Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunshine Through The Rain

     Today completes week 3 of our 2011/2012 homeschool year.  It has been THE most hectic week so far and I quipped earlier this week it felt like we were running through Molasses in January.  Everything took more effort and we saw fewer results for our work it seemed. 

      Today is a rainy day and it's a good day for reflection.  Largely because I am tired and don't have the energy to get up and do anything that needs doing like vacuum the floor, start the apple pie, put laundry away, or even yet to activate the children to do the above chores.  I'm sipping hot chocolate, filled with sugar and I'll pay for that later, feeling warm and content.

     There have been so many activities and so much running around that the week feels like a blur. I'd have to refer to my calendar to remember what all we did.  Every once in a while having a week packed like this week is a good thing because it helps me remember how much I loathe being this busy and remind me that while I'd like to be super mom, I'm not.  I'm Sara. I'm the one who needs margin in the day to stay cheerful and margin in the week to refresh so I don't burn out.

     Everything we did this week was GOOD. Some of it was very good and we enjoyed it.  The girls and I are loving baking for the soup kitchen and are looking forward to sticking around next week to take the treats around.  The people who are blessed by the soup kitchen have expressed an interest in getting to know us and we are looking forward to time to do the same.  I've already booked Wednesday of next week as a non book school day.  What kind of education do children gain from baking for people, serving them and then visiting with those same people?  The kind you don't get in a classroom setting or even in a home if you just stay there! 

     The weather forecast was iffy for this week. In fact it called for rain but we decided it was still a good week for a food drive.  God used this opportunity to show the girls a very vivid answer to prayer.  The meteorologists called for rain.  God held it back.  Today when we picked up he held it back to the very minute we delivered the last of the food. WOW!! Awesome God!  The girls broke into song singing that very one on our way to the food bank and haven't stopped talking all day about how cool it is that God held back the rain. 

     Swimming lessons are going well. They are fish. Hee hee.  My oldest is so excited to be working towards her life guard license.  It won't happen until she is 16 but she is loving the classes now.  I can't imagine going to a two hour class for swimming but she is thriving with it.  She can't wait to volunteer with swimming lessons.  We do need to locate a swimsuit for dd2.  I'm searching online for that.

     This week was supposed to be a shorter week for me work wise but life happened and I worked an extra shift.  I'm glad I was available to help out.  I'm also glad today is a day off!  The second one in a row although yesterday sure didn't feel like a day off! 

     OH! Our Science Co-Op! It went really well.  The younger kids just played this time and the highlight of the day wasn't science but was the nerf gun fight after class.  Kids! LOL  The Science discussion with the kids was good and the experiment was interesting.  I am looking forward to this group setting for learning and can't wait to see where God takes this.

  That's about all for now.  It's raining again, but there was sunshine when we needed it and I'm thankful for it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Long Time No Blog

     Hey, it's been awhile.  How are you?  Things are quickly getting into routine around our house.  But as soon as a routine is established you know what happens. Something comes up to mess it up.  Just to see if I can relax and go with the flow. 

     We started school last week. A bit late for what I like but life happens and this year that's what worked.  We eased into it and I have to admit it was the best start we've ever had!  Monday we had a girls day shopping in the city and eating lunch out. This was at my girls request, that's new. Tuesday we began school work and started the day with singing, prayer and Bible reading.  We are working on memorizing Psalm 1.  Wednesday was a regular day. Thursday was pretty normal too. Somewhere in there we baked banana bread.   YUM!  And Friday was a field trip. 

     The field trip was fantastic!  There were people in costume and in character who do this all summer long and they were amazing.  So much fun to see tents, watch them bake and cook, practice drills, fire canons and even fire muskets.  The girls loved making candles by dipping the wicks into pots of melted wax.  They also loved the homemade caramel and the sweet corn dipped in butter. YUM!  Spending the day with friends made it just perfect.

     This week started smoothly and then today we hit a few glitches.  Things keep going wrong.  But we're pushing through and we'll make it.  I'm not sure what I will do about the computer discs that aren't working. Perhaps Tim can fix them.  We do need Spanish and Typing in their schedules!  Dd2 forgot to put the water on to boil so lunch is late.  I'm having no success finding the Sonlight resources I want to use for their reading this year.  Just little things that are adding up but so far everyone is dealing with them and keeping a good attitude.

