Wednesday, December 31, 2008
We also took the opportunity to get a portrait done of the entire family. I can't wait to see the results and post the picture. It was actually much easier - and faster - than I thought it would be to get a good shot of so many people, five of whom are age 4 and under!
Now it is New Year's Eve and I sit here in the midst of a mess of presents, luggage, and packaging - evidence that we left in a rush - and I'm struggling to get it all put away and tidied up. I titled my blog Doing the Next Thing, because that seems to be what I spend so much of my time doing! The kids still need the basics of being fed, clothed, cleaned, and disciplined; and yet I have so many other things on my list to do! Sometimes I'm tired of just Doing the Next Thing! Sometimes, I'd like to actually get a project done --- like finding a home for the two new bookshelves we adopted from My Sweetie's office. I'm thrilled to have them, but they've spent the last month sitting in my ever-cluttered dining room, waiting, like everything else in this house, for my attention.
I don't mean to bum anybody out, but I'm just trying to keep it real, ya'll! I'm guessing I'm not the only person who feels the tension between how much fun it is to plan and celebrate Christmas and how much work it is, too. I've mentioned Nancy Wilson here before, and she has another post that I found helpful in bringing my attitude out of the dumps. Read about "lifting our hearts" here.
Now for some New Year's thoughts:
My beautiful daily schedule - the one I labored over for hours back in August - isn't really working for us. I've got to try to find some time over the next few days to tweak it. The Big 3 still end up wasting a good bit of time waiting for me when they need my help and I'm busy with The Littles. We just can't do ALL our school work at naptime - gotta find a better solution.
I'm also rethinking - again - they layout and function of our basement. We do need lots of storage for our school stuff, but we are using the "study" less and less for actual studying. Everyone tends to go find their own quiet spot to work - or work at the kitchen table when they need regular input/supervision from me. I'm seriously thinking about turning the "study" (the smaller room in my basement) into a "teen playroom." The larger room is where our bookshelves and school posters are, but it is really the "playroom" where the big toys for preschoolers (and our zillion legos) live. Let that encourage all of you who homeschool and don't have a "school room" - you don't really need one! Just a place to keep all the stuff.
I'm hoping to begin working out - again. I signed up for a 5K last fall, hoping that having a goal and some accountability with friends would motivate me to exercise regularly and start getting fit. It did...until I got a stress fracture in my ankle. So now I'm finally out of the aircast and, thanks to a YMCA membership that was a gift, hoping to start slowly on the stationary bike and find my motivation again.
Lastly, though perhaps most importantly, I'm striving to be more faithful about daily time with the Lord. Why does this show up on our lists every single year? It's such a simple thing. It's our life-blood -- and yet, spending time with the Lord seems to be so difficult for us. I'm praying that this year, I will finally see some growth and maturity.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my lengthy, meandering post!
Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
--In other "tech" news: our kids truly are more tech savvy than we. A (4), in a wise-in-his-own-eyes attempt to turn on a Sp*der-M*an cartoon, ordered Fre*d Cla*us on demand for $4.99! Not my first choice for movie night w/ my Sweetie, but we weren't going to let 5 bucks go to waste.
--Christmas decor and baking ... am I the only one who struggles with frustration at the huge mess being festive makes? I love doing Christmas-y things with the family, but it takes motivation to stay jolly while working overtime. ;-)
--Check out the Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog . We're letting our kids choose one item from the catalog to earn money for by doing extra chores. It's a great way to be charitable and get the kids involved - and give them a heart for the nations.
--A great quote: "The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God."C.S. Lewis. (Thanks to my dear friend, Wendy, for supplying the quote.)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"I'm not making a mess - I'm making art!" 4yo A., when I told him to be careful with glue, paper, scissors, and a hole punch.
"Mom, when I have a job and I'm earning my own money... if the family budget is still tight, I'll give you some." 14yo S, showing a little bit of maturity. Awww.
"When I get up in the morning, I'm gonna make a mocha." S again. Somebody tell that boy to stop growing up!
