Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 End of Year Meme

This is my fifth year doing an end-of-the-year meme here!

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Decided to start an internet business development business! (coming soon!)

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I kept my business resolutions, and those are the only ones I can remember. I definitely have plans for 2009.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? A friend of mine just had her 8th child the other day! Another friend had her 4th baby earlier this month.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit? None.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? I don't know if I'm feeling lack so much, but things I want to have more of in 2009 include:

-more peace

-less clutter

-more felt success in the areas of hearth and home and home education

-earn more money while spending less time in my work

-more positive breakthroughs in relationships

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Just before Thanksgiving our family started to experience something that is difficult, and it has been escalating since then. That will be likely to stick in my memory for a long time. Hopefully a positive resolution in the new year will give me something good to remember for 2009.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Choosing to homeschool five of my children, and having over 150% growth in my business ventures.

9. What was your biggest failure? I've had too many blessings to recall any failures.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not that I remember.

11. What was the best thing you bought? I "bought" myself some mental peace by hiring an accountant for my business finances. In 2009 I'm going to buy myself some more peace in the form of better legal advisement and protection for the business.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Mine! Saying yes to homeschooling, and being fiercely committed to what I feel is the right thing for my kids, even when difficult, is something I celebrate.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted? I won't name names here, but I do have two people in mind....

14. Where did most of your money go? A large chunk of money went toward rebuilding two of my web sites when my host pooped out and went AWOL. It all came back to me in short order. :)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Having five of the greatest kids in the world at home with me every day, and my next great business adventure, which is coming together in exciting ways!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? overall happier or maybe the same
b) thinner or fatter? probably about the same
c) richer or poorer? richer!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? gardening maybe. Overall I can't think of any regrets.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Again, no regrets I can think of.

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? Probably listening to something inspirational.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

22. How many one-night stands? What a stupid question.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't do hate.

25. What was the best book you read? Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed by SARK

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Just got a CD of The Town Pants for Christmas and it is very fun music.

27. What did you want and get? Windchimes!

28. What did you want and not get? I want to hire a house helper/cook/assistant homeschool tutor. I have been saying this for many, many years, but in 2009 I am going to make it happen. I might not have someone full time by the end of the year, but I am at least going to find the right person to hire for some amount of hours and get started. The time has come. I'm ready.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Can't even remember a specific movie I've watched this year! I did just discover the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch, and that is a pretty cool show! I now have all four seasons on my netflix queue.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 37 this year, and I don't remember what I did.

31.What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying? I'm pretty satisfied with the year I've had.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Making the most of what I have, unless it's a day when I just done care, in which case I keep it reasonably clean and don't worry about much else.

33. What kept you sane? Keeping in mind the big picture.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I'm not a fancier, but I was mighty sorry to see Heath Ledger go.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? The FLDS situation. We got an excellent education about the dangerous way that CPS can get away with criminal activities.

36. Who did you miss? Old friends, who are always dear to me though we just don't get to connect much any more.

37. Who was the best new person you met? How about best new being? Our dog Marlee walked into our life in the fall, starving, sick, and suffering. Our decision to care for her, give her a home, and live out our belief that life is valuable has been a very cool journey. She is thriving in many ways and we are learning a lot about sacrificial love. You can read more about that here.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. Not everything is as it appears to be.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

FYI: You Won't Want To Miss This

Hey peeps,

I just wanted to give you guys a heads up. On January 1st I'm going to have a BIG giveaway for my newsletter subscribers. If you like freebies, goodies, and truly valuable stuff, you should get hooked up with at least one of my newsletters:

The Baby Boutique

Supermom's Health and Wellness

Supermom's HomeSchool

Feel free to let other people know. I think that most people are going to be very excited about the freebie they'll receive to start out 2009. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas: We're already done

My husband has to work on Christmas day, so we decided to celebrate early. Our original thought was to simply have the kids wake up to Christmas on the 24th. And then as I started thinking about how hard it is to get them to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, how tiring it is to try to outlast them that night, and the early morning we'd be in for, surprising them with Christmas in the middle of the afternoon started looking better and better.

They were busy in another part of the house, watching a movie, and my husband and I got everything set up. Once we were ready we invited them up, and they were so excited! :) They enjoyed opening their gifts, and had the rest of the evening to put together new Lego sets, play new games, and put stuff away. Several of the kids said this was the Best Christmas Ever! Pretty nice to hear that. :)

Once our plans were already underway to pull off the afternoon Christmas surprise, we found out that the Creation Museum is offering free admission tomorrow. We've been wanting to go, and it's only about 2 hours from us. So, now tomorrow is all clear, so as long as the roads are good and the weather decent, that's what we'll be doing for Christmas Eve Day. Even our 16 year old is looking forward to it. (and if you've ever known or had a 16 year old, you know how GOLDEN it is if the kid actually wants to do a family activity. I DON'T want to miss this chance!)

So, enjoy all of your last minute preparations and your family time. I'll be enjoying being all done. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Husband Outed My Blog!

In a moment of Facebook euphoria/insanity, my dear husband decided to tell all of our friends and relatives and everybody else about my personal, super-secret, I-do-not-tell-real-life-people-about-it blog. (he's so used to knowing about it that he forgot it was on the down-low) It was all resolved within 3 hours of his posting it, since I called him at work and had him take it right down. Alas, now I can't help but wonder if I've gained any new readers.

So, um...if you are one of those people.....WELCOME! Welcome to my blog that I never told you about. :) Let me know if you're here, ok?

Friday, December 05, 2008

I hate to shop!

I hate to shop! I hate it the most in person, but also hate it online. Would much rather never need anything for any reason whatsoever.

Today my husband took the kids to their homeschool activities and left me home for a day off. I had so much work to do that I have been going non stop all day and now they will be home in a half hour. Honestly, I'm glad that I had a chance to work on some of the things that have been piling up. Though I was invited to go get a massage or something, things are so crazy here, I don't think it would have been relaxing for me to spend all day elsewhere instead of beating back the tide....

Biggest accomplishments for the day include wrapping most of the already-purchased gifts, and doing almost all of the rest of the shopping. I would love to be ALL DONE with the whole thing today. Don't know if I can pull it off though. My brain has turned to mush and now I am going to go soak in a hot bath. Goodbye!

Take 5 minutes to watch this

Have you seen this clever video to help guys stay out of the doghouse this holiday season? Go! Laugh! Share.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I've GOT GOT GOT GOT no time!

Today is one of those days that makes me think that there is no possible way for me to ever get on top of everything. Not exactly newsworthy in my life, but this is a fresh flare up, so amuse me or click away, ok?

We had the holiday last Thursday, travel last Friday, being out of the house most of the day Sat., a small amount of stuff getting done Sunday, schooling to do Monday and then surprise preparation for a large remodeling project that day, and then today that project was going on while I spent the day homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and then being a hostess for several hours.

