Friday, April 28, 2006


Our church has a really cool approach to keeping parents and kids on the same page with what they're learning. Each month there is a virtue theme and everybody is learning about it, both the younger kids, the older kids, and the entire family when we have our shared time of KidStuf. We also have a monthly subscription to an awesome resource, Family Times, so that we have tools to use at home for family interaction. There are ideas for family devotions or conversations, things you can do through the month to continue to focus on the virtue, and even a very cool Drive Time CD with stuff for both the kids and the parents. (the kid part is sort of like Adventures in Odyssey and the parent part is like a radio talk show, plus there is always an original song that highlights the month's virtue) You can get Family Times even if you don't go to a church like ours.

Anyhoo, this month we are talking about Conviction: Standing up for what's right even if others don't. I love it that we know first-hand what's being taught at church--we were there! And now we can talk about it together.

The other day my daughter had a little story to tell me. Her class has recently started being allowed to have a snack time at school. The kids can bring money to buy something from the vending machines, or they can bring a snack from home. My daughter wanted to buy Gogurt from the vending machines and I told her that we had plenty of snacks at home and I was not going to buy a Gogurt every day. I have her a dollar to use this week, however she could dole it out to herself for snacks, or she could take snacks from home and save the dollar to keep.

Well, one day she used half of her dollar for a Gogurt. The next day her friend had gotten braces on and her teeth were hurting. Her friend had been unable to eat breakfast, lunch, and the crunchy snack that was available to kids that hadn't brought an alternative snack. My daughter decided to buy her friend a Gogurt since that was something soft she could eat.

My daughter's comment: It was the right thing to do.

We were even able to make a list together of virtues she showed by doing this: self-control, friendship, love, thoughtfulness, care, determination, uniqueness, fairness, and more.

I had this initial urge to give her another 50 cents for herself since she had given her money away, but then I realized that if I did that I would be robbing her of the opportunity to experience the full impact of giving and sacrificing for someone else. I didn't say anything about it. But a few minutes after I got all of this settled in my mind, she said to me,

"It felt really good to do that for her."

This is the type of moment that keeps me encouraged that we're on the right track.


My son Izzy Man is in kindergarten and is learning about letter sounds. He is really into it, and it is very fun to observe him making connections. Last night at dinner we were having baby carrots and he said

"C-c-c-carrots. Does that start with a C or a K?"

I love it!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Time: The Great Equalizer

I did have a nice thing happen to me today! As I was dropping off food to our friend from church, our other friend who is also the pastor of our church was there. Right away when I showed up the two guys came out of the house, and our pastor ran right up to our car to talk to my two boys that were along with me. He spent quite a bit of time talking to them while I got the update about the friend that I had brought the meal for. Afterwards the pastor and I talked a bit and he said to me, "Dollymama, I just want to tell you that every one of your children is a delight. Every time I get to interact with one of them I just love it. They are awesome kids."

Everybody likes to get compliments like this, but this one was especially special. Back about 7-8 years ago he and his wife were becoming parents for the first time and they were heavily into the whole Ezzo scene. I was on my third child and wholeheartedly against the Ezzos. There were some awkward years there where I didn't think much of their parenting style and felt really at odds with them.

Obviously, in 7 years we have all grown and changed. They have two kids now, and we respect and appreciate them enough to attend the church they've started. They are great people. It was just really cool to hear him say that, knowing that at one time everything he was buying into about parenting told him that everything I was doing with my kids was all wrong and was going to result in messed up, unpleasant children. I was on the other side of the fence, worried that his kids would be a mess from strict scheduling and being left to cry. Instead, I've got awesome kids and so does he. :) Funny how that works out, isn't it?

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Today was Good Deed Day here in dollymamaville. I found out that a friend is on bedrest for a dangerous pregnancy, and then another friend from my small group is recovering from surgery. So, Dollymama to the rescue with fresh bread and chicken salad all around!

The bedrest friend and I visited for a little while and her 3 year old son played with my 3 and 7 year olds. It's been a rough time for their family and she mentioned a lot of concerns about her son's reaction to what's going on with their family.

Well, folks, I think he's got some bigger issues than she may have suspected. First I was called outside by my 7 year old because he kid was dumping sand on my kids. That's pretty normal behavior for little boys, I thought. But the amount of sand on my three year old was truly impressive.

