Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My baby got bit


It's often hard when out in public to know how to react to an injury caused by another child. I'm sure all of us at some point have been in the position where our child was the one getting shoved down the slide or hit in the head for no apparent reason. To the same degree, I'm sure that all of us have been the mother of the offender and tried to apologize profusely for our own child's actions to only receive a cold glare or snide comment.

Let's face it. It's hard to know quite what to say or do in those situations.

Possibly the best response I've ever received was by a very humble mother and father at a McDonald's many years ago. For some reason their son had it out for Elizabeth and more than once chased her down to the ground. Mind you, I tend to be an observing kind of mom that doesn't jump up out of her seat every time someone cries. (Those who know me, I can hear you giggling right now.) But this time I actually left my Diet Coke and saved her life. Realizing what had happened, the parents together put on the child's shoes walked up to my table and said, "We are so sorry that our son has hurt your little girl. We are working on this and praying for him everyday. "

The parents didn't whine or make excuses or defend what had happened or force a half hearted apology. It was a simple statement that spoke volumes to me about how much these parents loved their son and the grace that we need to give eachother as fellow moms and dads.

Today at the library John was bitten by another two year old when their game got too rough. It wasn't a personal attack. It wasn't lack of parental supervision. It just happened. And rather than calling the police (as someone suggested), I pray that this mom was given the grace and encouragement she needs to keep on doing the good work of raising her son.

Frugal Bedroom Makeover Part 1

Well, it's finally done. After about three months of planning, frugal shopping, and some previously untapped creativity the girls' bedroom is now officially made over. The goal was to spend around $50 to transform their bright, girlish bedroom into one that reflected their changing tastes. We were committed to using the existing furniture and enhancing what we already own.

We started with the colors. The girls chose creme, brown, light blue and light aqua. And from there the plans were formed.

The first thing that had to change was the furniture. Both of these dressers are older than myself and have been passed down and painted several times before.

With about three coats of dark brown paint,Pumpernickel, and new knobs the dressers were transformed.



It took two quarts of paint at $18 and 14 silver knobs for $14. As you can probably guess, we went way over budget redoing this room, but I think that the changes were well worth it.

While the dressers were drying the painting of the walls and sewing the duvet covers began....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Giving Gifts

A friend and I were discussing this week the meaning of gifts and their significance in the lives of our children. Living in a society of wealth and convenience tends to lead our hearts toward material things and away from people. Gratitude and contentment are the marks of God's own, yet the pull of the world is strong and seemingly irresistible.

Today our family met and my parents delighted to give gifts to their grandchildren. First, we went to Half Priced Books where the children were given a chance to browse and choose books. It was interesting to see the range of topics that were selected. Each child is so unique.



Later my parents gave each one of the kids a piece of construction paper. They were to tear out the shape of a pig, a cow, a bee or a rabbit. Then they each displayed their work and we all guessed what they had made.

We were then told that each of these animals were given in the childrens' names to another family on the other side of the world. The gift of these animals would provide the income and food that is needed. My mother spoke in tears of a local homeless shelter that also received a gift on behalf of the children. This winter some families will sleep in a warm bed because of this gift.


We pray that our children will grow in their understanding of the gift they were witness to today.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." -Philippians 2:2-3

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Taking a Break

I'm not going to be around much for a few weeks in terms of blogging. There are some things I need to attend to before the end of the year. But more than that, I'm in need of a time of "fasting" from this blog. I'm seeking some perspective as to where it should fit into my life. It's become quite a hobby for me and I fear it is taking priority over the relationships within my own home. And as all things go with me, it is becoming a place of comparison. So that being said, I need to step away for a while. But for those few readers of mine, I'll be back. See ya then.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Crunch

I normally work 4-12 hours a week as a nurse at a nearby hospital. I've been there for almost nine years. Not only do I enjoy it, but it's nice to add a little cushion to the budget as well. Well, it appears that the recession has even hit the medical industry. Due to being grossly over budget on our unit, prn employees, like myself, are no longer being guaranteed the hours that are scheduled. For me this has translated into working only 4 hours in the last two weeks.

When I got the 4:30am call that my 12 hour shift had been canceled I had a bit of trouble going back to sleep. I found myself praying for those heads of households that are no longer working and the frustration they must feel. I thought of the people all over our country who are waiting for the phone to ring with news of a job opportunity. I was praying that God would use these hard times to draw people to Him, to know a Peace that is not circumstantial.

Once I did arise I set my mind to letting Sean work as undisturbed as possible on his freelance writing and purposed to "earn money" for my family in a different way. I took stock of the pantry (thankful for the leftover turkey) and printed off a few coupons for shopping.

With a trip to Kroger and Target I walked away with all of this for $34.67 and a savings of $52.48. Most of the money was saved with $1 off broccoli/cauliflower Target coupons making those $.33 a piece. Almost all the Kroger items were damaged/dented making them half off.


When I examined my receipt and discovered I had been charged $4.00 more than the advertised store tags, I debated about going back in. But since I had no kids in tow and my mission was to save money, I took the receipt to the customer service desk and received a 100% refund. I was just expecting to be refunded the difference.

