Friday, April 29, 2011

The Hope of Friday

I just love Fridays. Not because of the old TGIF....or even the hope of the weekend. No, it's more like "school is wrapping up and I can finally get a grip on this house!" Not that it ever really happens the way it plays out in my head on Friday mornings, but I am ever hopeful on Fridays.

This particular Friday calls for a major shopping trip. We are out of everything. Payday finally came and I will be stocking the house up. That feels very good. I love it when we are freshly stocked up.

As for the house, I realized the other day if I could wish for anything (well, anything house related) it would be this:

For all the rooms in my house to be clean at the same time!!!

Some of you organized, non-cluttery types are like, what? Folks, I'm not talking about "oh I haven't dusted that shelf in AGES!" I'm talking about I want to not have to close doors on several rooms of my house when company comes over. Or pray that no one needs to use our second bathroom.

And every Saturday evening we have folks over for Bible study. I also teach sewing classes to a friend's little girl on Saturday afternoons. So the Friday cleaning spree is very necessary. But I never, EVER have all the rooms clean.

It's getting better though. The girls are 500% more helpful than they used to be. I can send them to do whole jobs and they will do them quite well. So perhaps there is hope as they grown into young ladies that we will all be able to tackle the house together? But, to quote Violet Beauregard, "I want it now!"

So even though it's terribly discouraging looking around my house, I can't help but feel optimistic on Friday mornings. Probably foolishly so. I nearly always end up focusing on the "main parts" of the house and never get to those rooms I will end up shutting the door on.

I used to have a clean house. Really, I did. It was back when Sweetheart was 1 or 2 years old. I have pictures to prove it. When little Bit came along, all bets were off and it went downhill rapidly from there. I KNOW! I ONLY have 2 kids!! What is wrong with me? We found the calendars I kept from 2003-2004 (Little Bit's first year) the other day and I was reading them. Sweetheart said, "Man! We were BUSY!" She wasn't kidding. I was tired just reading them. It was ridiculous. I was balancing work, doctor's appointments, a newborn, a preschooler and all the activites that entails, the house, church, etc. It was crazy. No wonder that whole time period is kind of fuzzy.

And I was just sure that when I quit work all would be made right.

So why isn't that working? Huh? I feel very cheated. First I was sold a lie that I could work and raise children and keep the home and then I was sold the lie that if I just stayed home, I would be able to keep up with everything. Neither one has panned out.

What room do you always have to shut the door on?

(And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you are invited over for a work party today!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

In the Parking Lot at Church

That's where Little Bit and I spent our time last night during Bible study. Part way into class she came over to me and whispered that she needed to scream. So we went outside where she could.

These vocal tics are new to us. To be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, you must have motor tics and at least one vocal tic for a year. When she was diagnosed she probably only had one vocal tic---clearing her throat.

But this is something else entirely. She says words over and over again (oy-uh, cup, etc.) and then there is the screaming. So she screamed and said her words and we did all sorts of things to keep ourselves occupied in the parking lot. S came out to check on us and gave Little Bit a hug. She kept saying, "Sorry Mommy. Sorry you can't go to Bible class." She even told me I could go in and she would stay outside. I made sure she knew that it was no problem for me to sit with her outside.

I know if you have never dealt with TS you might be thinking, "Really?" Because I know it sounds so weird. You HAVE to? That doesn't even make sense! Just close your mouth and don't do it! You are in control of your body!

I know. I've thought the same thing. It's strange. But here is how Little Bit explained it to me. There is this tic she always "needs" to do that is physically impossible. It has to do with her knees. She told me the tic tells her to do it, and it travels down her body to her legs. Or, she said, if it's a "hand tic", it travels down her arm to her hand. I told her that makes sense if the tics come from her brain and the brain sends messages to the body. She agreed.

Then I told her she should write a book about Tourette's. She was very excited about that! She had many questions. She wants it published. Well OK then.

And last night I started researching ways to help with these vocal tics and stumbled on more information about vitamins and diet and supplements than my brain could even take in. Yikes. It'll be worse than learning about diabetes. But I know we can clean up our diet more and I will try that for sure. Even though we highly suspect the reason the tics have been bad this week has to do with Grandpa being in the hospital for 6 days.

The real thing we must do and do right now, is learn to cope with them. They are here. We still must live. So after a while in the parking lot, Little Bit told me she needed to visit the restroom. Just before we went in I said, "OK--one more time." and she screamed. Then we went in. She immediately clapped her hand over her mouth and walked to the restroom. When we were washing our hands though, she couldn't hold it in any longer (it's like when you need to sneeze). So I slapped a paper towel over her mouth and said, "Not too loud, OK?" And she screamed into the paper towel. Worked great. She took the paper towel from me and said, "Let me just keep that."

I noticed after church she was playing with her friends and their baby sister in the cry room and she would put the paper towel over her mouth and scream quietly ever so often. Awesome. And then on the way into the hospital to visit Grandpa she asked if the hospital would be a good place to do her tics or not. But it didn't matter. She climbed up into Grandpa's lap and they started to melt away. All was right.

