Sunday, March 30, 2008

Get Ready....Keepin' It Real Is Coming!

So here's how it's going to work. On Tuesday, April 1st (I know, April Fool's! I thought it would be a perfect day!) we are going to have our first-ever Keepin' It Real Fest. Or "KIR" as several of you cool bloggers have been calling it. And the first time I saw those initials I was like, "KIR? What's KIR?".................."OH!" I can be pretty snappy sometimes.

Many people have told me they would love to participate in something like this. I certainly hope they weren't kidding! On Tuesday, post your best Keepin' It Real moment to share with the world wide web on your blog. Then, hop over here and sign up on the Mr. Linky, which I am really hoping I know how to do. Otherwise, I will have to buy Rachel a plane ticket so she can come help me and that will be terribly expensive.

If you want to see other Keepin' It Real moments from the past....just click on the button on my sidebar. (If you want a button, just drop me an e-mail!) Thank you again, Julie, for the cool button.

Thanks, everyone! I am looking forward to this and hope it will be fun and an encouragement for everyone who reads.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Because I Don't Have the Heart to Write a Serious Post

And I do have a lot of serious things running around my head right now. I just can't quite put them into words or a comprehensible post just yet.

So instead, I bring you a question I had the other day. How do you refer to those whom you have met on the internet? I need to know because this comes up for me ALL the time. In a conversation, something wonderful that I read on a blog will come to mind and I want to share it. So I say,

"A lady whose blog I read every day said that..."
or
"I read on the internet that..."
or
"A friend of mine had that happen to her and she..."
or
"This girl I know from the computer..."
Yeah. It really creeped me out about 8 or 9 years ago when the very first person I knew in real life married someone she met on the internet. Now here I am talking about my "friends from the computer." And I truly do consider some of you friends. Your first names come up in our house. S knows who you are. I'll say something and he'll say, "Is that the one who lives in __________?" You have become a part of my life.

So, how do you refer to the rest of us? Do you? I can't really fake it and say, "My friend Karly said that..." because my sisters and friends would be like, "Who's Karly? I don't know any Karly." Remember, I live on the same block I grew up on. My circle is pretty small and I've also gone to the same church my whole life. Plus they know I don't work so it's not like they would just assume that my "friend" is someone from my job.

OK. I'm ready to hear from you. How do you handle this? How do you refer to your computer friends in real life?

Also, don't forget that Keepin' It Real posting day is April 1st!!! Get ready to bless others by fessing up your real life stuff that you don't usually share on the web!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reflections Near the End of Year One

I'm ready to talk about it now.

All the dumb things I tried this year, my successes, my favorite and least favorite things about homeschooling this year. I know the year is not quite over...but I'm feeling reflective because I see the end in sight. Well, the end of this year. For a while. Before we start the next grade.

I guess actually I don't see the end after all.

First let me explain, in case you are new here...I taught public elementary school for 11 years. Then I did a few other things. Then we began homeschooling. I read everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling before we started. Tried to figure out what I agreed with and didn't agree with.

I've said it before...I think planning to homeschool is kind of like being engaged. You can imagine what it will be like to be married...but you can just never know until you get there. So after all of my research, I thought I had a handle on things. I got one room of our house ready to use for school, organized all of our stuff, and got read to dazzle my daughter with second grade.


Then, at the end of two weeks she looked at me and said, "Mommy. I miss doing fun stuff."

Oops.

After further questioning, I gathered that she wanted to do "fun" stuff like her three year old sister was getting to do while she did lessons. So we took a day off, reevaluated everything and started over.

Now I had my three year old doing weekly themes from a really cool website I found. My 2nd grader was doing other more "important and official" themes that second graders should be doing. As I was perusing the library shelves for books one day she asked me, "Mommy, what is my theme this week?" I told her. "And what is Sissy's theme?" Again, I answered her. "Sissy's theme sounds like more fun," she muttered as she walked away.

Oops again.

Hey! Lightbulb moment! Why not study the same thing but on different levels? I tell you, all that higher education of mine was really starting to pay off. Or not.

