Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keepin' It Real: The Mid-Year Mess

Remember back in July when my classroom looked like this?

Well, a lot has happened since then. Five whole months have happened since then. And then, in November and December, we didn't even use the classroom. I needed to sew and in order for me to be able to cut out fabric while schoolwork went on, we moved to the dining room table for a while.

And so...the classroom became sort of a dumping ground. I mean, even worse than before.

I'm fairly sure when I said, "Go put the globe back" that I didn't mean "under the table."

And have I mentioned that this room is immediately to the right when you walk in my front door? And that there is no door to shut on this room? Yeah.

To tell the truth, I don't even know how some of this happened. Little Bit does "art" at her little desk in the corner. "Art" is very freeing and self-expressive!

I mean, just look.

She better start making some money on that art soon.

I've got some work to do because school starts back on Monday folks!

So how about your house? Do you have some "mid-year mess" to share? Come on ladies, we're keepin' it real here. It doesn't have to be homeschool mess, just moved in's all welcome here. Snap a picture and share and make the rest of us feel better!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Keepin' It Real Is Alive and Kicking!!!

Hey, I've missed Keepin' It Real! And seeing as how the current state of my classroom is....very nearly indescribable with mere words...I've decided to have a KIR tomorrow night! Want to join in?

If you posted back in July during our "Homeschool Organization KIR Event" then please consider joining us tomorrow night for the update. I posted pictures of my beautiful, clean, shiny, wondrous classroom at the end of July and you sweet people left glowing comments for me. And I smiled.

But now I'm hanging my head in shame.

Deep shame.

And I want to show it to you! (Tee hee!)

So if would like to share your mid-year classroom pics with us, the Mr. Linky will be up tomorrow! If you didn't participate in our first classroom KIR, but you have shameful pictures to share--we don't discriminate. Everyone's mess is welcome in a KIR event! The more the merrier.

Here's a sneak peek of one of the items in our homeschool space right now:

It's pretty bad when the balloons are sad to be there.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fitness Friday Assignment: Add & Subtract

I'm going out on a limb here...I'm using my new web cam!!! I should have put a little lip color on now that I see the video, but hey, I put make-up on for you. On the holidays. On a Monday morning.

You should feel very honored.

Also, please ignore the dirty kitchen in the background. Thank you.

Now, here's your assignment:

See you on Friday!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Digging Out

I love it when my husband is home.

I ESPECIALLY love it when my husband is home and he feels like helping clean around the house. What could be more romantic? We've dug our way out of the living room aftermath and even put away almost all of the Christmas stuff. We don't normally worry about doing that so early, but we bought a new keyboard/piano for our family and it needed to go where the tree was, so...we put stuff away early this year.

Now I'm helping Sweetheart find places for her new stuff and sort through old stuff. It seems when new toys are around, they have far less trouble chunking some older stuff. When S goes back to work on Monday I hope that the girls' rooms will be all organized.
Then what will I do???

I haven't even thought past Christmas. I was so busy up until the last minute making homemade Christmas gifts that I realize I have no plan for next week. Well, getting ready for school would be nice....

But I wanted to share with you some of the crafty things I gave this year. I was pretty proud to do so much homemade stuff for the grown ups. (The kids got store-bought toys.) I know it saved us some money and hopefully folks could feel the love put into each gift.

My sisters and sisters-in-law all received this (with custom colors of course):

The soup mix is from this site. The dishtowels I got from here but without all that pesky piecing--I just used one piece of fabric. The criss-cross coasters are from here. And the ornament with my girls' on it is from Sycamore Stirrings. I think it made a pretty nice gift.

Here's a closer shot:
And then I discovered freezer paper stencils! Oh my word the fun I'm gonna have! There are many tutorials online for this, and I didn't use just one, so no link for you. Sorry! Here is the shirt we made my dad:

The girls go down to Grandpa's house several times a week to watch Popeye at 2:00. They love watching that show together. I think his shirt came out nicely.

I made shirts for my sisters too. Here is my oldest sister's shirt with the freezer paper stencil still ironed on.

Here I am starting to peel it off. Sorry there's no final shot--it was a mama and baby giraffe.

Trace, cut out (with manicure scissors--I'm not good with an Exacto knife) and iron on. Stencil, let dry and peel. It comes out so sharp and good! And here is a site with lots of free stencils.

And lastly, my dorky sister. How can you walk into Christmas wearing a shirt that matches the presents you brought AND NOT NOTICE????

Obviously, she likes that pattern. Cracked me up!

Hope your Christmas was great!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We Sniff You a Merry Christmas

Seventy-five percent of our family is sick right now. It's not serious...just sinus drainage. Lots of snot, scratchy voices, sore throats (not too sore--they've been eating fine), and resting.

PRAYING that everyone feels up to par by Christmas day so they can properly enjoy themselves and get way too excited. I would LOVE to see my little girls bouncing off the wall right now instead of laying around.

So we are resting, and medicating, and drinking lots of fluids, and praying for everyone to feel better and that none of this will turn into an infection.

Other than that--we're doing fine! The presents are almost finished (just some freezer paper stenciling to go). The house is in bad need of being picked up before tomorrow night. The groceries are purchased.

And most importantly, I'm finished running around.

I hope all of you have a great Christmas with your families! I'll see you sometime after!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thoughts On My Hair

A note before we begin: This post is about my hair. It's not about anyone else's hair. I spend precious little time thinking about other women's hair. :)

I have had my hair all kinds of ways. My hair is naturally stick straight, but for about a decade there I permed it regularly. I loved perms--made me sad when they went out of style. I've worn my hair short, long, and in between. I'm a bit ashamed to admit it but I was fairly cutting edge back in the day and even had asymmetrical hair for a time. (shudder)

I was of the generation (a lot of you will be able to relate to this!) where your hairstyle was all about the bangs. We curled those bangs and while the curling iron was on our hair, sprayed hair spray DIRECTLY onto the barrel of the curling iron. (insert sizzling sound here) The adjective "crunchy" comes to mind.

When I was a teenager I always used to hear that "guys like long hair." Every male I ever heard talk about girls' hair agreed. I thought "well that's great--but it's not THEIR hair!" I well remember telling my husband early on in our marriage that I would grow my hair out long for him if he would get up early and fix it for me every morning. I said it jokingly of course, but the attitude was "who are you to have an opinion about MY hair?" The word "feminism" comes to mind.

Several years ago I was reading 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. It was a passage of scripture I had certainly read many times before. In the past, I had breezed right past this little passage without giving it much thought. It wasn't that I thought it wasn't "culturally relevant" (a common argument), it's just that I hadn't thought much of it.

With a changed heart and new eyes, I began to study this section of scripture more carefully. I see how folks who believe in wearing head coverings came to their conclusion. And if a woman wears a head covering in obedience to scripture...having studied it herself and come to this conclusion...then I admire her heart for the Lord. I believe the part of the scripture that says, "For long hair is given to her as a covering." (v. 15) But before we get to that...

The really important part of this passage to me is the order of the family. Many people agree with this part of the passage, by the way. "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (v. 3) S and I were lucky to be taught this order in high school. It was likened to an umbrella of protection. It's easy to understand, as a teenager, that our parents were under Christ and we were under our parents. When a child rebels against, or steps out from under that order, he or she is unprotected, both physically and spiritually speaking. It is a much different thing to admit, as a wife, that you are under your husband. That's a bit of a stretch away from "modern thinking."