Later I observed him not only pouring sand on my 3 year old's head, but actually smashing handfuls of sand into his face! That's when I decided it was time for us to get going.

But then.....I stepped outside to see my 7 year old looking distressed.

JAKE: Mom.....I hate to have to tell you this, but......

ME: What?!

JAKE: That little boy peed on me!

ME: He peed on you? By accident? Like on your shoe?

JAKE: No, not on accident. On purpose. Like, on my head, my back, my legs, my front, and my feet.....

ME: oh. my. goodness....

Apparently the little guy had launched a surprise attack and Jake didn't get away in time. So he got to ride in the car for 45 minutes PLUS go to the library in peed on clothes....Poor kid!

I did NOT tell the mom that her child was a Peepee Bandit. I figured she didn't need any more stress. PLUS she was already busy cleaning him up because he had crapped his pants. Pray for her!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Playing Catch Up

So you've suffered through a week of nothing new here. At least the two posts I last wrote were meaty! This one won't be, but I can't bear to leave you with nothing fresh any longer.

Last week I had a huge brainstorm about the ebook idea I've been mulling over. I finally had a great revelation about what to write! So I've been working on that and of course that's been exciting.

I did some house projects such as switching the contents of two closets.

We also watched the Duggar family Discovery chanel specials (all 4 of them!). Someone was kind enough to copy the programs and send them to me on DVD since we don't have TV here. The Duggars live in Arkansas and have 16 children. It was interesting to watch the shows, which featured various aspects of their life and managing so many children, and also the project of building their new home. I was somewhat skeptical about how I would like what I saw, mainly because it's hard for me to imagine parents being able to really do well with so many kiddos. While the shows did convince me that this is a very sweet family and that the parents have done a spectacular job of training their kids, it still looked a lot more institutional than I would like for my own home. For an individualist like myself, the thought of every child having to learn to play violin and piano and not getting to choose an instrument on their own, or having to basically wear a uniform just doesn't sit well with me. I understand that it would be really hard for such a large family to have room for much individuality in some areas, so I'm not faulting them. Just saying that it would not be something I would like. I guess that's why they have 16 and I have 6!

My kids loved watching the Duggars, and afterwards they were filled with the revelation that we don't have any babies here any more! There was a cute discussion at the dinner table about how the kids think that we need another baby since our "baby" is now 3. It was nice to know that they enjoy their siblings and would be happy with another.....but I don't think that's likely to happen any time in the near future. We will have to press onward without baby swings, diapers, breastfeeding, and pregnancy misery for awhile more. I think I can handle that.

Speaking of my "baby," we got the final word last week that he has qualified to attend preschool next year. He is SO thrilled and asks every day if Today is the day he can go to school. Poor kid has to wait til August, which will probably seem like a long time for him.

My kids get out of school in less than a month, which seems like a very short period of time! I will have to mentally gear up for the summer fun that awaits.

We finally got some plants in our garden, so we aren't just looking at weedy patches of dirt any more. Now we have lettuce, spinach, several kinds of tomatoes, red and yellow sweet peppers, and broccoli growing. Yay!

I watched the movie Yours, Mine, and Ours the other day. It's a remake of an oldie-but-a-goodie. It's very cute and fun and I liked it a lot better than Cheaper by the Dozen. It's rated PG and that was nice for a change. I like being able to watch movies with the kids and not worry about what they are going to see and hear.

I also watched Elizabethtown, since that's in Kentucky, you know! I don't like Kirstin Dunst very much, but suffered through it any how. I can't decide if I liked it or hated it. The thing that's keeping me from being sure that I hate it is that there were some very funny surprising moments in this movie, and the one thing I love more than laughing in a movie is being surprised. Seriously, some of the stuff is just. a. hoot. There was a memorial service in the movie that was very close to something that I'd like. A live performance of Freebird is really a pretty cool thing for such an occasion, don't you agree? I told my husband to make a note of it.