And I guess now I will begin my research on cleaning up our diet. I may want to scream myself before I'm through.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Listening and Doing

The curriculum choices I've made require a lot of reading on my part and a lot of listening on the girls' part. There are three main subjects that we do together that require a lot of these things: Bible, History, and Science. We enjoy these subjects, and usually tackle them all in the morning when we are fresh, but something needed to be done.

For one thing, Little Bit, my 7 year old daughter, was having trouble keeping the story lines straight in History. I don't blame her. Some of the lessons are long and complicated for a first grader. It's hard to keep up with all the characters when you are covering some one's entire life in one lesson.

Also, our science curriculum is dependent on a narrative response from the children. You know, "Tell me what you remember about ants." Pretty hard stuff when the lesson has been broken down over a week or more.

And then there is Bible. Bible doesn't confuse anyone. We are learning our way through the Old Testament chronologically this year. Many of the stories are familiar. But still....too much listening makes Jane a very dull girl. Right?

Thankfully, my children are both artistic. (That doesnt' mean they are gifted in art necessarily, but that they enjoy it.) We've stumbled on some ways to make listening more fun and learning more concrete this year and they have really been working for us---even with a four year gap between the children.

For History, I simply take some paper out and fold it so there are 8 rectangles to draw in. Then i read the lesson, stopping at important parts to suggest what they might draw. Sometimes they interrupt me, "I know what I'm going to draw, Mom!" Other times I make several suggestions and let them choose. They really stay with the lesson this way, and remember more afterward as well!
The 1st grader's drawings are not as clear as the 5th graders, but she knows what she drew!

A close up of the Pocahontas lesson by Sweetheart.

I don't remember what lesson this is from but the characters are saying, "No" and "YAS." :)
Even though these are done quickly, Sweetheart's attention to detail lets me know she really is listening.

I used an example about ants for science. Last week we illustrated each type of ant job and made little books out of them. We did the same for bees this week. The girls have already spotted two "scout ants" while out and about. The drawing really helps things stick in their minds. I believe in narration--don't get me wrong. But narration is oral and auditory. My visual learners need more than that. (So does their visual Mom!) I firmly believe the more modalities you can use, the better! (Especially kinesthetic if you have boys!)

Little Bit can't read this page, but she knows it's the ants that take care of the babies and larvae.

Sweetheart's take on the "robber bees" who steal honey from other hives.

The last subject we added something to help out with was Bible. This one was quite by accident. The book called for the girls to make a cave out of play dough for David to hide in from King Saul. We grabbed some play dough, some "Biblical looking" Playmobil people, and got to work.

And it just went from there...

"Moses" hits his staff on the water and turns the Nile into blood. Dora's Egyptian, is shocked! I guess the Playmobil people were not handy this day.

Can you guess it? Rahab and the spies! See the red ribbon?

David and Goliath. See the stone in Goliaths forehead?

The serpent tempting Adam. Well, maybe we needed to grab some female Playmobil people too.

Would drawing or building help your children listen better? Would it drive you crazy as a mom/teacher? Would your children's listening be worse because of the "toys" in front of them? I suppose it varies depending on family.  But, I encourage you to give it a try and see how it goes! If you've sat in any long meetings lately, you might realize the need for something to do in your hands. Do you doodle? Twist your hair? Can you listen while you do those things? Do you already use something like this in your home school?

The Frugal Bug

Has bit me again! I know, frugal is not something you DO, it's something you ARE. But, there are times when more frugality is called for and times when you can let up a little. Actually, I guess anyone who is homeschooling could be considered frugal since no matter what, you are sacrificing to have one parent at home. (AND pay taxes for your local schools AND purchase all your own school stuff as well. Ahem.)

Financially we've been in upheaval for about 6 months. It's been good--we payed off a lot of debt. And things have changed--we've added a car payment. The end result is I never really know how much we're going to end up with or how much I should set aside. For six months each month has been entirely different from the previous month. I'm not complaining....just saying that things have been different.
Frugal Tip #1: Have whole family help with side business for extra money! :)
(Little Bit helping Daddy with his mowing job.)

This morning I read Connie's news over at Smockity Frocks about her husband being laid off. I know they are not the first family, or the first homeschooling family to undergo such a trial. Far from it. But their plan of action was wonderful and very inspiring. Reading it made me start thinking about frugal again.

It also started me thinking about getting a clothes line and putting ads in my sidebar. I know some people are very opposed to ads on blogs, but when you read her post you'll understand why I'm willing to try it for a time! (would anyone stop reading if I did?)

