Thursday, February 25, 2010

For Those "Off" Days

I know somewhere I have seen a post or article about putting together a tub of activities for days when mom is sick. Homeschooling can still go on in some form even when mom can't get off the couch....or out of bed as the case may be.

But I can't find it now.

I'm thinking very hard about putting together a tub like that. Sort of an "emergency kit" for our homeschool. It would have to be filled with things they never get to do to hold their interest. Here's what I'm thinking so far.....

1. A new DVD or two. We don't have TV service right now or I would just let them watch TV. With no service, I'd have to think ahead. And they can be educational. Or not.

2. Some coloring sheets. Here is where a theme would come in handy, so let me interrupt my numbered list for a minute.

When I was a 1st grade teacher, my mother-in-law was terribly sick with cancer. We knew that there would be a day, most likely during that school year, when I would need to take off of work for her funeral. I had a huge "bears" thematic unit that we didn't plan on using that year so I made all the copies necessary and put it all in a tub underneath my desk. I told my partner teacher about it and showed her the lesson plans. It was a big relief knowing that my class would be happy and busy with a fun unit (and plenty of worksheets that I could get grades from!) without me having to run up to the school to make last minute lesson plans from the actual curriculum.


2. (continued) Coloring sheets on a theme would be best. And throw in a few new boxes of 8 crayons. Everyone wants to color with new crayons, right?

3. Children's book. If you have a reader, put a book in the tub. If the book is about houses, then the coloring sheets could be about houses too. The book could be the whole basis of your theme if you like.

4. New magnetic toys. There are sets about almost anything. (Those are great for church too!) If you found one on sale, or one about your theme...even better. They could play these on the fridge to keep the mess on the floor down to a minimum.

5. A dance CD. At the party store, you can find these on all kinds of music. You want something fun and peppy that they can dance to. Far away from you. They will need to let out some energy if going outside is out of the question.

6. Snacks. If your children are big enough to get their own snacks from the kitchen then you might not need to do this, but throwing some pre-packaged snacks in there is not a bad idea. And maybe some juice boxes or just paper cups so they can get water from the bathroom sink.

7. A paper folder filled with actual work for older chickens. Math worksheets, dot-to-dots, mazes, etc. You could make one for each child. Who cares if they are easy? Just tell them it has to get done. Not a choice. That'll keep 'em busy for a while.

Here's a great list of things you could throw together for a sick day.

I thought this was a great post on how to handle snow days, sick kid days, sick mom days, and sick family days. She hit it all!

Valerie at The Crafty Classroom found a jazzy way to homeschool in the car. Or, you know, on the go. When I first started homeschooling, I had a 3 year old and a 2nd grader and I was curious about these folks that made their kids schlep math work with them everywhere they went. Now I get it. The older they get, the more you need them to work in the dentist's waiting room or during a commute. Or even just somewhere else in the house.

What other things would you include in the emergency tub?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Compare and Contrast

I can't remember exactly how I stumbled on this message board online, but I did. The question that had been raised was, "Should a tween be allowed to wear a bikini?" Some of the answers shocked me. I guess I'm just not used to how some folks think.

Now before I get started here.....let me first say that I grew up wearing swimsuits (bikinis were not allowed at our house) and we were expected to put a shirt on over it when we were just walking around. That's what my mom taught us. It is my personal opinion that little girls swimsuits have gotten a bit too grown up looking and basic ones like my sisters and I wore are harder to find. BUT, over the last few years I have been convicted about the huge difference between modesty standards at the pool and modesty standards outside of the pool. If I won't let my daughters wear shorts that hit mid thigh or shorter, why would I let them walk around in a swimsuit that covers no thigh? If spaghetti straps are not modest for us on a normal day, why are they OK at the pool? Just some stuff I've been dealing with.

Now, on to the comments:

From a teen (or tween): Bikinis are totally fine, I've been wearing them since I was like six. As long as they DONT show a good portion of your b**bs/b*tt they're fine!

OK. I think that's a pretty standard argument. Even from a lot of Christians.