Plans for the coming week include more home projects, more ebook work, more laundry, more reading lessons for the 7 year old, more mowing of the grass. Very. Exciting. Stuff. (Don't hold your breath for many fascinating blog posts.....)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Homeschooling Fruit

Those of you that have traveled in Christian circles very long are probably familiar with the concept of "fruit." As in, fruit of the Spirit, or as in when evaluating something as to whether or not it is good or bad, you would look to see what kind of fruit it produces. For the uninitiated, basically, what do you see coming from the thing that you are evaluating?

I have homeschooled my children for nine years, and I believe that home education can be a spectacular educational tool. But as I've said in a recent post, like all tools, it is not the right one for every job. For the job it is right for, it is excellent.

I have to tell you that I am increasingly distressed at the "fruit" that I see coming from the homeschool community in this country. More and more I am reading articles in magazines, catalogs, websites, and blogs that make me cringe. Homeschool advocates seem to be losing perspective.

What am I talking about? It's homeschool enthusiasts boldly proclaiming that any children that are not homeschooled are in a pitiable situation. They say public school students are destined to become "mindless cogs in the wheel of society." I have read articles claiming that public school students today are *all the same* and *lacking in leadership skills.* All of them! Isn't that amazing? (considering that most of the adults in our society have come from public school educations, and we have such a varied population, full of leaders, followers, and everything in between, these claims seem ridiculous to me)

In contrast, I have also seen claims that homeschooled children become *free thinkers* and *leaders* and are of course more obedient than other children and go on to do what their parents think they should in their life. (Indeed, most of these same people don't want their children to be free thinkers at all. They want them to grow up to think like their parents.)

Uh huh.

(A funny--a year or so ago a woman at the church we were then attending found out that we had homeschooled our older kids. Her comment: "Really?! I never would have guessed that. Your kids aren't backwards or anything!" As I asked her what she meant about this comment it came out that all the homeschooled kids she had ever known seemed weird, awkward, socially inept, and nerdy. She had been hesitant to consider homeschooling her own child partially because of this. She thought that homeschooling kind of ruined kids....)

My main thought about these kinds of claims is that these people have obviously never met very many children that are not homeschooled, nor many kids that are homeschooled (there are all kinds!), that their own children must be very young, and that they are destined to get their rear kicked in a couple of years when reality strikes and they find out that homeschooling is not the be-all and end-all of familial bliss.

Sadder than all of these nonsense claims is the attitude that commonly goes along with it. Today it is more common than not that pro-homeschooling articles I read are


Frankly, this is not the fruit of a movement that is good for society, good for children, or borne of God's will. This is garbage. This is sin.

Of the young adults that are homeschool graduates there often seem to be two extremes that I have noticed. The ones that have followed their parents closely are also prideful and haughty, and even stupider since they have so little life experience to back up the things they say. The others have turned their back on their upbringing, only admit to being homeschooled as if it is a joke, and do not subscribe to their parent's values at all.

In all fairness, I do know some homeschool families with very fine young adult children that were homeschooled. Their children are well-adjusted, fun loving, interesting, and humble. The common thread I see in these families is that none of the parents has been on a hobby horse proclaiming to all the world that homeschooling is the only way, and that everything they were doing was because it was Biblically superior in every way. Nope. They were more of the, "Homeschooling is the tool that fits the job I have to do in helping this kid get from childhood to adulthood." And then they kept at it faithfully, knowing that it's only by God's grace and mercy that any of us accomplish anything.

If I was new to the concept of homeschooling and I took a look at most of the catalogs, web sites, magazines, and conference speakers that are so popular in today's homeschooling circles, I would have serious doubts about wanting to get involved. A haughty attitude that makes nonsensical claims and vilifies those that do not follow their ways is not a place I want to be.

Homeschooling is good enough without the lies, the exaggerations, the pride and meanspiritedness. If it is working for you--great! That doesn't mean you have to be a jerk about it.

My hope is that homeschool advocates will take a long, hard look at their attitudes, and then do the necessary work to get those attitudes corrected. Because right now, a lot of the fruit is rotten.

What is church for?

Last night at small group we had a discussion about God wanting our heart rather than for us to just "go through the motions" of a religious life. Within that discussion the question was asked: What do you think church is supposed to be for?

This is a question I have asked myself on and off for many years, since my husband and I have never been willing to just pick any old church and attend "because we're supposed to."

