As you already know, I've been up to my eyeballs in snot and sneezing and kids and stuff all week. (and that's only the stuff I've actually TOLD you about!) Today I was feeling a little bit better so was trying to get caught up on homeschool, business, and emails. And around 4:30pm I noticed a paper on my desk. What paper, you ask? Oh.....only the paper telling me that I was summoned for Jury Duty TODAY at 9am!
As soon as the notice came several weeks ago I filled out the return form, plus typed up my own explanation of why I was requesting to be excused. I sent it out the next day. (honest. seriously, for sure. I put it in the mailbox myself.)
And then I never heard from them.
And last week I started thinking about that, so decided I better call to make sure that I was excused, so called the "Jury Call In" phone number MANY times, only to get busy signals or endless ringing. So, of course, I knew I would need to call later.
And of course, being human, and continually getting put off by their non-working phone line, it didn't get done. And I haven't even been aware of what day it is. But when I saw that paper I checked the date, and OF COURSE, here I am, having not showed up for my civic duty.
And right at the top of the paper it clearly states that if you fail to show up for jury duty they can fine or JAIL me.
So....that's kind of uncomfortable. The logical part of me knows that no sane person is going to come and arrest me. The paranoid part of me is thinking of what wild news coverage the story would get if a homeschooling mother of six was arrested for forgetting to appear for jury duty. On the one hand, it would suck. On the other hand....it could be AWESOME publicity for my businesses! And maybe I would learn something wonderful and important about jails that would open up a whole new arena of opportunity for me! (can I put a silver lining on a cloud or WHAT?!)
So, you know, I'm indulging in playing out a few scenarios in my mind, while I keep glancing out the window toward the driveway, looking for flashing lights.....
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
As you already know, I've been up to my eyeballs in snot and sneezing and kids and stuff all week. (and that's only the stuff I've actually TOLD you about!) Today I was feeling a little bit better so was trying to get caught up on homeschool, business, and emails. And around 4:30pm I noticed a paper on my desk. What paper, you ask? Oh.....only the paper telling me that I was summoned for Jury Duty TODAY at 9am!
This morning was a huge success for getting my elementary school kiddos up. When I went in to wake them I just said, "Good morning! Time to get up. And today you will get a prize if you get up like a good boy!" and then I walked away.
They both made it out of their rooms, to the bathroom, got their stuff together, and I didn't have one second of trouble out of either of them. Awesome!
They were both delighted with the teeny-weeny Hershey bars that they stuck in their pockets to enjoy with their lunch. What a bargain!
I always love it when I can find conflict-free ways to get my kids on the straight-and-narrow. It's not that I fear conflict or am afraid to discipline them. It's just that there are certain things that I think should not have conflict attached to them. To me, bedtime, getting your day started, and meal times should all be nurturing and peaceful. I want those memories to be good ones for my kids, so I do what I can to set those times up to be as positive as realistically possible. Obviously it isn't always realistic to avoid conflict, but with creative thinking and advance planning it can go fairly well.
(I enjoy receiving daily emails from Wild at Heart Ministries. You can go here if you want to sign up to get them too. I thought this one was very much worth sharing today.)
Your sin has been dealt with. Your Father has removed it from you “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). Your sins have been washed away (1 Cor. 6:11). When God looks at you he does not see your sin. He has not one condemning thought toward you (Rom. 8:1). But that’s not all. You have a new heart. That’s the promise of the new covenant: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezek. 36:26 –27). There’s a reason that it’s called good news.
Too many Christians today are living back in the old covenant. They’ve had Jeremiah 17:9 drilled into them and they walk around believing my heart is deceitfully wicked. Not anymore it’s not. Read the rest of the book. In Jeremiah 31:33, God announces the cure for all that: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” I will give you a new heart. That’s why Paul says in Romans 2:29, “No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit.” Sin is not the deepest thing about you. You have a new heart. Did you hear me? Your heart is good.
What God sees when he sees you is the real you, the true you, the man he had in mind when he made you.
(Wild at Heart , 133–34)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Just as I had to go kamikaze with incentive prizes to get my kids potty trained, I have decided to do the same for both going to bed, staying in bed, and getting up in the morning.
SO....I went to the store and came home with some little prizes like bouncy balls, rubber lizards, Whoopee cushions, etc. (OK, fine. By etc. I actually mean CANDY. OK. There. I admit it.)
The deal is that they have to get into bed by their bedtime. (I help them get ready plenty of time in advance) If they are in their bed they can have one of the toy or book prizes. (no candy--I do have some standards) BUT if they get out of bed for any reason other than having to go to the bathroom, I will take that prize away.
In the morning, for people that get up and cooperate and are ready to go when the bus pulls up, they can choose a prize (even candy for their lunch boxes).
I happened to have a pack of about 6 books in hand (in hiding) that I had gotten on some great bargain, so tonite I just gave each little boy a book. They were thrilled, and it gave them something to look at while they were winding down. They seemed to understand the deal that they can only keep their prize IF they stay in bed. Of course, they always have to throw their big toes over the line to see if I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaly mean it. So, now two of them know I do, because their books are back in the prize box. :)
Wish me luck! (I'm hoping that the candy will work wonders for my morning troubles. And thankfully, it'll only take a couple weeks of this to get them trained in the right direction, and then the prizes will fade out.)
Remind me now....which medicine is it that you're supposed to take for "sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so-you-can-rest"? I need some.
I've been feeling this illness creeping up on me for a couple days. My first thought was that maybe it was allergies, so I took a sample Zyrtec and felt better. The next day I took another one and sort of felt better. And the third day it didn't help a bit. The fourth day I took a Claritin, which also didn't help a bit. and last night I took a sudafed, which also didn't help.
It was one of those nights where, if you want to sleep on your side, you need a small towel to catch the drip-drip-dripping of your nose. I might have been able to deal with that, if I hadn't started sneezing and sneezing and sneezing some more!
Eventually I realized that if I slept on my back on a fluffier pillow than usual, the snot stayed in my head (where it belongs?!) and I was able to sleep, even though this is not my preferred sleeping position.