Having several days in a row like this throw off my plate-spinning equilibrium mighty fast. Next thing you know there is laundry all over the family room, construction project stuff and dust everywhere, a torn apart laundry room, and me with about 5 or 6 large plates crashing to the ground and no time to pick 'em up yet.

Tomorrow I have to be out of the house for probably at least 4-5 hours. It's for a fun event, but that just means that even more stuff will be piling up while I'm away.

Ironically (or not) I decided to join a class called How Do I Do It All? And of course, now that I've downloaded all of the classes, I have absolutely NO IDEA when I am going to have time to listen to any of it.


Music To My Ears

Either because of or in spite of the fact that I spent my teenage years dating and being boy crazy, I have always discouraged my kids from this. I'm not interested in jumping on the courtship-betrothal bandwagon with all it's various weirdness, nor am I going to pretend that I can control whether or not my children have extra special warm-and-fuzzy feelings for other people. My approach has been simply to explain my position again and again, let them make their own decisions, and let life teach them whether what I say has merit or not.

My oldest is 16 and he's had a few girlfriends so far. Several months ago there was a big break up with his longtime girlfriend, and it was a split that was many months in the making. The situation was especially tough on the girl and it has been a source of concern for our family to know that she is hurting so badly. Since the breakup I've had several little conversations with my son, reiterating that it seems a terrible waste of a good friendship to sacrifice it for a "girlfriend." In the end these kids just get hurt feelings, broken hearts, and a relationship that's usually too strained or broken down to be able to continue.

In a world where good friends are hard to find, it makes no sense to me to toss out good, healthy relationships for these ridiculous, contrived boyfriend-girlfriend situations.

My second child is 12 and at her age the thing we have run into is that the boys and girls that are friends don't feel like it is ok to talk on the phone if they aren't "going out." So, she's had a couple "boyfriends" who were nothing more than friends she could talk to on the phone. Since she doesn't go to school with these kids any more, phone calling is the only social link she's got. So, a pretty important thing in her life.

The recent boyfriend has proven to not be a real positive thing for her. My daughter had come to me several times to talk about it and ask my opinion. My honest advice was to break it off, just be friends, and stop with all of this boyfriend nonsense. (I say it a whole lot more diplomatically to her)

In the car the other day she and I were talking about this again and my 16 year old piped in to tell her, "Honestly, I've been following Mom's advice for quite awhile now, and it's really a good thing."

High praise!! What a thrill!! Definitely blog-worthy!

That night about an hour after tucking my daughter into bed she came out to give me another hug and tell me she loves me. This is not a common event for her. I wondered if she had appreciated what I had told her. (This is a child who will typically fight me on issues that she doesn't want to deal with or hear about, but later on is able to tell me that she is glad I stuck to my guns and kept doing what I felt needed to be done. A wonderful thing for me to know, since I regularly hear her complaints about oh-so-many of the things I am doing "for her own good.")

The next day she broke up with the boyfriend in the kind way I recommended, and so far things seem to be going well.

Tonite she and I were folding laundry together and talking and she shared some of the breakup details with me. Then she said that once she had a chance to let my words sink into her head, she realized that it made perfect sense.

!! Gotta love moments like that!

I don't have any delusions that my two oldest kids are going to forego boyfriends/girlfriends until they are ready to look for a spouse (though I would recommend that!) but it was good to know that they are hearing me, that what I'm saying is helping them and making sense to them on some level, at this time.

Another Rock Star Momma moment for me. I'll take 'em wherever I can get 'em.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Last night my sister turned me on to Mexican Train Dominoes. As Pioneer Woman would say, "Lawsie, mercy!" I'm a goner now. How I will ever get a shred of normal stuff done, I do not know. Any member of my family of origin can tell you that I have a mighty strong tendency to get hooked onto games that require ordering and arranging cards, tiles, numbers, and so forth. From approximately 1983-1987 I spent all summer breaks, school breaks, weekends, and spare time holed up in my bedroom playing solitaire (with real cards, people!) over and over again. And I loved it.

Today, I have solitaire and backgammon on my pocket pc, and I usually play one or both of them every single night once I get into bed. (I often play them again first thing in the morning as well) I love games like that, and find it relaxing, I guess.

Mexican Train Dominoes is one more game in this genre that I love. Plus it's speedy (which is an additional thrill for me). What am I gonna do?!?!

Countdown to Christmas Day 1

We just did day 1 of Countdown to Christmas. The story was wonderful (almost made me cry!) and the games were SO fun! Check it out!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Busy and Busier

Things just keep on a-runnin' around here. Business, homeschooling, taking care of the family and seems like an ever-running stream of doings and needs. Not in a bad way, mind you. Just in a constant way.

Things on my mind and/or front burner these days include:

Starting an indoor garden using window boxes. I plan to grow lettuce, spinach, and some herbs. The main holdup is that it is mighty difficult to find seeds in the store in november! :) Will have to order some online.....which means this could take me days or weeks to accomplish simply because it's so easy for me to forget.

Christmas shopping.

Business planning for next year. Business continuing for this year.

Continuing with the learning center idea for my kids. (it's going well)

Looking forward to doing some fun Christmas reading, baking, and activities with the kids in December.

Getting ready to start yet another branch (or two) of my business.

Recent discovery of Barbara Sher's encouragement for people who want to do lots of different things and aren't willing to pick just one. I don't know if I'm that way to the extreme, but I sure do want to "do it all." Am in the middle of listening to a radio show where she talks about this and am enjoying it very much. Am also working my way through reading some strategies about this here.

Am enjoying the homeschooling more and have been getting back to my roots as far as my original educational philosophy goes. Have been reading John Holt's book Teach Your Own which is just as inspirational to me today as it was probably 10 years ago when I first read it.

And of course, many other things, widely varied and prone to the whims of the winds of inspiration. I feel like I'm getting the hang of handling schooling five, so it's always a happy thing for me to feel that I've improved in my plate-spinning abilities. :)

Not getting much personal blogging in these days. Sometimes it's for lack of time, sometimes for lack of inspiration, and sometimes because what I would want to say seems to complex to be able to express it. I'm sure that blogging will come back around to a front burner activity sooner or later. In the meantime, I hope you all have a Thanksgiving that lives up to it's name. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Countdown to Christmas Activity Book!

When Amy Puetz showed me her Countdown to Christmas book, I was almost in tears within minutes. This book features a wonderful collection of old-fashioned holiday stories, activities, recipes, games, songs, and more---a grouping for every day from December 1-25.

This collection is just the kind of thing I like to do with my children. It's fun. It's interesting. The stories are great, and will also expose my children (and me!) to some old-fashioned language and concepts. The crafts look fun and manageable. Now that I've got this resource I'm looking forward to December 1 so we can get started with it. I really think that this is going to be our most fun December ever!

I strongly encourage you to go check it out for yourself. Amy has her book on sale at a GREAT price right now, PLUS she has an extra freebie book for you as well. You can see sample pages of the book and a list of stories, etc. here. I feel like this is going to be a wonderful thing for my family, and think it will be for your family too! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quick! This offer ends Friday!

