Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I promised in an email that I sent out to my prayer warrior friends that I'd post Grant updates here. I'm not really in the know, but what I do know is that he was officially diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. Today starts his treatment with a port, which has a high success rate with few complications. Please pray for his mom & dad (Amy...and I don't know his dad's name, we've never met). Also, his grandma is Susan. Amy & Susan both work for the PRC.

The PRC is also under more attack, as we've heard just a bit ago that two men with close relatives who work for the PRC have lost their jobs.

The last few days have been full of bad news: a church split with much pain, adultery, marital strife, the tragic death of a local special needs child, a drunk driver hit a friend's mother, children of our good friends were just given a scary diagnosis, toxic work environments with no escape in sight, Grant's diagnosis...

I really wanted to share something wise about how to handle life when it gets this hard. None of these things are happening to our family, just all around us...yet I've been tense in my shoulders and head since Monday. All I know is that we need to keep our lives simple so we can stop our own agendas and help where we're needed, don't just offer to help but jump in, and have some pain reliever on hand!

New 'do

Hope & Jaika Before

Both Jaika & Hope got some drastic haircuts yesterday. Jaika has so much hair, it almost looks like a thick wig. She's only two but she had-until yesterday-hair down to her shoulder blades. She's a bit of a messy eater, so food is often on her cheeks, then hair is stuck to her cheeks...then her hair is matted and sticky. I decided it's too much trouble to keep it clean, so we cut it off yesterday. I think it's adorable! Hope got in on the action and cut a lot of length off her hair as well. Bethy chose to have a few inches drop to the floor, Ashlyn got a trim and I got a new cut as well, but I'm just not as cute as a toddler so we'll leave off the pics.
I love the freedom in our home to do what we want with our hair. After all, it's just hair. It'll grow back. I've seen little girls and women with long, thick hair--but full of split ends. The hair is often praised (especially by daddies). Long hair in and of itself is not valuable and sometimes not practical. It gets to over 100 degrees here, often for many days in a row. How fair is it for Dad (in a short hair cut) to make his daughter keep her thick hair long? (I'm not talking about families who have religious beliefs about long hair...that's different.)
So, the moral of this story-chill out and have fun with hair. If you want it long, keep the split ends away and it'll look great!

Hope & Jaika After

Monday, April 27, 2009

Prayer Requests

Just a quick update, then a very serious prayer request.

We have found a house that might be a great fit for us. We need to have some things checked out before we go further (like the a/c, the well, and the roof) but we'd appreciate your prayer for all of this to fall together right. We need our land to sell and for wisdom regarding this house and if it is indeed for us.

We took the girls to see the King Tut exhibit in Dallas today. We're studying this time period in school, so it was perfect! I'd like to go back to the museum with just Shane and also as a family to enjoy it more.

My Grandma turned 90 on Saturday and we had a little party. My aunt made an incredible scrapbook with contributions from all the family members. She also bound a very thick book of all our contributed memories-even memories from the 5 year old great-grandchildren. My Grandma was overwhelmed! It was very funny to hear someone wish her "many more" and she replied, "Well, maybe, but maybe not, you know."

Okay, on to the most imporant part-we have a little friend who turns 3 tomorrow, his name is Grant. His mom Amy and grandmother Susan work at our Pregnancy Center. Grant's been sick for several days and was taken today to Cooks Children's Hospital where they are almost sure he has leukemia. He's so very very ill. He may start treatment as early as tomorrow. Amy and her husband have a baby as well. Please get on your knees for them. I'll be posting updates here as I get them.

Friday, April 24, 2009

SAHM Ministries

Let's explore the topic of ministry as a stay at home mamma. I know that our family is our primary ministry and if we're staying home minding a gaggle of children, we're busy, busy, busy. But that doesn't excuse us from ministry; from the "go ye therefore..." mandate.

So how do you put the go in that command?

I know a great mom who is very mindful of raising good kids and still finds herself carving out some time each week for her local Pregnancy Resource Center. Last week, her ministry there led to a baby being saved from death.

Another big family I know is taking the kids and serving in a pantry for the local victims of the mass fires we had recently. Very cool.

But what about those of us who really aren't in a season where we can get out of the house to minister? I've thought about a few things and would love to hear what's working in your life.

Here's mine:
*Being available to help new homeschool moms. I have two right now who've been calling or coming by for advice and encouragement. One even sat in on school last week, which was really fun!