     The biggest success so far, and it's early days, is the adding of one chore to their morning routine.  Their day begins like this:  wake up, get breakfast, get dressed and put your jammies away.  Go brush your teeth and hair.  Make your bed.  Do your job.  The oldests job is to wash any pots in the sink from the night before (she hasn't figured out yet if she does it the night before there aren't any the next morning.) and to start a load of laundry.  Considering she now owns about 1/3 of our laundry I think that's fair. The middle one is responsible for the upstairs bathroom.  That includes the floor, the sink, the counter, the toilet on the outside (I use the chemicals on the inside for now.)  and the mirrors.  The littlest one is responsible for feeding and watering the dog and making sure the entryway is tidy.

     Last night the little one scolded her daddy for nearly putting his coat on the railing instead of hanging it up.  It's amazing the ownsership they have taken with these jobs.  Suddenly it matters that shoes aren't returned to their room, or dishes aren't in the dishwasher or clothes are on the bathroom floor. SUCCESS!! The very best part besides them learning to care for a home is that it has lightened my load significantly.  Considering last year one of my biggest struggles and frustrations was the state of our home and my exhaustion in trying to keep it clean this is a major bonus!

     I should tell you it's not spotless.  It's cluttered with books in every room. Yes. Every room.  There is still too much stuff and in some rooms it is over flowing.  But, the floors are getting swept and mopped. Things are getting put away and my kitchen isn't a disaster. I do hope to keep this up and then to slowly add more chores in after school work is done to also work together in keeping our home a nice place to be.  Tomorrow we have people coming and that is usually an excellent motivator for cleaning. 

   My goal for this year in homeschooling is to focus on character. There are some specific character issues with each child and I am choosing to find opportunities to develop positive character traits.  I can say the same of myself.  Discipline, diligence, a positive attitude, and a sense of gratitude for what we have are all on the list.  One of the ways we will be working on this is to serve more.  Our first opportunity starts tomorrow!  We will be baking treats to take to a local soup kitchen.  Once a month or so we will stay to help serve.  I am so excited about doing this I keep talking about it.  I'm not very good at doing things in secret.  Hopefully that doesn't come across as pride. Hmm, I will have to ponder that. 

    Our second opportunity I have some work to do first.  I want our family to get involved with the seniors who are residence bound.  I'd like us to adopt a few that we will visit on a regular basis and develop a relationship with in order to serve them and bring them joy.  That one is going to take more effort, thought and care than the former.  Baking is easy! Building relationships is worth while but more challenging in the long run.

     I think that's a long enough post for now.  I've missed blogging and have started different entries many times over the past few weeks but haven't taken the time to sit down and write.  Perhaps I'll make that part of my weekly diligence challenge.  Have a great week!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

See You Later!

     I refuse to say, "Goodbye" to a friend like the one whose family officially left our town today.  Memories play in my head like the best movie I've ever seen.  Smiles, laughter, tears and even pain mingled together to become a friendship worth having, holding and working to keep.  I admit that I am worried I will fail to keep in touch and will lose something precious. But that worries lasts just for a moment because then it dawns on me that even if I didn't speak to her for a year, due to my own lack of communication skills, I could walk up to her front door ring the door bell and know I would be welcomed inside.  And I would feel the same about her ringing my door bell at any moment.

     Because of where God has placed our family I have experienced friends who are closer than a brother, literally.  I love my family and treasure them, don't misunderstand me.  But I don't get to live life with my family nearby.  I have been gifted with friends who have become family.  Friends who have become my community and who I experience church with when we are together. 

     Today a chapter in my friends life ended, and mine with it, along with many many other people.  But our story isn't done.  Her story is continuing in another place and they will bless those people who don't even know they are coming!  Here in my town new women have come into my life and I look forward to the relationships that will develop over this next year. 

     I'm tempted to list all I will miss, but I haven't cried yet today. I've come close a couple of times.  I really don't want to cry.  So I'm just going to let this post for now be my, "See you later!" and go find something to keep my mind and hands busy until it's time to go to sleep. 

     If you have a friend in your life that you treasure, TELL HER! If you've been too busy to get together, make it a priority.  Pick up a card and write her a note.  Pick up the phone and call.  Send her an e-mail.  Invite her for coffee.  Have the family over for dinner.  Treasure the time you have because despite it feeling like this is the way it is and will be forever life happens, things change and you never know when time is up until it's nearly time!  It's worth it and  you won't regret it. f


Monday, August 22, 2011

Shake my world.

     A week ago today the doctor told me that what I'm dealing with isn't in my head, isn't uncommon and can be worked with, although not cured per say.  My world shifted when I realized that my eating has to change not because I want to be thin and healthy but because what I'm eating is literally making me sick. 

     Over this past week I've fought with emotions ranging from frustration to hopelessness.  I will not die because of this, it's not terminal like so many cancers or diseases.  It's a minor thing really.  Except when it's not.  I've felt afraid to eat because now I know that it truly IS what is making me hurt. What can I eat without feeling pain?  This is my new adventure.