So many people have been delighted to find out about Grandpa Read's Quiet Time Tales. This 12-volume DVD collection features classic children's stories read to your children by the friendly Grandpa Read. Each DVD is approximately 60 minutes long and features four stories plus an original song.

From now until Friday I have a special offer for you:
Purchase the 12 DVD collection for the discounted price of $129.99 (regularly $149.99) and you will receive the Quiet Time Tales Music CD FREE!

This is a special offer at my baby boutique.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Heard This Song Today

Driving with my kids today we ran across this song while flipping through the radio stations. The lyrics grabbed me. I had never heard it before, but the social commentary was striking. I don't think I could tell you one other Kid Rock song. Kid Rock has never been on my radar until now. Thought he had some good things to say here, though, so here you go.

2009 Family Dear Calendar

If you are a fan of the sweet, homespun look of Marmee Dear's lovely store, you will loooove her all-new 2009 Family Dear Calendar! Each month features adorable and heartwarming pictures from vintage storybooks. Too cute!

This big 17" x 22" calendar has nice, big spaces to write in and is printed on sturdy paper stock to keep it looking good and holding up all year long.

Right now Marmee is offer a special deal for my readers! Use coupon code EJ2009 and you will get FREE SHIPPING on your calendar (or go ahead and order several for Christmas gifts).

You can check it out and order here.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Son is as Tall as Me

I just discovered this.
Still in shock.

That is all.

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Just a little head's up here, in case you don't know....there is a really fun 12 Days of Christmas giveaway going on here. I think today is day 6 or something, so there's still plenty of time for you to check the site every day and see what fun stuff they have. So far I have really enjoyed all of the goodies they have given away!

Fun Outing Yesterday

Yesterday the at-home kids and I made the trek out to visit the lovely Amy Scott and her six children. Amy and her family moved from Florida to rural KY in September, and now they have a beautiful 54 acres of woods and farm land. My children got to help feed chickens, hike around in the woods, and in general run around and play together, while Amy and I talked while tending to little ones and put dinner together.

Amy has done an amazing job--you can't even tell that they just moved in less than three months ago! I don't know how she does it. Her two littlest children are just 8 months old, and a two year old. I don't think I would have been able to accomplish half as much as she has in such a short time!

I've met a few "internet" friends in person over the years. It is always interesting and fun to get to put a real-life person and life together with what we learn about someone from their blog, web site, or posts in an egroup. It's so easy for us to imagine the lives of others that we get to know through the narrow lens of the internet (or even the narrow lens of Sunday mornings at church, or homeschool support group meetings, etc.). It's easy to forget that other people (even prolific bloggers) are not telling us everything about their life or their relationships. I used to read a blog where a reader accused the parents of only homeschooling their kids for two weeks out of an entire year, simply because the homeschooling hadn't been documented on the blog! (too bad there isn't some sort of litmus test for weeding out readers of one's blog that have such a perspective on things...) I've had people make up huge portions of my life that they actually knew nothing about--all based on some small snap shots of getting to know me in one setting. I enjoy the reminders that we are all just folks. :) We've all got the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the things we are good at and the things we are still working on. None of us is so perfect that the rest of us should be struggling with our life and wondering why we don't have it all together like so-and-so from the internet.

Now, none of that is to say that Amy was anything less than gracious, lovely, organized, generous, and kind. She was all of those things and I enjoyed my visit very much! Those are just musings that came to me as I was reflecting on the things I've learned over the years about keeping perspective on reality as opposed to some of the things we like to make up in our minds.

My best friend Sooz has a little thing she says. It's "What I'm making up about this is......" This is a really helpful tool, both for putting into perspective that one's own thoughts may be cobbled together, made-up things that we came up with based on what we know about something, and the realization that it is important to check out the facts of whether or not our imaginings are accurate. I've often experienced people in my life preferring to believe their imaginary version of my life over reality. This sometimes results in people thinking I'm way, way, way better at everything than I could ever hope to be, and other times results in people thinking I'm so far away from being good at what I do that I might as well pack it up and change course altogether. Somewhere in the middle is the truth, but we have to check our imaginings at the door to get to it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning Centers

Despite my lack of recent posts, you can rest assured that my life is plenty full and busy, with lots of stuff going on that might even be blog-worthy, if only I consistently had time to tell you about it! On the days when I'm really, really on top of the most important things, I'm lucky if I have even an hour or two to do the remaining business, blogging, emailing, and all of the other behind-the-scenes things that come up in the life of someone that manages children, Christmas shopping, educational issues, business issues, and keeping some relationships going.

After struggling for months to tutor 4 or 5 kids at the kitchen table simultaneously during school time, I decided to try using some learning centers to help the kids have plenty of educational and enriching things to do during school time, and allow me to only work directly with one or two kids at a time. For close to a week now I have been working on cleaning out some nooks and crannies of our family room so that I could somehow set up these centers/stations to keep the little hands and minds occupied.

For a few days I only had one station set up, and each night after the kids were in bed I placed something on that little table. It was fun to see kids gravitating toward that spot, sitting down and giving their attention to whatever was there. They loved it, and it reminded me of a past wish I had to make my home like one big all-you-can-learn-buffet, where everywhere a child turns is something that will feed their body, mind, or spirit. These little centers seem to do that in a way that nothing else has for us.

Yesterday was day one for going full force with the centers. Although our family room isn't huge, I was able to set up 9 different centers for the kids to use. Why so many? Because I knew they would need plenty of things to do while I worked with the kids that go s-l-o-w at their school work. That's why!

In the past I have tried this idea and set up stations that were a little heavy with stuff to do, and it seemed like the kids got a little bored with those after a short while. This time I decided to use some small tables and spaces, and just put out a very slim choice of what to do at that space. The other idea is to not have the same thing there every day.

Probably like a lot of other people, we have collected an awful lot of really neat learning resources that we rarely ever use. I've got tons of games, art books, craft stuff, cards, flash cards, cool learning resources, Leap Pads, Flashmaster, Highlights books with puzzles in them, and lots more. I'm so glad that I have a place to put these things, but the trick is that I am a person that tends to forget what resources we have if they aren't in front of me. So now I am just bringing out a few items from the collection each day, one per center area, and letting the kids enjoy them. After school time that stuff gets put away, and as I got through the day I keep my eyes open for what else is around, and pull some new stuff out to use the next day. Now the kids are grabbing stuff and saying, "Hey! We should use this for centers tomorrow!"

We have one round kid-size table. At a yard sale a couple months ago I bought two coffee tables for $10. One is rectangular, one is a small square. I bought these because I liked the shape of the design, and the price was right. But I didn't really have a need for them or know where they would go. Now they are working out really well for learning center stations. Plus I can mention the tables by their shape (circle, square, or rectangle) to tell where something is or where to suggest someone go next. I also use a small part of one coffee table, a corner of a couch, plus a regular size table down in this room. So far, so good.