"I be careful -- I be careful, Daddy." 2yo K's announcement as she walked into the room carrying the empty silverware basket. Such a helpful girl.
"And I thought your eggs weren't going to be good!" 9yo M, pleasantly surprised that the breakfast she made me was actually quite delicious. That girl loves to cook and is happiest in the kitchen. It's fun to watch her countenance lift whenever cooking is involved. :)
"Mommy, sit nexa ME!" 2yo K's exclamation at nearly every meal. So sweet. She then continued to chant "nexa me, nexa me, nexa me..." ♫
For more fun Tiny Talk, go visit Not Before 7!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
That's ok, though. We've laughed, loved, learned, and served. K (2) continues to keep us in stitches with the funny things she says and does. The latest is her announcement that "I go bafroom you" each time I say I have to go to the bath*room. She runs in, lifts the lid, and stands ready to assist me in any way. Future attendant at a 5-star hotel? The Big 3 have enjoyed their enrichment classes, culminating in a medieval feast for M (9) and some pretty amazing President projects for S (14) and C (12). A's (4) obsession with the human body has been replaced with Spider-Man. Oh, well. Guess medical school will have to wait.
Now I'm turning my attention to Thanksgiving fun. We're reading our favorite Thanksgiving books (see the sidebar on the left), and planning our movable feast. We're heading back to the north GA mountains again this year and there is much to do ahead of time. But I'm looking forward to a fun holiday and some sweet "unplugged" family times.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
"Thoughts on the joys and struggles of one Mom's journey..."
Well, here is a bit on a struggle I'm having at the moment - the computer. I know from reading other blogs that many of you share this struggle. I've posted about it before. But I was convicted, once again, that too much of my time was being spent here. You may have noticed I'm posting less. If you have your own blog, I'm sure you've noticed that I have been visiting less.
As Dr. Richard Swenson, author of the book Margin, says, "Progress means more and more of everything, faster and faster." Computers, cell phones, blogs, networks, email, voicemail... all fabulous tools, but also all time-suckers. And each new thing competes with the rest of our life for the same 24hrs. In a radio broadcast Swenson did on Focus on the Family, he recommends unplugging as a way of simplifying, allowing us to maintain balance and margin in our time and emotional energy. He says to look at how much time you spend watching tv or using the computer, and see if you can simplify your life (and thus add margin) by cutting back.
So that's what I'm doing. Swenson also says, "Everything I own, owns me." You have to maintain and keep up with your stuff - even "stuff" like google reader, email, blogs, and networks. I think the Lord is showing me that I can't be faithful to His calling to nurture & educate my children, manage my home, and love my husband plus spend so much time in front of a laptop - even if I'm doing good things there. That's the hard part of finding margin - saying "no" to good things.
I think we're all in the same boat, really - don't you? We've all got a thousand things to juggle, and we all have the same 24 hour day. Computer-networking is a fun outlet for a busy mom who may find it difficult to catch up with old friends by phone or in person. You can email or blog in the middle of the night! But there has to be a limit, and I think I've reached mine ... at least for now.
I may not post or visit very often, but I'll be around from time to time. And those of you I've gotten to know better will for sure be in my prayers. God bless!
Monday, October 6, 2008
-M (9) with a plastic knife and cup, cutting of sprigs of boxwood, pretending they are herbs for her "soup"
-C (12) hammering an old piece of crumbling concrete, just because. He said, "Mom, can I just keep hammering? It's fun."
-K (2) taking great delight in running in an out of the bushes - Laughing at herself when no one is looking
-S (14) watching over things and using sticks to make speed bumps for A (4),
who is racing down the grassy hill on his tricycle like Evil Kenevil
--and then... S taking his turn going over the speed bumps on A's little bike
It doesn't always look this happy, but I love it when they are all using their imaginations, enjoying each other's company, and (for the big boys) ignoring the world's notion that they're too old to "play."
Thank you, Lord, for this sweet vision of their childlike hearts!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Ketchup is tomatoes. They open the top of the tomato. They get the liquid out. They stir the liquid up and mix it, too. And then they put flour in and pour it into the ketchup bottle and then it's done. That's how ketchup goes.
