Monday, December 31, 2007

I found this encouraging

While listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss tonight, I heard an encouraging teaching about working (in our homes) joyfully. There was an especially good example of how'd I'd like to be (text taken from Nancy's transcript):

One writer I read on Proverbs 31 said, “Only love can make such diligent service sweet and delightful. Where love is lacking, this work will be the worst drudgery.” Some of you are familiar with the name Brother Lawrence. He was a 17th century monk whose job in the religious order that he was in was to work in the kitchen. But he learned to do it with a cheerful heart, out of love for God. And then there comes to us in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, the great little classic, that I think is so encouraging to us as women as we do our work.

He said, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer.” And keep in mind what his business was: working in the kitchen—kitchen crew, kitchen cleanup—that was his job. He said, “My job, my work, does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons at the same time are calling for different things.”

Does this sound like your life? Any of you that are mothers at home—several persons calling at you at the same time for different things? He said, “In the midst of all that noise and clutter, I possessed God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees in prayer.”

Isn’t that great! Now, he didn’t start out that way, I’ll just tell you that. As you read The Practice of the Presence of God, you see that this was a process for him. But that most menial and manual labor becomes holy. It becomes sanctified, consecrated, when I give it up to God as an offering.

And you can think as a mom, in the midst of the cleaning up, the picking up, the straightening up, the putting up, the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, all the things that you do to help make a home for your family; that you can possess God in your spirit in as much tranquility as if your were on your knees with your Bible open and in prayer, because you do your work as unto the Lord, with the willing heart.


I know that was long, but if you got through it, wasn't it good? I needed to hear that and from talking to several of my friends, I know I'm not the only one. If you want to hear this series of messages (or others related to women's issues) go to her site, click "radio" then "past programs". I use the option of looking for shows by topic. This Prov 31 series is under Biblical Womanhood. For simplicity, I've linked to the list of Biblical Womanhood shows here.

Another Bethie

I love the name Beth. I love Beths. I've never met a Beth I didn't like. I especially like my Beth, who we also call Bethy, BB (her first initials), and Betha (and we occasionally call her by her full name, lol).

Of the grown up varieties of Bethies, I like Beth Moore the best. I've not done enough of her great Bible studies (who could ever get enough?). I do love love love her book Further Still a compilation of her poems and essays from some of her studies and I totally fell in love with her watching the Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study on DVD.

Imagine my delight when Shane randomly found her blog today. I don't even know if he knows who she is (I doubt he does), but for some strange reason, he was blog hopping this morning. I was chore hopping and kept coming back to look over his shoulder as he'd comment on something he was reading. He ended up following a homeschool blogging trail and as I glanced over his shoulder, I briefly saw one of the last lines of a blog entry that mentioned and linked to Beth Moore's blog. I came back later this morning to check it out and I have found treasure!

So, my two favorite women's ministries are now a part of my daily life-Nancy Leigh DeMoss's radio programs I listen to via my computer while cleaning my kitchen (I'm currently listening to her great Proverbs 31 teaching) and Beth Moore's blog. There's more to Beth's site, I just haven't had time to explore it too much.

If your new year includes enriching your Bible study intake, go check out these sites! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memory Making

I often try to look at my children's days through the looking glass of time. What will they remember as adults when they look back to their childhood? I hope it's not just "Wow, Mom, was always so stressed and edgy!". Although they won't remember their parants as perfect, that's for sure, I do hope they remember we invested time in making memories with them.

We took advantage of the 60 degree December weather and spent the afternoon geocaching. We found the 3 caches we were hunting and spent some extra time at a little lake. We just skipped rocks and enjoyed the sunshine, but it was nice. I felt so good inside, I just prayed, "God I want to feel this good more often."



Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Challenges

Okay, as I've been cleaning all day, I thought of the learning experiences, growth opportunities and just plain hard issues of 2007.

1. FBI interview this summer. Meeting two FBI agents who flew into Texas just to investigate a government official from AZ and his business practices (he allegedly was using insurance funds that were supposed to be going to clients to finance his campaign. One of the PRCs we work with bought insurance and filed a claim (and waited on our money) with that company. I had to answer questions like, "What did you do after filing the claim?" "What did the form look like?" This was typical day to day business that took place several years ago, so I felt pretty dumb saying, "I don't recall" to a bunch of their questions.

2. Shane's Pepper Spray and Tasering. I don't know when they both occured, but I think the Tasering was this year. I hated it. I saw the latent results of the spray and had seen video of the Sheriff getting tasered. I dreaded the tasering the most.

3. Saying a short term good-bye to our friends who are now serving in Africa and our other friends who are about to leave for mission work in Mexico. Denial is my bestfriend :)

4. Learning to accept my "season" in life. I don't feel the freedom to drop all four kids at my mom's or Shane's mom's house. I know they're a lot of work. With Shane's night schedule, I've had to be okay with declining a lot of invitations-including one to the PRC's annual Christmas party for all the precious staff. I've never missed one in the six years we've held them, until this year. I also missed a good friend's Christmas party...but it's just not my "season" to be able to have a lot of evening get togethers.

5. My relationship with God has been a challenge this year. I feel distracted by the multitude of responsibilities and 4.5 children around me all day. My spiritual growth this year hasn't been at the rate of previous years.

I think half the number of challenges is best! 10 highs and 5 challenges, not too bad! And I've survived all 5 so far!

Highs of 2007

I may come back and add more but a few big blessings of the year have been rolling around in my head. This blog is how I get them out, lol.

In no certain order:
1. I've seen my children grow spiritually, especially Ash in her desire to read/understand God's Word and Hope in her Bible knowledge. They are both great at scripture memory and Beth is starting to enjoy memorizing verses, too.
2. Karate-this has been an unexpected blessing. My brother just came in one day and offered to pay for Ash to take lessons with him. Hope wanted to join in, too and we could only see good in it, so we said "yes". We love the leaders and their style of teaching and the girls are learning self defense and getting great exercise in the process.
3. My youngest brother has started attending church and is excited about God.
4. The PRC has been blessed beyond our imagination! We've added an assistant director which takes a huge load off me and we were given a donation of $30,000--just about a year's budget!
5. Hope learned to read!
6. Shane's schedule changed allowing him to attend church again, which he hadn't been able to do in 18 months.
7. My circle of friends grew closer and made some great memories! On the same note, keeping Adri has allowed me to rekindle a friendship with her mom, my cousin whom I spent hours and hours playing with as a child.
8. Libby was born-her parents are close friends of ours and they waited 8 long years for her! Two other friends, Stacy & Marianne also gave birth to long awaited children this year.
9. I beat some fears and started sewing.
10. We paid off our van (this week!) and have a plan to be out of debt in 18 months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cleaning it all up

We're in that stage now-finding a place for the 50 new gifts our girls got. We counted last year and figured out if the girls get just one gift from all of the people who usually "gift" them, they'll get about a dozen gifts a piece--not including what they open from us. A dozen gifts times 4 girls, all put away in one bed room = a really frustrated momma. Last year, we laid down the law and requested the grandparents reign it in and keep it to one gift per child, preferably gifts that don't take up much room or gift certificates for fun experiences (zoo, museum, whatever). They honored our wishes, but when we didn't give out any requests this year, one set of grandparents/family went wild again. I know it's how they show their love, but I wish they'd see how hard it makes it to find places for all this stuff. We worked today clearing all the main living areas but their bedroom, which was neat on Monday morning is now impossible to walk through. We'll work on it the next few days (we're working kind of lazily, this is a holiday week, ya know).

I long for simplicity...next year, we'll hopefully be getting very close to having all our debt paid off by December and we'll be planning our house to be built on our land. I'm not going to find room for 50 more toys next year that will just have to be moved a few months later. No way. And the girls have already been asking to keep their rooms "country" an not mix in a lot of different colors or Disney themes, so we'll have to find a way to manage all that stuff, too...anyway, its such a waste to me to know a lot of the stuff that came in the last few days will be at the Hospice Thrift store within six months. Some of it has already broken (including one of the Polly Pockets I bought) and will be tossed soon.

When we watch those old Little House episodes that show the family exchanging Christams gifts, they were handmade or high quality gifts that took a lot of thought and sacrifice. Laura sold her horse to buy a stove for her mother and cried when her father gave her the saddle he'd made. She cried because of all the work he'd put into it, not because of sadness about her horse. That's what I'd like to experience at Christmas-genuine heartfelt thought going into a gift chosen for it's excellent craftsmanship and keeping the needs of the receiver in mind. Obviously, we buy into the cheap side of Christmas, too--I bought Polly Pockets all on my own, lol.