     It's a good thing I prefer water to any other beverage.  But oh how I will miss coffee.  Already the smell of it makes me long for a sip.  I could have it. Like I said, it won't kill me.  But if I don't have it I will feel better.  What a horrid choice.  On top of that I need to give up chocolate.  Chocolate.  Did you read that? 


    I confess I am still trying to adjust to that reality and I'm not sure I can do that permanently.  I've often said if I were allergic to chocolate I'd be a lot thinner.  Well, I'm not allergic but when the choice is feel sick or feel well it is certainly a little different than before when I knew I should choose not to eat it but the consequences seemed minor.  
     This weekend we celebrated my husband's parents 50th wedding anniversary.  They hosted a pig roast.  There were delicious salads, cookies, and cake.  It was a lovely party.  I didn't eat any of the treats I brought and even stayed away from my potato salad.  The night before I had two bites and was paying for it on Saturday.  Two bites!  I guess God is trying to wake me up to the fact that this is real and it's time now for me to deal with it.  

     Last night we came home from dinner and playing games at some new friend's home.  Tim checked the messages and our world shook again.  Our good friend's brother had died that afternoon unexpectedly.  He was in his mid forties and has two children close in age to ours.  Much too young to be gone. 

     We held each other a little tighter last night.  Today I am even more mindful of how blessed I am with my husband and how fragile life really is.  I am thankful Phil was a Christian and that he is not separated from his loved ones forever, but the pain for the ones left behind is staggering.

     I pray that his wife and children will draw close to God through this and that He will comfort them.  It has already sent me into the Bible to seek comfort and I am merely an acquaintance of the immediate family.  Today I am mourning with them though and praying for their comfort as the reality of life without their husband, father, brother and son continues to shake their world.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm Melting!

  Considering my mood the last couple of weeks that title is appropriate in several ways.  Thankfully the nasty seems to be mostly gone. It made Tim laugh to hear that I had actually been trying quite hard to not be cranky!  Lucky for him he was laughing post cranky mood.  

  The heat this week is reminding me of summers in Illinois.  Hot, humid, and sticky to the point of walking outside and feeling wet.  Even inside the house with the A/C on the humidity is getting to me.  My hands are swollen, my hair is a bit more wavy.  The garden earth is cracking even having been watered thoroughly and having had rain two nights ago. My peppers are doing just fine. LOL

  The girls and I have an adventure coming up and this week is full of preparation for that adventure.  Two weddings and a city trip.  A flight to Arizona for my oldest. It will be the first plane ride she remembers.  She flew quite a bit as a baby and toddler but she doesn't remember.

  Our dog is grossing me out at the moment.  She is dry heaving. GROSS!! Which reminds me I do have to leave the house to go to the Vet's office for more meds for her and to return the cone of shame. 

  My mind is a bit scattered so forgive the ramble along the bunny trails, please.  There is much to do before the adventure begins!  Not to mention house cleaning,  mom stuff and life in general. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is There Something I Should Be Doing?

  It is nearly 11 a.m. on my third day of having the house to myself.  I have this nagging sense that there is something I should be doing.  Considering my former post that has me kinda chuckling.  I know there is not.  Not really.  I have the music on just a bit too loud.  I've cleaned the fridge, started on the girls room, and even ate breakfast.  I don't have to do anything today I don't want to do. Not one thing!

  Yesterday I worked incredibly hard for the morning hours going full out until noon.  I accomplished so much and am quite pleased with how things are shaping up around here.  Maybe my sense today is more that the time is slipping away.  Newsboys are singing Jesus Freak to me right now and perhaps that has triggered the old Time Is Slipping Away lyrics in my head (DC Talk).  It's kinda odd to hear Michael's voice and yet not Toby and Kevin's singing Jesus Freak.  Ah, now we're on to Rachmaninoff.  That'll change the mood a bit.  I do love having my music on and no competition from the girls for theirs.  They don't tolerate some of mine very well.

  One of my goals for today is to work on my youngest girls room.  I'm feeling slightly rebellious at the moment because I just cleaned it top to bottom at the beginning of June and as it is only mid July I am disgruntled to find it nearly back to it's original state of disaster.  GRRR!!  So instead of working hard on it today and being the Cleaning Fairy I am going to hold out and have my youngest, the MESSY ONE work on it after camp this afternoon.  She will whine, complain, moan, and likely even go limp while bursting into tears at the utter unfairness of her life. 

I might do it right back at her!! 

