Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Protection and Changes

I have two thoughts bouncing around in my head tonight on two different topics. Sorry, it was the best title that came to mind.

I've told you my thoughts about Sweetheart's extra-curricular activity this year. Well, I volunteered to be a co-leader so that I could go on the camping trip with them. I know we aren't supposed to as parents, but S and I agreed that if I didn't go...she wouldn't either. I'm not sending my 8 year old an hour away with people I barely know overnight. It's just not happening. I don't care what their credentials are. So, by sacrificing my "visit with adults time" on Mondays during the meetings (which was painful)...she will get to go camping. Now, there is the matter of the sleep-over. It seems to prepare for the night away from home/celebration of our independence from our parents/camping trip...they need to attend a sleep-over. The leader who is hosting the sleep-over sent out an e-mail with all kinds of details and at first it made me feel better. But I just don't have peace about her going. At least not without me there. Do you know the stats on sexual abuse of children? I'm not saying I think anyone at this sleep-over is going to be abused, but why would I take that chance? Why would I ignore my gut which is not comfortable with the whole situation and let her spend the night there? I keep trying to tell myself I'm being silly. And I don't want to disappoint her by telling her she is coming home at 9:00.


But we are her protectors. Period.

On a more positive note...I've noticed some neat changes in my girls since we started homeschooling. First of all, they are playmates. I mean they really, truly play together a great portion of the day. I think that is amazing seeing as how there is a 4 year age gap between them. I hoped for this. It's really neat watching their relationship and how it has changed. I think homeschooling helps close up age gaps. They just don't matter. The first homeschool event we went to this year, I was suprised to discover that my then three year old was welcome too. Homeschoolers do stuff as families--not just as "elementary aged children" or whatever. Whatever we do, we all do, for the most part. We go to Girl Scouts together, we go to play group together, we go to story time together. I noticed Sweetheart playing with some children from church the other night after a fellowship dinner. She was including ALL children of all ages in her play. It's like it really didn't matter to her if they were older or younger. She is now used to being around a variety of ages.

That's a neat side-effect I didn't expect.

The other thing I have noticed is that my girls expect to be included in adult conversations as well. When I am having a conversation with my parents, even 4 year old Little Bit will chime in with a question. It's like they just expect that they are welcome to join discussions! What? Where is the divide that says adult only talk to adults and children go off and play and think that adults are weird? That's certainly how I grew up! My parents have noticed that the girls ask questions about EVERYTHING ALL DAY LONG. Really? I hadn't noticed. (twitching) No, really. It's a new thing--this questioning and listening and being interested and involved in whatever is going on around them. I can see them changing and it is so cool.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nice Enough

Mondays are supposed to be the day you get up and really get going on the week, right? When you have Girl Scouts on Monday mornings....that doesn't happen. Because then we get home right at lunch time. And then we want to rest a little. And then we still haven't done anything constructive (except morning chores) or learned much of anything and the day is way more than half over.


It's so frustrating. I think we will not be doing this next year. Now, moving on...


I love our house and I am enjoying trying to make it nice and comfortable for my family without spending $50,000. I have to say, I'm having trouble watching HGTV these days. After reading this post at Boomama's and seeing the pictures of the homes in Africa that she got to see....I have no patience for people who can spend $50,000 re-doing their KITCHEN!!!! If it's clean and organized...and working...isn't that enough? It really made me sick the other night because the "before" kitchen, in my opinion, was cute. And what could I do with $50,000? Better yet, what could other folks do with that money?

I don't know...it's just perspective. Our house is 40 years old. It's not big by most American standards. But if my family is safe, things are clean and tidy, and I have tried to make it look nice--that's enough. I know that some people work hard for their money and deserve to spend it like they want...right? I'm just saying I couldn't spend my money that way. Things of this earth don't matter that much.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matt. 6:19-20

If your budget is like, $0, what can you do to make a nice home? Here are some ideas:

1. De-clutter. Simple looks nicer.

2. Clean. At least you can have a healthy home!

3. Light candles.

4. Put up pictures of your smiling children.

5. Put those flowers your children picked in a vase.

6. Have quilts and blankets available for cuddling up in.

7. Open the blinds/shades/windows. Let some sunlight and fresh air in.

8. Turn old sheets into curtains. Even I can sew straight lines.

9. Rearrange every now and then. A new look can be so refreshing.

I know that if I think I don't have the budget to "do" a room, I just won't do anything at all. But even a clean and picked up room with something pretty set out looks better than a room that is just "waiting." When I was a teacher, I went on a few home visits with our counselor. There were homes that had no furniture---but every "bed" on the floor was made with little decorative pillows on it or a teddy bear. There were curtains in the windows and a clean glass of water for the guest. I'm just saying, you can make your home nice if you try. As wife and mother of this family, I often ask myself, "could I make a nice home out of whatever I was handed?" I think about that when we go camping and I fuss with the sleeping bags inside the tent and keep the clothes put away neatly. If all we had was something very, very humble...what could I do to make it a nice home for my family? I recognize that when I stop watching HGTV and see pictures from the other side of the world, what we have been given is very nice and is a blessing. I will take care of it and make it nice for my family.