And if that weren't enough, I learned that I earn 20 minutes on my cell phone for every $100 spent! Could I love this store any more?!

I spent the rest of the day steaming the vegetables and and making meals for the freezer. Whew! In the near future we'll be eating these meals:
(I'll have to space these out lest my family learn to despise turkey.)

Wild rice and turkey soup
Turkey and stuffing casserole
Italian chicken and white rice
Turkey Tetrazinni
Easy turkey pot pie
Banana Chocolate Chip muffins
Pumpkin rolls

I'll be posting some of these recipes this week on The Full Table if you are interested in what you might make from your leftover turkey.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's a Bird...It's a plane... It's....

...our very own Math Hero!!

Sean just received news of an award naming him as one of Raytheon's Math Heroes.

We had such a fun time breaking the good news to him. We only had about half an hour, but the kids were so excited and creative to pull something special together.

First there was the practice....

video

Then there was the grand announcement....

video


after which much dancing ensued....

video

along with some general superhero revelry.

video


A few years ago Sean sported a Mr. Incredible getup for spirit day at school. I couldn't find the picture, but I did find a related email from 2005:

Subject: Dear Mr. Incredible... You are my hero. You are such a strong man who can carry two children on your legs and one on your back all in a single bound!! You ride your bike faster than a car sitting in rush hour traffic. The only man who can contain 8 oz of water in his mouth before swallowing. A superbrain who teaches physics and math in his sleep. You are MR. INCREDIBLE!!!!

Be a Reader

As you can see, I've changed the look of my blog. However, in the process I dispensed unknowingly of my sidebar. All that information is gone. I'll be working on my blog roll soon, but thought some of you might like to meet each other by joining the reader's list to the left.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks 2008

Thanksgiving 2008
Dear Friends and Family,

We’ve been learning in school this year the history of America. It is recorded that the Pilgrims sang Psalms in worship and particularly found Psalm 107 to be a comfort during their difficult travels and settling. No don’t doubt this was also part of the praise they offered up on that first Thanksgiving:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.

They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men,

for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things. –Psalm 107:1-9


We have had an encouraging time today focusing on Lord’s faithfulness and goodness during the past year. As we share in thanksgiving, we hope that you, too, are reminded of God’s many works and are prompted to share it with others.


What has God done? How has He helped you?

Sean - According to the glorious riches that are in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19), several school related blessings have been provided.

Monica - Being a mom, though never truly alone, can be isolating at times. I have been praying for several years for some closer relationships and for balance in how this would realistically fit into my life. This year God blessed me with several new friends while deepening relationships that were already dear to me. Being known and loved by other sisters in Christ has been an incredible encouragement to me this past year.

Hannah - “God has helped me with my school work.”

Lydia - “He has given us a house to live in and protected it while we were away. A big storm caused a big tree in our backyard to be struck by lightening, but our house was not harmed.”

Miriam - “God was with us when we traveled. It took a long time.”

Elizabeth - “God protected us in storms. There was tornado a couple of blocks away.”

Joseph - “He made the trees grow.”

Rebekah - “Helps me when I get an ouchy.”

John - Delivered me from my crib


What has God taught you?

Sean - “For a guy who likes to work hard, I had a delightful time getting to rest and learn this summer. Since the beginning of this school year I’ve been thankful for an extra freelance writing job, but never had as much stress in my life. I’m learning how to trust in God through this and not be filled with anxiety. Even though the amount of work hasn’t decreased, nor have the deadlines, I’m thankful for the peace that God provides.”

Monica - “God has taught me a lot about stewardship. About a year ago I felt convicted that we needed to be more intentional with our resources and really praying and asking for His best. I’ve been amazed at the many wonderful ways He has seen fit to provide for us this year. Sometimes it’s the smallest things, like the milk we drink, that gives me reason to praise. Now that the economy has declined, I see in hindsight more of His care for our family in preparing us and allow us to practice now for whatever the future may hold.”

Hannah - “To be more patient with the little kids and take time to listen to them even when it’s hard.”

Lydia - “God has taught me how to spell. Last year every single word I wrote down was incorrect, but now when I’m doing my spelling in school I spell twenty right and only five wrong!”

Miriam -“To knit and to be able to use my own hands to make something for someone else.”

Elizabeth - “How to do art in art class.”

Joseph - “I am making an engine right now, but it’s upstairs, because I’m going to make a car. God shows me how to invent.”

Rebekah - To be a big helper to mommy.

John - To be gentle (in process : )


What is your favorite memory of this past year?

(As you will read, many of the memories mentioned involve the time we spent in Florida in June. Sean was the recipient of a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship Award which sent us for an extended stay in Cape Canaveral.)

Sean – “My weekend away with Monica this Fall which included some training with other regional instructors, speaking at the conference and watching Calculus the Musical with my wife laughing hysterically.”

Monica - “Having a month to just rest and be with my family. I’ll cherish it always. Oh, and witnessing a sea turtle nesting on the shore at night was amazing!”