Frugal Tip #2: Don't waste paper! Do spelling on the closet doors.
Summer is definitely the time for frugality. We just invested in a backyard pool. The kind they sell at Walmart and Target. We had the money to do it. We are very blessed. (So we don't have groceries this week? Big deal. We have a pool. Just kidding.) (Kind of.) Anyway, one reason we decided to do it is because to not have a pool (like last year when we were trying to save money) means driving to public pools. And swimming is really the only outdoor thing you can do where I live in the summer. Without dying of heat stroke. And driving when gas is this high is not smart. Especially when getting in the car to go swimming is invariably going to end up in "well, let's just stop in here or there" to shop or run through the drive through to get a drink, etc. Staying home is the best frugal move to make in the summer for us.

And since we'll need to save money this summer to buy the curriculum I want next year, we don't need to run around to this fun spot and that fun spot all summer. And with our pool, maybe we won't need to.

Spending money to save money. Not sure it makes sense.

Frugal Tip #3: Homemade play dough! Cheap, better, and lasts forever.
(Little Bit acting out the Bible story with play dough.)

But I can be more frugal than that! Oh yes I can! And since summer is the perfect time for us to all buckle down (hello electric bill and gas prices!), maybe we can encourage each other? Share our frugal tips? Should we linky? What do you think?
Sweetheart not doing a blessed thing to help our family save money, but I had to include her cute self in the post anyway. Wait! She's wearing a shirt Carrie got her from the thrift store! Way to go Sweetheart!

Monday, April 25, 2011


It's the Monday after a long weekend. We've GOT to get back to school. The homeschool room didn't get picked up this weekend like I wanted so we face a mess this morning. At least a 15 minute delay in getting started on work.

We need groceries in a bad way so I HAVE to go to the store today. I don't even have a list made yet and this needs to be a really frugal trip.

We set up the pool this weekend and the water is not quite right and I'm stressed about it because it's always so hard to get the water right. I NEED to take a sample to the pool store and see what needs to be done today so S can do it this evening when he gets home.

We also NEED some stuff from the dollar store. Gotta find time to run by there today.

Dad is still in the hospital so we WANT to go visit him this morning. He's so bored laying there.

So how do I fit in picking up, schooling, grocery shopping, pool maintenance, the dollar store and a hospital visit without losing my mind?

By figuring out what matters most. So here goes....

1. Dad is the most important thing on that list, but we don't have to get there first thing this morning. We can visit him after school. He's not going anywhere.

2. I'll get school out of the way first because there is no benefit of going to the pool store right away this morning as S can't help me fix anything until tonight.

3. We can swing by the grocery store and the pool store on our way home from the hospital. And the dollar store is right across the street from both the stores.

Busy? Yes. Impossible? No. Yes, the chemicals are off in the pool but it won't turn dark green and slimy during the course of today. It actually looks quite clear. We have some food so we won't go hungry and no one said I have to buy the whole weeks' worth of groceries all this afternoon. I can just pick up a few things we need if that's all I have time to do. And school will always be there. My finish date is self-imposed and there will be other days when nothing is in the way to interfere with us getting lots done. Today might not be that day.

The most important thing for me to realize on a "stressy" day like today, is that I can't really fix any of this. It is what it is. We have a lot to do today. We'll be busy. But worrying about food isn't getting us any groceries. Going to the store will. Worrying about the pool levels isn't fixing them--but finding out what we need and getting it for S today IS helpful. And a first step. Worrying about how much school we have left to do isn't helping anyone. But getting started is. I hate the phrase but it's really true--how do you eat an elephant?

Guess I should get started on that first bite.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Changing Plans

Well. We were all going to go out of town together for Easter weekend, but Dad was still in pain last night and ended up at the ER. He has intestinal blockage so instead of going out of town, he's going to get his stomach drained.

I think this would not be his first choice.

So, the girls handled the disappointment very well. I've made a deal with them. If we work hard ALL DAY cleaning the WHOLE HOUSE then they will not have any chores the rest of the weekend. Also, maybe we will grill hamburgers tomorrow and play in the sprinkler. Just something fun instead of going out of town.

And at least we'll save gas money!

It's going to be so nice to have S off work for three whole days that honestly, I don't care what we do.

But a healthy dad, a clean house, and time with my husband sound pretty good.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Update on Dad

I had asked for prayers for my dad several months ago. If you remember that far back! Anyway, he had his check up last week and got the results this week. They said his cancer had grown a bit, but not enough to warrant starting treatment right now. They said come back in 4 months. That was very good news! Also, next month a new pill will be approved for his type of cancer. It is the first new treatment for this cancer in over 30 years. The side effects sound small and so in four months if he has to begin treatment, it will probably be that.

Now, Dad was up all last night with stomach cramps. He's headed to his regular doctor this morning to see what's going on. So....he still needs prayer. I hope it's nothing major at all and of course, unrelated to his cancer. He was planning on going out of town this weekend, so I pray that the doctor knows for absolute sure what is going on so dad can make the best decision about leaving town or not. Not many docs where he's headed....