This morning I woke up dark-and-early to get my two elementary school kiddos up. Izzy man has really been giving me a run for my money in the mornings lately. He doesn't want to get up, and is really, really causing my mornings to be very frustrating. I'm almost always doing the morning shift alone, so it's not like I can get my husband to put a spring in his step. Since I have at least one other child waking up at the same time, I don't really have the luxury of focusing on one reluctant riser.
So, we had a pretty ugly scene in his room this morning, and eventually I told him to just stay in his room. (Which of course then he didn't want to do. Too bad.) I do not want to spend my mornings fighting with my children.
For the last couple of years they really loved to go to school and would bounce out of bed every day. This year neither of them seems happy. There are probably at least a couple homeschoolers reading this right now, thinking that I should be homeschooling these kiddos. I've considered that, but really feel that everyone's best interests will be served by the arrangement we have in place for this school year.
So, what do you suppose is a good way for me to help this child turn his behavior around so that he can wake up like a civilized person? He has no trouble being an early riser on Saturdays or Sundays, and he goes to bed early enough to get plenty of rest, so I don't think he's too tired to get up.
So, what's on my agenda for today? Figuring out what to do about my wayward first grader :), keeping an eye on our lame chicken, trying to figure out what I can take or do to help myself feel better, try to get through a full day's schedule of homeschooling, hopefully get a nap. Try not to be jealous, gals.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
This has been a tiring week in many ways. (physically, emotionally, health-wise, relationally, etc.) By 8:54pm on a Friday night I am just. plum. tired. We've just finished our third week of school and the kids still aren't back to their previously easy bedtime routine. (that's what a summer of loosey-goosey will get you!) I can see that starting Sunday night I'll have to get one of the books off of my To Read pile and park my butt in a chair in the hallway outside their bedroom door. Then I can pop them right back into their beds consistently, night after night, until they're back on track. I'll probably get in an hour of good reading time every school night for a week with this method. (and I'm so far behind on my books, that this will work out good for me!)
Days like today make me long for Daylight Savings Time. Once it's dark earlier, it's loads easier to get everyone on the straight-and-narrow for bedtime.
For now, I'll have to settle for the belief that if I have to do so much of this job of parenting alone, the very least I could do for myself is to make myself "Off Duty" come about 8 or 8:30 every night. Obviously, I'll still be here, so I'll not truly be off duty, but at least if I knew that once the magical hour appeared, I'd be able to have some peace and quiet, that would make things easier. Surely easier than this whack-a-mole process I go through for an hour or two every night since school began.
So, I'll be spending my spare brain space trying to psyche myself up for getting the kids back on the straight and narrow. For tonite, they're now all in bed ( knock on wood)(not counting the teenager) and I'm going to watch one of these Netflix movies that has been waiting for my attention for a week or more. I don't even know what it's about or why I added it to my queue.....
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish and of having ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It is never between you and them anyway.
(Harvard Student Agencies, 1968)
(Thanks to Lisa Samson, for posting this on her blog. That's where I found this.)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It seems that no matter how fried my brain feels, I still manage to come up with compelling new ideas that I explore in my thinking time.
This morning's bright idea is that it would be fun to get together a book group with people from my church. Now that our oldest is in marching band it will be difficult for us to be members of a small group meeting on Friday or Sat. nights. But a book group could meet monthly at some other time.
Books I'd like to read and discuss include:
Lisa' Samson's Justice in the Burbs
Blue Like Jazz
Unto the Least of These (about the church's role in caring for widows and orphans)
If you were going to engage in a somewhat intellectual (she wishes!) conversation about spiritual issues, what books would you add to this list?
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
you simply MUST go see this ebay auction. hurry!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
This post about homeschooling and creating the family culture you want was wonderful. I am looking forward to checking out this blog some more.
I think today is the first time i've ever heard about Ambleside Online. Looks like a promising curriculum choice for those wanting a Charlotte Mason-type education, but not wanting to spend a bundle. (I shall now admit that I have never once made my way through a single book by Charlotte Mason. I could never get into it. Though apparently I do have an actual appreciate for the style of education she recommended.)
My homeschooled third grader is both cursed and blessed to have a mind sort of like his mother's. The poor kid has so many ideas, and he gets pretty obsessed with them. In just the last two weeks he has been obsessed about
building his own hoovercraft ("..and I could hook up the vacuum cleaner and this fan to this board.....")
earning money (one business idea of his included collecting cast-off computer discs, and then trying to sell them....ugh)
spending money (on candy, on costumes, on an electric guitar, on a bass guitar, and today...on a pond. Why a pond? Because of his newest obsession...)
Getting an otter for a pet! I told him that you can't just walk into a pet store and get yourself a baby otter, and that without a pond or river here, we wouldn't be a very good family for it. "So...how much would it cost for us to build a pond???" "If I saved up the money for it, could we build a pond? and then get an otter??"
So....we found a show that you can watch online about some people that are taking care of a baby otter. Just in case someone at your house wants to have a pet otter, check this out!
I'm continuing to enjoy reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Today I came across this delightful quote (from Alice in Wonderland) in it:
"There's no use trying," Alice said. "One can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "when I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
That's my kind of quote! Seems that I need to put it on the wall somewhere around here....
Finding a workable schedule for homeschool, homemaking, kids needs, business, etc. is a little tricky. As is usually the case, when I see a situation that isn't really working out, I come up with a new-and-improved plan in my mind. I had a great new plan ready to go for yesterday when Junior Asparagus went back to preschool. Ha! We didn't like it. We like to get our stuff done in the morning and have it behind us. So, back to the drawing board!
The good news is that today we have done all of our reading, discussion questions, etc. before it was even time to get our little buddy on his way to school. Once he's on the bus, we'll be finishing up all of our seat work in one burst. (math, spelling, timed test, language arts, etc.)
On my list of hopes for today:
Getting our Rosetta Stone Spanish program set up on the laptop so we can start using it!
Reading through our upcoming science lab book to prepare
Decluttering (I didn't get to stay on that kick as long as I wanted to, but I'm still working on it slowly)
Figuring out some solutions to a few business issues I've been struggling with.
