Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Fun

We finished our morning school work early today so Brendan and Tori asked if they could play outside. While they were getting ready, Owen and Rachel were watching them and looking for their boots. I am really not an outdoor person in the winter. But there have not been many times that Rachel and Owen have been able to play outside this year so I bundled them up. I never did find snowpants for Owen so instead he wore a pair of Rachel's warm tights (no picture but maybe next time!) with a pair of lined track pants over them. He was still warm and dry when we came in so I guess they worked.

They had an absolute blast. Owen was in the snow right away and wanted it all over him. Rachel had fun walking around but only in the shoveled areas. I did manage to get her to sit on Tori's lap for a picture. Owen could not be bothered to look at the camera - he was far too interested in the snow.

Kid-sized shovels are the best!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spring Cleaning for Normal People: Week 1

After getting a great jump start from my parents visiting last week, I am going to participate in this challenge by Crystal at Biblical Womanhood. This is based on an e-book written by the author of another great blog, Simple Moms. So many links! The idea is that spring cleaning can happen at anytime with some small steps and doesn't need to happen in a day or a weekend. I tend to have lots of motivation for starting a project but poor follow through. About halfway through, I lose steam and focus and just want to quit.

It doesn't have to be this way though! This book breaks it down for you and Crystal is going to post an assignment from the book each week for the next several weeks. If you do each assignment, you'll have a house that is decluttered, cleaned and organized at the end! The accountability factor is a bonus.

This week's assignment is to read pg. 1-16 of the e-book, quickly walk through your house and throw out all trash you see, and then go through each room and quickly scan items to find things to give or sell. To help you decide what to give or sell, answer the following questions: "Is this useful to me and/or my family? Is this beautiful to me and/or my family?"

For more details, head over to Biblical Womanhood. You can also buy a copy of the e-book, Spring Cleaning for Normal People at this link on Simple Moms.

I'll write back later to share how it is going for me. I am very indecisive so I know deciding what things are worth keeping is going to be the hardest for me. I also know that I appreciate the things that I keep so much more after getting rid of the things that don't mean as much so it's worth it. It's nice to open a closet and just see clothes that fit well and that I like to wear. It's inspiring when everything has a place - that much easier to put it away! If you decide to join me, let me know and good luck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I started reading a book today called "The Beloved Disciple" by Beth Moore. I've read a couple of her books before in Bible studies but this is the first time I've attempted to read one on my own. As I said before, I'm very bad at starting certain types of books and then not finishing them. This book falls into that "hard to finish" category. It's a good book but it's one that I have to read a little and then mull it over. I technically could read it in a couple days but then I would have no clue what I just read and I want to actually get something from it.

So this might end up to be a type of book report. :) Today I read Chapter 1 and the thing that struck me the most was her comment about John the Baptist's (the book is actually about John the apostle but she hasn't gotten to him yet) definition of himself. In Beth Moore's words, "He (John) understood the greatness of Christ and how unworthy he was in comparison, but he didn't give himself the value of an inchworm under a rock".

I find myself thinking about balance lately and this really struck me. If I think too highly of myself, I'm not giving God the glory and I'm deceiving myself. If I think too little of myself, I'm not trusting in God's ability to use me. Lots to think about - I'm glad I stopped at chapter 1 for now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I have a group of friends that I have been friends with for about 5 years now. There have been so many times that I didn't feel that I fit in and wondered if I should just drop out of things and spend my time with other friends. But every time I was invited to something, I found myself wanting to go. Even as I worried about who else would be there and who I would sit by and what I would say, I wanted to go. For one thing, it was a chance to get out of the house. And even if I didn't feel like I belonged, I liked observing them and laughing at what was said. That's how I felt most of the time - an observer.

Then I had Rachel and Owen and really felt disconnected from everyone. There were a couple close friends who made an effort but overall I just felt disconnected from the world. I started avoiding most group activities. The few I did go to felt really awkward.

I thought it was that I just didn't fit in with this group. I knew we had some different opinions on things but that didn't seem like it should matter that much. I have lots of friends who have different opinions. Last December, I made a decision. I was going to make an effort with this group and attend as many things as I could for at least a year and then see how I felt about them.

This is what I learned about myself and them. I learned that I need to get to know people and not assume things based on a few experiences. I learned that I don't open up as much in large groups (which I already knew), especially when I don't know many of them closely. So I need to give myself time to get to know them before getting upset for not speaking up more or for not feeling heard. I have to put effort into relationships and not expect them to just happen.

I also learned some things about them. I already knew they were hilarious and loved to have fun. I found out that they were waiting for me to open up and they were hoping to get to know me better. I also found out that they knew me better than I thought they did. I thought they saw me in only one way but it turned out they knew a lot of other things about me that must have slipped out a few times.

I have found myself opening up more every time we get together. I realized that I no longer care where I sit and I'm not nervous about who is going to be there. Although I am sometimes concerned about where I park and if I'll be able to get out before it gets too late. :) There are still times I wonder if I'm brave enough to be honest but I think that the more time I spend with them, in groups and individually, the more honest I'll be and the deeper the friendships will be.

For now, I'm so glad I didn't give up on them and on myself. I would have missed out on so much. Thanks ladies.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Living in a library

I have always loved libraries, book stores and office supply stores. Something about a written word, pages to turn, and pens to write with just fill me with peace. Even in this computer age and my new (well, a year old) laptop, I still prefer to have a planner I can write on, not type on. When I went to the used bookstore in downtown Jackson for the first time, I honestly walked in, looked around at the hundreds and hundreds of books and felt my whole body relax. I told Josh to feel free to leave and come back for me in a few hours. He toughed it out with me. I can't really explain the pull that books have on me. That's why this new addition to our living room is so very special to me.