Didn't you always wonder?
For more Tiny Talk, go visit Mary's place!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I'm still ironing out much of this and expect a few things will change (other than math & science) through the year. Budget has been a big issue in planning this year, so I'm hoping to add some things second semester that I just couldn't afford right now.
First up, Big Brother, S (almost 14):
Bible - finishing Old Testament Survey from Logos School Materials
Catechism - memorizing Shorter Catechism
Spelling - Apples 2
Grammar - S is still finishing some random lessons we missed in A Beka's Grammar and Comp. I from 7th grade. He's doing this because 1. I want him to focus more on writing than grammar this semester; and 2. I'm still thinking about/saving $$ for grammar for him. I'm considering A Beka G & C II and also Mother Tongue.
Writing - Writing Strands, Write Source 2000, and Imitation in Writing Poetry Primer
These are resources we're using, but I'm really making it up as I go along. He's a reluctant writer and I'm focusing on improving his work ethic along with his writing skills. :)
I've just this week heard about a writing program from Peace Hill Press (thanks, Kate!) and I'm VERY interested in that. The middle grades book is not out until next year, but I may explore the Year Four exercises in the first book for some fine-tuning...we'll see.
Vocabulary - Vocabulary from Classical Roots
Literature - various, incl. Fellowship of the Ring, The Once and Future King by T.H.White (or another version of King Arthur), and Beowulf.
Math - Saxon Algebra I
History - Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation - Veritas Press History Cards, Story of the World vol. 2, Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and lots of library books; narrations; essays; outlines.
Government - Electoral Process - outside class based on a Konos unit. Great class discussions, research project on a President, and participation in national mock election
Science - Apologia Physical Science - * I purchased daily lesson plans for this from Rainbow Resource. We don't do science every single day, but the plans help know how much of each module to do per lesson.
Nature Study - various books, field guides, internet and lots and lots and lots of observation and journaling.
Latin & Logic - I own Prima Latina, but have never used it. Even though it's way below his level, I'm hoping to work through it with all 3 kids. Something is better than nothing! For Logic, I hope to use various things like the Ridgewood Analogies and Fallacy Detective until I can afford a formal logic text. (When I do, I'm seriously considering Introductory Logic.)
Art - Picture studies for Middle Ages artists; using books from library to fine-tuning drawing and sketching skills
Music - composer study; beginning piano with Mom; beginning group guitar class
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"Mom, I want to know all the things about electricity and wires. Can you tell me about wires?" - A showing his insatiable curiosity about the world around him
"No Dahdoo!" another phrase uttered many times a day by little K, screaming her brother's name in her own wild animal voice"kugga kugga KYOO KYOO!" (tr. chugga chugga choo choo)- 2yo K, playing with the Thomas Trains.
"That sure is one pretty governor!" - not-quite-12 yo C, while watching Sarah Palin at the RNC.
"Yes, I am a fairy princess." 9yo M, adorned in gossamer wings and a cape, while playing with The Littles -with just enough pre-teen irony in her voice to be sure no one thought she was enjoying it too much.
"Mom, I sent you a piece of flair." almost-14 yo S, while on his page of a social networking site - further proof that I am, indeed, the parent of a teenager
That's what was overheard at the Next Thing house. Go visit Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I had seen the book at the bookstore (on date night, of course!) and noticed there were others in the series. But when I went to the library the other night (to pick up school books I had put on hold,) I couldn't for the life of me remember the author's last name. The library was closing, and I didn't have time to look it up, so I decided to research it at home for a later visit.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
It's called simply Apples and it's written by Jacqueline Farmer. It was a random find at the library last week. For my little pre-K "program" with A (4) I am doing a "Letter of the Week" theme. We're on our 3rd official week of school, but we're still doing fun "A" things, because I keep finding fun things to study and do! (Plus it's the first letter of his name and therefore kind of a pet.)
Naturally this book caught my eye as it lay on the shelf, discarded by some previous library visitor. Apples not only start with "A," but are a fun topic for this time of year. I liked the cover art; I picked it up and thumbed through a couple of pages. Looks good - let's get it.