Now I'm off to go do just that!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Keepin' It Real--Modern Art

If you haven't seen my Keepin' It Real posts before...this is where we all confess our weaknesses in order to build each other up. Seriously, it can start to feel like everyone in the blog world is a perfect homemaker and mom and wife and AAACCCK! We all know it's not true--so we offer these posts as encouragement to each other.

Today's victim....OK guest blogger is Julie from My Life As Julie Mom. Did you know that laundry can be sculpted into modern art with very little effort? Click on over and see what I'm talking about.


Got a Keepin' It Real moment you'd like to share? E-mail me!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Dictionary According To Me

There are a few words I am considering taking out of our vocabulary here at our house. Are you ready?

They are:

tween
teen
teenager
adolescent

and now I'm even thinking of removing this word:

single

because of this post. It got me thinking. I'm only proposing these changes. What do you think? Can we live without these words (concepts)?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Where the Change Happens

I have been a full-time homemaker for 8 months now. I can hardly believe it's been that long already. Less than a year ago I was sitting in my office wishing I was home more than anything. I could not wait for the day when I would be able to quit and spend my time making a home and raising our children and even teaching them at home. I remember just how I felt when I wrote posts like this.

I was reminded last night of all the Christian wives and mothers who are still at work wishing/hoping/praying for deliverance and a chance to be at home. I just wanted to offer this word of encouragement to them: you are already a homemaker. I have worked full-time (11 years) and I have worked part-time (2 1/2 years) and now I am home. I remember what it is like to have your interests divided. It's so hard.

The reason I was reminded of all these things was the blog I found last night. I laughed, I related...this lady stole my thoughts right out of my mind! And she also made me realize something: the change happens in our hearts first.

Long before the Lord ever brought me home, He changed my heart. What does that mean? My desires became His desires, my thoughts were on things that He felt were important. I began to understand the role of each family member in a Christian home. I began to understand the effects of feminism on our society, our families, but especially my life. My home. I began to see the joy of doing things His way. My heart was changed.

And suddenly I wasn't satisfied with our old life. I wanted out. BUT, I started where I was. I became a homemaker in the time that I did have available to me. My focus had shifted and I wanted to do a better job keeping house. I wanted to be a better wife. I wanted to be a better mom. So things were already changing at our house and I trusted the Lord to do the impossible and get me home. He did not disappoint.

But I know if He had brought me home before that change of heart...it would have been a terrible waste of time.

God is good. I am so thrilled when I read blogs like this and see how He changes the hearts of women. It is exciting! I hope it's contagious.

So Christian mom who is working but doesn't want to be? Know that I am praying for you. Put your trust in God and continue to do what you can.

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matt. 19:26

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For All My Charlotte Mason Friends

I am pretty new to this homeschool stuff, but I have picked up bits and pieces of different things this year. I may not understand everything, but from what I've gleaned I thought this little nature notebook would be a neat thing to have.
It has "more than 100 sheets of heavyweight paper and comes with ten specimen envelopes and labels."

I thought it looked neat. Maybe not necessary...but neat nonetheless.
Go to HearthSong's website for more info.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Diagnosis

Well, we had our appointment today with the pediatric neurologist and everything went great. The doctor was wonderful and nice and funny and Little Bit laughed and laughed at his antics. I haven't seen bedside manner like that in forever. (Maybe ever?) As the doctor explained to the medical student who was observing the exam, neurological exams require the child's cooperation. Scaring them to death and observing them scream won't do a bit of good for anyone.
The diagnosis was easy: it is Tourette's Syndrome. No big surprise there. We were pleasantly surprised that he did not feel the need to do any testing to rule out other disorders. We had read and heard all about MRI's, EEG's, and all other kinds of initials, but none of those words even came up. (And thank you for all the prayers!)
The three of us walked out of the clinic just the way we walked in. The diagnosis doesn't change anything. I know I felt relieved that the appointment we had waited 7 months for was over. Relieved to hear him say there isn't anything we need to do. Relieved to hear that sometimes her tics will go just crazy and there is not a thing we did to cause them to get worse. It just happens. And relieved that we have his card and a file in his office and can call if ever we need to.
I do need to tell you that the doctor accused ME of having OCD tendencies! ME! See, nerd that I am, I kept a journal of Little Bit's tics since July. With a 7 month wait stretching in front of us I knew we would forget most of what she did. A few days before the appointment I typed up the important parts and took the journal with me. He said that was "one for the books" and he had never seen anyone do such a thing. I just thought I was being a responsible mom but he said some garbage to the med student about "oftentimes patients who present with Tourette's have parents who have OCD." S thought that was endlessly funny.
So do I come to think of it. Would an OCD woman allow this?