  Living in a tourist area has some pretty annoying things about it but one completely wonderful thing is our lovely downtown area.  We have some really neat shops, botiques and places to eat.  Ciboulette Et Cie is one of my top choices when I'd like a treat that is delicious and also just wonderful for being local, creative, and different.  My mouth is watering just thinking of their offerings.  I believe I may take a stroll downtown this afternoon.  I could go for  Chickpea Salad sandwhich for lunch. YUM!!

  This afternoon I'd like to organize my homeschool supplies a bit and put away the Sonlight books from last year to make room for the Sonlight 7 books for this year. My oldest is beginning Grade 7!  The thought takes my breath away.  Seventh grade! She is lovely.  Her heart, her kindness, her desire to please and help and honor God reflects true beauty.  Her smile melts me.  I catch glimpses now and then of the woman she will be and look forward to her. 

  Sometimes it takes going away to realize what you have.  This week of the year when the girls are all occupied other places instead of home with me gives me that gift.  I appreciate the quiet. I adore the tidy staying tidy.  I miss their voices.  I miss their hugs.  I miss them.  That is a good thing.  There is nothing I should be doing today but there is much I am doing.  Namely being thankful. 

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Woman I Want To Be

  The thought of who I want to be, the kind of person I want to be, the type of mom, wife, friend, Christian has been on my mind a lot lately.  For years I have considered the type of wife, mom, friend, Christian I should be.  There is a difference. 

  Considering who I should be comes from guilt, or less vile sounding from a sense of responsability, and sometimes just as harsh, a sense of expectation.  Shoulds are hard to live up to and when failure to meet up to should comes it leaves a bitter taste and a long memory.  Shoulds oppress and force by fear of failure, resignation and emptiness. 

  Today I am taking time purposely to think about who I want to be

  I want to be organized and to live in a tidy home.  Even typing that made me smile.  Being a sentimental, things bring back memories, book addict woman means I gather clutter almost as fast as I give it away. Living in a home with four others who are themselves clutter getters, some senitimental over things (of course not the same ones I am which means theirs are silly ha ha) means organization and tidiness are on the edge of what we live in. 

  I want to have an open heart and open home where friends new and old love to gather and know they are welcome.  I want to think of others before myself and without envy.  To be content with where we are, what we have, and how we are doing without comparing to anyone else to judge exactly how good I have it. 

  When my girls are grown and gone it would please me for them to look back and think they had a fantastic childhood in a warm and loving home.  That they not only thrived but enjoyed our homeschooling adventures.  There is so much I long to give them and offer them and it is a struggle to not let the frustration, disappointment and even anger at our inability to do so overtake me.

  When people think of me I'd like for them to see someone who is different in a good way.  Someone who is happy, thankful, peaceful and different.  I'd like to tame my tongue.  To be strong enough to hold back the sarcasm, the negative, the biting words that bring a laugh at someone else's expense.  I'd like to build people up and never participate in tearing them down.  I'd like to be the one others know they can trust. 

  I started this morning reading Ephesians 3, 4 and 5.  I planned to read 4 when I sat in my chair but found myself flipping back to 3 to start and then continuing on to 5.  How then shall we live? seems to be the question Paul is answering.  I'm going to continue reading those chapters this week and think about them.  There are too many verses to quote all the ones that caught my attention but I want to share the one that originally did a week ago. 

Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  *emphasis mine*  Wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, woman of God.  This is the calling I have received.  Homeschooling our children this is the calling I have received.  Am I living a life worthy of such? 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

That went fast!

  It's been a month without blogging. A month without just hopping on the computer whenever I wanted for whatever I wanted.  A month without wii games, or ds's, without hours in front of a screen forgetting why I got online in the first place, lol. 

A good month.  A month full of girls playing outside, reading books, playing imagination games together and drawing pictures.  We didn't do nearly all we intended to do, it may take all summer for that!

We did go to the beach, go fishing, take the dog for a walk multiple times and the little one played soccer every Tuesday night.  I journaled but forgot to remind the girls to do it and I'm disappointed in forgetting.  Which reminds me I want them to do some tomorrow afternoon. 

Overall the girls and even Tim and I agree it was a good month.  The middle one says that she really liked it. I'm hoping it will result in more time away from screens for the rest of the summer too.  The oldest was frustrated by how quickly she ran out of books.  We never did get to her sewing projects and now we have a deadline to complete the swimsuit dresses looming!  ACK!

All in all it was a successful month and I would highly recommend it to anyone who thought about trying it.  Sometimes we even talked to each other! Crazy, hey? Seriously, I think that we all appreciated each other more for the lack of electronics and my goal now will be to keep them paired down to the occasional instead of the typical activity of choice.  Bring on summer!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One More Before I Go

  Today felt like getting ready for company or something fun and it's really just getting ready to go unplugged! I worked hard today even cleaning up and then wondered WHY I was doing that? Crazy. 

