Last year I started a new tradition for New Year's Day.  I made a 30 min slideshow of the year, put some of the music that we listened to most that year in the background, and added in a few of the funniest videos.  I used the movie maker software that came on my computer, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as I had anticipated, except I never figured out how to get it to a format that would play on a DVD player (help would be appreciated here), but we watched it on the computer and loved it.  The girls have asked to watch it over and over this year.

Today I'm trying to stuff some of my favorite pics in a folder, so I don't have to do it all the week after Christmas.  I'm also running down the playlist, trying do decide which Taylor Swift songs I want my grandchildren to have to listen to.    :)

A sampling of some of the pics that will be on our 2010 slide show...

Written by Hannah, intending to keep all boys away except Dad...

What is a favorite family tradition of yours?

It's all perspective...

So after I posted yesterday, I talked to my Sister, and she said I was being funny about posting the picture.  She had already seen a picture and was convinced the house was not extravagant.  Well, if you consider that I now have more living space, and nicer living space than about 98% of the world, then it does seem extravagant.  But I guess it is just perspective.  If you compare it to neighborhoods in North Dallas, yes, it would be in the very modest category.  But anyway, it isn't a marble palace, but like I said, the nicest house I have ever lived in.  And here is the picture...

I had thought about posting more pictures...maybe some interior, but I thought, you know what Katie, you could use this to your instead of posting pictures, I'm extending the invitation for you to come in person to see the inside (which really isn't that spectacular...I don't want to get your hopes up too much...I really just want you to visit...).

Vacancy begins in March...let me know.  :)

Only a day away...

We close on our house tomorrow.  In light of that, I have thought about posting a picture of the house, and I am a little hesitant, and I will be frank, it has everything to do with my pride.  Yes, I am extremely proud of my humility.  It is a funny thing to come to terms with.  I know that the house we chose was the right house, but it is nice, no, it is really nice.  The nicest house I have ever lived in.  I'm having trouble with that.  I like my modest townhome.  It makes me feel humble...even when I am not.  Funny how that works.

The second option, I had come up with in my subconscious, was to post a picture and then explain about how it isn't as nice as it looks and really talk it down.  I do that a lot too, it makes me feel more humble, not sure why.

And all this brings to mind a story...about a car...

When we lived in Seminary housing, and everyone was dirt poor, there was a lady who lived there, she might have been a nice lady, but I didn't take the time to find out.  She drove a beamer (bmw).  That was all I needed to know about her.  I frequently said, as I walked by it in the parking lot, that she could give us some money if she had so much extra lying around.  Quite proud of myself in my dark green aerostar of weakness.  It was a terrible car, it really was, but I was quite proud of its ugliness.  I looked for pictures for about 10 minutes.  Apparently I wasn't proud enough of it to take pictures.  Anyway, as God would have it, I would get to be set in my place a couple years later, when Dave bought this...

Now, there was a good reason, of course, and I gave that good reason to everyone who would justification.  But just to drive myself crazy, I'm not telling you why he chose this car.  I'm not justifying myself to you.  It kills me to do it, but there it is.

I will say, that Dave endured criticism and down right hurtful remarks on a regular basis when he parked it in that same Seminary parking.  But I certainly can't blame those people, I am one of them.

So here's to all of us that our proud of our modest means.  May we live to let others live the way God wants them to.

BTW, I know I just ended the above with a preposition, Dave, but I liked the way it sounded, so too bad.

And tomorrow, I just might post pictures of my beautiful house, if my pride will allow it.

math...helping without doing it for them

If you are like me, you are tired of hearing the same questions over and over because your kids forget how to do a problem, or just don't get something.  It is so much easier to just say, "it's take-away," than going through the why behind it.  But, of course, like everything else in child-rearing, easy in the short-term means more work in the long run.  Two of the things we are struggling with these days are word problems and area/perimeter.

Word Problems 

Stephanie is doing word problems that are mixed addition and subtraction, so she was always asking me whether it's plus or take-away.  When I was in school, my teacher taught me "clue words" like "difference" and "total".  This really confused me more than helped, because if the problem didn't have one of those words, I was out of luck.  So instead, I try to make the problem simpler for Steph.

Lets say, for example...we have 119 pumpkin scones and 320 cranberry scones.  How many more cranberry scones do we have than pumpkin.  Stephanie is immediately overwhelmed because it says hundreds.  So I change the problem and ask her out loud...we have 1 pumpkin scone and 3 cranberry scones, how many more cranberry scones than pumpkin.  Then when she says 2, I ask if she added 1 and 3 to get 2 or subtracted.  That way she has figured it out on her own.  She has just now gotten to the point that the hundreds don't overwhelm her, but it was a long haul.


Sarah is doing area and perimeter right now, and I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot with formulas.  Dave loves formulas, and most of the time doesn't know where the formula came from, or how it actually works.  I think this is just memorizing and not real math, so I automatically shun this type of math.  But it has worked pretty well for Dave thus far, so you can take this or leave it.  I have stopped with the formulas, and we have started using graph paper.  You can print this free graph paper, if you don't have any.  Counting squares has helped with understanding, and also with labeling...lines are labeled in cm, where as squares are labeled in cm2 (imagine the 2 floating in the air).

That's all, I hope this is helping someone...part of me feels like I'm the last person to figure this stuff out, because I normally am the last person to realize things, but maybe a someone will find this stuff helpful.  :)  Feel free to insert encouragement here...

Oh, and now that I have you thinking about scones, I was given a completely awesome recipe for pumpkin scones yesterday...I'm going to make it one more time and change a couple of things then I will share.  :)

define me

I'm still making my way through this incredible book by Susie Larson, the uncommon woman.  I am convicted every time I read it.  I thought I would share again pride took a hit...which is a great thing.

Unfortunately, we have a harder time extending grace toward those who struggle with areas that happen to be our area of strength. If we're good with money, we tend to look down on the one that doesn't have the savvy instinct that we possess.  If we are generally healthy, we feel sure that the chronically ill must be doing something wrong.

