Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Casually Feminine: Hairs the Deal

OK, now that we've got ourselves thinking about what we sleep in so our dear husbands see loveliness first thing in the made sense to start at the top.

The head. The hair on our head. I have long hair and I'm working on my daughters having long hair as well. Little Bit, bless her heart doesn't have much hair. Never has. Sweetheart has kind of half-curly/half-straight hair which translates to "poof head" or sometimes "feral child."

I've written about my reasons for keeping long hair here. No matter the length of your hair, (Little Bit decidedly does not have "long" hair yet even at the age of 6) I think it is important for it to look feminine. That will be different for different races and cultures. "Feminine" to Scotch-Irish American stick-straight-hair me might be completely different than for another lady. That's why I think it is imprtant to remember that feminine is the opposite of masculine. When you can't tell the difference between man and woman.....that's not right.

So, I'm a big fan of the clip. It's my grown-up version of the pony tail. Husband prefers my hair pulled back in a low ponytail. I prefer it down to sleep even though sometimes it seems to take over and I get all tangled up. I wish I could braid my own hair really well but my arms don't seem to want to do that.

Really, a personal hairdresser would be nice.

I don't color my hair and hope that I never decide to. I figure this is the color God wanted me to have. I very rarely go get it cut and I do almost nothing to it except on Sunday mornings I blow dry the front and top to help things along.

I've had my hair VERY short before. In fact, I would dare say that my hair has been short for far more of my life than it has been long. When I was growing up (FIRL can attest to this) I had short hair and I looked like a boy. Ug. Didn't dress much like a girl either except to church.

I don't fuss with my girls' hair much unless we are going somewhere. Sweetheart has pretty much outgrown bows in her hair, but I love these pony tail scarves I made for Christmas. I think the point is, do something. Fix it in some way or at least make sure it's clean and brushed. Every child's hair is so different I cannot tell you what you should do, but I do think we need to teach our girls that fixing their hair is a good thing. And on that note, I have a quote:

" not careless of the good looks that nature has given to you...untidiness and carelessness hide the beauty of kind deeds---but greatness of soul and nobility of heart hide homeliness of face...Take time to make yourself presentable, but do not use the time before your glass that should be given to loving service." --Mabel Hale in Beautiful Girlhood

Well said, Mabel. I guess to sum it up, our hair should not look like men's hair. We should strive for it to look neat and lovely, but not to the loss of more important things in life. I love to look at sites that show you how to do all these lovely updos, but remember, we are talking about being casually feminine and mostly, those hairdos don't fit into my daily life. (I'd still like that personal stylist to try them out on me though, ok?)

Whatever you do, I think we can all agree that all day bed-head is taking it a bit far. Right?

Now. Sigh. JulieMom thinks we need to discuss other hair. Unwanted facial hair. Hair in other places that our culture deems should be removed. I have 2 things to say about that.

1. The facial hair? Remove it for goodness sake. I don't want to know how. Pluck, shave, wax, whatever.

2. I'm all for shaving your legs and underarms, but remember: dressing modestly = far less concern about hair removal.

I just think women used to know this!

Your turn! Join in and share with us about your hair. Your woes, your successes, your do you keep your hair casually feminine?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tasks We Dread

Every day when I wake up, I have a certain number of things before me. Since I don't exactly have a boss or manager watching me, it's up to me in what order to attend to things and even WHAT I'd like to attend to that day.

That was a big adjustment when I came home.

When I worked, the clock determined when I did what things. There was no question---I needed to be ready at X time because otherwise I was going to be staring down 22 little sets of eyes looking at me wondering what we would be doing next. When I worked part-time in an office, I loved the freedom of sitting down at my desk and determining what order I wanted to accomplish things in. That was new to me. I knew what had to be done, but the best part was no one was really waiting on 22 sets of little eyes.

I know each day that we have chores, meals, and school to accomplish. That eats up the majority of my day. I know that if we don't get on those things quickly, they don't happen. Forget afternoon school around here--no one is up for it in the afternoon. Unfortunately that leaves errands for the afternoons. I say unfortunately because I'd rather do them in the morning when the stores are emptier and the streets are not busy and all the kids are in school. I really gotta work on my schedule so I can do that next year.

