Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Having Fun Being Brave

Since getting my latest dose of inspiration and bravery, things are coming together for my next big project. I love it when all the question marks start turning into light bulbs in my head. :) Looks like I will be ready to rumble along with this project later this week, and that's exciting.

Other than that, I've been marveling at how *big* my "baby" is getting. He's almost four, and is such a big boy! Today he made his own jelly sandwich--something he loves to do. How can my baby be this big?! I'm enjoying that kiddo so much....

I'm not feeling well. Husband had strep a few weeks ago and I am wondering if I have joined Club Strep now. Trying to press on, but thinking of heading to the doctor.

I'm spending my down time thinking through the leftover issues needed to figure out about my project, reading Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and will probably watch a movie today while laying on the couch. I already folded another 7 loads of laundry last night, so this can be guilt-free lay-around time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

If I Were Brave

A few years ago I was introduced to the wonderful music of Jana Stanfield. I love her CDs Brave Faith.

Today I got a newsletter from Jana, and the message was so timely for me. Basically, it reminded me to be brave.

I've been nervously contemplating a business decision. Although it's a great idea, I've had trouble feeling confident about moving forward on it. I get nervous butterflies in my belly every time I think about it, and don't even know why. It's not that big, it's not that daring, and it needs to be done. Yet I was feeling wimpy and unsure. And then here comes Jana into my inbox, reminding me to be brave....

Check out this song by Jana. Her messages are so affirming. (lots more song samples here)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Earning My Good Mommy Badge

Today I did something I don't usually do--I went on a school field trip.

In the several years that I've had my kids in school I haven't attended very many field trips. Most years I had a nursing baby or toddler (or several toddlers) that I would have had to take along, so that never made traipsing around with 40 preschoolers at a pumpkin patch very appealing.

This time my son's class was headed to the children's museum. My initial reaction was not to go. After all, I would get an entire day at home to myself (the field trips take all day, whereas a regular day of preschool is half day), I am behind on my business work, and there is a load of housework needing to be done as well. AND my taxes aren't ready to be done yet, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

But then he came home and said so sweetly, "Would you like to come on my field trip with me, Mom?" and I knew that I had to get my priorities in order. What's the point of running my own business from home if I can't take a day off to spend it with my kiddo?

I didn't love being sandwiched into that bus seat (which does not give a normal sized adult enough space to sit facing forward without having to crunch your knees up by your face) but I enjoyed doing something with him alone, and I was glad to share the experience with him. when I had just one and two children we went to this museum several times a year....this was probably the first time my youngest ever got to go. Ah, the way stages of life change things!

I realized that almost every parent goes on these field trips, and while in the past I figured it was kind of unimportant for one. more. parent. to attend, I realize now that I am not thrilled at the idea of my kids being the only ones without a parent to show up. I don't feel bad about not going in the past--it was really beyond me. But, now it's not, so a field trip chaperone I shall be, I guess. Now if I can only get my new iPod Shuffle working (can't make it play music?! I have no idea what to do about it...) and a good book to read, it will make the rides more bearable.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Got to meet Lisa Samson today!

I had the delightful experience of meeting author Lisa Samson today at my book group meeting.

Lisa is the author of books such as Club Sandwich, Straight Up, and many more. Her novels generally fall into the Christian fiction category, although she has an edgier, more "real" message than any other women's Christian fiction books I've read. She dares to have characters who aren't neatly tied up Christian packages. Instead, they struggle, they deal with temptation and disappointment in their relationships, they don't necessarily like Christian music, they ask hard questions of God, and sometimes they even use non-church-approved language.

Lisa is a really interesting person, with a widely varied background in many respects. One of the things that I'm most interested in about her is that she and her family have moved into downtown Lexington, KY to purposely minister to the homeless, drug-addicted, and needy in that area. Being the hands and feet of Jesus is their mission. Awesome!

She brought along her extremely lovely, intelligent, and wonderful 17-year old daughter, which was a bonus experience as well. You can be on the lookout for this young lady in the next few years--she is going places.