Now this passage is talking about worship--praying and prophesying are mentioned. But there are so many larger truths packed in those paragraphs. The passage goes on to mention, "the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head." (v. 10) It talks about "the very nature of things" (v. 14) and also about long hair being a woman's glory (v. 15). Oh, there is a lot to study in that passage!

And study it I did. I talked with my husband about it too. We studied it together. I DO NOT understand everything in this passage of scripture, let me be clear! But I walked away from it with a different perspective. Doesn't it make sense? A woman has long hair and a man does not. "if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him..." (v. 14). Things were like this for hundreds and hundreds of years. Study the history of women's hair. Study the effects of feminism. (Click on "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!" EXCELLENT!) A sign of authority. My husband is over me. Hmm. Hmm. It had me thinking.

Now, women who don't wish to let their thoughts go in the direction mine went, will probably prefer to think about this verse:
"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b
I've heard that phrase "God looks at the heart" used when speaking of clothing, modesty, and hair. And I know that it is true. I could have hair longer than anyone and an ugly, disobedient, rebellious heart. I could have the shortest hair ever for a woman and have the most lovely, obedient, submissive heart you could imagine. It truly isn't a "sign of obedience" for a woman to have long hair. It won't tell YOU a thing about me other than the fact that I have grown my hair out.

But with the decision to grow out my hair did come a submissive heart. I did it for the Lord, and for my husband. It was a way of showing that I understood, and accepted, God's order. That's how it started out. Is there a certain length I was going for? Nope. My hair has been what I would consider long for quite some time. I do not grow more spiritual with every inch I add to my hair length. It also had a little to do with cultural rebellion. Yep, I was rebelling against rebelling. Confusing enough for you? Our culture has become too unisex, to masculine, too...a lot of things. Growing my hair out was a return to order for me. A statement that I am feminine (well, somewhat...I'm a work in progress!).

I got used to my long hair and haven't thought about all these reasons for a while. Lately these thoughts have been coming back to me because my hair has gotten just long enough to drive me crazy. You know that length where it gets in your armpits? TMI? :0 NO, I did not say I was growing out armpit hair!!!!

OK--back to the hair is just long enough right now to be a burden. About a month ago I asked S if he would trim it for me in the evening because it was making me crazy. We didn't have time that night and the hair just kept growing. And last week I was really thinking about that burden of long hair.

It reminds me.

It reminds me that I am under my husband (who is under Christ). It reminds me of his and His authority over me. Every time I move my hair out of the way so I can do something, every time I rummage around for a clip to put it up, every time I brush it out....I am reminded.

If I had short hair I could do some things easier. It would give me more independence. More free time. Less worry. Less of a burden.

And I would be my own woman.

But I am not my own. I have a small burden to remind me of the place the Lord has asked me to occupy. And that is why...right now....I'm keeping it just like it is.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Break At Last!!!

We are done with school for now! Yeah!!!! We've been going since the very beginning of August (with 2 weeks off--1 for Hurricane Ike and 1 for illness) and we are ready for a break. I cannot even think about school in January yet. I'll be ready to make big plans later after a little time off.

S and I have to go shopping just one more time and we'll be all done. That will occur on Sunday afternoon. Today I am looking forward to staying home. The main reason I need to stay home is the clothing situation is out of control around here.


I mean...still.

I've whined about my dysfunctional washing machine before. I went to the laundromat for a while but that got old. I just need to buckle down and pay close attention to the washer all day tomorrow and maybe I can get through all the laundry. Then there's the laundry baskets of clean, folded laundry that has been rifled through to find things to wear. It kind of needs to be put up. Then there's the ironing.

I'm hoping the kids can play all morning without needing me so I can get this done. It will make my Christmas SO much happier.

THEN, I'll be ready to enjoy the Christmas holiday. So, one more day of work and yucky things and then I'll be ready for some fun.

Hope you have a great Saturday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fitness Friday: The Fill-In-The-Blank-Edition

Here is my short and sweet Fitness Friday post:

1.This Christmas I am going to indulge in (meaning enjoy, without guilt, a reasonable amount of) desserts. I plan to take a small sampling of lots of desserts and only eating a whole serving of what I REALLY want.

2. It is my goal to stay away from being sedentary. I haven't really started exercising much but at least I can go walk or do something besides sit around this house!

3. Over the holiday, I am changing my exercise goals to...HAHAHA! You cannot change that which you do not have.

4. The way I will remind myself to make good choices over the holiday is post some scripture on my mirror and the fridge!

5. My favorite ornament on my tree are the ones my kids made and the "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments.

6. Of the progress I have made so far, my favorite thing is that my jeans are baggy and I fit into skirts I had outgrown.

Enjoy your Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things I Think About

I haven't had much time to write lately...and when I have it hasn't been very deep stuff. I'm kind of ready to get back to "real" blogging like I used to when I first started....

...and no one was reading. :)

Maybe next year. But right now I want to share with you the things that consume my thoughts during the days. I sometimes feel like such a weirdo and wonder if other people concern themselves with the things I do. Here they are in no particular order:

1. I think a LOT about my kids' spiritual development. I am always trying to find what else I can and need to do with them during Bible time. I'm really excited about the new curriculum I got this week. I plan to start in January--or maybe right after Christmas. Now, I didn't say I'm constantly DOING all the things I think about needing to do, just that I think about it a lot.

2. I think about housework a lot. It's kind of always in my face so that's understandable.

3. I have a lot of thoughts about my hair. I may share those soon. I've been mulling them over all week.

4. I think about all the things I want my family to do but we don't. The hours go by quickly, the schedules are too full, and there's also that pesky little "budget." But I have dreams and plans for things I hope we will do one day.

5. I feel like I think about mundane things a lot. My days are full of keeping our home and taking care of my family and let's face it...that stuff isn't too glamorous. But it is my ministry and I believe that it takes first priority so I protect my time pretty fiercely.

6. I think about my relationship with my husband. We have a great marriage but we are human. If things between us aren't "right" my whole day is thrown. Hate that. Most days I'm thinking about what I need to do to help him.

7. I think about parenting decisions a lot. If you've been reading my blog for a length of time you know that we didn't start out very purposeful with our family. We kind of did what everyone else did and what we grew up doing. A few years ago the revisions started and we still are thinking through things.

And sometimes I don't think about much of anything at all. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Own Daybook

You know those daybook entries that some bloggers do? Those are neat, but I decided to do my own. Just a little update.

My Christmas House

On my kitchen table...are 2 gift bags with presents inside that need tissue paper, wrapping supplies, Christmas fabric, candles.

My pretty and actually has a few presents under it now.

The living room... is indescribable. Here's a picture of right now:

How is it possible that is was neat and picked up at 5:00 yesterday?

The wet and still in the middle of a wash cycle from yesterday. (You know I have to stop my washer 4 times MINIMUM for each load. It never got restarted last night.)

The children...are happy and playing. I haven't hit 'em with school yet. YES we are doing school today since it slipped by us yesterday. It's just Gingerbread Man stuff and Bible so it's not like I'm expecting a lot!

I am...concerned about my ingrown toenail. Hoping it doesn't get infected before our health insurance kicks in!

I am excited about...possibly going on a vacation with the girls after Christmas. It will just be for a weekend, but they have never stayed at a hotel and it will be fun!
OK Karly...beat that!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm Going to Make It Easy On You...