I dread errands sometimes. But the thing I really dread is paying bills. I'm not sure why. There is a lot of emotion in it for me. The first year I quit work, I lived in a constant state of fear about our finances. I'm not talking concern or apprehension....I'm talking FEAR. No, that wasn't right and I'm not exactly fearful anymore, but my mind still thinks of bill paying as a really bad thing I have to do.

Let's examine why, shall we?

1. I have no very little organization in my bill paying supplies. That's something I need to work on with my HTCI system. I'm just not there yet.

2. I usually pray as I sit down to pay bills. It helps to calm my fears and remember Who is in charge of our money and is responsible for every bit of providence and blessing we have been given.

3. I need a DAY where I do desk work every single week. I'm ashamed to say how often I really sit down and look through mail and get all caught up on the checkbook, etc. When I worked in the office, Thursday was bill paying day. Period. Of course it would be helpful to sit down in a nice, quiet, clean office and do that task without interruption. S said this weekend that he thinks my name is HeyMama. I'm just saying I need 20 minutes a week with NO HeyMamas. Is that possible?

Another thing I dread is making the meal plan/grocery list. I think I dread this most because:

1. It's HARD.

2. There are a lot of HeyMamas and that task takes me a long time. How can I make it easier?

I'm ready to hear your ideas. Some of you have been home a LOT longer than me and have perfected your routines. I need to hear from you.

Also, tell us what tasks you dread. Maybe we can help in the comments section.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Casually Feminine Assignment--Week 2

I hope you enjoyed our first week of the new Casually Feminine feature! I sure did. I have big plans for our pajamas, especially since JulieMom put up a tutorial on pajama pants. I can't wait to try it.

This week we will be discussing hair. I'm not picky, you can take that assignment any way you like. It's your blog. Think about how your hair can make you look more casually feminine and go with it. Link up here Wednesday morning on the MckLinky and share in the fun!

Also, as promised, we will be discussing other hair. As in, the removal of the unwanted hair. :) Shaving, unwanted facial hair, etc. NOT that any of us have that concern, know....just in case someone ELSE did, we can discuss it. Ahem.

See you Wednesday!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Helping Our Husbands With Work

Before I start in on today's topic I just wanted to give you an update on my pajama situation. I finally got a chance to ask S about my pajamas and to my surprise, he said my pajama pants were fine. He just would rather me wear a tank top than an old t-shirt. OK, that makes sense. My friend told me where they sell lots of cute tank tops (not just undershirt-looking ones). Also, JulieMom is planning to put up a tutorial on sewing pajama pants. If it looks easy enough, I might try it. She's going to sew some for her and her girls out of feminine fabrics. I think that would make a difference. Nice, new feminine print pajama pants and a matching tank top. Sounds like a plan to me!

Now. My husband works a lot. If you read this blog there's a good chance your husband works a lot too. I just happen to know that a lot of my blog readers (well, the ones I KNOW OF anyway---ahem lurkers) stay at home or homeschool or are trying to make it on one income. That naturally means that your husband works hard. If you also work outside the home, this is even harder for you. But I still think it's important and biblical.

The Bible says that Eve was created to be a helper for Adam. I believe that when I married S, I became his most important helper. And, this is the hard part, me helping him is more important than him helping me. See, when I was a full-time working mom with a little one I was angry inside. I remember kneeling beside the bathtub bathing Sweetheart, after fixing supper, still looking forward to stacks of papers that needed to be graded, and a house that needed to be cleaned, counting how many times I had bathed her since she was born. What I was doing was making a mental list of how many times he had NOT bathed her. In my mind, I deserved a husband who helped out more since I was so busy all the time. Heaven forbid one of my friends or co-workers should mention some thing that their husband always did for them!

