Wednesday, September 30, 2009

About This Too Much Stuff Business

Yes. I am glad you all agree with me. We have too much stuff. I found myself thinking about my college apartment yesterday. I think my family could totally fit in that apartment. It was 2 bedroom, 2 bath, had built in shelves all down the little hallway....they don't make apartments like that anymore. Of course, even though my family would fit in that apartment, our STUFF would not.

I really hate to even bring this up because I have talked about this SEVERAL times to ya'll. I get on these kicks every year and then they don't last. But I must keep fighting!!!

Seriously, the time I took half our dishes out of the cabinet and stored them? It didn't work. I didn't wash up the one plate each person had used right away every single time and then someone would come over and we would dig out more bowls for ice cream and they would never get put back up. It makes sense in my mind: one bowl, plate, cup, fork, knife, and spoon for each person in this family. Why should we need more?

But it isn't really the kitchen I'm concerned about today. It's the girls' stuff. Clothing, toys, and books.

I had them go through their books several months ago and pull out what they did not want. They did really well and I listed a bunch of them on but I have found that to be a pain. I mean, we did get 10 "free" books out of the deal, but when I get an e-mail that someone wants my book I just wince. It's always on a week I have so much to do and then I have to add going to the post office. (I know you can print postage, but I haven't done that.)

Truly, we need to have a garage sale but I HATE them. Hosting them, that is. It will draw almost zero English speakers and it's very difficult to handle money, watch your stuff, and communicate not in English the whole time. Plus people are really, really dishonest. At least around here.

There's always Craig's List or Freecycle but that's kind of "Hello! Welcome to our home. Come scope us and our belongings out so you can do crimes in the future!" OK--I'm kind of kidding. I've done both but it's not the way I want to go.

I usually end up setting stuff out by the side of the road. It's usually gone in less than 20 minutes. I hear it's not that way in other cities. One time, we had a new preacher and someone warned him not to set things out or they would be gone. He laid his weed-eater down close to the curb one evening to go get more line from the garage and as he was walking away, a car started slowing down! He RAN back to get his weed eater. I'm serious people. It's an easy way to get rid of things.

I also donate things when trucks such as Salvation Army come by. I want to sell our stuff and get money that we could use, but part of me just says, "Bless others and let God bless you." Most of what we have we did not buy anyway. I've heard of giving a "free garage sale" and just blessing others. I would love to do that if I thought it would go to others who need/want our stuff. But it wouldn't. A couple of folks would load all of it up and take it home for their garage sale.

So, how do you get rid of stuff? Is there a great idea I'm missing?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Of Gremlins and Desk Fairies

When we were growing up, there was a Gremlin at our house. It was my dad. If one of the little girls in our house forgot to make their bed in the mornings before school, the Gremlin would visit during the day. It didn't need to happen very often.

So, if you were the one who forgot, you would come home from school to find that all the sheets and bedspread and pillowcase had been stripped off of your bed and wadded up into a big pile in the middle. Very shocking the first time it happened, let me tell you. Quickly, we discovered it was FAR easier to make our bed in the morning than to start from scratch making it that afternoon.

I used this idea when I was teaching 3rd grade one year. Never in the history of public education was there a class with messier desks. We had the kind of desks that had an opening as wide as the desk all the way across. Just like this one:

At the beginning of the year as we were passing out supplies, etc. I always drew a little diagram on the board depicting how I wanted the inside of the desks to look. Journals and school box stacked on one side, books on the other. You get the idea. I taught it and encouraged it. Digging around in your desk each time you needed something cost precious classtime.

When I saw the desks begin to get messy, the desk fairy would start coming to visit. She would leave little treats on top of neat desks. A pencil. A piece of candy. A cool new eraser. All with a little note that said, "Love from the Desk Fairy." You get the idea. It always worked.

Until this one year. The Desk Fairy could only find about 2 clean desks when she came. They usually belonged to the same kiddos too. So......

Desk Fairy? Meet the Desk Gremlin!