  The girls are in bed and I forgot to confiscated DS's. I will have to do that in the morning.  Before I go to bed I will be unplugging the Wii, tv, dvd player etc. downstairs.  I have cancelled Netflix, no point in paying for something we won't use for a full month! I put the girls Time4Learning on hold until Aug. We'll come home from my cousins wedding and I will be happy to have something to assign them while I try to sort out the craziness we come home with. 

  I have a small update on the citizenship front.  My girls are natural born citizens because I am an American citizen and because I lived in the US for 5 years, two of them after I was 14.  WHEW! Just made that.  ;)  Nah, I had it by a couple of years.  Now the fun stuff starts though.  I need to document where I lived when and show it to the officials at the Consulate on June 13th.  Please, if you think of us, pray for us for things to go smoothly.  I'm working at it as best I can and I can tell you the perfectionist in me is having a complete and utter hissy fit over the lack of detailed information as well as access to information.  I want to call someone and confirm that what I've got is good enough BEFORE Tim takes a day off work, we drive to Toronto and spend hours doing this. 

  Today I let go a bit. I just did it.  I booked the appointments.  Even that was messy and I'm not sure I did it right.  Please, God, let them be nice.  Tim said, "They are supposed to be there to help you." OH, PLEASE let that be their mentality too when we get there!  The list of what you can't bring in is a lot more clear than the lists of what you must bring in.  I guess that's not totally true, they say you can use W2's, paystubs (which I just threw out last fall!), Medical Records, or school transcripts to prove residency.  That's what I have to have to match up with the dates of when I was where I say I was. 

 Not such a big deal. If you stayed in one city, lived in one house. But from the time I was 12-17 we moved many times. Many, many, many times.  I am hopeful that by producing my Jr. and Sr. high transcript, and possibly a copy of medical records they will say, "Man, you moved a lot, but you did obviously live in the States."  Think they'll mind if I haul in 5 years worth Yearbooks? ;)

  Here's another bump in my road. Canada post may go on strike this week.  That sure will make waiting for the transcripts FUN!  I have a backup plan though! I plan to call the school I graduated from and speak to the wonderful secretary one more time, if the transcript doesn't arrive before the strike happens.  And, I'm hopeful that perhaps the medical transcripts could be sent via Purolator or UPS or something.  We'll deal with that when the time comes.  I have 13 days to get them in hand. 

  There have been no decisions made about Tim going back to school, or moving to the States.  We have continued to think and research.  I've been praying.  But the biggest thing we've been doing is simply getting this step of the girls paperwork completed.  I will renew my US passport at the same time.  Although, Tim did send a text today saying with the 90degree weather here he's not so sure Arizona is a great idea. . . . .what about Alaska!? HA!! No way, dude!!
  Well, it's time for me to go make some corn tortillas so I can get our supper ready tomorrow before we head to the beach.  I hope you have an excellent June!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Unplugged in two days!

  On June 1st our family will be going Unplugged for the month.  The exception will be that I will do bills, work etc. online, and check e-mail at least once a day.  Since that is a main mode of communication and I can access it on my phone quickly without getting pulled in to spending way more time than I meant to while doing so, as I often do on the computer. 

  Unplugged, can you imagine it?  I'm so curious to find out how our month goes.  We have plans!  On Wednesday we are going to the beach, barring any rain.  And if it does rain, we'll go bowling.  Free Bowling For Kids is something I signed up for earlier in May and our first coupons arrived yesterday! Tim is looking forward to it too.

Some things on our list of what to do while we're not watching movies, playing computer games, playing ds's, playing Wii are: 

*Go to the beach OFTEN
*Read books
*Listen to books read aloud
*Go bowling
*Paint pictures
*Sew American Girl Clothes
* Bake
*Take food to people
*Possibly do another food drive
*Go to the Wye Marsh
*Go Fishing
*Write stories
*Clean (ya, the girls aren't excited about that one!)
*Possibly do a garage sale/lemonade stand
*Go for walks
*Ride bikes
*Play board games
*Go to Blackcreek Pioneer Village
*Possibly camp out in the backyard
*Collect bottles along snowmobile trails
*Bike along the paved biking trails and see how far we go

How many days are in June?  We might need a few more unplugged. We'll see!  The girls and I will also still be doing their school work.  I'd like to work with them on creating a lapbook. Something I've been meaning to do and haven't for a couple of years. 

There is yardwork begging to be completed. Perhaps with the lack of computer time, some of it will be!  The yard is already looking much improved with just a week worth of work going into it!  Then there's the things in the house like too many clothes and *gasp* books.  Books are hard to part with, but I think we have some that can be given to others to love. 

