of my great finds for Japan:
Lapbook Lessons
ABC Teach--lots of links
Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations--week 1 of her Japan study and week 2 of the study
National Geographic Kids--Japan

My goal is to spend approximately a week on each country, stamp our passport and gallop on to the next country.

*remember that the links do not show up a different color--I do NOT know how to fix that. :( So mouse over them and then you can click on them.

The Happenings of Christmas Week

We had a wonderful merry Christmas.

Christmas morning the atmosphere was relaxed and joyful as we opened gifts. My favorite gifts were the ones my children made for me....a coupon book from my oldest daughter, a homemade card from my middle daughter and lots of hugs from my little guy. The picture below shows a gift I made for our Bethany girl. We realized that the other two kids had something with their names on it hanging on their walls. She did not. I took care of that. I love the way it turned out. It was fun to make and she was thrilled with it.

Our little guy has had hours of fun already with this Fisher Price castle complete with knights (and a dragon). A fellow homeschool mom passed this goodie along to us as her son was finished with it. I'm so thankful because it has been T's favorite toy.

The last couple days I've been working on a rag rug. A friend and I were talking about making them and she said she thought there was a way to make them without sewing or crocheting them. So, after some searching we found this set of youtube videos. It uses a tool that my friend's husband made out of a coat hanger. I'm using some shirts and some material I had in my stash just for this purpose. I'll take a picture of it soon. It is turning out so pretty!

My other big job this week is doing lesson plans for January through March. I'm almost half way through Bethany's and hope to finish up tomorrow; then on to Marissa's.

What's keeping you occupied this week?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Christmas Traditions

One of our Christmas traditions is to spend the day before Christmas Eve with my Hunny's mom and siblings. He has one sister (who has 2 children) and one brother (who lives a few states away and we don't always see him at Christmas). So last night we headed down to my mother-in-law's house with a few special gifts wrapped in brown paper and tied with ribbon and lots of homemade yummy treats to share.

The kids had a great time and my brother-in-law was there which made it special for all of us. My Hunny said that he wished he had longer to visit with his brother...and that made me a little sad. I miss my siblings too and wish for long, meaningful talks over hot chocolate.

All in all we had a good time. The kids are enjoying playing with some new toys today and that's great as I'm trying to finish up wrapping gifts and cleaning.

We will also make a birthday cake for Jesus. Hopefully finish up Bartholomew's Passage and reading our Adorenaments.

Merry CHRISTmas Everyone!

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”~ISAIAH 9:6

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I'm making these yummy little bars for gifts for my mother-in-law, sis-in-law and her kids and my bro-in-law. They are called Scotch-a-roos and are similar to a rice crispie treat. Here's the recipe::

* 1 cup light or dark corn syrup
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
* 5-6 cups rice crispies
* 1 cup chocolate chips
* 1 cup butterscotch chips
* 9 x 13 inch greased pan


1. In large bowl, measure 5-6 cups (5 cups makes bars chewier) Rice crispies and set aside.
2. Combine syrup and sugar in a large saucepan and heat on stovetop until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to bubble.
3. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until creamy
4. Stir mixture into the Rice Krispies/thoroughly combine.
5. Spread evenly into 9 X 13 prepared pan
6. In microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and melt in microwave until smooth consistency.
7. Spread melted chips evenly over crispies.
8. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set
9. Cut into desired squares and enjoy!!

As I was making them Bethany (my 7 1/2 year old) said, "I know these taste good, but they are so unhealthy for you. Do you want to make grandma unhealthy?" So should I tie them up with ribbon or what?

It's so funny that she would say that because I was thinking it in my head! I was thinking about writing this blog post and I was going to say, "Now these are yummy, but except for the peanut butter, they do not have one ounce of healthy in them!"

They are easy though, and they taste good.

You may be wondering how I resolved the issue with Bethany...well I told her that we were only going to give each person a few and they could eat them in moderation. Satisfied, she nodded her head and added, "And we are not keeping any for us!"

Happy Baking!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crafting Fun and Christmas Traditions

I've been busy:

I made this bag for the little girl we watch. {You'll remember I made her this baby doll for her birthday.} I found the instructions here. The bag was not hard to make--all single crochet stitches. I had to make it twice because the first time it was H.U.G.E. Just about as big as a 2 year old. So, I started over and this time reduced the base by at least half. The lining gave me a little trouble, but I persevered and it turned out okay.

I made these monogrammed ornaments for my niece and nephew. I filled the inside with tinsel.

The tree ornament is for some friends of ours. Their last name will be on the other side--written in "puffy" paint.

And the kids and I started the Christmas Story Ornaments from this website. Really cute.

The Christmas letter is written and printed, the envelopes are addressed, the pictures are taken and printed and all I need to finish is wrapping the gifts. I love wrapping gifts. I use the brown Kraft paper and tie the packages up with ribbons and strips of fabric. I love the way the gifts look under the tree! (Of course, I keep the ribbons for other uses and we recycle the paper.)

We have more making and baking to do. In addition we are reading Bartholomew's Passage for Advent. And reading and putting up the "Adorenaments" each evening. Each ornament celebrates a specific name of Christ. A book and CD accompany the ornaments. We've done them for years and enjoy them immensely. Such a wonderful time of making cherished memories.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A nativity giveaway...

I've been missing in action, lots of action!

While I've been gone, I've found good stuff online. Like this:
A giveaway at Prairie Flower Farm--a beautiful nativity scene.

Click on the picture to enter the giveaway. (Or better yet, increase my chances by not. :) Just kidding!

I'll try to be back soon and share some more fun stuff I've been finding and doing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sweeties

I am making these scrumptious sweeties for Thanksgiving dinner. You remember them, don't you? I originally posted the recipe on December 8, 2007. :) It may be that long since I've made them. They are so good...I've got to space out the calories!

We are sharing Thanksgiving dinner with some dear, dear friends. Formerly, we went to church together; since then the Lord has taken us in different directions (location wise). Our hearts are knitted together though and we are so looking forward to spending time with them.

Do you love chocolate and peanut butter? Then you are in for a treat with these sweeties!
Plan ahead because they need to chill.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sweeties
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
3 c. confectioners sugar
5 dozen pretzel twists
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1 T. vegetable oil

Beat peanut butter and butter together. Mix in sugar until well combined. Shape into 1-inch balls. Press onto pretzels. Place on wax papered baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

In heavy pan, melt chips and oil. Dip peanut butter ball into the chocolate while holding onto the pretzel. Place back onto baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Makes 5 dozen.

Oh, so yummy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Give-Aways...but not by me

Recently I've found a new blog I like to read. It's Song of My Heart. And it turns out that she is having a fun give-away with some natural soaps and such. Run right over and check it out.