What about this?


Or even this?


Or would she just feel the need to post a lot of pictures to prove that she does NOT have OCD tendencies? Hmmmm.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Keepin' It Real: Sewing Lessons

I have a little feature that I like to do every so often called "Keepin' It Real." There was a lot of talk a while back about how bloggers only show one side of their life and it's really not a true representation of who they are, etc. I mean, we choose what to "show" the internet and what to keep hidden. That's just the nature of blogging. In olden days when people kept journals instead, I'm sure they divulged more. Audience participation makes you think twice!

I never meant to be dishonest with you, my readers, but one day I posted pictures of my living room just after it had been cleaned perfectly. It later occured to me that you all THINK IT LOOKS LIKE THAT because I mean, how would you know? You don't know me in real life! (If you do, you probably wondered, "whose living room is that? Oh look! They have the same couch as Brenda!") When I realized that...I posted this. That was the beginning of Keepin' It Real. Someone thought it would be a good idea to do every now and then. I agreed. We need to make each other feel better, ladies.

Today's Keepin' It Real is brought to us by a guest blogger. Is the big bold red text bothering you yet? No? I could do this: Keepin' It Real.

OK, let's get on with it, shall we? Meet Rachel.

Oh, I'm kidding. Not THAT Rachel. Rachel from The Other Huse. Mother of one of the cutest babies ever and sewing expert. Or not. (But Lorelai really is cute!)

So it seems Rachel found a pattern for a really cute bag, felt all Suzie Homemaker-ish and decided to whip one up! Sounds great, huh? She was even going to make them for gifts. She had big plans.

Look how cute it came out!
Now--where's the Keepin' It Real part? Well, click on over right here and you'll see.

I love people who can laugh at themselves!!!! If you have a Keepin' It Real moment, I would love to embarrass you on my blog. Just let me know!

And thank you, Rachel, for being our first guest and for making us all feel better about ourselves. That's what it's all about!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This Should Not Come As a Surprise

Terry at Ornaments of Grace tagged me for this meme. I had already seen this at another blog and thought "that sounds interesting." At the time I first saw it I thought I would try to do it. Sadly, the only books I had lying around me were less than 20 pages. Dora the Explorer doesn't often go on for more than 100 pages, you know.

But I checked just before I logged on to do this and there is a thick enough book laying around. I should say it's the Bible, but there is one closer. OK, here are the directions for this meme.

  1. Find the nearest book and turn to page 123.
  2. Find the fifth sentence, and post the next 3.

Here goes. Oh man, wouldn't you know it? There is a big illustration on that page. I guess I really should try to read more books for grown ups, huh? Hmmm. What to do?

Why don't we just start counting on that page and keep going? (Don't tell. I'm breaking rules of which no one is in charge!!! Man, I live on the edge.)

"With a barrel on a sled, he drives fom tree to tree and empties the sap from the buckets into the barrel. Then he hauls it to a big iron kettle, that hangs by a chain from a cross-timber between two trees. He empties the sap into the iron kettle."

That was from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And I don't know about you, but I personally cannot think of another section that would discourage people from reading that book more. It's really much, much better than that, I promise.

Unless you like reading things intended for grown-ups. But I wouldn't know anything about that.

Wanna play along?

Ma Never Looked This Stressed


Well, thank you for listening to my bad mood yesterday. Thanks for the encouragement and the e-mail and for listening. I feel that I am back to normal today. (Is that a good thing?)

I'll tell you, if there is one thing I've learned from our Pioneer/Little House unit it's that I see things from a different perspective now. As a child when I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books I saw the world through Laura's eyes. And now, even though the book is written from Laura's perspective, I see Ma more and more. Ma, who cooked and cleaned and packed and unpacked and did chores and stayed alone in that house with her family while Pa was gone.

Those pioneer women worked HARD, people. And seemingly, Ma did it without complaining. My sister found a book of Little House recipes. Just looking at the directions makes me tired. Cooking had to have taken up her entire day!!!