I'm wiser now. I read Debi Pearl's book Created to Be His Helpmeet about 4 or 5 years ago and it REALLY changed me. It changed our marriage. I know some will say that book is controversial but I'm here to tell you that it blessed us tremendously. No one had ever opened up scripture and just flat out explained to me what it said about being a wife.

So, now that I had a proper perspective and knew that helping my husband pleased the Lord, and that my husband wasn't put on earth to help me, it got easier.

This weekend my husband will be working both of his jobs. I can't actually go to work with him (and would be precious little help if I did) but there are things I can do to help him this weekend:

1. Make sure he comes home to a clean house.
2. Have meals ready and be flexible if he doesn't want to take time to sit down and eat. (pack it up for him, etc.)
3. Have the clothes he needs washed and ready to go.
4. Go shopping with him for supplies he needs for a job.
5. Take care of things around the house that he won't have time to attend to.
6. Show and teach my girls a grateful attitude for Daddy's hard work (instead of teaching them to pout because we are alone "No. We can't go do fun things because Daddy has to work.")

I'm sure there are others. Just knowing that things are taken care of here, and that I'm a phone call away if he needs me to do anything for him (I'm willing, and able since I'm not busy with my own job now) is a great help. He can relax and focus on his job knowing that he has an awesome helper at home.

I might have added in the adjective there. But I'm SURE he's thinking it.

How do you help your husband?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Casually Feminine: Sleepwear

Edited to add: FINE. I didn't know OK??? Now I'm not the bad guy. :)

Notice the closed bedroom door so the children don't wander in..."Mommy? Why are you taking a picture of yourself in your pajamas at 11:30am?"

The reason we decided to begin with what we sleep in is because it's the last thing my husband sees on his way out the door in the mornings.

Poor guy.

Internet, please meet my pajamas.

I love them so. I love these capri pants. They are soft, comfy, and wonderful. That shirt is just an old t-shirt. The top varies. Sometimes I wear one of my husband's old t-shirts with these capris.

Just look how the waistband is lovingly frayed.

You know Old Navy dates their stuff, right? Let's take a peek shall we?

Man! I forgot to turn the picture. Oh well. Please crane your neck now.

Oh! 2002! So that means I purchased these bad boys BEFORE I was even pregnant with Little Bit. When Sweetheart was just turning 3.

Folks, I'll be honest here. I love these capri pants, but I do love my husband as well. He deserves better than this. I think there is a place for sloppy pajamas, but it's not every night. If your husband goes out of town for work or hunting or whatever....THAT'S the night you pull out your sloppy old lovely pajamas.

S never goes out of town. Shoot.

Still, I'm keeping them. There is a time and place for these. Maybe camping trips?

Part of the reason my sleepwear is a concern is my husband. He deserves to see a lovely, feminine woman when he wakes up in the morning. Not someone dressed like a sloppy college kid. I am his bride, his wife. He is one reason why it matters.

The other reason is I have little people imitating me. Honestly I felt convicted about my sleepwear about 2 years ago. I saw that my daughters were wearing old too-big t-shirts to sleep in. Boy do they look sloppy, I thought. And then I looked down at what I was wearing.


It wasn't doing their future husbands any favors to teach them that bedtime = sloppy. So I asked my mom to make them nightgowns. I blogged about it of my favorite comment sections of all time on this blog. And I'm sorry to say that nearly 2 years later, I am still saying and wearing the same things.

It is REALLY time to change. I don't mean that I want to do an experiment and try out feminine attire for awhile. I want to BE more feminine. How do I do that? By just starting I guess.

It doesn't mean you have to wear this to bed.

If you want to, that's fine. What it probably means is that you need to talk to your husband. He might have a completely different idea than you. Remember, we are talking about being casually feminine, but that doesn't mean just casual. We need to look different than men. So what does that mean?

Personally, I think these are lovely.

And let me just interject something else here. I do not believe that modesty applies in the bedroom with our husbands. You are married for goodness sake! BUT, modesty does apply when you are just walking around the house. Maybe you don't hold to the same standards as you do for the public eye, but you do have to consider what you are walking around in.

What are your ideas for casually feminine modest sleepwear?