If we're honest here, most of us at some time or other feel subtly proud of our strengths when we're around a weakling.  For the most part, we try not to judge them, but wonder why they can't get it together...[she makes and exception for the more godly people she knows]

It is interesting, though, to note how subtly we take ownership of and credit for our areas of strength.  If we aren't careful, we will come to believe that these strengths define us.  We start to trust in the gifts instead of the Giver.

Today I'm thinking about what defines me...

a few firsts...

First, Harry Potter, without the spoilers.  Deathly Hallows comes in first place for Harry Potter movies.  Half-Blood Prince last.  Deathly Hallows first.  Half-Blood Prince last.  Not sure how the rest go, but these are firmly in place.  Seriously, I can't even watch Half-Blood Prince, it just makes me cringe way too often.  But I'll shut up about that now, it has been a year, I'll try and let it go.

First time I stepped foot into a Menard's was today.  We don't technically have Menard's in Kansas City, the closest one is about 20 miles outside the Metro area, I think, so I have heard about it, but never entered one.  They have one in Evansville, and it is my new favorite store.  If you don't have one by you, think Home Depot on steroids, with better prices.  I told Dave that he shouldn't let me go back without a chaperon.  I was half joking.

First time I visited this website was this week.  Coupled with the Menards experience, this could be really bad.  Bad for Dave, that is.

First Taylor Swift album I own, was given to me this weekend.  A couple of weeks ago, I read this post by Kat, and listened the The Best Day.  Kat warned me, but was right, it induced the ugly cry.  I mentioned to Dave that I listened to the song, and really liked it (I hope to eventually be able to listen to it without crying), and ended up with the whole album this weekend as a gift...something to listen to on the car ride home.  I'm officially a fan...of Dave...and Taylor.

And one last...last month Dave and I will be living in a different states, started yesterday.

status update

I've been fighting a terrible internet connection all week.  I am hoping that this will actually post. 

It is 1 1/2 hours until people will begin watching Harry Potter 7.  I am not one of those people, and I was a bit bummed by that, but will be seeing it tomorrow night with my fanatical husband...I wonder if he is going to dress up.  :)  So basically, no internet, way too much laundry, I just got unpacked, and I am packing again tonight.  Such is life.  I will let you know how HP goes.  You probably shouldn't read that post if you don't like spoilers, or don't care about Harry Potter.  I also will let you know that a movie that is a book adaptation will never meet my expectations, so my review will most likely be negative...but since HP6 hit rock bottom, and all they have left is to move upwards, I'm hopeful. 

mischief managed.

math...a brief history and the power of ten

In my own very limited personal experience, I have found that the subject that is most intimadating to most moms is math.  So I offer my small amount of understanding, in hopes that it may encourage some of you on to love math...okay, not to hate math.  And just to keep it real, I can't spell and I am terrible at grammar, but maybe you could help enlighten me.

A History

Let's start out with the terrible measurement system that the US and Britain still use.  Inches, feet, yards, is really enough to drive you mad with all the memorizing that is needed just to use this silly system.  But there was a good reason for the system, hundreds of years ago (not today).  Mankind did not always understood the decimal point.  The decimal point revolutionized math, and then 10 became the easiest number to use, by far.  Just move the decimal.  That is why the metric system is so stinking easy to use.  But before we understood decimals, we just used whole numbers and fractions.  The number 6 is the easiest whole number to use, because it can be evenly divided by 1,2,3, and 6.  The number 5 is only divisible by 1 and 5.  The number 12 is divisible by 1,2,3,4,6,and 12.  Where the number 10 is only divisible by 1,2,5, and 10.  All that to say, that 10 is the number of choice for the day, but don't hate 12, it had it's purpose.

The Power of Ten

Ten is the number for today, so now that we know that, what do we do with that in homeschooling?  I am proposing that the most important thing you can teach your Pre-K children is the 10 number bonds...what sets of numbers make up 10 which are as follows...1 and 9...2 and 8...3 and 7...4 and 6...5 and 5.  This is the single most important concept for mental math later in life.  More important than multiplication tables.  Having these memorized before looking at a single math workbook will give your kids such a huge headstart, whether they are homeschooled or not.

This is why.  When you do a subtraction problem, like 15-7, you are most likely to think about the numbers 3 and 5 and add them together.  You get the 3 from the ten number bond, that is 7 and 3 make 10.  Then 15 is 5 more than 10.  So you add 3 and 5 together to get the answer 8.  This becomes increasingly more important the bigger the numbers become, as you start thinking in 100s instead of 10s.  So can do this in your head by adding 2 to 298 and subtracting 300 from 759.  Then adding 459 plus 2 to get your answer...461.  All of this revolves around the fact that you know those ten number bonds...really, it does.  Think about every multiple digit addtion and subtraction problem you have ever done...carrying borrowing, etc...all needing to know these 10 number bonds.


So how do you teach your children ten number bonds.  Anytime you are counting things in groups of ten, you are teaching this principle.  Kids are curious, they will notice these groupings automatically.  A few things we do are:

Pick up toys 10 at a time.

Disperse candy 10 pieces at a time.

Set a timer for 10 minutes until something special, and watch the time tick off.

Allow 10 books to be checked out from the library at a time.  "How many more can I have", will inevitably be asked, which becomes a great teaching moment.

This is all really basic once you think about it, but I have found that most people, including me, weren't taught the why behind math, just how to memorize and do it.  I hope it has been helpful, and if not, please don't feel the need to read the next post, which will involve helping your younger elementary kids with math seatwork.  It might or might not be on Monday.  We will see.  :)

about my pity party

I was going to tell you about my breakdown the other night, but first, I have to share about my experience last night at our new YMCA.  This is Dave's second to work.  He is actually at the apartment less than those 2 places.  If you count sleeping, it may be a toss up.  And for the record, I go to the Y twice a week, mainly because the girls have PE there, and it looks bad for me to read the whole time.  So I do a 15 min weight workout and then read for 45 min.  Anyway, the point is, I do use weights twice a week.  So back to the Y last night.  I have never used the weights in this Y, and they have completely different systems, complete with a separate handle to change the weight increments by 5lbs, which I still don't get.  So I go and ask the employee that works the weight room for help.  Apparently you have to make an appointment for the full tour of the weight room, but he had 5 minutes to spare to help me out.  I listened attentively and asked a few questions, and at the end of the 5 minutes, he encouraged me to make an appointment for the full tour.  And then, with a serious, yet concerned face, he tells me that the tour normally lasts an hour, but in my case, more like an hour and a half.  Thanks.  Very nice.