Also, over at Portabellopixie she is in the giving spirit! She is having the 12 days of Christmas giveaways and let me tell you...the give aways are fantastic! Easy to enter, you just leave a comment on her blog.

Feel free to share blogs that you enjoy reading...I'm the kind of gal that will go and check them out. It's fun to find new blogs. And if you know of ones that are having give-aways--well that makes it all the more fun!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The God Chronicles

A blog I often read, Titus 2:3-5, hosts The God Chronicles--where she tells something that happened: how God answered prayer, how God works in our lives, etc. She invites others to do the same. I love this idea and wanted to share some of my own God stories.

Yesterday I was trying to get ready to go scrapbooking with some friends at church. I had been busy all day, taught the kids, baked two double batches of banana bread, made a dessert for the scrap and pretty much felt all out of energy. The thought of getting my scrapbook stuff out and ready to go, did NOT appeal to me at ALL.
<Enter selfishness.> However I was going to be dropping off my oldest daughter at a friend's house for a pizza party and then picking her up--scrapping in between. So canceling would have affected us both, not just me.
<Exit selfishness.> I started pulling items out of the craft closet and sorting what I wanted to take. Then I realized my adhesive was gone, completely out.
<Re-enter selfishness.> That's it, I thought, the last straw. I'm not going, I'm getting into my pajamas and going to bed.
<Enter God.> Opening one more drawer revealed a new package of adhesive hiding under the other items! Just a small God story, however it made me smile to think that He cares about the little details of our lives.
<Narrators notes: God is always there. Selfishness was crowding Him.>

The second one I want to share is how I love the way He weaves just the right Scripture, sermon and study at the perfect time! One example:: I signed up for Ken Boa's daily Scripture sent to my email inbox and I can't tell you how many times what I've studied for my morning Bible study directly correlates to the Scripture of the day. :) God reminders! Whenever it happens, my joy increases and I'm reminded of God's sovereignty and faithfulness to us.

Be sure to visit Titus 2:3-5's monthly God Chronicles to read more stories about how God is working in the lives of others.

Sorry I haven't been able to figure out how to make my links show up in my posts. Remember I told you about it here? Well, I don't know how to fix it. When you mouse over the words, the links will show up red, but only after you mouse over them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Unit Study Links

Some Christmas Lesson Linkage

Christmas Unit Study
A Christmas Carol Unit Study--I'm really excited to have found this resource as Dickens' Christmas Carol is our next literature club book.
Easy Fun School has a large collection of Christmas Activities and Lesson links
Cindy at Oklahoma Homeschool has a neat Christmas unit study divided into 4 weeks. There are some resources that you can access online; others would need to be obtained through the library or bought.

My girls and I have some wonderful Christmas crafts in the making! I can't share those ideas with you though in case you are on the recipient list! I'll take pictures and share them later.

Do you have good ideas for teaching your children during the month of December? Bethany and I will be learning about Christmas around the world. We are both excited! Share what you are doing, won't you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who needs regular shampoo?

This post may cost me a few readers...or at least it will make my regular readers (all 3 of you) shake your heads in bewilderment. I am trying the baking soda hair cleansing method and the vinegar rinse.

First a couple reasons, then I'll share the method (easy peasy).
1. Very inexpensive. Probably enough said about this reason...shampoo and hair care products are incredibly expensive.
2. Natural, no chemicals.
3. Wanted to see if it made a difference in my girls' hair. Their hair tends to be dry and can be frizzy. We are buying more and more products, trying all kinds of different ones to achieve soft, healthy hair. It's all too much!!

I need simple and effective. So this is what we're trying:
Baking Soda Hair Cleansing
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 cup warm water

Pour over hair, massage into scalp. Rinse out well.

Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon
1 cup warm water

Pour over hair and rinse out well.

* Your hair will not smell like vinegar, trust me. Oddly upon smelling the vinegar, I was transported back to my grandma's kitchen dying Easter eggs. {good memories} aside, I sure didn't want to come out of the shower smelling like one. :)
* There is no lather with the baking soda, which for some reason makes us think we aren't getting our hair clean. However, suds don't have any bearing on the cleanliness.
* From many of the articles and personal accounts that I've read online, the ratio of baking soda to water and vinegar to water, varies and will need to be tweaked for your particular hair type.

I will have to post an update in a few weeks after we've done this for a while. Hopefully our hair will be healthy and luscious. I have read though that your hair will go through a detox period where it may seem more oily. For my girls, that will be great (because they have such dry hair). We'll have to see how it goes for me.

Here are some links that deal with baking soda and vinegar hair care.
Keeper of the Home talks about her hair adventure.
Sorta Crunchy has a great guest post about the whys and hows of going shampoo free.

Certainly there are many more links I could give you, but these two will start you out, along with the traditional 'google' search. Let me know if you go shampoo free!
Go to We are That Family for more Works for Me Wednesday posts!

Edited January 12, 2010
I keep forgetting to tell you how this hair adventure went. Well, it was hair raising, that's for sure! The first couple days I was sold. My hair was manageable, clean and well, good. Then it became not-so-good. It seemed to go downhill quickly. My hair was NOT clean and gross. I could go on with more details, but just think--not washing your hair for 5 days straight. ewww.
I see benefits in using the baking soda and vinegar once in a while to clarify your hair. But this sure didn't work for me. Is it working for anyone else?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Harvest Fruit Bars

These bars are delicious! I haven't made them in several years, however every fall I think of them. My good friend Julie gave me the recipe for these bars, in fact the recipe card is in her handwriting. I can't help but get a little teary eyed making them. They were a hit at a get together we had yesterday. We got together with Julie's husband and 3 kids along with Julie's sister and parents. Julie's sister owns a tumbling gym and she invited us all for an afternoon of jumping, running and eating! We all had a great time.

Make up a batch of these for any fall get together.
Harvest Fruit Bars

6 oz. or more diced dried fruit (ie cranberries, pineapple, raisins, apple, coconut, etc.)
1 cup chopped or mashed bananas (about 2)
2/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cinnamon or apple pie spice (more needed at bottom of recipe)
3/4 c. butter, softened (original 1 cup)
1/2 c. brown sugar (original 1 cup)
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. quick oats, uncooked
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside stirring occasionally.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add flour, oats and 1/2 t. cinnamon. Mix until crumbly.
Reserve 3/4 cup of oat mixture for topping.
Press remaining oat mixture onto bottom of 13x9 baking pan.
Bake 15 minutes.
Spread fruit evenly over crust. Sprinkle reserved oat mixture and nuts evenly over fruit.
Bake 16-20 more minutes. Cool completely. Cut into bars.