Here's how we're doing it though-we still need to work on it, but right now, we buy each girl about 3 or 4 gifts, which may include clothes, bedding, books, but few toys. Their stockings this year held tights or socks, geocaching goodies, and a Polly Pocket car (J got a bath toy instead). They got one Daddy/Santa gift this year-a telescope. Next year, I might work on some throw quilts that will coordinate with their new bedding they got this year and I'd like to make them some old fashioned night gowns (they've been asking for some). Then we can do a few modern things-or not :)

Okay, that's enough of my Christmas spiel. We had a great holiday, Shane was able to spend most of it with us, and if the only thing I can complain about is too many gifts for my children, then I'm a blessed woman!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Same old song, new words!

It's Christmas Eve morning and as Shane and Ash are half an hour away finishing some shopping and I'm waiting on the flour and yeast to do their thing in this delicious cinnamon roll recipe, I overhear the following:

As Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer plays in the background, I hear Beth say "Like Fenokio" (a combo of my cousin's last name and Pinocchio) after every line. She's heard her sisters sing all those add-on and just ran with her own version. The funniest part is that Hope corrected her after the "and they wouldn't let poor Rudolph play and reindeer games" part. Bethany sings, "like Fenokio" and Hope says with all the seriousness of a reprimanding older sister), "No, like Fenopoly!"

Merry Christmas, no matter how you say it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"I didn't sing, I just 'miled"

Ash, Hope and Beth were in the church's Christmas play this morning. Beth went in there never intending to sing a single line of her two or three songs. But, she promised to smile. And smile she did!





Here's Ash as a reader:


And Hope as Mary:


Ash & Hope did well, but those cutie pie angels stole my heart-and this one's not even mine!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm sleeping with Yellow Belts in the next room!

I'm so glad they're my daughters!

Ash & Hope worked hard to pass an intense belt test Saturday. Their instructors are quite wise and make the students wait until the next class session to hear if they've moved up in rank. This gives the students a few days to reflect on their performance and it gives the instructors time to mull over the students' abilities.

Everyone who tested passed this time around and we are very proud of the girls. Ash is a natural intellectual and studies all the notes on what is required to move up in rank. Hope is a natural socialite and isn't quite as focused as her older sister, so we were a little concerned with her. We've seen a huge improvement since she started, but not knowing what all the instuctors are looking for, it was harder to predict with certainty that they'd both pass.

In celebration, we had Lemon Meringue Pie (it's Yellow, like their new belt rank) and asparagus (because Ash loves it) with our dinner. Shane watched the test, but had to work tonight, however, he was elated when he heard the news!

Enough parental gushing, here are some pictures of the testing (My brother is in blue):





Friday, December 7, 2007

Mike

I think my Mike Huckabee banners look good on my blue site, don't you?

Shane and I are official Huckabee supporters. We love the idea of a politically conservative candidate who is also a Christian. Not so that our nation can become a godly Christian nation, that only happens in the hearts of men. No, we're excited because we hope it will mean some integrity in the political world. Christians aren't perfect and we fall for temptation at times, but I'm optimistic and believe that Huckabee's integrity will prevail if he serves us a president.

Besides, he's sold out to the pro-life cause. No wishy washy, pacifiying language in his sanctity of human life platform. He's upfront about wanting to overturn Roe vs. Wade, appoint pro-life justices, and about rejecting embrionic stem cell research.

He's just added a Secure American Plan, and although Shane understands more of the details of the actual logistics of securing our boarders (he actually sees a few illegals and has worked with ICE at the Sheriff's Office), it sounds solid to me. I like that he rejects amnesty policies and wants to physically beef up the border.

Here's a list of stance on key issues. I'm impressed that his faith is put out there as a key part of him, not to be taken away and boxed up, but to be integrated into his daily life. We all know this is the ideal for a Christian, but for it to be so boldly put on the table is great. Oh, and the fact that he's totally catching political analysts by surprise by moving up in the polls so fast is pretty great, too.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Look at these cute clothes!

I found this link for The Children's Wear Outlet on the Pioneer Woman's blog today and the clothing is super cute and super affordable!

I can see some of the little girls I know in clothes like these:










I think the most expensive of any of these outfits is $18. Not bad. They have cute boy clothes, too, but they make me want to try for a boy and we don't need any of that right now, lol!

Monday, December 3, 2007

More blogging ahead!

Read that how you want-a warning or an enouragement, lol!

I was pretty busy doing a various assortment of things last week-Girls Night was Thursday, Homeschool Group was Friday, then Saturday night we had our great little parade and aftewards friends came over for some post-parade yule-tide cheer. We put up Christmas lights Sunday afternoon and I just put the last coat of paint on a newly aquired dresser for the girls' room. I'm still trying to listen to Nancy Leigh Demoss while cleaning my kitchen in the evenings, too.

So, be forewarned-I have pictures to churn out of my camera of some of the above events, plus some nice pondering going on...all of which might make it to the blog.

Or I might just do my Christmas letter instead...I bet you're waiting with baited breath, lol. For those family members who only put up with my blogging to check in on the girls, you'll be happy-I've been working on more pictures for the blog-so check back soon!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yearly Themes

Last year, instead of making and quickly breaking New Year's Resolutions, I decided to pick a broad goal and run with it all year long. I made it my goal to do things I am intimidated by during 2007. I was coming out of some mild depression, had a new baby, a new church, and some new friends to add on to Shane's new(ish) job. There were a lot of adjustments to make and most of them depended on me to be stretched. Believe it or not, there are A LOT of things that intimidate me-speaking to crowds, driving in a new/large town, making conversation with people who might not like me, sometimes even toting the kids around alone can intimidate me. As I reflect on this, I know those things didn't go away, I'm still intimidated by lots of things, but I also see myself as just a smidgen more capable. I will still have to talk myself into doing hard things, but at least I know I can do it.

Here are a few things I did this year to work on not being intimated:
*Drove all the girls-alone-an hour away to buy rollar skates
*Sewed several slings for gifts and to sell (sewing was tops on my list of things that I feared doing)
*Took the girls to a new church Sunday after Sunday (of course it didn't stay new, we joined that church this year).
*Went to two or three church events without Shane-either at other peoples' homes, which was the scariest, or at the church.
*Went out on a limb and initiated conversation with new faces at church, along with trying to start friendships with gals from church.

Okay, so you get the idea...

I have much work to do and I hope to keep up the challenge this year but I'll be adding another theme to work on.

My new goal is to live life more "in the Spirit" in 2008. That is simply church talk for being right on target with God each day, reading the Bible with a passion and zeal that opens up more communication with God, leading to me hearing Him speak to me throughout each day. I've been in this place before, but it was before I had Jaybird. I find myself continuing to adapt to the life of a mom with four active children and a very busy husband! But I want more than survival, I want to thrive, I want my family to thrive, and I know the only way to do this is to draw ever so close to God. Nancy Leigh DeMoss's ministry is centered on encouraging women to have quality quiet times. I'm planning on listening to her teachings via her website as I work in my kitchen. I think I'll also revisit her book A Place of Quiet Rest for more inspiration.

That's my plan. What is your 2008 theme? I'd love to hear your heart's desire for the new year. Finish this sentence: 2008 will be my year to ______________.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Real Thanksgiving

I'm so proud of our church's children's program. It's SO much more than a program! We have excellent people who pour themselves into the children's lives week after week. Ash's Sunday school class adopted a few families to buy/serve Thanksgiving dinner to. The 3 oldest girls spent yesterday evening preparing mashed potatoes, turkey and dressing (while donned in these great aprons!).


To be quite honest, my holidays with our families often fall short of how I want to celebrate. As a Christian, I have many traditions I'd like to start at the Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner table, but can't because I'm not the hostess. Instead, we seem to revolve our holidays around football and food only. Of course, these things aren't bad, but when this is all we celebrate, there is nothing there honoring the Lord, and that's my heart.

Serving the poor, however, definitely honors the Lord! May your Thanksgiving be full of the Lord's presence, after all, He's the One who gave us everything we're thankful for!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Do you know any weird people?