The point is...I got brave and kept trying until we had worked out "what works for us." We jumped into unit studies, and lapbooks, dabbled in Charlotte Mason, and just kept trying new things all the time. We are still trying new things. The best thing I have learned all year is: we have the freedom to keep trying new things. Man, I LOVE that!

Good thing too, because next year is not going to be anything like this first year. And I'm OK with that, really. (And by the way...that classroom? It's a toy room now. Much better use, I'd say.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Keepin' It Real: Nothing to Report+One Big Announcement

Well, Lisa from My Surviving Thoughts tried. She really did. She wanted to help us keep things real in the bloggy world, but she kind of had trouble finding anything to talk about.

It's hilarious! Go check it out.

Big Announcement:

If you have a Keepin' It Real moment you'd like to share, save it for Tuesday, April 1. I plan to have a Mr. Linky and we can all share our wonderful "real" moments with each other on that day. It'll be so much fun! And, you can reach back in time for ideas. It doesn't have to be a "current" moment in order to share. In fact, feel free to share real moments from your past or present--we like them all.

(Suppressing the fear that only one person will sign up on the Mr. Linky and I will look very, very stupid.)

Thank you and have a great day!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nothing

I am convinced more every day that there is nothing....absolutely nothing...more important for us as wives and mothers to invest in....nothing more important that we could invest in than our home and family.

No ministry.
No job.
No outside commitment.
No volunteer work.

Nothing.

The future of our children in God's kingdom depends on it. Our family's happiness hangs there. Our marriages are nurtured there. I know people who don't even want to be home. Who don't even want to be with their own spouse.

So I am choosing to invest in my home and family. Not just stay home. Not just be a homeschool mom. Not just clean house. Not just go through the motions of all the wonderful things there are to do.

I will invest in this place and these people for the kingdom of God.

I think I will start now.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Meme: I Wish I Had Known

The meme today is "What I Wish I Had Known My First Year of Homeschooling." Well, since this is my first year of homeschooling...I think it should be fresh on my mind!

First let me say this: the first year I was a public school teacher I kept a running list of all the things no one told me. Things I thought should have been told to a new teacher. We didn't have mentors back then--you were just given the key to your room and good luck to ya. Later, our district had an official mentor program for every new teacher and I got to help on our campus one year. I whipped out my little list of everything no one remembered to tell me (little things like how we needed to stack the chairs at the end of the day for the custodians, which cafeteria line your class was supposed to use, etc.) and made up a packet for the new folks. It was good. Even a few years later when I was no longer involved, I had people asking me for a copy of that packet to give to the new person on their grade level.

Well, it's a great time to be a new homeschooler, let me tell you. With internet access, there is no end to the information you can get on homeschooling! I read books all last summer, read blogs, read articles online, read everything I could get my hands on. I can honestly say that there isn't much I wasn't aware of before I started.

However, knowing something in your head and realizing something with your heart are two different things. I wish I had known:

1. How homeschooling would affect the relationship between my daughters. They are playmates and friends now. I didn't dream that would happen!

2. Just how much more time we would have as a family. I didn't know "school" would take such little time--or how much school happens away from the table.

3. Our role as parents. I've learned it now, but for 6 or 7 years I didn't "get" it. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be with my girls all day now. I feel like we are making up lost time for those years they spent with someone else. I now have the chance to teach them about the Lord throughout our days. I consider this my greatest responsibility and biggest honor.

4. How smart my children are. When Sweetheart (8 years old) was in public school I was honestly doubting her ability as a student. I didn't believe the teachers when they told me she might need "further testing in the future", but she sure was drowning in school. A few adjustments later...she is flourishing. How sad for children who spend their entire school career pigeon-holed as being less than able. Now I can delight in her strengths and help her in areas where she is weak.
5. To start homeschooling sooner!!!! I never even questioned sending my baby off to Kindergarten. That's just what you do. I wish I had thought that through more, but I'm thankful we are here now!

Head on over to The Heart of the Matter to see what others wish they had known!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Homemaker: Let's Get Organized

OK, so we've been working on our attitudes about our kitchens this week. If you agree with me that you would like your kitchen to be more of a blessing to your family and others and less of a chore...then we need to get some things in order.