It makes me smile when I read Julie's recipe cards. She liked to cut down on fats and sugars whenever possible. So this recipe has several reductions with the original amounts in parenthesis. I've used the reduced amounts with fantastic results.


p.s. ever since I changed the background to my blog, my links within my posts are not showing up the color they are supposed to. I've tried to fix this and can't seem to figure out how. If you know how to fix it, feel free to contact me or leave it in the comments. For now, when you mouse over the text that is linked it will show up another color.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The Lord appoints the number of the stars
And calls them each by name. (Psalm 147:4)

This verse was in my email inbox unopened until just this very minute, from Ken Boa's Daily Scripture. I love it when what I'm studying and learning on my own in God's Word lines up perfectly with the Scriptures that come to my inbox (from Ken Boa's site and K-Love's encouraging Word). God is so good.

My big revelation this morning was that it's not so much that I'm so special that God has the hairs of my head numbered (Matthew 10:26-33) but that He is incomprehensible. His knowledge, His sovereignty, His power, His omniscience,'s about Him, friends. And the above verse confirms it, He knows the stars BY NAME, the stars that are so numerous that we cannot count them. He knows the fact...He designated the number.

And the sparrows, those little sparrows, He knows them too and neither the stars nor the sparrows are as special as mankind whom He made in HIS image. Yes, I am special to God, yes, He knows the number of hairs on my head and knows when each one falls (and when each one turns gray), and yes, this makes me fall on my face before my incomprehensible God.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meltdowns

One of the new favorite sayings around our house is in response to the question: "Where's Mom?" The response: "She's on the roof having a meltdown." I think this is (mis) quote from "Horton Hears A Who" when the dad is on the roof having a meltdown.

Not sure what's causing my recent craziness, but I'm just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to do the next, right thing. If you are feeling a bit whacko, you are welcome to join'll find me on the roof, where today it's cloudy with a chance of meltdowns.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some go out, some come in

Fun computer time this weekend with my favorite teenager at my side! We (really she) figured out how to change my blog template with something other than the regular blogger templates. I like the finished look and am now getting used to 3 columns. (Seriously, who, other than me realizes that there are now 3 columns instead of two??)

And to add to the blogging fun, I went through my list of blog favorites (in my bookmarks) and deleted ones that I no longer read or that no longer update their blog. Interestingly, I also went through my medicine shelf and spice shelf and threw away outdated, no longer used medicine, vitamins and spices. But, I suppose that's another post.

I wanted to share some new blogs that I've bookmarked in my favorites::
  • The first one is none other than my favorite teenager! She's a new blogger. So go on over and encourage the blossoming writer...and then leave her a comment reminding her to get to her schoolwork!! :)
  • Simple Mom is the second new one. I have to come back to this one, but at first glance (okay, first 30 minute perusal) it looks like I'm going to enjoy it! I'll try to remember to let you know what I think as I have more time to look around.
Okay, now to finish up a good weekend with some family time--watching Extreme Home Makeover. :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread

I wish I had a picture of this beautiful bread to post here with the recipe. But I don't, I think it gets eaten too quickly! :)

I make this delicious dough in the bread machine, then transfer it to a loaf pan to bake it. I like the traditional loaf and one day I'd like to have a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook attachment. However, for now I'm content, really content with what I have.

Now, here's the recipe for you...

Homemade bread recipe
1 1/8 c. hot water
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
2 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 T. gluten
1/2 T. lecithin granules
1/2 t. salt
2 t. (heaping) yeast

Put ingredients in bread machine in order recommended by manufacturer. Set on dough cycle. When complete, shape, put dough in loaf pan and put in cold oven. Turn on to 350 degrees. Bake 23-27 minutes, or until done.

This bread is good. And when it's baking in the oven, the yummy smells wafting from your oven will make everyone's mouth water. Watch out, the loaf won't last long.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sweet Potato Muffins

A dear friend gave me this recipe years ago. She had graciously baked these delicious, moist muffins and brought us a batch. I had to have the recipe. And then I proceeded to make the recipe maybe 3 times over the last many years. Each time I make them, we all rave about how yummy they are. I really should make them more often, much more often.

The most surprising fact is that the muffins are made with sweet potatoes. You'll never know, trust me. So run and make them. And make a batch for a friend, she'll appreciate it, trust me.

Sweet Potato Muffins
3 c. self rising flour--(to make own: 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 t. salt for each cup flour)
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine these ingredients in a mixing bowl

4 eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil (I cut down to 3/4 c. and still plenty moist)
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat together in 2nd mixing bowl.

2 c. mashed cooked sweet potatoes--stir into liquid ingredients, then stir the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, just until moistened.

1 c. raisins (can use less)
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Fold in raisins and nuts.

Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Healthy Sour Cream

It's not a hidden fact that dairy upsets a lot of people's stomachs. Our household is not exempt from the stomach distress. I've been searching and experimenting with different things...for example, for years and years now we only drink rice milk or almond milk. Quite tasty, in fact my younger two children don't like the taste of regular cow's milk.

So what to do about sour cream?? We enjoy a generous dollop on top of baked potatoes or tacos, who doesn't? A couple years ago, I followed a recipe that called for plain yogurt to be drained overnight and then used as sour cream. I'm trying that again for tomorrow night's supper. (okay I just looked at the time and it's "tonight's supper". )

Here are some recipes/instructions I found online for Sour Cream out of Yogurt:
Ehow: How to make sour cream from plain yogurt.
Yogurt, the healthy food substitute.

Drats! I just started to strain my yogurt and wondered why it was falling through the sieve at a rapid's non-fat! From what I read on the above sites, the yogurt must be 1% or higher.

Okay, maybe a quick trip to the grocery will be in order tomorrow morning!
{Just a side note: I want to start making my own yogurt's been YEARS since I did it. We liked it, I just got out of the habit of doing it.}

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crock Pot Pinto Beans

I've not met a bean that I liked.

Does that surprise you seeing that the title of my post is "Crock Pot Pinto Beans"?

Well, my hunny likes beans and beans are good for a person, really good. So, I'm eating beans; not enjoying them, just eating them. Eating them for my health, for our budget and for hmmm, can't think of another reason.

Up to this point, I've been buying cans of beans--pinto beans, black beans, etc. I'm ready to try my hand at making them myself. Making them myself for the betterment of our budget and ummm, can't think of another reason.

So, here goes. I'm trying a recipe that I found here at Cooking Claire. [Disclaimer: I do not know Claire except that her recipe came up when I googled "Crock pot pinto beans". Since that was handy, I'm trying her recipe.]

I'll update tomorrow and let you know how it went.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grape Expectations

Although the kitchen looks like a tornado went through, I thought I'd tell you all that I made grape juice today...27 quarts of grape juice! :) We really did love it last year and since my grape jelly didn't set up properly, I didn't want to brave it this year.