Four hours til I head out to pick kiddos up from school. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!
Happy news: My husband has been working twice as much as usual lately, and although I am doing fine keeping things running without him, I do miss him. He was home with us yesterday and we had a very good time getting to be together. It was refreshing to have him around.
Monday, August 20, 2007
My four year old is back to preschool now, so homeschool here is now officially in full swing. Today the kids are dissecting owl pellets. It's very interesting, and something they enjoyed so much a few years ago that they asked to be able to do it again. So, we now have pieces of regurgitated fur, bones, and rodent skulls on the kitchen table. (On paper--not the table surface!) (Click here if you want to learn more about owl pellets)
Also, rice and lentils are on the stove top in order to make two different vegetarian meals today.
AND!! I even made veggie juice today! Organic carrots, celery, and beets! Ah! So healthy. :) And the chickens are appreciating the scraps.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I was thinking about my post about toys and decided to share a little more about what toys we've found to be worthwhile for our kids. In no particular order, here you go:
Legos. Fun, interesting, educational. Boys or girls, when they're old enough to not try to eat them, start buying them.
Lincoln Logs. You can get a good deal on these classics here.
Wooden Train. Again, boys and girls both will love these. Brio ones are highly recommended. They are nicer and don't break as easily as some of the others. However, we got our kids a very large wooden train set from Mellissa and Doug last year and they have enjoyed it. Yes, some of the pieces have broken, but we have so many now that we would rather save the money on the original purchase than worry about keeping every single item safe and sound.
Wooden Blocks. Plain or colors, it doesn't matter. We have both. Lots of good, fun play with these. And of course you can use all your blocks, trains, and lincoln logs together to make great towns for your trains to drive through. :)
Dress Up Clothes. Imaginative play is so fun and good for kids. You can start a little collection in a large Rubbermaid container or laundry basket. Add stuff that you're about to part with in the Goodwill bag, like jewelry, hats, scarves, old tote bags or purses, etc. At yard sales you can often find groovy suit coats, silky dresses or shirts, shoes, etc. Many thrift stores have bag sales where you can pack a zillion things into a bag and just pay $1. That's your day to go and get lots of fun things for dress up, plus if you or your children like to cut things up and sew their own costumes, this is a great way to get cool fabric. Once my daughter and I stopped at a local thrift store on a whim. We walked in and found out it was bag day, and that we only had 15 minutes before they were closing. Ha! The bags they were handing out were huge black garbage bags! We took one and just went crazy going through the hangers, tossing in anything that looked like it would provide good material, trim, or buttons for doll clothes, costumes, and other projects. We paid our dollar and giggled all the way home. Later after we had more time to sort through our finds, we did return some of those items to the thrift store in the form of a donation, and kept what things we could use. My kids love to use the sewing machine, plus they hand sew pretty well. They make lots of fun things. (You can make many costumes out of pillow cases, so grab those when you see them at yard sales too!)
My one complaint about dress up clothes is that they make a mess. Kids will change into and out of costumes all day long, so you can end up with items from the dress up box all over the house. Every now and then I confiscate the entire box and hide it for awhile to give the house and my sanity a break.
Play Kitchen. When my kids were younger they loved having a play kitchen, little plates and cups, play foods, shopping carts, etc. Those were a lot of fun and I highly recommend them. It's kind of sad that my kids are too old to appreciate those now. :)
As we've had more children, we realized that getting more and more toys for gifts and Christmas would end up with a mountain of toys in our house. So now we are very strategic about what we ask for. This year the five younger children agreed to ask their grandparents for a group gift of money for a new swingset. That works out good for the gift givers and the giftees, and there's no clutter from a gift like that!
We have received a lot of outdoor fun items over the years, such as our Easy Set Pool, sandbox, wagons, Big Wheels, bikes, etc. All of those keep the kids happy and playing, but don't add anything to the house.
Not that our house is perfect in this regard, but a long time ago we realized that the kids rooms got way too messy if they kept their toys in their rooms. We have some cabinets where all of our blocks, puzzles, games, and art supplies go. There are very few items that the kids keep in their own rooms. It helps keep things a little more under control. (This is the same reason why our kids don't keep their clothes in their bedrooms. We have all of their clothes in our laundry room.)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Kat asked in a recent comment how I feel about toy safety now that there have been recent recalls. Since my kids are all past the age of putting toys in their mouths, I don't worry about it. But I will tell you about my favorite toys even from when they were small.
You can get some absolutely beautiful wooden toys that are made in the USA and are created with safe, natural, non-toxic materials! The longer I have been a mom, the more I have realized how few toys children need or enjoy. More is not better when it comes to toys. Less is more!
When I was a first-time mom we got a lot of hand-me-downs, and I kept just about everything because I didn't really know how many things to have, etc. Eventually we had loads and loads of odds and ends toys and books, and most of it got dumped out and strewn around the house daily. The little joke my husband and I had was that our kids were destined to be extremely agile, because of the messy array of toy items that covered our floors.
Eventually I figured out what we did and didn't like as far as toys go. I realized that although people may be tempted to buy 4 or 5 cheap plastic toys from Walmart for $25 to give a child for Christmas or a birthday, we much preferred to get one beautiful and well-made wooden toy for the same price. Eventually I reduced our toy collection way, way down, and had mostly toys that the kids really liked, and that we felt were really worth playing with.
It takes some time to figure out what you want. And with fifty bazillion toy options available, and your tiny tot being so new, you have no idea what she's going to like. I think it's very normal to have to take some time to find your groove with toys.
I highly recommend Melissa and Doug brand toys. I hope to have many of their items available for sale in time for Christmas. We love every Melissa and Doug item we've ever bought, and that's been the case for over 12 years.
Long ago I used to get the Natural Baby Catalog. It's since been sold to a bigger corporation (it had started out as a small, family-run business, which I liked) and so a lot of the genuine enthusiasm for the products has been lost. Still,you can see some natural toys from them here.
