Saturday, February 28, 2009

It gets better all the time

I've always had the mentality that I would rather deal with the complications of taking all of my kids out and about rather than stay at home. I really want to show them the world, or at least be there when they are experiencing a new part of it. It won't be many more years that they will all be home together and available. Soon there will be more commitments and schedules to juggle. But for now, I'm taking full advantage of the time we've been given.

Sean was out of town the better part of this week, so we headed and hour south. During the winter our state parks have a 2 for 1 rates on their cabins and hotels. We've been saving up for a few months to surprise the kids with a get away just for them. Our favorite state park recently added an indoor water facility so we had to check it out. It's nothing big, but it was just what we needed to get a bit of fresh air and to remind us that, yes, summer is coming again. It was also great because there were only eleven kids there and seven of them were mine.

We hiked, drew, learned, snuggled, played games, stayed up late, slept in, had school, read, ate special snacks, played basketball, climbed, made pancakes and made memories. Except for the fact that Sean wasn't there, it was perfect.

This trip was the lowest stress ever for me. They all really pitched in packing, unloading, organizing, planning and even cooking while we were there. They acted like they were playing "house" on a big scale. It was rewarding to watch.

We are already making plans to do it again next winter.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I was the second born of four girls. I'm not a big fan of birth order theories. I think every family is dynamic and unique. Every person in a family does fall into a role of sorts because of their particular strengths or weaknesses. God doesn't make mistakes in how he designs families.

Our first two children were born (much to our surprise) thirteen months apart. In fact, I didn't even know I was pregnant again until my first Mother's Day. I was having my picture taken with six month old Hannah and was lying on my stomach at the time. The picture is quite humorous because my eyes are as big as saucers as I'm mentally considering the fact that I am either pregnant or have a cancerous growth. I kept that little secret to myself for about two weeks until it was confirmed. In July we had our first ultrasound. We were shocked to learn that our little one was not 12 weeks old, but 17 weeks!

Before the end of the year we welcomed our second daughter. My two blond babies. Inseparable. Distinctly different. Best friends.

It's been my joy and privilege to watch these two grow into young ladies. It is hard to imagine that at one time people thought they were twins. Now they are different in so many ways. Right handed and left handed. Detail oriented and visionary. A reader and an author. Reality and imagination. Modern and old fashioned. Yet they enjoy many of the same activities and because of their ages they are often placed side by side.

This is where being a mom gets really hard. While one is hitting her stride, the other is struggling. While one is getting acclamations, the other is looked over. While one is a natural, the other is working with all her might.

I'm praying for wisdom to encourage them both. I recognize that success is measured in a multitude of ways. God is glorified in both the victory and the struggle. But to my preteen girls it's not so clear. They don't have the perspective of experience to tell them that. They are just trying to find out where they fit and who they are becoming.

Their emotions are fragile. Their hearts are tender. They are sensitive to one another. And they are looking into my eyes for the next cue. While I'm rejoicing with one and crying with the other, I pray that they know, "I love you both."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I'm challenged by this.

What small thing could I do today to demonstrate hope to another?

My Space

An old chair from a dear friend now across the sea, a painting by my sister depicting the flowers we picked as children, a lamp from Sean's growing up home and a handmade pillow.

My corner to sit and think and read and watch and pray and write and talk and be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cake Date

Last week I had an evening meeting and left the family with some dinner and a chocolate bundt cake for a special treat. When I got home I found two lone piece put away on a plate. Joseph came running down the stairs, "Mom, are you ready for our cake date?"

The boy who loves chocolate about as much as anything saved his piece and mine so that we could eat it together. So we sat at the table at 9 pm and had our first official cake date. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Joseph some day you'll want to take a very special girl out on a date. What do you think you'll do?

Joseph: Eat....Talk....Hmmm......Count Money?

Me: What will you eat?

Joseph: Chocolate, of course! And maybe pizza.

Me: What will you talk about?

Joseph: Wall-e, my inventions, the Bible....

Me: Will you kiss her?

Joseph: No way!!

Me: Will you hold her hand?

Joseph: Only if you say I can. *smile*

The big happening of this past week was contained in a little package we received on the doorstep. Joseph had saved all of his gift money for this item. Originally, he sent it with Grandma and Grandpa to Disney World last month with high hopes. They couldn't find it there, so we bid on ebay. He spent all of that he had and couldn't be happier.

Meet i-dance Wall-e.