And unlike the world, I am not going to tell you to "do this for yourself." Because that attitude is not found in scripture. We are going to work hard to improve this very important room in our homes for the purpose of honoring God and blessing others.


When you don't use your kitchen very much....any old set-up is just fine. If you actually start using your kitchen, like I did recently, you might need to get organized.


I always thought food went in the pantry. I wondered why there didn't seem to be room for everything. I just blamed the pantry for being the wrong size. As it turns out, some stuff I had in my pantry should have been in other zones.



The Baking Zone--ideally located near the oven. My baking stuff (flour, sugar, food coloring, etc.)is now all together in the cabinets above my Cooking Zone. The muffin tins, pans, etc. are under the oven all together. The measuring cups/spoons, etc. are in a drawer right nearby. I hardly even have to take a step away from that area while I'm working. And getting all the flour, etc. out of the pantry really helped!



The Prep Zone/Cooking Zone--You can make these one zone or two depending on how serious of a cook you are and also your kitchen space. Here are the goodies: colander, food processor, mixing bowls, timer, measuring cups, ladle, peelers, graters, wooden spoons, whisks, measuring spoons. I'm sure you can think of a few others. These should ideally be near the sink as you will need the sink while you are preparing dishes.

For the cooking zone, you will want to make sure your pots and pans are near the stove. Also, potholders, spoons, etc. You will also need to store your large serving dishes nearby.



The Clean-Up and Storage Zone--Here I have my baggies, foil, plastic wrap, and storage containers.


I got this information (extremely paraphrased) from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Decluttering. If you already knew all of this and I am showing myself to be what the title of that book says I am, then please forgive me. This was ALL new to me. Now that my kitchen is set up in a more usable way, I have found cooking to be more enjoyable. There is also a need to organize your pantry and refrigerator, but I will leave you to do that on your own.


As the mother of two daughters, I think it is important to have a really excellent kitchen so that they can use it as well and learn from it. One day they will have kitchens of their own. Also, we must be willing to let others into this room. I know some of you like to keep your things "just so" and believe it or not, that could cause some people to not want to help you in the kitchen. I have known relatives like this. I knew I would do something "wrong" so I didn't even want to try. I WANT help cooking and cleaning, so my family is always welcome in this room! The other thing I think about is what if I had to have surgery or something and my family or others had to get in there and run the show. Could they find anything? Would it be usable?


So, if you need to...let's work on getting our kitchens cleared out and organized into usable areas. It makes our job easier. If not....and you are one of those really organized people with a great kitchen...leave us a tip in the comments!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Homemaker: The Kitchen

If you asked me what one things was the worst about my house I would say it is how it just never stays picked up. I could remove clutter all day. I could bark at my kids all day to pick up what they just sat down. It wouldn't matter. Stuff just collects here. It likes us. That gets to me more than anything.

But I chose to start in the kitchen with our homemaking series because it can bring such peace when it gets under control. (or so I hear!) Food...meals, snacks...and the planning, preparing, purchasing and cleaning up of...takes up huge amounts of time. Now I'm not complaining. I understand that I have a gas stove and oven and microwave and coffee pot and waffle iron and crock pot and....I know I am blessed. Some women are still cooking over an open fire. So if I have so many modern conveniences then why isn't my kitchen in better order?

Now wives, I think we can all agree that there is some merit to the saying about the way to a man's heart. Did you have a mom who prepared special treats for you when you got home from school? Did someone fix your favorite meal for your birthday growing up? Food can be such a special thing we do for someone. Remember that if your husband is gone all day at work what a joy it could be to come home to specially prepared meals. How wonderful it can be for your children to wake up to the smell of a special breakfast on Saturday morning. We really should look at our kitchens as a place of blessing--to others.

Currently, I tend to look at my kitchen as a place of work. I see it and think "chore." This week, let's try to change our attitudes about our kitchens. Imagine all the ways you can bless your family and others through that one little room in your house. Remember all the ways someone else's kitchen has blessed you. A meal brought over after the birth of a baby. A cake for a special occasion. A dish brought when a loved one passed away. A plate of left-overs sent home when you had very little in your refrigerator.