It's too close to Christmas to expect people to write lots of coherent things on their blog. So for Fitness Friday this week, I'm giving you a fill-in-the-blank form to use. How nice is that? Just complete the sentences--and don't feel the need to explain everything. One sentence really is enough's Christmas and who has time to read a bunch of posts?

And also, before we get to the fill-in-the-blank goodness, this week will be the last Fitness Friday until January 2. I'm not going to be thinking about blogging (or fitness, OK) the day after Christmas! So take a week off and enjoy the time with your family. We'll meet up again right after New Years.

Complete these sentences:

1.This Christmas I am going to indulge in (meaning enjoy, without guilt, a reasonable amount of) _______________. (you can list more than 1!)

2. It is my goal to stay away from ______________.

3. Over the holiday, I am changing my exercise goals to ________________.

4. The way I will remind myself to make good choices over the holiday is __________.

5. My favorite ornament on my tree is ________________. (Hey, they can't all be about fitness!)

6. Of the progress I have made so far, my favorite thing is ______________.

See you Friday!!!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow in Texas

The word "miracle" has been thrown around a lot this week! Wednesday night brought inches...INCHES of snow right here in southern Texas.
It snowed 4 years ago too--on Christmas day even! Here is Sweetheart and Little Bit 4 years ago. But this time was even better.
It snowed when I was 2. I know because I've seen the pictures of it. Then it snowed when I was in 4th grade. We had a sub that day and she wouldn't let us go outside. Every single class in the school was outside our window playing and we stood at the windows shamelessly crying. One of us even snuck out and got Mr. Luker from down the hall to rescue us. He tried to tell the sub it was OK if we went out but she wasn't hearing any of it. It wasn't on the schedule. When school was out the snow was mostly gone. But I'm not bitter.

My girls, however, got to play both at night....
and the next day--three times the next day to be exact. It was wondrous.

And also, we learned that we don't have the proper clothes for snow down here.

Thank you Lord for this special gift!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fitness Fr...Weekend: The Spiritual Edition

OK--My post is finally up. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Since this topic is so late in coming, I thought I'd give everyone a break this week. Just post sometime this weekend and let's all remember to check in on each other, OK?

So I got a lot of suggestions and decided to leave this one open. Several of you have talked in the past about how this is not just a physical journey for you, but a spiritual one as well. This weekend you are asked to discuss what that means for you. You can go as deep as you want to. Perhaps you'd just like to share some Bible verses that are encouraging to you. Perhaps you'd like to share part of what God has taught you on this journey.

The floor is yours. I will also need time to think about this topic, so I'll be adding my post here later.

Have a great Friday, everyone!

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's posts this week. I've been really busy (a recurring theme among us!) and this post just wasn't happening. But I really liked what JulieMom said. The thing that really occured to me was that I don't ask for God's help on obvious thigns. Yes, I try to walk on my own strength when it's something I think I've got down. Well, I've got the eating down pat, let me tell you!!! I'm thankful for the 8 1/2 inches I've lost. I'm looking forward to the inches I will lose in the future. But most of all, I'm looking forward to growing in my walk with Christ. This truly is NOT just a physical thing. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts with me when I didn't have much to say. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Various Thoughts From My Head

There isn't enough going on upstairs to warrant an entire blog post, so I'll just bore you in small segments instead. OK?

Lower Than National Geographic

The girls were making dioramas this week and Sweetheart borrowed several National Geographic magazines from my parents to supplement her Egyptian scenery. My parents have subscribed to National Geographic for as long as I can remember and there is an entire shelf of the magazines in their built-ins in the living room. When it came time to work on the diorama, we were not sure if Grandma and Grandpa had intended for us to cut them up or not. I thought we'd better call and ask.

Me: Mom? Can we cut up these National Geographics?
Mom: Um........................yeah.......................that would probably be fine.
Me: Are you sure? We would only need to cut up the articles on Egypt.
Mom: Yeah, well..............I was going to look at them, but it's OK, go ahead and use them.

Now here is where I should tell you that when she spoke those words, my eyes drifted to the date on the cover of the magazine. Are you ready?


I'm thinking if you haven't made time to look at these magazines in the last 13's probably really far down your list of things to do.

Grocery Shopping

Which is, apparently, where grocery shopping falls on my list of things to do seeing as how I haven't managed to get to the store for an entire, planned trip in 2 weeks.

So, raise your hand if you would like to know what my 5 year old ate for supper last night. OK, OK, I'll tell you. A cinnamon roll and a bowl of green peas.

She had pancakes at 3:30 in the afternoon at Grandpa's so she wasn't that hungry at suppertime. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Tonight's gourmet meal of Hamburger Helper should really bowl my family over!

See? Lower the expectations for a while and then HIT 'EM with your best stuff and they'll be more than impressed. Just a little psychology lesson for free there.

Homemaking Awards

In spite of my previous mention of Hamburger Helper, I am still working on cooking from scratch more and eating healthier. Let's see...I made biscuits this week instead of using canned ones! That's about it. Hey, some things have to slide during the holidays so we can get everything done. I may not be doing great on the food, but I have mostly been keeping up with the laundry. Everyone has had appropriate clean clothing to wear every day. Well, except today when Sweetheart couldn't find any socks to wear. Did I mention that it was sleeting today? That almost NEVER happens here in south Texas and that's the one day my child had no socks to wear.

I hope I'm not too late to be nominated for that homemaking award. Just e-mail me and let me know when I win.

The Party Dress

Speaking of clothes, S and I are going to his work Christmas party on Saturday and I have been searching feverishly for a dress all week (NOT in my laundry pile...from an actual store). I really wanted to wear a dress or skirt even though pants are mostly what you can find at the stores these days. Not that they wouldn't look nice, but I know my husband prefers me in a skirt and I also wanted to wear one. So, I kept searching and was finally successful. I hope it looks as good at home as I thought it did in the dressing room. I was disappointed by the size I bought (wouldn't you think that 8 1/2 inches would make more difference?) but when I finally got a size that fit--it looked and felt so much better. I'll post pictures if we get any I like! :)

Fitness Friday

And speaking of 8 1/2 inches...I have NO IDEAS for a FF topic this week. None. I'm out. I think I've done pretty good coming up with topics so far and I've prayed about this one like I usually do, but the only thing I've come up with was "What Encourages You?" (you know, Bible verses, quotes, pictures, etc). I'm kind of not really excited about I need your suggestions. Any I don't use will be filed away to use later, so bring 'em on!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Front of the Class

Last night we watched Front of the Class, the true story of Brad Cohen, a Georgia teacher who has Tourette's. I heard about the movie on the radio the day before it aired and later that day I saw his book at the bookstore. I was very excited to watch the movie and it did not disappoint.

This was the first positive and accurate depiction of Tourette's Syndrome that I have ever seen in a movie. Usually Tourette's is just used for jokes or the very rare symptom of copralalia (cussing) is highlighted. The actor portraying Brad Cohen had the tics down pat. I cannot even imagine the acting talent it took to do that.

The girls watched the first part of the movie with us and I was interested to see how they would react. I told them it was a movie about a teacher with Tourette's. Sweetheart asked what Tourette's was and I said, "he has tics." She knew what that meant as we usually talk about her sister's "tics" and don't really use the word "Tourette's" when we discuss them. As soon as the movie started Sweetheart said, "Mom! I just saw a tic!!"

Little Bit watched the movie until she fell asleep. She wanted to know why Patricia Heaton (playing Brad's mother) was crying in one part of the movie.

"She's happy they finally figured out what was wrong with him," I told her.