When you tell your daughter that you don't want her to wear a bikini , that is just showing that you don't trust her as much.

I wasn't aware that trust was the issue, but apparently this allowing or not allowing is very tied up in good/bad parenting. According to these experts anyway.

I'm 15 and I've been wearing a two piece since I was little. It's fine because if my mom wouldn't let me I'd go behind her back & it's easier just letting them.

I believe by not allowing your child to wear a bikini they are way more likely to go out behind your back and buy the skimpiest one they can find. My parents let me start wearing the tank top two piece bathing suits first and then when I was big enough to fit into a bikini I got one. It was not appropriate for rough housing but for just spending the day at the beach or sitting in a hot tub it was great. The more you shelter a kid the worse they will rebel. My friend who was not allowed to wear anything other than one piece bathing suits till she was 16 has ran away from home multiple times and now has s*xy pictures of herself on facebook....(she goes on to describe exactly what her friend is and is not wearing in said pictures)

I'm 11 and I've never owned a one piece! They are much more feminine and everyone will think your daughter's got a too strict mum, which she has, and tease her. If her friends are still in full piece they wont tease her but if they are in bikinis then let her wear them. It's just mean if you tell her she can't. Just make her try it on at the shop so you can see if it fits properly. Good luck with the bikini.

I'm thirteen years old..... I think its the right age for someone to start wearing a bikini. My mom or dad won't let me and it unfair because EVERYONE wears one (I only know 1 person who isn't allowed to wear them) it doesn't seem fair because if I'm at a swimming party it means bikinis for everyone and a 1 piece for me.............. AND THERE AREN'T ANY CUTE 1 PIECES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, so after that last comment I started feeling mom -guilt. I remember being 13 and the ONLY ONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET not allowed to do something. My sister and I were totally convinced our parents were the meanest known life forms around. I don't want my daughters to feel that way......

And then finally Mr. Dude got on the message board and spoke a word of truth:

Wives ask your husband or some male --- you should never allow such sexualization - you just have no idea what men are thinking.

Thank you Mr. Dude. Someone needs to slap some reality into these folks. And I don't expect the tween crowd to get or believe what he just said. But he speaks the truth.

THEN, we get to hear from some of the moms. I only saved one comment. Brace yourself.

People are too high strung! I let my daughter wear a bikini! She is very stylish and the boys are all over her! Your daughter must not feel very comfortable with you, because you do not let her express herself! I let my daughter shave and she is 7! The guys @ her school think that she is so hot and she already has a boyfriend that is as free-willed as she is! So I suggest that you find a comfortable bikini for her age and let herself look hot on the beach!!!

And please don't think that woman is alone in her thinking. It may be extreme, but it's not that rare. As for the other parents, I think for a lot of them it will only be a matter of time before they cave. They will decide "well, OK at 16 she can wear one but certainly not at 13!" or "well, this one is OK you see because it doesn't show near as much as these other ones do" or "all her friends are wearing them and there really isn't anything you can find different in the stores." These girls will persist until they win the coveted prize of wearing the bikini.

Now, let's hear from someone else:

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 1 Timothy 2:9-10

Oh I'm not here to do a study on modesty, but there are many good ones out there if you haven't studied it. This is a great, quick little study.

And if you have never looked over the results of The Modesty Survey, PLEASE take time to do so. If you are the mother of girls, it is invaluable. If you are the mother of boys, it will help you to know what your sons are up against and how you can help them (you have no control over what others wear, but TV, magazines, etc. are within our control).

One more thing. I do not hold unbelievers to the standards of God's word. It is utter nonsense to them. However, God's word is clear about the standards of believers---and I think that includes the pool.

Monday, February 22, 2010

You'll Be Glad I Changed My Mind

I was going to call this post "P*ss Poor Lunches" because that's what came to me as I was scraping lunch together today from a kitchen badly in need of a grocery trip. But let's come back to that thought in a minute.

Today as I was flapping my arms and running around the house stressing over how much I had NOT gotten done and HOW was it already 1:00????? It occurred to me that the single most important thing I can do for my household is menu planning.