This Unplugged idea isn't just for the girls.  In fact, secretly, it's probably more for me.  I am the one who all too often wastes entire days sitting behind a screen and wondering why nothing is done.   Funny how dishes, laundry, and cleaning don't do themselves!! I can easily replace an internet time filler with other things, often books. So I will also be working to not simply spend my time reading candy books, you know the ones that are a fun fast read but don't really do anything for your mind or spirit?  I have a pile a foot high on my bookshelf of GOOD books waiting to be read and at least a shelf worth of on the shelf waiting too.  Then there is the box of curriculum just purchased on Sat. that could use a good overview by me.  It's hard to discuss a book I haven't read.  Perhaps Dd1 and I will tackle Core 7 together starting in June. Why not?

The opportunities are wide open and I look forward to discovering them.  While I won't be blogging, I am going to go get a new notebook, I love new notebooks!, and journal through the month.  In July I hope to share some of the good days and maybe even some of what I learn.  This may be my last post until then.  So, in case I don't get back here tomorrow, enjoy the month of June!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Simply Amazing

  Today was fabulously wonderful.  I enjoyed it. Every single minute of it. Waking up to hearing happy sounds in the kitchen felt great.  I snitched a piece of bacon before heading out the door to the final convention of the year for me. I know, I was spoiled this year getting to attend three! Today's is the one with the used books sale. 

  USED BOOK SALE of HOMESCHOOL BOOKS!  Oh, the bliss!  The curriculum.  The novels.  The joy of discovering just what you were hoping for and finding it's a price that fits the budget and makes you laugh.  Sheer pleasure!  Last year I was a seller. This year I was a buyer.  I enjoy both, but I think I gained more pleasure buying, it was delightful.  If I could do both I can't imagine. Bliss.

  Moments after stepping into the church where the conference was held I noticed the free tables were especially large this year.  Someone had generously donated, was giving, large amounts of paper.  Teachers, and homeschoolers go giddy over some of the silliest things.  A new box of crayons, notebooks, cracking open a new book, finding an old favorite, and paper all make my list!  I restrained myself and took 5 blank notebooks, the small journal sized for the girls or maybe visitors to use.   Then walked over to the free books table. I happened there just as a woman was unloading a box.  She handed out TWO books I'd been looking over and had resisted purchasing. Then she handed me a couple more she recommended including a critical thinking program and music flash cards. :) I Love Homeschool moms. Shoot, I love any mom who gives me good books!

  I browsed the vendor hall and was so disappointed to see that there was no game sales person there.  I must contact them and tell them I'm sorry they were not. I had fully intended to purchase a game today! 

  It was lovely visiting with friends.  Seeing some I haven't for quite a while.  Others I've just seen recently but it always makes my day to see them.  I'm blessed with excellent women as friends.  In fact I was enjoying my time so much I nearly forgot to line up for the used book sale!! ACK!

  I jumped into line and not a moment too soon.  Within minutes the line had doubled.  The anticipation and laughter went hand in hand as we waited to enter the room.  It made me laugh that a teen was standing in the hall asking us to "SHHH!" because there was still a session in session.  There's a reverse for ya! 

  Walking through the used book sale I immediately began to find items on my list.  Teaching Textbooks Algebra! Write Shop, Streams of Civilization, A Child's History of the World, some Trixie Belden books, some age 6 level mystery stories, and Apologia Botany for a couple of years down the road.  Then, ladies and gentlemen, I found the box that made me stand and nearly chew my nails off.  I thought hard because it wasn't a small amount, but a fabulous price on what was in the box.  Sonlight Core 7 (not sure what they're calling it this year, I forget, they changed the labeling but it's the same stuff!). It is nearly new, complete, and oh people, it made me smile.  :)  I could not have purchased the books individually, even used, at what she sold it to me for.  I didn't even try to negotiate price, it was so good. :)

  At the very last minute as I ran back to purchase one last thing, the women at that table started offering me things free.  Have I mentioned I love good books and people that give them?  They packed a box and I now have in my resources I didn't even know existed about homeschool in high school! 

  Ya know what's super cool about that?  I have been thinking about and wanting to start a homeschool library.  To have resources and samples of curriculum that people can borrow and try.  My local library has very very little by way of homeschool things.  The one in the next city has more.  But still, not quite what I want to do.  The library is part A.  a used curriculum and books store is part B.  But we'll take it as God gives it.  Well, one of those ladies came over to me after and handed me a not inexpensive curriculum on spelling, Phonic Zoo.  She said she thought the library was a great idea and this was my first donation to it. WOW! :)  After she left, I nearly cried and I definitely got goosebumps! 