And yet...their house was so sweet and simple. Can I live in a log cabin, please? My friend Jennifer is! They are renting one until they can sell their house and move at the end of school. Of course, it's a wee bit bigger than the Ingall's place. (OK, the Ingall's house could fit into the kitchen, but that's not the point.) Seriously, when I think of the Ingall's house I REALLY want to de-clutter. My things are taking too much time to care for! I remember when we lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment. If I got really serious on Saturdays, I could clean that whole place top to bottom in like 30 minutes. Not that we could fit in an apartment that size now. Well, perhaps if we had the whole prairie stretching out around us and I could send the children out to play without having to watch them? Nah. We'd never fit.

But see? Small house + few possesions= less stress. Ma could cook and clean and keep up with everything because she didn't have so much stuff! Julie suggested yesterday that I use a cleaning schedule. I've tried to, but it never works. If you have one, tell it to me. Ma's schedule went like this:

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

I won't comment on this lovely schedule except to say, if I washed only one day a week? We would not be able to find the laundry room by the next Monday.
But that's the joy of only wearing one dress all week, I suppose.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sorry For the Lack of Encouragement

I sincerely hope you did not click over here for encouragement today. I am just feeling overwhelmed. I don't really even know why. I like to write encouraging or thought-provoking posts, but I don't have one today.

You've been warned.

I don't have enough hours in the day! We don't get "enough" school done. The laundry is never just done. The house doesn't STAY picked up. The paperwork is never up to date. I work so hard on this house and I feel like I'm losing. House: 1 Me: 0

We have Girl Scouts on Monday mornings. It's not the ideal day, I'll admit. There are a lot of other things we do sometimes during the week. They are all good things, but if we do all of them there is too much running. If we stay home all week we go stir crazy. It's hard finding the balance. I was talking to my friend Leah at Girl Scouts today. Both of us are considering not continuing scouts next year. Well, I'm certain we aren't. I haven't found it worth the time we have had to invest. Maybe paring down activities will help?

I thought de-cluttering would help and I still do. BUT, that is something I have trouble finding time to do. It's like something extra to get done while still keeping on top of all the other things I have to do.

I'm wondering today how people do all this? How do people have clean, picked up houses? How do people stay on top of everything? How do people be wives, mothers, homeschoolers, homemakers and everything? I know....you are all going to tell me that you don't stay on top of things either. But I think you do. More than me anyway. And that's just my mood today, OK?

And lastly I'd just like to say that if I really want to get something done I should get off of the computer, huh?

Whining to the masses...one of the many benefits of having a blog.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday

Laundry to do. (Where did it all come from?)

Dishes to wash. (Just like everyday.)

Floors to sweep, mop, and vacuum. (But not until little feet are out of the way.)

Clutter to sort through. (The piles are getting higher!)

School stuff to organize. (What happened over there?)

Clothes to iron. (Can't send the family off wrinkled.)

Furniture to dust. (Before we all start sneezing.)

Bills to pay. (So they won't be late.)

Groceries to buy. (Before supper tonight.)

Menu to plan. (Before we shop.)

Sunday school lesson to plan. (Three more weeks!)

Girl Scout Cookies to pick up. (And then deliver.)

Children to be made to help with all of this. (It would be so much easier to just do it myself.)

Husband to surprise. (Hope he's happy when he sees the house!)

My hands may not be manicured. My hair might not be fancy. My "personal workout routine" involves a mop and vaccuum cleaner. But my family will be taken care of at the end of the day. I am thankful for Saturdays full of work because I am thankful to have this family and home to care for.

Now. That's a much better attitude than I woke up with! How are you spending your Saturday?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Just Like the Story, But It Was a Radish Instead

We planted a fall garden at the very last minute possible last year. We've had gardens in each home that we have lived in. One of my very favorite memories is of S and I outside in our first backyard (before children) wrapping up our tomato plants just as a storm blew in. We were throwing trash bags over the plants and securing them with duct tape at the bottom. It was so windy outside we were having to shout to hear each other. The rain was starting to pelt us in the face. Yet we struggled to save each and every plant. About half-way through this job it suddenly struck me how funny this scene was. I mean, who did I think I was--Sally Field in Places in the Heart trying to save my cotton crop so my family wouldn't lose the farm??????



It wasn't like we couldn't go to the grocery store across the street to buy a tomato.


Anyway...this year we decided at the last minute to go ahead and start our garden. We looked at all the possibilities for what we could plant so late in the game and came home with turnip seeds and radish seeds. Both of which our girls LOVE to eat.