"What's wrong with him?" Little Bit asked.

"He has Tourette's Syndrome," I told her.


Apparently, that had nothing to do with her! :) I guess she didn't really see any similarities between Brad and herself. To be fair, she doesn't have very many vocal tics---mostly just motor tics. However, I think as she becomes more aware of her tics, this movie may one day be a very positive thing for her to watch. I know this was one thing I found lacking in all the information I found on the web back when we were researching Little Bit's tics--a real story about how TS affects a real person. It was nice to see.

I'm very impressed with the story and with Brad Cohen himself. You can read more about him at his website. Thanks to all my friends who watched the movie too and those who e-mailed me to ask about it. I appreciate you thinking of us.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Possible Death of Kindergarten

You know how you can be aware of an issue but not really think on it too much until YOU are facing that issue head on?


Well, I've heard chatter a long time about Kindergarten. If you spend any time at all on the computer reading homeschool blogs, articles, or'll see this discussion pop up too. But I had a second grader and a 3 year old last I wasn't ready to pay attention to it.

Now, however I have a 5 year old who next year "should" begin Kindergarten. Her cousin will be starting Kindergarten. Some of her friends will be starting Kindergarten. So now I have to decide what her Kindergarten year will look like here at home.

If you had asked me over a year ago what we would do for Kindergarten, I would have had an answer. I knew what I wanted Kindergarten to look like. I was looking forward to it. Probably it's because I'm a bit of a nerd and I LOVE school. Always have. New school supplies set my heart racing. Teacher supply stores are like a little slice of heaven. Sweetheart inherited this from me.

Speaking of Sweetheart...she went to public school Kindergarten. I talked about that experience beginning here. So I've never homeschooled a kid this age.

So there's a lot to think about...."better late than early" (I haven't read the book but I read that it was written in response to an article. At the time California was trying to make compulsory education a law for children aged 2 years, 9 months!!!!! Are we not right back there now with talk of mandatory Pre-K? That was nearly 40 years ago.), all the curriculum choices that are out we even need a curriculum? There are scope and sequences to look at. There are lots of schools of thought on the whole issue. And then there's what I know of the origins of Kindergarten.

And I think I know what I think. :)

But I'd like to hear from some of you. What did/does Kindergarten look like in your house?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fitness Friday: Love Your Body Edition

I don't think it's any secret that women suffer from self-esteem issues sometimes. Not all the time--just from oh, 8 or 9 years old until....45 I'm guessing?

I'm kidding. I felt just fine about my self at age 8 or 9.

Knowing that you are overweight or out of shape can really affect how you feel about your body. We just simply stop wearing certain things or even doing certain things. I know people who have not been swimming in years. And this is TEXAS!

The fact of the matter is, we aren't the best judges of our looks. The things that bother me about myself, my husband does not even notice. The things he is attracted to, I don't even think about. When I look in the mirror, I'm all about making sure I don't look too fat. It's all about the stomach area for me. Him? He loves the way my skin looks and feels. Among other things. I'm just saying that the things WE think are such a big deal may not be what others notice at all!

Well now that we are getting a handle on the-things-that-bother-us-but-we''s time to look at ourselves in a new light. I mean, we are God's creation.

So, a few of my favorite things about myself are:

1. My lips. They are full and have color to them so that I don't really worry about lipstick too much. In fact, I pretty much like my smile too. Thanks to mom and dad and the orthodontist. :)

2. My feet. When they are shaved at least. :) I've seen some ugly feet, but I like mine OK.

3. My skin tone. We are Scotch/Irish in this family, but my great grandmother was Native American and I guess I got just enough pigment from her to avoid the skin tone of my white as ghosts sisters! Don't worry-they know.

4. My eye color (hazel.)

5. And I like my boobs, OK?

Come to think of it, I guess what I really don't like is just the SHAPE of my body. I never got used to the shift of things after having babies and the weight gain didn't help any. I think underneath it all I have a fine figure...I just have to locate it!

Huh. I feel better about myself than I thought I did!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Permission Granted

I need time to sew. I need time to craft. I need time to make Christmas presents.

Hello? Brenda, you stay at home. HOW can you possibly NOT have time to sew and make presents?

I know! I'm asking myself the same thing! When I worked full time I was POSITIVE that if I "could just stay home" I would always have time and never be stressed about anything.

Oh and my house was going to be clean too.

Do you know what I almost caught myself thinking the other day? I'm really almost ashamed to admit it. I started to think, "If I could just be like those women who stay home but send their kids to publi..." ACK! I almost went there in my mind! It isn't that I want to send my kids off to public school--I don't. I love homeschooling them and even when I don't love it we are going to still do it because it's the right thing to do. It's just that I'm a bit envious of the thought of 7 or 8 hours alone. To do whatever.

So, the grass always looks greener....but it's not.

The real reason I can't get the presents done is that I can't give myself permission to. There are always so many other pressing things that need to be done that sewing seems frivolous. And plus the house is a mess including the sewing room and I first have to hack a path to the table. To do that, I have to move the ironing board. There's really no point in moving the ironing board until I get husband's shirts ironed. And really, I probably ought to just go ahead and run a load of clothes first....

See how that happens?

But I had a meltdown the other night and told S that, inexplicably, I need help. I KNOW I'm home all day. I KNOW I should be able to keep up with this house. But, obviously, that isn't the case. So we had a talk about needing to declutter vs. our family just needing better habits and I realized he was right and just decluttering is really not the (whole) answer. Anyway...he helped me clean up the kitchen and living room really good and they have stayed nice all week. I feel so much better and on top of things. And by the way, I am really very thankful that I listened to God. When I prayed for help the other day all I kept thinking was, "Ask S." That's what God wanted me to do! He gave me this wonderful husband for a reason, people!

Now I just need to give myself permission to sew. EVEN if there is laundry that needs to be put up. And EVEN if there are toys that need to be sorted. It doesn't have to be for the whole day, but surely I can carve an hour or 2 out of the day to work on stuff.

I mean, I HAVE's already December 3! And boy would I rather be here at home working on a gift for a loved one than in the stores fighting crowds and spending a bunch of money!

How's your Christmas present getting going? (Read that again, it really does make sense!)

Fitness Friday Assignment: Tell us about your best feature! NOT your wonderful sense of humor or your fun personality...I want to know what you LIKE about your body. Our self esteem is not completely shot just b/c we are heavier or more out of shape than we want to be. Come on...think hard. What do you like about the way you look?

Monday, December 1, 2008

What God Had Up His Sleeve

You know how exciting it is to give a really cool gift to your children? It's so fun to think about how their face will look when they see what they got--especially when that something is totally unexpected. That's one of the things I like about Christmas.

Well, turns out God has been working on a very cool surprise for two of his children as well.

But before I tell you about that....let's go back in time, shall we? When I was in 8th grade my church youth group drove to San Antonio and attended a retreat at a church there. When I walked up to the registration table, I noticed the girl sitting there was left handed like me. And, we've been friends ever since.

We spent that weekend together and became pen pals. Real, actual pen pals with pen and paper and envelopes and stamps and the whole thing. We wrote our way through 8th grade, and all of high school and college (spotty during college but we were so busy being cool you know! HA!). We saw each other in person maybe twice a year; summer camp, retreats, things like that.