My students came back from P.E. one day to find that the contents of their desks had been dumped ON TOP of their desks. What a sight it was! On top of that, the trash can had been hidden next door.

They all stopped in their tracks and their mouths fell open when they got inside. "The Desk Gremlin must have come!" I told them. "Better start cleaning!"

As the students gathered up armfuls of trash and papers, they began to walk over to where the trash can usually sat. Hmm. No trash can. Now what?

Me: Can I help you?
Students: Where's the trash can?
Me: Why do you need it?
Students: To throw away all this trash!
Me: Trash? What trash? There can't be any trash in here. You have carefully kept all that paper and stuff in your desk for months! Surely it must be terribly important to you. You'd better take all that treasure home with you.

Yep. I made them load all that stuff in their backpacks. They told me how their mother would not be happy. I told them their teacher wasn't too happy either. I told them use of the trash can was free to all who were willing to get up and walk over to it.

Problem solved.

So, I'm thinking....the Gremlin/Desk Gremlin might just morph into a Toy Gremlin REALLY REALLY soon around here. His weapon might be a box.

Think when they get down to about 10 toys they'll get the idea? I better round up some boxes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Place for the Husband

Dads get a bad rap on TV. Sitcoms as well as commercials depict husband/fathers as really big dolts who can't think past the end of their noses.

And many women are really willing to agree that it is so in their life.

If you don't watch out, you can find yourself rolling your eyes at your own husband although you would certainly be VERY UPSET if he were to roll his eyes at YOU. Attitudes are contagious. I don't want my girls growing up thinking "girls rule, boys drool." It won't play well into their future marriages.

This weekend my husband was sitting on the couch with the laptop, Bibles and commentaries spread all around him as well as the coffee table, studying for the Bible study he leads on Sunday evenings. The fan was blowing every page so he had various heavy objects trying to weight down the books and Bibles he had open. It wasn't a very comfortable study spot.

He said something about, "I sure look forward to the day when I can have a study or a home office."

Hmm. Poor man. The dining room table was full of my sewing stuff. The homeschool table is always covered in stuff. There really isn't any other place in the house for HIM. He leaves to go to work and we take over the whole house.

Instead of lamenting our little house and feeling discontent, I prayed. I prayed for help thinking of a solution. The sewing room, even if it were clean, is really too small for him to work in. He has the garage for his woodshop. We really need the homeschool room. Hmm. Hmm.

Then I got an idea! I was very excited. I told the girls my idea yesterday and they cannot wait for Daddy to come home tonight and see the surprise we have for him. All it took was a little rearranging.

My nightstand goes to the toy room to put Little Bit's dollhouse on. I don't use a nightstand really. Sweetheart's old desk comes out of the garage and into our room. The dresser and small bookshelf switch places.

AND.....TA DA!!!!

A study for Daddy. (S, if you are reading this you better fall over with surprise when you get home!)

Why is it so important? Because we think he is important. He isn't some useless dolt who wanders around our house. He is the head of our family. And he deserves a place to study.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Useless Label Maker

I bought a label maker today. The cool kind. Not that turn it and squeeze it kind that spits out red or blue tape with embossed white letters on it like my parents had when I was a kid.

It was only $20 at Target and it's going to transform my life.

Or so I thought. But let me back up a bit.

This morning I got up and typed up a vision statement for our house. I know! I am a HUGE nerd. The thought came to me last night and this morning I sat down and hammered it out while the biscuits were in the oven. I'm a regular Jerry Maguire over here.

I have made some firm decisions about how I want this house to run. And my vision required a label maker. I labeled the pantry shelves just now. Then I went walking around looking for other things to label......

....and I realized there is nothing else I can label until I get things straighted up around here. It's pretty bad when you open a cabinet and stand staring at the contents unable to come up with a word or even a phrase that describe the contents of that cabinet.

I have work to do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Fish

Little Bit caught her first fish tonight!