*Being a Facebook friend. No, I mean it-who on your list of friends needs some encouragement or prayer? This is perfect for busy moms since you can access it 24/7.

*Prayer warrior-I don't get large pieces of time to hide away and pray, but I can sure pray with my girls before school and I pray while doing dishes, driving, rocking the baby, and when I wake to nurse in the night.

*Jot a note. We all love to get real mail. You'll make someone's day if you send them a handwritten note telling them you're thinking of them.

*Online connections-a strange thing has happened since joining Freecycle. In case you don't know how it works, you join an email list for your local area, then you can post/read about items no longer needed or ones people are needing. If you can meet the need, you respond to that person. Several times people have needed items the pregnancy centers offer and I've been able to spread the word about that ministry. Today I offered a cradle to a woman who later told me she & her husband were both laid off last month. I was able to offer some encouragement and prayer (even if she didn't know I prayed). I'm in contact with a mom of three who needs a breastpump ASAP. It's not a huge deal, but aren't the blessings of life usually the little things?

*Find a cashier to bless. My goodness, cashiers have rough jobs! I watched a few weeks ago as one kept her calm while dealing with a rude customer who ultimately purposefully spilled his coke on her conveyer belt. If you can find "your" cashier, get to know her a little and ask how she's doing with her garden or her granddaughter or whatever she's shared with you, you'll be able to bless her.

*How about your husband's co-workers? Can you send a crock pot of roast to work with your man? A cake or homemade cookies?

I know there's more-some I don't do, like helping out neighbors (we don't even know our neighbors...but we should), offering to babysit, calling the elderly in your church, taking your pastor's family a home cooked meal...tell me more!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day to You

Or, Happy Birthday to me...whichever you prefer to sing...I'm going for the second one today!

However, Earth Day gives me the best excuse to blog about the changes we've made, which happen to be green.

I used to hate Earth Day and resent that it was on my birthday. However, as I've come to realize being a good steward is not the same as being a liberal (oh boy is that a loaded statement!). Actually, being a good steward benefits me, too-as you'll see, most of my green habits are all about me.

In the last year I've started realizing how very thrifty being greener can be. Well, you can make it expensive of course, but being simple--which is my ultimate goal--is both green & thrifty. I think the key to staying sane is to just be simple.

Okay, so on with it-what do we do that's simple (and green, and thrifty?)

*Use cloth diapers-even though they may use more water than disposables, I feel better using them because they are not filled with chemicals that find their way into my child's skin. And, it's one more thing I don't have to keep putting on my shopping list.

*I use few paper plates-but I'm married to the king of all things disposable, so it does happen.

*I use my (very cool, thanks to my friends) reusable shopping bags. Mostly to remove myself from the cheap, consumerism feeling I get when I see a dozen flimsy Wal-Mart sacks in my kitchen after a grocery run. Yeah, I know, mostly a selfish reason, but who cares?

*Minimal car use...for us anyway. I save errands for one or two trips a week mainly because it's a lot of work to get my crew out the door. Because Shane works nights and has a big part of our marriage, we have been able to get by with only one car, kinda (it's complicated, but that's the gist of it).

*We use Charlie's Soap-a chemical free detergent (and we use the household cleaner, too). It's great for diapers and for the environment-although, again I started using it for selfish reasons.

*We use glass mason jars to drink from and to store leftovers in (sometimes). I am trying to use less plastic, and especially less disposable Tupperware like containers.

*Earnestly attempting to reuse items before I toss them in the trash. Including leftover food-okay, I mean not reusing it exactly, that sounds like it's been used once already! I mean I am storing more leftovers, even if it's just a little, for lunches or to throw into a new meal.

*We shop at thrift stores, give to thrift stores and use Freecyle often. We also try to shop local when we can-like for beef, honey, health food items etc. We're limited in our budget & our choices, but we try.

*We use online bill paying for all our bills, paperless statements and email alerts. Of course its selfish-I can't stand all that paper in my mail box and on my desk! It also happens to be cheaper and greener!

And, what negates all of this (totally selfish) effort? We shop at the biggest peddler of made in China junk in the nation. The one that tries to put all their employees on part time to minimize benefits, maximize profits. With poor produce and poorly made products...

Oh well, at least it's my birthday and that makes me feel better!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sister Love

Bethany was wearing a hand-me-down* shirt the other day that says hug a tree. She asked me to read it to her and tell her what it meant. I explained the meaning, saying something about taking care of the Earth. Then I tried to trick her to see what she believed, I said with some excitement, "Isn't that the most important thing ever?" She replied--I love it--"No, sisters are."