So, in your circle of pals, do you have anyone who stands out as weird? You know the type...the ones who might do the following:

Homeschool
Breastfeed forever
Make their own bread
Let their husbands make the decisions
Resist traditional medicine-at least some of the time
Drink raw milk (straight from the cow)
Don't watch TV
Have big families
Search out organic produce
Own a juicer, Vitamix, or Bosch (sp?)
Don't know pop culture
Use all sorts of crazy contraptions to "wear" their baby
Vote conservative

Well, while I don't know anyone like that, I just wonder about them. Do they know they're weird? Did they become weird one step at a time and never realize when they'd gone too far?

What if you knew someone like that and then found out they were considering using cloth diapers? Would you even associate with them? Maybe if they promised you wouldn't have to change one of them?

If you're eyebrows perk up at some of that list, yet you like me anyway (and not just so you can get cheap entertainment out of laughing at me over dinner) thanks ;)

PS, I'll keep disposables on hand for when you watch my kids, lol.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Food for Political Thought

Reading the Making Home Blog (Thanks Summer for the link to this site!) has really blessed me the last few months. This week was no exception. Jess highlighted a great blog entry by Randy Alcorn regarding ABC voting (Anyone But Clinton) verses voting for the candidate that matches our morals and standards. No matter what side of the fence you're on, it's good stuff.

Jess also had a great Show & Tell selection this week. I read one or two of the articles and plan to go back and visit more. If you've not visited Making Home, you're missing out...and if you're confused about what to do regarding Hilary, Alcorn's entry might give you some insight.

In case you're interested, I think we're a Huckabee Family.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Day with My Man

Shane and I spent most of the day about an hour away from our three oldest kids. Don't worry, we had plenty of fun without them! Jaybird and Adri were with us and I planned to give Shane no option but to wear a baby.

I really wanted to use the Ergo, but knew Shane wouldn't be caught dead in this sling:


Or any sling. He's told me the only men who wear slings are forced by their wives...So, Shane has never "worn" a baby. Until Today.

Unfortunetatly, his baby was about as green at baby wearing as he was. Here she is at the library:


There's just something she didn't like about Shane today...(she's holding her nose, but I was laughing so hard, the camera shook a bit).


That's okay, we went to lunch and she got a break from that perpetual piggy back prison. You'll notice we tried to be good caregivers and feed the girls vegggies first:

But she really got happy when we brought french fries to the table!

Don't worry, Jay got a treat, too

When you don't get coke often, you have to be intense about it:

Okay, now we're ready for some shopping!

Alrighty...off we go to the mall. Shane found these pants:

When he saw this, he said, "This you have to blog about!" This is why America is falling apart. It started with a simple 2 shirt combo-when you think it's a set, but the two are sold seperately. Then it moved down the slippery slope to display shirts under jackets. Now, underwear is boldly accessorizing jeans. America-stop before it's too late.

Side note here, Shane bought a different pair of jeans in a different store and the clerk asked if he'd like to buy bla bla bla for layering...I didn't hear what the bla bla bla was, so I thought she must be talking about the boxers right behind her! Wow-that's bold. I cracked up, but alas, it was actually a sneaky ploy to get you to pick up a few more items. It worked, he got 3 shirts (at $3.50 a piece). I hope she works on commission.

Okay, while were were doing all this discussing about clothing and politics, the girls had better plans:




They napped for a while, getting lots of ooohhhhs and aaahhhhs. People probably thought we had twins. And the best part, Shane was finally baby wearing! He was a trooper! He kept catching himself in the mirrors :)

Adri put up with the baby wearing thing until we were checking out at Old Navy, our last stop. We got her to the car, changed her diaper and gave her a bottle while buckling her up for the ride home. She seemed relieved...until about ten minutes on the road when she kind of gagged a little and then vomitted a little. I cleaned her up, thinking she was fine. Uhhhh, she wasn't so fine :( About 3 minutes later she erupted! Shane kept smiling this smart little smile while handing me baby wipe after baby wipe. What's up with that?

He was thinking how great Adri's timing was. Me too. I would have hated to have vomit in my Ergo ur, I mean on my husband. (PS, Adri's fine).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Food Show

The girls participated in the County 4-H Food Show today. Daddy got to be at this one, after missing last year's. He had to miss the Dallas Cowboys in order to go...but he did a fair amount of sneaking out to the car to listen to the game :)

Jaybird enjoyed the Ergo:

Hope, a Clover Kid, got a great participant ribbon for her M&M Pudding Parfait

And Ash won 1st Place with her Greek Salad:


Our little 4-H Club did great--all/most of the girls won 1st or 2nd place ribbons and will advance to District! Way to go!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Ergo has arrived!

So, after our geocaching trip on Halloween Weekend, I decided I needed an Ergo baby carrier. I watched ebay for a while and saw they pretty much sold for what I can buy a new one for-even the worn out used ones. So, reluctantly, Shane told me to go ahead and get one, although he didn't see why I'd need one. After all, I own almost half a dozen slings.

I found a great site that sells below suggested retail. Although she doesn't seem to answer her emails (or at least not ones from me), she shipped very quickly. Everything arrived in a nice pretty Ergo box...

I was a good girl and finished putting together the training Power Point for next week's training at the Pregnancy Center, then we popped in the DVD and learned how to use my new, blue Ergo.

Jaybird woke up cranky from her nap and wasn't quite as excited as I was to try it out, although she tolerated it for a bit.

The good news-it does distribute the weight well. I really like the feel of it. The bad news: in the back carry, it's much prettier if the wearer is a size 7 with a flat tummy. The little black stap doesn't flatter if you're fatter.

Maybe in addition to the backpack, zippered pack and tote bag Ergo sells as accessories, they should sell a control top Ergo strap. That's what a woman needs!

Off to do some crunches so I can look decent in my new Ergo-or else Jay will be stuck in the front carry position, where I can't see what the black strap is doing to my hips/rear!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

From the mouths (and bottoms) of babes

Here's some humor for you!

Bethany was quite sick last night so I took her to the urgent care clinic while the girls went to Awana. She felt miserable and wanted to just be in my lap all evening, so I held her until bedtime. The housework just had to wait, that's not as important as my sick girl.

I stayed up too late, wired from caffiene and Bethany's demands. When I got up this morning, the only thing I wanted was a nap. When I was about to slip back to bed so I could nap before the girls got up, in runs Bethany with a huge grin-she was elated to be feeling better. I told her I was really tired and wondered if she wanted to go back to bed. She said, "No Mommy, I don't...you don't need to go to sleep, you just need some coffee!". She's 4! What in the world does she know about coffee fixes?!

So, I go to Wal-Mart to get her Rx filled. The wait was over half an hour, then I had to get gas on the way home. All the time I was shopping, I was stressing over not being home, not cleaning up from last night's neglected chores, from not doing school, and so on. It didn't help that I was tired. My cell rings while I'm getting gas and Ash calls. Here's the dialog:

Me: Hey, what do you need?
Ash (in hysterics, laughing): Mom! Jaybird took her diaper off and there's poop everywhere! She's trying to play in it!

At this point the only thing keeping me from a full blow weeping session is that I'm pumping gas. In public.

Me: Ohhhh, you've got to be kidding. Okay. Where's Daddy (why do they always call us when Daddy is available???)?
Ash: We have bath water running...it'll be okay, Mom!

Thankfully, Shane comes to the rescue just in time to see Hope getting into the bath with Jay to help wash her. After she got in, he said she looked down at her feet and started screaming, "I'm standing in poop! I'm standing in poop!"

I'm so glad that when I got home (ahhem, I DID NOT take the long way home. We need to establish that right now. I'm a good mom and never leave my husband to clean up messes meant for me. Never.), yeah, when I got home, Jay was wrapped squeaky clean in a bath towel and all was good--and clean.

Tonight, I hear Bethany say, "Mommy, I think my stomach hurts. I have a butterfly problem." I say, "Oh, really. I'm sorry." She says, "No, Mom, that's good. But it does make you feel polka-dotty. Polka-dotty is bad...I need a Tums."

I know what you mean, kid. Sometimes I feel polka-dotty too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Okay, here it is...

The LEO wives blog is ready! There's not a lot to show and it still needs work, but its a start!

The good news is, while exploring the net looking for links, I found what looks like a great site with a little forum community of LEO wives/girlfriends. There seem to be a good amount of Christians on the site and lots of good articles and support. It even has a section for homeschooling moms! It's in the links section of my new blog.

The blog's name is currently Thin Blue Line Wives, for lack of a better one. Blogger makes you pick a name early on in the process and I was itching to get it going last night. I'm open to name changes...and one of Shane's buddies suggested Beside The Badge...keep 'em coming and we'll see what all we come up with.

