Sunday, August 29, 2010

Announcing: A Family Theme...Maybe

I've seen this several places lately. Some families have a big back to school dinner for their kiddos and announce their family's theme for the year. Very cool.

NieNie does this every year. Except there is no permalink. Stephanie, WHERE is your permalink? How do you make your blog do that thing where no matter what I click on, the address stays the same? It was Wednesday, August 25, if you are interested. Her feast was amazing. Their theme this year? "To learn with joy."

Then I saw Monica's feast for her family. Monica had a permalink. Her theme was "Wisdom."

I like this idea. So I got to thinking.....what would our family theme be? I mean, what do I want to focus on this year???

And just came to me:

Too direct?

I'm kidding. I would never make a beautiful banner with those words on it. BUT I am very serious about the theme. I'll use different words, OK?

If I could teach my children (and maybe their parents too) one thing that would make my life (and their future lives) easier, it would be to put things away when you are done with them. My children do not act like this in public. I mean, I've seen the families where the kid has trash in their hand and mom or dad just tells them to throw it on the ground. We would NEVER do that. My children pick up their things in public. They throw their trash away at McDonald's. They don't just kick their shoes off in a store and walk away from them.

Why are they treating our home this way? I am going to be on them 24/7 about this. I cannot get them to understand: If you put things away when you are through, there is never any cleaning to do.

Can you imagine a world like that?

And isn't that a nice rhyme I just accidentally made?

It's long, but I like it. And I do realize that there would be cleaning...but the girls and I LIKE cleaning. We don't like picking up. Maybe if I change the word "cleaning" to something else....

Oh forget it. This family theme stuff is hard work.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

After This We Can Talk About Our Bursitis

I am so over heat. Summer is over for us anyway. We started school, the local pools are closed. What else is there?

So fall needs to get here. Autumn. My favorite season. (Spring is in 2nd place) I think August is a bit too early to start decorating for fall, but my Mom bought me some things at the dollar store this weekend. I cannot justify spending money on unnecessary stuff right now, even if it IS from the dollar store. So I was very grateful.

Won't those look lovely on my entryway cabinet minus all the other mess that's there right now?

Strangely, it doesn't look like this right now. Hmmm. My house hasn't been cleaning itself very well. Perhaps I should get back on track.

On a good note, and off the subject of weather, I started on the girls' rag quilts this weekend. I got a lot of flannel cut out, but oh my word there is more. Much more. The cutting is NOT the fun part, by the way. However, I would like them to get to use the quilts on their bed when the weather does get cold.

There's the weather again. How's your bursitis doing?

I found out this week that I am important. And that my role as my husband's helper is very important. We all went out of town Saturday for Sweetheart's birthday. S came home Sunday afternoon since he leads a Bible study on Sunday evenings and also had to be at work on Monday. I stayed up there with my parents and the girls and came home today (Tuesday).

Sunday evening he couldn't get the lesson to print that he had worked so hard on. He called me, but I was not very much help 3 hours away. Monday he forgot some things in his lunch, forgot to take his glasses to work and then I got home today and saw he didn't eat any of the food I had left for him. Also, he slept on a pitiful sliver of bed because there was clean laundry stacked all over the bed when we left.

Yes, I KNOW he could have put it up. I KNOW lots of men make their own lunches and meals. I KNOW he is an adult and perfectly capable of taking care of things.

But I'm important.

I'm important because I take care of things that he doesn't even have to worry about or give a thought to. I am important because I think about his meals and food long before he gets hungry (most times). I'm important because I am here when he needs me--for whatever reason whether it be to print something or to put away the laundry or to just talk to.

I realized this week that my role as his helper is even more important than homeschooling our girls. It's a fundamental part of our family. It's something we are based on. Long after the girls are done with school, and no longer need my help with the basics of life...I will be his helper. (God willing)

It's good to feel needed.

And no I'm not going to turn into one of these women who starts doting on her poor husband because the children don't need her anymore---treating him like a mere child and shushing him.

But I will be here to help him. Whatever the weather.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweetheart Was Here....

...and here...

She's like Gretel...except she leaves a trail of books behind her. And OK...cracker crumbs too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Dollhouse Project

Sweetheart was in karate last year. She wants to continue that but all I can say is, "we'll see." The budget may have another opinion on the matter. Right now she's taking piano lessons, which S and I both wanted our girls to get to do.

But Little Bit is another matter. She's not interested in anything that requires physical contact (like karate--no thank you--she tried) or anything that requires her to get up in front of people (dance, etc.)

What she IS interested in is getting attention. And her dollhouse. This was her dollhouse as given to us last year.

Wonderful! Free! And boring.