I'm serious. You probably knew it was important. It saves money, it saves time, it makes you plan healthier meals....yeah yeah. But when you are faced with an overflowing laundry room, school isn't finished, the kitchen is a mess AND you don't know what's for supper? Triple the amount of stress you should be having.

After I sat down and figured out supper for tonight I felt better. But I'm still facing down and quick trip to the grocery store for said supper and that stresses me out too. I'm supposed to be grocery shopping for the week today, but that simply isn't going to happen today.

All I'm saying is, I could face that laundry room and that kitchen and all the other things on my plate so much more peacefully if only supper was planned. I've lived both ways and believe me, I know.


Can we talk lunch for a minute? A few years ago when I was literally weeks away from quitting my part time job and was looking forward to being a full-time homemaker, only 1 thing struck fear in me. Well, besides the finances. The other thing that struck fear in me was having to feed my children three meals a day.

I'm not kidding.

See, I had never done it. Sure I was a teacher so I had Sweetheart home during the summers back in the day, but she lived on Goldfish crackers and juice back then. What did I have to worry about? Then she went off to Kindergarten and I had Little Bit at home all day but she was nursing so again---no worries. Then I worked part time and they ate breakfast AND lunch at the daycare (included in the tuition). Sure, there were weekends but really---7 days a week is different. And they are bigger now so they don't get really excited about those Gerber Graduates pasta bowls and some Cheerios like they used to.

I'm so over lunch. What do you feed your kiddos? I mean, what are your easy go-to staples? And don't say leftovers because on the rare occasion we have leftovers one of two things happens.

1. We ALL want the leftovers (and there is only enough for a few)
2. NOBODY wants the leftovers.

But honestly, there aren't many leftovers in my life, which might explain why my Mii is not shrinking.

So, what do you feed your children for lunch?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Came, I Conquered, and I Didn't Get Crushed Beneath the Piles

I'm referring to our master bedroom there. It's not really a "master suite" at like 14X12 but there is a bathroom attached so I guess it's the 1960s version of master suite.

Still, we have an incredible amount of stuff in there. And part of our great clean up of 2010 has to include that room if we are going to be picking on the girls about their stuff insisting the children keep their rooms clean.

I rearranged too. Remember when I made that little office area for S in our bedroom? Well, the problem is, it was on my side of the bed and that is unfortunately where Mt. Washmore tends to build up. So he hasn't exactly been able to get to his desk in a while. Plus at Christmas I was sewing there so it's been a mess for a while. Anyway, it's all fixed now and all I have left to do is sort through clothes and straighten some books.

This is the only room we haven't painted since we bought this house. Well, I painted that one accent wall dark sage green when our bed used to be on that wall, but that's it. I'm not happy with what's hanging on the walls but that's a project for another day. Right now, the key words are PICKED UP.

I explained the difference between cleaning (wiping, sweeping, spraying, mopping) and picking up to the girls the other day when we had our little talk. We all three like's the picking up we don't enjoy. But they have been doing a good job. Rather, I have been doing a good job of making them. They have continued to try taking short cuts and be lazy. I'm thinking a week of training is too long---meaning they won't make it that long without correction of the Biblical sort.

I'm left with a big pile of clothes and blankets in the living room as well. There needs to be a serious clothing sort today. I was commenting on another blog last night and actually had a good idea. I think I'll pare down what's in their drawers and keep the rest of the clothes (Little Bit for example has a lot of great hand-me-downs and I hate to just give them all away just for the sake of cleaning up) in a big clear tub in the closet. Then we can switch out clothes every now and then or just go to the tub when they need something else to wear besides their everyday clothes. But in their drawers won't be so much stuff to rifle through every day. Dresses can hang up. Eh, we'll see.

Kinda still wishing for a family any of you have one? I think I would love one if we had the square footage.

Next up on the straightening fit? The homeschool room. It's already organized, it just needs straightening up. Then I think we'll be ready to begin our week of training and inspections, although technically I've already started since their rooms are done.