Hannah -“Seeing the dolphins and manatees swimming around my kayak.”

Lydia - “Walking down the sidewalk to get to the beach and feeling the hot sand on my feet.”

Miriam - “Touring the South Bend Chocolate Factory.”

Elizabeth - “Watching the kid’s play, ‘Mission to Mars’”

Joseph - “Seeing the rocket launch and the smoke going all the way up in the sky!!!”

Rebekah - “Seeing Pooh Bear at Disney World.”

John - Getting a HUGE box of Lego’s this summer at a garage sale. (He’s been busy ever since.)

There are many, many more stories to tell of our Great God’s goodness. Yes, there have been hard times and struggles along the way, but He has seen fit to sustain and uphold us. We know that there are many of you as well who have your own reasons to praise. We’d love to hear from you!

Many Blessings,


The Bird Family

Friday, November 21, 2008

Seven Quick Takes

I think this would be a great way to chronicle the randomness of my life. So here goes.

1. It's cold.
It's cold and it's truly a wonder to me that our advertised newer, energy efficient home is so very cold. Seriously, I lay in bed at night and my nose feels like I've been out sledding. We had our favorite furnace guy check it out and he said that it's just a bad design. Our room will never be really warm unless it's summer and the sun is blazing through the bay window. Then it's 102 degrees. I went to Lowe's and hope to use a hair dyer and apply some plastic over the windows this weekend. It can't hurt, that's for sure.

2. Tonight our homeschool group is have our annual Thanksgiving Feast.
There will be a pitch in and a short program. This year there will be over 150 in attendance and somehow I managed to become the coordinator of this event. No stress.

3. I love my family.
We haven't all been in one place since July and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone. Though some of us live close, our lives are going in different directions. I look forward to some giving thanks together this week. We usually get all sappy and have a good cry. Sorry guys- you know it's inevitable.

4. We had a lice scare this week.
It's been going around and then at work there was a poster displayed in the bathroom with pictures of lice and nits. Gross. Yesterday when I was serving lunch I noticed at the top of Joseph's hair a bunch of white stuff on the crown of his head. Ahh!! Can you imagine lice in this house with the amount of hair? I called my friend who has had some experience and she assured me that it was just dandruff. Whew! I've never been happier that my five year old's hair forgot to get rinsed.

5. Hilarious.
Some friends and I almost wet our pants reading this blog together this week.

6. I'm pondering what the next step is for my nursing career.
Some of you may not know this, but I work as a nurse prn at a local hospital. I'm a lactation counselor and a postpartum nurse. I don't have any complaints about the job itself. My heart is just not there. I normally stay home more during the school year and then really pick up the hours in the summer when Sean is home. I'm feeling disconnected from my work and praying for wisdom. Maybe a different direction?

7. I'm so thankful for my children and how they help each other.
It does my heart good to see them relating to eachother in helpful ways. It could be chores, getting a bath (hence, the unrinsed shampoo), picking out an outfit, changing a diaper, school work, reading.... The other day Sean and I were cuddling on the couch watching them interact in these ways and it really does do my heart good.

Read other quick takes or submit your own at Conversation Diary.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Resting and Reading

Our culture is visually saturated and we are doing are best to raise some bookworms in the midst of this. It is so much easier to put in a DVD to quiet things down. Sometimes this is exactly what we do. But for the most part, we try to encourage the kids to wind down by "resting and reading time". This is usually an hour in midafternoon. They have found this to be the highlight of the day. It's a rare chance to be still and let the imagination soar or the mind be engaged or the spirit be renewed.

Here are some intentional steps we have taken to foster our childrens' hunger for reading even from a young age.

1. Provide low, accessible bookshelves with a wide variety of children's books. Amazing books can be found at garage sales for pennies. I used to get upset when the books were all over the floor, but then realized that love of reading and tidiness aren't even comparable. We just pick them up together at another time.

2. Go to the library often and ask the child what he/she would like to learn about. I'm often surprised by the answers I get and more surprised about their excitement to see a whole shelf of books on the topic.

3. Read exciting chapter books with an understandable plot. A book like this may take a while to get through, but it creates a thirst for more and the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a longer book.

4. Read with an accent. Sean has a English/Scottish/Irish accent that comes out ever so often and really engages the children. Kermit the frog also makes an appearance over the kitchen's half wall for some reading after dinner:)

5. Invest in a few quality picture books. Usborne books has some large, well illustrated and captioned books on history and science. The younger kids and beginning readers can spend a good hour looking through these and studying the pictures. These books are made for little hands and can withstand quite a bit of use.

6. When watching TV or a DVD turn on closed captioning. Seeing the words and hearing them at the same time is good for the brain and an easy way for our struggling readers to get some practice without knowing it.

6. Don't avoid older books or those with a deep vocabulary. Our favorites are Lamplighter books, quality moral literature from the 1700-early 1900s. These have been edited well and really are easy for an adult to read aloud. Hearing these more difficult words will hopefully allow the children to not be overwhelmed by these types of books in the future.