Thank you, bloggy friends, for praying for complete stranger!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sensible Organizing

I worked on the laundry room cabinets yesterday. Here is the finished product of the cabinets by the garage door. 
Baby linens on top that I can't stand to get rid of, holiday stuff on the bottom.
 It makes more sense to have all the holiday stuff here rather than half of it above the washer and dryer (?) and half of it in the sewing room closet. Odd choices. This is better.

And I was just going to show you the beautiful cabinet, but OK I'll pan out:

Haven't tackled the counter top or those bottom cabinets yet.
(Entrance to garage is just to the left. This is a "pass through" room.)
The other side of the room--cabinets above the washer and dryer. Haven't finished yet. Laundry supplies and shop rags are going to go in here. Other than that, I'm not sure. Those top cabinets are really high so it needs to be something I don't use often.

I found a lot of curtains and a builder grade bathroom light fixture that came with the house (still in the box). Also I moved all the games and puzzles to the homeschool room where they are sitting in the floor in sacks.

Now, if you go around the corner from the laundry room, you are in our dining room. And we have this cabinet that belonged to S's great grandmother.

 Our china is in there. But there is a drawer that now houses our dish towels and cloth napkins, etc.
 And underneath is our big platters and tablecloths. Doesn't that make SO much more sense than storing all those in the laundry room, which is where they used to be??? (The linens, I mean. The platters were always here.)

Sensible organizing. Making life easier!

And this morning while laying in bed between alarms, I realized something. The blogs I read a lot....I have a picture in my head of their floor plan. I have no idea what these person's houses look like because some of them actually don't even share pictures on their blog but regardless, my crazy brain has created a floor plan in my mind. Isn't that weird?

Someone else tell me you do that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not Sure What It Will Take

Ever since I had this epiphany the other day, I have been making plans to better organize our house for our lifestyle.

For example, the games and puzzles are in a top cabinet in the laundry room because when we moved in, I had a 2 year old. They don't need to be there anymore and more sensible things belong in that room.

So...I wrote out this plan including drawings of the cabinets and got all ready to "tear it up." But I have yet to make it into that room.

I said Saturday would be the day. Didn't happen.

Sunday? Nope.

Monday? Not.

Today? Sigh. I really want to get this house in order but school takes a lot of time and then there is regular everyday stuff to do and the girls want to play outside and blah blah blah.

My laundry room is still waiting on me.

And it's not even the tip of the iceberg! There is SO much more that needs to be done.

We had field day with our homeschool group last week. Our city has these tall trash bags they give you and I can't live without them. We used to live in a different city and I begged these off my parents all the time. They are perfect for dragging around the house cleaning because they stand up by themselves. Anyway, they cut them to different lengths for the sack race.

Sweetheart (in red) ready for the sack race. These bags didn't get cut much at all.
Go Little Bit! In your short sack that is now being used for recycling!
So then we had all these different bags that were short so I brought them home. They are perfect for putting books and games and stuff in that need to be taken to a different room in the house.

I have a feeling my plan is going to cause a lot of mess. In other words, it's going to get worse before it gets better. But its OK because last summer I turned this:

into this:

So I know I can do it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Power of the Written Word

Little Bit has found it. In church last week, she was sitting at a little table beside our big table (this was Bible study). She had gotten out of her chair several times to hand things to her sister or whatnot and I had "encouraged her" to stay seated. So a few minutes later, this little slip of paper comes sliding across the table towards me.

KAU i si
T Bi U

It says, "Can I sit by you Mom?" OK, some of the letters are upside down. We may need to work on spacing...but I could READ it! She was delighted. And I think felt quite powerful.

A few days later she "wrote" a book. She writes books all the time. It involves her drawing the pictures and then coming to "read" the story to me. Sometimes I write it down. Sometimes I don't. (She writes a lot of books.) Most of the time, even if it's a book she wrote a year ago, she still remembers the story line. The kid has a sharp memory. Seriously, it's like freaky sharp. She was looking for her lost DS game last week and remembered that the last time she played it was at the pizza restaurant. That was well over a month ago. And she remembers what errands we ran prior to that meal at the pizza place. And probably what she was wearing.

Anyway, she started to "read" the book to me and I stopped her. Her vocabulary was so good I knew I needed to write this one down.

The book was called "Spi Kat."

"In a house deep in the woods and far away...lived Spy Cat. (I edited that name as I typed) He lived in a garage, but the owner didn't know he was a spy!

Spy Cat had a mission at the museum. The diamond was stolen!

He looked high and low.

His friend met Spy Cat at the museum.

They found it! A guy named Dr. Boot had it.

They both got plans to get it. His friend with the scar thought of slapping him with his tail. Spy Cat thought of killing him and getting the diamond. (Violent much?)

Back at the lab, Dr. Boot had the diamond in a special case.

Spy Cat's helper pushed Dr. Boot down. The diamond rolled out of his hands and Spy Cat's helper caught it.

The museum had the diamond again and Spy Cat and his helper were heroes."

The only help I gave her was to verify and type proper names instead of pronouns, which can get confusing when all the characters are "he."