So with that in mind, my week has been somewhat rough.  The littlest things have been pretty major, as I don't know anyone here, and have had to relearn about everything it seems (and have been so disappointed with the service at both Starbucks, I'm thinking of giving up, not really, but the service has been terrible).

This is going to be very long, I'm seeing that now...sorry.

So last week (history is appropriate here), I was planning on visiting Dave only Thurs thru Sunday of this week, that way the girls could go to their regular AWANA.  But Sunday night, I decided that the better plan would be to come earlier, and have the girls go to AWANA here, that way they could get to know a little about the place we are moving, and Dave and I could have 90 minutes by ourselves...the latter being the main reason for coming earlier in the week.

So yesterday afternoon I talked to Dave and mentioned that I would go ahead and feed the girls so we could leave right when he got home.  And so I was feeding the girls dinner when he called.  He reported that he was going to be home later than he though...I'm thinking still before AWANAs, but when I ask how late, I quickly realize he has no idea.  He then proceded to explain the reason to me for his delay, which I heard none of, because I basically started sobbing immediately.  I probably wasn't very nice, I will admit it.  But he was ruining my plans.

So at this point, I am taking the girls to AWANA, by myself if you didn't catch that earlier, and since I have been blessed with a GPS, I wasn't thinking about the possibility of getting lost.  But as we get nearer to the church, I am seeing a lot of road closed signs, and then my turn is closed, and as I begin making a mile wide circle around the church, I realize that the road that the church is on, is the one that is closed.  So I make my way past the road closed signs, and yes, I'm crying again (I talked to the pastor of this church the day before, and he didn't mention anything about construction) and our 15 minutes early has turned into 5 minutes late.  I'm considering turning around, but really, the sole reason I didn't turn around was that then Dave would win, and there would be no free babysitting and that he stood me up wouldn't matter anymore.  Yes, that exactly how my brain was working.  So I pushed on, and drove about 3/4 of a mile on a packed dirt road, dodging man holes that were 4 feet high, in the dark.  And we did finally make it to the church.

My eyes are red and puffy at this point, and my main goal is to get the girls into the church, sign them in, say as little as possible and go find a coffee shop that doesn't have horrible service.  I do my best to sign the girls in with one word answers (horrible first impression, I know) and after 15 minutes of showing me where all the girls are going and where I'm supposed to pick them up, I am heading out the door.  But as I'm leaving, one of the Sparks leaders stops me (she probably detected the red eyes) to tell me a little about the church, find out a little about me, and was really as sweet as can be.  I talked with her about 20 minutes, and then proceeded back out to the car, in a much better mood. 

As I'm pulling out of the parking lot, Dave calls and says that he is ready to meet me at this unfound coffee shop with better service...which ended up being Panera (they have a Panera here, I love Panera).  Our date did get cut to about 15 minutes...not what I had hoped for, but I did later realize that if Dave had been with me to drop the girls off, I probably wouldn't have met this very sweet woman, and gotten to begin a relationship with her.  I kind of think God knew all this, but I am still reluctunt to admit this because it would let Dave off the hook, and now that he has actually started reading my blog, I feel that admiting that it was probably God's perfect timing is about as much as I can give.  Sorry Hun.

The end...less on my life, more on math and homeschooling tomorrow.

some diversions

 I'm going to stop being grumpy now...and you won't have to hear about any more showers...sorry about that.

Yesterday afternoon, we found Dave's computer stocked with Brit Nicole, which has been a great diversion, unless you are the lady downstairs.  It has been a continual dance party.  I can't hear whining or crying over the music, either.

Diversion #2...Furniture Assembly 101.  The girls helped assemble these stools, so we have some place to sit.  Dave appropriately noted that they are now more advanced than he is in the realm of furniture assembly.  Yes.  They absolutely are.  At least he knows his gifts.

I will leave the story about how I spent most of last night crying for a later date, when I can process and maybe even laugh a little at myself.  We are off to invade the library...Have a great day.

a shower of epic proportions

We are now in Evansville visiting Dave.  The girls have been bouncing off the wall excited.  I have been grumpy pretty much the whole time. :( 

Dave has this 2 bedroom apartment...which would be a wonderful place to live if you are single, but without furniture it is on par with a cave.  A really echoey cave.  A cave above a nice unsuspecting woman and a dog, who shouldn't have to be subjected to us...hopefully she can hold out a few more days. 

First mistake was not bring my coffee maker.  What was I thinking? 

Second, I really didn't figure in the psychotic, hyperactive spirit of 4 girls who haven't seen dad in 8 days. would think he was Justin Beiber or something...and you're right, I might be a little jealous, which probably adds to the irritation.

Third, I didn't bring my bundt pan.

So anyway, enough with my moaning...but I have been pretty much that miserable to be around these past 24 hours...then this morning, after the first run I have taken in weeks, I got into the shower.  It is one of those showers like a hotel that you can only adjust the water temperature, but not the pressure.  So I turn on this water, and I have never seen this kind of water pressure in my life.  I am thinking that it might actually bruise me.  But I have no options, so I proceed with the pelting water and after about 30 seconds I concluded that this was pretty much the best shower of my life.  I felt like I had my own personal masseuse.  I could feel the tension draining from my body.  I couldn't even hear the girls doing gymnastics in the living room.  It was completely wonderful, and I began thinking about staying in the shower all day.  But then, the obvious happened, my shower turned to ice.  It was sweet while it lasted.  Maybe even enough to outweigh the disadvantages of the cave for the rest of the week.  We'll see.

Becoming a Blessing

I have been thinking more about this Susie Larson quote, that I posted here a couple of months ago.

How do we know if we are held captive by others' opinions...When our goal is more to impress than to bless.