7. Read chapters of the Bible aloud and encourage the children to read it to one another. Modeling the reading of God's word in larger portions is a good reminder to us all that Scripture is a whole book, not just a collection of stories and antidotes. This really is the only book we need and God's gift to us.

I have to admit that Sean is much more consistent at bringing books to center stage in our house. I do implement "resting and reading time" mostly for my own sanity. I make regular trips to the library shushing seven children and sporting a laundry basket in a double stroller. He is the one who is intentional about reading to the children individually or as a family, which is much appreciated. I guess I'll have my turn someday when I have grandchildren.

What are some of your favorite ways to bring literature into your family's life? Better yet, what are some of your family's favorite books?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's good to get away

Last weekend Sean took me along with him to St. Louis for the weekend. He is a T^3 Regional Instructor now. He was attending a meeting and speaking at a conference while I was making use of the free hotel accommodations.

The timing could not have been better. I've been feeling like I'm losing traction with homeschooling and have been slowly winding down on my energy. With the change of time the sun sets now around 5:45 and there really feels like there are not enough hours in the day for this mama. Also, I have been longing for some alone time to pray for my kids and consider their ongoing, yet changing needs. I was able to get some helpful books from the library to stir my thinking on these matters. More than anything, I needed to step away to get some perspective.

It had been a year since Sean and I had been away for some time together. Just having eight hours in the car to talk is a refreshment to me. It's good to hear his voice without interruption. It's a blessing to have the time to just share without the expectations of the everyday. After fourteen years, Sean continues to fascinate me.

You want to know the best part of my weekend? On Friday afternoon I was reading in the hotel lobby and overhead a conversation between two important people. They were talking about Sean. I seriously was not trying to ease drop, but there they weren't talking quietly and my little ears heard it all. They used words like, "Visionary. Hard working. Brilliant. Up and coming." By the time they were done I was sure that they would notice the smile on my face and realize something was up. They did not.

I have a lot of responsibilities, but I consider it my main purpose to support Sean in whatever God has called him to be and do. I'm certainly not perfect at this. Too many times the poor man is looking for clean clothes for work or something for his lunch. Too many times I fail to give words of encouragement, serve him cheerfully or show gratitude. Hearing those words Friday reminded me again that God is working in and through Sean to accomplish His purposes. May God be glorified.

So now I'm back home. No sleeping in until 10am, no bubble bath, no leisurely reading time, no HGTV, no time for reflection, no free breakfast, no exercising on a treadmill with it's own TV or blogging at Panera Bread. But, it's good to be back as a family and begin a new, better week together.
Okay, my other favorite was watching Calculus the Musical with a theater full of hysterical math teachers. Very funny.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cell Phone Dilemma

Living within our means has meant that we have had to give up some of the conveniences of life. There are just too many mouths to be fed and feet that need shoes to add these items into our budget. One of these items is a cell phone. Thankfully, we live close to our places of work and neither one of our jobs requires one. I laughed the other day when I heard on the radio that even people on welfare are provided a cell phone by the government.

At one point we joined onto my sister's cell phone plan and quickly discovered that the extra bill for convenience was somehow hard to meet. When that plan expired, we lived happily without one until last summer. With the grant money for our trip, we purchased two track phones from Kroger so that we could communicate with each other when apart and be able to call family back home. When those minutes expired, we let the phones go.

Recently I've had been pondering the purchase of another Kroger phone due to the fact that we were going out of town and leaving our children behind. I was blessed to discover that Kroger is having a promotion on their phones. $50 will buy a phone, charger, 500 anytime minutes. With this purchase I will be able receive a $20 Kroger gift card at the phone company's website.

So that's $20 in groceries, 500 minutes, no monthly additional monthly bill and no commitment for $50. Granted the phone does look like a kid's toy, but I'll proudly carry it for such a great deal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brain Drain

"My brain hurts, " Joseph declared during dinner. I thought nothing of it because he did do a lot of thinking today.


He did design Chocolate Factory prototype #12,


ponder why the silver nitrate stopped growing around this coil,



create his very own Wall-e,


work for hours at his computer,



and flip through these science magazines.


Then I touched his head to discover he has a 102.5 temperature. No wonder his brain hurt.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Twelve


Hannah,

Twelve years ago we were getting to know each other for the first time. I had no idea at that moment what a beautiful and precious girl you would be. And now I'm looking at you and see a vibrant and intelligent young lady growing before my eyes. I've enjoyed every moment with you and pray that as God opens doors up doors in your life you will walk through knowing that you are His first and foremost. Your Daddy and I have just have the pleasure of getting to love and guide the special person He created you to be. Some parents dread the teenage years ,which are now closer than ever for you. But you know what? I'm not. I think that if we keep our eyes on the Lord the best times are ahead.

Ever since you were very young you've liked to compare our feet. You've always wanted to be taller than me and wear my shoes. Well, congratulations, sweetie, your feet are officially bigger and I don't doubt that by summer I'll be looking up to you! Just let me borrow some of your cute shoes every once in a while.