  Now I have some more thinking and figuring out to do.  Some more gathering of doubles of resources, although I already loan out mine to those I trust.  I'd need doubles of ones I love so I don't feel upset if one is ruined or not returned.   If you've ever done a lending library sort of thing, I'd love to hear how you did it!

  That's all.  Just had to share how cool it was today! :) 

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Gentle Whisper Roars Sometimes

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17

  There are things I am grateful for and at the top of the list is God's Mercies which He promises are new every morning.  Since I've used my share up by bedtime each day I am so thankful for that.  My legalistic side hears James 4:17 and threatens to push me over the edge with how utterly I am failing at doing what is good that I know I ought to do.  The more gentle side responds with the reminder of God's mercies, forgiveness and grace.

  At any given moment there are multiple topics I am thinking about in my head.  Lately it's been citizenship/immigration papers, school with the girls, next years school with the girls, what's going on with my body, head coverings, modesty for women and girls in the clothes we wear, finances, homeschool conventions, homeschool used store/library idea, and summer fun.  Not all of them at the same time, they do play nice and take turns rotating through making my head spin. 

  Twice today I've had small whispers, God's voice speaking.  You'll be happy to know it's in my head.  Does that make it better or worse?  I may have to contemplate that, I'll take better because out of my head would terrify me!

  As I was loading dishes into the dishwasher this morning, my friend Jenn came to mind.  There's a discussion on going about modesty on a site I frequent.  Jenn started it. Simply by wanting to be modest in a bathing suit, good luck, eh?  Although a couple of neat options have been shown.  The conversation has since moved to wearing skirts and head coverings.  Jenn is lovely, and normal, and makes it look good.  So I was having a conversation with myself about skirts and head coverings.  I love wearing skirts.  So I decided I would start looking for more for this summer to wear. I have 2 or 3 now.  Goodwill shopping is in my future.

  Then I thought about the head covering and something she said replayed in my head.  When asked about why she does it she responded, "It's something I do to make God smile".  My immediate reaction was, "I want to make him smile TOO!"  And at that moment God whispered to me, "But I haven't asked you to cover your head.  That's not what I want from you."  That's all I had to hear and I knew exactly what He DOES want from me.  That thought makes me cry.  How can I not do it?  Why? Is it so hard? No. It's not even something people would see or know about for the most part.  It's simple, it's good, it's right.  My choice thus far to most of the time not do it is sin.   

  At this moment my heart is broken.  I know I will fail. It is my way.  But my sin has been forgiven and God's mercies will cover me.  I will start each day fresh and work to obey well, to do what is right well one day at a time.  It's another new beginning and yet not so new as all that.  Thank God for roaring whispers. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunshine Miracle

  Today a glimpse of things to come graced Central Ontario.  Warm breezes, blue skies, and lots and lots of sunshine!  It was supposed to rain.  That little detail was taken care of by the maker of blue skies and sunny days.  All week the forecast called for cool temperatures and rain.  Yesterday it did rain.   Yesterday. Do you know how perfect that is?  Let me tell you. 

  Last week dd2 asked to do a food drive this week.   I sent out the e-mail and mom's replied, YES, this week would work.  So we arranged to take flyers around on Wednesday and then pick up on Friday.  It's Super Simple.  Then Monday came and I looked ahead to the weather. Not good.  Tuesday night I checked the forecast, still not good.  But rain or shine we were going to take around the 300 flyers already printed.

  Wednesday felt cool and a bit windy but the forecast said perhaps rain in the afternoon.  Yet at 1:30 we gathered to start putting flyers in mailboxes and no rain.  Not a drop.  It went overcast and looked like it might but it didn't.  Excellent! In fact it was warm and with the breeze felt just perfect.

  Thursday, the forecast said and Friday and Saturday it would rain.  All day, highly likely is what the spots I checked said.  I can honestly say I didn't worry.  We wouldn't melt.  We could pick up the food donated if it rained on Friday.  Thursday it rained and even the power went off for awhile!  But it soon cleared away.

  Friday dawned cold!  But the promise of sun was in the blue skies.  We dressed in layers and are so thankful we did!  The sun came out, it didn't rain at all and today is one of those pre-true summer summer type days.  On the long weekend no less!! (Here in Canada this weekend is Victoria Day weekend, also known as May 2-4 weekend.)

  As the kids were unloading the food from the backs of the vans today a car pulled into the food bank driveway and the driver asked what was going on, was it a food drive?  Yes, the homeschooled children had collected food donated by people in town and were bringing it in now.  So the driver, who is also a reporter asked if she could take their picture.  How cool!  :)  Maybe they'll be in the paper.  Maybe not.  Either way, it was fun! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Secret (ok, not so secret) Weapon.