Thin Blue Line Wives

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm feeling led to a new ministry...

I've had something on my heart for quite some time. When I'm quiet, it just gets louder and louder. I've searched the net for something like it and not found much. I've needed this ministry for myself and have come up very, very short in my searching.

There seems to be little out there for wives of law enforcement officers (LEO). Wait-I meant Christian wives. I'm not trying to be snobby about it, there's just something different about being married to a man in LE, and the way a woman copes with that life is hugely affected by her faith, or lack of.

I love to write and when I was younger and thought I knew more than I really do, I thought I'd write a book someday. I've thought about topics, but each time, when I really thought hard about what I'd actually say, I found I really knew nothing about it that hasn't already been penned and published (good grief, that's how I learned about it in the first place).

There are only about two books I've seen out there for spouses of officers. I read I Love a Cop to prepare for this new career, but I had to filter it all through my Christian glasses. The other, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement, is on my wishlist. I don't think it is a Christian book, either, but I've heard great reviews.

So, maybe someday God will have me write a book about the issues related to being a Christian LEO's wife, but in the meantime, I believe I'll start a blog about it.

I need a catchy name for the blog...like Behind the Badge or something to do with the Thin Blue Line (the fine line between LE and civilian life)...only more clever...feel free to loan me your cleverness; I know it when I see it but I possess no cleverness of my own :)

So, if you understand the 4am calls from the ER, when your'e trying to sound composed and strong but you're freaking out on the inside, or if your husband spends more time with hookers, addicts, gang members and sex offenders than he does with you, if you "get" walking on his left side, worrying if he left his gun in your car again, overprotection, if you noticed he just mentioned face planting someone in a story you've never heard and you wonder how many other dangerous situations he's guarded you from, or if you've ever run into an ex-inmate at the Dairy Queen and not known what to say (I bet you looked good in stripes??), then follow me to my new blog.

I promise it won't sing the theme song from cops or have pornographic avatars (there's some kind of thing going on with all these cops wives making a very sexy online persona...I have my theories but that's another post--or an entire book! Ha!). It'll be a place of real support-prayer coverage for any who ask, posts that relate to LEO life, links...who knows what God has in store, but I'm excited to find out. I hope you'll join me there if this is a ministry you need, too.

When it's ready, I'll put the link on this blog.

What do you think? Anyone out there need this, too?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Two things I really want right now

1. I want to build an old looking farm house with vintage (or vintage looking) stuff.

2. I want to be a minimalist-not the zen type, the country type.

The farm house thing evolved from our longings for a log home. About 7 years ago, Shane presented me with log home brochures on Valentine's Day. We bought some land and moved to town. Kind of backwards, but that's how life works sometimes. We've been in town for 5 years this month but next year we are making a HUGE family effort to put every extra (and not so extra) dime towards debt so we can build in 2009.

Back to the farm house. Shane and I are big Smallville fans. Clark Kent (you know, Superman) grew up in this sunny looking, warm yellow farm house. After watching every epidode, I fell in love with the farm house look. In a way, it complements the home we live in now, which was built in the 1890s.

I don't want a "kountry bumpkin" home with home sewn bunny vacuum cleaner covers in mauve and country blue...I don't want a hunting lodge look either, I want a rustic, charming, simple farm house with eye pleasing lines and simple furnishings. After reading this blog, I have some concrete images to go with my tastes. This is a big step for me since for several years I've struggled to identify my style, I just knew what I liked when I saw it (old colorful quilts, simple handcrafted tables with notches and scratches, weathered wood in worn red, sage, brown, or robin's egg blue, mismatched old dishes...)

In my present home I'd love to be a minimalist. Rid my house of all unnecessary clutter. However, the reality is I can only start decluttering more so that we won't move into our new house with so much stuff. It's hard for me to judge how much stuff we have. You see, much of my Grandmother's belongings are still here. On top of that, some of the decor just naturally makes it visually busy (like the 2 rooms of darkish paneled walls), so even if it were bare, it would still look cluttered in a way. Also, I have 4.5 children (.5 is my cousin's baby Adri who's here each weekday, lol), who have STUFF. And Grandparents who like to give STUFF. And a husband who doesn't like to get rid of STUFF.

How do you rid your life of excess with a big family? I find the age range of my kids makes it hard to minimize their stuff. The toddler has her own set of toys, the middles play with Polly Pockets, and the oldest has big kid stuff-so that adds up to a lot of stuff!

My fantasy is to get my mom to watch the girls for a day while all my friends come over. A couple would help me pitch the junk while another one or two organized what was left. Another one would take all the stuff immediately to the thrift store. I'd also have unlimited cash and time to paint, redecorate, and replace mismatched or worn out furniture. Ahhhh...

Reality is-minimalizing takes work-continuous work. It's a great goal for our move. After all, I don't want STUFF in my Clark Kent farm house!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Geocaching

Good morning Muggle*!

In an email a friend asked me what geocaching is. I'd been thinking about blogging about it, so here's the scoop!

Geocaching is treasuring hunting using GPS coordinates (waypoints) posted on a central website to lead you to a "cache" of goodies (or sometimes just a tightly rolled up paper inside a tiny container).

You drive or walk by geocaches many times throughout your day, I'd bet. If you live in our town, you walk by two every time you go to the park. There's one on the service road leaving Wal-Mart, one past Brookshires, and many more throughout the countryside.

A geocache is a small containter-like a film canister, a mason jar, or maybe a big pickle jar that usually contains cheap trinkets and a pen/paper log. Sometimes it contains a special coin or "travel bug" that is tracked as it goes along from cache to cache. Our next one will contain Pirates of the Carribean chapstick, scented bubbles, glo-sticks, mini flashlight, party poppers, mini picture frames, and so on.

A geocacher finds the info on each cache on geocaching.com, a free site where all things geocaching are discussed, tracked, logged, and advertised. Once the geocacher decides which cache(s) he or she is going after, they enter the waypoints into their GPS and head out with the family to find some treasure! When the treasure is found, the log is dated & signed by you and you can exchange a trinket in their cache with one you brought along. Upon returning home, the cacher logs the find on the cache owner's online log.


Its harder than it looks! There's a local one we've visited twice with no luck. It's probably that we need more practice using the GPS (although I noticed my friend Brandi logged it as a DNF--Did Not Find--too). There's a learning curve for sure and the first few treks result in a list of things not to forget next time: flashlight, bug spray, toilet paper, gloves, a pen...I'm sure we aren't done building our list, lol.

Even though we aren't so good at it yet, we're getting out of the house getting some exercise, and making good memories together. It's pretty cheap, too-after buying the GPS and gas!

There are more aspects to the game-like puzzle caches, themed caches, benchmarking (a similar game not invovling caches) and more. Hop over to geocaching.com to learn all about it and to see how many caches are in your area!

PS-I just saw last night that there's a forum page on the site that helps hook up people wanting to buy a GPS with people upgrading and selling their old GPS.

*A Muggle is a non geocacher-especically one who might be in the area while you're walking around the same tree for the 5th time mumbling to yourself while fixated on a small gadget in your hand.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You need to read this

This is why our family does what we do--not the homeschooling part, but the ministry part. I will not be guilty of standing by with my head in the sand when we are questioned on why we could let it happen--either by future generations or by our Lord. Who will stand up for those with no voice if we don't? Who will stand up for the woman who feels backed into a corner?

A Glimpse of the Future: Abortion Museums

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our Trip

We got a late start, but had a great day at Lake Mineral Wells State Park. It was such a beautiful day! We tried Letterboxing and Geocaching for the first time (as a family, we'd geocached with my dad before). It was a lot of fun, but as you can read in the post below, it was a bit of work!

I think we're hooked on geocaching-it was a lot of fun. Letterboxing was fun, too and there's no reason not to combine the two and get outside. Being outside together making memories is what counts-finding a treasure is just icing on the cake.

Oh, and one of the coolest parts was that there were some people there on bikes. They all had matching shirts that read, "5th Annual Halloween Campout". There were a lot of them-a dozen or so just on the bikes, so it must be a big deal for them. I would like to kick our tradition up a notch-make it a full weekend and maybe do some cool shirts and invite a bunch of cool friends and family...

An Ode to a Hike

I’m feeling extra inspired
Probably because I am so tired.

Yesterday we went on a hike
And by mile 2, I wished I had a bike.