This is a child who can barely write a note--mostly in upside down capital letters--but she is most definitely a writer. How? How can it happen that a 7 year old who only knows CVC words can write?

All I can think is, she's been read to. A lot. She's heard her sister's books that she has written. She's been encouraged and provided with paper.

Is she "on schedule" for a first grader? Absolutely not. She would be considered VERY behind in public school. But I am loving watching this child become a reader and writer. Sure, it's taking longer than I thought it would..but it's happening. And it's very exciting to watch.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lost Things, Broken Things, and Why I am So Disorganized

We have a list of 5 things that the girls have lost recently. It has been posted on the white board in our homeschool room. Whoever finds the item, gets to mark it off the list.

Found on my camera: Cinderella, as photographed by Sweetheart.
It includes, but is not limited to:
  1. Sweetheart's DS (grrr)
  2. Little Bit's book light
  3. Sweetheart's school journal
  4. Little Bit's DS game
  5. Sweetheart's new sandals (1 week old)
Seriously? I need a week at home. The house is eating our stuff. I must fight back.
The royal ball invitation arrives!

Also, I am breaking everything.

Which includes, but is not limited to:

  • The cabinet door I ripped off. The screws fell to the floor. I need a screwdriver to fix it but.....
  • The junk drawer in the kitchen (which contains the screwdriver) is stuck shut. Something is jammed up in there causing it to be un-openable. Is too a word!
I think this is Cinderella's new dress. Do your kids have access to fabric scraps?
And I have figured out why I feel so disorganized in this house. Here is my really great, totally awesome excuse reason:

When we bought this house, we were not homeschoolers. When we moved in, I was a working mom (part-time), with a 3 year old in daycare half days and a 7 year old in school full days and I set the house up for THAT lifestyle.


We are now a stay at home (well, not this week but you know) homeschooling family who uses this house VERY differently than we did when we moved in. So the places I decided to put things and the way I organized the house is all wrong.

So how to fix it? Well, I suppose I could pack everything back into boxes, move them all to the back porch and then "move in" again.

That seems like a lot of work.

I think I will resort to making lists and plans and floor plan drawings in my notebook like I always do before we move into a house. THIS time, I will consider our lifestyle and our belongings and my girls' ages and THEN I will decide where things need to go. Sort of a "put the entire house into zones" type plan.

What do you think? Could this be the greatest excuse ever?

The horrible step-sisters rip the dress up! There was more but I thought these were great. I love that girl. She is so creative.

Books and Rearranging the House

My girls have too much stuff in their room. Well, actually they have too much stuff period. But part of the problem comes from them sharing a room. I figured the more stuff we can get OUT of their room, the better.

So, I have thought of three ways to do that. Only one of them is a new idea:

1. Get rid of stuff. It's on-going.

The toy room last summer when we first rearranged. It stayed like this for several hours. It does not resemble the toy room today. Sadly.
2. Keep toys in the toy room. We are blessed to have a little space when you first walk in the house---I guess it's kind of supposed to be a home office. The original owners used it for a kids' TV room. It used to be our homeschool room. Anyway, it's our toy room but there are also toys in their bedroom. The more toys we can fit in the toy room (and get rid of) the better. I DO let them keep special toys in their closet shelves so they aren't available to the general population who may come over to play. They each have one shelf, but they need to be decluttered.

3. ***This is my new idea*** Get books OUT of their room!

I read this post today at Heart of the Matter and it really made me start thinking. I was already considering what I could do differently with the closet in our homeschool room. Right now it's being used to store store out of season clothes, toys that are out of the rotation but no one wants to get rid of, and art supplies. And OK....junk too. It's not being used well is what I'm saying.

The homeschool room closet when it was newly painted and organized to be the girls' bedroom. But then we switched to the other bedroom for them and this became the homeschool room. Wouldn't it be great with shelves in here full of books?
But what if I put shelves in there? What if I moved the girls' bookshelves out of their rooms and into the homeschool room? Or just move the books out and let them use the bookshelves for other things? (But then wouldn't they just fill up with junk? We could put canvas baskets on the shelves?)

I just noticed in this old picture there are no books on the bookshelf. We tried them in the bedroom closet for a while. I am an organizing schizo. See previous picture caption.
What if I gather up all the children's books and school books and categorize them where they will be more useful and neat?

Where could I store the art stuff? I have cabinets in the laundry room where I could store that stuff with a little work. Then they could do art on the kitchen table and NOT mess up my homeschool table all the time. Playdoh could go there too.

Instead of hanging in a dollar store sack on the laundry room door.

 I could use some professional organizing advice. But I'll take advice from you guys too! Bwahahaha!

Seriously. I need help. And if you need more information before you start suggesting things, I'll be happy to supply you with that. I need help!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Singing PollyDoodle All the Day....

My bloggy friend JulieMom is very crafty and sew-y and talented. She has posted many tutorials on her blog that have been useful to me. I made pajamas last year from one of her tutorials for crying out loud!