When I showed the kids the stations, they were quite excited about it. In the morning I set everything up and then gave them a tour, explained how it would work, what the rules were, etc. One of the main things I stressed was that it was important to be very quiet so that the person working with me at the table could concentrate. As it turned out, we had near silence for several hours as we did school yesterday. Wow! It was really nice.

I also had each child pick out a silent reading book before we got going, so that if they got finished at their center before it was time to switch, they could sit and read on their own. I figured it made more sense to have them get their books before we got going, rather than have them all going back and forth to the book shelf at different times.

I set up the centers to be clutter-free. Here is some of what I had today:

On small round table I had a box with our connectagons in it. Later my daughter decided to add Dominoes to the table.

Another table had a phonics thing we have that's called Instalearn, which is mainly used by my early readers. For older kids at this station there were Mad Libs, and for my five year old there were some little learning cards that he likes to play with and can do on his own.

We had a cozy station on the corner of one couch for listening to audio books. Station included pillows, blanket, CD player with headphones, and two CDs with read-along books, plus our Bible verses CD to choose from.

Computer station with headphones was set up for the younger kids to go to to play phonics and reading games, etc.

Art station today had two learn-to-draw books (one geared toward youngers, one geared toward olders) and an assortment of crayons, colored pencils, markers, and paper.

One station had a puzzle.

One area (on the floor--I just put out a plastic tablecloth to create the space) for playing with wooden blocks (they have not played with those for a long time and they loved it):

I didn't really micromanage the timing of switching. Since there was plenty to choose from, and the atmosphere was very calm, the kids seemed to enjoy choosing a spot to go, and they played with it for plenty of time and then cleaned up before going on to the next. Some spots were a little more popular than others, so in those cases sometimes I asked the child if they would like to try another station in two minutes or whatever, to give them a gentle nudge to move on so that someone else could enjoy the station they were on.

Like so many things in my life, this will probably take a lot of mom-power to keep it going, so the chance of it falling to the wayside is pretty decent. I often feel that I'm taking a risk by telling about my latest and greatest idea since I feel like so many of them come and go at high speed. Still, I think this idea has merit as a tool to keep the wheels turning here at our school, and maybe it will give a few of you some ideas too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Making the Holidays Family Friendly

The Holidays are supposed to be all about celebrating with the folks you love, yet all too often the focus is on the preparations instead of the people and the children especially seem to get lost in the shuffle. If holidays are stressful to you, or you come to the end of the day wondering where and what your children were doing all day, this book is for you. It is a reminder of why we celebrate, and how to celebrate in a more family-friendly way. Memories are made at every holiday, are they good ones or bad ones? Learn how to make them good ones for everyone.

Check out this new release ebook from my friend Penny Raine! It's at a super low price right now, too. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Check out this film!

If you enjoy the films from Franklin Springs Family Media, you are probably going to love this one from IVL Media. This documentary follows a pastor's family as God faithfully and miraculously provides for them through all sorts of situations. You can watch the trailer for it here.

Right now they are taking pre-orders, which includes free shipping. Looks like an uplifting night at the movies for the whole family!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What the....?!

So lately I've noticed an odd trend. And it has to do with the word "niche." As in, "find your niche" or "niche market."

Although I have always thought that the commonly considered correct pronunciation of the word is 'nich,' for some reason there are people using the word that like to pretend they are part French, I guess, because they are pronouncing it 'neesh.'

I double checked with and found that 'nich' is indeed the "right way" to say the word. But what do you think? nich or neesh? I simply must know.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a
change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he
recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the
chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that
little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely
qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this
country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this
really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road.
We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or
not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle
ground here.

D ICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the
satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your
definition of crossing?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am
now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about
the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize
that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road
before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What
we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking
on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand t hat the chicken is having problems, which
is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the
chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of
life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive
across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken,
but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of
the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You
can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was
going. I had a standing order at the Farmers Market to sell my eggs
when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me an y
insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, the chicken cr ossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the
plain truth? That's why they call it the other side. Yes, my friends,
that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay,
too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination
that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases
like the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road.
It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road.
Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be
listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming
story of how it e xperienced a serious case of molting, and went on to
accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE : It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads
together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only
cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and
balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of
eChicken2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the
road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Free Christmas ebook

Who wants a freebie? I've got one for you--a Christmas ebook with lots of great decorating and activity ideas, as well as recipes! Clickety-click!

And the winner is....

elizardbreath8! I'll be sending her book out shortly. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why Stay Down? Crank it Up!

Here are some great tunes from Zeppelin to help me and you get up and moving toward the weekend. This first song is a family favorite for singing along in the car. Most kids can handle the first line, anyhow. :)

Popping in to say hi

It's been awhile since I've posted a real, live post with personal content in it here. Why? Heh....well, you should see what my life is like. Homeschooling five kids, as it turns out, is extremely time consuming. Running a business or two or three is also. Running a household, raising six children, and trying to not lose one's mind also tends to take up a significant portion (100%, that is) of my time. Basically, I've got the equivalent of two full time jobs, and only part-time resources with which to meet the challenges.

So..blogging my heart out just hasn't risen to the top of the to-do pile around here. I'm still full of ideas and inspiration, but too tired and overextended to get around to most of it. I'm still trying to gain some sense of equilibrium about what I've got on my plate right now. I'm doing you a favor, really, by not blathering on and on through my highs ("I can do it! I am doing it! Nothing can stop me!") and lows ("Why do I bother?! How am I going to make this work?") here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Laugh for the day

If you need a little laugh today, go check out Cake Wrecks. This site is full of some of the most unfortunate cakes you've ever laid eyes on. You have to see it to appreciate it.

My personal favorite was the tragedies that take place when people lack common sense (Literal LOLs)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Love the Homemaker's Mentor!

HomeMaker's Mentor

This wonderful place teaches so many of the lost arts of homemaking in a beautiful, gracious way. Subscribe for a month, a year, or just get the classes that you need. Either are gonna love this!

Today I downloaded 3 of their resources:

Laundry Tips and Tricks (FREE!!)

Growing and Using Fresh Herbs

Kitchen Sparkle

I don't know about you, but I'm almost always up for some fresh inspiration and ideas. These downloadable lessons are very nicely done. I am quite impressed and really looking forward to digging into these soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Money Matters

I know that money is on most minds these days. For us, we've been thrilled to see gas drop to $2.69 at some gas stations around here, but with property taxes coming due and Christmas around the corner, it seems like there is still plenty of belt-tightening needed.

I read a couple of good articles today that I wanted to share with you guys. The first one talks about what to do NOW to prepare for even tougher economic times ahead. The short version is to trim right now anything that you would trim if things got really desperate. That makes a lot of sense to me, and my wheels are already turning about how we might do that. We don't have a lot of extras in the monthly expenditures department, but there are a few things that I don't think we would even miss.