It had some accessories with it.

But it needed more!

Since that time we have wallpapered the bathroom, the kitchen, and put "linoleum" down in the kitchen floor. She's received several more rooms of stuff for birthdays and Christmas.

What she wants is to make it look "rich." So we have outlined all the projects we need to do while Sissy is at piano lessons this year.

We started with the car. This was the boring car. Poor dollhouse family in their not rich car.
You'll see next week what we're doing to make it "rich."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Gift of Music

I am so excited. Sweetheart started piano lessons yesterday. A mom from our homeschool group announced she was going to start teaching them again (for a stellar price) and I couldn't refuse. Turns out...her house is a whopping 30 second drive from our house. Blessings everywhere!

So, Sweetheart came home yesterday from her first 30 minute lesson and could already play 2 songs. OK, they are very short and easy. She was SO excited!! Actually, I was too. She called Grandma and Grandpa to come down and hear her play and also played for S when he got home. She was hopping and jumping for 30 minutes after her lesson.

So today she did the work in her music theory book that she was supposed to do. Part of her assignment was to compose a little song using the black keys. She did:

I should tell you that I have NO idea if what she wrote down is even half-way correct. All I know is, she could play it and it sounded the same each time. She even wrote little words to it. My knowledge of sheet music is this: when the notes go up, you sing higher. When the notes go down, you sing lower.

Actually, if hard pressed, I could remember more than that....but not much. I've never had any kind of music lesson beyond what you learn in elementary school.

At my elementary we learned to sing "My gal's a corker, she's a New Yorker, I'll buy her anything to keep her in style. She's got a pair of hips just like 2 battleships, hot dog that's where my money goes."

I can sing all the verses if you like.

By the way, thank you Mr. McCallen. Music was fun if not educational.

So Little Bit, who is not taking piano lessons this year, was not to be left out or undone. Ever. Not that girl.

This afternoon she announced she had written her own song. She played something for me. She told me it was called "The Mouse Chase." Here is what I saw at the piano.

Oh I love that kid.

But don't worry about Little Bit. We couldn't think of any extra curricular activities she was interested in, so she and I have a plan. I'll share more with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking to the Past

Today in History, we learned about Ferdinand and Isabella. This is Little Bit's first year to fully participate in our history lessons and she is LOVING making her timeline pieces each day.

Some of our timeline pieces from the first year...
While she was coloring Ferdinand and Isabella I reminded her to make a dress on Isabella.

LB: Why?
Me: Because she would have worn a dress.
Sweetheart: How do you know?
Me: Because women always wore dresses until about the 1960s when Aunt T was born (just to give them reference).
Sweetheart: Why did they start wearing be like men?
Me: Well, yes.
Sweetheart: That's silly.

I quite agree!

I tell you, S and I have been talking about the girls' fall/winter wardrobe. Sweetheart is going to practically need a new wardrobe and I was so impressed with all the goodness Giovanna found at the thrift store for her daughter. I really have to start visiting the thrift stores more often. My friends who do tell me you have to go often and you will score big. S really wants to limit the jeans and denim that we purchase for all of us (me and the girls). He much prefers khakis or nice pants and of course, more skirts. In the winter, jeans and a long-sleeved shirt every day can get really old. And not lovely either.

In addition to that, I am really inspired by the New Dress a Day blog. Did you see this on Yahoo? I am so totally impressed! Sometimes I look at her "before" picture and think there is NO WAY she will be able to make anything fashionable out of it and she always succeeds. Our modesty standards are not quite the same, but then neither are our sewing skills!

Still, she got me to thinking about how perhaps I could cut off fabric from women's dresses that were hopeless otherwise and make easy skirts for the girls. Hmmm....

I plan to start in September working on their new wardrobes--and hopefully mine! Anyone else got some inspiration for me?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Purpose of the Birthday

Some friends of ours had their daughter's one year old birthday party (this was about 13 years ago) and we went. They had catered bar-b-que, a big tent out back, a moonwalk, music, drinks, etc. It was a huge celebration. Where was their daughter? Upstairs taking a nap.

That always confused me.

I have never been a big fan of the huge birthday bash. HOWEVER, neither do I want to be the mom who doesn't do anything special for their child's birthday. Middle ground, folks. Middle ground. We had "kid" birthday parties for Sweetheart at home when she was 3 and 4, met everyone at the beach for her 5th and had smaller friend parties after that and sometimes just family. Little Bit has never had a friend party since she has built-in cousins and a sister and once family gets's enough. Plus all the friends we used to invite over when Sweetheart was little all just had one child too. By the time Little Bit came along, they all had a sibling or 2 and it was just too much! And Little Bit got the flu for her birthday last year so I think this year she deserves a bigger party.