If you'd like to chime in today on your blog and join us on this journey, please sign on up on the 'ol MckLinky! If you don't have a blog or would just like to leave a comment--those are welcome too!

Picture sources. Here. Here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stupid Blogging


Hi! Remember me? Brenda, who used to host Fitness Fridays? Yeah.

I just put a cake in the oven and poured myself a congratulatory glass of coke. The congratulations were for not getting a caffeine headache today after slipping up and drinking several REAL cokes this weekend. (This is Texas, by the way. When we say coke....we mean pop or soda. I actually had knock off Dr. Pepper if you really must know.) Anyway, I have been off of cokes for a little over a month I think, trying to only have caffeine free diet drinks when I really wanted one.

So I sat down with my coke, lifted the glass to my lips and began to drink, while my right hand clicked on an e-mail. Here is how it started:

Hi Brenda,
I was just looking back at a comment you made on my blog in December. I made a comment about giving up cola and you said you were too. I was just wondering how it was going for you.

Ha ha. Ha ha ha. I almost spit my coke out. Could the timing BE any more ironic?

Did I really say that? Folks, I'll be honest. I don't remember going off of cokes in December. Clearly, that was not a firm commitment on my part. I am so busted.

I am glad to report that I got up and poured the coke down the sink. So thank you Tammi Kay, for the kick in the butt.

Blogging is so good for you.

Back in the Saddle

Spring Break was fun.

It's not that we DID that much cool's that we DIDN'T do school. That made us all happy. I needed a week off.

This morning finds us 3 1/2 days away from our homeschool group's science fair. I have 2 completely blank project boards leaning against the living room wall. Guess what we are doing today?

Also, I have a renewed sense of responsibility when it comes to Bible. I'm talking about Bible as a subject in school. We do lots of different things, but just before Spring Break, I had been a big slacker in that subject area. No more!

Well, I just gave the 5 minute warning for school as I'm trying really hard to start by 9:00am again. It's been, ahem, awhile since we started that early. I can do this!!!! (at least for a few months, right? June 1st starts our summer schedule so I only have a few months to go.....)

Are you back in the swing of things this morning?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Served With Love

A few weeks ago I asked you guys about what you feed your kiddos for lunch every day. You had GREAT suggestions.

Yesterday I read about a teacher who is eating the school cafeteria lunch every day for a year and blogging anonymously about it. She's doing it undercover because she'd prefer not to lose her job. You understand. She calls her blog Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project.

I've been bouncing around reading some of her old posts and really thinking about this. She, and some of her guest bloggers who volunteer to contribute because she has obviously hit a nerve with this topic, all have such a caring attitude about the students. They CARE what these children are eating for lunch. The know that in many cases, it's the best meal the student gets all day....and this is it.

Actually, having taught in public school for 11 years, you would think I would shrug and say, "yeah, I knew that." But honestly, I'm kind of appalled. I only ate on certain days in the cafeteria. We staff members knew what days were worth going through the line for and what days to drop our students off at the cafeteria door.

The thing is, my old school (built in 1934) had an actual working kitchen and cafeteria ladies. You probably did too when you went to school. These days, it just costs too much to equip every new school with a kitchen and staff it. So they truck lunch in every day in little pre-measured, disposable containers. It's horrible. At least our cafeteria food had been prepared that morning!

But what she says about what is served vs. what they are actually eating is enough to really push you over the edge. All of this affects behavior, academic performance, EVERYTHING. Don't even get me started on how long they have to eat it and the fact that recess is practically a thing of the past. As a homeschool mom, I have the tremendous blessing and responsibility to feed my children healthy foods. I never really thought of it that way before.

Not only that, but my children can be served with love. I can sit at the table and talk with them and listen to all the things they want to tell me. Talking is allowed at lunchtime! I can read to them. I can't tell you how many lunches I've wasted sending them to the table to eat while I do something else or eat standing up in the kitchen.