I love seeing all the jars on the counter. Makes me feel like a Proverbs 31 woman...
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Okay, so I didn't plant the vineyard and I didn't go out in a merchant ship to retrieve my grapes, but you get the point. :) I imagine I might feel the same way if I get the kitchen cleaned up and keep the rest of the house organized--you think?? I'm thankful for the weekend. My plans must include getting the house in order and catching up on clutter. The clutter has sneaked its way in when I was taking care of my sick little girl, or maybe when I was updating my blog or even possibly when I was catching a nap. The reality is that it's here and it needs to GO!

Declutter plan:
  • finish the summer/winter clothes swap
  • take too small clothes to "Once Upon A Child" tomorrow
  • Declutter the school room (where does all the paper come from?)
  • Clean off every surface in the kitchen and living room, only leaving the things that belong there (what an idea??)
  • Put every piece of remaining clothes in its proper place
I'd better stop there--that's enough to keep this Proverbs 31 gal busy!
What's got you busy this weekend?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When life gives you grapes

Well, life didn't actually give me grapes....I bought a half bushel of the most delicious concord grapes. Keep reading to see what I'm doing with them.

Today has been quite a day! My 7 year old daughter has been sick since Saturday...she is finally on the mend, but still has a terrible cough. My hunny and I are exhausted from being up nights with her. God is faithful and I'm so thankful for His watchcare over us.
I Peter 5:7 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you."
I read an encouraging post today from Jenni at Life is Not a Cereal. It's about what happens when your day doesn't go as planned...and even more than that, it goes downhill! I need to print out her suggestions and keep them handy! Good advice!

My order of concord grapes came in yesterday, so I'm getting ready to start making the grape juice. I'm using this recipe from Recipe Zaar. Last year's juice was SO good and we are all looking forward to it again. I'm debating on whether or not to make jelly. Last year it was a LOT of work because: 1. I didn't know what I was doing and 2. I didn't have a good method or materials for squeezing the grapes. And to top it off, I didn't follow the directions and the jelly didn't set up!
You'll have to tune in tomorrow to get the "Did she make jelly?" update.

Which brings me to a fun report: I know have 2 followers! What fun! Thanks you two!!
Off to make grape juice...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Julie Bogart of Brave Writer

I had the privilege of hearing Julie Bogart speak at a recent homeschool support group. She is a fantastic, encouraging speaker. Even though I've heard her before, I still left feeling motivated, enlightened and equipped with skills to use with my kids.

Here are a few nuggets I walked away with::
  • be aware of your child's feelings about writing--does even the mention of writing bring tears and frustration? We want our children to have success in their school work (and in their life). Make sure you connect with your child emotionally, relationally, because writing is a personal endeavor.
  • If you have be critical of the child's writing in the past and have hurt his/her feelings, start by apologizing to your child. This will be the first step in your strategy for encouraging your young writer.
  • Honor the child. Encourage each attempt at writing. Find one good thing to praise. Don't immediately look at the misspelled words, missed punctuation and run-on sentences. Look at the content.
  • Ask questions that draw out "more" from the child. For example: if the child writes "Rollerblading is cool." Ask him "What makes rollerblading cool?"
  • Writing thrives on letting some of the problems go. Only work on 1 or 2 things at a time. Don't overwhelm or discourage the child. Writing can be exhausting--just the physical aspects of writing; however when you also are demanding creativity in word choice it can be way too much for the child.
  • Writing is 'breathing' and 'moving'. Type the paragraph (rough draft) with each sentence on its own line. Cut the sentences apart and have the child manipulate them to see if a different order would be more interesting or sound better.
  • Good writing takes time. 4 weeks per writing assignment from start to finish is a good time frame.
  • For young children, write/transcribe what they say. They will learn that writing is for shared enjoyment. Read it to the family at supper time.
On the Brave Writer website and Julie's blog you can learn more about the classes that she offers and the techniques she has used in homeschooling her own children as well as used in her own professional writing career. She knows her stuff and is excited to share it with others.

I'm praying that I can implement some of Julie's ideas and certainly her philosophy on teaching writing. Brave Writer works for me!

To read more "Works for Me Wednesday" posts, visit "We are THAT Family".

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Preschool Activities

Today I need to be busy finding and planning activities for my active 4 year old son. His two big sisters are 2nd grade and 8th grade, so he needs to have activities that he can do 'solo' while I am working with them on school. Sometimes he is able to be included in the schooling, especially with my 2nd grader. However, he really needs something of his own.

So, here are my finds so far and I'm busy printing and cutting--hoping to be ready for the upcoming school week. {The past few weeks have brought frustration and hair-tearing from the momma. I cannot and do not want to repeat these times. And we all know "If you keep doing what you've been doing, you are going to keep getting what you've been getting."} Here's to doing something different and praying for different results!

Walking by the Way--Preschool Activity Bag
Shirley's Preschool Activities has lots of preschool worksheets and activities has a listing of preschool activities and printables from different sites

This next link has nothing to do with preschool activities, however I wanted to link to it because I think it's a neat idea!
"I have to say" is one of the blogs I read frequently. Look at this tutorial for reusable snack bags. I really want to make some of these. I think a beginning sewer like me should be able to make them, right??

Hopefully I'll be back to update you on the week. Feel free to share ideas on how you keep your preschooler active without losing your mind.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Thrifted Mirror

I've been looking for a big mirror to go over the girls' dresser. I finally found it at a garage sale on Saturday. :) $10 for this huge mirror!

It's slightly bigger than the dresser and my Hunny mounted it on the wall. Hopefully I will have the time to re-do the dresser to match the mirror and the rest of the room.

We are looking for the right lamps--the one in there now is much too short. The room really commands two tall lights. Not because of it's size (it's a rather small room). No, I'm thinking one tall lamp on the dresser and one on Marissa's desk (in picture below). Do you have suggestions?

The room still needs some work, however for having both girls in this room...I think we're doing well. I have a curtain that goes over the closet opening and slides back and forth. The hooks need replaced and that can be rehung. Eventually we'd like to paint the room a more neutral color and Marissa wants red accents. :) But for now, I'm content with my garage sale find.

Friday, September 25, 2009

fun date with my little man

This morning Trenton sweetly asked me if I would leave the girls home with daddy and take just him out...just the two of us. He had big plans of eating supper and bringing home some for the rest of the family. I told him we would ask Daddy, and then I hugged him tightly for asking his momma out on a date! :)

The day lasted longer than we'd anticipated and we had homemade pizza for supper. Trenton, though, didn't forget about our date. He asked Daddy about it, saying that he and I could go out and bring ice cream back for everyone. So, he got ready--put on his cowboy boots with his shorts and we were out the door. He actually ran back in because he forgot to give his sister Bethany a "big hug and kiss". I silently thought about what a sweet charmer he is!