I believe having the girls home together has been so good for their relationships with each other. In a school setting, younger siblings are often labeled as the bratty tag-alongs they really are (oops, my childhood feelings just slipped out!). Just kidding-but the truth is, you can't very well dump your younger sister if she's with you all day. As a matter of fact, you get to experience life with her, make memories with her, learn together, and I'm sure occasionally complain about your mean parents together.

Because I wanted sisters so bad growing up, but only got brothers (you can see where the bratty tag-along thing came in, I'm sure-my youngest brother came along when I was 11 and he chauffeured every date until my wedding night), I stress to the girls all the time how blessed they are to have sisters. We put a high value on the way they're treated (well, I do anyway, they like to forget this value daily!). If a friend over means a sister gets treated unfairly, the friend goes home, for example. Thankfully this has never happened, but the point is, the girls know their sisters are valuable today and as they grow up.

Here are some pictures that bring this home to me:

*Just a little note about hand-me-downs. Beth got a new Beany Baby from church for Easter and named it Hammy Down, because hand-me-downs are the BEST she says! Thanks Summer for blessing her!

Mom Hacks

Ashlyn at a recent karate tournament

Hi friends! I hope you are enjoying all the great parts of Spring-and that the pollen isn't hitting you like it has us. Between the smoke and seasonal allergies, we've used a lot of Zyrtec at our house in the last week!

Of course, with summer softball (baseball, whatever...I know there's a difference, I just don't care!), we're out in it more often. More often like every. single. night.

Ashlyn & Hope are both playing ball, with 2 practices each a week, plus Awana for a few more weeks, and karate on two nights a week plus Saturday afternoon. The mom taxi is a goin' nonstop right now!

Usually this would kind of kill me-I don't like running all over town, worrying about who's supposed to be where and how I'll get them any dinner-especially on nights like tonight when Hope's ball practice starts before dinner time, then she leaves it early to go to karate which won't be over until about 8:30. I know, I'm not usually that kinda mom...but for a few weeks during ball season each year I am, sorry!

Here are a few hacks that have helped me stay sane:

First and foremost, I AM NOT thinking about the games that will start in a few weeks. Games I will be attending with a super sized jogging stroller that is supposed to keep two little ones trapped, ahem, I mean, safe inside and a bored 5 year old. Usually, my sweet husband will not be able to attend, so I'm on my own--but again, I'm NOT going there right now!

Seriously, though when I'm not in denial, I try to stay on top of things with the following systems in place:

*menu plans that reflect the activities of the day. No big fuss meals when I have to drive kids to and fro.

*Snacks. I'm not usually a snack buyer or server ('cause I'm cheap), but on nights when a child might be in practice during dinner and have to eat late, a snack is in order. I've made a list of easy to make healthy snacks and try to stay on top of having them ready for the kids.

*Scheduling it all on the calendar. I started using Google Calendar to list all our stuff, it sends me an agenda via email each morning, so I know what we're having for each meal, who has practice, when & where, and any other notes. Shane can also add to it from work, so if he has something he needs to schedule, he can log in, check our schedule and add it.

*Keeping the gear organized-the girls have a drawer in their room for just uniforms. Karate gis, Awana vests (and books) all go here. Also, the other gear for karate goes in their gear bags and is hung behind the front door on the rack. It's much less stressful to find everything in one place than to run around looking for one piece of sparring gear minutes before class!

*Return basket-right by the keys near the front door is a pretty basket I bought from a thrift store. It holds all the things that need to go back to their owner-borrowed books, dvds, clothes for my mom to mend for us, swim suits left by girls spending the night (Brandi-that's C's suit! From last summer!). It makes it easy to return things (in theory-you have to remember to check it and keep your husband from putting his junk inside!).

There you have it! How I'm staying somewhat sane during the crazy days of Spring activities. Oh, and the BIG one, I have accepted offers to let other people bring my children home from their classes. Which also means I've let go of a little control and allowed them to go to practices ALONE (but I know all their coaches pretty well and Ashlyn now has a cell phone). I know, I'm sooo that kinda mom now! You would be too with a brood this size!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More pics

Shane said he sent people to my blog to see pics, but I actually put most of them on my FB page, so here's some for you blog only people ;)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Burning through the Years

It was a strange day here yesterday. We made it onto CNN and for once it wasn't for the highest teenage pregnancy rate, jail corruption, or an Officer Down story. We had wildfires pop up all over the area yesterday. The dry conditions and the wind was a terrible mix. Power lines were whipped down, setting random fires all over the county.