How can you bless others with your kitchen? Add this one to your prayers this week: that God would change our attitudes about our kitchens. Rather than viewing the many jobs in there as tedious, boring tasks that we have to do, let's begin to think of the wonderful ways we can use our kitchens to honor God.

I think that's a pretty good place to start, don't you?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homemaker: It Can't Be Time for Lunch, We Just Ate!

I know I am not alone in my efforts to become a homemaker in my mid-30's. Many of us got a late start. I am the product of the generation who grew up answering the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Trouble is...no one told us that no matter what you want to be when you grow up....you will have to live somewhere. You will probably have a family to care for.

Well, something is going on because every, single week I get at least 2 visitors to my blog via Google searches about homemaking. This week one of the searches was actually "teach me to be a homemaker." Google searcher, whoever you are...I hear ya. I hope you found better advice than this blog too! The point is, there are obviously a lot of women yearning for, feeling pulled toward, or at least wondering about this job of homemaker.

Here at The Family Revised, we are going to be discovering and learning together about all the different aspects to this role we have been blessed with by God. (See Titus 2) I'd like to start with the thing that seems to take up huge chunks of my day...food.

I was not prepared for how much time goes into planning, purchasing, preparing, (I need a "P" word here....oh well.), eating, and cleaning up from meals. Probably because I have very rarely been responsible for feeding my family 3 meals a day. From the time we got married, I ate my own breakfast (S rarely eats in the morning), we each ate at work, and then I fixed supper. Or, you know, went to a restaurant. Whichever. Fast forward a bit. Little Bit ate breakfast at day care, the girls ate lunch at school/day care, and we ate supper at home. Or...well, you know.

If I had been a homemaker from day one, I have no doubt I would be better at this by now. So this week we will be spending some time talking about the heart of our homes...the kitchen. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Really, It Makes Sense

Well, even though I thought Cagney and Lacey was a GREAT guess, my children are NOT playing with detective toys from the 80's. But I'm not sure the real answer is any better.

Grafted Branch was right--they are Kim and Aggie from BBC's show "How Clean Is Your House?" We don't get this particular cable channel, but we run down to my parent's house about 3 times a week to watch it. The girls love it. My mom , Sweetheart, and I enjoy the show, but who would have thought a four year old would ask for Kim and Aggie toys?








See, it all began when I overheard the girls playing "dirty house show" with their doll houses. I was curious. "How do you play dirty house show?" I asked them. "You just pile everything all crazy into one room and then you put everything like it goes." Oh, and you ask Mom for a wipe so you can clean everything.

Little Bit concerns us sometimes. She spends a great deal of her day cleaning. For fun. She begs for wipes all day. She's starting to remind me of Cata and her Pledge Grab-Its. I used to give her baby wipes when she was younger but after our plumber friend pulled 15 wipes from our lines...we cut off her supply. Silly me, I thought she was throwing them in the trash.

Now that she's older I can trust her with Clorox wipes. She also has a spray bottle with vinegar and water. For her birthday last year, my sister gave her paper towels and she was happy. When she should be playing, we catch her cleaning the back patio. I draw the line at letting her mop it. (And she has asked to.) Just last night, S came home to find her going around the baseboards with a toy scrub brush. He said, "Honey, please go PLAY." But I think this is how she plays.
So I guess it stands to reason that a show all about cleaning would rate high on her list. And truthfully, we all enjoy the show. And now her doll house people better watch out--'cause Kim and Aggie are on the scene!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why Julie Rocks

Julie from My Life as JulieMom made me a button!!!! I feel so official and everything. (See it in the sidebar there?) Julie is apparently one of those people who are TRI-lingual--English, Sign Language AND HTML. I am in awe.

So, now when you guys want to share a Keepin' It Real post, you can put the "Official Button" in your post! Want to read other Keepin' It Real posts? Just click the button!

And, if you'd like...if you are the kind of blogger who likes to "Keep It Real" with me...feel free to put the button in your sidebar! (Just send me an e-mail for the code.)

Thanks Julie. You rock!