Here are some good resources for getting to know Lisa Samson a little better:

An interview here.
Another interview here.
Another interview here!
A little bit about some of her more recent books.

Thanks to Lisa's generosity, I now have some more books of hers to read when I get a chance. Next on the book list will be:
Quaker Summer
The Living End

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tonite's Agenda

1. Fold 7 loads of laundry while watching a movie.

2. Wait for husband to get home from meeting.

3. Wait for son to get home from Academic Team competition.

4. Keep telling the kids that pop out of bed to get back into bed.

Try not to be jealous. :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Still Shrinking

After my 11 pound weight loss, it went back up 2 lbs., and is now back down and has stayed there. Today I decided to check my measurements and found that I have lost 2 inches on my waist and 1 inch on my hips. So, progress is being made although it doesn't show up on the scale right now.

I've manages to keep working out 3-5 times every week and I think I am almost to the six week mark, so that is good. Today I did my rebounding (mini-trampoline) workout and I plan to keep going with that since it's so good for helping saggy, baggy skin to regain it's elasticity, etc. Ideally I would do the bounce workout every day in addition to the other workouts. But, you know, life is so rarely ideal, I don't know if I can do it. I'll try, though.

Church was canceled today due to snow, so we are just hanging around enjoying another "day off." The kids have no school tomorrow because of President's Day, so more of the same for us Monday.

More Work From Home Resources

Hey peeps,

I found out about these very affordable ebooks about working from home. Since there have been some recent questions about this issue, I thought some of you might appreciate these.
Home Business Idea e-Book for Work at Home Moms
Work at Home Moms e-Book
Affiliate Marketing Success for Work at Home Moms

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hamster Funeral

Well, one of our two resident hamsters was found dead today when my daughter got home from school. This is one of the many things about having pets that I dread. It's so sad when kids get a taste of death-comes-out-of-nowhere-and-kicks-your-butt, even if it is good training for real life.

So, I got the shovel and managed to dig a little hole (good thing the ground isn't frozen here), suggested a respectable burial shroud for our little dead pet (a long piece of floral fabric), and took the kids out into the bitter cold for the burial and quick funeral.

It reminded me of times in the past when we buried hermit crabs ("Goodbye Sparky. You were a great hermit crab..." while my 4 year old son cried quietly.....so sad and funny I had to force myself not to have an inappropriate laughing outburst) and other pets. We now have two deceased hamsters buried under the tree in our front yard. Our very own pet cemetery.

Brain Stretcher: Recommended Read

This is a very interesting post about how this man came to understand and interpret the Bible.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Days and Thinking of Getting More Extreme...

Having a hard time getting to sleep tonite so am spending a little quiet time at the computer. Blog time and thoughts are fewer and farther between these days, but every now and then I have a few things to say.

My kids have had Snow Days off of school for the past two days. We enjoyed playing games and making a special treat on Valentines Day, and today I employed my 10 year old daughter to get a bunch of cleaning and organizing projects done for me that I have not gotten around to. Things like organizing closets and cupboards. She is really good at it, and the whole thing was a bargain and feels so good to have done.

The funniest part of her cleaning was when she cleaned out the bathroom closet and found two unopened 5 gallon buckets from our Y2K stash. We will now have plenty of whole wheat couscous and brown rice. :)

The other day I was watching the final DVD of the Oprah Winfrey 20th Anniversary collection. Since I haven't watched TV at home for probably 10 years, I'm way out of the loop on so many things. Of course I have known about Oprah and watched her show probably for the first 10 years she was on. I do see her magazine, know about the book club, and every now and then hear about some good deed she has done. However, this disc just grabbed ahold of me.

It showed her Christmas project that she did, delivering gifts to children in South Africa. What a powerful, beautiful thing to see the thought and care that went into that effort, and the emotion those children displayed over shoes, jeans, a doll, or a new soccer ball. My husband and I sat there almost spellbound, again hit with the enormity of need in the world, and again looking at each other and asking, "What can WE do?"