I was in her wedding, right after my own and soon afterward we both got e-mail and we continued being pen pals, thankfully with a keyboard this time. I saw her a few years after our weddings for one evening when she was in town for a friend's wedding. Other than that, we have just written. We've written our way through our school schedules, guys we liked, my parents are driving me crazy....all the way through pregnancies, miscarriages, baby names, new jobs, moves, potty training, and learning to be godly wives....we've written our way through it all.

But we have never lived in the same city. And since we got married, we haven't even lived in the same state. So it came to pass that 11 years went by without us seeing each other. I've looked up the price of plane tickets to her state and closed the door on that thought real quick!

But God delights in blessing His children.

And so it came to pass that I glanced at Facebook one day and noticed her husband's status line indicated they were in Texas. Specifically, they were 2 hours away from where I was going to be after Thanksgiving. And I KNOW God was smiling as it dawned on us that we just might actually get to see each other live and in person again! That our kids just might get to meet each other (and we to meet each other's kids!) Our Heavenly Father must have felt like I do when I have a really great surprise for my children.

I couldn't sleep for two nights I was so excited. And guess what? We really didn't have much "catching up" to do at all. She's more caught up on my life than some of my friends I see all the time! Truth is, we've stayed caught up really well. So it was just a nice day at McDonald's for some old friends....
and some new ones.
And what it really was, was an unexpected blessing from a very loving Father.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fitness Friday: The Holiday Edition

Today it's all up to you. IF you want to post. WHAT you want to post about. It's a free topic week--so enjoy. (If you have time.)

Thanksgiving turned out to be a breeze for me. We had a stomach bug at our house so this was the first day S and I were eating real food anyway. You know you aren't hungry very much after that so I ate, I got full, I stopped. End of story.

And my inches lost this week totals up to 8 1/2!!!! Eight and a half inches off of my body since we started and here's the real kicker: I haven't done a lick of exercise yet.

I KNOW I KNOW I'm the one who started this whole thing on my blog but it's true. I'm sorry. I don't have a gym membership and I just haven't done a thing. So all you ladies who keep typing, "Oh I only worked out 2 times ALL WEEK..." you can start feeling better now. 'Cause you are doing double of what I am doing. :)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I have a very exciting event coming up this weekend that I can't wait to blog about when I get home--if everything works out like I hope it will!!!! I can't promise it will be exciting to you, but it will be to me. And if you can live through my normal posts, this should be a good break from reality.

Have a great weekend everyone! (And I'm not worried about how the title says "Friday" but I'm really posting on Thursday because clearly, from the looks of some of our Mr. Linky's, "Friday" is just a suggestion for "sometime between Friday and Tuesday." HA HA!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Can Take a Hint

Before Karly and I got the idea for "Fitness Friday", I posted about all the things I had been ignoring that were telling me "get fit girl!" I finally listened and started DOING something about my weight. It ONLY took 6 months or more of hints, OK?

So, the other day I posted about a few kicks in the butt I received that got me to doing things I needed to do anyway. I'm beginning to think my head might be a bit thick. One of those things was my 9 year old's migraine. As usual, I hopped on the computer and started looking up information. I'm a research nerd...queen.

Basically, changing our diet would help some. Sweetheart needs to eat regular snacks to avoid these headaches. She also could stand to eat better. So could the whole family. So that sent me off on a whole goose chase around the internet with such phrases as "organic food" and "health foods" and all such as that. It can be completely overwhelming, let me tell you. On some sites I began to think that my whole life was one huge dangerous health-hazard. Even the use of hand cleaner is bad for you according to some.

The reason its overwhelming is because I'm not going to get my family to start eating bean sprouts for snack anytime soon. I hardly even know where to get really healthy food and even if I managed to get my hands on some, would I know how to cook it?

Then I stumbled on a tip that was the best thing I ever read. It basically said, "Eat things your grandmother (or great-grandmother) would recognize as food."

Ah, very wise. This means avoid the overly processed and prepacked stuff we depend on today. It means eat more fruits and vegetables. It means...learn to cook Brenda.

So THAT got me to thinking--hmmm, food my grandmother would recognize? I then looked up recipes from the 1940s. Guess what? I'm not worrying about all the organics and all the bits of advice that make my head spin. My grandmother served meat and vegetables and eggs. Sure, we should try to make sure that it's safe meat and vegetables and eggs and I think that's where the organics argument comes in. But the point is, my grandparents ate real food. They had never heard of some of the junk in boxes I now own.

So I made out a menu for the week. I changed a few things. It's a start, OK? I served meat loaf and carrots last night. REAL carrots. Like, they were raw and I peeled them and cut them up and cooked them! And the girls ate them! (Did I mention the brown sugar and butter? Oh, never mind.) I plan to make several things from scratch too. Little changes.

And then, to further complicate the journey, we went to the doctor today for Sweetheart's 3 day migraine. He told her to avoid chocolate, peanuts, cheese, and hot dogs. Do you have any idea what that does to her diet??? I mean, we can all live with fewer hot dogs and less chocolate...but no peanut butter or cheese? That's getting personal!

And in light of those doctor's orders...shall we examine my menu this week? Let's see--pizza tonight, cheese quesadillas for lunch tomorrow--it's not looking good. I will continue to research and learn. And we will get healthy around here.

The Plan Isn't Working

We were to have 3 days of school this week.

I was to go to the grocery store today to get the few items I couldn't find on Sunday.

We were to complete many festive Thanksgiving projects this week to decorate the house with.

Instead, Sweetheart has had a headache since Saturday afternoon. It was a migraine and it's still holding on. Her stomach has also hurt and let's just say I've mopped the floor a few times due to that hurting. Is it a stomach bug? Is it because of the headache? Is it both? Why won't the headache go away?

We're off to the doctor today to find out what's wrong because 3 days of a headache is too much.

I'll let you know what we find out and THEN I'll have something to really say on here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fitness Friday: The Thanksgiving Edition

Since we will likely all be very busy this week, I'm going to leave Fitness Friday completely open this week. The Mr. Linky will be up on Thursday night and if you have time over the weekend to write a post, that would be great!

The topic is entirely up to you. You can just write a note of encouragement, tell us about your successes over the holiday--whatever.

Remember to keep each other in your prayers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Boost In the Right Direction

Several things have happened lately that gave me a kick in the butt in just the areas I needed it in.

#1 Kick: Sweetheart got a bad migraine this weekend that lasted about 1 1/2 days. She's had migraines before, but normally she tells us she's getting a headache and we dole out the pain medicine before it gets bad. She gets a lot of headaches, but they don't all turn into migraines.

Well, Saturday found her playing at the cousin's house all day and she was having so much fun she didn't stop to snack. She had lunch, (although I doubt she ate very well due to the fact she was ready to get back to all the playing!) but that was it all day long.

This has happened before at a friend's house when they didn't eat supper at nearly the time she is used to. And she got a migraine. And I had to go get her early. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. So, Saturday, on the way home (an hour's drive) she told me her head hurt and of course there was no way to get medicine in her quickly. She got nauseated, then sick, and lay around all day today.

Which is what made me get more determined about eating healthy.

More about that later.

#2 Kick: Since we started homeschooling I have tried about 50 bajillion things (it is TOO a word!) for Bible time. They have all worked great for a time. But nobody that I know wants to do the exact same thing every single day. And I'll be happy to tell you all about the things we've done because I made most of them up and they didn't come from a book.