This blog is making me realize how much better lunchtime could really be. I want that for these children in the public schools. I really want it for my own children. Here are some things I'm thinking about:
  • having special placemats (my girls made some today out of posterboard)
  • having some fake flowers in a vase to put on the table (hello dollar store)
  • having a menu plan for lunch instead of just throwing something together each day. They could look forward to what is on the menu
  • sitting with them to eat--am I really that busy?

What else could we do to make lunch special? The nutrition part will fall into place with a menu plan I think. The serving it with love will take a bit more effort and thought. There is supposed to be a post about daycare menus coming up on her blog and I am interested to see it. My girls really liked most of the food at the daycare they went to before I came home. I wonder how it is across the country?

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'Cause Casual Is How We Roll

OK. First of all, I wrote this about a year ago.

And then.....and then.....well, not much happened after that.

Until the other day when my good bloggy buddy Karly e-mailed me. "How's it going wearing more skirts?" she wondered.

And after I stopped laughing, I answered her. We got all involved in a big 'ol discussion about how we NEED to be more feminine and how we NEED to be an example for our daughters and wouldn't our husbands love it and then I thought about JulieMom.

See, JulieMom has three daughters and a little group on Facebook all about modesty and I know she's thought about these matters. So she joined in our discussion and we all agreed on a few things.

1. We want/need to be more feminine.
2. We want to teach and model femininity (and modesty) for our daughters.
3. We don't see a lot of femininity around us on a daily basis.
4. We are moms. Moms who stay home and homeschool our children.
5. None of us fit into the Victorian era, sittin' around writing poetry with quill and ink while lovely classical music plays in the background and we sip tea in our beautiful white dress. That is NOT our life.

Have you ever seen a little old lady with style? I always notice them. I want to be a little old lady with lovely lady-like style one day. But how am I going to go from where I am now (You don't even want to know how I looked today. Ask Giovanna.) to being that little old stylish lady? The answer is, I'm not. I'm not going to practice looking masculine and sloppy every day and then suddenly morph into loveliness in my old age. I have to start making the changes now.

So back to how our life is. The truth is, being a mom is hard work. It's dirty work. It's tiring work. Does that give us a licence to wear jeans and t-shirts all the time? Stained clothes? Torn up stretchy pants? Sloppy shirts with holes in them?

We are not only moms, we are wives. I don't know about you, but my husband deserves better. I want him to come home to a lovely bride, not a worn out workhorse. And the truth is, my husband would HATE IT if I sat around in a white dress sipping tea and writing poetry. He'd much rather have me help him in the yard or something. He prefers a more casual look, as do I.

So Karly, JulieMom and I decided that there most certainly is too a thing called

Casually Feminine

and we are going to all figure out what that means together. With you! You are invited on this journey. Each week we are going to give out a topic (until the topics run out) and put up a MckLinky so you can all share in the fun!

For today, I'd like you to click on Karly and JulieMom's posts and read all about them, especially if you haven't met them yet. And even if you have. They did a great job explaining all this. Then, get ready next Wednesday when we will be discussing what is probably the first thing our husbands see in the morning before they leave for work.....our sleepwear. I want pictures people! I'll be sharing mine. See you then!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Break Day #2

The subject of the day is SEWING.

The thing about homeschooling is it tends to take up time. I mean, don't get me only takes a few hours as opposed to public or private school, but it takes up MY hours. That means I usually don't feel like I have time to pull out all the sewing stuff and just get to work.


Oh wait. That word is not in my vocabulary.

But in spite of all the interruptions, I have managed to sew 1 1/2 skirts today. Some body's gettin' shortchanged there. Hopefully I can have time to sew a lot more before the day is up!

I love Spring Break!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break Day #1---Final Report

Here's what I got done:

1. Dresser drawers (mine and husband's) cleaned out.
2. Our closet cleaned out.
3. Five bags of clothes to give away. (not trash bags--smaller)
4. Half a trash bag full of stuff to throw away.
5. Place in bathroom cleaned out to put our laundry basket--out of sight!
6. Place established for girls' laundry--labeled.
7. Place established for dirty towels, rags, napkins, etc.--labeled.
8. Chart with pictures created showing/telling girls how to wash laundry, which they will begin tomorrow.
9. Decided where to put clothes to be ironed---didn't actually get them there but that's OK.