I think that people find it easy to ignore what they cannot see. We can be prejudice against people when we don't have personal relationships with anyone in that group. We can ignore suffering, sickness, hunger, and other needs when we are not face-to-face with it.

If that doesn't keep our conscious clear we tell ourselves that the needs of the world are too big to help, so us making any effort at all isn't going to make a difference.

But, you know what? That's a lie.

I believe that if everybody that *could* do something *did* do something, there would be a huge shift for the better in this world.

Yes, we may not be able to do much. No, you can't save everybody on your own. But you can do something.

Just recently my husband and I were talking about feeling an itch to do something radical. We discussed how some people feel led to go to foreign countries as missionaries. Others are equipped with the business know-how to raise lots of money and give it to worthy organizations. Some are charismatic and can effectively communicate needs and motivate people to act. Although we may have some small amount of ability in some of these areas, none are the thing that gets us riled up and ready to act.

When I watched that South Africa Christmas special I was reminded about the one big thing that we always come back to, always cry over, and always want to do something about. Kids in need. Orphans. Children that have been let down by those that should have cherished them. Kids who need to know that they matter to somebody, and that they belong to a family.

I don't know how this will play out, but I have known this for almost as long as I've been married: We want to be a part of the solution.

Our baby will turn four in a couple of weeks, so home life is gradually getting less chaotic and we are more able to reach out to others than we have been for the past.....8 or 9 years. Is now the time to see how we can actively help children in need of a home? How do we reconcile the needs of the children we already have with the potential needs of additional children that have been badly damaged in their lives already? Are we good enough parents? Will we regret getting involved? Can we handle it? Do we have what it takes? Will our children be harmed?

Again, I don't know. I don't know if we're ready. I don't know if we have what it takes. I don't know if this is the right time. I just know that the desire to do this has never subsided, and my husband feels the same way. I feel pretty sure that sometime in the future we will be adding more children to our family through adoption.

In an effort to see how our kids would feel about this prospect we asked their opinion on the idea of adopting some children into our family. Even 6 months ago my oldest child would have (and did) said that there is no way he can imagine us dealing with any more kids. But this time...every single one of them said yes and was enthusiastic about the idea, even after I explained some of the not-fun issues that we might be dealing with because of the rough start these kids have had in life. Of course, some of my kids are too young to really absorb all of the information, but the older ones seemed eager to embrace the idea and seemed to understand the ministry aspect of this. Since we talked to them about it they have asked several times what we are thinking about the adoption idea, and if we are moving forward about it in any way.

I get fired up about this issue every so often, and so far every time we have gotten fired up, once we looked at some of the details we decided that we weren't ready. There is a good chance, considering our track record, that this will happen again for this time. I have to believe, though, that all of the years of discussions and consideration will be a benefit to us, and that when it is time to act we will know it. If you care to join us in praying about whether or not now is the time and this is the project for us, please do. We don't want to make any decisions without God's direction.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another Q&A

At least somebody likes to keep me talking. Here's her question:

Hello there Dollymama! I come seeking your wisdom yet again. How in the world do moms who want to homeschool start up home based businesses? Alas, I am not the most creative of people.

Good question!

I think that homeschooling is a huge, huge undertaking. It requires so much focus, thought, and engagement on the part of the mother (or primary teacher--usually the mother). Even if you do "relaxed" homeschooling, you have to do a lot of mind work.

Having a home-based business can be anything from a minor to a major part of your life, depending on what you're doing and what your goals are. An entrepreneurial pursuit can really take over your life, your house, and your energy. When I had just one child that was 1 or 2 years old I sold Tupperware, with the goal being to earn enough money to be helpful to my family. It was something I worked on most days, most of the day. That whole "just two parties a week" thing is nonsense. You have to work a lot more than that to get and maintain and prepare for two parties.... Now that I've had internet-based businesses for over 2 years I can tell you that it takes more money, time, thought, and energy than I expected. I enjoy it mostly, but it does tend to crowd out other things.