Now, understand when I say "Bible time", I do not mean "family worship" or "daily devotionals" or anything like that. I just mean Bible, as in a subject in school. The most important subject in school. When Sweetheart began private school, Bible became a part of the schedule and she learned a lot. They did that as part of their morning routine, just like the pledge of allegiance. (should that be capitalized?) I like to begin our day with Bible too. And I have about 500 more things to say about that.


But before we go, I have a quick question: What do you use for Bible time (assuming you are 1. a homeschooler 2. a Christian homeschooler 3. a Christian homeschooler who uses a Bible curriculum)??Did ya get all that?

What do you use for Bible time at your house?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fitness Friday: The Excuses Edition

We wouldn't have gotten in the shape we are in had it not been for our over-active imaginations. You heard me right! Where other women realized that their body needed good food, less food, less stress, and more exercise, WE were far more creative than that.

We made excuses instead.

And they served us well and helped us increase in size. BUT NO MORE!!!!

Any and all excuses having to do with our health.
Date of Death: Friday, November 21, 2008
Here were some of mine. Some are old and I haven't used them in a while. Those are the kinda dusty ones there in the back. Others get a lot of use and I keep them right here by me so they are easily accessible. In no particular order:
1. Life is meant to be lived! (I should enjoy dessert because what good is life if you don't get to indulge in the little pleasures?)
2. It's not that bad. (I'm not THAT fat. I'm not THAT out of shape. I can still fit into these. This outfit makes me look pretty small.)
3. What do you expect? I've had 2 kids! (Yeah, like I'm the only woman on the planet to undergo pregnancy and childbirth--and besides, it was FIVE years ago!)
4. Other people go work out, but my kids need me here at home. I'm not going to go selfishly pursing a perfect body at the gym.
5. We just need to be frugal right now. I can't afford to eat healthy.
6. I had a salad for lunch, so I can have this now. (usually JUNK food)
7. Why should everyone else get to eat ___________ and not me?
Oh I could probably go on and on. I'll bet some of you will think of ones I forgot. The time when I tell myself the biggest excuses is in front of the mirror. There is where I work really hard to convince myself it's not so bad. Maybe the kitchen in your mental battleground. Perhaps we should hang up some Bible verses in our area of weakness to help keep the excuses at bay?
My successes so far:
  • Last week marked 7 1/2 inches lost total!
  • I've been wearing my wedding ring all week!
  • I wore a skirt Sunday that hasn't fit me in 1-2 years!

These little successes feel so good. I need to have more of them. I WANT to have more of them. Which is why I'm going to keep going.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Looking Back At Faithfulness

If you've been blogging for at least a year now, I encourage you today to go back and see what you were blogging about at this time last year.

I like to do that from time to time. I also do it on some of your blogs--just because I'm nosy like that. I looked up my friend Rachel's archives sometime last year and discovered her post about how she was pregnant with Lorelai. It was neat to go back and see what she had to say at that time in her life.

Last night I re-read another document from last year. It was the journal I kept of Little Bit's tics before we got the Tourette's diagnosis. Her tics were REALLY REALLY bad this time last year. It made me sad/happy all at the same time. Sad-remembering how bad they were and happy--knowing how well she is doing today in comparison.

But what really strikes me in looking back a year ago is God's faithfulness. Problems we were facing that have now been overcome...issues we were struggling with that have now been settled in our hearts...memories of the blessings we had received...

So I encourage you to look backwards today, in a journal, on your blog, or in pictures, and see how far the Lord has brought you this year.

For He is always faithful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When You Just Can't Wait...

...for Mom to start reading the next book in the series, you pick it up and start reading it yourself.

And what was "too hard" a month ago is now "just right."

Good job, Goldilocks!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Doing the Once Impossible

The longer I homeschool (and this is only our second year!), the more I believe that parents really can teach their children at home. Huh? Of course you can or you wouldn't be.... What I mean is...we can do more than just teach them reading, math, science, history, etc. I truly believe that parents can teach their children far more than they realize.

One of the results of public compulsory education is that we have lost the art of teaching our children at home. For the most part, anyway. Years and years ago there was no question who would teach the children---their mom and dad would! When they were older, they might apprentice with another trusted adult to learn a skill, but education truly began in the home.

We now have parents convinced that their 2 year old MUST go to preschool or else. How did we get here?

I'm getting on a soapbox. Sorry. I remember reading a debate about whether homeschool parents were allowed to teach driver's ed to their kid or did they have to enroll them in the classes? If we can drive, and we can get our hands on a driver's booklet from the department of public safety, then I feel sure we can teach our daughters to drive.

But music lessons? No way. I can't read a note of music! I told myself, "I will just have to sign the girls up for music lessons and pay a lot of money for them to learn. I can't teach music, because that is something I don't know about."

Well. I mentioned that a very kind man from our church is teaching Sweetheart to play the recorder. She had a lesson with him last week, but it wasn't really enough to leave her knowing how to DO anything with her new instrument. So, she's frustrated.

I began nosing around the internet and found a wealth of information on learning to play the recorder. Certainly I cannot do more than our friend who plays the recorder beautifully, but I can teach her something. I have the added benefit of knowing her learning style. So, I'm printing off pictures of what her hands should look like when making certain notes. I found an online tutorial complete with pictures and a movie and sound clips. I can teach some music to my girls.

It's very freeing to realize that you don't have to always depend on "the experts." Wonder what else we can learn around here?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fitness Friday Assignment: Our Best Excuses

We all have them...those little excuses. Little ways that we reason with ourselves about our weight. Little things we tell ourselves to make it all OK in our minds. Otherwise, how could we get in the shape we are in?

Excuses...there are many of them.



I said...right?

That's more like it.

So....what were your best excuses? What were the little gems of reasoning for your eating habits, for the way you looked, for your lack of exercise?

Perhaps you are still holding onto a few of those excuses? (I am.)

Time to get them out in the open so we can shut them up once and for all. Think hard. And publish your best excuses for your habits on Friday. And don't forget to tell us your successes and goals! Oh, and don't forget to pray for each other!

See you then!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like CHAOS!

I love being home.

Now, having said that....

EVERYTHING IS A MESS! I feel like such a failure right now. I'm not whining. I promise. I'm just frustrated and I feel like there is not one area (home, kids, school, laundry, finances) where I am on top of things.

And the holidays are coming people!!!!! I feel like I just need to hole up here for a week and get things done, but we are always running. I don't even want to bring Christmas presents into this house until we get a reign on the stuff we already have.

OK---get a grip Brenda. What are your rocks?

1. School
2. Pay bills
3. Clean kitchen (floors, everything)
4. Grocery store
5. Those 4 are big enough. No 5 today.

What do you do when everything is tumbling down? Maybe I'll call my mommy today to come help. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fitness Friday: The Eating Out Edition

I don't want to know what life would be like if there were no restaurants. I love eating out. Not every day, mind you. Sitting down at least once a week where someone brings me refills is just wonderful. Of course, it might be easier on our budget if we lived out in the sticks and eating out just wasn't possible. I've heard that some people live this way...some by choice!

Probably, it would be better on my waistline too. But even if you took away the restaurants, there would still be the church get-togethers, parties, holiday events, etc. We MUST learn to stick to our goals even outside the walls of our kitchens.

I had a success at a restaurant called Kelley's a month or so ago when FF first began. The girls eat pancakes really well so we stopped there. It's like a Denny's in that it serves breakfast all day, but the biscuits in this place are the size of my kids' faces. I'm not exaggerating. Let's not even talk about the health effects of good southern cooking, OK?