We went to IKEA a week ago and bought a bookshelf unit. It's one that you can build to fit the space you have. We had it all figured out and then forgot to get one component. Because of the snow of this weekend, our plans to get back to IKEA were thwarted so Josh and Brendan went this afternoon. They were in and out of there in 15 minutes. There is no way that would have happened with me along. Josh got it put together and I started filling the bookshelves.

Behold, my new library space!

I am loving all those empty shelves! I have a tub of books in the basement and boxes in the garage so it won't take long to fill them. There is also a cd tower in the middle. I need to start budgeting for our next IKEA trip. :) You may have noticed there are more shelves to go up on the bigger unit - I just haven't finished it yet.

Speaking of budgeting, I spoke too soon on my last post. I went over budget this time. I was disappointed because it was the first of the year and I wanted to start out so well. I'm over it now and moving on and trying to re-focus for next time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Weekly Wrap-up

This week I decided to participate in Jennifer's Weekly Wrap Up at Getting Ahead. The point is to write about the different ways you were frugal this week to encourage or help others do the same. I thought about doing it last week but it wasn't a very frugal week. :) This week has been better so I'm eager to share.

- I bought 4 loaves of bread, 2 loaves of breakfast bread, 1 pkg hot dog buns and 1 pkg hamburger buns at the bread outlet store for $5.23! I love that place.

- I went to Aldi instead of Meijer or Kroger. Their prices are much cheaper, the quality is very good and there isn't as much to choose from so I don't pick up extra things "just because". It's easy to stick to the list there.

- I went to Walgreens tonight and bought 6 boxes of South Beach snack bars, 1 box of Electrasol dishwashing gelpacs, Garnier Fructis shampoo, 4 candy bars, and 2 bottles of Theraflu for $7 total after coupons and a $4 register reward from a previous visit. Then I received a $5 register reward to use the next time, plus I will get $7.65 on my gift card and a mail-in-rebate for $3! That kind of shopping gives me such a thrill.

- I mentioned to a friend that I was going to start using a new math curriculum for my son and she had the teacher's book and teaching dvd that she graciously has allowed me to use so now I just have to buy the student workbook.

I'm not that frugal in my everyday household duties. Right now I'm happy keeping our household budget under control and maybe soon I will stretch myself some more to see where I can save even more. I like telling our money where to go instead of always asking where it went.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just too cute

I had to share this link with you - it cracks me up every time I look at it. Aren't they the cutest babies? Their mom is very talented with a camera, too.

Update on goals

I think I should have written out these goals a long time ago. We're on day 3 of school since Christmas break and it has gone amazingly well. I've implemented a few changes besides my attitude change and it has been so enjoyable! The kids have a better attitude and we're getting our school work done in record time. We've been starting first thing in the morning after breakfast and I think I'm capturing their best work time.

We have changed the math curriculum and I have reminded myself that this is our school. I am not just the teacher but the parent, principal (or maybe assistant principal), school board and superintendent! So if I don't like something or if I feel something isn't working, I can change it. And I should! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with that responsibility but I need to embrace it. That is a huge benefit to homeschooling. If something isn't working, for whatever reason, I don't have to put up with it.

We have been doing Sonlight this year and while there are many things I love about it, the math curriculum I chose was not one of them. After much deliberation, I ordered Math-U-See, which I had been using before. Sonlight did not carry it so that was why I switched. Brendan also had a negative attitude about math last year but I learned that it was not related to the curriculum. Or at least, not entirely. :) That is just something we will work on. But in the meantime, I am happier teaching math using this curriculum and I know it will work much better for Tori's learning style. We'll work on Brendan's attitude towards multiple digit subtraction problems and then see if it's a good fit for him, too. If not, we can always change!

I feel like once again I am homeschooling because I want to and not just because I think it's best. I didn't realize how much impact my negative attitude had. And yes, I do know where Brendan gets it from. In junior high, my dad gave me 8 books to read and offered to pay me $1o per book if I read it and then could answer his questions. They were all about, you guessed it, having a positive attitude. I read them and passed his quiz and promptly went to Wal-Mart and spent the whole thing. :) He should have put a finance book in there. I'm still learning. But hopefully there has been progress between now and then.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some goals for the New Year

I don't normally do New Years resolutions. Not really officially. Throughout the year I'll set small goals for myself. Since our anniversary is Jan. 4th, Josh and I will usually talk about the past year and what we'd like the new year to bring. But I never write down a list of specific things that I want to accomplish. I do know, however, that when you write something down, you are much more likely (I can't remember the percentage) to actually do it. So I've decided to write down a few goals for this year and hopefully get some accountability from some of you.

Goal #1 - to learn to play a song that actually sounds like a song on the guitar. I won't say that I'll commit to practicing every day because I know myself too well but I want to at least continue to pick it up every so often and make some progress with it.

Goal #2 - to read these 5 books:
1. Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas
2. The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out without Selling Out by Mark Driscoll
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
5. For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhaln

I love to read so this shouldn't be a problem but I tend to have trouble finishing certain books. I start them with lots of excitement and then set it down after a chapter or two to mull it over and then another one catches my eye. I started 5 books after Christmas and have not picked up any of them since. I want to read for pleasure but also for knowledge and that requires me to be intentional about it. I only picked 5 because I will also be reading a book for my monthly book club and then of course, there will be all the other books that compete for my attention. If anyone would like to read any of these with me, let me know!

Goal #3 - To finish our school year with a happy heart and joyful spirit. It's okay if my kids don't like school. I am working on accepting this. Sometimes it is not fun and it is not my job to make it fun. It is my job to teach them. And I have decided that it's not okay if I don't like it. What does that say to my kids if I grumble and complain about having to teach them? I don't want them to feel like a burden ever. That will be my daily prayer - for God to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.

I think those goals are enough for now. It's a good start.