But Dad, striking out so bold,
Found a great rock with signs of old.

We went on a search for a geocache
But the GPS and I didn’t match.

Dear Hubby figured it out
But not before we’d extended our route.

Finding the stash while hiding from briars,
Our four year old’s excitement flew higher and higher!

Bethany, while looking under a rock
Found what all of us had not!

In a can that had held bullets that kill,
We found prizes and toys to thrill!

We even found a travel bug, I have to boast
It will be moved along to the Ivory Coast!

Off we go, to head back to camp,
Sure wish we had a handicapped ramp.

The reason Dad’s old back is sore
Is that little Bethany said, “Carry me more!”

Jaybird was content in the sling
But her 25 pounds weren’t no little thang!

I got worried; Dad had left to answer the call
Dark was falling and we had to haul!

Mom alone prods the girls-"Go with all your might
We have to get out of the woods before night!"

Safe and sound we finally arrived at the head of the trail
There was Daddy-looking a little frail!

“Rest” is a good adjective for the room
We all raced there in the night’s gloom!

Safe and together at last, we headed to camp
Where the Fluitt family had our dogs under a lamp.

We ate and ate and retold the tale
Of when we all traveled that Mineral Wells trail.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Annual Family Camping Trip

Okay, so reading the post below, you might think we're cruel and just make our kids sit in the dark on the couch eating raisins while cute goblins ring the door bell. We don't. I promise.

In order to avoid Halloween and to make good memories, we go camping the day our town trick or treats. It simply removes us from the day-out of sight, out of mind kind of thing. Any bad attitudes are quickly left behind when we're outside experiencing God's beauty at a State Park.

We have had attitudes, too. Believe me. A couple of years ago, when we started this traditon, we were at Mineral Wells State Park and our oldest protested most of the day. We cheerfully restated our case and moved on. In a few days, I overheard her telling someone else what a good time we had and that she doesn't want to celebrate Halloween with her kids (someday) either.

Last year was quite an experience! I wish Halloween fell earlier in the month. In Texas, October days are usually stunningly beautiful but the nights get chilly by late October. I was overly optimistic about our ability to handle the cold--with a three month old! It was cold in that tent. We froze. I started to run a fever and froze even more. The only fever meds I had were for the kids. A half a bottle of Children's Tylenol later, my fever broke and I was burning up. Ever hear the phrase "If momma's cold the kids put on a sweater"? Well, when I was frozen, I cuddled little Jay close and piled the covers on us. When I was hot, I was sure she was hot, so I practically uncovered us, leaving her pretty bare! I promised I'd never tent camp again!

This year, we're day camping ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why we don’t do Halloween

First, let me explain-we used to do Halloween in a mild way (no scary costumes, just visiting a few houses) and we have friends who do it and our church kind of does it. We aren’t on any campaign to get people to not do it. I think that for the most part, parents of young children have fun memories of dressing up, using fun glow-in-the-dark sticks, staying up late getting tons of candy. There was always an elderly lady on our trick-or-treat route who’d give out popcorn balls and then there was the house you avoided because they gave out raisins you had to con your brother into trading his starbursts for them.

There are several versions of the origins of Halloween. Here’s one from a Neo-pagan who makes Christians look pretty stupid.

This is not my reason for not celebrating (this is from the link above):

Every year in October, some folks begin shouting that Neopagans must be “stopped” from celebrating Halloween, which they describe as a “Satanic” holiday. Many Christian Fundamentalists say loudly and publicly that we Druids, Witches and other Neo-pagans kidnap children, sacrifice babies, poison or booby trap Halloween treats, drink blood, and hold orgies at Halloween. As W. J. Bethancourt puts it, “These opinions are backed up with some rather unusual and very frightening fantasies masquerading as historical facts.”

My original views that led our family to stop celebrating a few years ago were more from this line of thinking (although now I read this as a little extreme-in the rest of his essay, he tends to put a lot of emphasis on the day of Halloween instead of on the warped behaviors of those in the occult-who are practicing every day of the year, not just on Oct. 31.

Here’s where I am right now (quote from the link immediately above):

It does not have even one single redeeming virtue. It is custom born out of pagan superstition. It is a demon-inspired, devil-glorifying, occult festival. It is an evening holy unto evil, death, and divination. The Scriptures tells us to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." [1Thess. 5:22]

In our current culture obsessed with death (and indeed, with abortion and euthanasia, and the general devaluing of human life, we act on that obsession), I don’t want to participate in a holiday dedicated to at best making light of death and at most glorifying it. I see our culture has made witchcraft into a mild Saturday morning cartoon theme and I'm rebelling against that. Witches and spells and the like are listed as things God hates in His own Word, and I see allowing our kids to "play" with those issues is only flirting with fire.

All other holidays we (our family) seriously celebrate we celebrate for positive reasons. Obviously Easter and Christmas focus on our Savior. Although many people think Thanksgiving is just about cranberries and pumpkin pie and football, our family takes it seriously-as a day to focus on the many blessings God has given us. Even the 4th of July is meaningful to me-I am deeply moved by the sacrifices, both past and present of those who risk—and sometimes give—their lives for our freedom.

So, why would I want to celebrate Halloween? I struggle enough with my weight—I don’t need 4 children’s full plastic jack-o-lanterns taunting me to sneak just one more tootsie roll. I frankly am not a bit interested in the dramatics (I have girls, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is dramatic) of choosing and making/buying four costumes. And I will not expose my young children to images that will give them nightmares just for the sake of making childhood memories. There’s nothing left of the day to point to the Lord, so why even bother?

The bottom line for our family is that we feel Halloween glorifies evil. We aren’t into glorifying evil, so we skip Halloween. We do something else instead-I’ll post about that tomorrow!

Does this stir you up? Am I taking too strong a stand? Not enough of one? I'd love to hear comments on either side of the issue-just be nice :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Schoolhouse

We're a few days behind my schedule as far as academics go, but I'm actually quite thrilled about how this school year has gone. God's blessed us with some nice enrichment--it had to be him because the fun stuff I plan usually never makes it off the planning sheets.

Earlier this month a real live missionary came to our house! When I was a kid, I recall a few missionaries coming to Vacation Bible School but they were like untouchable celebrities in my childish mind. We certainly never had one in our house. (The preacher came to our house once or twice, but my parents didn't like the attention and it was always a little tense!).

It worked out for Shannon (my friend Terrie's best friend) to come to our Life Group while on a break. I knew my girls would love to meet her so I asked if she'd mind coming over while she was here. She came with her laptop full of pictures, great stories, some Indonesian language training, and she even brought Indonesian purses for each of the three oldest girls!

We just finished reading Torches of Joy, about missions in the area near where Shannon serves. That was a great tie-in. Our curriculum this year is called Eastern Hemisphere and we're studying the history, culture, and outreach to that side of the earth-very neat.

The last two days have been more of simple country living field days. The 3 oldest girls were gone 2 full days to a family friends' home about 45 minutes away. She has a great log cabin home in the country, a pool & hot tub, incredible fun stuff to do outside...she led them on one of her traditional treasure hunts with 20 questions leading to their prizes! They made cakes and swam in the hot tub (I hear my oldest took a bet/bribe and jumped--and fully submerged herself!--in the regular, unheated pool! It was in the 60's today after getting into the 40s overnight!). Some of them skinny dipped (okay, so that's not exactly enrichment, lol).

I feel like this has been a great year so far-the karate has pushed them socially but especially physically. Ash's new Bible Study has her digging into the Word like never before. She calls Bible Study her new favorite subject. Having friends go into the mission field and praying for them as a family, meeting Shannon, reading about missions, training Ash & Hope in childcare through watching Adri, and the blessing of them making incredible, invaluable memories with my mentor (who's becoming their mentor) is better than I could have plotted out in the homeschooling planner. God is good!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rainy Day Fun

Update on the sleeping thing: I realized that I'm pushing for Jaybird to be out of our bed too soon. She's not ready and I'm not sure I am either. Hope is going through a fearful stage and wants to sleep with Ash, so to move Hope to the top bunk alone so Jay can sleep with Ash is a bit too much to ask. I think we'll wait a few months until Jay is closer to 2 and try it again. Meantime, I'm making myself actually be ready for bed or in bed when Shane leaves, which puts me in bed about an hour earlier. I woke up feeling rested Sunday morning after doing that Saturday night-I didn't even need coffee!