We finally got around to reading it today and I have to say it is a very good example of what Charlotte Mason would call a "living book." The illustrations are excellent and beautiful. It is written by one author who loves - or at least has thoroughly researched - her subject. It is very narrative in its writing style, making it a good read aloud for all ages. Best of all - it is very detailed in its information, but presents that information in a very accessible way for children.
The surest way to know a book has impacted its readers is the discussion that follows. All of us - from myself to an almost 14-year-old boy to the Littles - have been chatting about the amazing things we learned from one simple reading of this book. Here are some of our favorites (as narrated to Daddy at dinnertime):
-M (9) learned that apples were given as part of a marriage proposal in ancient Greece - if the girl caught the apple, the answer was "yes!"
-C (11) was impressed to learn that 50% of an apple's vitamin C is contained just under the skin. He was also proud to remind all of us that he eats the discarded peel when I make apples for the Little ones.
-S (13) took an interest in the propagation of apple trees by grafting - not seeds.
-A (4) kept telling Daddy that the farmer picks the good apples before they fall off the tree.
-Mommy learned several things, but perhaps the most interesting was that planting an apple orchard was required by law when homesteading.
The real joy of this book is that the facts listed above (plus a lot more) were not tedious to read about. We didn't even realize how much we were learning as we listened to the story of Apples. Among the lovely illustrations were a couple of diagrams that we plan to incorporate into our nature journals. All in all a very good read. I think M summed it up when she proclaimed, "I never knew you could learn so much from a picture book!"
Gut-wrenching story. Beautifully told. Bit graphic.
Convicting. Enlightening. Biblical. Very useful book.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
In all seriousness, the same issues that troubled me last year when I gave up the reports are still on my mind. Mainly that it's hard to find the time to write the reports. I enjoy blogging and that's not how I want to spend my blog time. I also have a hard time making them interesting to read - I'm just not that good a writer and I don't want to burden the poor readers.
That being the case, there were a couple of folks who said they actually enjoyed the reports. For you, I offer this: I will post an overall 2008-2009 curriculum plan (eventually) and provide a permalink in my sidebar. I will keep the fun stuff - nature walks, history, great book finds - updated in the sidebar as well. And yes, I will occasionally be so excited about something school-related that I write a post about it.
Thanks for understanding. ya'll are the best!
- if you're a rhinoceros, complete one life cycle
- watch 14,610 sunsets
- blink 168million times
- grow a white oak that is over 40 feet tall
- enjoy several "generations" of Star Trek
- almost build the Temple in Jerusalem
- if you're a glacier, grow by 13 miles
-- build a godly marriage!
Forty years ago today, two young kids got married and started a family. Those "kids" were my parents. They met on a blind date, fell in love, and were both still in college when they wed. Neither of them was a Christian then, but God, who is rich in mercy, drew them both to Himself in the course of time.
Now 40 years, 4 children, and 11 grandchildren later, they continue to build a legacy of faith that will be passed down for generations. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being faithful to each other, faithful to the Lord, and setting a good example for us.
Happy Anniversary, Mimi & Grandpa! We love you!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Weekly report coming soon. For now, I've just got to say that I'm so happy to be organized this year!!!! With new babies and toddlers in the house, we spent a couple years being more relaxed in our daily routine. It worked for a time, but now we're all ready more structure.