I remember once going to a La Leche League play group at a member's home. She had a one year old, and they had this long, low shelf of beautiful wooden toys, arranged in a way that would make it very easy for a young child to see what was available and choose something. The contrast between that beautiful display, and my many, many baskets of cluttery toys, was quite inspirational to me. While I never did have anything quite so perfect as that gal did, by the time I had my 4th-6th babies, I was really happy with what we had. Several of the items are so lovely still that I use them for Christmas ornaments, or save them for someday when I have little visitors in the house, or eventually grandchildren (!!). :)
Here's a funny story about natural toys, though. When my first child was about 3 or 4 I started reading books like Rahima Baldwin's "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" and from there read other books about Waldorf educational philosophy. From there I got a bunch of catalogs (because way back then the internet was so new that most people didn't have it, so there were only catalogs in the mail to show off wares) and fell in love with Brio wooden trains, Stockmar wax block crayons (We actually still have some of those floating around the house!), and Waldorf dolls.
I got this brilliant idea that I wanted my little girl to have one of these Waldorf dolls for her second Christmas. I was all enraptured with the idea of these simple, classic dolls and their organic cotton insides and outsides. I choose a doll that you could have custom made with the hair color and style and eye color of your choice. Of course, I got one that looked (as much as a Waldorf doll can) like my daughter. The thing was something like a hefty $80, and I ordered it in early December from a small, family-run business.
Well, I guess that family got really, really overwhelmed with orders for Christmas, because we not only didn't get the doll in time for Christmas, but I think it came around the third or fourth week of January.
So the doll arrives, I open up the box and show my little 21 month old daughter her new toy. She takes a look at the doll, holds it for a minute. And then she notices something.
Not only was the dolly all natural, but she had this "natural" kind of yucky smell.
And that's when the doll got her nickname.
She dropped that doll and went on with her life. I kept that stinky dolly for quite a few years, thinking that the weird smell might wear off, or that my daughter my gradually appreciate it in all of it's Waldorfian all-natural splendor. But she never did. (too bad there was no ebay in those days!)
Eventually I gave it to a friend that was newly enraptured with Waldorf dolls. I don't know if they ended up liking it or not.
What doll did my daughter like best? The one my mom gave her, that had a plastic head, hands, and feet, and a cloth body. My daughter tattooed the doll on the face, hands, head, and feet with her first initial. In pen. I guess just to make sure everybody knew whose doll that was.
And she carried that doll around for years, named her Kindia (very exotic, no?), and loved her well.
So, sometimes the all natural toys don't work out quite as well as you think they will. :)
(but do you know what I'm getting for my baby great-niece for her first Christmas? A rather Waldorfian-looking dolly from my friend Alana..... I still love those dolls!!)
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thanks to reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I was reminded of the Seed Savers Exchange. You can get heirloom seeds of a huge variety of amazing veggies, herbs, and flowers. These are seeds you can grow in your garden and then keep the seeds from your harvest to plant the next year. (and share with your friends!) You just can't find wonderful items like purple tomatoes or multi-colored swiss chard in most grocery stores.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
There are a lot of raw foods that I make with my dehydrator. If you dehydrate items at 105 degrees or less, they still maintain most of their enzymes, which means it's still very good for you. :)
In the dehydrator right now:
Chili Lime Un-corn Chips
Chili Lime Salad Sprinkles (a yummy little treat that I always make with whatever buckwheat sprouts are left after making the chips)
Garlic Naan Bread (which uses the same uncorn chip recipe, but includes olive oil, salt, and loads of fresh garlic. I've never made this before, but it sounded very good. Today's the day!)
Sweet and Sour "Fried Chicken" Nuggets (which are made with shredded carrots, not chicken. I've made this before and liked it a lot both as a dinner item and for snacks and to break up and include in salads)
Now it's time for school. Bye!
He's 15 today. What's up with that?! One minute you're 21 and having your first child....the next thing you know you've got gray hairs and the kid is looking like a man. Weird.
Honestly, though, I have a secret to tell you. Those early teen years were rather sullen, but for the past month or so he has been the most delightful that he's been probably since he was 8 years old or something. He's happy, friendly, seems to enjoy his younger siblings more, voluntarily talks and hangs out with both me and my husband quite a lot, brings his friends around very often, handles his household responsibilities without a problem (mostly), and is just a really cool guy. I always knew he was cool, but it's nice that he's so friendly lately. I hope it lasts...
We'll be celebrating his birthday tomorrow with friends coming home after school to play Halo 2 and have one of their ADHD jam sessions. (They all bring their guitars and amps, then proceed to crank it up, each playing the few bars of whatever song they know, over and over again, with no rhyme or reason to it. I hope that someday they will all learn to play the same song at the same time, but I am enjoying my chance to witness their progression. It's some good people-watching, from the comfort of my own home.) Pizza and homemade ice cream cake are on the party menu. (no health food, though. I'm sure they'll be heartbroken.)
Since I know someone will want to know about the homemade ice cream cake, here's the info on that. We adapted this from the Duggar's ice cream cake recipe.
In a 13x9 pan put ice cream sandwiches side by side to cover the bottom. Spread chocolate cool whip over these, then sprinkle oreo cookie crumbs, and drizzle chocolate syrup on that. Then do another layer of ice cream sandwiches, cool whip, cookie crumbs, and syrup. Freeze until ready to serve.
Super easy, and VERY yummy!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tauna Len was actually able to take part in the American Flag Honor Guard for Jaron's funeral on Monday. You can read about it and see her photos here.
Also, I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but Jaron's mom Kelly is also battling breast cancer. Obviously, your prayers are needed.
It's funny how quickly the old hobbies and fascinations creep back up on me.
Just a week back to homeschooling, and I'm already trying to eat a whole foods, vegetarian diet. And I'm reading all of these back-to-the-earth resources and getting inspired in everything from happily turning off the water while brushing my teeth, to buying local produce, to collecting eggs from the back yard.
Now I'm seriously thinking about getting the materials to make our own square foot garden boxes, getting back to composting, and giving every kid their own 4'x4' garden square next year. I tried to get the ball rolling on this last fall and it didn't work out. Maybe this year I will manage to make it happen. What do you think my chances are?