It is sooo chilly outside! On my porch a few hours ago it was 52 degrees. I woke up before dawn and it was cold and rainy. The 3 oldest left this morning about 8:30 to head to a friend's cabin in the woods for a day of play. That leaves Shane, the babies (Jay & cousin Adri) and me. I keep a long mental list of things I want Shane to do on his next day off and what I'll do the next time the girls aren't around. Today is the perfect day....





Adri & Ash taking a nap last week...


....for a nap! That's what we've done so far. Jaybird & I got up at 11:00 from the cuddle-fest under the quilt and Adri was just waking up, so I brought them into the dining room and gave them some brunch (their first meal of the day...but at almost noon-what am I supposed to feed them???). Jay ate banana, part of Adri's nurtigrain bar and a bunch of peas. Adri ate 2 bites of her bar and a bunch of pretzels. We listened to Todd Agnew's Better Questions CD and it was precious to see the little girls sway, clap and do a toddler style headbang thing to the music.

So, now there's more food on my floor than I thought I even served :) and one of the girls insists on climbing on top of the table just to show she's big. Don't worry, Jamie, it's mine who's doing it. I wouldn't let Adri get away with that. I know Jay won't fall-she has a lot of practice balancing on top of high surfaces lately.It's her new favorite game-to see how high she can climb. We caught her on tip top of the piano last week. Adri just sits and watches it all. I'm trying to get Jay to see sitting down is a good thing. She won't hear of it.


My stubborn child....or at least the smallest of the stubborn children.


My big plans for the rest of the day? Bake bread. Cuddle under a quilt somemore...maybe with a movie on? R-E-L-A-X...something I don't really do enough. But first I have to clean up those peas & pretzels on the floor and change diapers and put another load of laundry through...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Needing some insight here

Okay, all five of you readers-I need some help. When I get tired, I start to think my life is spinning out of control. When I think about my life like that, I start to think "I hate my life" which is a terrible thing to think! I don't want to walk around feeling defeated day after day.

I think it all stems from my need to get up early to get school started (there is no option but to do school at this time of day b/c of my job and other afternoon/evening activities like piano lessons, church, & karate). I can't easily go to bed early because of Shane's schedule. On his worknights, he sleeps until 11, and leaves shortly thereafter. If I got to bed before he leaves, either I wake him up getting Jaybird and I to bed (she sleeps with me) or he wakes me up leaving, or both.

There are no extra bedrooms...I'm not seeing a good solution...how about you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fun Resource for our Guys

I've seen Todd Wilson (Familyman Ministries) featured weekly in The Old Schoolhouse's Homeschool Minute emails and I always look forward to his articles the most. Today I followed the link to his site and found a fresh perspective. He's just a cool dad (of 7 homeschooled kids). He's real. Not flashy and full of lots of advice-just encouragement for families. Go check him out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I’m Falling

Get it? Falling?
I woke up this morning about 6:50, ten minutes before the alarm went off. The coolness of the sheets and the darkness still outside brought me full into fall. When I think of fall, I am brought back to my childhood days in the local public school…I think of sharpening my pencil in the old fashioned hand cranked sharpener mounted to the wall over the trash can in the junior high, with loud crickets chirping in the corners of the room. When autumn comes, I think of fresh school supplies, new teachers, and that butterfly feeling in my stomach brought on by the newness of the first weeks of school. Of course I’m old and we actually started school in the fall back in the old days!

I also remember walking a half block to the bus stop from my Grandma’s house (the same house where I live now!) where we stayed in the mornings when my mom went to work at the local Haggar Slack factory, long since closed. In front of what used to be the Old South Ward School, my cousin and I waited for the bus while neighborhood kids threw horse apples at each other, splattering those huge balls of green-yellow goo on the crooked old sidewalks. I never knew what these kids from “across the tracks” would do, so I was always a little nervous about those cold mornings.

My mom went to work really early and brought us still in our PJs to my Grandma’s. My cousins came, too, since their mom worked at the same factory at the time. We’d wake up in the bedroom with the double bed with pastel print sheets and the old white alarm clock with the orange numbers that actually flipped over (pre-digital?). Believe it or not, I sleep in the same exact location now! This room has no real piece of carpet but instead is covered with scores of brightly colored mismatched carpet squares! Some are even original shag! Very groovy! Anyway, Grandma would feed and dress us, and her house always smelled of coffee! I love coffee because of my Grandma!

I love it when life brings out a memory from the grab bag of childhood recollections! None of the above notions have anything to do with fall except maybe the crickets, but my mind will forever associate them together. What memories are we making for our husbands and kids? Of course, we all try to make “on purpose” memories, but what day-to-day-I-love-the-smell-of-coffee-because-it-reminds-me-of-Grandma memories are we making?

I'd love to hear memories of your childhood falls (that doesn't quite sound right, does it?) or of the memories you're making now with the ones you love!

Friday, October 12, 2007

My funny Hopey

Little Miss Innocent

I hate to post two times in one day-but this is worth it, especially to my friends who know and love my typical attention seeking middle child, Hope.

You see, Hope is a story teller. She's a darn good one, too. When she was about 5, she told my friend Jonna (her Sunday School teacher) a whopper...and it is being continued even today!

Hope limped into Sunday School one morning, quietly hoping someone would ask why. Jonna took the bait, being the concerned teacher she is. Hope--with a completely straight face--told Jonna that I ran over her foot with the minvan. Jonna thought this could be true, given the limp, and asked more questions. Hope gave a blow-by-blow account of what happened...something like I was backing out of the driveway and rolled the tire over her foot. Knowing Hope, I'm sure she gave lots of background and details to support her story. She blew it though, when she told Jonna I woudn't take her to the doctor. Jonna realized she was being conned by a 5 year old--but she took it well; she just told me I should channel all of this far fetched fiction and encourage Hope to be a writer.

So tonight--more than a year later--we see another friend's mom in the grocery store. Dian visited with us and recited all the girls' names to see if she could get them right. Hope decides Dian also needs to hear all their nicknames..."Hollywood...Hot Rod..." she starts. Thinking Dian was doing well to just know all their names, I said, "I don't think Dian needs to know all the nicknames." Dian thought I was meaning Hope didn't need to tell our our family stories and we laughed about Hope being our storyteller. I brought up the foot story saying, "Yeah, Hope told Jonna I ran over her with the car."

Hope--matter of factly--wasted no time and chimed in, "Because you did!"

You've got to try this chowder!

This recipe was on last week's e-mealz menu. It was soooo good! The girls want it every night!

1 pkg fresh Italian sausage (we bought the links, but I think breakfast sausage could be sub.)
1/4 c chopped onions (we omitted these, adding onions is a sure fire way to get my girls NOT to try a recipe!)
3 lg potatoes, peeled/cubed (we left the peel on)
2t salt, 1/2 t pepper
1 t dried basil (I used oregeno, I was out of dried basil)
1 can cream style corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
12 oz evaporated milk

Brown sauage (per instructions on package), drain any fat, cut sausage into bite sized pieces. Put sausage pieces in a soup kettle (I used a large pot with a lid).
Saute' onions in 2 T fat
Add pototoes, salt, pepper, basil and 2 cups water to soup kettle.
Cover & simmer for 15 min or until potatoes are soft. Stir in corn & evaporated milk. Heat thoroughly.

This would be good with a nice crusty roll. We loved this soup and it's the perfect time of year for it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kay Arthur Studies for Kids


Just wanted to give a kudos to Kay Arthur for her outstanding Bible studies for kids. My 10 yr old is loving her "How to Study your Bible for Kids" book. She's told me every day for the last few days how much she loves this Bible Study. She appreciates that it doesn't have her playing Bible Drill, looking for verses-it spends it's time teaching her meaning instead. There aren't countless pages of word searches and other busy work that distracts from the deep message of the study.

Don't assume, though, that the study is stiff and boring-not at all! The study sets the child up as a detective and gives them tools to solve the mysteries of the Bible. They use color coding to mark up the chapter in the Bible they're reading, which leades to greater understanding, for instance. The point of Kay's studies is to teach kids to research the Bible on their own, not leaning heavily on commentaries for all the answers.

There are quite a few studies in the series. Ash's friend did a couple last year with good results. We'll be using them for a long time.
I would suggest this study for good readers, starting at about age 10 (I'm not sure Ash would have been ready for this last year). We bought Ash the New Inductive Study Bible, NASB-her first "grown up" Bible. With th room for notes and the color coding outlined in the front, this will become a treasured Bible documenting her growth in understanding.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Having a rough day?