So, I flipped to the back of the menu and found "carb friendly" selections. I chose an omelet filled with onions, ham, etc. and served with sides of sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. I FILLED UP on those sides and ate about half the omelet. BOY it was good! A lot of restaurants offer healthier choices.

But there is still the portion size to worry about. That omelet was seriously the size of my forearm. In thinking about this post, I decided what I need to do. I've talked before about how out of proportion our serving sizes have become. Isn't it true that a good serving size is often the size of your fist? What we need to do is ask for an extra plate when we order. Then immediately take off of our plate any more food than the size of our fist. Our plate will probably be looking empty now, but that's only because the plate sizes are ridiculous. Then, you will be able to take your time eating, knowing that you can indeed clean your plate without over-eating. I was also thinking it would be a good thing to serve myself chips onto a plate before I start eating. Plunging your hand into the chips and salsa while chatting is a very bad way to start a meal if you care about your clothes size! Don't ask me how I know.

At church a few weeks ago there were snacks being served after a special singing service. I got in the room first (right behind all the kids) and started opening containers and setting things out to serve. Then I got busy helping little kids get some food without touching everything. When we left, I realized I hadn't eaten anything myself! I couldn't believe it! I had not planned on that happening but it seemed to have worked. So, I tested my theory at Bible study Wednesday night. I headed to the kitchen and started helping prepare things and serve cookies to the kids. Well, I did stay away from most of the snacks, but I did try the desert the hostess was serving. It was so unusual and I'm really glad I did (got the recipe too!). It might work better for others to just stay away from the food completely, but I know a lot of hostesses who don't eat much because they are busy so I thought it was worth a try.

I'm planning to employ both of these tactics during the upcoming holidays. 1. Serve myself small portions of things I want to try. 2. Stay really busy helping with food and such so I don't have as much time to stuff my face. How does that sound? And on a side note, I totally think there is a time and place to indulge. If we can just get a handle on the every day stuff, we would still be doing good.

The last thing I could do to improve our eating away from home is to keep non-perishable snacks in the car. I cannot tell you how many times we end up running through a drive-through because the timing of our errands didn't work out. Sweetheart gets headaches if she doesn't eat regularly so if we had snacks and drinks in the car it would really help.

OK--your turn. If you have written a Fitness Friday post on your blog today, please sign up on the Mr. Linky below to share that link with the rest of us. If you don't have a post to share, feel free to say your piece in the comments section. We welcome all great ideas for helping us eat healthy away from home!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fish Tank is a Rock

I'm still thinking about my rocks. It reminded me of Terry's post on 5 things on her to-do list. So, I kind of put all these thoughts together...still working on it...and came to some conclusions.

One or two of the items on my "5 things list" need to be the big ones. The rocks. I know in the example the rocks are supposed to be the really important things in life, but I'm using that to mean the things that are really important about housework. For example, today the fish tank is a rock, because soon we won't be able to see the fish if I don't get it done. Little Bit's closet, the laundry room, sewing Christmas presents, and putting away 3 baskets of clean laundry are also all rocks right now--they are the big ones that make me feel overwhelmed. If I tried to do all of them every day (which I wake up with those intentions every day), I would not only NOT get done, but I would also NOT get to anything else...the pebbles or the sand. That would be things like coloring with my girls, cross-stitching something, looking at a magazine, etc. I NEVER feel like I have time for those things because these rocks are hanging over my head.

So, each day I will choose 1 or 2 of those rocks to be first on my to-do list. If I get the fish tank cleaned FIRST today (first on my homemaking agenda, which begins after school) then I can cross that item off and give myself permission to do some less pressing things. I can rest knowing that the next big rock is on my to-do list first thing tomorrow. In a week, I could get at least 5 big rocks DONE! Imagine that! And still have time for some other stuff.

I think I just feel so overwhelmed by all the things that very obviously need to be done, that I end up not really doing any of it. I busy myself trying to get everything else straightened and cleaned up around here, THEN I will feel like I have time to go clean out a closet. I feel like I cannot start those big projects until I'm caught up around here.

That is why I have been so frustrated...I've been putting the sand and pebbles in first...waiting for "time" to get to those rocks. No longer. Those rocks will come first from now on. And? I need to delegate a lot more of the little housekeeping tasks to the short people around here while I work on the rocks.

I know the demonstration is supposed to be about life, not housekeeping, but it worked for me!

And now, a Keepin' It Real item for your reading pleasure. Terry pointed out yesterday some very real differences between blog world and the real world. It was a great post. Reminded me of why I started Keepin' It Real in the first place. Behind the keyboard where we spit out all of our lofty intentions, homeschool success stories, and highlights of life...behind that keyboard is a lot of stuff we don't share.

From time to time, I like to. So, did you know?

*that I have 10 undeveloped disposable cameras? I had 12 but my dad grabbed two the other day and took them to be developed. They were from 4 YEARS AGO!!!! Yep, Sweetheart's 5 year old birthday party. So, yes. One day after Little Bit's 5 year old birthday, we finally looked at pictures of Sweetheart's 5 year old birthday. The irony did not escape me. Wonder what else I'll find on those cameras?

OK--your turn. Tell me about your rocks or a Keepin' It Real fact from your home! I love hearing from you all...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Identifying My Rocks

If you've been in the business world at all in the last decade, you've probably seen the demonstration (credit is sometimes given to Stephen Covey) of the rocks, pebbles, and sand. Our principal shared this little experiment one year before school started. Even though we were all adults, it is still amazing to watch.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here is a video link using some other materials, but the concept is still the same. It's a great little experiment to do with your kids too.

But this post is not about a cool homeschool activity. This post is about me needing to find my rocks. I am so frustrated at the end of every day because it seems I never got to about 50 things on my list that I wanted to get to. To look around here at the end of the day, sometimes I want to ask myself, "What did you do all day?"

That's pretty bad.

So this demonstration came back to me today. I made a list of the most important things to get done in school with Sweetheart. If we didn't get all the way down the list, at least the important things got done. And that's exactly what happened. In order, today: Bible, spelling, handwriting (those last 2 get left off SO easily), math, then colonial times, then reading (she reads all the time anyway). I can now rest knowing that even though we didn't get everything done, we got the important stuff done.

I need to do the same thing with housework. With my spiritual life. With the things I do to help my husband. With my time in general. The point is...if I focus on the important things first, there will still be time for the other stuff. I won't be stuck doing "have to" things all day. I will get a chance to do some things I want to do.

So today I'm thinking about my rocks. What are some of yours?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Of Monkeys and Music

Little Bit is 5 years old tomorrow. She crawled into bed with us Sunday morning and snuggled in just like she used to do those 7 months we shared a bed when she was nursing. I have to say, it hurt my hormones just a little bit to realize how big she is getting.

But oh we celebrated on Saturday with her request of a Curious George party. Because this little girl has sat through an April birthday, a July birthday, an August birthday, lots of friend's birthdays, and was her turn.

There were monkey masks.

There was coloring and a craft. (I couldn't find a craft so I e-mailed Allie at No Time for Flash Cards and she MADE ONE UP FOR ME! She totally rocks.) I am afraid ours look like frog-monkeys.

There was much eating. That's my sister making a banana split. FITNESS FRIDAY LADIES PLEASE AVERT YOUR EYES. No, scratch that...LOOK! Fruit on the counter!!!! Sigh.

There was even a lame game. (which they loved)

There were much anticipated presents.

Incidentally, she picked out that Dora gift bag herself. I said, "Yeah, we can get that. I think one of your presents will fit in there."