I found an extremely inspirational photo here that offers a little show-and-tell of a hydroponic garden growing inside a high rise apartment in Los Angeles. It looks so beautiful, artistic....living art! My husband and I were trying to figure out where we could build some shelves to incorporate a hydroponic garden into our own life. Of course, with eight of us to feed, indoor hydroponics is probably destined to be more of a novelty than making an actual dent in our food consumption. (unless I made it an herb garden or something that could be small-but-very-useful) We should probably consider a greenhouse instead. Still...I want that room filled with books and food plants! Don't you??
I'm about to go pull out my Encyclopedia of Country Living to remind myself how to build a proper composting box, and of course for the info I need on chicken coops. I don't want my chickens freezing to death in the winter, if we do end up keeping them. (also, mental note has been made to resubscribe to Mother Earth News, which I love.....I guess I stopped subbing when everything they talked about was frustratingly beyond me.....)*
I was telling a friend earlier today that pretty much everything I do gets done because I get on some wild hair about it. Passion is the main fuel in my life. Which explains why I'm regularly hyper about greatly varying things. (My kids laugh when I tell them I have a great new idea. It's probably both fun, funny, amusing, and weird all rolled into one for them. The up side for them is that if they don't like my latest kick, they just ride it out because they know soon it's likely to fizzle out...) I know that life would probably be more even-keeled if I could just do each thing I'm interested in or need to do in 15 minute increments throughout each day. But I'm just not wired that way. And it seems like life would be too boring and predictable, although some elevate that to the status of Disciplined, which may be true. I don't know. I'm (predictably) all up and down with the whole scheduling thing too.
I don't fold one load of laundry at a time as it comes out of the dryer. Instead I let 10 loads of clean laundry pile up, and plan a night when all the kids are in bed early to watch a good movie while folding, folding, folding. I like that! (I'll be doing that tonite. I have about 4 netflix selections sitting here waiting for my attention, plus I just discovered today that netflix now offers instant viewing on their site, so you don't even have to wait to watch the movie you're in the mood for, which is great for fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants girls like me!)
I don't work on writing my book one hour a day like another disciplined future author might. I go hog wild on it for hours or days, and then take notes on my percolating thoughts for a few more days, and then let it all sit and wait for weeks or months until the next time when I can afford to go crazy with a big burst of time to spend on it. I like to get swept away with my ideas and excitement for a project! (but I'd also like to get the darn book finished sometime this year!!!)
The stuff on the perimeter of my businesses gets done the same way. One hour spent posting a month's worth of business blog posts or putting together future newsletters. A couple of hours spent adding new products every month or so. An hour or two spent researching something I need to do and working on it. And then the whole thing rides for awhile until the next time around.
Raw foods diet? I can do it! And I love it. But I can only manage to do it to the exclusion of almost every other project I've got going. Which only works for short bursts of time. (and I'll still keeping having my bursts...I'm always glad when they come around. I just know it'll probably be short-lived.)
Fortunately, I can manage to homeschool and do all the basic household chores plus mothering items on a regular basis. :) And I have no trouble filling orders super duper quick, which I enjoy and it manages to keep my customers happy. But for bigger projects, it's mostly all or nothing with me.
So, will a garden plan work out? Can the passion for it be sustained through an entire growing season? What's the worst that can happen if it fails? Can I manage to make it an ordinary enough part of life that it becomes habit that requires none of my passion? (those items are the ones that we stick with the longest and most successfully!)
What part does passion play in your life?
*I went to the Mother Earth website and signed up for their newsletters. I got a free ebook about composting, which is just what I needed. They have 3 or 4 freebies that you get when you sign up. If you're also getting back-to-the-earth, you might want to check it out. :)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Today's food project has resulted in:
9 pints of organic vegetable stock
many containers of garbanzo and black eyed peas in the freezer
one container of bean dip in the fridge
good composting materials out in the yard where the chickens pick through it at their whim (it composts one way or another, thanks to them...)
Now I just need to figure out what's for dinner.....
Yesterday was a busy day. Had to run errands all over the place almost an hour from here. To the bulk food store, to the bread store, to the health food store, to visit daddy at work since we were nearby. We also stopped at a book store because the three children in tow wanted to ride the escalator. :) We had some art appreciation time by looking in the windows of a very cool store that sells art in various forms. Everything in the place is breakable and expensive, so we appreciated it all without going inside. :) Much less stressful that way.
At Wild Oats...oh. my. lands. Everything there is ridiculously expensive. $7.99 a pound for organic red sweet peppers. Right. Two peppers equaled a pound. I am sorry, but I am not willing to spend $4 per pepper! What nonsense. Hopefully now that I have started reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I will be inspired to have a garden next year and get my organic peppers for free in the back yard. I would like to do the Square Foot Gardening idea, and have a notion to give each child a square and just one or two items to grow in them.
We've been having a debate about our chickens. To keep or not to keep. That is the question. My daughter wants to start a pet sitting business and thinks the chickens will hamper her ability to get dogs to care for. (hard to accept dogs that like to eat chickens....) She said she wanted to get rid of the chickens, I found a potential home for them, and then she burst into tears. Methinks she's feeling a little conflicted about this whole thing. Eh? Personally, I love having the chickens although they are very messy and I think we should have a family project of getting them set up properly in a bigger chicken house and with their own fenced in area instead of having them running all over our yard making a mess. (it's amazing how much poo four chickens can produce!!!) I told her now that I've started the book, the chances of getting rid of our chickens dropped dramatically. I love getting those eggs every day, and seeing how bright and orange the yolks are. Superior eggs! From our own back yard!
I think my daughter is trying to protect her heart. Our long-lived hamster Napoleon died last week. She had taken a turn for the worst in her health, and because of her age (well over the average for a hamster) we figured she would not be with us long. We did everything we knew to do for her, gave her lots of extra TLC, and within a week sent her off to hamster heaven. It was really sad, actually. Napoleon (later renamed Napolea when they realized he was a she, but the new name never really stuck) was one of the sweetest hamsters we ever had, and the one that lived the longest. It always stinks to have a pet die, and my daughter knows that having raised her chickens since they were tiny little chicks means it will be terrible when they finally kick the bucket. I guess she's already learning that vulnerability lesson about loving your children ....