Look closely. Can you see it? It's under Daddy's hand. It was a tiny hardhead. She didn't care. She was SO proud!

And Sweetheart caught her first fish back in May on a camping trip. She caught another one tonight. It was a whiting.

It was really fun! Since S and I don't have fishing licenses right now, I suppose if times get tough we'll be employing these two to catch supper for us.

I might need to stock up on Ramen noodles.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Renewed Vision for What I Do......(Don't Worry, This is Not an Inspirational Post)

OK. I cannot get enough of these videos.

If you have watched The Tonight Show all these many years, then these are not new to you...but I haven't so they are.

Here is an awesome Jaywalking segment from The Tonight Show. Dear. Me.

And this video nearly killed me. Really???

I've been watching these kinds of videos all afternoon and let's just say I am feeling the enormity of my task as the educator of my children. And concerned greatly about the results of public education.

I asked Sweetheart to name a country that began with a "U" and, without pause, she said, "United States." Thank you. I can sleep better tonight. 'Cause after watching all these adults who COULD NOT do that today...I was getting kind of worried. By the way, there were also adults who could not answer the question, "How many sides does a triangle have?"

Goodness sake people. I don't care if your kids go to public, private, or homeschool but this is NOT OK!!!!

Read to your kids. A lot. Please?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

I was just thinking the other day that Little Bit hasn't had many tics lately. (For anyone new to my blog, our 5 year old daughter has Tourette Syndrome.) Well, today they reared their ugly head again.

I suppose if I stopped and thought hard about it, they are always around. But lately they have been so small and not a big deal that I haven't spent any time thinking about them. Mostly, she just feels the need to touch things. She'll even get up in the middle of a program to go touch the corners of the TV screen. Eh, it's just everyday life around here.

Today Sweetheart was posing a doll and taking pictures of it. As she walked away, Little Bit started touching the doll's head and Sweetheart said, "Don't mess it up!" Little Bit yelled back, "It's a tic!" I told her she could go ahead and touch it but to be careful. She touched all the parts that she felt needed to be touched and then we had this conversation:

LB: If I don't do the tics I feel bad.
Me: do you feel if you don't do the tic?
LB: I feel like......nervous if I don't.

(Pretty good explanation for a 5 year old, I'd say!)

LB: I don't like doing the tics. I wish they would go away.
Me: I'm sorry darling. I wish you didn't have to deal with them too.
LB: (sits down on couch and punches stomach) Go away tics! Get out of my tummy!!!!

I then suggested we find a computer game on dinosaurs to play. That distracted her enough and I got her interested in the game. It breaks my heart....and she wasn't really even all that upset during this conversation. But I have found I can sometimes distract her away from the tics. When she was younger she had a throat tic that hurt her to do. I would put a Wiggles CD on in the car for us to all sing along to and that usually worked.

Sweetheart is very patient with the tics. She will even be walking by carrying something and Little Bit will stop her so she can touch the object. She's still trying to wrap her head around the idea of tics. She asked me tonight during this conversation with Little Bit, "So....she can't stop them?" I told her she could, but it took a lot of effort and it was hard to do sometimes. Sweetheart gets kind of frustrated sometimes (when LB is standing in front of her TV program touching the corners of the screen), but overall she's really awesome at dealing with it. It probably helps that Little Bit hollers "TIC TIC TIC TIC TIC TIC" while she does it.

Which leaves very little doubt as to what is happening. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

When It All Comes Together

I usually do my lesson planning on Sunday afternoons. That's new by the way as this is the first year I have ever actually DONE lesson plans. Anyway, it's working out pretty well so far.

I sometimes wait too long to get started and end up wishing I had gone earlier to get this book from the library or copied this thing or bought this item at the know how it is. Things that would make our school better but aren't entirely necessary. They all seem really, really necessary when I'm in the middle of planning.

This week I looked at our calendar and saw that Sweetheart was supposed to do another week of Pioneers and then a week of Explorers. We were both bored just thinking about that Explorer unit and we were so over Pioneers already. What was I thinking back in August when I planned all this?