As I try to fit in with my peers, I'm often thinking about how to appear laid back and without cares.  It is a prized character trait in society today.  Not getting too worked up over anything, and not caring too much about any issue or person for that matter.  Maybe I'm off base from your perspective...I'm just saying this is how I see things going down.

At Life Group tonight, some of my friends were talking about the same type thing...that we, as women, tend to let other people call us, other people befriend us on facebook, or more simply put, let others make that first move.  It ends up, though, that lots of women end up feeling lonely and isolated.

I also buy into the thought that people don't really want to know me...people don't look at me as a friend...people certainly don't look up to me.  The thing is, it just isn't true.  Not everyone thinks about me in a positive light, but most people are just as insecure as I am.  And with the Holy Spirit residing in me, I have something else for people to look up to.  I remember how I felt when I met the person who eventually led me to Christ.  I thought, "He's totally different, I wonder where that peace comes from."   I respected him for that peace. insecurity is a bad excuse to be stand-offish about relationships.

So, in light of my goal to bless more than impress, I'm going to have to start making the first move, going beyond the cool, laid back persona, in order to really bless others.  I'm not saying I need to start attacking people, but that my insecurities are holding me back...holding me back from God's blessing in my life...holding me back from becoming that blessing to others. 

In case you need something to do...

It is now completely obvious that I have way too much free time on my hands...I have posted about everyday this week...and I am restraining myself.

I have also had so much fun catching up on some in case you needed something to do...I thought I would share.  :)

But first...

     I walk into the bathroom to brush my teeth this morning, and this is how I find Annie's toothbrush. 

So on to things to do with your free time...

I am loving this blog.  You can read about Caroline and her "dangerous moves" here, and better yet, watch the "dangerous moves" here.  Caroline is in 2nd grade...don't worry, it is a family friendly experience.

One of my friends, Sam, moved to the Netherlands a few months ago, with here new husband Dan, and her chronicles of her adventures are so much fun to read...and they make me SO glad to be living here, in the Midwest. 

At Inspired to Action, Kat has this video that is so moving...making me want to be the Mom that my girls wish I would be...the Mom that God wants me to be.  So great.

And last but not least...I was also wondering why I've Been Cleaning My Home All Wrong?  But whatever the reason, it is going to stop.  :)  Hope you all have a good night. 

a monument

There are days when I feel like I will never change...that I'm stuck being the person I am today...that my striving is all in vain.  I figured out a while back that I need a monument for those days.  I need somthing to remind me that I'm not that same person I was ten years ago.  I need something that I can't second guess myself on...something pretty concrete. 

My monument is my house...well, the cleanlieness of my house.  If you talk to my parents, my college roommates or my patient husband, you would know that my house is not what it was 10 years is not even what it was a year ago.  If I were a little more humble, I would post pictures demonstrating this, but as it goes, I'm not quite reconciled completely with the filth I lived in for many, many years.  Neither am I defined by the filth or the cleanliness, but I am encouraged by the transformation.  I have transformed in many other ways too, but it is so much easier to second guess myself on things that can't be recorded in jpeg format.

So on days when I feel utterly discouraged, I remember, I have the Spirit of Power, that has transformed me, and is transforming me.  Do you have a monument?

Cowgirl Fun

I stayed up entirely too late reading this last night.  Do Not click on this link unless you have 2-3 hours to spare or you have greater will-power than I, when it comes to whirlwind romance sagas.  You've been warned.

To go with the above theme, the girls all had some cowgirl fun at the Red Barn in Weston, Mo last week.

I maybe should have checked the helmet instead of worried about pictures.  That doesn't look like it will do a thing.  Also, I realize you can't see Annie's face, she won't leave a ponytail in her's enough to drive you nuts.
Annie on the pony.

This is such a great picture (if I don't say so myself).

Hannah on her way out of the Prairie Grass Maze.  For optimal enjoyment, you will have to enlarge the picture and see the pout on her face.
This is an attempt at fake crying, which will be laughing as soon as she starts talking.  :)

It's all about this tiny cut on her hand...which doesn't really hurt, because she has the pain tolerance of a solid rock, but she just wanted a little sympathy.  I can do that.

This is Sarah in absolute bliss.  She is my animal lover through and through, and no amount of talk about how much work and money pets are has yet to sink in...looks like she will have to learn that lesson the hard way. 

So cute.  This is pretty big stuff from the girl who used to be afraid of everything.

I had to add this one, I love the way the helmet totally envelops Hannah's petite featured face.


We are getting back to normal here...sort of, it is past midnight, and I am still up, but soon things will be normal.  :)  School has been a bit sporadic lately (we did school through half of the summer for those who are counting), anyway, the great part about sporadic school is seeing more passion in the learning process.  We bought Sarah a protractor this Walmart...where the lady that helped me find this needle in the haystack told me that they don't sell protractors much even during school supply pandemonium.  She attributed it to the fact that kids don't use them in school anymore.  I told her that this could not be, it is sacrilege and got me a little worked up, but I decided to drop it, as she was set in her belief.  But I still don't believe it.  Please tell me that your children or nieces or nephews or anyone you know in school are learning to use a protractor.  Anyway, this has nothing to do with the whole passion thing.  Sarah got to use the protractor, and was still doing math after dinner, and finally asked if she could take it to bed with her, as she wanted to do just one more page.  A child after her mother's heart...well, not really.  This is a first for her, and I really always felt that way about math.  Oh, well.  So a month of math devoured in a night...that is something anyway.

Afternoon Coffee made perfect...

Jeana's recipe for Martha Stewart's Apple Bundt Cake has inspired me into thinking about afternoon treats, which make coffee that much better. :)  I'm seriously considering buying a bundt pan, but in the meantime, my favorite coffee compliment...cranberry scones. 

I got the recipe off of and have altered it to make me feel a little better about eating them so frequently...the picture is also from that site.  Just trying to give credit where credit is due.

So on to the recipe...