I wrote this post last week but didn't publish it until now. It got buried on the second page...so if it'd help to be reminded that we're all in this muck & mire together, go read it :)

Need prayer!

Would you please pray I can find my wedding ring? I took it off to shower yesterday (Monday) morning, but couldn't find it when I dressed. I've searched high and low-even digging through the trash. I don't know where else to look. I have a bad habit of multi-tasking and not paying attention to what I'm doing...this is probably the cause in this case :(

Thanks!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Updated 10/10 4:45 CST to say I found my ring earlier this afternoon! It was in the little basket I keep my hair dryer, mousse, spritz and stuff. Thanks for praying!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Math U See

I found myself on Math U See's website today! How fun! Since I was added to their blogroll, I thought I'd share how we came to use MUS.

As a new HS mom, I stuck to only what the Sonlight Catalog sold. The HS curriculum world was just too big for me to wander around in, so I stuck close to home (SL will always be home...fellow SL users get this). We used 2 other fine math curricula during this time-Singapore and Miquon, both sold and highly recommended by SL. Ash did well at first, but somehow we just fell behind. I could have been trying to do too much-instead of picking complementary pages from each book, I had her doing all of the pages in each book. It became confusing and I no longer knew what she had covered and what she lacked training in.

Because I'd been around the SL forums a lot, I'd seen MUS's name come up over and over again. I researched it a little, showed the free DVD to Ash, did the online placement--then jumped in with both feet. Ash & Hope both started Alpha-about 1st grade level (this was last year, when Ash was doing 4th grade work).

Ash soon overheard me tell someone that she was doing catch up work, due to my decision that she should start back at the beginning so she wouldn't miss anything. She is now about to finish Beta (2nd grade book) and Hope is back to Alpha after I bumped her back to Primer last year.

Ash's reaction to being at a younger grade level is the only draw back to MUS-we love every aspect of it. I love the way it builds each lesson with information from the previous lessons and I appreciate that it's thorough and "on purpose" in its sequence. I love the way they teach in a multisensory way, and I especially love that I can tell the girls to go watch the DVD at the beginning of each chapter and they "get" it right away.

Steve, the main guy at MUS is a solid Christian; I love supporting another believer's work--and I've NEVER had quicker shipping. We have ordered one morning and our new books arrived the very next day! (I'm sure this varies, since the orders go through individual MUS reps.)

Go check them out at: http://www.mathusee.com/

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Day of Karate

We had a fun day at our first karate tournament! This was totally new to me, but I compare it to a track meet. People, gear, Powerade, and cameras were everywhere. Sometimes, there was a big event taking up the floor of the gym, and other times there were six "rings" full of different activities out on the floor.

My "little" brother and I took all my girls, plus a friend of theirs about 2 hours away to Oklahoma. I was anxious, of course, about J-she has decided to explore the world and is now afraid of very little! I had to constantly worry about her toddling into the ring, where she could at the least distract someone competing and at the most be seriously hurt or worse. Here she is with a new friend-she kept trying to share her sippy cup and soggy graham crackers with this kind man (we've never met him; he wasn't with our group!






The girls both competed in sparring (fighting) and kata (kind of like a serious dance using karate moves). Neither placed, but that's not a surprise given their limited experience. They both kept a great attitude and showed much bravery. Hope fought against a boy (!) 6" taller than her! Ash fought a boy, too, but he was smaller-but feisty for sure!



I want to give kudos to the girls' karate team-the leaders did an excellent job taking care of all the kids' needs, even when it went against the wishes of the kids. The adults, especially Doc H, who is wonderful with the tiniest karate choppers, was constantly giving me tips or all of us encouragement. Everyone-both kids and adults alike were so helpful and thoughtful to me-from before we left the church parking lot through dinner. I'm very impressed!

Oh, and one of the leaders, a PS teacher applauded me for educating the girls well at home. She said she'd wished she'd been able to homeschool one of her girls and was happy about homeschoolers who take it seriously. That's always nice to hear!

Friday, October 5, 2007

What is going on?

It is 2:40 am and Jaybird is up. Therefore I am up. I've not been to sleep tonight yet. She took a cat nap-maybe if that, but she's not be asleep since 2:30 in the afternoon, so I don't know what's up. I can't believe this. She's not crying or sick, she's just awake.She lies in bed next to me and kicks off the covers, puts her feet in my face, wants to nurse, lies still for a while, then starts it all over with big bright eyes.

I think I'm going to die.

I am so tired.

I have to get up in 4.5 hours.

I can see today will be a splendid school day. Great.

This is our last baby.

.........................................
(Later in the) Morning Update:

We sat at the computer watching the very funny Anita Renfroe demo clips with Jay clapping along. I emailed a Shane and one of my bestest pals (who lives on the other side of the ocean and would pray for me!) and only got sympathy from Leah. Shane might ought to sleep in a cell at the SO because I'm none to happy to see him.

So, we get into bed and Bright Eyes starts to finally dim--at 3:30! Guess what happens at 3:49? No, Shane did not call to tell me he'd be praying and he'd come home right after his shift to keep all the kids quiet so I could nap....my cousin texted saying his wife is in the beginnings of labor...Jay woke up and her eyes sparked right up again :( Thankfully, in a few minutes she was over it. I wanted to throw my phone against the wall...but alas, I needed it to wake me up 3.5 hours later, which it did.

Sweet Adri is here, and although I was willing to stay up with her a bit this morning, she started to fuss on my lap so now it's nap time...ahhhh...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New things...

I'm trying new things this year...anything that intimidates me, I'm trying to "go for it". My progress on this goal is best saved for a different post, but I wanted to share some "firsts"I experienced this very day!

First, I (insanely) took 5 children & myself-including two one year olds-for hair cuts this morning. It really wasn't the one year olds that scared me, it was my almost-seven year old. She loves all the pretty necklaces and boas that the salon sells and she can't keep herself from wandering over to them. This in itself isn't so bad, but then her 4 yr old sister has to follow her over and then Jaybird toddles over as well, licking the glass display case while Hope yells at Beth not to touch, who then steps back into a display of glittery T-shirts all while Ash is busy taking my calls and can't stop her sisters from bringing total chaos to the salon! This hasn't actually happened, but I fear it will while I'm around the corner getting my hair cut--with my glasses off, so I can only really hear what's going on!

So, I prayed for it to go well, asked a friend to pray...and then I pulled out my spatula and threatened each child over 2 1/2 feet tall that they'd better behave. My spatula is still in my purse-it went unused today! The've never acted better and it went fairly well. The babies got tired at the end, so Ash took them all outside and got them buckled in the car seats (with the van's side doors open). There they ate their snack while I pretended to be a public school mom with no children with her enjoying getting my hair cut, lol.

After 2 hours, we did survive! Beth and I even shared a tender moment--the stylist left her in the chair and ran to wash another woman's hair. Beth is shy and although she loves getting her hair done, I know its a stretch for her to let someone else so close. I was telling her how pretty she was and quietly asking her if she liked the pretty green shimmery cape on her. She batted her long eyelashes and smiled...then she said, "Mommy, will you pick my nose?".

My other first was that I cooked kabobs! I don't have much experience cooking meat other than ground beef or baked chicken, so this was a fun stretch for me. It's all because the e-mealz program has it on the menu-the directions were so easy and they turned out great! I think Shane will enjoy them.

Be blessed-and try something new!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The best thing ever!

I've never done well with the grocery shopping method of walking the aisles planning my week's meals by seeing what looks good at the time. I hate the pressure of getting enough food or remembering everything I need without running back and forth across the store. Ughhh, even thinking about that makes me anxious!

Since we have a family of six, I can rarely just throw something together, I just don't keep enough of any one item on hand to feed us all a real meal. So, I make a weekly menu of lunches & dinners, then make my grocery list from my menu plan. I usually put the ingredients in a rough order with the flow of the store. I hate this weekly chore! Thinking of meals to make, thinking about all the ingredients gets soooo old week after week.

So, I was listening to Dave Ramsey the other day and there was an ad for e-mealz, which does everything I just described for you-except they do it better! They vary the meals so an not to repeat them, and they are seasonally appropriate! Also, on the shopping list is the price, so you know about how much you'll be spending. They try to keep it around $80. They have several options to choose from, like family or couple plans, points plans (for weight watchers), low fat, etc. Oh, and they're dirt cheap-$15 for 3 a months subsription!