As I listened to the news of the elementary school being evacuated and of the fire being especially close to friends' homes, I felt I needed to wake Shane. He was a firefighter for ten years and I knew he could help. As I went into the bedroom though, I reminded myself that he doesn't own any bunker gear and would probably be a legal liability to any department (since I guess he wouldn't be covered by their insurance or whatever), so I just kissed him and started to leave the room.
He kind of grunted a "what?" grunt before I got out the door, so I filled him in on what was going on. Well, of course what ex-firefighter (or any man) can just lie there? He got up and drove around town, then saw the smoke building up near his mom's town (ten miles away). He drove down there to check on things and ended up staying all day, even though he'd worked the night before & had to work last night.

It started with the rest stop in a blaze, then either the back side of the same fire or another one was across the little Farm to Market road from his mom's home. The embers from that burning pasture were flying onto my mother in law's property, starting little fires. At some point there were other fires on the opposite side of the property, maybe also from airborne embers. Shane was hopping from area to area while he had his mom in the car patrolling their small acreage for more fires.

His experience yesterday was not uncommon. Many people were out watching their fields burn while praying it didn't get their homes. A few homes were burned to the ground, maybe about half a dozen, I haven't heard yet. We had to have help from fire departments over an hour away, and they were even asking for community volunteers.
In the crisis, it was nice to see people calling the radio station (our only fast news outlet) to invite strangers to take shelter in their homes or to board horses or pets. Tractor Supply was even loaning out products like troughs and trailers to help out. It warmed my heart.

So, back to the title of this post, Shane got to be a fireman again, even if it were only with a water hose. He came in smelling like soot and exhausted. It seems his little battles with his mom's yard took a toll on him, more than big fires from his firefighting days...

And I also had a rude awakening. I posted on Facebook that by being forced to listen to our local radio station for news yesterday, that our high school music is now considered oldies! Yikes! Y'all, I just graduated in 1994-how can this be?

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Other Blog

I have a blog that's meant to minister to other women married to guys in law enforcement. I don't post on it as often as I do here, but when things come up specific to LE, I put it there. I just posted about a terrible incident that happened yesterday near here, an officer was killed by a man being chased by officers for a hit & run. He rammed a stolen Suburban into the patrol car on purpose. I'd appreciate any commentary over there if you feel so inclined.

Please at least pray for the officer's family, he had a five year old child (and I assume a wife).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Young Homeschoolers

When I was homeschooling Ashlyn through the early elementary grades, I did everything just as the instructor guide told me to. I didn't use any other curricula in my mix, I just did what I was told to do.

And it worked-Ashlyn is a great student.

However, with Hope now at this stage, I'm doing things a little differently. Not because the first way was wrong or ineffective, that's not it at all. It mostly has to do with two factors:

*More confidence that just comes with experience
*Less time (more children).

I now have no trouble at all using my favorite science curriculum (Apologia elementary science) instead of Sonlight's science. It works best with my style & our family. I also use Math U See after trying several other math programs. While I'm not a curriculum junkie, I now have the confidence to try out other methods or curricula if I need to.

But the less time thing is what I specifically want to address today. I realized as I brought out our Core 1 for Hope this year that much to my dismay, Ashlyn doesn't even remember a big part of what we studied back then. Even our favorite books were forgotten. I was both saddened and enlightened. If Ashlyn doesn't even recall our beloved stories, then why am I even doing this?

We do it to build a foundation. To teach our young ones that learning is satisfying and good. It's not content mastery we're after, it's familiarity. Working through an introduction to World History with an eight year old is about building concepts of a much larger world than our little town, a time period before us, people who lived--and live--differently than us. It's about introducing words like Europe, Asian, dynasty, and Pharaoh. We're also training learning habits and listening skills.

What's all this mean in terms of hitting every topic and book on the schedule?

Don't sweat it. So we skipped Henry Huggins for lack of time (we may add it as a book on CD though since I found it at the library). We switched out history spines but are not stressing about how the order falls, as long as we're generally in the same time period.

There is a place for more precise schooling (and that place may very well only be with the first born!) but early elementary is not it (exceptions may be with math & handwriting to a degree). Until then, teach good habits, enjoy learning, dig into the good books and don't beat yourself up about a skipped lesson or two...or an entire book or two!