On the way to Walmart, he planned his purchases. Chocolate mint was a necessity because it's Bethany's favorite. He rode on the back of the cart, like any good cowboy and jumped off whenever I slowed the cart down to a medium roll.

We swung by the bikes, at his request and he found something that he really needed. I had to pull out the "When you are on a date with Mommy, you don't argue with her!" card. {see photo below} In the end, the helmet stayed along with the sword, big toy chain saw and half a dozen other items he saw as I sped out of there!

Finally, we made it over to the ice cream, picked out our treasures and high tailed it home. We had fun conversation in the van, especially when I saw him drumming with his licorice. :) On the way into the house, as he was holding the door, he asked me what it meant to be a gentleman. You are doing it son. Thanks for a fun date and you had me home by 8:30, delightful.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Handwriting Practice

My Marissa has thoroughly enjoyed completing "A Reason for Handwriting" series. She stretched out the last book and is now finished. She enjoys handwriting and has decided to make her own book with her own practice sheets. Technically, as an 8th grader, she is past the point of learning and she just wants to keep up practicing. I told her that her regular school work is 'practice' too, however, since doing a more formal handwriting practice appeals to her, who am I to stop her?? ;)

While researching online for resources, I thought I'd link to them here for future reference and for others who may be looking for something similar.

First I found Handwriting for Kids. This site has lots of resources.
Kidzone features several printables for cursive.
ABCTeach charts, desk tapes, practice sheets
Home Education Resources has a wonderful collection of practice sheets and charts. Their practice sheets have text from a certain topic--mushrooms, snakes, flowers, etc. The student copies the information--learning while practicing cursive. They also have blank template sheets.
Donna Young (a site I love for MANY reasons) has a great collection of manuscript and cursive sheets.
I found a nice pdf template for handwriting practice on Scroll down nearly to the bottom of the page.

If I find more, I'll edit this post. I have to share the computer now. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reading...instead of cleaning

This week I've been catching up on blog reading and wanted to share some goodies with you. I've also been reading some books from our church library that have been very insightful and convicting. All this reading has made it hard for me to get my cleaning done (imagine that!?) Balance...I need balance!

Had to throw in this cute picture of T. He feel asleep after sitting in his room for getting in trouble.
This is what I'd do too if someone sent me to my room! :)

Anyway, here's some of what I've been reading...maybe you'll enjoy it too (just don't forget to keep up on the housework!)
  • Just today a friend linked to this site I Am Second on Facebook. Amazing testimonies about God transforming hearts and lives.
  • Lelia from Write from the Heart has some good stuff to say about how we dress (and how we allow our kids to dress). I just found her blog and can see God working in the everyday circumstances of her life.
  • Are you looking for a beautiful unique gift for a newborn? Look no further, Naomi makes the perfect silkies. Visit her site for pictures and products. (She's my real life friend which makes me grin!)
  • Living with Lindsay has a great post about learning to embroider. Lots of links and ideas. I'm gearing up for starting Christmas gifts. :)
A picture of T picking red raspberries at a friend's berry farm.
Along with his sisters, he was a diligent worker. I made freezer jam with our bounty!

From our church library, I am reading Made for His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith by Alistair Begg. Here are some of the chapter titles: Spiritual Fitness in a Flabby Generation, Prayer That is Larger Than Ourselves, Sacrifice: Wholehearted Commitment to God's Kingdom and Relationships: A Marriage that Pleases God. In the Introduction the question is asked, "Who am I trying to please?" May I say with Paul and the writer of this book: "I make it my goal to please Him" (2 Cor. 5:9)
Hebrews 13:21 "May He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

What have you been reading lately?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Galloping the Globe week 2

I didn't have time to blog last week because Bethany and I started Galloping the Globe! We had a good week of introduction--mostly of maps, globes, longitude and latitude, etc. I borrowed much of what I did last week from Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations blog (this will take you to the page I used for our first week). While you are there (at Homeschool Creations) take a look at all the other Galloping the Globe or geography helps--and lots of other cool stuff, she has. Really, if I ever met her in real life, I'd give her a big squeeze for creating and posting her homeschool journey. I've benefited so much from her resources.

Now, on to week 2 and Explorers! Check out these resources I found:
Cyber-sleuth kids has a section on Explorers Facts, Worksheets, and Printables
Edhelper has a link for explorers. The coolest thing I found was the pdf timeline of explorers. :)
At Proverbs 22:6 Academy, I found Explorer trading cards (pdf downloads).
Funschool has a fun word search pdf.
DLTK has a neat Dora the Explorer handwriting paper. {What's a study of explorers without Dora?} I think I'll have Bethany write a story about herself as an explorer towards the end of the study. (writing prompt from GtG book)

WOW! We are going to have a fun week. :) Next week it's off to China...I'd better get her passport finished. I'll post a picture of it when I finish it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mixed, Mixed Up, or Just Right

Several weeks ago at one of the first soccer practices for Bethany's U8 team, the girls were in two lines running a drill. Two girls would go up, dribbling and passing the soccer ball until one girl would shoot the ball into the goal. While the two girls were running, the rest of the girls were...well...talking and goofing off. Try as I might, I had difficulty keeping order. "Cheer for your teammates. Watch what they are doing." Other pleas went unheard as they continued to talk and even nit-pick at each other. I continued to monitor their conversation and my ears perked up when I heard one of the girls ask my Bethany, "Are you mixed?" Here is how the conversation proceeded from there:
Bethany: "What?"
other girl: "Are you mixed?"
Bethany puzzled: "What?"
other girl, getting slightly perturbed: "Are you MIXED?"
Bethany: "No, I'm Bethany."
other girl: "Isn't your dad black?"
Bethany: "What?"
other girl: "Your dad is black, isn't he?"
Bethany: "No...he's not black. He's brown."

Our children have never classified people according to their color. In fact, if you ask my kids to describe someone, the color of their skin doesn't usually enter into their description although they may say that someone is "darker skinned" or "lighter skinned" than they are. They will describe what the person is wearing, what his/her hair looked like, tall/short, thin/thicker, etc. Our kids obviously aren't "color blind" in the sense that they know their colors (red, brown, yellow, black, white) and they can see that all of us have some sort of color on our skin. I'm not sure if I'm explaining it well here, but I have the thoughts in my head. :)

Our identity and our children's identities are not wrapped up in the color of our skin, but in who God says we are. In our home, people are not a race or a class, but people who need love and care and mostly need the Savior. Those values transcend outside our home. We treat people like people. Philippians 2: 2-4
...complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Bethany didn't seem bothered at all by the encounter with her teammate. Her teammate, on the other hand, as made several other comments about the color of her own skin, her father's, her mother's and so on. My heart goes out to her, as I want her to know that when we look at her we don't see her color so much as her personality and her character. And more importantly, what does God see when He looks at her?