Sweetheart had a "big" party last year. It's not big by most folk's standards but it was big for us! There were games, we fed everyone hot dogs and hamburgers, and she had 5-10 kids over. It was big for our family in our 1500 square foot house.

This year I had great plans. Wonderful plans. They involved an out of town trip and a visit to a place Sweetheart would have LOVED to have gone to. However, August, especially THIS August, is the worst month in the world for affording things. So I thought of Plan B. But that was going to be too much too.

And I was getting really disappointed. A party at home with just family? That's not what I really wanted to do for her. Plan C wasn't what I wanted. So I got to thinking.....what is the point of the birthday party anyway?

It's to make sure she knows how loved she is. And how special she is to us. And how happy we are that she was born.

Right? So I will make a chocolate cake. We will put up decorations. Her aunts and grandparents and cousins will come over. She will get presents that she wrote down on a list 2 months ago and afixed to our fridge. She will get hugged, and spanked, and loved on.

And it will be wonderful.
Becuase she is wonderful.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

School Pictures

This week on the Not Back to School Bloghop over at Heart of the Matter, we are sharing our student's pictures.

Last year I ran across Sprittibee's simple idea of having her children hold up their fingers for what grade they were in. Only problem was, Little Bit was in Kindergarten last year. So, I did this:
Goin' to school barefoot just like Abe Lincoln!

Continuing the tradition, here are this year's first day of school photos:

Sweetheart, 5th grade.

Little Bit, 1st grade.

And one together. I love these girls so much.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Do you know nunya? My college roommate used to say that one.

"Who are you talking about?"

"Who is Nunya?"

"Nunya business."

Remind me one day to share all the little sayings I learned from her family. They were great.

So I haven't been blogging much this week because all that's been going on is 1.the start of school and really, how much can you read about that before deciding you need to go scrub your baseboards? and 2. financial stuff. Which, even though I love you all, is decidedly NOT the blogging world's business. It's nunya, you know? Just can't blog about money.

But I can blog about being frugal. And husband and I have decided as we climb and dig our way out of our hole that we are in right now, that frugal is how we always want to be. It would have been really great if we had decided that 17 years ago, but at least we are here now. Just one of our many revisions the Lord has made on us. August is a really hard month with the start of school, summer electric bills, and Sweetheart's birthday. My plans for her birthday are not going to happen and that hurts my heart a little. But here's what I know: God loves that child more than even I do and He delights in her. I trust Him that her birthday will be special no matter what.

As for school--this week has been great. Little Bit is a bonafied 1st grader. She's hanging with us through all the subjects and working hard. Reading is SO much easier for her than it was even in May. Next week we add more subjects. I've really enjoyed it so far. Five more weeks to go until our break! I think I'm going to like this "sabbath schedule."

We're studying Zoology 1 this year which covers flying creatures on the 5th day of creation. We are blessed to have some friends from our homeschool group doing the same book this year. Her girls are each a year or so younger than mine and they all get along well. She also has a little turkey boy who tags along. I think he's 2. One of the first activities calls for us to go on a scavenger nature hunt. So, I'm making these for us to use. I think I'll put the kids' initials on them so they can each have their own bag.

Other than that, we are so lacking in the grocery area that I actually will be going to the store in the morning and taking S his lunch afterwards. Diabetes + finances = making lunch every day and I'm simply not prepared tonight. I've managed to feed him every day and his doctor said his numbers look great but it's still hard and I'm so out of ideas and tired of trying new things. I just wanna make spaghetti, OK? It's a meal that requires no thought. And a lot of recipe blogs I had on my google reader just need to be deleted because they are no good to me now.

They have become nunya.

One easy decision this week? I will be continuing to shop at HEB (a Texas grocery store chain) instead of my closest Wal-Mart. Giovanna secured that one in my mind FOR SURE.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Propaganda At It's Finest

I was so stuck this year. I just did not have any great ideas for our first day of school. None. Last year all our first day activities centered around listening. I just had no ideas this year.

Finally, FINALLY on Sunday afternoon I had an idea. I ran across a Clean Home Unit study and an idea was born.  We read "The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room" on the first day of school. My girls know this book by heart so they colored pictures of Brother Bear and Sister Bear while I read. Then we watched a hilarious home-made video of the book Pigsty. They got a kick out of it.

We started making a lapbook on clean houses and I'll share that with you when we are done. It's one of my professional lapbooks. Don't you just love my propaganda....lesson idea?

Today we covered three of the reasons why we keep a clean house (or why we should, ahem). One reason was "so we can find things when we need them." It was nicely illustrated as I had to call an impromptu recess to tear the house up and find the new credit cards for S as our old one had expired.