The new schedule and clear lesson plans for the Big 3 made for a really smooth week. Not once did we make it through the whole thing on time, but that's okay. We still got all our lessons done and I even had time for a nap 2 of the 3 days! Yay!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Now that school's beginning, I look forward to a more structured routine. I'll be around on a limited basis posting and visiting. I'm going to experiment with a new way of weekly reporting, so come back to see that if you're interested. Meanwhile, check out the fruits of all my hard work last night getting ready for today - our first day... (Notice there are no pics of M's desk - we moved it up to her room and she was still asleep when I took the pictures. I'll add it later, maybe.)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Here's a tease:
Where do we get this notion that being organized is next to godliness? I’m
pretty sure we get it from magazines and ads in those magazines. And though they
really may be great magazines full of super recipes and ideas that inspire us,
they can also set us up to start laying guilt trips on ourselves. Something like
this: “If I was really together, my closets would look like those featured in
Martha’s Living, where stacks of sheets are tied with color-coded ribbons.” Just
a little reminder here: Martha has fleets of housekeepers who wash and iron
those sheets and keep them tied up with ribbons. You, on the other hand, do
Thanks, Nancy! Read the rest of the article here.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you (i.e. me)
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger (me) know when your entry is posted
Six Random Facts About Me:
1. I used to wear contacts. My old friends in TN remember this and have had to adjust to seeing me in glasses; my new GA friends don't know me any other way. After 17 years of contact lenses invading my corneal space, my eyes rebelled!
2. I'm addicted to chap stick. Must have access to it at all times. There's a tube in the "key bowl" on my kitchen counter; a tube in the car; one in my purse; and one on my bedside table.
3. I hate wet paper. Wait. Let me rephrase that: I'm deathly afraid of wet paper. No clue. Weird, I know. I hate the beverage napkins they put under your water glass at restaurants. Soggy tissues from the laundry make me gag. That trick where you crinkle a straw wrapper and watch it expand with a drop of water - horrifying!
4. Not much on sandwich wraps either. Think it has something to do with fact #3 above - the "fillings" get the wrap all icky.
5. I love snakes. Wish I could have one as a pet, but My Sweetie says no way Bummer. Afraid of wet paper. Enchanted by snakes. Told ya I was weird.
6. I was voted "Most Likely to Make My Kids Eat Broccoli" at my high school banquet. No comment.
So, St. Theophan Academy, Confessing Me, Reluc Tant, Tate School, Mostly I'm Tired, and Heritage Academy... you're IT!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
So I called the local chapter and explained what I wanted. I knew that MM was expensive, so I told the lady I wanted whatever cleaning my $100 could buy me, starting with kitchen and bathrooms. She said that I could make an appointment for a consultant to come out and give me a free estimate. I reminded her I just wanted to redeem a gift card. Nevertheless, it seems to be MM policy that their "consultant" come out first. Fine. So I made the appointment for a Thursday afternoon. Day 1 of my schedule being cleared or adjusted for MM.
Of course the kids and I spent Thursday morning frantically tidying up the entire house, so the house cleaning consultant (!) wouldn't think we were overly messy and round up our estimate. That done, I put a new tablecloth on in the kitchen and waited. The lady showed up an hour late, full of apologies. Fine. Let's move on. I gave her a tour of the house and she made a few very stoic remarks about what would be cleaned in each room. We returned to my newly-draped table to write up the estimate.
First she showed me what weekly and bi-weekly cleanings would cost, should I decide to become a regular client. The MM fee schedule is designed to punish their customers for not having them come more often. The less often they clean; the more you pay for a cleaning. The prices she quoted me for merely cleaning the main areas of my house, excluding all bedrooms, basement, and laundry room bordered on ridiculous. But that was never my intention anyway. Now about that gift card....
She did a lot of tapping on her Black*erry calculator (how hard can it be?) Then she gave me a total for getting my kitchen and three bathrooms cleaned, just once: $104. A strange figure, I thought - probably meant to make MM look more professional. No even, round numbers here, that's so amateur! My gift card was for $100, so she said I could just give the cleaners $4 cash when they come. Fine. We set up the appointment for the following Tuesday "afternoon." Meaning literally any time after noon. Day 2 of my schedule being cleared for MM.
So the day of the cleaning arrives and again we go through a ritual of tidying up. Funny how that is, huh? Cleaning for the cleaning ladies? I cleared the kitchen counter of all mail, broken crayons, Pol*y P*cket shoes, and Lego creations. I moved on to the master bath and was working on putting away all the things that make me beautiful when the doorbell rang ... at 11:30 am. Now understand, MM has a "lockout policy" that says you pay $25 or 25% of your bill, whichever is more, should the cleaners arrive and you're not home. What if I had decided to run to the store, planning to return at noon? ugh.