I'm gonna be Inspector Clouseau. Or inspector Gadget. Or maybe The Trunchbull. But we are GOING to keep these rooms picked up!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Elisabeth Elliot shared the following essay written many years ago by an unknown mother in one of her newsletters ( Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter, P.O. Box 7711, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48107-7711 -$7 yr.) She says while not too many women iron sheets these days, it is still possible to let many other things take precedence over the primary task.

"I am sadly concerned that thousands of mothers are so over-burdened that the actual demands of life from day to day consume all their time and strength. But of two evils, choose the lesser: which would you call the lesser--an unpolished stove or an untaught boy? Dirty windows, or a child whose confidence you have failed to gain? Cobwebs in the corner, or a son over whose soul a crust has formed, so strong that you despair of melting it with your hot tears and fervent prayers?

I have seen a woman who was absolutely ignorant of her children's habits of thought, who never felt that she could spare a half-hour to read or talk with them--I have seen this woman spend ten minutes in ironing a sheet, or forty minutes icing a cake for tea, because company was expected.

When the mother, a good orthodox Christian, shall appear before the Great White Throne to be judged for the "deeds done in the body," and to give her report of the master's treasures placed in her care, there will be questions and answers like these:

"Where are the boys and girls I gave thee?"

"Lord, I was busy keeping my house clean and in order, and my children wandered away."

"Where wert thou while thy sons and thy daughters were learning lessons of dishonesty, malice and impurity?"

"Lord, I was polishing furniture and making beautiful rugs."

"What hast thou to show for thy life's work?"

"The tidiest house, Lord, and the best starching and ironing in all our neighborhood!"

Oh these children, these children! The restless eager boys and girls whom we love more than our lives! Shall we devote our time and strength to that which perishes while the rich garden of our child's soul lies neglected, with foul weeds choking out all worthy and beautiful growths? Fleeting indeed, O mother, are the days of childhood, and speckless windows, snowy linen, the consciousness that everything about the house is faultlessly bright and clean will be poor comfort in that day wherein we shall discover that our poor boy's feet have chosen the path that shall take him out of the way to all eternity." --Author Unknown

Read the whole article, written by Tamara Eaton, here.
In fact, I found all of her articles to be so encouraging for homeschooling families! You can see her articles at Click on articles at the top.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Training Boot Camp

Brenda here, reporting live from the bowels of hell the hallway outside of the girls' bedroom and playroom. I would like to be here telling you how a terrible storm hit our house and insurance will pay for it all but the truth is.....

we did it.

Well, the girls technically did it, but I helped. How? By not being consistent.

Our girls are pretty obedient. I'm mostly pleased with their behavior. They aren't too hard to correct and I certainly don't cringe about having to spend time with them. Do they need correcting sometimes? Absolutely. But overall....they are pretty swell children.

Except this one thing.

S called me on it last night. Oh he wasn't trying to make me feel bad but he just basically said look, they HAVE to start picking up after themselves better. It's past the point of ridiculous.

I quite agree.

So I asked him for two things:
1. to give us the rest of this week to get things picked up (you have to start off in a better state than we are now if we are going to maintain anything) and
2. to let me have next week for a training week.

It means going back to boot camp, much like we did when Little Bit was three. What that means is, I have to be in their vicinity 90% of the time for a few days. Keep them right by me. Make SURE they are obedient in putting their things away. After all, this is a new habit we are tying to form and it's going to take lots of reinforcement.

After that, periodic (several times a day) inspections will occur, with consequences or praise given afterward.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

See, I enjoy being home so much. It's still so fresh on my mind how I hated leaving them and how thankful I am for them to be home playing with their toys while I work on something in another room that I have been too lenient. I'll see a mess they made in another room, but they are so busy playing and getting along with each other that I hate to interrupt them every single time so the mess stays and I intend for them to go back later and do it but......


It's not been serving us well. Or our house. And Mama has been too soft so thankfully God made the daddies not so soft. The law has been laid down. I talked to the girls this morning. Not mad, not yelling. I explained to them that when Daddy works so hard to pay for our house and things that we have and then he comes home and sees things on the floor like you don't even care about it, it seems like you just might as well throw it away. They understood. They agreed.