Homeschooling keeps you humble.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our NEW Homeschool Room!

If you are here from the Not Back to School Blog Hop....welcome! My regular readers know this, but I switched the playroom and homeschool room over the summer. The playroom is now small and easy to pick up and the homeschool room is bigger and we can actually walk around a little! It used to be my younger daughter's bedroom. So, it's about the size of a bedroom in a 40 year old house.

Won't you come inside?

This is looking in from the door. I sit in the funky black and white chair. I re-covered it last year after saving it from the trash. So OK a weld was broken and it's now held together with bright green zip ties. BUT LOOK AT THE PRETTY FABRIC. The girls "new" chairs are salvaged from the back porch. They are cushier than their old chairs.
If you look to the left. you'll notice our hermit crabs aka the class pets. And beyond those is the girls' new art table. This is my attempt at keeping the homeschool room free of clutter in between school times. If they want to draw, they draw at the art table. In theory. The mirrored doors cover the closet which holds out of season clothes, more art supplies, and extra toys. And golf clubs. We'll just keep those doors closed, m'kay?

Looking at the table from another angle you can see our wonderful black shelves. They were a little neater a few weeks ago but I can guarantee you they will look worse later.

The new art center. This is something we would NEVER have had room for in our old homeschool room. The girls painted their old school chairs to use at the art table.
Our world map is again at a level where the kids can use it. And our trusty white board. The markers are kept in the cool gift bag.

Over by the window I have 2 tubs/baskets of easy readers for Little Bit. The carpet squares add a little softness, but I plan to put some pillows down here too in order to encourage reading. This might come in handy when she is waiting for me to finish with sister. Also, our DVD player is right there and they can lay on pillows while they watch their Math U See lesson.

Looking back toward the door, you can see the rest of our art table and the collection of stuffed animals under the hermit crab tank.

That's our room! We are really excited to have all this space. The sacrifice comes in the girls sharing a room but this works well for us right now. They have loft beds, so they have some space of their own as well. I really like the calming color and I think we will enjoy being in here.

Thanks for stopping by! Go check out more great rooms at Heart of the Matter Online!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today's the Day and Some Thoughts on Sleeping

This is it. No more swimming. Today is all about getting ready for school. After breakfast, I am cleaning up the school room once and for all and taking pictures. I'll share them soon. THEN, with my ultra organized area around me, finishing up the planning will be easy, right? Well, it will be prettier, that's for sure.

Our old school room ready to go one year. So pretty!
Then, after lunch, I am going to Carrie's house and we are going to plan. She has good ideas and also is farther along in her planning so I'm going to go suck her ideas. Why should I have to do all the work? No, what works for one family won't work for all families...but I want to get some good ideas and have someone to bounce ideas off of.

Since we are kind of busy Friday and are going to dinner on Saturday....I really need today to PRODUCTIVE. VERY.

Now. I want to talk about sleeping. I have several teen friends on Facebook and I am just amazed that in the summer they have turned into bats. They are nocturnal, I'm telling you. I asked sweetheart's friend yesterday what time she had gone to bed the night before (her teen sisters are on FB so I had a good idea). She told me: 2am. THEN, of course, they sleep all day the next day. And eat breakfast at 4:00 in the afternoon. She's only 10 so I suppose she went to bed "early." Her sisters stay up all night. Like every night is a lock-in.

Little Bit and Sweetheart ready for bed at a hotel last Spring Break.
They are not the only ones. I have a lot of friends whose kids sleep until 10 or noon in the summer. Ug. Can I just say that I HATED the day after lock-ins when I was in high school? That is the grossest feeling. I hated how I felt after sleepovers too. The last (and one of the only) sleepovers that Sweetheart ever went to was when she was 7. It was a birthday party and I naively assumed the mom would call "bedtime" at some point. I figured it would be late but....oh dear. At 1:00am we got a call from Sweetheart/the mom. Something was hurting. Do you want me to come get you? No. Put a cold rag on it. Are you sure you want to stay? Yes. From what we can tell, we guess it was like 3:30am before she fell asleep. And needless to say, church was the next day. Those girls (15 or so of them) dragged into church and the mom fed them donuts before church started. Half of them fell asleep in church, Sweetheart (of course) got a big headache but I refused to let her sleep all day. We just let her have a nap and then be miserable. We put her to bed early, but I wanted her to remember the miserable feeling so she would better understand why she was NEVER doing it again. She told me, through tears, "But Mommy, nobody put me to bed!" It was sad, I'm telling ya.