In the course of the conversation I felt like my thoughts on this came together better than they had before. I think that people get extremely caught up in HOW church should be. Should it be like the early church fathers? Should it be with hymns and people wearing dress-up clothing? Should it be very subdued? Should it be ecstatic? Should it be uproarious in it's praise? Should miracles happen there? Should we be able to wear jeans? Should there be a youth group? On and on the questions arise on the HOWs of it all.

I think that when we get fixated on the HOW we miss the bigger point. I do not believe that there is one right way that church should look. I do not believe that God's intention was for everything to be the same in every time, in every place, for every people.

I believe that church is supposed to be a catalyst in our spiritual life. The worship, the teaching, the fellowship, and the community are all important parts of this. What is a catalyst in my life today may not be a catalyst for you. The church setting that inspires you and helps you to spend more time in prayer and meditation, that helps you grow in your spiritual walk is the one you should be in. But that is never going to be the same thing for all people. It probably won't even be the same thing for you your whole life through.

Friday, April 14, 2006

My Kid Has X-Ray Vision

Earlier today my husband was brushing his teeth and I walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind me so that we could have a short smooch session. A few minutes after shuttting the door there is a knock.

Husband: What?!

Squiggy: Mom, are you in there?

Me: Yes.

Squiggy: Are you gonna come out?

Me: Yes.

Squiggy: Are you gonna come out in a minute?

Me: Yes.


Squiggy: Are you kissin' Dad?

Good Things

My daughter won a county-wide coloring contest. She got a big basket of goodies from a local business. She is very artistic so this was a great encouragement to her.

Some awesome news on Sooz and her little baby boy: yesterday I found out that after over four months of dedicated pumping-around-the-clock, bottles, and working dilligently to help him nurse, Sooz is exclusively breastfeeding her little guy! It's been a week now and things are going great. Isn't that fantastic? I am so proud of her. It is really hard to do all the stuff she has done. Way to go, Sooz!

My husband took the four youngest boys out this morning for some shopping and such. Even though my birthday isn't until tomorrow, we celebrated tonite. They bought me an Alex DeGrassi CD, which I love. Alex is one of my VERY favorite musicians. I am always thrilled to add another one of his works to my collection.

I made a healthy raw sort of chocolate pie for my birthday and it actually turned out good!

My mom took my birthday wish seriously and donated to Zoe. Thanks Mom! It's just what I wanted!!

It was so warm here today that my kids decided to run through the sprinkler outside. I grew up in the northeast where sprinkler weather doesn't come around until mid June or later. It seems amazing to me that they could do that on April 14. So fun!

All I Want For My Birthday....(which is tomorrow!)

Would you consider making a donation to Zoe International? They take paypal. There are children on their waiting list right now that you could save by your gift! Can you imagine the impact you can make by saving a child from the evils of human trafficking?! You'd be amazed at how far even small amounts of money can go in foreign countries. (Big amounts go farther! :) )

Salsa and an Awesome Food Processor

Hey everyone!

I have finally posted about my mighty salsa over at Raw Foods For Real People. This is the recipe that has allowed me to give up fattening salad dressings forever. It is easy and delicious, and especially great for summer.

I also wrote about my fabulous new food processor. Go check it out!

Blogging for Bucks!

Hey all,

Check out my lensGuess what I learned about today? A cool new site where you can host themed blogs about your interests and expertise, and make some money while doing it! I poked around there today and decided to set up a spot there for my healthy eating ramblings. It's called Raw Food For Real People. You can check it out and add it to your blogrolls here. Right now it's all repeat info from what you've already seen here, but eventually it'll be all my new stuff too. One thing I love about it is that I can add links to the resources that I mention, including pictures and pricing. Very fun and cool! (Now we shall see if I actually make more than $1.50 on the venture...) They are wanting to expand with blogs (they call them "lenses") of all types. So, if you know something, why not share it? Go start your own lens today! They have ones for everything from children's projects on up. Don't be shy!

Cemetery Outing

Since not all of you thought I was completely odd to admit to liking cemeteries, I decided to share a few photos from our outing from last week. I really enjoy looking at the various types of stones and the art and messages on them.