I used it today for the first time and although in the future I'll take more time before shopping and probably adjust a few meals for out tastes, I love the idea of serving easy, good dishes without all the planning. If you're interested, you can check them out through the button on my sidebar.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Why am I blogging?

A friend's dh asked why all these bloggers would even want to write this stuff anyway...and I think I've talked about my theory on why blogging is so hot right now. We've lost the community in our fast paced, electronic world of text messages and emails, automated services and online shopping. Blogging has taken the place of the front porch of yesterday.


But today I blog for another reason. After my blue year after Jay was born, I guess I've been prone to getting down and/or overwhelmed. Today is one of those days. I just have so much in my brain, some of it are questions best left inside, but they still eat at me. I need to go to my husband and pour it out on him, but I can't do that, he's sleeping. So, I'm needing a place to get it out-that spot is the blog today.


I'm reading Island of the Blue Dolphins to the girls and just as it did when I read it as a kid, it makes me feel down and strange. I think it's the lonliness she faced, coupled with the shear primitive survival issues-like making weapons and killing animals for food. Anyway, back to the lonliness-I hate lonliness. I have a great group of friends, but sometimes I still feel alone-probably because in all the day to day things, it's just me.


I want someone to say the following things to: "Please stir the pasta on the stove." Or, "Could you answer the phone?" Or, "Hey, want to run and get a movie for tonight?" I'm sure Shane would like that, too-to be available for me, to be around to watch a movie. When he is home and awake, he gladly does all those things for me, without me even asking, but there are only a few hours during the week that he's awake and at home while we're home. Even doing things I really like, like going to Life Group, become a strain when I have to do it alone. I'm really hating the night shift right now, even though on good days I sing its praises.


I know its just the stage, but having a mobile 1 yr old who likes to explore, but is too young to put all the pans away she pulls out, along with 4 year old who is learning all the great techniques to avoid her responsibilities makes a house that is forever cluttered--usually with all those little toys that don't really belong to anyone but no one will let me toss out. I know you have those, too, I just have no idea where they come from, amen?


I'm posting this so if any of you are struggling, you know you are not alone. All of us have hard things to do-mine is homeschooling while working part time and feeling single (waaaaay single now that football season has started-I'm not both a law enforcement widow and a football widow!). Shane's is working in a hard-core rough environment where he's cussed at, threatened, occasionally assualted, and undervalued-oh, and then he goes home to a wife that doesn't like it when he relaxes infront of the football game :). Anyway, we all have our issues-don't buy into the lie that everyone else has it all together. They don't.

Perservere. Hang in there. A great scripture: "It came to pass..."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A typical day in our homeschool-long post ahead!

There's this myth in the hs world that many of us buy into: that all other hs moms have it all together, everyday. They have a clean house, wake up early to do their devotions, excericse, cook a great breakfast, then start school with liquid movements and no chaotic moments or start-and-stop, jerky transitions. Well, let me dispel that myth with a look at our day.

I woke up at 7:00 with the alarm and had my breakfast and coffee while reading James, chapter 4 (again, in prep for Life Group tonight). Out of nowhere pops Hope, who should still be asleep-and if by chain reaction, Jay wakes up too and we hear her over the monitor. Jamie is supposed to be here any minute with Adri (her 1 yr old who comes over several days a week). Jaybird really wanted to be back in bed, she only woke up to nurse. Adri gets here and her mom said she was tired, so I put her back to bed, then crawled back into my comfy bed with Jaybird--planning to stay awake...which didn't work so well-I woke back up a bit before 10am!

So, up I go, gathering kids with me, prompting them to the table for school. Hope had fallen back to sleep and was not planning to get up! Ash worked on her math while we waited a bit on Hope.

Meanwhile, I get a phone call from some man who sounded only slightly like Shane. I could barely hear him but we basically went around in circles until he asked me what I was doing and I said, "teaching school" (trying to give the hint that I needed to go), he muttered something and I asked him who he was (finally figuring out I didn't have a clue who this was) and he asked if I had a cigarette. I hung up. I hate calls like that-I'm some kind of magnent for them, too.

Shane came home, and this brings a time of disruption as everyone has to hug him and see if there're any leftover goodies in his lunchpail. We set back down to school; I'm trying to get through Matthew 6 with Jay on my lap (while she's trying to crawl up on the table!). My phone rings again-this times it's my cell and could be a client calling, so I check it. Its not a client, but another 4-H mom who I needed to talk to about an upcoming 4-H contest, so I took a minute, reluctantly, to talk to her.

When I'm ready to come back, Shane is pulling Hope's tooth and everyone has pretty much forgotten about what we just read in Matthew! Jay goes down for a nap with Daddy and I let Hope quickly call each grandma to tell them the lost tooth news.

It's about lunch time, when we need to be winding up school, but we're just now able to really get started! We sit back down and finish Matthew-but only 3 verses into it, Hope announces that Adri needs a diaper change. I finish reading our 15 verses assigned today, change Adri, and decide it's Adri's nap time. Ash takes Adri and her reader to the bedroom while I work on language arts with Hope. Hope isn't happy initially about one of the assignments, so I have to redirect her, then she's excited about making words with her flash card letters. We finish up as Ash gets back in. Ash and I discuss denotation/connation and then analyze synonyms to see how words with the same definition can have a different "feel" to them.

Lunch break-it's about 1, so I make macaroni & cheese. While the water is boiling and the noodles cooking, I read our science book. We review the layers of a tree, then move on to the new lesson of identifying trees. We take a break to eat, then I read Window to the World (a prayer guide for tribes and peoples throughout the world) to them while they finish their food.

Somewhere during this time, I give Hope a spanking for yelling at her sister to "get away and leave me alone" several times. I changed 2 poopey diapers, and my brother in law calls.

Since he's one of my favorite people and doesn't call often/talk long, I answered--also he was calling on Shane's cell, and Shane was asleep, so I felt I needed to answer in Shane's place. Anyway, he just needed to ask an internet related question, I helped him, we visited briefly and that was it--and he said he didn't prank call me this morning, lol.

Jay woke up, too and Ash fed her some macaroni while I read Island of the Blue Dolphins out loud to them. Hope stopped me midsentence and asked if I'd teach her to knit (I don't even know how), as she was playing with some yarn and 2 pencils, lol. I'm sure her mind was totally in the game! At 2:45, we read the last paragraph of chapter 7 of Torches of Joy-leaving chapter 8 for another day. My patience is tried, my voice is going, and I'm grieving the full afternoon I thought I'd have to tackle some other projects (laundry, dishes, and organizing our financing).

We'll finish the afternoon with dishes, independent school work (for Ash), straightening up, taking care of the babies, and getting ready for Awana and Life Group. We'll go to our evening activities, come home and get ready for bed, then start is all over tomorrow, hopefully getting started on time, since I'll have to work in the afternoon.

I guess I should shower now, since it is 3:00! Oh, but now both babies are up from their naps, so maybe it's not the best time...ahhhh wouldn't homeschooling be so much easier if we didn't have any kids? lol.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Botanical Gardens & The Zoo!

After about four hours of sleep, Shane and I met up with his family for a big day with the kids. Fueled up on coffee, we somehow mangaged to get through the day still friends at the end :)


Our first stop was the Botanical Gardens where we strolled through most of the gardens, met a snake, and took some fun pictures. The girls loved exploring and each new flower bloom had them in awe. God's creation is wonderful! It was really neat to see the gardens after studying in Jeannie Fulbright's Exploring Creation through Botany book. We had just studied about the anatomy of trees and then could explain to Uncle Scott how a hollowed out old pecan tree could still be alive.


We had a nice picnic in the gardens...nice except that I was so exhausted and was irritable because the water bottles had not been put in the ice chest...lesson learned-no girls' nights before big trips!


Our little family took off for the zoo, leaving Shane's mom, grandmother, brother & his girlfriend to explore more gardens. Shane and I would have rather come on home, but we persevered and after spending $50 to get in, decided we'd get our money's worth, lol!

The best moment for me was during the minitrain ride back to the gate. There had been no views of animals from the train until the very end when we came upon a group of flamingos. Bethany saw them and excitedly said, "I didn't know dem were dunna be dare!" Look at her face!


Here is one of my favorites: It's Shane's Grandma:




Jaybird's baby legs:


Ash exploring


Hopey...Save me Tarzan!


Sisters at the natural spa

One more of Jay's feet...with prints!