More to do tomorrow! Thanks for the encouragement!

Spring Break Day #1

Today I am attacking clothes. Here are some things I need to do:

1. Clean out drawers. I KNOW mine have stuff in them that doesn't fit or never gets worn. Bye bye.

2. Fold and put away. The laundry stacks around here are endless. PEOPLE THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE PART OF THE DECOR. You'd never know around here.

3. Get a system going in the laundry room. Besides the current one of "throw your dirty clothes here on the floor and eventually I'll get to them." That one is not so lovely.

4. Figure out what to do with clothes that need ironing. Stacking them on the end of the ironing board is not working so well. I'd like to actually, you know, put the ironing board AWAY sometimes.

5. Fill many, many bags with giveaway clothes.

This is not my next thing to do on The House That Cleans Itself, but I decided it's important because we can't even get around in some rooms of our house (laundry room, my side of the bedroom where clean laundry goes to die) due to the clothing.

That will change today.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Don't Know....So Far I've Done All the Work

Carrie started a book club for our children a few years ago. There are 2 other moms involved (11 kids total) and we were all e-mailing back and forth trying to decide what book to have our kids read next. It started off as sort of a joke, but eventually we came to the decision to let the kids have some time off and the MOMS were going to have book club.

Excellent decision, may I add.

Here's the book Carrie wanted to read. We were all on board.

OK. Let me start right off with this: I've tried Fly Lady. She's wonderful. I've tried several other things, (the author had too) but mostly I've just tried to get my act together. So how is this book different, you ask?

Well, at first it doesn't seem too different, but if you keep reading it is. I've only read part 1 (first 10 chapters) and peeked at part 2, but from what I can tell, the main theme is, you don't need to work harder, you need to work smarter.

The author says many times, instead of changing your behavior, change your house.

I'll give you an example. Here is my front entryway before. She suggests you start there. Actually there's a lot you have to do before you ever start cleaning a thing. And THEN, you will have a house that cleans itself. Anyway, the entryway...

I walked around with my camera, as the book says, taking photographic evidence of each area of my home. And I wrote notes, as instructed. Here are the problems I found with this area.

1. We are slobs.

No seriously, this is the best picture. I would NOT post some of them. The real problems are:

1. We don't really have a designated place for mail. It stacks up here on this cabinet, or on the kitchen cabinet. When I go to pay bills, I look in about 3 or 4 places until I find them all. Why? I have no idea. It honestly never occurred to me to fix that.

2. Things that need to go out the door get stacked here as well.

3. I hang my purse on the coat closet door knob (that is just to the right on the carpeted area) and set my keys on the mantle right by the closet. Fine. EXCEPT, what about that bag I carry to church? Yep. It gets dropped right there on the floor by my purse. Husband's golf shoes, sacks of giveaway items....the mess strings all the way from the entryway to the fireplace.
That's our almost empty library box.
Here is my entryway after. With the new solution implemented.

I already had this rack (from my failed workboxes attempt--don't hate me but I hated them) so I stuck it right there with my purse, bag, golf shoes, outgoing stuff, and a clear bin for the mail. It might get full before I can get to it sometimes, but at least nothing will be lost. There is nothing on the floor. It is beauty.

The best part is....problems solved. Now, will I ever have to clean this area? Sure! I'll probably have to straighten it up, but everything has a place and purpose.

One more example. The other morning I woke up and the library books Sweetheart had been reading before bed were all over the couch. So I documented:

1. Child is lazy.

No. I mean maybe. But then it occurred to me that the box we keep our library books in is no where near a seat. Now it resides right next to the couch, where the books can be easily dropped in. Will I still need to remind them? Sure! But it's much less likely to happen.

Are you starting to see it? It's more solving problems than giving you a weekly cleaning schedule. You are setting up your house to do more of the work so you don't have to.