The ladies came in and the actual cleaning part was rather uneventful. My Sweetie, who was working from home that day, took the kiddos to the local bounce house so I wouldn't have to constantly shoo them away from the MMs hard at work. New people in our house, especially those that come with equipment, are like a kid-magnet. A (almost 4) and K (2) follow them around staring and asking questions. Even the Big 3 have trouble containing their curiosity, finding all sorts of reasons to walk through whatever portion of the house someone is working in. Funny.
The ladies come. The ladies clean. The ladies leave about two hours later, with a call from the foyer, "We're leaving!" "okay," I say, caught a little off-guard. After they're gone, I walk around to inspect and find several obvious things they overlooked: the top of the fridge wasn't even dusted, let alone "deep cleaned" like the consultant promised all areas of my kitchen would be. Wooden blinds on the windows - not touched. Ceiling fan - gross. Chair rail - still sporting dried spaghetti sauce in several places. Stove - full of crumbs under the drip pans. Trash - not emptied, but rather full of MM cleaning trash. Kitchen chairs - randomly piled in the hallway. Tabletop - obviously wiped with a wet cloth, but not scrubbed for goo. Trust me, in this house, we have lots of goo. I suddenly remembered they were supposed to let me do a walk-through before they leave. Hello!
Frustrated, I tried to call the number to answer a survey and leave a voicemail. (Found a nice letter on my table after the MMs left telling me to share my experiences. Boy, did I want to share!) But the automated survey line wasn't working so I called the local chapter.
The "quality control" supervisor answered the phone and told me how sorry she was I wasn't satisfied with the experience. And yes, those things should have been done. And absolutely they should have walked me through to inspect their work. When can we come out and make this right? Tomorrow at 8:30? I said that was a bit early and we settled on 9 am. Day 3 of my schedule being adjusted to fit MM and redeem a simple gift card.
The next day arrived. Nine o'clock came and went. Ten o'clock came and went. At 10:15 I called back and the quality control lady said, "oh, I thought you meant anytime after 9am." I think a little steam escaped from my ears at this point while I tried to maintain self-control.
"No," I replied, "I was expecting you here at 9. Are the ladies close by where they can come now?" "no ma'am, I'm sorry, they're not." "I've got company coming in a while and I can't wait anymore."
After going on this way for a couple of minutes, we settled on 9am sharp the next morning for the original two MMs plus the quality control supervisor to come finish the job. Fine. Day 4 of my life put on hold to redeem a simple gift card.
Day 4 dawns and I don't even lift a finger to tidy up before their arrival. When they come to the door, 2 kids are in PJs, 3 kids still asleep, and I'm in the middle of making my breakfast in the kitchen. I make no effort to stay out of the way and respond as politely as I can manage to the supervisor's apologies and remarks. They make it through the list of forgotten items and leave.
I breathe a sigh of relief and remember now why I clean my own house! With the help of the kids, of course. I think about FlyLady and decide that a little housework, poorly done, still blesses my family. Enough of the professionals for me, though it does smell good, and I'm glad to have clean floors. Relieved to have the whole experience behind me, I head upstairs to get the Littles dressed. As I walk past the dining room I see....
...they left their step stool!!!!!!
Clothes for the kids: retail price total with tax: $358.17
My out-of-pocket: $89.46
Stretching the family dollar as far as it can go: Priceless!
Made possible by: 1. sales tax holiday; 2. awesome in-store sales; 3. VISA gift card donated by sweet brother-in-law; and 4. returns and store credit at Chil*ren's Pl*ce.
Not bad for an afternoon!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
For the "earning" part, I try to remember what Sue Jakes says in Heart of the Home: "What do you have in your house?" (from 2 Kings 4:2, the widow who had nothing except a little oil - great story...go read it!) Anyway, "what do you have in your house?" I have many times in the past participated in consignment sales and sold used books.