Loving you always,
Mom

Smiles

Sometimes the amount of questions and talk in this house can be a bit overwhelming for my ears to handle. But at the end of the day when I realize all the smiles that these words bring me I'm thankful. Here's some smiles from the past week.

Joseph at the dinner table declared, "Dad, do you know how old God is? He's infinity years old!"


Yesterday, I had to take Betsy to the Immediate Care because she poked her eye in the morning and it was still really bothering her in the afternoon. I try to let my kids talk when we go to the doctor and I just sit back a listen. Yesterday she was in rare form and told this story word for word twice. It was all the more entertaining because she has a loose front tooth holding on by a thread that was sticking out. I don't think the nurse or doctor knew what to make of her:)
So, tell me what happened?

Well this morning, I think it was like around 9 o'clock or something, my mom was printing me some pictures of chocolate off the computer. I was making a chocolate treasure hunt for my brothers and sisters. She even found a map that looked like chocolate. Anyway, when I was walking away I tripped or something like that and the edge of the paper, you know the pointy part, stuck me in the eye.

Did it hurt when it happened?


Yes. It made me cry, but I didn't have any feelings so I don't understand why I was crying like that. Then it was better for a while. But later when my mom said we could watch TV it started crying again. Do you think I was watching too much TV? Now about every minute or something it feels like I have a crumb of paper stuck in my eye.

Thankfully her cornea was not scratched. They applied some numbing drops and sent us away with an antibiotic. I think it was just too much TV:)



I don't know if you remember the sugar in the stove incident performed by my lovely daughter. Yesterday she caught me vacuuming the stove pipe trying to remove dried oats. I had placed the bag of oats on the stove while something was in the oven and the plastic melted.

"Mom, are you going to put that on your blog? If I had a blog, I'd write about that."

Like mother, like daughter.

Elizabeth teaching the others how to count money. They don't really need me:)


Need to smile today? Read over at Mary's about what other kids are saying.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The heavens declare...

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. -Hebrews 11:3


When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? -Psalm 8:3-4

Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.

Psalm 148:1-5


Images taken from Hubble Space Telescope

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Welcoming Winter Weather


Today is the first cold day of many to come. Homeschool group coop has ended for the semester. Basketball doesn't begin for a few more weeks. I'm thankful for a little down time, but the kids are full of energy and ready for some play. They were happy for these new dress ups I picked up at 90% off.

The day ended with a delightful play about a treasure map and a Pilgrim sailor who found himself in China. There he discovered a Chinese Princess who was falling off of a cliff. Good thing that Super Girl showed up just in time to save the day for the dance competition. A repeat performance is promised tomorrow.

Meanwhile, dance lessons are being provided by Betsy free of charge if you can stand to have your arms twisted off by the teacher.
video

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Window Mistreatment Exhibit 2


I was drawn to this material the moment I saw it. I think it was the large print and the color that caught my eye. It goes just perfectly with our brownish green front room and the matchstick shades already in place. I had wait a few weeks for it to go 50% off at JoAnn's. I added a yard to the bottom of the $4 Walmart clearance panels and covered up the difference with some ribbon. All this was accomplished with a hot glue gun.

While I was at it, I changed the screen with a small can of stain and some more clearance fabric. Now that I have the kitchen door mistreated and this one as well, there is only one more to go. I'm still undecided and searching for some clearance drapes that I can customize.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And so are the days of my life....

*I opened up my bedroom door to find 500 (yes, I said 500) sticky foam letters all over the floor.

*I opened up the freezer to get out the Tilapia to find that they freezer has been unplugged. From the smell, it's been likely a few days. Gross and sad.

*To get rid of the smell, I opened up the blinds to find foam letters stuck all over the windows.

*Then, I opened up the trash can to throw away all of our grains and stockpile of fish. Thankfully, trash day is tomorrow.

I think I'm going to stop opening things around here.

The Polls

Yesterday morning at 7:30 am. I got in line at the polling station with three kids in tow. For the next two hours we spent time with our neighbors talking, discussing and learning about one another. I had given Joseph specific instructions not to talk about his political views (which are many). He was only to respond the questions if asked. For the most part, he did well. I thought there might be some trouble because when I told him he could go he was excitedly jumping up and down yelling, "I get to go cheer for John McCain!!"

I love voting for many reasons. I love thinking through the issues with my own family and the discussions that result. I love seeing those people that live around me all in one place. I love the quiet respect that seems to permeate the room for one another. I love imagining what places and circumstances that have brought each person to their current decisions. I love watching people run into old friends. I love showing my kids what it means to be an American and casting a vote. I love pushing that big red button.

Living in the sprawling suburbs doesn't exactly tend toward a community atmosphere. But it did my heart good yesterday to see the people in this section of our town come together with one purpose.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The King's Heart



The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1


Currently I'm involved in the Beth Moore study, "A Heart Like His," with some friends. Once again I am amazed to see how God works out so beautifully His plan for His people. They asked for a king and God gave them Saul. God placed His Spirit in Saul to accomplish His purposes for a time. Then He raised up from among the most unlikely of places a shepherd king, David. God placed His Spirit on him and made an everlasting covenant. From David's line would come the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The Messiah would reign on His everlasting Throne over the kingdoms of men.