I'm loving Sonlight for all the same reasons I loved it before. Good stuff! Today the kids asked me to keep reading because the book was too good to put down. I love it when that happens.
Yesterday my son had two tag-along friends when I picked him up from marching band practice. One needed a ride home, one needed to hang out at our house until his dad could pick him up. Again, I'm loving being at this stage of life. I love my kid's friends and having them in our home. We have a new high school being build very, very near our home. I am already looking forward to the kids getting into that school. Not only will that mean they can walk to and from school, but that stray friends can come on over here any time. This is the kind of real life ministry opportunity I have been waiting for. I can hardly wait. :) And, I don't just mean that as far as trying to get people to come to church with us or whatever, although we did enjoy taking our son's friend to church last Sunday and I would happily load up with car with anyone that wants to go along. I'm just talking about the opportunity to get to know my kid's friends, and the opportunity to really love and like (!) these kids, and give them some TLC in the form of healthy ice cream, unhealthy :) brownies, a welcoming place to hang out, whatever. The more I get to know people, the more I'm becoming convinced that I may have a larger-than-average capacity to just love and care for people. (now that I've said that I can hardly wait to see what unlovable soul comes into my life! hahahahaha) So maybe that's some sort of special gift. Whereas some people that are Christians see others as people to care for in order to get them to see things their way, I just see people that I really care about. I don't think of people as a missionary assignment or a project. I don't do fake relationships very well, and have no desire to improve.
We're on a new kick, trying to cut out as much meat from our diets as possible. So, it's all vegetarian all the time for this two weeks. Last night I made homemade calzones, using my own whole wheat bread dough, and a filling made of Ricotta cheese, shredded zucchini, chopped tomatoes, onions, etc. Very good, and the recipe ended up making more than twice what our family could eat. So now I have a meal in the freezer plus leftovers in the fridge. Bonus!
Lunch today will be spinach cheese somethingorother. Looked yummy. Is in the oven right now.
Also in process:
4 kinds of beans either soaking or now into the crock pot. Hopefully all the beans will be cooked and ready to turn into lunch and dinner by tomorrow night.
Soaking buckwheat so that we can sprout it and make some raw Chili Lime Uncorn Chips, which are very, very yummy.
On the stove top, a large pot of simmering vegetable stock that I'm making from scratch. I even used leeks, which I believe I probably never used or purchased before today. Leeks are cool. :)
Thanks to those of you that prayed for the Holliday family yesterday. You can go here to see photos of Jaron's body arriving in Oklahoma, the family, etc. The photos were taken by a member of the Patriot Riders. This group of bikers goes around to funerals for fallen soldiers and insulates the family and friends from the cruel and irrational attacks by the protesters. I love bikers---hearts of gold!
I couldn't help but think as I watched the photos roll by that Jaron is every mother's son, every child's big brother.
Parenthood launches us into the most emotionally vulnerable role of our lives. It's terrifying, really.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Today will be the funeral for Pfc. Jaron Holliday at 11am in Tulsa, OK. You can see a photo of this wonderful family here.
As most people could imagine, this is probably going to be a surreal day for the Hollidays. What will make it worse is that there are actual protesters expected to show up outside the church where the service will be held.
I cannot imagine what kind of warped perspective would cause people to think that there was anything right about crashing the funeral of a beloved son in order to cause a ruckus. I'm just horrified to know that people like this exist. It never amazes me what horrible things people manage to feel alright about doing.
So, please, please pray for this dear family and all of their relatives and friends that will be celebrating Jaron's life today. And maybe we could all pray for the sad souls that would do anything to hurt or discourage these dear people.
Additional links of interest:
Interview with Jaron's parents
Details on being part of the flag honor guard if you're in the area
Friday, August 10, 2007
So yesterday it happened. Someone asked me, "So do you hear from _____ any more? How is she?"
Well, um, no. As a matter of fact I do not hear from her any more. Because she decided that our 12 year long friendship was no longer valuable.
How do you have these conversations with people? How do you admit that someone considered you so worthless after you invested so much?
And even after a year and a half of living with this reality, of being able to sort out the reality of that relationship, to see the negatives as they were and know that it is good for me to be free of those.....even still, it's shocking to me. Even though it wasn't even surprising behavior for her. I watched her carelessly and selfishly toss aside her own parents, sisters, friends, and acquaintances for 12 years. I knew my day was coming. When I mentioned my concerns about that to her once, she didn't even offer to lie to me and tell me that she would never do that to me.
So. Yeah. You know. Not that surprising.
So, is it my pride that's hurt? Maybe. Or maybe it's just that I understand that when you get to know someone really well, you learn about the unlovely things in their personality. And if you want to have the benefits of a deep relationship, you have to deal with those warts. I knew about many of her flaws and dealt with them. But to me, the value of having a shared history with someone was worth sticking together even though it wasn't always smooth sailing.
Our children were life-long friends. Our firstborns met as one year olds, and all the rest of our children knew each other from the get-go. Many times I heard our children referring to each other as their best friends, even though they ended up living almost 3 hours away from each other.
We still have a photo of her kids on the fridge. Every now and then one of my children will ask, "When will we see those people again?? Our friends??" And I have to say that I don't think we will be seeing them. Mercifully, as time has gone by, they forget more and more, and they don't mourn their loss like I mourn it for them.
**Disclaimers, since it'll bother me if I don't clarify:
1. Yes, S, I know you still read my blog. Oh well. I'm tired of editing myself because you're lurking around, feeling entitled to knowing about my life while I've been shut out of yours.
2. By mentioning unlovely things about others, I did not mean to imply the she was the only one with unlovely aspects of her personality. I am well aware that I have many of those too. I don't know if it was my "warts" or hers or something else that caused her to no longer consider our relationship valuable.