"Don't worry, Mom, Wall-e will pick up the trash in his room."

Since his arrival Wall-e has had a birthday party which consisted of Wall-e shaped sugar cookies (we were making hearts), a hand made pinata filled with old batteries and various other festive activities. He also now has his own cardboard room. I think he's here to stay. I'm dreading the day that little hands get a hold of him. I guess I'll have to find a Wall-e hospital when that happens:)

Read what other kids are saying this week at Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Who am I?

This morning while cleaning up the kitchen I was enjoying my daughter's MP3 player. My thoughts were all over the place.

I was thinking about love- people's perceptions of it, how it is defined, how it is expressed....

I was thinking about those who find today to be lonely and sad day because of perhaps love lost or never realized.

I was wondering if those in my life know how much I love them, how valuable their lives are, how I desire to show them my love, though I often fail.

Then this song came on.

I found myself in tears, wiping the table. Overwhelmed by a Love that I do not deserve. Heartbroken for those who have never heard. Grieved for those who have seen God's Love and rejected it for the world's imitation.

Who am I?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spelling- Help for the Afflicted

Not everyone has a gift for spelling. I know I struggled through grade school, but this was more likely due to the fact that I REFUSED to write those words ten times each every day! Stubborn.

So, as a homeschooling mom, I do empathize with my reluctant spellers. And although grammatical spelling is cute in first grade, it no longer holds quite the charm for say a fourth grader. I've ordered various spelling curriculums and researched different methods over the past few years. Finally have come up with one of my own. It's been relatively painless and completely free. Best of all, it's been working!

1) Using this list of the 1000 most commonly used English words, each Mondays I give my student a quiz and stop when she has misspelled 10 words. It's been a confidence booster for her to see that there are many words she already knows. These 10 words become her spelling list for the week.

What I like about this list is that it is alphabetical and is in three different levels in regards to difficulty. Currently we are working through level 2.

2) Next she enters her words at Spell City where a very calm and patient spelling teacher engages her in practices quizzes and games. There is a section where the nice lady spells the word so that it is heard and the letters appear. There is an area which has ten different games and methods for learning the words. And there is also a place for the student to be tested and scored. LOVE IT!!

3) At the end of each six weeks she takes another test over all of the words that have been learned so far. Any that are still being misspelled are then placed back on the list.

She has never been prouder and more motivated to spell. I feel like she's getting caught up to speed with the other kids and I have never been so not stressed about teaching spelling.

Find other ideas that are working over at Works for me Wednesday. Also, this along with other wonderful frugal ideas can be found at Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Friday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A new way of thinking for 2009

Some have asked me whatever happened to the Frugal $400 and the deal finding, coupon clipping me. Well, the $400 part hasn't changed, but my strategy has. I was challenged in my thinking a while ago about the time and energy that being frugal can cost. My goal is to stay within the $400 limit for our household/grocery needs for the month. My goal is not to see how much I can buy for $400 and end up with a lot of "stuff" that is of no use to us and makes me stressed out trying to organize and maintain it.

So my goal is the same, but my strategy is different. Of course, buy on sale, do good research, use coupons when they are easily accessible. But now I'm free from having to snag the latest deal that's been published or going to four different stores. I'd like to start making our cleaning products from scratch this year as well as being more proficient at using with grains.

This new mindset has sent me on a mission through the house getting rid of the many things we have cluttering up our lives. It's quite a chore that I can't wait to finish. Hopefully, by the end of February it will be done.

I'm also going to be freezer cooking each month this year. This does take up the majority of my budget, but planning this far in advance has so far allowed us to stay with budget thus far. Want to see what we're having this month?

Southfork Chili
White Chili
Make Ahead Burritos
Ranch Chicken Strips
Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Lettuce Wraps
Chicken Stir Fry
Green Beans, Sausage and Potatoes
Sausage Calzones
Turkey Tetrazzini
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Meatball Stroganoff and Noodles
Sausage Lentil Soup

Monday, February 2, 2009


I've been asking of the Lord some specific questions recently. I'm just trying to get a grasp on a few things, seeking some understanding and wisdom. It seems as though I ask, yet the answers are not coming clearly. So I wait.

This scene outside of the window reminded me of a passage. Job, having suffered more than I could ever imagine inquired of the Lord. God revealed his answer in a series of questions.

Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?

From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens

when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen? -Job 38:28-30

Then Job understood clearly.

Job replied to the LORD :

"I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted. - Job 42:1-2