But the truth is, as a SAHM who is also homeschooling, it's the "sparing" that I am able to focus on. In the last two years, since the birth of K, our #5, I have become very lax about the budget. Shopping without a list and a plan; takeout when life gets busy. But several things have occurred together that have given us a budget wake-up call:
-gas prices through the roof - our family car is a guzzling tank ... but we can't exactly fit into a camry, now, can we?
-food prices on the rise for various reasons
-one teen boy, and another right on his heels; 4 chicken breast halves used to feed our whole family at dinner - those days are gone!
-K (2) eats nearly the same amount of food at dinner as her older sister. No more getting by on just eating off of Mommy and Daddy's plates
So - it's back to more diligent planning, shopping, and cooking for me! This means taking time to read weekly store ads, stocking up on sale items or things at wholesale clubs, and planning ahead so that there is no 5 o'clock crunch on a busy day that sends us running to a drive-thru. We've also tried to cut back on our use of paper products, relying instead on towels and cloth napkins. (not only frugal, but green) Instead of money, now I'm investing time!
It has made me ponder our grandmothers and how hard they worked to feed their families healthy meals during the depression and WWII rationing. We have become so spoiled!
I found this MSN article very interesting. It's about trying to feed a family of four on $100/week. She mentions the USDA chart guidelines for grocery spending per family. Curious, I looked at the chart and here's what I found:
-for our family of 7 at the "moderate" level - $362.80 per week (yikes! can you imagine?); the "low-cost" plan for our family size was $292.50 per week; the "thrifty" plan was $223.00.
I'm assuming that the chart is food only and doesn't include diapers, paper products, cleaning products, and pet supplies. My budget does. With very careful planning, no eating out, and homemade everything, we struggle to keep it under $225. (Don't even get me started on the high cost of fresh produce, meat and dairy - let alone organic!) This has not been easy, but I feel a little less guilty about the times I've gone a little over when I see what the average family spends on just food.
I used to visit the miserlymoms website several years ago ... maybe it's time I pop back in for some frugal encouragement.
How does your family come in under budget?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Divine Proportion: Phi in Art, Nature, and Science by Priya Hemenway.
Ahh, the Golden Ratio. Found in the Parthenon, the pyramids, the works of great artists (including Da Vinci,) and all over nature. (C (11) tried his best to use the ratio when building his model Parthenon.) It can be found in the intervals of classic musical masterpieces. It's what makes the lovely spirals in nature so appealing. Consider this fiddle head fern we spotted on a nature hike in the spring:
Before you think I'm going all Da Vinci code on ya... consider this: All truth is God's Truth. God is a God of order and not chaos. Creation is full of examples of the beauty of His order. And we, as image-bearers reflect that with an inclination toward this orderly beauty.
As this book suggests, throughout history people have been drawn to this ratio and consider its proportions beautiful. Since one of my goals in educating my children is to nourish their love of truth, beauty, and goodness, this book is going on my wish list!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I found a quote on marriage that warmed my heart. One of the things I love about the Mitford books by Jan Karon is the affectionate relationship between Father Tim and his wife, Cynthia. Many times their words and actions, though mere characters in a book, have spurred me to greater affection toward my own husband. When I found this quote, by John Angell James, I thought Father Tim would approve:
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I peeked into the garage, to see if the outside door was open. When I did, I saw this:
Of course I laughed to myself. And being the good blogger that I am, before scolding him for opening a door without permission, I grabbed my camera to capture the moment. He, of course saw me at that point and came running over so I could snap this picture:
He's saying, "mwah-ha-ha-haaa" in a very menacing voice! He and K continued to march around the garage, chanting "ha-ha-haaaa" like some kind of masked pirates. These two are quite a pair - remember when they went tribal? They're always up to something, which is why, on so many, many days like this, I can only "do the next thing." That's all I have time for in between their antics!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Though I'm spending my days Doing the Next Thing, I do have some books I want to review and chore ideas to share. So I'll be putting those things up, little by little. Stay tuned....