The Best Ever Cranberry Scones with Orange Glaze
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)
1 egg

1 cup dried cranberries

2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons orange juice

In a small bowl blend the sour cream and baking soda and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.  (I use a pizza stone, and put it in the oven to preheat now)

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, bp, cream of tartar, and salt.  Add oil and cut in butter.  Add the egg and sour cream mixture and stir just until moistened.  Mix in cranberries.

Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead a few times (just to get it to hold together).  Form into 3 rounds about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Slice the rounds into 6-8 wedges each. Place wedges 2 inches apart on the preheated stone and cook for 12-15 minutes.  (I normally have to do two rounds in the oven).  They should be slightly brown when done.

Mix powdered sugar and enough orange juice just till it runs off the fork.  Drizzle with glaze (not pictured above). These are best warm.  I have also made them with raisins and a plain vanilla glaze.  They are great without the glaze too, but pretty much to die for with the glaze.

I'm hoping that Jeana and I are going to inspire you to post recipes...lemon poppy-seed bundt cake pleeeease!

Insanity break time...

Dave has been gone a good 24 the insanity has set in.  This is not the insanity that some of my more normal friends seem to experience when their husbands leave...we have our own brand here.  I just realized that it is 6pm and that we should probably think about dinner, but the fact is, none of the girls will eat because we had lunch less than 3 hours ago.  Yes, this is how days go when we don't have Dad here.  I throw all scheduling to the wind just because...I can.  We have been painting basically all day, and doing various other craft projects that make a huge mess, that won't get cleaned up until Friday.  I'm okay with this for a week or so, then I will realize that I have to be the grown up, because no one is going to tell me to go to bed before midnight, and that our house doesn't have enough space to hold an additional art studio.  I have moved up in the world a little...all the dishes are done and the bedrooms are anyway.  But if you are in the area, please call before you stop by...especially before noon...I can pretty much guarantee that I will still be in pjs.

On a more serious note...we have had so many people ask if they can help with something because Dave is gone, and I am so appreciative of all the offers for help.  The girls and I were thinking about that last night, and we concluded that the things that Dad provides can't be replicated by anyone else, except for maybe providing for the family, and that he is doing from afar.  But we will miss wrestling and cuddling with Dad...the girls will miss watching Disney movies with Dad, because mom really doesn't do animated features.  Hannah will miss her punching bag...the problem with volunteering for that position is that Hannah doesn't really punch anyone but Dad, plus, she is pretty strong now, and it actually hurts.  Pretty much everything else I have the time and the energy compensate for.  Obviously not the discipline, but the ability at least. 

We will be Hoosiers...

Dave will officially be working in Indiana on Monday.  Can you say whirlwind?  Evansville, Indiana is going to be our new home, and Dave flies out tomorrow afternoon.
We went house hunting the week after we heard, and have a contract on a house that the whole family easily agreed upon, complete with climbing tree for Sarah and fireplace for Hannah.  I will post pics when it is actually finalized which will hopefully be mid-December.  So the next 2 months will be long, but will at least have some semblance of order and routine.  We can finish up stuff here before Christmas and start the new year fresh in our new locale.

God has been very good.  All the wheels have been turning smoothing to get all of the logistics worked out.  There are too many praises in this area to mention all of them, but the biggest one is that I don't have to pack.  It is all going to be done for me.  So know I just have to figure out what to do with myself the next 2 months.

Lots of crying here today, as everyone is going to miss Dad.  A trip to Chuck E Cheese here in a few hours will be the culmination of his time here, which should be loads of fun.

I feel like I should feel more and say more, but right now I'm still processing.

That's Nuffing

A couple of weeks ago we went to Paradise Park...a completely awesome place for kids to play creatively...not to mention Mom and Dad have to be creative to figure out a way to pay for it.  But anyway...lots of creative fun.

After we are there for an hour Annie begins the potty dance.  "Annie, do you need to go to the bathroom?" I say casually.  "No, No, I'm just dancing."  She replies.  Two minutes later I force her to the bathroom.  After we get to the bathroom, she goes in and comes out of the stall twice, saying that she tried to go potty both times.  It doesn't occur to her yet to wait a few seconds so I might actually think she could have tried.  So finally, after pulling her pants down myself, she is on the potty, the door is closed again.  I hear the tinkling sound, and immediately Annie's voice saying, "That's nuffing."  I try to hold back the roll of laughter, at her futile attempts to hide the obvious from me.

A couple of weeks later, I'm thinking back at this incident laughing again, and it occurs to me how often I say that to God.  "That's nothing."

I'm only yelling this one time because I have a really good reason.  That's nothing...

I skipped the the bible reading time this morning because we didn't have enough time.  That's nothing...

I ate that whole plate of cookies because I really wanted them.  That's nothing...

Ironically, the reason I wanted her to go to the bathroom, was so she could play more.  Obviously we would be going home early if she decided to wait too long.  But God is also wanting what is best for me...and it isn't nothing  to Him.

BTW, Annie doesn't have to go potty in the picture, she just grabs her crotch when she is really excited...I think she tries to hold herself together...afraid she will explode with excitement.

things I don't want to know about me...

Stephanie posted this very real and convicting post a couple of days ago, entitled 25 things i don't want you to know about me.

That post was in response to a post she had read with the same title. Also very convicting.

I began to think about what I wouldn't want other people to know about me. I mean there are hundreds of things, but I have this sinking feeling that the things I really don't want you to know about me, you already know. The worst part is, I think I might not know them. I have such a lovely bunch of friends who are all too gracious to tell me this, and even a husband that almost always talks to me and about me in a positive light. I'm not sure this is entirely good for me, but it is how it is, so I will just be glad about it.

The main reason I think this, is because when I read the list Stephanie made, and then Kat's list. I do so many of those things, and don't think about them. I really appreciated Kat saying that she looks in store windows for her own reflection. I have always done this, but it didn't occur to me until I read her words. I am very vain. I could be looking at my beautiful family, the window display, the people surrounding me, but no, I always look at myself.

Fittingly, I'm reading a very great book...if you haven't noticed, I'm always reading really great books (that was an attempt at sarcasm)...anyway, this really great book I have been reading in the mornings, kind of like a devotional...paragraphs at a time. the uncommon woman by Susie Larson. She writes: How do we know if we are held captive by others' opinions...When our goal is more to impress than to bless.