Well that's what being flexible is all about. So I made an executive decision to change her theme unit to Detectives. That's what she's been spending all her time doing anyway. She's had her nose in a detective book all week. She's set up a detective agency in the playroom closet. Why not follow her interests?

And next up on the calendar for Little Bit is Dinosaurs, which is all she's been waiting for since Kindergarten started. So I have two REALLY happy girls tonight. They can't wait for school tomorrow.

But will I have time to get all this together? With the last minute planning and all? Thank you HomeschoolShare!!!! I found two super great free lapbooks/units on both themes!!!! And get this: the dinosaur unit is from a creation point of view! How rare is that? The first activity is a booklet on the days of creation from Genesis which is exactly what she's memorizing for Bible class anyway!!!! And there is also a dinosaur coloring book with handwriting practice and it uses Handwriting Without Tears font!!! Just what she's learning.

It gets better! Sweetheart is memorizing the Lord's Prayer in Bible class and her teacher gave her homework to write it out this week. Hello Bible/Handwriting!!!! And even the detective unit manages to bring the Bible into it with a booklet about how they are fearfully and wonderfully made (pertaining to the fingerprints study). I just LOVE homeschooling.

And I love it when it all comes together.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Am So Over My Hair

******Edited: I made up my mind!!! See below.*****
What do you do with your hair on a daily basis?

If you have longish hair (shoulder length or more)....what do you usually do with it? I am so tired of the 2 or 3 ways I wear my hair every single day.

I've read all the links on Ladies Against Feminism and I really don't have a desire to learn to do styles from the early 1900s anyway. As if I could. Oh I think some of them are lovely but what I would really need is a personal hairdresser.

I am CONVINCED that if I only had a personal hair and make-up person that I could look perfectly smashing every day.

And that profile picture of me over there? Yeah. It's from nearly 3 years ago. FYI my hair is half-way down my back and I have bangs, although not severe Kindergarten bangs, you know?

What do I do?????
Before. Bored with my lifeless do.

After. Now I have sprung to life again!!!Thanks everyone! ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Chance to Start Over

I usually get up to make S a lunch and iron his clothes. Today I only had to iron clothes so I went back to bed when I was through. Even though I had only been up for 10 minutes or so I could already tell I was in a BAD mood. I was already praying less than 5 minutes after I got up because nearly my first thought was a grumpy, selfish one.

It worked. I slept late and felt SO good when I woke up. I don't know why I needed that extra sleep but I did. Sometimes you just need to start the day over.

Sweetheart was nearly in tears 4 or 5 times within the first hour of school. Girlfriend was having a bad day. I told her to take a break and go brush her hair (which should have been done before school but I overlooked that) and to please fix me a Dr. Pepper. Little Bit called out "And get me some apple juice!" on Sweetheart's way out of the room. She cheerfully said, "OK" as she left.

A few minutes later she came back in the room with a beautiful teacup filled with room temperature iced tea for me and orange juice for her sister. Um. How sweet. And how NOT what we asked for. I thanked her, but I did have to bring up the listening skills. I told her if she was a waitress, she would be fired. More almost tears.

So I sent her to do some independent math practice on the computer. Perhaps some time alone would help. More almost tears.

I sent her back to bed.

I went back in the homeschool room to work with Little Bit and it occurred to me that a great opportunity was at hand. So I excused myself and went to talk to Sweetheart, who was laying on her bed holding a teddy bear and frowning.

We talked about starting our day with God. About how we need to ask Him for help. About how He cares how our day is going. I could have prayed with her....but I leaned towards encouraging her relationship with God.

She came back several minutes later. Her day got better. She told me later she was sure glad she had asked God to help her.

And I'm sure glad I had the chance to help her during her bad day. It breaks my heart to think of her at school having a day like that.

And all my wistful thinking about having 5 hours alone to myself like my friend whose daughter started Mother's Day Out today is gone.