Here is one of my favorite passages from the book:

"Nowadays, even in those occasional periods of prolonged neglect...., I'm amazed to see that when I return my attention to the house, it may need a good vacuuming or mopping, but the disaster isn't there anymore. The floors are clear; the kitchen is fine. At those times, I feel like the successful designer of a fireproof safe after a fire or a levee builder after the storm. The safe is intact! The levee held strong! The system works."

And the author has written this book from a Christian point of view. She encourages much prayer before you begin, as well as setting up a devotional area for yourself. Good priorities.

Good book.

Good living room. I'm hoping it's contagious.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Flash Forward With Me

I had a thought the other day that almost made me laugh out loud. I was just wiping down the kitchen counter tops or some mundane thing and it occurred to me.....

What is going to happen when all the mommy bloggers
are little old grannies?
I mean, I'm sure blogging will be so passe by then, but just play along with me. What do you suppose our posting will turn to?
The Family Revised, March 2039
Hey! I found some great links this week and just wanted to share!!!
  • Homemade Denture Cream over at Granny's Lil' Blog. A great recipe!
  • I found this to be absolutely inspirational: How to Handle the "After" of the Grandkid Visit over at Where Are My Teeth. She always has such great things to say!
  • Sherry at My Empty Nest shares How to Convert Your Laundry Room to a Medicine Cabinet. You know, now that I only use the washer and dryer once a month, I was wondering what to do with it. Hmmm...
  • Everyone loves free downloads, right? This week Beth is offering a free "Medical Appointment Calendar" at I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up.
What do you suppose we will all talk about? Leave your take in the comments please!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Our First Week With FIAR

FIAR. Those mysterious letters....I've seen them lots of places online. They stand for Five in a Row, a curriculum my friend suggested last week to my saving grace.

Turns out another friend had Vol. 1 I could borrow. (FREE!) and the library had several of the first books I would need (FREE!). The internet, it turns out, is chock full of downloads other people have slaved over that I could print (FREE!).

I'm loving me some FREE FIAR is my point.

I spent the weekend searching blogs for info because everyone knows bloggers are the best source of information when it comes to this type of thing. So we started the week off making a passport. I got that idea from Satori Smiles. (the link is in her post) The link where you get those passports had tons of other great downloads too.

The book comes with these little "story disks" which look like a paper circle with a picture inside that represents the book of the week. You put them on your world map wherever your story takes place. This week: The Story About Ping set in China. There is also a map for the "Land of Make Believe" (at the above mentioned link) in case your story doesn't occur in the real world. We colored a map of China as well, and looked up the Yangtze River on Google Earth. Check off Geography.

Tuesday found us with friends over for the day. No problem, Five in a Row is nothing if not inclusive. In the story, a little boy falls in the river, but is tethered to his family's boat with a small barrel tied to his back. So, we decided to see what would float and sink. OK, it's in the book. I can't have ALL the good ideas!
See? It's the Yangtze (yellow) River! Or lemonade. Which incidentally, drew bees after a while. Just a word of caution there. And of course, there is a nifty form to print that you can chart your results on.

We also got out the paints and painted pictures of ducks. And bluebonnets and mockingbirds since it was Texas Independence Day. I like to mix it up.

"Ping" is a children's classic, having been published in 1933. There is a handy-dandy timeline you can print and add your family's pictures to. Then you can put a story disk for Ping on the year it was written. See? Ping was written right before Grandpa was born. Whoa! That puts it into perspective. We also added some American Girl dolls because that helps my girls know what time period we are talking about. At our house, anything that happened during WWII is "Molly's time" and anything during the depression is "Kit's time." We will add story disks for all our books from now on.

Today I told Little Bit it was time for math. She said, "OK.....I'll get my book" and headed to the shelf for her Math U See book. Now I'm not knocking Math U See because if you know me, you know I love it. But I had let that be the only thing she thought math was. My mistake. Now we did this....

Ping has lots of family members and the book repeats that portion several times. It includes "42 cousins." I downloaded a paper with tons of little duck pictures on it and had her color Ping's father blue, his mother pink, his aunts purple, etc. Slowly it dawned on her and she said, "AM I GONNA HAFTA COLOR ALL 42 COUSINS???" :) She loved it. She did great counting.