I am thankful more than ever this year to have a vote to cast in this historic election. Yes, the times are uncertain, the war seems unending and the financial climate is unstable. We have two very different candidates and agendas to consider.

Personally, when I consider a candidate there are issues which are deal breakers to me. Life. Religious freedoms. Protection of the family. Upholding the Constitution particularly in regards to judicial appointments. Though I may not agree on every point or plan of a candidate, I must choose a leader with a worldview that best reflects what God says to be True. One can say whatever words they wish or make any promise to fit the situation, but a person's worldview determines their actions. We are blessed to live in a nation where the actions of our politicians are made public and accessible. So with the Bible in one hand and the history/voting record of the candidates in the other, I cast my vote.

It's possible that tomorrow my vote won't result in a victory, but I'm at peace because my King is sitting on His throne. He's at the center of it all. He's at work.





Thursday, October 30, 2008

Deals O' The Week

There's a great stock up deal going on at Meijer this week. I plan on going back several times before it ends next Wednesday.

Here's how I'm working it:

First Trip:
4 boxes of cereal @ 4/$10 (The kids are about to flip out that they are going to have something besides oatmeal- hey, I'm a nice mom like that:)
4 Kraft Deluxe Mac and Cheese @ 3/$5
6 boxes of Jello @ $.50 each

Use 2 $2 off 2 mac and cheese Meijer Mealbox coupons
Use 3 $1.50 off 2 Jello Meijer Mealbox coupons
Get instant $2 off for buying 4 cereal

Cost $9.39
Received $5 off next purchase coupons

The greatness of Meijer is that you can print as many coupons as you like from their site. I use the self check and scan my own coupons (just be sure to clip them ahead of time) and have never had any problems. Usually I can get in and out of there in less than 10 minutes.


Returning visits:
Same purchases - coupons - $5 coupon = $4.39 + another $5 off next purchase


After stocking up, I plan to use the remaining $5 coupon to buy eggs. They are on sale $.88/doz this week.

While waiting during piano lessons today, we went to Goodwill and found these goodies for the bedroom makeover. Two brand new bedskirts from Target and a sheer window panel. Because some of them were red tagged they were half priced. In all, I spent $12 and saved $6.

I love the satin material on these skirts but they are most definitely the wrong shade of brown. The plan is to dye them. Never attempted that before. Has anyone done this and have any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Growing Older

Today during school I was talking with the girls and one of them asked, "Mom, are you going to get your hair colored soon?" They were each staring at my temples and the white hair shining through. Elizabeth (7) started to get teary. "Mom, I didn't know you had white hair. I don't want you to be old." The older girls comforted her with the fact that I was going to get my hair "painted" again soon and look just like myself.

In my mind I am about 23. Sean is 23. When I watch basketball, those players and myself are the same age. Really, we are. But the calendar and the pictures and the aching back are telling me a different story.

I have been blessed in my life to know many Godly, beautiful white haired ladies. Truly they are living life to the fullest and are vibrant. They are wise and generous. But, I know at one point they were middle aged mid 30's, house full of kids, never caught up women like myself.

It's more evident to me each day that we live in a youth culture. And just as much as that youth culture trickles down to the younger ages, it trickles up as well to us 30ish women who are moving into a new phase of life. The world tries to make it about appearances, hair, clothes, figure- the things we can "control". But the Lord is calling us to a different set of standards. I'm just wrestling with what that fleshes out to be in the everyday.

Whatever your phase of life I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Window Mistreatment Exhibit 1

Our house gets really cold and drafty in the winter, so we are going to do some things to try to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Heavier curtains downstairs is the first step.

I've been researching on window treatments, looking at blogs for inspiration and gathering fabric swatches for about two months. But there are two obstacles that must be overcome, the lack of money and lack of sewing ability.

I was getting kind of discouraged, but then I remember something that Catherine wrote about last year, which led me to this blog, which gave me the courage to be creative with what I have. So here it is. This is the sliding glass door in our kitchen before, a simple tab curtain. Very utilitarian, I know.

And now:

But lest you think that is all. I plan to have tie backs on the wall which will reveal this bit of color:


This mistreatment was done with 2 window panels from Walmart clearance ($8), 2 drapery panels from Goodwill ($8), a can of black spray paint ($2) and hot glue. Yep, I spent $18 and didn't sew a stitch. How's that for a mistreatment?

We have an open floor plan, so all the windows look at each other. This creates an interesting design challenge. But I have plans, two more identical panels and more hot glue.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You'll be sorry I told you this

You know what I just discovered?

If you take 2 Tablespoons of brownie mix and 1 Tablespoon of vanilla yogurt and mix them together in a small bowl and microwave it for 1 minute you will have a perfect mix of gooey, warm, chocolate instant gratification. If you top it with whipped cream it's even more perfect.