This one talks about a "buy nothing" month. While this might not be the best time of year to do that, maybe you could plan for it in January or February or something. I don't consider myself to be much of a spender. I've very conservative on purchases most of the time. But, I think that I could probably manage to trim *something* somehow.

Other things I am working on to save money:

Trying to get the hang of coupon and rebate shopping. Money Saving Mom is my favorite resource for this. Check out her right sidebar for the Start Here articles. They will give you tips on coupon savings, CVS and Walgreens programs that can help you get tons of free stuff, and more. Lots of really helpful stuff there!

I have been using up all of our apples and pears and grapes from the back yard. In years past I either didn't have the energy or the time to do a lot with those, but this year I have been determined to use what we have. I haven't needed to purchase juice from the grocery store for probably two months or more, I've made homemade apple sauce and apple butter, etc.

In the same vein, I am planning on having a garden next year. This year we just had a dink-o-rama garden space that gave us tomatoes and peppers. Next year we're going to go big. Tending to the garden is going to be part of the kids chores and school. I'm planning now for where stuff will go, adding compost to the garden spaces, and have some more things to work on so that when March gets here we can be ready to make it happen.

I plan to buy heirloom seeds so that we can save the seeds for future years. Educational and thrifty.

There are more things, but those are just a few ideas. Hopefully those will work as a jumping off point for you. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Food For Thought

Tonite I attended a talk that a friend of mine was giving. She opened the meeting with a question for us to think about:

If you could do anything, go anywhere, have your life be anything ---with no limitations...what would that look like?

I'm still trying to figure that out. I realized that I do not do well with thinking outside of limitations. I thought that some of you might find that interesting to contemplate.

Reality Check

Let's see here....

six kids

homeschooling five kids

husband who works most of the time

running multiple businesses from home

drowning in house mess, kids needs, personal needs, places to go and people to see

an elderly dog that needs special care

and then the question arose: "Can we play basketball?"

Four boys. Three teams. Three months.

One mother in need of a long-term vacation at Shady Acres Home For the Mentally Unstable.

I'm saying no. And somehow, I feel a little guilty for it.

Coo coo.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coming in 2009: The People Speak

Saw this today and am now looking forward to seeing the finished work. Looks amazing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Bitty Bit on Politics

I watched some of the presidential debate the other night and found it thoroughly disappointing. Neither candidate said anything that caused me to feel great confidence about them. Much of what they said had me wondering what on earth it all means in plain language. I found myself wishing that I could have a normal conversation with these guys to find out what the bottom line is to what they believe and what they plan to do in DC.

This article by Peggy Noonan summed up a lot of my impressions.

John McCain's mention of a spending freeze concerned me. What will be frozen? And for how long? When I think of the people I help every week at the Emergency Food Pantry, I wonder how their lives will be impacted if the government suddenly stopped sending them housing assistance, food stamps, of the gov't food commodities that we distribute. I would love to get some more info on what this proposed freeze is all about. Anybody know?

Laser Mania and Sexy People

Did you ever wish for those ultra-cool laser backgrounds for your school photo? You will get a kick out of this collection here. What a hoot.

Not to be outdone, this site features a hilarious and unfortunate collection of portrait photos that are not to be missed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A new social networking tool coming soon!

I'm Invited. Are You? | AddsYou
This looks like it will be a cool thing coming up soon. Get on over there and check it out!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

We Can't Do It Alone

After yesterday's $81 vet visit for Marlee, I decided that it is time to reach out and ask for help with this mission. We want to be able to take care of Marlee and help her have a good life. But, at well over $500 since August, this is an expense way outside of our practical means.

So now you can go visit my One Dollar Doggie Adoption blog and see what I've got going on over there. Would you help us spread the word to those that might be willing to help?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Fun Video

Several weeks ago when we were experiencing high winds from the hurricane in Texas my oldest son decided to try out what he called Land Surfing. Not sure if that's the best name for it, but I enjoyed recording this evidence that he's very much the same kid that he was when he was 8. :)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Times Tales Special

Just recently I told you about the fabulous learning tool that helped my kids learn multiplication facts--Times Tales. Well, right now they are offering a special deal where you can get a bonus item with your purchase. I just wanted to mention it, because we have found this stuff to be a real winner. My kids still remember their facts!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Movie Review: Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind

Tonite I was able to finish watching Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind. I've never known much about Joni Mitchell, and I'm not sure what caused me to add this to my netflix queue, but I'm glad I did.

Some things I learned about Joni that were interesting:

The wide range of artistic expression she is known for (various types of music--folk, jazz, rock, world, etc., plus a painter and a poet)

The way she blazed her own unique trail with her sound and style

The thing that was most inspirational to me about this story was the way she was willing to put raw honesty out in public. I feel like that is an area I would like to grow in.

You can watch this on Instant Play on Netflix.

For your listening pleasure, here is my favorite Joni Mitchell song, Both Sides Now. It's a painfully beautiful song. (I just realized that this is the song that plays in my favorite scene in the movie Life as a House. Love it!)

**You can read the lyrics to this song here.

Make the holiday season easier this year

I have heard about this 12-week holiday planner for a couple of years now, and I guess that every time it came to my attention I was far enough into the holiday season that I didn't think it would be a help to me.

Yeah, well, this year is gonna be different.

Today I got a copy of this great book and I am so excited about it! Honestly, I wasn't really looking for help with the Jesus-is-the-reason-for-the-season aspect of this so much as I wanted to have the organizational help. I was not disappointed!

The book has a great 12-week plan to help get everything done without lumping it all into the 11th hour.

There are a whole bunch of really helpful planning sheets, blank calendars, places to make organized lists, and other great things like that.

There are a lot of really yummy-looking recipes that did not strike me as the kind only Martha Stewart would make.

The Jesse Tree devotionals do look neat. Somehow I have never done any sort of advent devotions with my kids (ever!) but this look doable, and like something we would enjoy adding in to our regular school days in December.

The other thing I really like about this planner is that I can use it year after year. The lists and organizer pages can be printed out as many times as I need them. Which makes a ton of sense to me. (just the one grocery shopping organizer page will be a huge help to me all year long. I already have one printed out and ready for the front of the fridge....)

So, there is my encouragement to you to go take a look and see if this planner would be a handy thing for you for the rest of this year.

Click here for more details

Homeschooling ABCs

Yesterday I found out about a wonderful resource that I think will make a huge difference for those of you that are homeschool moms who aren't feeling quite as confident and at peace with the way things are going in your home school this year.

The Homeschooling ABCs course offers you 26 weeks of ideas, direction, and encouragement in your inbox to help you, PLUS over $200 worth of free curriculum and resources!

Check it out here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who wants to see some of my kids in our sorry attempt at making commercials? Clickety click!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Try This: Baked Doughnuts

Thanks to a tip from Jessica at Balancing Everything, I found out about this recipe for baked doughnuts. We made 'em the other day too.