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
First I made the dough in my breadmaker. It was 1/4 whole wheat and the rest unbleached white flour - more gluten makes better pizza crusts, I've found. I added a dash of Herbes de Provence to the dough. (You could used frozen bread dough, too, if you're not into making your own.)
I divided the dough into six individual pizzas. (As the author of this recipe says, smaller is better on the grill.) Don't worry about shape - it's rustic! We brushed one side of the crust with olive oil, and put on a medium heat grill.
When that side looks done, flip it and top it! We used traditional sauce, pepperoni, and cheese for the kids. For our pizzas, we drizzled more olive oil and topped with more Herbes de Provence, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, and asiago cheese. Yum!
Close the lid and let it grill for a few more minutes, then enjoy. Thanks, Aubrey!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
"I'm having a great time!" 13 yo S., who helped teach the four-year-olds at Vacation Bible School last week.
"Mom, can you give me the two dollars you owe me for babysitting?" yet another reminder there is a teen in the house.
"Mom, you look lovely!" 3 yo A., upon seeing me in my swimsuit (?!?) It must be the little silver clasp on the top, b/c it certainly wasn't about me...
"I prefer NOT to go fast down this hill and slam on the brakes!" A's comment one day as we were in the car. Never too early to be a backseat driver!
"Aow no" tr. "I don't know" - 2yo (going on 6!) K's newest phrase - learning to plead ignorance when it will benefit her. :)
That's what a fly on the wall at our house would have heard. For more Tiny Talk Tuesday, go visit Not Before 7.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Grace and Peace!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Since I'm worried I'll not remember the cute things he used to say, I thought I would first take a walk down memory lane.
"Gulley, gulley, gulley" 12 mo. old - the sound A. would make, with paci in mouth, when we were tucking him in at night. We all loved the "gulley gulley."
"ka wass, kie" tr. "car wash - cry" At 18 mo. he was deathly afraid of the carwash and would tell perfect strangers how he cried. Who knew that this phobia would become an obsession?
"If you have a valid wash code, please enter wash code." The phrase uttered hundreds of times, at the peak of his car wash obsession, when he would act out the process with his cozy coupe under the swingset. age 2 1/2 - 3.
Now for the recent chatter...
"Hey Mom! God made the birds!...and the sky!...and everything!...and His glory!"
"Mom, when I eat this, it will go down into my stomach." "Yes, A, it will." "And then it will go down to my reflections!" tr. "intestines" A's current obsession is the human body.
"I want to watch 101 Salvations!" tr. "Dalmatians" - he recently saw the classic animated version for the first time and loved it.
Now head over to Not Before 7 to see what other tots have to say.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
So -- I'm very proud of my boy for his mastery in the laundry room, but I think from now on, I'll govern the dryer!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Rule No. 1: Stay home on Mondays. I made this rule about 10 years ago and when I abide by it, my whole week just goes better. Saturday's a work/prep for Sabbath day; Sunday's the Sabbath. A quiet Monday at home allows us to catch up without feeling pressured. It takes some discipline and learning to say, "no," but I will have margin in my week!
Rule No. 2: Rest for 30 min each afternoon. Yeah, right! I have 5 kids and I homeschool! Despite that, if I carve out time to relax and refuel in the afternoon, I am a much nicer person in the evening. Without it, I'm a zombie by dinner and too exhausted to enjoy the sweetest time of the day - when the whole family is together. Even working furiously all day, I still don't get everything accomplished, so why not take a short break that will benefit everyone?
What makes your life tick?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
"Love is an act of endless forgiveness." -- Jan Karon, in the book Light from Heaven
(as quoted from the sign of the Wayside Pulpit, which Father Tim passes along the way)
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
But I enjoy my boys' bedroom. Even though it is not very polished, lacking some finishing touches. But I like what it represents in our family: letting them grow up.
Lastly, my favorite thing in the room: the window treatment. I bought this fabric for next to nothing and fell in love with the bright colors. I bought an eyelet-making kit and made all the orange ties. It was a time-consuming and often frustrating task, but I absolutely love the result! Paired with some cocoa-colored bamboo shades and the window is one of the most "dressed" in my house!