She launched PollyDoodle Designs last month and she has a Facebook page and everything. It's very official.

AND....she's having a giveaway of some of her beautiful hand-sewn hair pretties.

But before I tell you about that, did you  hear this story? I read it yesterday. Too lazy to look up the link. So this high school student did some volunteer hours in one of her local 3rd grade classrooms. At the end, she wanted to give the students a treat. She filled up some plastic Easter eggs with candy. She asked the teacher would it be OK to give them out. Teacher said let me check with administration.

Administration said, yes. BUT, she could not call them "Easter Eggs" but instead had to call them "Spring Spheres."

I cannot tell you how much that annoys me.

So she said, "I have some spring spheres for you" and the kids all yelled "EASTER EGGS!!!"

Anyway, if you don't like the name "Easter Giveaway Extravaganza", feel free to call it "Spring Giveaway Special" or whatever floats your boat. We're all about being politically correct here at The Family Revised.

So, go like her Facebook page and enter the giveaway (there are easy directions on the Facebook page) She'll draw a random number winner who will get TEN hair pretties!!! BUT, she has to get 300 Facebook fans by Easter.

So get to likin' and sharin' the springtime love!

Alone in the Morning

S left for work already and the girls spent the night at my parent's house. Today we are going to spend the day with Grandma and Grandpa. I know my dad is wanting to do fun stuff (like sleepovers) before he goes to see his cancer doctors on Friday. We won't have results until Tuesday, but we are all hoping he won't have to do big and bad treatment. Not fun anytime, but certainly not at 76 years old.

So I was faced with the decision of going back to bed or getting lots done. I chose to stay up, but I'm not sure how much I'll really get done. There are 400 pets to take care of and the girls usually do that, so it's going to eat into my productivity time! Still, I hope to get the living room cleaned up so I can come home to a clean house today.

S got a good report from the eye doctor yesterday afternoon. His vision still gets messed up when his blood sugar is too high, but his vision is actually still 20/20. And for free the lady at Target's vision center (not the doctor, just the pick out your frames lady) spent many minutes suggesting he try Nopal Cactus Juice for his diabetes. Like her father did. Or maybe it was her grandfather. I forget.  We had gone to Target alone last night to pick out his frames for his reading glasses. The way they do things at Target is the doctor dilates your eyes and then sends you to pick out your frames and "come back in 15 minutes." So, since he couldn't, you know SEE VERY WELL with his dilated pupils, S wanted me to come help him pick out the frames. The cactus juice advice was just a bonus.

Good grief---am I 40 or what? I've written you a post about how I need to clean house, going to get glasses with my husband, cancer, and diabetes.

I am sorry.

Come back tomorrow when we'll discuss Oil of Olay, plucking grey hairs, and adding fiber to our diets!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mid-Day at Our House and School Lunch

We have accomplished Bible, History and Science today. I'll face facts, that's probably all we'll get done today. Those are the things we do together and the things I consider when deciding when our year is "through."

Because let's face it, the girls could ALWAYS work on math. That will never be over.

But the reason I'm calling it quits already is because we have a science class to attend today. That's school too, but it will take the place of some other subjects today.

S is getting off work early to go to the eye doctor. Finally! He was diagnosed with diabetes last summer but it wasn't worth going to the eye doctor back then because his eyes were literally changing every week. The doctor said the eyes were the last place for sugar to leave. He's been surviving on Walgreens glasses. I'm glad he's going since diabetes can cause so many problems with the eyes, although I suspect he just needs glasses for now.

Anyway, because he's getting off work early today, I feel the need to pick up around here--a task I usually reserve for later in the afternoon.

So, lunch will come early today and our whole routine is thrown off. But it is BEAUTIFUL outside and I am so thankful that it's not hot enough to have to keep the curtains closed yet. I dislike that about summer. Also, we aren't having to worry about keeping the rabbits alive in the heat yet. Spring is pure bliss.

Now, after my rant on school lunches yesterday on Facebook, in which I was very linky, I am going to serve my children a highly nutritious lunch.

Here's the links if you are interested:

Parents not allowed to send lunch
Go to the 2010 archives of this site to see what real school lunches look like.
Go here to see what parents are capable of. I know they don't all do it. But they should have the right to.

And having said all of that, 10 years ago I would have probably thought school should reserve this right. After all, we know better than parents. That attitude is VERY prevalent in public schools. I remember.

By the way, we're having hot dogs. (Nitrate free hot dogs on whole wheat buns with organic ketchup and fruit on the side, thank you.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons

Not 5 minutes after I posted on Facebook that I had nowhere to go today...I noticed S left his work phone at home. I called him on his personal phone to tell him.

"I did?" he said.
"Yes," I answered.
"But I do have the holder right here on my belt."

Good for you dear.'s Monday.

But other than that, we don't have anywhere to be today. That won't happen again until Friday so I plan to enjoy it. My biggest (well, oldest) sister let us borrow Voyage of the Dawn Treader so the girls are very excited to get to watch that after school. We've been waiting a long time to see it.