Then we went to the table and painted the Yangtze River on a big paper. When that dries, we will glue Ping and his family on the river...counting while we go. And making patterns. Sweetheart walked in the room and said, "She's painting?" and LB replied, "Yes. I'm doing math. FUN math!"

Thank you FIAR. I love you.

So here's the basic premise to sum it all up for you. You read the book (good children's lit) five days in a row. The book promises your kids will notice all kinds of things doing it this way. Today she asked me what the little numbers were at the bottom of the page. (page numbers) Very cool. Then one day you do a literature activity, one day social studies, one day math, one day art, and one day science. All the subject activity ideas come straight from the book. And I haven't even mentioned all the playing this book has inspired. She has a yellow stuffed duck that she carried around all day, calling him Ping of course. She and her friend played float and sink for a long time. She uses the term "Yangtze River" like it's been part of her vocabulary her whole life. And she knows all about China.
OH! I forgot to mention tonight we are having a Chinese dinner in honor of Ping.

I'm thinking about Beyond Five in a Row for Sweetheart this summer. And there's Before Five in a Row if you have younger ones. ANY curriculum that both teaches your kids AND helps you with your menu planning is a winner in my book.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm Hoping the Computer Makes It Until I Hit Publish

So.....I had a grand plan of helping make some extra money around here. It involved my sewing machine. I started teaching sewing classes on Saturdays which is bringing in a bit of extra money. I also agreed to sew some skirts for a friend's daughter. A bit more extra money. Nothing earth shattering, but every little bit counts, right?

Then my sewing machine broke.

That's not even to mention how I was saving money by sewing our own skirts.

And S was starting back up his lawn care business. That will bring in some extra money too. A lot more than me.

Then the brakes went out on his truck. And it's hard to haul lawn equipment in a car.

So our plans to get out of debt and have that little bit of extra money to help us breathe easier each month are kind of not going as expected.

Which just goes to prove that we are not in control. We DO need the Lord. We cannot gather enough manna to last for 3 days.

We must depend on Him. Which is exactly where we were before all of our stuff broke, by the way.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Switcheroo

If you are a homeschooler, and you've been at it for any length of time, you've probably pulled this one too.

It's that "I'm ditching this curriculum and trying something else" switcheroo. You know the one? Sometimes the 180 turns into a 360. Sometimes, it's the best thing you could have ever done.

Little Bit's Kindergarten year wasn't exactly going as planned. Has anything ever gone as planned with that kid? She is not her sister. And I didn't even homeschool when Sweetheart was in Kindergarten so it's not like I've really got anything to compare it to. All I know wasn't working.

So I was telling my mom friends about it at book club and Carrie suggested Five in a Row. Yeah, what is that? I said. I've seen it online, I just didn't really know anything about it except it took me a long time to figure out what FIAR stood for.

A few posts to my homeschool group.....a few statuses on Facebook.....and I was holding in my hands a borrowed copy of Volume 1. I spent some time this week googling and researching furiously and found all kinds of things to download and print (why should I re-do work that others have already done so well?) and this morning we began. Sweetheart began her 50 States unit at the same time and they were both so happy.

My dad came down to my house with a stapler we needed to borrow and saw one little girl sitting at the table in a kimono (the first story is set in China--close enough) and the other in her finest Western wear (for Texas). They were so cute!

Say, wouldn't it be easier if they were both studying the same thing at the same time? Why yes, yes it would be. But that would be the old plan. And we aren't there anymore, are we?

And I am rejoicing today that on Wednesday my 4th grader will NOT be spending her time taking the state test. The one that is the be-all, end-all driving force in our state's educational decisions these days. And for the last 20 years or so. (I was in the first graduating class that had to pass the test to graduate.) (I did, by the way.)

The power to make the decisions. The freedom to decide what's best for my kiddos.

The ability to pull as many switcheroos as needed.......

this is what I'm thankful for today.