3. It's very sad to me that through this situation my children are getting one of the many lessons life teaches you: "People in your life: Easy come, easy go." I had hoped to create a different culture for them, where they could have something that most people only dream of. Something that I thought I had found and felt immensely blessed by. I had hoped to give them an example of something wonderful, that I thought was possible. And now I think it's nearly impossible, and I feel somewhat crippled by it. And even more than for myself, I wanted to give that to my kids. Of course, they still have me, their father, their siblings, and our own family culture. And I have faith that this is going to be a sustaining force in their lives. But it would have been a real blessing to give them friends that aren't biologically obligated to them, so they can see what can be, when people are willing to stick together and care about each other in a deep, meaningful way.
If you haven't had a chance to get over to Mary's adoption blog, go now! Mary and her husband are currently in Ethiopia to pick up their two new daughters. As always, Mary is such a talented writer, and has some amazing and emotional descriptions of her experiences there.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
So today was day three of our new school year. We have figured out a good schedule for our home school which has us completing all of our Sonlight schedule plus a couple extras in about 3.5 hours. Quite nice! The children have many other educational-but-fun items to choose from at their whim for the rest of the day. It's a nice combination of structure and unschooling that I like. Sonlight is proving to be a good thing for us again, both from the standpoint of not having to plan much in advance, to giving us interesting ways to learn about things without being boring. We are actually ahead of schedule on two books right now, which ultimately doesn't matter, but it feels kind of nice to get slightly ahead of the game in case we want to go apple picking or something some day. (when it's not 100 degrees anymore, as it has been all week!!)
This evening one of my oldest son's friends came home with us after their marching band practice. As I've probably mentioned before, I have looked forward to the day when our home could be a good hangout for my children's friends. (particularly teenagers) It is very rewarding to me to be able to say yes just about every time that a friend needs a place to hang out until their parents can pick them up or whatever.
Tonite has been especially fun. Somehow an impromptu race came into being. My 11 year old daughter had the digital kitchen timer and got all of her brothers plus the friend to take turns running from our living room, down the hallway, and back. As they got their times, they would work harder and run faster to get the times lower. They were all laughing and cheering for each other and having a great time. It was so fun to have all that laughter in the house, and to have all the children, from 4 to almost 15 year old, playing together.
Interestingly, almost every friend my children have is either an only child, or one of two siblings with a large age gap between them. So coming here is very, very different for all of them. But they always come back again and again, so I think they get a kick out of it. My littler boys think my son's friend's name is Bob, even though it's actually John, and so it's now a big joke for the older boys to have the younger ones calling him Bob (or now we even refer to him as Bobby-John for a good Kentucky flair). What a hoot.
I get to see my son's friends most days of the week, between picking up from band practice, having them over here, and now I'll see most of them at all the football games and band competitions. It's just so fun to be getting to know these kids and have them around, get to know them, etc.
Another fun thing about having other people's kids over is that I get the to taste test all of my healthy foods. I like to see what "regular people" :) think of my healthy concoctions. Tonite Bobby-John tried my healthy lemonade (said he liked it but I think he was not that convinced), Teeccino (said he liked it and seemed to be serious), and healthy ice cream which he definitely liked because he had seconds. :) Pretty much every teenager that tries anything healthy I have here loves it. That seems like good research to me. :)
My Netflix queue is getting perilously small. While I usually have a list of almost 100 movies that I'm looking forward to watch, I have now gotten down to less than 50 movies in the queue, and every time I look through the list I have a hard time finding anything on it that I actually want to watch.
What's become of me?
I used to watch probably 4 movies a week, turning around my Netflix within a day or two of receiving them. This week it took me two nights to manage to watch a cool movie (In America) (watched half one night, half the other night), and I've probably had it sitting here waiting to be watched for about 2 weeks. I'm too busy for movies now, it seems.
Between that and all of my favorite ABC shows that I watch online on reruns for the summer, things are getting kind of dry. Which is fine...not like I'm going to run out of things to do!
Do any of you have good TV shows, documentaries, or movies to recommend? I'm open to suggestions.
In the meantime, my To Read pile is getting bigger and bigger. Right in front of me I have a nice pile of books waiting for my attention.
I'm currently reading:
A Member of the Wedding (for book group)
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson (started it a couple weeks ago, seems like a good book so far)
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd (This is the "dangerous" book I mentioned awhile back. Very interesting, challenging, thought-provoking. But takes a lot of my attention to work through, and right now I have set it aside because I don't have the brain space for it.)
Waiting to be read:
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (recommended by Big Momma at Bodie Bunch)
The Self-Hypnosis Diet (I want to read this as research for my own book project)
On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington (non fiction, is supposed to inspire me as a business woman, I think)
The Mists of Avalon
Crossing to Avalon (both of these are related to my reading Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Don't know when I'll get to them)
Thirteen Steps Down (I won this during a blog carnival thing. The blog owner sent it to me all the way from England! I have no idea what it's about, but I'm planning to read it sometime.)
Healing and the Mind
The Little Book of Letting Go (I suspect I could really use this one soon)
Sidetracked Home Executives (hahahahahahahaha)
More Creative Dating (thought it would give me some good ideas for cheap dates)
Creative Times With Friends (God has given me some new friends!)
Healing Children Naturally (my mom sent me this and I've not gotten to read it yet)
The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump
many other business books in a stack upstairs.....
plus a couple books my mom is sending on some investment ideas that sound very cool
and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on Hold for me at the library.....
I love paperback swap because it's almost like Netflix for books for me. When I hear about a book I'd like to read, I check to see if they have it. If so, I order it. If not, I add it to my Wish List. They automatically contact me when a book I want is available. (love that!) I just keep 'em coming and figure I'll get to 'em when I get to 'em. Much better than concerning myself with library due dates. When the book is mine I can ignore it as long as I want to. :)
Well, gotta get to school today. Happily, they didn't hate it yesterday! Hopefully it will be even better today.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I hit the ground running dark-and-early today, showering, making pancakes, waking sleepy children. Handed off paperwork and lunch money to my new high schooler. Drove my kindergartener and first grader to school, walked them to their classes and got them set up with their back pack cubbies and where to sit. Got to witness crying children clinging to their mother's waists in the hallway.... (fortunately my boys were happy and no tears were shed) Came home and ate a quick breakfast and then jumped in on the home school bandwagon.