I don't want you to know that, most days, I am more interested in impressing my friends (you) than I am talking to God. In trying situations, I am more likely to run through a rough draft of a blog in my head than talk to God about it. It irritates me to no end, and recently I have been so annoyed that I choose not to blog at all.

Well that was pretty much a downer of a post, but freeing in a sick sort of way.

Nine Months Pregnant

Those who have had that feeling can probably relate. I'm not nine months case you were worried...and I will most likely never be nine months pregnant again. One of the reasons is because I hate being nine months pregnant. I hate that waiting, uncomfortable, I can't sleep, I can't eat, I don't want one more person to ask me what my due date is, or say how I must be having twins because one baby couldn't take up that much space, etc., etc. Those are all the negatives, of course the positive is that you have a beautiful baby in your arms, but the waiting and all the other stuff is enough to drive you mad.

I feel like I'm nine months pregnant right now.

Reason #1 I'm waiting, waiting, waiting to find out what is happening with our life...where we will move. In the meantime I am tempted to hibernate, so I don't have to tell anyone else that I have no idea where we are moving, that it is in fact difficult to not know, that I really have no guesses, that in fact I have no clue, and that I am sure the world will know via facebook and this blog the second I find out.

Reason #2 I am nesting. I am not sure there is another word for it. I am sorting and organizing everything...deep cleaning nooks and crannies that might not have been cleaned since the construction of the house. I am getting every single task done that might need to be done in the next 6 months...planning a party for my sister, making Christmas presents, etc. I feel like I'm planning to put my life on if it could be on hold any more than it is now.

Hopefully this is the up-side to the whole post.

Reason #3 I feel like I'm waiting to meet this new life, new friends, new neighborhood, new church. I have waited so long this move that I have had time to anticipate all of these things. I have a lot of excitement for this new life, but also a lot of fear, because I can see the hard work and sleepless nights ahead. It will be worth it. Not as exciting as meeting any of my baby girls, but a faint shadow of those same feelings.

Oh, and in case you didn't catch it...I have no idea where we are moving. :)

Forgotten God

So I'm on to the next Francis Chan book, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. It might just be better than Crazy Love, but I don't think a blog about which book is better would really be profitable, not to mention interesting. I don't really claim to hold anyone's interest anyway, the only people who read this blog, do so because they have some sort of relationship with me, not because of my awesome writing or deeply interesting posts. But if you do want to read some awesome writing with some serious depth, you should read Stephanie's blog. It is really good stuff.

So back to this book being good, I'm going to just share one thing.

I guess I always assumed that I would be better at following Jesus if He was right beside me, and I saw Him everyday. You know, I would have that immediate accountability and the relationship right in front of my face. But that isn't what Jesus thinks, at least, it's not what He told His disciples. He told them that it was better that He left so they could have the Spirit. Now that I am writing it, it seems very obvious, like I should have know this. It's like Rosetta Stone Language learning vs. a native Spanish speaker. That native Spanish speaker is going to be completely competent at teaching you Spanish, but they can't be with you 24/7, so that is why Rosetta Stone is the bomb, because you can listen to the same words thousands of times without having to bother someone. This analogy is pretty poor really, actually it is really poor. I think I should just quit now and let you read what Jesus has to say about it.

"Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
John 15:5-15

Crazy Love

Thirteen years ago I picked up the Bible and read through the Gospels (the books of the Bible) in one sitting. It transformed my life. I kept reading until I had read the Bible from cover to cover in a matter of a year. I thought I had things figured out. Some things I did have figured out, things that seem so difficult to me now. Other things I had no clue didn't occur to me that I might have read the Bible in a way that skewed things toward my way of thinking. Emphasizing some parts and skimming over others. I assumed my perspective was the right one.

Eight years ago I read the book What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. It transformed my perspective. I read the Bible and saw people entirely differently because of that book. It isn't the Bible, but it was the most important book after the Bible that I had read to date. It caused me to understand the Bible as a whole and the person of God in a way I had never expected. Most of all, I was taught to open my eyes to allow my perspective to continue to be changed.

Last month I read the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I am going to have to group this book with the two previous books. I am reading it again, and again, so I don't have a good idea of what God is doing with this book in my life, but I know that this is a changing point. It is very exciting and scary at the same time. I guess the point is that this is one of the 3 most important books I have read in my life. It is probably on the front shelf of every Christian book store in the country, and for a good reason, it is worth all 205 pages of reading time and the $10 to buy the book. But I warn you, your life might never be the same.

Dave's New Job!

The job hunt is finally over! Dave starts at Terminix in 2 a branch manager. The job seems to be just what Dave was looking for, and perfect for his gifts. He will be in training for about 6 months, then they will let us know where his branch will other words...we are probably moving. But more on that when the time comes.
We are just completely amazed by God. The last seven months has been difficult in some ways, but financially was not one of them. I am not sure how that can be, as we are not independently wealthy, and we did not save up for 7 months of unemployment, but here we sit.
I will probably get reprimanded later for don't tell Dave I said this...I am pretty sure he doesn't read my blog, or any blog for that matter, so I will take a chance. We had tossed around salary expectations, and come to some agreement between the two of us...but they decided to offer him considerably more than either of us had fathomed, and more than he made at his last job, or any job for that matter. For those that get offended when others go into financial detail, you will have to excuse me. It think it is too cool not to share. It is just overwhelming.
We have been completely blessed by the whole unemployment experience, which is weird, but wonderful. I know that God has things under control, but there is nothing like experiencing it first hand.
Oh, and one last thing, I am a complete whiner, so if you think that my gratefulness is a testimony to me, then I hope to set you straight. I don't feel like we have experienced a hardship...I have definitely experienced hardship in the past, and I have whined about it, fretted about it and all the normal human stuff. But this situation is a testimony to God alone, He chose to make this whole situation easy on us, for some reason, so I don't have any reason to whine. If I could think of something to whine about I most certainly would. :) But today we are full of peace, and not by our own doing.