So, although a lot of homeschool families also do home businesses, I think it's a mighty tough combination. Of the homeschool families I know of that also have home businesses, I have heard a wide range of comments about it. The families with young children that need schooling seem to be truly struggling and wondering if it's worth it. The families that seem to be succeeding more and enjoying it more are ones with most of their children in high school or older, and they delegate a lot of their business and homeschooling tasks to older children. The few people I know of that have little ones and succeed in their business seem to be extremely, EXTREMELY organized and principled with the way they spend their time and keep different parts of their life separate.

It seems to take quite awhile to build a successful business. Nobody wants to believe that their entrepreneurial idea is going to not turn a profit for 3-5 years like the stats tell them, but it's usually true. If you need to make money NOW, starting something from scratch probably isn't the way to go for you. If you want to build up to something and have the time without financial pressure, planting some home business seeds and tending to them faithfully will probably work better.

If you start your business at a point in your life when you have things basically under control, that will probably work best. Once you've got your life running smoothly, you can figure out a way to fit in a home based business. As you add children or new responsibilities you can probably find ways to work everything into the mix. One good thing about starting a business when you need the money less is that later on as you grow your business and your home/family/homeschool responsibilities expand, you will probably have the business income to be able to afford to outsource some of your duties. For instance, you can hire assistants to do basic web maintenance, send out newsletters, set up link exchanges, find new products for you to sell, or find new places to sell your product. You can also find people to help you run your business, develop products, and so on. There are a zillion angles to this thing, so once the business is running, your options will expand.

Now that I've rained on your parade, let me tell you some good news. There is a TON of great information on the internet and SO many ways to earn money and use your talents from home. It is very encouraging to me and exciting to keep learning and finding out about other ways to reach people and expand on my ideas.

Figuring out what kind of business to have can be tough. It really helps to figure out something that you really care about and have genuine passion for. Head lice isn't exactly a glamorous subject, but I really, really cared about preventing head lice and knew others would respond to that. Sometimes things just kind of pop into our radar and we care about it so much that we turn it into a business. Others figure out services they can provide from home. I recently learned about some great new ebooks that give tons of information about some very popular home based businesses, including what skills and equipment you need to start, how to price your service or product, how to set up web sites and find customers, and lots more. You can check these out here:

Candy Wrapper Business

Medical Transcription

Mystery Shopper

Transcription Business

There is SO much information on this subject, I have only barely touched the surface here. There are a lot of ways to start and maintain a business, lots of reasons for having one. Ask me some more questions if you have 'em!

11 Pounds Lost!

Yeah! It's been a month of killing off candida yeast, working out, and starving half the time...and I've lost 11 pounds so far. Yay for me!

I really wanted to lose 10 pounds in the first month, so am happy to have passed that goal. I kind of doubt that I'll lose another 11 in the second month, but I'm gonna try. I'd be really happy to lose 9 pounds in month two and make it an even 20. :)

I'm still working on the yeast thing, and my weekly "spit test" came out pretty good. I'm getting to eat about 1 serving of fruit per day and some whole grains (and every now and then I "cheat" and eat a non-whole grain as well), so that helps a whole lot with not getting bored to tears with my diet. I'm glad to see that I can diversify my diet a little and still make progress thanks to the supplement I'm taking.

I am also trying out Hoodia now, to see if it seems to give me any edge on burning fat faster. So far I don't see any better results than I was already having, but I think it might take a week or two to see optimal results so am giving Hoodia a one bottle chance to prove itself to me.

The kids had snow days off from school last Friday and this past Monday, and today got out of school almost 2 hours early. They are hoping for more days off this week....personally I think they are bored being home and need to go on to school. Nevertheless, I went to the video store to stock up on movies just in case we do end up "snowed in" (which is a hoot in KY compared to my upbringing in central NY).