I pray that I will be able to communicate the love of Christ to these little girls and that seeds will be planted for His glory.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers

This morning Trenton and I were having a meaningful conversation in the bathroom while getting ready for the day. He was telling me almost word for word about the recent Pooh and Tigger dvd he watched. Apparently Tigger and Pooh (and the gang) are going to the North Pole to find Santa. At some point Pooh spots Santa and proclaims, "There he is." To which Tigger replied, "I told you it was Santa. I told you so!"

I gently told Trenton that "I told you so" is not a kind thing to say. I went on, "God wants us to be kind to each other. And the way we use our words is important."

Trenton: "I don't think Tigger knows God."
Mom: "You may be right. What should we do?"
Trenton: "I could write a letter {and he starts holding an imaginary pencil and making writing motions with his little 4 year old left hand...yep, he's a lefty!}. The mail man could pick up the letter and go into the movies and give it to Tigger. What if Tigger doesn't believe what the letter says?"
Mom: "Well, our job is to tell people (and Disney characters) about Jesus."
Trenton: "Yeah, and when Tigger opens the letter it will say, 'This is true. God wants us to be kind.' "

What a sweet boy! He loves to solve problems and he is a great thinker. (And to be fair...and rhyming, he can also be a big stinker!) I pray that God will give me wisdom, discernment and strength as my Hunny and I seek to raise our kids for His glory.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Helper of the Year Award...

goes to Marissa! Today she helped me declutter and clean the craft closet. A huge job, let me tell you. Hopefully tomorrow I will post pictures, except we forgot to take one of the closet before we took EVERYTHING out of it and put it in the girls' room. As Marissa said, "Mom, it's best we don't think about what it did look like!" And she's right.

We took out two bags of recycle trash and took two bags plus some extras to Goodwill. Now that's some major decluttering!

I've been needing to reorganize the school room again, but I've been seriously dragging my feet. Today I figured out why--much of the stuff that migrates to the school room belongs in the craft closet. And the closet's major state of disarray had me overwhelmed and bogged down. I knew I couldn't take anything out of the school room because it had no where to go. Now, thanks to the perseverance and help of my sweetie, we have a clean, organized closet. Thank you, thank you, {taking our bow}.

Marissa and I talked about how if something needs put away and the place where it goes is full, cluttered or hard to get to...the something will NOT be put away. It will be stacked, laid, tossed aside until the family can now longer enjoy their living space. (It doesn't take too much for me to reach the point of too much visual clutter, but somehow I keep letting it get built up.)

Tomorrow (I suppose it's really 'today'), I plan on digging into the school room. My goals are to
  • make room in the filing cabinet--which will entail throwing some things away. It's just way too crowded in there.
  • file the two piles of paper that are waiting for room in the file cabinet.
  • clear away any loose items--throw away if possible, containerize if I must keep it.
  • make sure every thing has a 'home' and make sure all homes are easily accessible to the ones responsible for putting things away.
Hope I can get Marissa to help me tomorrow!

Edited to add pictures of the before and after. I so wish we'd taken a "before" of the closet. Just imagine the closet brimming to the fullest with all this stuff! {dreadful}

all the stuff on the girls' floor

the finished closet--clean and organized

Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon to see what else I can get organized!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let the learning commence!

Our home school year officially started yesterday. Over the years we've done different beginnings, however last year and this year we chose a 'slow start'. We begin with two subjects and every 3-5 school days we add another subject. This gives us all time to practice the schedule and routine as well as savor the summer days. I know that we are teaching and learning all the time and that's one of the things I love, love, love about homeschooling.

I need to take a "first day" picture, but it will now be called the "first week" picture! :) I'll post it as soon as I am able. Have a told you that we are now homeschooling 8th grade, 2nd grade and a 4 year old (doing preschool). My 4 year old loves to do 'school' work so I've come up with some activities just right for him. Tomorrow I'll share what I'm using with each girl...I am looking forward to a fun year!

The biggest thing to tackle is getting on schedule and keeping a routine! I want to be balanced somewhere between being too rigid and being too lax. That's hard!

Well, in keeping with the routine, I must go start supper. Both girls have soccer games tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Perfect Peace

Yesterday's sermon was about Mark 15:1-8 and the women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body with perfume and spices. In our class (after the sermon) we talked about the obstacles the women faced:: the heavy stone across the entrance, the soldiers who were guarding the tomb, possible grave robbers, and of course, their grief over Jesus' death. God graciously took care of each of these obstacles with the miraculous resurrection of our Savior.

The next question was "What obstacles do I face when coming to Jesus?" wow...this is a blog not a novel, I'm not sure I have room to list all my obstacles. I don't usually have all the obstacles at one time (God's grace, I'm sure). Some of my obstacles include:: the heaviness and guilt of my sin, the others in my life (past and present) whom I allow to emotionally weigh me down and steal my joy, and my independence--my lack of desperation for Him.

A good friend in the class mentioned the verse below (Isaiah 26:3) as a "grounding" verse of promise in her life. I've been meditating and thinking on this verse ever since she quoted it.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on You:
because he trusts in You.
Isn't that a wonderful promise?!! A promise with a condition that as I trust in Him and keep my focus on Him, He will keep me in perfect peace.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm Back

Hopefully this time for good. I like writing--I just haven't had enough brain space and energy to do it. I've always enjoyed readers and I've probably lost all but one (thanks sweet Tara!). Hopefully, some will return with regular posts. How can one expect them to read....when there is nothing new to read.

Here's to regular posts, folks. And here is to relaxing on the "poor man's hammock" (as said by my hunny!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's with the Once a Week Blogging?

This once a week blogging will never do. I have things to say; things you may want to hear. Well, I can only move forward--hoping to blog more this coming week. For now, here's some of what I've been thinking and discovering...
  • The Well-Planned Day--this planner looks practical and handy. I'm leaning heavily towards buying it before August 12th (when the sale ends).
  • Tonight I'm enjoying a quiet evening at home, while my Hunny has the kids at soccer practice. I'm co-coaching Bethany's team, and we have practices Mondays and Wednesdays. I'm loving the solitude.
  • My Hunny finished the homemade tree house (or stilt house as I called it today...Marissa laughed at me). Next he is going to sand it and possibly paint it. I am going to make a canvas 'roof' for it to help keep out the sun. The kids love it.
  • I've been working on the girls' homeschool portofolios as I meet with the homeschool assessor on Wednesday.
  • After Wednesday, I must work hard on the girls' notification for the upcoming school year. I hope to start August 24 with one or two subjects, then add more the next week and more the week after until we are in full swing.
  • I am working on the kids' chore list and schedule. I'm open to ideas on the chore list. I'd like to find free printable chore cards with pictures to make it easier for the youngest two.
Well, I think that's it for now...especially if I want to get things done before the crew gets home.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Time Together

Tonight I had some treasured time alone with my little guy. He was so excited and told the rest of the family, "Mom and I are going on a bike ride together. We are going to have Mommy/Trenton time." Isn't that the sweetest?! (He did add that anyone was welcome to join us, which I thought was sensitive and compassionate.)