And now I'd like to tell you about our restaurant experience yesterday. My dad took us all out to eat after church. We all ordered water. The waiter came out with waters for all the adults with 3 lemon wedges in each glass. That was a lot of lemon, folks. We all just sort of shook our heads as we removed lemon after lemon from our glasses so we could, you know, fit a straw in there. Lemons littered the table.

But he had not brought waters for the girls. Why? So we reminded him we needed one kid's water and a regular water. A few minutes later he appeared with a lidded cup for Little Bit and a glass of water for Sweetheart with SIX LEMON WEDGES IN IT! Yes! SIX. Water was dribbling over the sides of the glass as he handed it to me and I guess they don't study water displacement in school these days.

It was very strange.

Then Little Bit had to go to the bathroom. Of course. As I waited for her, I noticed a sign on the wall of the bathroom. It's nice when restaurants take the time to decorate their bathroom and hang decorative stuff on the walls, don't you think? This was a cute little sign with a picture of a chef on it. It said "BISTRO."

Hmm. So I'm wondering if the schools are teaching vocabulary? Or the ability to look up a word? Because generally speaking, a bistro is NOT a bathroom.

But I cannot concern myself with the staff of the restaurant, today I must educate my own offspring. So they don't grow up like that.

It's one of my new goals.

Little Bit got birds last week. Meet Jacob and Esau, the zebra finches. They are adorable.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekend Chores

The girls had to clean their room before ANYTHING ELSE this morning (except breakfast) and I am SO glad to have that out of the way. They did a pretty good job with NO help. OK--I may have offered incentives. I had a new book for Sweetheart and Grandma and Grandpa had a new outfit for Little Bit's doll. The hope of a "surprise" kept them going strong.

So I decided to start with what I was dreading too and updated the checkbook this morning. Now, on to other things.

S mows on Saturdays (and most weeknights too) so we take him lunch on Saturdays and eat with him. It's a nice way to get to spend some time with him.

After that is sewing class.

I need to procure groceries for my family sometime today as well.

I remember a time in our marriage where we went fishing on Saturdays. Or washed the car. Or ran errands together. Or just woke up and said, "What do you want to do today?" Maybe we shopped at the mall. Maybe we just ran around. We were married for 6 years before Sweetheart came along. Saturdays are very different these days.

What can I say? We're 40.

My 20 something year old self didn't do laundry all day on Saturdays. But, I did get bored.

And honestly? I don't remember what that feels like.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Science Today...

Little Bit and Sweetheart on the right of our group.
 ...was VERY hands-on. We've been studying Flying Creatures of the 5th Day this year so our field trip to the wetlands center was perfect.
Looking for turtles, alligators, and fish...
We got to see butterflies (not alive), bats (not real), bees (real and alive), and tons of other creatures that we have studied about this year. Also lots that we have not. It was very interesting and fun.
There were lots of things to touch and do.
Pretty sure this was the girls' first time to work with microscopes.

We got to see most of the insects we've studied this year.
Straining to see the baby spiders on the mama spider's back.
Sweetheart with a bear skin.
The guides were very good to let our group NOT stay in line and look around themselves. And ask 500 questions like homeschoolers are wont to do.
Getting brave with the crabs.

It was a good day and though we didn't get any other school done, it was OK because I PLANNED it that way!

Oh wait. Yes, we did. We are learning about Japan right now so the girls tied pillows to themselves and sumo wrestled. History. Done.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I have had the ironing board and pile of clothes to be ironed in the living room all week. There is not room for this in our living room, nor is it lovely. Maybe today will be the magical day I actually iron?

Today we are buying a bird for Little Bit. Well, 2 birds actually. She has wanted a bird for ever so long and we bought the cage over the weekend. Now to fill it. S told me to hurry up and get the birds because her tics have been bad. She's excited about the birds so her tics go crazy. Perhaps if we get the birds today, her tics can settle down?

I planned an ambitious end to our school year wherein we do every subject nearly every day. (What a concept!) But mixed in there are all the regular end-of-year interruptions like field trips and homeschool events and testing (the girls aren't testing but I'm helping administer) and a day at the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa. It's OK....spring is full of fun!

I have a green light and a budget and a time frame for purchasing next year's curriculum. And now I'm sick of thinking about it. Just knowing when I'll be ordering is enough to make me relax and think about something else. (Like maybe...ironing?)

We didn't go anywhere Monday or Tuesday so yesterday's errands were a welcome change of pace. I really like scheduling all (or most) of the errands for one day. It makes the other days more productive too. Fridays I like to use for cleaning so we don't have to do it on Saturdays. Anyone else clean on Fridays?

It's time to get the girls up and moving. I've already made my to-do list for the day so I'm ready to roll. I'll let you know how the birds and ironing work out.....
Got a new free rug last week and vacuumed it in the driveway. Just like a proper redneck.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In My Spare Time

Know what I like to do?