Random Homeschool Thoughts Part 3: Where to Start

I got a call this week from one of my best friends. She wanted to know where to start. She thinks she is going to homeschool, but how do you decide on a curriculum. She told me that some other friends told her that you just jump in and figure out what you like and what you don’t. It is true, that will work, but first, you have to have a goal. What is the reason you are homeschooling, or more importantly, what do you want for the lives of your children. I recommended this article, because it helped me more than any other to determine my priorities. Of course, it worked its magic on me as well, because I use Sonlight, mostly anyway. But before I decided on Sonlight, I did write out a philosophy. Some of the things I care about most (in no particular order)…

A Global Perspective--Americans are not the only people God cares about. I don’t know where in the world anyone in my family will end up, so I feel it is irresponsible to spend most of our time learning about he United States when we only make up a small corner of the globe.

Natural Learning—Learning is easier and more effective when it is engaging, hands on, or in the course of everyday events. Books that engage are more memorable than textbooks that give facts. Dissecting an animal makes reading about its innards relevant. And using math skills in the kitchen is better practice than writing answers in a workbook. And most importantly, most of the knowledge used as an adult will be in a natural environment. I don’t remember anything about Calc 3 because I haven’t used it since I took the class. It was worth taking the class, but it wasn’t as memorable because I don’t have cause to use it yet. It will come back to me when I need it, like many other facts I learned in school. That is why I am not a believer in un-schooling. I think there are many things that should be taught that will maybe never come up in everyday life or used, and I don’t want to decide my daughter’s fate by not teaching them. Which leads me to my next goal…

Love for Learning--I won’t be able to teach everything that my girls will need to know the rest of their lives, but I can allow a love of learning to develop but giving the girls a high quality of materials to work with, and allowing freedom in exploration. Again, there are some things that are easier to do by rote memory, but my goal is to keep those things to a minimum.

Humility/Focus on Relationship—If these were in order of importance, this one would be at the top. I wish I could sear this one in the front of my mind, but it is the one, though the most important, that gets forgotten about in the day to day. In choosing a curriculum and setting up a schedule, I have tried to give this first place. First of all, humility and focus on our relationship with God…then our relationship with each other. We do our Bible reading first, so it doesn’t get left out because of time or any other excuse I can think of. The one thing that separated Sonlight from every other curriculum was their focus on understanding people. Below is a quote from their philosophy that shares my objective exactly:

Sonlight actively seeks authors who can speak authentically and authoritatively for other groups whose perspectives are different than our own. Why? Because we can only speak persuasively to members of other groups if they are convinced that (1) we have listened to them, (2) we have understood what they are saying, and (3) we have empathized with their perspectives. Then, if we still hold a different perspective, it is despite our obvious understanding of and empathy with who they are and what they have said.

Open-minded Scholarship
—Throughout my adult life, I continue to become more skeptical, as I feel more lied to by teachers from my past. Most of the teachers did not intentionally lie, and of those that did, I am pretty sure they were thinking it was in my best interest. But now that I feel lied to, I strive not to lie to my children. I personally don’t think that God needs to be defended. He does a pretty good job of that Himself. So if I can’t explain dinosaurs in the context of Genesis 1-2, I am not going to say they don’t exist. I will leave that without opening any more cans of worms. I also want the girls to have exposure to death, cruelty, and other truths of this world that hopefully they will never have to deal with first hand. I am not going to leave out the part about how we (meaning white North Americans) massacred Native Americans and forced them into the most desolate part of the entire country. On that note, I also hoped to find a curriculum that was Christian based that did all of this…maybe not an easy feat, but after reading this article by the founder John Holzmann, I realized I was on the same page as him.

High Quality Materials--As I said earlier, I wanted to give the girls the best start on life long learning, and the best way I could see to do that was to give them materials that started that spark. I do some research, but I don’t have the time to research every single book, workbook and program out their. Sonlight highlights quite a few of these in their catalog, and I have found some from other sources as well, but it was important for me to go with tested, well researched materials.

Flexible Schedule—This is the only area where Sonlight didn’t do it for me. Their instructor’s guides are laid out in a daily format with a week on each page. Here is a sample. I like the freedom to not do something one week and do twice as much the next. I don’t know why I am like this, but I get claustrophobic when I think of doing it just like someone has lined it up. So I use a checklist where I just list the whole year of all the books I want to read, the workbooks I want to finish, the activities we would like to do, etc. I check and date things as we finish them. Then I have a daily schedule. I stick to it more often than not, but I like the fact that I can take a day off and not be in-between pages on a schedule or on Week 10 on history and Week 5 on literature. That completely has to do with my undisciplined personality though. I have just learned to accept it.

I really hope all of these ramblings have helped someone besides me. I enjoyed going back through my priorities and motives. Thanks for listening!

Hannah's Seventh Birthday

A very belated Happy Birthday to Hannah. Here are some pics of the Peter Pan/Tinkerbell party (there were boys invited, so Tinkerbell had to share the stage). It was lots of fun, and Hannah had a great blizzard this year.
The mass of kids in our living room is Peter Pan Bingo (thanks to Megan the Kindergarten teacher for that idea). Then the kids tried to find each others shadows, which were outlined in butchers block paper on the wall. Hannah and Stephanie were the only ones to guess all of them right. And I had fun making the most elaborate cake yet...which really turned out pretty well. Lots of friends and family made it an all around great day.

Quick Employment Update

Last time I wrote, Dave had started a temp job. After about 6 weeks it became clear that it was not a good long term option for us or them, and so Dave has been home for the last few weeks looking for jobs, doing interviews, watching the girls so I can go into hiding and read the Hunger Games (and the sequel). Stephanie recommended this book, and I, knowing full well that it was fiction, started it on Thursday night...finished it on Thursday night, and started the next book, Catching Fire, on Thursday night, and actually took a break to do school on Friday (that is quite an accomplishment with my track record), and finished it last night. All of that to say that my husband is wonderful to let me read for 2 days straight, and I feel much more relaxed (but no more fiction till this summer). In fact, the whole household feels much more relaxed since Dave doesn't have a job. Since it has now been 5 months, we are all getting very used to it, and it is going to be tough when he goes back...well not financially, but I and the girls will miss seeing him so much.