He rode his bike and I walked behind him around the neighborhood. He had such a good time. He would stop every once in a while and wait for me to catch up with him. He even held my hand for a short time, showing me that he could ride with one hand. He also made sure I was doing okay and tried to ride slower so I could keep up. :)

Being that he is my only boy, I find his personality and mannerisms fascinating. He wants to protect his momma and sisters, he loves to solve problems, he displays his muscles by carrying whatever needs to be carried, he slays the dragons (ants and spiders) and hugs me when I need it. Amazing. God has created him wonderfully.

Psalm 139: 14 "I praise You for {Trenton} is fearfully and wonderfully made, Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

My girls are special too, just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Busy Summer Days

I've been absent from blogging--mostly having busy summer days, but also little bit of 'writer's block'. I have things I want to say but can't quite get the words formed and typed.

Here's a brief run-down of our summer since I last posted:

Marissa had a friend here for a week from Michigan--it was a great week of reconnecting between long time friends. I loved to hear their giggling and chatting. I made this welcome basket for Sarah. I'd talked about this basket here in this post...and I love the outcome.

My cousin and his wife visited for a few days. Before they came, we prayed that we would be good hosts and that we would have good conversation. God answered our prayers and our visit was delightful.

We celebrated two birthdays~mine and Trenton's. Good family times.

I've been reading some books from our church library:
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancy
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments by Kara Durbin

And one I purchased:
That's My Son: How Moms can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson

All three good books that I hope to comment on in upcoming posts.

I'm also trying to prepare for this upcoming school year for the girls and trying to come up with creative ideas for the 4 year old boy. :)

I mentioned my friend Kristin in a previous post, please pray for her and her family as they go through the loss of sweet Joanna Claire.

Lastly, I've had something for the last 3 days that I think might have been food poisoning. I'm not for sure, but I've been in pain and haven't felt well. I hope I'm getting over it and just slowly recovering.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pulling the Weeds and Fixing the Stinkies

So many common tasks in life bring out hidden attitudes or problems in my life. I'm not sure if you've ever noticed this phenomenon or not. I'll give you a gardening example and then to close, I'll tell you how I fix the stinkies. Seeing how it's summer and we planted a little garden, I've been tending to it. Tasks like pulling weeds, staking up tomato plants, and thinning lettuce plants have been part of my gardening. As I'm performing these tasks, I often think how much they relate to my own life. Pulling weeds = weeding out bad attitudes and habits, staking plants = asking for help and accountability with problem areas and thinning plants = removing some of the even good things in order for the best things to flourish.

Weeds, I've observed, can be surface roots and evasive ground cover or they can be deep rooted and tall. Either way, they need to be pulled and sometimes dug up. Weeds in my life are the same way. Some are more surface and don't take too much effort to pull them out of my life and get back on track. Others are rooted deep and take much more time and effort to pull/dig out.

Staking the tomato plants helps them to not fall over making the tomatoes all mushy and rotten. My friends who pray for me and lift me up certainly help me not to fall over damaging the hard work I've put into my character and life.

Lastly, thinning plants may seem like a sad thing--pulling up a perfectly good plant--why would someone do that? Well, if the plants are growing too closely together, none of them will grow well. Same with me, I may be doing lots of good things, but if it's too much, none of my activities will be done well. Reminds me of a quote I heard a long time ago: "Say no to the good, so that you can say yes to the best." This lesson is a bit harder to learn than saying no to the bad...that's actually easier for me; it's more cut and dry. Thinning the good is a practice in my life that requires leaning on the Lord for guidance and trusting my hunny's advice and wisdom.

As promised here's how I fixed the stinkies--what stinkies you ask? Well you know how after so many washings and dryings clothes and towels take on a smell of their own? This smell is much different than the Tide you opened and sniffed in the aisle of Wal*mart and it's certainly NOT a smell you want to sniff as you dry off from a shower. After much trial and error, I've started using white vinegar in my rinse cycle and WAALAA! stinkies gone. (insert smile here). Again, not sure about you, but after I found this little trick, then I needed to remember to actually put the vinegar in during the rinse cycle. My solution: fill the handy-dandy Downy ball with the miracle liquid and toss it in the washer after the clothes.

Now if only fixing the stinkies in my heart were as easy...

Go to We are That Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips and hints.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It is possible

Before we came to my grandma's house this time, I wondered if it was possible for me to come here and not partake in the yummy grandma treats she always has. When I was growing up, we lived right up the lane from my grandparents, so visits to their home was commonplace. In fact, when I was very young, my dad, my older sister and I lived with my grandparents (and aunt) for several years. I consider their home my home and they wouldn't want it any other way.

My grandma is the typical sweet doting grandma. She loves to get food that we love to eat--sweets and otherwise. Ham sandwiches, doritos and pickles were my favorite lunch components...topped off with Chips-A-Hoy cookies for dessert. Seriously, my mouth is watering just writing about it.

So, now that I'm not doing sugar or flour I wondered how in the world I would stay away from all the fun foods. Would it even be possible? Little Hershey candy bars in baskets, M&M's in little bowls, pop in the's not going to be easy. For the sake of my health and well being, I needed to stay true to my goals. The first night went well. I think I was too tired to do anything other than get unpacked and go to bed. The next morning my plan was to not even eat the first bite of cookie or candy. I stuck to my regular routine and I made it through the day (without even feeling deprived!) Yesterday was day 2 and still going strong. I did have one small scoop of ice cream after supper, but that was it. I've also walked every day and tried to stay active. It's not too hard with the weather super nice and the run of the farm!

It is possible; with the 3 weeks of no sugar/flour under my belt, the prayers of faithful friends and God's strength and my self control; it is possible. Yahoo!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Days at the Farm

We are enjoying a week at my grandparent's farm. The kids are riding their bikes up and down the lane with wild laughter. We've been riding my cousin's four wheeler ALL over. Add to that hugs and love from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!

I'm so thankful that my kids get to know my grandparents and spend time here at the farm. I spent many a day here when I was growing up. Now that I live 8 hours away, I often get 'homesick' for the farm. The land, the mountains, the peaceful calm of the country...all part of God's marvelous creation.