**I've served this to our family of nine twice and am still using the original box of Brownie Mix. Not bad for a $.97 investment. Also, I found that sour cream was a delicious substitute when we ran short on yogurt.**

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Out on the Town

Sometimes I forget that the kids need to get out much like I do. Sometimes there needs to be a little something to look forward to at the end of a routine week. Sometimes we need to interact not as teacher and student, but as mother and child.

We have always encouraged to kids to come to us with what they need emotionally and relationally. So when they are desiring some personal time they "ask for a date." Being that Sean and I rarely go out and spend money on dates ourselves, these outings need to be of little or no cost. Normally, a trip to the store will pacify the younger kids, but I'm finding that we need to get a little more creative with the older ones these days.

Tonight Lydia and I slipped away after dinner for a date. We took our time looking through the racks at Goodwill for skirt or dress material that could be made into throw pillows for the bedroom makeover. We came away with these goodies to add to our collection.

Next we headed on over the Barnes and Noble for a free cup of hot tea with sugar and cream. Heather's hospitality has us hooked on our new beverage of choice. We sipped our tea at Bed Bath and Beyond while sitting in massage chairs and enjoying one another's company.


It seems that the kids have a lot more energy at the of the day than we do. It takes effort for Sean and myself to either go or to stay behind for such excursions. But there is only one today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Everyday life

Learning to Knit

Making clip art magnets


Taste testing

Getting caught

Monday, October 20, 2008

Disturbed

Earlier today I was expecting an email that had not arrived. Impatiently, I went into my spam file on gmail to see if it had been placed there. Yes, I have at this moment 8117 pieces of spam. Much of this junk mail is due to the fact that I sign up for freebies and register at websites to access coupons. Nonetheless, I was surprised by some of the subject lines. About one in ten had a questionable subject.

So I decided to check out Sean's spam box. I have no reason to be suspicious, but I was just curious. I know that he doesn't put his email address out there nearly as much. He had only about 500 spam messages, yet I was disturbed by what I saw there. Nearly fourth of them were of an inappropriate and sensual nature. They had never been opened, yet there they were just a click away. I've heard it said that it only takes one image to change a man's life.

I was driven to my knees in prayer. Our men, our sons, our nephews, our son-in-laws, our grandsons, our leaders are being attacked at every side. It certainly is one thing to seek out and entertain sin of this nature. It is another thing to be bombarded with images on the streets or to see it on a public computer screen at the library (this is a common problem for us.) I consider it an outright attack for one's email address to be likely sold for a profit and then to be sent message after message inviting and enticing men to look further.

There is no mistake. Each man (and woman) is accountable for their own choices. Yet, it is clearer to me than ever that the enemy is on the hunt for the eyes and hearts of our men boys and men.

I began to ponder the solutions. More filters for the computer? We already subscribe to Covenant Eyes. This provides accountability, but additional filters would be good. Legislation? Contact appropriate authorities about internet pornography/email and privacy laws. Boycott the internet? Possibly. At this point my children do not have access, but currently Sean's job requires internet access for him to complete his work.

Truly my solutions may help (me feel better, mostly), but they fall short. God's Word does not.

His Word is our filter and through it our minds can and will be transformed.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Psalm 119:9-11
"
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you."


He is our Authority and He supersedes all the schemes of the Devil. He is strong to save.

Psalm 147:6-7
"Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.

Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me."



His Spirit is in us to empower us to live in this world for Christ's sake, but not be become part of it.

1 John 4:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."


Now more than ever, we must be women of prayer and careful attention to God's Word. We must be aware, alert and not ignorant to what our men face each and every day. We must be proactive. We must assume responsibility for our own actions- what we watch, subscribe to, read and wear.

Game on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jefferson's Ten Rules

This reading came up during school today. Some principles are timeless.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Never spend your money before you have earned it.

Never buy what you don't want because it is cheap.

Pride costs more than hunger, thirst, and cold.

We seldom repent of having eaten too little.

Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.

Take things always by the smooth handle.

When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count a hundred.

Monday, October 13, 2008

9 weeks

Today marks the beginning of the second nine week term of our school year. My how time has flown! We are one fourth of the way there.

Many things are working well this year. For the first time I am giving regular quizzes and tests and thus there are grades. I've even assigned homework over the weekend. Sean presented them with their report cards Friday night with a commentary on each subject and their achievement. There were beaming faces all around.

I wasn't sure how the girls would respond to receiving grades, but they have embraced it completely. For those who are competition driven, it is a huge motivator. For others it serves as proof that they can and will will be rewarded for their hard work and study.

I just told Lydia to put a bean in a bag with a wet paper towel. She's taken it to a whole new level. We might have a botanist on our hands.


We are, however, going to have to revisit our list of rules and daily schedule. It's so easy for us all to get off track here and there which can really make a wreck of things. Oh, how I love spontaneity. I'm feeling a bit discouraged these days with the house and its sad condition. It is getting picked up (mostly), but not really cleaned. My room is full of winter/summer clothes bins, piles of clean clothes to be folded and dirty ones to be washed. It really is not an encouragement to open one's eyes each morning to this mess. There are shoes missing and stacks of papers to be filed. I just have no energy or motivation at the end of the day to get to these every growing piles.