Monday, March 10, 2008

What? Dusting Isn't Enough?

You know, when I worked outside the home I had a really great excuse for NOT doing a lot of things. I mean, HOW could I possibly be expected to keep up with everything around the house when I was gone all day 5 days a week? Right?

Right?

But now that I'm, well...here all day 5 days a week, what's my excuse?

I'm still working on that one. I'll get back to you. (The kids are even too big to blame--No, they didn't want to "nurse every 10 minutes". No, they weren't "fussy" all day and wanting to be held. No, "they didn't take a nap" isn't the excuse because they don't take them any more.) Still thinking...

I'm realizing the longer I am home that there is a lot more to "being home" than cleaning house and taking care of the kids. That phrase "stay-at-home-mom"? It's deceiving. I am not just a SAHM. So, what am I?

Let's take a look at a certain part of Titus 2. I love doing this. Here we go:

NIV--to be busy at home
The Message--keep a good house
NLT--to work in their homes
KJV--keepers at home
ESV--working at home
CEV--as well as a good homemaker
NKJV--homemakers
NVI--cuidadosas del hogar

Oh, sorry. Got carried away there. OK, you get the idea. No matter what translation you look at, it's really hard to mess this little part up (although The Message comes close). This is a big important job. Keeping the home. Working here. Making the home. Being busy here. There is a lot more going on than just staying at home. Honestly, I'm still in transition mode. I've been home full time less than a year. Whether you work outside the home or never have...you are welcome here because we are ALL homemakers.

So I think we shall spend some time exploring all the parts of what being a keeper of our homes and a homemaker means here at my little blog. The key words in that sentence were "we" and "exploring". As in "we will be exploring this together" (through your comments). Don't come here for excellent expert information though. Not from someone whose laundry room once looked like this.




And the keyword in that sentence was "once." I totally have different clothes on the floor now.
Looking forward to learning with you!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The List

I really don't want to write this post. Let me just say that right up front. But I was realizing how far away I now am from this and thought it might help someone if I share.

(Big breath.)

I used to keep a running list in my head. My list had two columns. The first column was entitled: Things I Do Around Here. The second column was called: Things He Does Around Here. Needless to say, my column was always pages and pages longer than my husband's. I mentally went over that list in my head whenever I was doing stuff around the house--all the while telling myself how unfair it was that I worked all day (outside of the home) just like he did, and yet here I was doing ALL this stuff. I'll tell you, keeping that list going kept me in a near-constant state of being ticked off at my husband.

What a way to live.

I don't really know when I stopped doing that. I suspect it had something to do with reading Debi Pearl's book. I was convicted and my eyes were opened. I finally knew what being a godly wife meant. Things changed.

Scripture says, "Love...keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) Wives, our submission and respect and love to our husbands is NOT dependent upon their deserving it. I am positive that S was not being as bad of a husband as I had convinced myself he was. But it wouldn't matter anyway. The Bible does not give us an "out" on our part of the deal just because our husband isn't living up to our expectations.

My mind truly has been renewed and transformed. I happily do (most) tasks around the house now--it isn't even a struggle. I'm not tempted to compare "who is doing more" at all. I see opportunities to serve and help instead of a bunch of things I HAVE to do because no one else will do them. I am so thankful to not be living like that anymore. There is joy and peace in doing things God's way. Turns out...God's way works A LOT better than the world's way.

Can I get an Amen?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Keepin' It Real: Everyone Can Share Something

OK, so it's not nearly as bad as, say, my laundry room...but Terry at Ornaments of Grace is helping us Keep It Real in the blog world today. Hop on over and see her post. Thanks, Terry. It really is a strange sort of encouragement to see that we all have work to do.



Ladies, I need a sidebar button for this Keepin' It Real thing...can anyone help me?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Idiot's Guide to Duvet Covers or Visual Learners 101

So, I mentioned that I finished Sweetheart's duvet cover, right? I wanted to re-do her room about a year ago. We were both tired of the purple princess comforter and matching bedding that had been given to us for free by a sweet friend. Sweetheart said she wanted a turquoise and hot pink room. I knew I wanted stripes on the comforter. I looked in every catalog, web site, and other source possible. They were either a small fortune, or just not what I was looking for.