And so I sit here at the intersection of chaos and confusion.....keeping them on task as they sort through the mess. One is on my left in the bedroom and one is on my right in the toy room. And we will keep going until we are done.

I did give them several small successes first thing this morning. I had them straighten up their shoe baskets (they keep their shoes in a crate in the floor of their closet), the library books, the mittens and scarves in the coat closet, the bathroom. You know, little areas.

Surely all those little areas will start to add up to orderliness soon. Right? Right?

Check in with me every now and then peeps. This mama could use some encouragement!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sew Much to Do

I taught my first sewing class on Saturday! Yes, someone asked ME to teach them to sew. Clearly, we will mostly be covering squares and rectangles. Actually, they asked me to teach their daughter, who is Sweetheart's age, to sew.

We started off with all the sewing stuff spread all over the table. They had to match the sticky note labels up with the items. They did pretty well. No one knew what a seam ripper was....or the pinking shears. Then we learned to tie a knot in thread. I am 39 and I just learned to do this neatly last month. The way my mom taught me I could NEVER make a good knot. Now I can. Here's the tutorial that taught me how.

And then we practiced the basic running stitch by sewing on some plastic canvas with yarn. A good way to start, I think. Here's a post that talks about starting little ones off sewing like that.

It was nice having a "class" that my girls could join too. It makes my teaching them to sew more purposeful.

Now. Speaking of chair is FULL of fabric scraps donated by my mom to make skirts for the girls. I have to iron it and get busy. (I just got it out of the dryer) And I found some fabric on the clearance rack for a skirt for me.

AND.....our Sunday night Bible study requires some sewing too. I have the kids on Sunday nights and we just finished our third theme which was the armor of God. So now....what to do? One little boy suggested heroes of the Bible and I was off and running. So naturally, I have to make capes. Right?

But this all requires TIME. And it requires that I be ON TOP OF OTHER THINGS AROUND HERE. And THAT is the hard part. I always feel like I can't sit down to sew because I have _______ or __________ or even _____________ to do. But sewing IS something I do around here and I just have to make time for it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

When Mental Isn't Good

I've been on the road to being more feminine for quite a while. Well, not so much on the road as.....well.....OK. Basically, all I've done is talk. And think.

And I think I've come to some great conclusions. BUT, I have yet to DO anything about my conclusions. Oh sure, I wear more skirts......on Sundays. And I try to dress the girls more femininely.....except when we all wear jeans every day.

The truth is, my physical surroundings don't match my mind. What I want is not happening because I don't have what I need. So I've just sat here. I've heard that people go to thrift stores and find all manner of lovely skirts and dresses for just pennies but all I have to say about that is, your thrift stores must be different than the ones around here!

I've spent lots of time looking online at skirts and dresses and beautiful feminine clothing, only to determine that I really don't have the money to spend on all of that.

So, I've learned to make skirts for the girls. Come spring/summer, they are going to look GREAT. But in the winter? We don't have so many options. And me? No progress.

Oh don't get me wrong, I have skirts, but they all need to wait until spring and summer. Also, they are a bit too dressy for everyday wear. I feel like Sweetheart. She tells me all the time, "Mom, I don't like pretty." What she means, as best I can determine, is that she doesn't like fancy. One of her best friends is very into princesses and beautiful flow-y things and Sweetheart just doesn't get it. She wants to marry a farmer and own a bunch of animals and honestly, I can see her slopping around doing farm chores alongside her husband one day. But there's a style for her too. I believe she can still be feminine and not fancy. There is such a thing as pretty---plain and simple pretty without frills. I fit into that category myself. Skip the lace please.

So I've decided to quit thinking and start DOING SOMETHING. I found some online skirt tutorials for me. I'm going to try them. I'm scared. My sewing abilities only go so far. But I want to quit wearing jeans every single day and I certainly don't want to raise my daughters to wear jeans every single day either. S agrees---he's asked me to just look at skirts for them for the spring and summer. So I must go before them as an example.
And quit just talking about it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I've Gone All "Nature" On Ya

I think S is worried about me. Last night he snapped the bedroom light on after I had so carefully turned all the big lights off and instead turned on a small bedside lamp.