Or not. As a matter of fact, neither do their parents. But after all the hard work of tilling and laying bricks around the edges, we just had to let the girls plant something. We chose radishes and boy did we ever have a bumper crop! After giving away huge bags of radishes and eating a few ourselves in salads and such, we just left a few plants out there. It was cold and it was the holidays and the radishes were forgotten.

Then, after Christmas was over, we noticed that some of those radish plants were doing really well. In fact, even though we had offered no water, no protection from the cold, and no attention whatsoever, we continued to grow radishes.
And today I told Little Bit, "Let's pull up all these leftover plants to make room for our spring garden." (Which will contain foods our family likes to eat, by the way.) She pulled up some big radishes, let me tell you!




But there was one she couldn't get. So Sweetheart offered to help. They pulled on it together. I really wasn't paying any attention to them and when I looked up, this is what I saw:

Now tell me, does that look like any radish you've ever seen? Here is a picture of it next to Sweetheart's 8 year old hand just for scale.


We went straight into the house and read "The Great Big Enormous Turnip." It was a fine, fine homeschool moment.


And if ya'll need any gardening advice, now you know who to call!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Our Tiny, Little Fishbowl

Have I ever told you that I live on the block I grew up on? I lived in the same house all my life until the day I moved away to college. (And college was only about an hour and a half away.) Came home nearly every weekend throughout college. After we got married, S and I lived in the same city we had both grown up in our entire lives.

But then, before Sweetheart was born we moved to a NEW CITY! We were citizens of a different place for the first time in our lives.

OK, so it was less than 10 miles away. So what?

Oh, and then we moved back to our hometown last year. We are world travellers FOR SURE! (Actually, S has been to lots of places courtesy of the US Navy, but that's different.)

And this is why I am so thankful for the world wide web. A few years ago when I started questioning everything in our life...I found people from all over who had also thought through things. I found lots of different points of view to ponder. I found encouragement to do things God's way.

Frankly, sometimes S and I feel like oddballs. It feels like we are the only family in our circle of friends who think about the things we do. We sometimes feel that people just don't "get" us. But in the blogosphere, that's just not true. And I really am thankful for all of you.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Step Inside My Head

Man, I really need to blog about something! It's been a long time. I just don't have any good ideas. I can't believe it....did I finally run out of things to say?

I could give an update on Little Bit's tics. She hasn't really had any for the last 2 weeks! It's so cool! I don't know if it's just gone or if it will come back. If it is going to come back, I really hope it comes back before the neurologist's appointment this month. It would be nice if they could see what we are talking about. Maybe they are just gone? Still, they have to be gone for 3 months for the diagnosis to change. I guess I really can't post about that since it's all so up in the air. Oh well.

Let's see....I could talk about the rag quilt I'm going to make! That practice quilt I made while we were out of town was so easy. I can't wait to start making the one for Little Bit's bed (AFTER I finish Sweethearts duvet cover! Sigh.) Sewing might be a good topic....hmmm. After all, I've told everyone extensively how all I can sew is squares and rectangles. I could talk about how the rag quilt is so easy that even I could do it! Kathy, Jeff's wife gave such good directions. Oh, and it was so funny how I asked a dumb question and she made a whole post out of it! Now my lack of practical math skills are out there for the whole internet to see! :) I am so visual it's pathetic. My sister helped me figure out how to make that duvet cover for Sweetheart. Then she wrote out the directions for me. But was that enough? NO! She also had to sew me a miniature one so I could "see" what she was talking about. It's no wonder I can't figure out yardages.

I could ask all my homeschooling friends out there to give my friend Jennifer some advice. She and her husband up and made the plunge and they will begin homeschooling their 2nd grade son TOMORROW! They made this decision over the weekend (after months, even years of considering it). I think they are so brave and of course I think they are right. He has been asking to be homeschooled for a long time now and they have finally worked through most of the concerns/excuses/reasons that so many of us worked through at one point or another. I could ask the internet to help---tips for beginning to homeschool smack dab in the middle of the year. I'm sure some of them have been there. That would be really great for Jennifer to read.

Let's see..what else? Man, I'm hungry! I need to get up and go get some cereal or something to eat. Supper was so good, but now I'm needing wanting a bedtime snack. I could talk about that delicious supper I made. Oh, who am I kidding? That's like bragging on my knowledge of chemistry. It just ain't there!

You know what? I really don't have time to sit down at the computer anyway. I really need to be looking over what we are doing for school this week. That would be a much better use of my time.

Plus I'm hungry.

So I guess blogging can wait one more day.


(But if you have any advice for my friend, feel free to leave it in the comments!)