Well, almost. Five hours would be pretty sweet. But I'm glad today that I didn't have that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Truth

I have a blob of stuff in my kitchen floor because I swept but can't find the dust pan. So I just set the broom up beside it. It's kind of like art.

We haven't eaten many meals at the table in the last few weeks because I've had my sewing machine set up there making stuff for the booth. I KNOW I have a "sewing room" but it's too crowded and junked up to work in very well. It's a really small space. Sigh.

The homeschool room is not exactly looking "picked up" at the end of every day. I sent the girls in there to straighten it up this afternoon and they totally did except somehow they didn't notice the 15 or 20 items and pieces of paper on the floor.

There is an extra chair sitting in the kitchen right now. We got it out to have extra seats at Sweetheart's birthday party and for the life of me, I can't remember where it was sitting before that. So we just sort of keep pushing it around from place to place when it is in our way. I know. Not many of you could live like that. I have what we call "special abilities."

It's sort of amazing what I can step over, around, and ignore.

Fess up, my unorganized friends. Tell me the truth about your house.

Facebook is Ruining My Ability to Blog

I started this blog because I had a lot to say and I needed a place to say it! Facebook, however, allows me to give one or two sentence updates on my oh so terribly exciting life. So, my brain doesn't get as clogged up. Am I even capable of writing an entire post anymore? Hmm. Guess we'll have to do a list today. It's more brain-friendly.

  • I still have an on-going struggle to protect my time at home and my most important jobs--helper to S and keeper of this home. There is CONSTANTLY something else to get involved in. But I firmly believe that if I participate in other things to the neglect of my husband, children, and home....then I have done wrong. It's a delicate, delicate balance.

  • Husband and I have opened a craft booth at a local craft and antique mall. We've been really busy building (him) and sewing (me) to get enough stuff to put on our tiny little shelf. We got it all set up on Monday and now, if anything should happen to sell, we would have a big, gaping hole on the shelf. So, we've still got work to do. I'm really hoping we can make some money doing this. At least it's work we can do at home.

  • Sweetheart found the coolest book ever at the library yesterday about "how to be a detective." She's set up a detective agency in the closet of the playroom and is nearly open for business. You can't write this kind of stuff into the lesson plans! She spent her whole day reading that book yesterday as well as several Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. She's also been assembling her detective kit. Today she plans to read the newspaper to see what kinds of crime has been happening in our city. It seems her interests have superseded my theme planning! I love it.

  • Mrs. June had the best post up recently that I spent several hours reading. (You know, with 500 interruptions it tends to take awhile.) It really was good! The first part is appalling, but not surprising. The second part was very encouraging. Also, have you heard of The Exodus Mandate? I know many people are not ready to take such a radical stance, but I have to agree that Christian parents need to seriously consider their education choice--not just blow it off. It's a serious thing with consequences and should be prayed about and considered carefully. Unlike me who just sent my kid off to public school Kindergarten without a single thought. Never even considered an alternative. It's just what you DO, right? Well....I think differently now. Check out the quote from John Wesley on Mrs. June's post. Wow!

Well, I better get busy. I'm going to work really hard today to think and come up with a whole entire post that is on the same topic. I know. I treat you so well, reader. You are so welcome.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Out of Your Control

So, I just heard about this speech that will addressed to our nation's school children on Tuesday. Did you hear about this?

This article was the first one that caught my eye when I googled it.

But a line from this article got me. Here's the line:

"Reached Wednesday, Greer said that if the speech is simply a feel-good message about the importance of education, he doesn't object to that. But he said he doesn't trust Obama to stick to those points and said the president should not address children unless parents can review the speech ahead of time."

Um, do parents review everything said to their children ahead of time? Since when do parents get that privilege? It's a valid concern, but....what is the health teacher saying to your kids? What is your child's history teacher saying to them? How can you entrust your kids to public school and then want to see what is going to be said to them ahead of time?

It doesn't work like that.