LB: You can put my big George in there.
Me: How do you know you are going to get a big George?
LB: (incredulous) I told you I wanted one!

And she was right. Over-confident, but right.

Tomorrow, on her actual birthday, there is one small present and pancakes at Denny's with Grandpa. She is just so cute.

Always has been.

But I'm biased.

Now, Sweetheart has exciting news too! A man at our church is getting together a recorder band of sorts for a talent show around Christmas time. He asked if anyone in our family would be interested in learning how to play. We volunteered Sweetheart and she began weekly music lessons with Mr. J today. I thought she might pop waiting on him to get here with her new instrument!

It is a real blessing to us, these free lessons, because S and I really want our girls to learn to play multiple instruments. Between the two of us, there is a bit of guitar playing and that is it. And I'll give you a hint: I'm not the guitar player. So if music is to be a part of our homeschool curriculum, we will be depending on outside help. I'm so excited for her to have this opportunity! Today she learned about notes and measures and frankly, she has already surpassed her mother.
I'm better at making frog-monkeys than music.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fitness Friday Assignment: The Eating Out Edition

Ladies, this week we will be discussing the problem of eating out. If you have a busy schedule like many people, you may find yourself at restaurants more than you would prefer. Or, maybe your family does not eat out much, but you find yourself hosting or attending get-togethers with friends and family. We're pretty much including all eating in public or with people other than just your spouse and kids. Plus, with all the holidays coming up, I think it's a relevant topic!

We had a birthday party for my (soon to be) 5 year old this weekend. There was pizza, there was cake, there were banana splits....thank goodness I have the rest of the week until Fitness Friday! Anyway, with a bit more planning for success, I could have done something differently and still had fun/enjoyed the special day/indulged some. I think there is a time and place for that.

So, how do you handle the eating out? What tips and strategies do you have for us? If you don't have any, just post your concerns and weak spots and let everyone help you out in the comments section. We will probably always have restaurant and get-togethers in our lives, even when we meet our goals, so let's plan for success now. OK?

Also, we are adding PRAYER to our Fitness Friday plan. Please remember to pray for the other ladies in our group this week and know that you are being lifted up in prayer as well.

See you all on Friday!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Prayer Needed

I read Carisa's blog 1+1+1=1. She has great homeschool ideas and her family has a neat story of how they became missionaries in Philly. Plus her kids are really cute.

Carisa just got out of bed a few weeks ago from terrible pregnancy sickness and now her husband has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Please pray for their family and his healing.

Her post is here.

Fitness Friday: The Shopping Edition

This week we are sharing our online or real-life shopping experiences and showing off what we want to wear and look good in. Let's jump in, shall we?

I know modesty is an issue, but let's just say that in OUR backyard, in OUR pool, swimming with MY husband....I would love to look good in just about anything on this page.

OK--back to reality for a minute. I really dress pretty simply. I am not a fancy, fru-fru girl. I would love to look good in just simple t-shirts such as this one.

Maybe it wouldn't have those exact words on it, but I would like to wear more fitted shirts. I don't want tight shirts, just not loose, sloppy shirts. I think we try so hard to hide our weight that we end up looking worse. I know husband and I disagree on what looks good on me. I think he's blind, he thinks I'm crazy. All I know is I think fitting into more attractive shirts is possible. (Unlike the swimsuit page, which is a more, um, long-term goal.)

Now, about skirts. First of all, I want to be able to wear loose, flowing skirts in the summer without all the undergarments I now depend on to keep things in place. THAT would be a dream to me. (I'm getting excited just thinking that this could be possible!) Here is a casual skirt I would like to wear and feel good in.
Hmmm. I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Obviously, I want to wear more fitted things and feel good in them! Right now, tight worries me. Tight makes me feel self-conscious. Fitted things are not my friend.

I love shirts like this but I always feel like I can't wear them. Maybe it's because I think they wouldn't look good on me (my size isn't as cute as the one on the rack) and maybe it's because button up the front things can be tricky when you are too big. I would love to wear this and feel like my boobs weren't too big, my arms weren't too fat, and my stomach wasn't sticking out. Whew! It takes a lot of emotional energy being overweight!
And these pants are pretty cute. I wouldn't mind wearing them without worrying about my stomach.
NOW, how will I get to the point where I can wear these things? By getting back on track. I have learned something through these Fitness Friday posts...busy weeks can throw EVERYTHING off! I need to really, really be planned for success. I planned meals this week, but somehow only fit one salad into my mouth this week. I fit no exercise into my life this week either, unless you count housework. I know that I have to exercise before I will begin to see any real changes. Not that 6 1/2 inches lost is a small thing...but it's not enough for me to look like this:

I'm just sayin'.
Have a great Friday everyone!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Making It Up as I Go

This school year looks nothing like I expected. Last year was such a sweet year of homeschooling around the dining room table, using familiar curriculum that Sweetheart had used in private school the year before. She loved all things schoolish and loved for me to act like it was "real" school. (She would come in every morning and say, "Good morning Mrs. E" or "Mom, pretend like I'm a new student and you have to introduce me to the class!") I really enjoyed last year.

But having the summer to think about things and research my options a bit, I changed a few things. What worked really well in 2nd grade wasn't necessarily going to work again in 3rd grade. And I'll be honest, it was very hard to let go of my preconceived notions of what 3rd grade "should" look like. (I used to teach 3rd grade.) I branched out and got some new curriculum that would allow us to study things from a Christian perspective and I'm very glad that I did. I have enjoyed the curriculum we purchased, but the year still doesn't look like I thought it would.

For one thing, the younger grades (Pre-K through 2nd grade) lend themselves to thematic units. That's how I always taught. If we were to the part of our reading book where we read stories about the ocean, I stayed late at school hanging blue plastic wrap from the ceiling to transform our classroom into the ocean. Then I researched and found extra books to go along with our study. We had the best Titanic unit back then. When the movie came out, my former students all had to stop off at my door to ask if I had seen it yet. They remembered that unit because their interest was sparked. I love theme units. It's so fun to put huge dragon footprints in the hallway leading to your room and decorate your door like a castle and watch your students' faces as they walk up. "What are we learning about?????" The answer? Fairy tales. Don't even get me started on my pig unit. I stayed late hauling landscaping timbers to my classroom to build a pig pen that we filled with the students' stuffed pigs where they could sit and read.

Sigh. School used to be so much fun.

But because of the curriculum choices for Sweetheart's 3rd grade year, there really isn't as much time to do a theme unit. Besides, she knows all about Johnny Appleseed and the first Thanksgiving already because she remembers from last year. And if we do our History curriculum every day, it is a theme unit in itself. (The Ancients and all that encompasses.) But to us, that is boring by itself.

I could not believe the transformation in my oldest daughter when we began learning about horses two weeks ago! Since she was already interested, I think I could have gotten her to do just about anything. And we've pretty much kept up with our other subjects. Kind of. But how else can you find yourself watching Mr. Ed and The Roy Rogers Show on Youtube? We were studying famous horses, OK? We have had so much fun.

And that led into our Colonial Unit. I wanted to do some stuff on the 13 colonies, then I got a homeschool freebie download of a colonial book that looked awesome, then I thought, "Why not read the Felicity American Girl books next?" Hmmm. Then I remembered a free lapbook for American Girl books on Homeschool Share.

Another unit is born.

And if you think I have a plan past this you are VERY, VERY funny.

Or new to my blog.