There are always lots of stones with military information on them. Many in our cemetery are from World War I. Posted by Picasa

Here's something I found really interesting: Parents of Tommy. Makes me wonder why they chose to identify themselves this way. Posted by Picasa

I love the art on this head stone. A lot of grave stones have Bible verses on them, and I see many of the same verses used again and again. I find it interesting to see the non-religious choices that go onto some stones. This one I particularly liked:

"Yet tho they smile be lost to sight to memory thou art dear." Posted by Picasa

These are the stones that always get to me. Little Larry Lemay only lived for 7 months. "A little time on earth he spent till God for him His angels sent." My heart always aches for the parents.... Posted by Picasa

I saw this stone while driving out of the cemetery and was so struck by it that I had to stop and get a photo. The awesome wording on this side says:

The true gentleman is the man
whose conduct proceeds from
good will and an acute sense of propriety
and whose self control is equal to all emergencies;
who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty,
the obscure man of his obscurity,
or any man of his inferiority or deformity;
who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another;
who does not flatter wealth,
cringe before power,
or boast of his own possessions or achievments,
who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy;
whose deed follows his word,
who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own
and who appears well in any company;
a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

Here are the three littlest boys trying to feed the ducks and geese (whom were all scared away from us), two of my other children in the back are riding their bikes.

Sometimes when we go to the cemetery I wonder if it is in any way seen as bad manners to go there to feed ducks, enjoy sunshine, and have children playing and riding their bikes. I have decided that as long as my children understand how to behave if people are there visiting a grave, and do not play on top of burial sites or cruise their bikes between the headstones, that it's ok. To me, it is a great testimony of life to have the dead and the very alive side by side. I don't want to be buried when I die, but if I did, I think it would be nice to be someplace beautiful, where people came by choice rather than obligation, where children would laugh and play and mothers could relax....Posted by Picasa

Did you ever wonder how it would work out if you stuck a long strand of gum across both of your eyebrows, along the side of your head, and wound around your ears? Izzy Man did, and I can tell you that it wasn't a fun process to get it off...... Gum chewers beware. (interestingly, this was our second gum incident of the week. One night Doodles had snuck gum into his bed, and when he woke up he had gum stuck all over his lower back, his underwear and pants and shirt, arms, face, head.......... Have we learned our lesson yet?!) Posted by Picasa

A trip to Daddy's firestation! My kids have been sitting in fire trucks for their entire lives, but they still love it. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hello Again

Fear not, I have not left you forever. I just haven't had anything worth telling. The kids were on spring break last week so I just did all the at-home-hanging-out-with-kids sorts of things. I felt down all week about my weight gain revelation and had several moments of "Who cares! I gained 5 pounds eating healthy! I'm going to eat whatever I want!" which goes to show that I should never, ever weight myself because at 6 feet tall, the news never looks good. I was feeling fine and healthy up until that point. Now I feel sad and fat and tired. How pathetic.

I could write you a thrilling post about making salsa or healthy cookies, but my heart's just not in it this week. I'm sure you can manage your excitement and wait until another day. I'm tired and wiped out and getting ready for my husband's parents to come visit us for a few days this week. Cooking and cleaning prevail.

Some new links in the blogroll: Poop and Boogies is a pretty fun daddy blog, and Zoe Children's Homes is now convenient for you to go check out again and again. They need your support! My birthday is coming up on Saturday. Maybe you would like to make a donation to Zoe in lieu of the fabulous gift you wanted to send me! They take paypal, among all the other usual methods. Zoe is heavy on my heart these days, knowing the horrible danger so many children are in, and how much they can benefit when we choose to give even a little bit in order to help. Please consider making at least a one-time donation this week.

That's all for tonite.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Busy Week!