Some things I changed:

1. I warmed the milk too hot and killed the yeast. but I saved the dough by adding some more activated yeast in warm (not hot!) water and finally got the stuff to rise. This mistake added a significant amout of time onto this enterprise. (ended up taking us 5 hours from start to finish!)

2. I used whole wheat flour which worked just great.

These were a very yummy treat. Highly recommended, and will definitely be a repeat at our house. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Sister Needs Help to Get Out of Jail!

Today while doing school with my kids my sister called to ask if I could help bail her out of jail.

Thankfully, it's all about a fundraiser for Jerry's Kids (the Muscular Dystrophy Association).

She was picked up earlier today in the "paddy wagon" and today is doing her best to raise $2500. Join in the fun and help this worthy organization with your donation by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Photos of What's Been Going On Here

Fortunately, I haven't been spending all of my energy tearing my hair out about business woes. I've actually been having fun with my kids, taking lots of pictures and videos, homeschooling, and more. Here are a few shots of what's been going on here:

Our next door neighbors have two young cats that love to spend time in our back yard. My little 7 year old just loves them. Here he is with kitty cat "Slash."

Remember me complaining about the kids and the rolling temptations at the food pantry? Here is my youngest, cuddled up inside of one of the rolling carts we use to take food out for people. Nice fit, eh?

Funny how the dog and the owners start to look alike, isn't it? I didn't realize it could happen so fast! Marlee is doing a little better now. She has taken all of her antibiotics to beat that bladder infection, and she seems a bit happier now. Her tail is actually up when in the house sometimes! She still has trouble getting up off of our floor and walking around, but it's nice to see her seeming to feel happier.

This little sweetie had to go for a root canal appointment. After his experience there on the first appointment he opted for a nice dose of valium for this one. I snapped this shot as the valium was kicking in on our way to the office.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Doesn't Kill Ya Makes You Stronger: Truth or Fiction?

So after getting my computer back up and running late last week, the internet only worked for about a day before pooping out. So I've been without internet service since Friday night, til a few minutes ago. In the interim I went to the library to use their computers twice, the second time almost bringing me to my knees in anguish because of how s-l-o-w it was going. And by slow I mean that when I tried to delete 10 emails from my inbox, it took about 3 minutes for the task to be accomplished.

Weep with me, my friends.

At that point I called a friend and asked if I could come use her computer instead, which worked out somewhat better.

More tales of misery and rapture to come in the next few days (if my internet connection remains functional). I've got new photos and videos to share.....if I ever have the time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Opportunity Knocking: Learn From My Mistake

Dear friends, I want to tell you something: If you have a computer and care even a little bit about the files, photos, music, and programs that you have on it--get thee to a store where you can purchase an external hard drive right away. And use it faithfully.

I finally got my computer's restoration disc. I lost everything I had on my computer. Pictures. Books almost finished. Tons of downloadable items. Every photo that was already resized correctly that would make getting my baby boutique back up faster. Gone.

I am going to go have a little cry now. Goodbye.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Times Tales Rocks!

If you've read this blog very long you know that my 10 year old son tends to struggle with math. Though we've found many tools along the way that have definitely helped him, it's still pretty slow going on a typical school day.

Lately he has had trouble learning multiplication facts, so I was on the lookout for a way to help him. The Timez Attack game I told you about last week was good, but unfortunately my computer crashed shortly after installing it, so we haven't been able to play it.

What did catch my eye was a sale on Times Tales, which I've been aware of for quite awhile but hadn't ever seen in person.

The system arrived the other day and I started looking it over, and promptly could not understand what it was going to do to help my kid learn math facts. I read some of the instruction booklet and really, really didn't understand how it would work. This morning I looked at it some more and was thinking that I wondered how quickly I could sell it to someone else. But then I decided to just follow the instructions, even though it wasn't making sense to me, and just see what would happen.

My 8 and 10 year olds sat down with me while we went step by step through the program. After a few minutes I was starting to see how it was going to work. And within 40 minutes BOTH of those boys knew EVERY multiplication fact for numbers 6-9! My 8 year old was smiling from ear to ear, all excited about how "Now I learned multiplication!" and he's only in second grade, so isn't even up to multiplication yet. The 10 year old was more subdued....sort of mildly amazed that his brain had been tricked into learning something. His regular math lesson went easier than usual, and I am pretty darn excited.

Basically, the program works using mnemonic devices and little stories to help the child remember math facts. It's quite clever. The set I got is their older set which just covers numbers 6-9, but tonite I'm ordering the supplement that covers 3s and 4s. It's not expensive, is non-consumable, so is an easy, helpful purchase to use for all of the kids.

40 minutes!! Can you believe that? Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Someone in need

I'd never heard of the Nienie blog until today. Blogger Stephanie Nielson were critically burned in a plane crash on August 16. Stephanie sustained burns over 80% of her body. Her husband was burned about 30% of his body. They have four young children. You can read more about their situation here.

Their medical needs a great---multiple skin grafting surgeries, and more have already caused their hospital bills to be over $2 million dollars, and their insurance capped out at $1 million. Fundraising efforts are underway, and donations are being accepted. Go see how you can make a difference in the life of this family. Last I checked, praying was free.

Always in My Heart

I was just reading Heather King's memoir Parched, and got caught by surprise at what she said after telling about two of her closest friends from her teenage years:

"I would go on to have a long, long history with both of them, and though they are no longer part of my daily life, even now keep them always in my heart."

Almost immediately my thoughts shot to some of the very dear people in my heart, bonds formed in high school or before. My throat got tight, and tears filled my eyes. I know just what she means.

I can't explain why it is that a bond could be so strong that even if I don't get to see or talk to some of these people for years or decades, I'd drop everything to help them in a time of need, or to listen if they needed to talk. But it's there.

I miss those people. I am so glad about the ones that I keep in contact with. I think of them often, and hope that life's ups and downs have not been too unkind.

I was thinking that the years that have gone by since high school feel, to me, less like a time line and more like a journey that has led me far, far away. I have this vague idea that maybe if we could all walk back the way we came, maybe we could recapture our youth. Maybe get a do-over on some things that we now have the life experience to understand more fully than we could then.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Clearly, the deck is stacked against me

I do not exaggerate one single tiny iota when I tell you that literally every. stinkin. little. thing. that needs to happen in order for my businesses to get up and running again is taking way, way, waaaaaaaay, way more time, energy, learning curve, and frustration than I ever could have imagined.

If a malfunction could occur, it has.

If a server could go down, it did.

If a weird setting could be in place to cause extra trouble, you can bet your bippy it was there.

If I needed help, you can believe that it was nearly impossible for me to find in a timely manner.

If emails could get lost in cyberspace, mine did.

If I could possibly waste money on solutions that turned out to not be, I did.

If a computer, printer, or other piece of technology could refuse to work, break down, go slow, crash, malfunction, disconnect, or otherwise not do what I needed it to do, that happened as well.

If I could turn into a boring, blathering, griping version of myself, adding verse after verse to this same old stale song of technological vomit, I did.