I love to look at pictures of other folk's homeschooling spaces. It inspires me. It makes me feel better. It makes me want to clean my shelves.

The girls LOVE looking at these too. I think they were vastly amazed a few years ago when I did a post on homeschool organization (that still gets LOTS of google hits so clearly we all need help here) and the pictures started rolling in. I think at that point in our homeschooling journey, they didnt' realize we weren't the only ones doing this. They love to see how other families are set up and what they have in their areas.

I get inspired by the organization of others. Seriously. Some folks are just genetically fixed and hard wired to know what to do with stuff.

Unlike me, who tends to just wander around and mumble and move piles and whimper a bit.

Have I ever told you how really disorganized I am? I mean, OBVIOUSLY I am since "disorganization" is a label tag on my posts! My sister and I shared a room growing up until she moved to college. We were like the Odd Couple. She just naturally labels and groups and stores neatly and I was constantly on my hands and knees looking for my other shoe. All my life I was "the messy one."

Now don't get started on the psychology of me living up to my name because yes, I'm sure there is truth to that and I have worked VERY HARD in my adult life to become an organized person. But it does. not. come. naturally. to me.

When I was a teacher, one summer I asked my sister to come to my school and help me. She's a teacher too but she had time to come and help. What I needed help with was my files. Paperwork is going to be the end of me. I swear if only I had a secretary, life would be golden. Sister and I spread my entire filing cabinet on the floor and she helped me categorize and label and file stuff. Best help anyone could have given me. YES. I was that lost.

When I was little my mom would send us to clean our room and I would pull everything out in a big pile and then sit there feeling completely overwhelmed. It's like my brain didn't even know what to do. I was frozen. (Sweetheart is the same way. Sigh.) Eventually I would put everything back (neater, I thought) and then end up in trouble because I hadn't cleaned anything? I was so confused. I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

I still feel that way sometimes. Anyone know a professional organizer who can donate her time? Ha!

Anyway, I am thankful for bloggers who take the time to show us HOW they organize things. It's very helpful for folks like me. Yesterday I was all thinking about homeschool paperwork and today I'm wondering how I can get shelves in the closet next year and reorganize the stuff in the room (not the furniture!).

Do you know any good places to go for organizational inspiration?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So I Missed Something Important

Last month to be exact. No, I didn't miss the whole month, but I missed my blogiversary! Last month marked FOUR YEARS that I've been typing my thoughts and feelings to total strangers on the world wide web.

See, husband used to have a blog when he was the youth minister and I kept having ideas for posts so I would "guest author." I was also the church secretary and when someone wouldn't turn in their article for the worship program, I supplied one easily.

Finally, S told me to quit hacking other people's things and get my own blog. I thought that was a silly idea. What would I talk about?


I started out just telling about all the changes God was making to our family. He still is, by the way. But somewhere along the way, I found I had become a homeschooling blog. And I get more hits for homemaking posts than anything else, which clearly indicates that a reader is new here.

You know that my blog is still sort of secret in my real life. A few folks I know in real life know about my blog. A few have stumbled on it. I suppose that part about the world wide web had something to do with that, huh? What can I say? I live on the street I grew up on and have gone to the same church for 40 years. It's NICE having a different audience to talk to, you know?

I ramble on about all kinds of things and you kind people read and comment and lurk and I love it. I can't imagine not blogging. But I do wonder....why DO you come here?

What do you like to hear me talk about? Homeschooling? Homemaking? My family? What kind of posts do you like the most? Do you have a favorite? Do you feel like you know me? DO you know me??? :)

Come on...I've shared four years of my life with you! Tell me why you keep coming back. Or maybe there is something you've been wanting to tell me for a long time such as "get a professional profile picture done woman!" You can tell me that now.

After all, what are completely made up holidays like "blogiversaries" for, if not that?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Best Thing About Vacation

Our family didn't take a fancy vacation this year. We didn't go anywhere glamorous or popular.

We took our own food. We washed our dishes while we were gone. We slept on the ground. (Well, OK. On air mattresses.)

But I'm here to tell wouldn't have mattered where we went....because that's not the best part about vacation.

Neither was this. (Although it sure was nice!)

Or this.

Or even this!

Even though our trip was fun, the best part about having Daddy home for 6 days was this:

This picture was taken when we got home. Yesterday, to be exact. Daddy was doing yard work all day and the girls kept helping him. Little Bit especially spent a lot of time helping Daddy yesterday. Why is that a big deal?

It's a small change, but one that was not lost on me. Most of the time when S and I are in the same room, the girls ask ME quetsions. They even ask me questions ABOUT S.
"Mom, does Dad have a meeting today?" (Uh...he's sitting right there. Why don't you ask him?)

He's gone a lot becuase, like most homeschool dads, he works a lot. He is an excellent provider and a hard worker. But after 6 days of having Daddy home, I notice a difference in their relationship with him. They've been talking to him a lot more and choosing to spend time with him.

And that is the BEST thing about vacation. Hands down.