We've had a very busy week here in Dollymamaville. My daughter had her 10th birthday party last week. We had 10 girls here and it was a very girly good time. We had an egg hunt (eggs contained tiny bottles of nail polish, hair accessories, and candy), played some games, and enjoyed our zip line. Posted by Picasa

Rather than a cake, my daughter had her favorite treat: Peanut Butter Pie! Yum! Posted by Picasa

We celebrated Izzy Man's 6th birthday the following day. Posted by Picasa

For a fun birthday activity we made Floam from a kit. My mom bought it for the kids for Christmas and we finally got around to using it. Floam has tiny styrofoam beads in it, which were soon flying around our house. The Floam-making was a little bit crazy, but determination prevailed and we got the job done. Once completed I could only wonder what on earth the purpose of floam is. I still haven't figured it out. But we had fun making it! (now we have 4 bags of floam in our fridge...) Posted by Picasa

Doodles with his floam. Posted by Picasa

To celebrate my daughter's 10th birthday we went on a little mother-daughter getaway to a hotel. We had a really nice suite, and we spent our time eating out, swimming in the hotel pool, shopping, and enjoying being together. Here she is hanging out in our room. Posted by Picasa

Our hotel featured really wonderful, cozy bedding that we loved! Posted by Picasa

We even had a jacuzzi! Posted by Picasa

We learned how to make beaded jewelry while we were there. This bead design board is really helpful for laying out the necklace designs and sorting the various beads. Posted by Picasa

Now it's Spring Break all week. We have exciting plans such as Washing All The Bedding So That They Are Spring-Time Fresh! and Cleaning The House Because The Grandparents Are Coming To Visit Next Week! In order to actually try to be a fun mother I am also taking the kids to a nearby cemetery where there is a pond so that we can ride bikes and see the ducks and geese and feed them our bread scraps that have been taking up space in my freezer.

(Hey-you KNOW I'm a fun mother when I take my kids to play at a CEMETERY! My oldest won't even go--he's totally creeped out by the place. I actually love it there. It's a lovely cemetery with a lot of history. There are quite a lot of graves from the 1800s. I think it's really interesting to see the dates and things that people had written on the headstones and even the headstone designs that were popular at different times in history.)

Lemonade--Healthy Style!

So, despite my woeful weight gain, I'm continuing on with my quest for health. I will not weigh myself for another month, and if I don't have a weight loss then, I am going to feel very, very concerned.

For now I would like to tell you about a discovery I made. Fairly recently I heard about the benefits of drinking water with freshly squeezed lemon juice in it. It's good for your liver, and it's good for helping your body's pH level to lean more toward alkaline, which in turn helps to promote good health.

So I started out with lemon in water and not surprisingly, it was sour. I didn't enjoy it, but was able to drink a lot of my water that way throughout the day.

Then I read an article that reminded me of stevia. Stevia is an herbal supplement that sweetens foods without calories and has a zero on the glycemic index. I bought some the other day and decided to see what I could do with it. I ended up discovering a healthy lemonade that my enitre family loves!

All I do is use a citrus juicer (just a hand-twist model--$2 at the store) to squeeze the juice from two fresh lemons, add enough water to mostly fill a two-quart pitcher, then add two droppers of the liquid stevia. Yum! The kids are wild for it and are very excited to have a tasty treat. They normally only get juice in the morning and water for the rest of the day. Now I am letting them drink healthy lemonade all day long and they feel like they are really getting something fun. :)

This morning I experimented with using this lemonade in my smoothie, instead of juice. It worked just fine, and now my smoothies are all-raw, and lower calorie.

Stevia is a better alternative to other sugar substitutes. So many of those are truly bad for your body, plus taste disgusting. Stevia is actually good for you. Although I wouldn't say stevia tastes exactly like sugar, my husband and kids and I felt like it was close enough that we could enjoy it and not feel like we were getting some yukko aspartame or splenda taste to suffer through. My husband tried out stevia in his coffee and thought it was excellent that way too.

The liquid stevia cost $11 for a 2 ounce bottle. Although that seems kind of expensive, it seems that it is going to pay for itself. I normally spend about $15-18 for two weeks of juice here. I would be very happy to reduce or eliminate the juice consumption and offer healthy lemonade (or limeade! limes are fun too!) instead. Lemons fluctuate in price, but if you get the ones in the bags they aren't very expensive. Considering the health benefits, even if it turned out to be a little more expensive than juice, it would be well worth it to me to make that change in our diets. I am going to keep track and see how far my $11 bottle of stevia goes, plus see if I can find it anywhere for less money.

I love it when I find painless ways to improve our diets!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

And Now You Can All Point And Laugh At Me

because thanks to all of my faithful rebounding and salad eating and eshewing sugar.....tonite I discovered that I have GAINED 5 pounds in 5 weeks.

That's gotta be some kind of record.