Overall the day went well, with only a few bumps. I can see that it will be easier once my preschool buddy gets going to school later this month. We got to start reading a couple of good books, although unfortunately most of what we read were rather boring introductions that didn't thrill the kids too much. I am looking forward to pressing on and getting into the meat of the thing, which I expect will be more inspirational for all of us.
We ran out to do some errands/field trips and then came back home for some lunch, more school, and then I was out the door to pick up my school boys. And in an hour I'll be running back to get my marching band kiddo.
I'm actually all caught up on business, housework, laundry, and meal planning. If I can just keep that record going for another 179 school days that will be wonderful.
One of my very favorite gals on one my my egroups (I've been with this group for over 7 years) lost her son while serving in the military in Iraq. I learned about this Sunday and have felt heartbroken for this dear family ever since.
I sure hope that whatever is being done in Iraq is worth the pain of all the families that have lost their husbands, sons, and brothers.
Here is an article about this young man.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I wanted to take a moment this morning to let you know
about a very special event that is going on this week that
we would like to ask YOU to be a part of.
As you may recall, there was a benefit event to
help the Estes family last month, to help them with mounting medical
Well, there is another event this week…
a true “Emergency Firesale” for another good friend you might know…
Many of you know already know Tammy very well.
She is a prolific writer, editor, publisher and speaker,
and has volunteered countless hours of service to the
homeschooling community over the past decade.
Tammy’s situation is very different than the Estes family’s…
but is no less urgent. Just read it and you’ll see why we jumped
on board with this when we heard this event was being put together:
You won’t believe all the resources that have been donated for this.
(And they’re all new resources… none repeated from the earlier benefit!)
It is really an amazing outpouring of love and support that
shows just how much impact and influence Tammy has had amongst
her fellow homeschool publishers over the years.
Please take a look… YOU can be a real blessing to a family in need…
and in return, YOUR FAMILY will receive can also receive a blessing from
the wonderful selection of resources that you’ll find there.
This benefit will only last until Saturday, so take a look now…
and then please tell a homeschooling friend or two about it!
Thanks so much!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
As I've been working through my list of things that make me feel bad because I haven't tackled them yet, one that's been sticking in my craw is this one. I agreed to do a product review for Once Upon a Family.....almost a year ago. (hiding my head in shame.....)
I share that very humiliating fact with you only to explain what took so long. It's not how busy I was. It was more like this:
How often do you start looking through a catalog and find yourself moved to tears because of the beautiful products and vision that the company is offering? For me, never! Until Once Upon a Family came along.
OUAF rep Amy Gill kindly sent me their catalog and some of their products for me to look over. Right from the start I could see that this company has something really, really special to offer.
Not too many of us need more shoes, shirts, or toys. Our kids don't need more ballet lessons or soccer games. But one thing most of us could use more is family connections, family traditions, and a tangible way to remember our journey together as a family.
And Once Upon a Family offers that to you.
Every time I've thought about getting started on this review, I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it justice, so I'd put it off some more. And then, you know, nobody even hears about it from me. So, the time is now.
Once Upon a Family has some of the most beautiful, thoughtful products for building family traditions, cherishing childhood memories, staying in touch, family celebrations, family values, and more.
One of the coolest things they have that I think will especially appeal to scrapbookers, is their Live, Laugh, Love Club. This is a program where you can get together a regular group of women from your church, neighborhood, family, etc. and do a monthly project that will help teach family values and preserve family memories. What a great idea for an inexpensive and completely worthwhile Mom's Night Out hobby! (only $12 a month!!)
Here's some info from the web site:
Live, Laugh, Love I workshops focus on the upcoming holiday, a cherished family value and an important keepsake project. The January Workshop, for example, is about Valentine's Day and Gifts of Love. You will read about and understand the 5 Languages of Love, create a Love Journal for someone you cherish, and take home the Hearts of Loving Kindness tradition to start with your own family. You do not need to complete these workshops in any order. You may start with Level I or Level II. It's up to you!
Live, Laugh, Love II workshops focus on a cherished family value and an important family celebration: Weddings, Birthdays, New Babies, Graduations, Family Reunions, etc. The January Workshop, for example, is about Anniversaries and Respect. You will read a short article which will cause you to think about how to show and teach Respect at home; you will write a letter to someone whom you hold in high esteem, you will fill in a "Story of My Life" booklet to pass on to future generations, and take home 3 "Love Puzzle" cards to do at home with your loved ones.
Once Upon a Family is not only a wonderful company to support with your purchasing power, but it offers a wonderful consultant program as well. Rep Amy Gill shared with me,
I am looking for like-minded women to join my team to help me spread the mission that it is the little things that we take the time to do now is what is going to matter in 20 years.
My daughter was very ill and almost died (15mths) and I realized that all that I was busy with wasn't important. Once Upon A Family was just beginning and I heard their mission and signed before there was product. I travel and speak, do home parties, speak to moms, women's ministries, and teach PTA that we need to get back to the basics. I don't want a mom out there to have to go through what I went through in order to learn that. If I can help bring one new tradition into a home that will bring that family closer together than I have not wasted the gift God has given me.
Honestly, after looking over this catalog and the product samples, I feel confident in telling you that this is one of the most worthwhile ventures I have ever had the pleasure of learning about. Spread the word!
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
My poor brain.....
Every now and then I get a huge burst of good ideas. Right now I feel almost buried under them. Although I love good ideas, it does make it feel almost impossible to move forward because there just isn't time for all of them. How do I decide? Which thing do I do?
There never seems to be an easy answer.......
And the funny thing is, I've been purposely holding myself away from some things that I suspected would churn up new ideas in me, just because I already have a million ideas. In spite of that, here I am with my brain still chugging away.
It's not easy being brilliant.
Wow. Have you heard about this??
We have to cross a bridge to get to my husband's job, to our church, and to the closest large city. I have one child that is always nervous when we go over the bridge, and I always assure him that our bridge is perfectly safe. Now this. Wow.
We don't even realize how many times a day we have faith, do we?