My kids are having so much fun. My hunny and I are enjoying being here too. Tomorrow, my hunny has 'barn cleaning' duty. I'm going to be running an errand for my aunt, then making some freezer meals for them. It's going to be a good day.

I had a wonderful chat with a good friend of mine from back home. We talked about how God desires our heart and practically what that looks like. He wants us to talk to Him and listen to what He has to say to us. We read His Word which is His way of talking to us...listening and being still to hear what He wants to say to us. I struggle with this...being still. Often I find myself stepping back from activities, busyness and life trying to realign myself with what is most important...Him. "Keep the Main thing, the Main thing" I repeat to myself. Recently I've re-evaluated my activities. I've been able to wrap up some commitments and step away from some others. Ahh, that's been freeing. And when someone asks me if I can do something, I've trained myself to say: "Let me check my calendar and I'll call you on _____ day" or "Let me think about that and get back to you." I received this wise advice years ago (which I need to remind myself of again and again). Pray about each opportunity.

Today was a good day. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Edited to add: I found these good posts that talked about what I tried to write about in my last paragraph.
Finding Everyday Grace: Renewed Sparkle
I have to say: taking back my time

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lapbook Workshop

I had the very fun privilege of presenting a lapbook workshop at CHEO yesterday. At this workshop, the first 30 families in the door received a packet and together we built a lapbook. I ended up with over 50 people at the workshop (the overflow received a handout with hints, websites, etc.) A friend and I worked together to show the folks how to put together a lapbook on lapbooking. :)

I thought I'd post the list of websites that I included on the handout for your purusal. It's quite a long list, however there are lots more sites I could have listed. pre-packaged lapbooks for purchase products for sale as well as freebies, also video demonstration of different folds making lapbooks out of poster board instead of file folders 25 page resource with websites, diagrams and photos lots of shape books with or without lines lots of graphic organizers that can be added to your lapbooks lots of links to other lapbook sites free unit studies, lapbooks, etc. free unit studies, lapbooks, lots of free downloadable templates lapbooks and unit studies for purchase, as well as freebies explanations, photos and links Lapbooking 101 step by step instructions, videos, photos, great for beginners photos, lists of resources for different studies, notebooking pages great free file folder games pictures of lapbooks in archived posts free Carson Dellosa clip art free downloadable fonts

Mini Office Resources: scroll down for resources for older children explanation of lapbooks, list of supplies, links to other sites photos and clear instructions for a math mini office

The workshop went well and I had a great time. I was so nervous before it began, however once I started talking my butterflies went away. The audience was welcoming and kind. They had lots of good questions during and had lots of encouraging things to say at the end. My prayer was that they would leave feeling like they could use lapbooking as another tool in their homeschool, and God answered that in abundance. Praise Him!

Another conference highlight was meeting Steve Demme of Math-U-See. He is a kind, friendly, funny guy. His smile is the best! He loves what he does and it shows. He had words of praise for the kids and I as I shared with him our Math-U-See journey. What a neat man!

My hunny and I enjoyed being together for the day and our kids had a wonderful time with good friends of ours. Thank You God for a great day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bike Adventure

Before I tell you about my most recent bike adventure, I need to confess a few things:
  1. I have a helmet and a bike...that does not make me a biker.
  2. I am working hard to build endurance and get in shape, but people, it's a slow process. My body, especially, my legs are rebelling each step of the way.
  3. I grew up in the country--really the sticks--no cars, no traffic, no pedestrians--you get the idea. So, I'm a little nervous driving on the side of the road when cars are whizzing past me.
  4. I've stopped eating sugar and white flour. Tomorrow will be 3 weeks! As the brain fog is lifting, I think I can do more than I really can. Enter bike adventure........
My Hunny said that he wanted to go to the library to drop off some items and we needed to go to Walmart and pick up some items. I said, "Hey let's ride our bikes!" I do NOT know how many miles it is, but I'm going to figure it up and then you'll know why this was a CRAZY idea! [remember #1, #2, and #3 above!] Off we went with our helmets securely fastened and my tail light brightly flashing. They don't call me "Safety Hannah" for nothing. :) Up and down hills, across highways, into town we went. My legs were calling me bad names the whole time. I tried to quiet them, to no avail. It began to get darker and my night vision isn't all that good (see why it was a crazy idea??) At some point, between panting breaths I said to my Hunny, "Who's hair-brained idea was this anyway??" Wisely, he did not offer an answer. I tried to tell my legs that we were being green, they weren't listening.

We made it to the library and deposited the items into the book drop and continued on and on and on. Up one particularly monstrous hill (take my word for it!) I heard my hunny encouraging me..."You can do it, almost there; pretend our kids are at the top of the hill." I'm sorry kids, as my bike started to roll in reverse, I thought it was time to get off and walk. To my credit, I kept walking even though my legs were still calling me bad names and kept trying to make me sit down.

Finally I saw the luminescence of the Walmart sign, oh happy moment. I staggered off my bike and stalked off into Walmart only to be called back by Hunny to take off my helmet. I'm sure I was a lovely site--who cares at 10 p.m.?? He waited outside with our bikes because we don't have locks for our bikes. Me and jelly legs went in and got the few items we needed. My mind raced to try to think of who I could call at that hour who would come pick me up and end this crazy shananigan. No one. I exited with a box of Cascade (do you know how much that neither, Hunny carried it in his back pack!) and the other things and off we went, headed for home. I had to walk up another hill but at least I was moving toward home. The whole time I was riding I kept praying that I wouldn't fall, crash or otherwise harm myself. I'm glad to say, I didn't! And somewhere near home, I realized that my legs weren't talking bad to me anymore; they could have been numb, but at least they were quietly doing what I needed them to do.

This afternoon, my sweet, sweet man called to tell me he loved me and that he loved our bike adventure. It was the most fun he'd had in a while. That made it all worth it. I've tried to convey the love to my legs; they still are miffed and aren't buying it. They will get used to it. I wonder where I'll want to ride to tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Routine

I've been working on a summer routine. It's coming along, but still have some to do. I really need it to be easy to implement and enforce.

I decided not to make hard and fast times for things because:
  1. it's summer and I want the flexibility to pick up and go to the water park or library, etc. and
  2. in the past when I have assigned specific times for things, we would get discouraged if we were off schedule.
This is more of a outline of what I'd like to accomplish each day. I don't want the summer to fly by and leave me wondering what we did for 3 months. I have some summer reading I want to do aloud as well as goals for each of the kids for keeping their minds engaged.

Now I'm working on a chore chart with pictures for my two younger ones. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to do it. Chore charts will help my kids to remember what they need to do and will take out the 'nag' factor. :) I'll post a picture of that when I get it done. Hopefully later today.

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