My kids have been sleeping until 8 or 8:30 these last 2 weeks. Most of the summer Sweetheart was up at 7. Little Bit usually gets up by 8 and that is when they have both gone to bed at 9. Anyway, I mentioned something about how my kids have been sleeping too late and then I said 8:30 and several people looked shocked at me. But at church last night several parents agreed with me--8:30 was too late and their kids had been sleeping that late too.

So what do you think? Do your kids bounce out of bed at sunrise no matter what or do you all turn into bats in the summer or somewhere in the middle?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Because I Have So Much to Do

We are going swimming today naturally. Of course that's what you do when school starts on Monday and you aren't ready.

Also it's sewing lesson day.

So yeah, my day is pretty well shot as far as productivity goes.

On the other hand, I will be visiting with 2 good homeschool mama friends. Surely we can hash out some details of the upcoming year while the kids play. While the 9 collective children play. Surely.

I will tell you one thing of importance. I just could. not. get. going on the school planning and THEN my free copy of Home Educating Magazine arrived in the mail. I won a subscription last year.

There was an article on "Sabbath School." The author told about the pattern of 6 days of work/ 1 day of rest being a wise pattern the Lord set up for us. She took it a step further and schools 6 weeks and then takes 1 week off. Sounded very wise to me. Avoids burn-out. Spreads the year over 12 months instead of cramming it into 9.

So I did that. I got a calendar from here. I counted and figured and there might have been a bit of smoke coming out of my ears at one point but the bottom line is:

We have 36 weeks of instruction broken into 6 week segments. We have a month off at Christmas. We have 6 weeks for summer break.

I think I like it. We'll see how it goes.

But first I must swim.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Let the Wakefullness Begin

I can't ever sleep well right before back to school time. When I was a teacher, this was the time of year I was in my classroom for a few hours each day getting stuff ready. Only, when it was time to leave, nothing was done. I maybe had put bulletin board paper up, and possibly even border, but none of the bulletin boards were finished. I had pulled stuff out of everywhere and laid it all over the desks but couldn't put it away yet because I wasn't finished with it. There was a roll of laminated items to be cut out, and punched out die cut letters laying everywhere and copies that needed to be made and even though I worked every would remain unfinished for about 2 weeks.

And that made me not sleep well. And have nightmares. I shared about some of them a few years ago.

I'm in the middle of planning and thinking and dreaming about our upcoming year and so I have a kajillion things on my mind. I realized at 5:00 this morning, while lying in bed wide awake, that I have a conflict on Wednesdays. So first thing this morning I was up e-mailing someone about switching times or dates. And really, I haven't actually sat down and done ANYTHING about our new year. Not much at all. This has all been mental while I'm washing dishes or cleaning up from the break-in.

Today I'm off to Half-Price books to see if I can get some cash. I already have a healthy stack of books to sell but I'm going to have the girls go through their bookshelves too. I feel sure we can get rid of some more. Oh and last night at Target, I found chapter books for $1!!!! The titles Sweetheart picked out were "The Wizard of Oz", "The Story of Doctor Dolittle", and "A Little Princess." They are "Junior Classics for Young Readers" so I assume they are condensed in some way. I don't know if your Target Dollar Spot has them but goodness sake what a great deal.

When we get back from our book selling (I can't imagine how much money we'll make. $2? $5? I really have no idea.) I have to actually walk into the school room and DO something. Instead of clicking all the links on the Not Back to School Bloghop although I did get some great ideas yesterday. It is time for action.

And perhaps action today will help me sleep tonight?

Monday, August 2, 2010


The kitchen is clean. That's because I maybe whined a bit and S helped me last night before bed. I could not have handled walking into a mess this morning.

The bed is made. I think I'm through with positives.

The laundry in our bathroom floor is very high. We had no clean towels yesterday and I think S wet his hair this morning and dried if off with a hand towel.

There are pieces of clutter from the front door all the way through the living room. No surface remains clear. It's kind of amazing actually. Like someone broke in our house and all they did was scatter crap everywhere.

The bills need to be paid. Today.

I cannot see any speck of the surface of our homeschool table. I cannot get motivated in that area.

There are toys in the hallway.

The playroom is a mess.

Some of the bags of stuff I had sacked up to get rid of busted open and they are lying all over the garage floor.


I am thankful that I am not on my way to work and will face coming home to this mess tonight. I am so thankful that I will be home all day to tend to all this mess.

I am blessed that my children will be in my care today, even if I will be only vaguely aware of what they are doing during some portions of the day (bill paying).

I am blessed by a hard-working husband whom God has blessed with the ability to work and with a job(s) to work at.

So I shall pick up my broom, tie on my apron, and get busy around here.