"AAAAAHHH My circadian rhythms!!!!" I shouted.

He shook his head and said something about how soon I was going to be doing yoga.

See, last weekend my Dad, S, and I had a discussion about Daylight Savings Time. I've come to not like it. When I was younger I loved it because it meant we could play outside longer in the summer. Well, if the mosquitoes didn't carry us away, you know. But it seems to me that when I was little that's all it was......the summer. Daylight Savings Time now takes up most of the year. We just got off of it in November and it starts back up next month.

This messes with our bodies, I believe. I mentioned many posts ago about how the pioneers knew when to quit working---when the sun went down. But we, with all of our advanced living, could work all night if we wanted thanks to electricity and artificial lighting. I'm not slamming electricity--it is my friend. The point is, we are not in touch with common sense when we can keep all the lights burning and wonder why we can't sleep.

My Dad said it was called circadian rhythm. I had never heard of it but he explained that it was the reason some men couldn't handle shift work. (My dad worked shift work for over 30 years.) Basically, it's our body's cycle of a 24 hour day. We wake. We sleep. All of his is based on the sun and the seasons.

So I was already thinking about that when I stumbled across an article talking about how we never hear nature sounds anymore. Well, you might, but this writer worked inside a well-insulated building without windows. It gets to you. Her answer was to play CD's of nature sounds or download them to her MP3 player. I'll tell you, I've worked in a windowless building before and was shocked beyond belief to open the door and find a storm outside. Sheesh, talk about isolation!

So what do you think about all this? Don't you think there's something to it?

God made the earth and the 24 hour day and the seasons all for a reason. Just when things need to change, they do. Just when the earth heats up enough, before it overheats, the sun goes down. And just before it freezes into a big ice ball, the sun comes up. The seasons serve their purposes. Even though we all say, "I could live with _______ season all year long!" We know things don't work this way. We need all four seasons. We need both sunlight and dark.

So I've been trying to turn off lights in the evenings. Let it get darker before we go to bed. I open windows in the mornings. I'm listening to birds right now. I'm trying to go to bed earlier and get up earlier---a bit more like the pioneers and a bit more in line with the sun. Now, what do I do when DST starts?

I guess get black out shades?

And maybe do some yoga.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why Haven't You Been Commenting?

Haven't you been enjoying the posts I've written over the last few days?

What's that?


So. You've been having trouble READING all the posts that I've been writing in my head?

Hmm. (sigh)

Fine. Tomorrow I'll try to actually type one of them up!!!!!

I have such brilliant ideas.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


These are the pants the mommy wore.

These are the pants that lost the button so the mommy couldn't wear them anymore.

This is the tutorial that kept the mommy from throwing away the jeans she couldn't wear anymore.

This is the cutting......

that resulted in the Daisy Dukes..... (that's enough of THAT visual)

and the leftover pants legs of the pants that the mommy couldn't wear anymore.

This is the skirt, sized for a little one, made from the pants that the mommy couldn't wear anymore.
For free!
Thank you to The Craft Patch for this great idea!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just for Boys

It seems like somewhere in the last few the comment section of my blog.....on some post, we talked about how there are not very many good things you can sew for boys.

I remember that conversation but not it's location.

Anyway, I was really excited to see this post. Celebrate the Boy!!!

A whole month of boy sewing tutorials. Well, they won't be sewing a boy because that's a bit too Pinocchio, you know? But a month of sewing-for-boys tutorials! For those of you who don't have little girls around, I thought you might like to know.

Karly.....there you go.
Oh, and JulieMom? While I was looking for said conversation, I found a comment from you LAST FEBRUARY saying you were just going to live out your sewing dreams vicariously through me. And yes, Karly you were talking about needing to learn how to sew. And just LOOK AT YOU BOTH NOW!

You are welcome.

I KNOW it was all my inspiration that helped you.



Is this thing on?