Actually, I can't complain about the finances, because God has provided just what we need when we need it. I can thank Jeana and this post for reminding me that God has provided enough. But He has actually done way more than that...He has provided more than enough. We continue to think about what things we should cut out, some things were cut immediately, but we keep saying that Homeschool PE for the girls will have to go next. But the budget keeps saying we have enough to continue. It makes me feel so loved and cared for. I am not sure why that particular thing is such a big deal, but He knows just what I need, and the reminder that He does is very welcome.

So I guess the only update is that Dave continues to have interviews each week, and we will let you know as soon as something pans out.

Hannah and Molly

As requested...Molly in her new bathing suit. Hannah turned 7 yesterday, and this was one of her presents (the bathing suit, Molly was a Christmas present).

Random Homeschool Thoughts Part 2: Handwriting

Unlike Reading, the subject which has a thousand different books that all say the same thing, I do have a decided favorite curriculum for handwriting. Handwriting without Tears has a very unique, highly effective method of teaching beginning handwriting.

If you ever took a drawing class, then you probably remember the assignment of upside down drawing. You were instructed to turn the picture you were drawing from and your paper upside down and draw from what you saw. That way your drawing wasn’t clouded by your own presuppositions of your subject. It turned the picture into just lines and shadows for your brain to transfer to the paper. I remember being amazed by the results.

In a similar way, HWT has developed a system to help children put together letters with their hands before putting them down on the paper. A Child that knows what an S looks like still has trouble drawing it when there is a picture of it right next to them. So they have developed a method to help the brain break the letter into pieces to be able to put those pieces together in the right way.

The method uses different manipulatives, but my favorite is a set of wood blocks (or you can make them out of cardstock like us) that consist of 4 different shapes. Together these shapes make every letter in the uppercase alphabet. HWT website has printable downloads of all the letter formations, but they aren’t too difficult to figure out. You need 2 big curves, 2 small curves, 4 big lines, and 3 small lines. Below is the actual wood letters you can buy from HWT.

Here is the letter formation chart available on their website.

We just worked on writing letters on blank paper until we made the switch to a different handwriting program. We switched because I thought that their letters looked funny and would rather my girls learn to write with the traditional ball and stick. I think this is just a matter of opinion at this point. But we switched to A Reason for Handwriting. Here is an overview and why we chose it:

Their “K” (Kindergarten) workbook has letter practice on one side of the lesson page and a coloring page on the back. The first “A” sheet has an alligator on the back and so on. We used this program to try to instill a pride of workmanship by asking for their very best work on both sides of the sheet. They tried very hard to color inside the lines on the back side as handwriting improved on the front side.

After their “K” workbook, RFH uses a week long assignment method we also like. During days 1-3 students work on individual words (that are in the final Bible verse) on the practice worksheet. Then on day 4 students do a practice sheet of the whole Bible verse. On day 5 students chose a border sheet that they can then do the final version of their Bible verse on, and color the surrounding border. I like the fact that they are copying Bible verses and the pride of workmanship that the border sheets help to build.

A Reason for Handwriting has Samples on their website.

One more thing and then I am done with this overly long post. 2 teaching tips:

1-Let the student tell you what they think is the best and worst part of their assignment for that day. They normally see the mistake, but don’t know how to fix it on their own.

2-Only help the student correct one thing a day. Leave the other stuff for another day.

So now I am looking for a great typing program...any help?

Random Homeschool Thoughts Part 1: Reading

If I say Part 1, then there might be a Part 2 to follow. Oh, and I am not claiming to be an expert in homeschooling. I have just taught 3 girls to read, read about 50 books on the subject, so I thought I would pass on some knowledge.

Teaching your child to read 101. Three step method. Okay, maybe 4, but step 4 is obvious (okay, once you read them, they will all be obvious).

Step 1: Read to the child when they are young (and old). Pick books with varied vocab, as this is very helpful later. It is always nice for the child to know the word they are trying to sound out. Beatrix Potter is very helpful, as are original Mother Goose nursery rhymes. You don't need to explain every word, but exposure is very helpful. Good books are also very helpful.

Step 2: Make letter sheets. These consist of writing the letter in the middle of a blank page and then talking about and drawing objects on the page that start with that letter. A small basic picture dictionary is helpful if you aren't very good thinking of words on the fly. Start with consonants that have one sound, they are so much easier. We have yet to finish all 26 letters before finishing Step 3, but it gives the child a visual start to learn to read.

Step 3: Let the child read to you. We like the Bob books and Seuss, but any easy readers set would work. Associate one letter with one concrete word. B is for "baby". It is always "baby" while they are learning. Short "E" for "elephant", long "e" says its name. This part requires patience. Let the child work at sounding words out. Let them read the books they master over and over again, along with the harder ones.

Step 4: Know your child and help them pick books they are interested in. Sarah likes fantasy. Hannah likes comics. Stephanie likes cereal boxes. They all read other stuff now, but no child wants one more chore (well mine don't), so I don't make my kids read stuff they don't like (right now). Which leads me to my reading list combine with my perfect book outlet. I have never had a complaint about any of the books on their readers list (and we have only missed the Sonlight controlled vocab books). They are all interesting and very enjoyable and mostly available at the local library (my super fantastic book outlet). But then I have a super fantastic local library. Oh, and just order a catalog from Sonlight. The webpage makes it buyer friendly, but not as "hijack your book list" friendly.

If this method doesn't work, then most likely your child is not ready to read. Children seem to have a "get it" age anywhere from 3-10 years old. I am not making this stuff up. I read it in a book. Actually about 10 books.

I hope you enjoy your free time, now that you don't have to read those 50 books, but if you are like me, you probably will anyway. Hopefully my next post won't contain as much of an attitude. Sorry, I am having a grumpy day, and I think it is reflected here.

Winter Pictures

I might as well just admit that I am now only posting once a season. So here's your winter post. You might not want to expect anymore until spring.

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