This is our school room. As you can see, it's also our play room.

Homeschooling has so many implications for the daily life of a family and the house they live in. If anyone knows how it is that a family can manage a school, cafeteria, home office, playroom, laundry mat, clinic, library.... under the same roof in an orderly fashion, could you please enlighten me? This teacher, cook, secretary, entertainer, wash woman, nurse, librarian.... is getting a bit overwhelmed it seems.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Score!

I don't know if everyone in this town is on the bargain hunt or if the the Kroger man has just been stockpiling the Manager's specials. I've been stalking the clearance table for several weeks, but to no avail.

Friday, I went expecting nothing and walked away with all these goodies for our pantry: 11 boxes of snack crackers, 7 pounds of ground beef, several cans of refried beans, black beans.... Altogether about $51.oo was spent and and $62.00 saved.






Continuing to bargain hunt for the girls' bedroom make-overthis week, I bought this beautiful coverlet and iron curtain tie-backs for a grand total of $11.15. The original price would have been over $55 combined.

I stopped by the local paint store to ask about paint that they have returned due to color mistakes. The nice lady took me to the back room, gave me a screwdriver and a hammer and left me there to discover what they had. The colors were beautiful, but not quite what we need. They sell these paints for $2.50 a gallon. I'll definitely be going back until I find what we need.
It certainly never hurts to ask.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Frugal Room Makeover

The older girls are a bit weary of their bright room and have been asking for a makeover. Currently it is a very cute with about every color in the rainbow present.

Now they are wanting a something a bit more grown up. Secretly I'm happy because I want to use their room as a guest room and this look might be more pleasing to the eyes of our guests.

I told them to pick out a color scheme they both love. They've chosen the ever trendy blue and brown. I think if they get tired of the blue that it will be easier next time to make a change.

So now I'm bargain shopping. So far we have curtains for $8 and and four flat sheets for $2 each. I plan to make duvet covers out of these for their existing comforters. We also have great plans to adorn these curtains. If possible, I'd like to spend less than $50. There's still paint, pillows, bed skirts and accessories to be made/purchased.

It's been fun planning and looking around for ideas. We are going to make the switch on our winter break.

How have you saved money when redecorating? I'd love to here of any ideas or resources you may have!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

On the Road Again....

Sean had a four day weekend for Fall Break and we joined him on a little road trip to Northern Indiana. He was attending/speaking at a teacher's conference. I know that our vacation last summer was a once in a lifetime experience. We discovered that going places as a family brings us together in a special way. It doesn't have to be a month on the beach. It can be a trip up the road to see something new to us or a leisurely walk in the forest or a night together in a tent. It's good to go and it's even better to come home again.

God is good to provide opportunities such as these. The room was already paid for and Sean received a stipend for speaking. We won't be eating out again in October, but that's okay by me. It was more than worth it. And even better, gas prices went down at least $.50/gallon in the last week and we received a gas card upon checking out to the hotel. All good things come from His hand.

Our first stop was at Amish Acres. We arrived when the farm had already closed, but that didn't stop us from enjoying a family style meal in a huge barn. All of the food was locally grown and prepared from scratch. It was possibly the best fried chicken I have ever tasted.

After the huge meal came the deserts....Lemon, chocolate, shoe fly, banana cream, pumpkin, pecan, pumpkin pecan, cherry, apple or blueberry pie, apple dumpling, apple crisp, or apple cake. The children were thrilled to choose their very own piece from this tray.

Before leaving, we took our own mini tour and enjoyed the fall decorations outside.


While Sean was at the conference the next morning we set out to see what was in South Bend. Elizabeth asked the intelligent question, "Why is it called South when it is north?" Joseph was quite pleased with himself to learn that this city is on the south fork of the St. Joseph River. You would have thought they named it after him.

Using my favorite resource, "Kid's Love Indiana", we spent a few hours at the Healthwork's! Kid's Museum. (Sorry, forgot the camera.) We played in the exhibits and saw two science demonstrations. We got to experiment with healthy pig lungs and pig lungs infused with tar from cigarettes. Interesting. I think the consensus was, "Mom, I don't ever, ever, ever want to smoke! Ever!"

Next, we scooted on over the the South Bend Chocolate Company for a tour and some treats. Can you imagine the delight in the heart of our chocolate man?


Ignoring that fact that John snagged some forbidden chocolate off the production rack from the stroller and that Joseph almost sneezed into a vat of chocolate, it was a huge hit with all the kids.


On the ride home we visited Potato Creek State Park and ran around in a prairie grass maze.


We are having fun planning up our next winter excursion. Looks like it might involve tobogganing down a luge at 40 miles an hour. Stay tuned.

But as always, it's good to be back home again. Looking forward to a day of worship, rest and reading in God's Word tomorrow.