So my older, evil sister talked me into making a duvet cover. "It's really just a giant pillowcase, Brenda. It'll be easy!" Famous last words.

My sister was right...it was much less expensive than others I had seen. But OH THE PAIN that went into this process.

Because you see, I am a visual learner. Moms, do you have a child like me? If you do, perhaps this will help you understand them just a little better. First a disclaimer: I am fairly intelligent. I graduated from college. Being smart has nothing to do with being visually-challenged. I am the type of person who cannot tell if an idea for rearranging the room will work unless I actually move the furniture. Then I can "see" that it doesn't fit. I simply cannot "picture" it in my mind. Obviously, this causes concerns with mathematics.

My sister knows this about me. So, she wrote out the directions step by step. She did a really good job, too....even drew pictures for me. She did everything she could to help me not be totally confused when I got home. While we were going over the directions, she looked up at my face and she just knew. I just could not "see" what she was talking about. So she grabbed some fabric scraps and made me this:


See? It's a cute miniature model of the finished product! Only the scraps she grabbed were not the colors I was using. So I was still confused. She sighed, grabbed crayons, and drew stripes on the top for me. My sister loves me. (See the confusing green color there?)

It was only by reading and re-reading the directions, and then studying my little model, that I was able to make this duvet cover. So Rachel...there's your pattern. Sorry. But if you are a visual learner like me--you'll be all set. And we can avoid any more nasty little sewing issues caused by those of us who just can't picture the final product until we are there.

Monday, March 3, 2008

They Think of Everything...

Meet Mike. Let me tell you how he came to live at our house.










We planted a garden this weekend.







And by "we" I mean S and the girls. I was sewing. It was divine. And, I FINALLY finished Sweetheart's duvet cover. It is beautiful. But I'm getting off-track here. The garden is lovely isn't it? Let me give you some perspective lest you think this is a really large garden. We live in the 'burbs, after all. Let's see. What can I use to give you perspective?


Ah, here we go.

So this morning we were eating breakfast when the girls looked out of the window and saw birds. BIRDS! LANDING NEAR OUR GARDEN!!!!

It was obviously an emergency. And then they saw one (gasp) land on one of the tomato baskets. They nearly panicked.

So, meet Mike. I promise his name has nothing to do with the fact that both of my sisters have ex-husbands named Mike. I know this because 1. The girls named him. and 2. They don't remember either uncle. Doesn't he look scary?
Tomorrow he goes to work. Wish him luck.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Little Help Here?

Some time last year I remember reading the phrase "our family vision." To tell you the truth, even though I understand all three of those words, I had no idea what a vision for a family was. I was curious. Since that time I have figured it out. Through reading, through study, through God revealing a lot of things to me...I have a vision for how we want to raise our girls. I did NOT have a parenting vision or family vision when we first started. This is new.

But I am sure of it as I can be because it is grounded in scripture. Oh, I still have some questions about the specifics and we are still pondering some things that are far in our future, but I can safely say we have parenting goals now.

So how come no one is helping us with those?

All the time lately I find myself thinking, "this (fill-in-the-blank) is not lining up with our parenting goals." Why is that? Look, I don't expect secular organizations' philosophies to line up with ours. I understand we don't have to participate in them (and won't be next year!). But really, shouldn't someone, somewhere understand what we are trying to do with our girls? Where are the like-minded folks I read about everyone else finding?

I'm not whining...I'm just curious. It gets a little frustrating, but we will stand. Maybe one day we will find ourselves in a community of people who believe as we do. Maybe we are to be an example for others. I really don't know. I do know I am getting tired of feeling like an 0dd-ball. I don't want the girls to be upset one day that our family seems so different when I know there are plenty of others who think like we do...even if we don't know them personally.

And I'm beginning to realize that following Christ is not always convenient. But I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else.

Keepin' It Real: Foot-Wear

Stumbled on this post the other night from Victoria at Love and Rewards. It cracked me up. I have SO been there. She nails the problem!

Thanks for fessing up and helping us keep it real Victoria!