Nothing is getting better. No end in sight. Today I almost decided to just can the whole enterprise and forget it. I still haven't entirely ruled it out.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Impressions of the RNC

I can't get Twitter to work on my loaner computer, so I'm going to update this post as I watch the RNC online.

General impressions:

Fun music, but....

Lots of white man's overbite.

It is for good reason that venues usually offering dancing as an activity are dimly lit. Nobody should have to see this in full light.

Why oh why do speechmakers have to sound so speech-y? Why can't anyone give a speech that sounds like normal speech? I can. Why can't they? Every time I see political speeches I find myself wishing I could be there to show them how it's done....

Here's a question for anybody who cares to answer: Do you think that what is said in these speeches means anything to the people listening? So much of it seems to be the typical slogan-type ways that politicians speak. I find myself thrilling a little bit when someone actually says something specific and real about an idea or a plan.

Mike Huckabee: A guy who can *almost* give a normal-sounding speech. Funny, too.

I see a lot of comments by people talking about how much they don't like John McCain. To me, knowing how much he has truly endured and given as an American speaks volumes about his commitment and motives.

Oh lawsie....pointing out that Sarah Palin played basketball and was Miss Wasilla....oh my. Im cringing.

Good job pointing out that the Palins are a family just like the rest of us. I hope their daughter Bristol is feeling a lot of support. What a lot for a young girl to deal with.

The governor of Hawaii is doing a great job with her speech!

Rudy is calling out Obama's mail....I would be hiding my head under the bed if I was Barak tonite.

Excellent speech by Rudy Guliani.

Cindy McCain's lime green dress----I love it that this woman doesn't feel obligated to limit her wardrobe to red, white, and blue.

Rudy is stirring the pot! He's been fun to listen to.

Sarah Palin is rocking the house!

Her speech was awesome.

(Did any of you see little Piper Palin licking the palm of her hand and using it to swipe down her baby brother's hair? What a hoot!)

Well, this thing is going on longer than I'm willing to stay awake. I guess John McCain will have to go on without me watching. G'nite....

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Yes. Yes. It CAN get worse!

Still so sign of the recovery disc. And it's not available online. However, if I want to pay $20 and wait 2-3 weeks, I can have one sent to me. Isn't THAT just great?

Today's technological nightmare included having my husband's laptop (that he was kind enough to leave here for me) lock up and not work for the whole day, until maybe an hour ago when I figured out a way to fix it. (Had to uninstall the printer that I installed this morning. So now I can't print postage from home. Will now need to take orders to the PO every day...but at least so far there have been orders) My son's computer doesn't like me and wouldn't work at all today. So in order to carry on with business stuff I did it all via the library's computer, in 10 minutes of time that I had while my son took his driver's permit test. (he passed! Now my kid can drive!)

Thankfully, there have still been some orders, but filling them will continue to be tricky, what with having to do everything the s-l-o-w way.

To add fuel to the fire, we got some lab results back about the health of our poor rescue dog Marlee. She has:

kidney disease
liver disease
pancreas disease
muscle wasting disease or just significant muscle wasting because of being malnourished
and, finally, a bladder infection.

No wonder the poor girl is none too perky.

So, another $70 to the vet for three medications, and now I can look forward to more of the same as long as she lives. It would sure be nice if my businesses could get back up and running so that I could afford this! Because expensive, sick, elderly, deaf dogs are kind of outside the realm of our usual budget.

And, to add insult to injury....I accidentally bought maxi pads WITHOUT wings the other night. This did not make me happy. Wings are quite important to me, you see.

Those are just the highlights. (or would that be low lights?)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

And just when I thought everything had gone wrong....

Would you believe that on top of all the recent business-related hijinks and messes, that my computer crashed yesterday? And then I tried to get on my son's computer, and it wouldn't work. Hours later his computer *was* working, only to have it stop working within 5 minutes of me trying to catch up on my work.

Obviously I wasn't meant to spend time on the computer yesterday! ;)

Instead I....

baked bread
made product to fill a large order
started reading Perfect Madness
taught my kids Pig Latin (or, should I say ig-pay atin-lay?)
cooked dinner
and relaxed a little bit

My computer is getting fixed by my son's computer genius friend. Apparently we had a virus. Now the problem is that I can't find my file with the recovery disc in it. Yeah, the deck is stacked against me these days. Hopefully we can find it online somewhere.

I keep asking myself, and God (if God is listening) if all of this means something. Is there a lesson here I should be learning? (How about, "When you have your web sites hosted by someone that starts to give you reason to think you cannot trust him, get thee away to new hosting!") Am I supposed to go in some other direction? Today I prayed, "God, what am I supposed to do?!" All I heard was, "Well what on earth do YOU think you should do?" :) It's funny how sometimes God sounds just like me....

So, what should I do? Do the next thing, I guess. Get the computer fixed. Start using an external hard drive to back up all of my stuff. Keep trying to figure out what to do to restore my businesses back into working order. Keep trying to find someone to help me get my new shopping carts looking nice and working properly. Keep pressing on with homeschooling. And do my best to not get my knickers in a twist in the meantime.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Brave Enough to Admit It: I don't like Dave Ramsey's class

I was over at Alana's blog today and read her post about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace book and class. She got me ranting and raving, so now it's my very own blog post!

First of all, the class is not necessary. Talk about a waste of $100. Get the book from the library and read it for free. If you are like us, it will take you a long time to get a $1000 emergency fund, and as soon as you do, you're sure to have an emergency that will cost well over $1000. Lather. Rise. Repeat.

The class...we took it....and I hated it. Absolutely hated it. Listening to the testimonials about how people "paid off $45,000 of debt in 5 months" was baloney, considering that this usually means that they sold off their boat and the extra car, thereby eliminating their debt. I would listen to those testimonials and think about constantly having more month than money, nothing to sell off that was worth anything, and us already doing absolutely everything we could do to bring in money. We were not magically going to pay off even $450 in 5 months at the rate we were going.

Or the information about how, when you want a $3000 Dining Room Set, you need to budget X $ per month to save for it. I cannot imagine when the day would come when I would be buying $3000 worth of anything but half a year's worth of food to go into my non-existent dining room.

To me, Dave Ramsey's class is for people that have plenty of money and plenty of extras, but lack the good sense to manage it all properly. For people who are already with their backs up against the wall financially, certainly the principles can still be applied, but it will take you a long time just to get through the first two steps. Just start with that and do what you can.

Now, I will say that if I had known about Dave Ramsey's teachings BEFORE I even got started as an adult, I certainly could have been in a much better financial situation for lo these many years. I teach my kids very often about the importance of saving up so that they can buy their first car, so that they can get a decent job, so they can save for their future, etc. I tell them how much money we spend on our mortgage payment each month, and how darn nice it would be if we could have saved up enough money in advance to buy a house with cash.

I think the plan is good. But I think you should read the book and start with step one first. (Hey--I'll save you reading the book. Step One is to save at least $1000 in an emergency fund.) Step two is to start paying off your debts using the debt snowball. Basically, line all your debts up, smallest to largest. If you have anything extra you can chunk toward the smallest debt, do that and keep doing that until you pay that off. Then you take the amount of money you were paying on that bill and chunk that money plus any extra toward your next smallest debt. Keep going until you pay that off, and keep on going until the only thing you have left to pay off is your mortgage. Then save up 3-6 months of living expenses. And then go read the book again. By the time you get all that done there will probably be at least one or two or three newer editions of the book for you to enjoy. :)

There is also the concept of planning out where all of the paycheck will go before it gets into your spendy little hands. And the dread Cash Envelope System. Some people really find it helpful. For us, none of it really clicked. The paychecks here aren't the same every time, so we don't get to map out everything in advance. And shopping with cash stinks for moms with kids in the car at the gas pump (let's unload 5 little kids including a sleepy baby to cross the parking lot to go in and wait in line in the convenience store!), and moms who have to grocery shop with children and find it difficult to also tally their grocery costs all through the store (while also keeping everyone together, consulting her list, sorting through the coupons, and fielding requests for special items by hungry and/or bored children), in order to not go over the amount of cash in their envelope.

I feel my blood pressure rising with irk just thinking about it.....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fun Game to Teach Multiplication

My 10 year old son needed some help learning multiplication facts, so I turned to my friend Google to see what I could find. We got a free download of this cool game Timez Attack and boy howdy does he love it. It is set up a lot like a playstation game and I would say is extremely appealing to boys in general. Seems like a good tool, and he was out of his mind with excitement that he could play Timez Attack and it would count for school. :) Check it out!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recommended Reading: it'll take you 2 minutes

I just loved this post about the value of intangibles, and other gems. The part about the mother and their popcorn and soda parties just about made me cry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stress and Aggravation

So if you ever visit either of my business blogs, you might already know that I am in the midst of a Code Red situation with my web sites. The short version (ha! short! You should hear the long version!) is that my web host company has apparently gone belly-up. Their web site is gone, the owner is incommunicado, and along with those pesky details is the bigger issue--the security certificates on my sites that allow it to be safe for payments to go through at checkout, has gone down with the business. So, the business sites are still there, but nobody can make it through the checkout. Sadly, this is the case for both of my businesses, plus tons of other ones out there.

So I'm in the process of moving to new shopping carts with new hosting. Which is an easy way of explaining that I have a whole humongous ton of work to do. Basically, everything that I have worked on and paid for to be done with my web sites for the past 2 years now needs to be undone and redone. Quickly.

While also homeschooling five children, and doing all of the other wife and mom things that I do in regular life, of course.

Try not to be jealous, please.

I have worked with many different techie guys to see if there is any lesser evil way for me to make this transition. There isn't. So yesterday I had to notify all of my customers that within a couple of days the sites are going to go down, and I'm not sure how long it will take to get them back up. I'll have to literally "turn off" the present sites and have no more access to them, and then "turn on" the new shopping cart/site which will then need to be customized with my design and have all of the products loaded into it. Which could be seriously time consuming. If all goes really, really well, maybe I could do my smaller site in a day. But, not much in this process has gone really, really well thus far, so I'm not counting on anything like that on the horizon. (hoping, yes. counting on: no.)

So it's a crazy, crazy time here. Right now I'm doing ok. I got all of the stuff off of site #1 yesterday, and tomorrow I will start working on getting the new version of the site going. In the meantime I'm working on taking the stuff off of site #2, and hope to be working on getting the new version of that one on Saturday. Wish me luck! (and you can watch my Twittering in the sidebar to the right, which may be all of the updates you will get from me for a couple days....I just don't know what to expect from this ride)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Candle Giveaway!

This week you have an opportunity to win Mia Bella Candles over at the Baby Boutique Blog. Go check it out! (and tell your friends too)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Newsy Bits From Middle School

Today I heard an interesting story from one of my daughter's friends that was visiting for the day. A mutual 6th grade friend of theirs was walking through the 8th grade hallway at school, and was stopped by an 8th grader who asked her if she'd like to buy some pot. The girl said no.

When the friend went and told a teacher, she was told, "If it happens again, let me know."

Somehow, not having my daughter in middle school this year seems even better.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More On My Love Affair With Etsy

So I've perused literally hundreds of pages of crafty artsy goodness over at etsy, and to save myself from having to post about every. single. one. of the fantabulous finds that made my heart sing, I learned that I could create a Favorites list, and then a little graphic goodie for my left sidebar to show off just a few of the lovelies. So, if you enjoy seeing what's what on etsy, or just want to see what I liked, clickety click on over there and have a gander.

I would like to say that I have absolutely NO intention of acquiring every single one of the birdie items on my favorites list. That would be, like, totally wacked. I just added 'em to the faves as I saw 'em, and they sure did add up! I do not want to become like the goose/cow/teddy bear craze of the 1980s with my birds. Nosirree I do not.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Babes

On Friday morning my 8 year old was on the phone with his dad, getting a fatherly motivational speech because of his bad behavior. The 7 year old was sitting at the table doing his school work. He says out loud, "I wanna talk to dad and tell him that I have had GOOD behavior."

Which was quietly followed by a mumbled,

"....'cept for the kicking....."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Etsy, How I Love Thee

Since I've been painting and painting the main living area of my home, I've got a hankerin' to also spruce the place up with some adornments. I decided to go to the best place I know for unique and awesome stuff--etsy.

For those of you not in the know, etsy is like a handmade, unique ebay. (well, no auctions maybe it's like the coolest craft show or flea market in the world....) Tons of stores full of handmade wonderfulness. Absolutely awesome.

First I noticed that the cool birdies in this photo were from etsy. So off I went to do some hunting, and the gal that made those was kind enough to make some birdies for me too. Here's my birds:
Cute, eh? (Though one of my boys said that only one looked like a bird. The others he declared a seal and a dolphin.... I can see what he's saying. But I like 'em just the same.)

Yesterday I was in a mood to look some more, so started browsing, and fell in love with this:

I got the last matted print of this and I am so excited! I love it, love it, love it! Will be so excited when it arrives.

And apparently I have a newfound love for all things bird. Behold a few more things from my wish list:
Another print by the same artist. I love so many of the pieces at that shop!

Then there's this adorable birdie dish towel. Too cute!

And these cool mobiles have got me thinking about where I could put them......

I found this pillow to be really interesting, even though it seems to fit solidly into the category I like to call "Cute Ugly." I think this would look great on one of my dark red love seats.

It wasn't 100% gone to the birds, though. I did find a few non-birdie items that I thought were really fun:

I got a kick out of this Keep Calm and Carry On print. Seems like a message I could stand to be reminded of on a regular basis! Apparently this slogan was used on propaganda posters in England during Word War 2. Fun, eh?
And I love this pumpkin magnet, just because it's almost fall and I love all things pumpkin. :) So cute!