   One of the major challenges of homeschooling is balancing who does what when and what the others are doing while someone needs my one on one attention.  I have to admit, one on one attention is not my best subject.  I have a tendency to get drowsy when read to out loud be even the most adorable child.  And I also have a tendency to get cranky when I'm trying to work with one and another is hovering wanting me to check Math, or Handwriting, or just listen to something interesting they read, you know how it goes.  Kinda like going into the bathroom, suddenly everyone needs to talk to you.

  A couple of years ago I saw an advertisement for an online learning site,  This little mouse popped up and squeaked that he was Ed Mouse and it was time for learning, and FUN!  I checked the site out, and decided to give it a try.  The girls loved it!  But the Canadian dollar crashed and we had to give it up.  Well, this fall I decided that it just might be exactly what I needed to help me out when I needed something productive for the kids to be doing at one time or another through the day. 

  Time4learning is the school my youngest especially looks forward to doing.  If your kids have enjoyed then you may just love Time4learning. You can choose to pay for it monthly or even with a yearly subscription.  We do the monthly fee. I've had to remind my kids that while it's fun it's also part of their school and I do expect them to do it.  My oldest thought perhaps it was optional.  Mmmm, no. 

  I love how easy it is for the kids to use.  They click the next icon and it opens to the spot where they left off.  It's so simple for them to follow.  I love how easy it is for mom to use.  I open my parent's page and click on the child's name I want to see and I can browse their work for the day, week or month, did I mention it grades it!? Yep.  Sweet.  I can also click and print a report if I want.  Nothing like seeing progress, or seeing the need for review, right? 

  Some people use Time4learning as a full curriculum. I am using it as a filler and a mom's sanity saver.  We read aloud our afternoon school work and enjoy our books together.  In the mornings the girls work on their Math, Handwriting and Time4learning.  Some days the morning work is all we get to, and because of the content in Time4Learning that is just fine!

 My youngest has worked her way through all the science available to her.  She's doing 1st Grade work and begging me to adjust her to 2nd grade so she can work on the 3rd grade science!! It's easy for a parent to adjust up or down a level as needed for the subjects and I have taken advantage of that several times.  While the youngest has flown through Science she's quite a bit more reluctant to finish the Language Arts, so no moving up to 2nd grade until she's done some more work in Language Arts first.  My middle one is a December baby and it's handy to have her working on some 3rd grade work and some 4th grade and neat to see her progress as she makes connections and advances in her skills!

  Maybe you have kids who are going to be home this summer and whining "there's nothing to do!" or maybe you would like to help them bridge from one grade to the next. I know sometimes brains seem to go to jelly through the summer. This is a great site and I'm so thankful we found it.  If you think you'd like to try it, I'd love for you to give my e-mail as a referal, the people at Time4Learning will reward me at the end of your trial period! ($25! Sweet!) is the e-mail I've linked to our Time4learning experience.  And you know my name. ;) 
Check it out at 

*** Time4Learning has given me the opportunity to review their program and share my experiences. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used as a homeschool curriculum or for afterschool enrichment. While I was compensated, the content in this review was not written by Time4Learning. The opinion is entirely my own. ***


Monday, May 16, 2011

What If?

  Have you ever started over?  Sold everything, or at least a lot of things, and moved away, far far away?  Have you ever done a 180 and changed the path of your life?  The path that you were plodding away on and taking one boring step after another but it was routine and somewhat comfortable even in it's boringness?  Was it because you looked up ahead and saw the future and it was not where you wanted to go and the only place that path you are plodding along on lead was there. 

  Have you ever felt in your soul that you wanted something more, something else, something different?  Woke up and realised that time was slipping away and had in fact devoured almost a decade while you did the just getting by thing day by day?  That not only were you getting older but so were your children and soon, very soon they were going to be nearing a point in their life when it would be time for them to decide what to do as an adult, and yet YOU hadn't figured that out for yourself yet?! 

  Have you ever watched the one you love work day after day in a job that they once enjoyed but over time they have lost that joy and instead feel mostly stress and frustration?  Watched their body start to ache because of the labor they have done, watched them try to stand in the morning and it looks painful to straighten?  Have you ever been concerned about what they are breathing while they do the work they need to do in a place that is not correctly equipped to do that work?   Frightened that the work they do may be in fact stealing years of life from them?  Have you ever felt regret that they chose you and by so doing chose not to complete their dream and follow their passion? Not regret that they chose you, but regret that by choosing you they lost their chance at their dream?

  Welcome to my head and heart. 

  If you feel led, please pray for us.  Pray that I don't lead our family but that Tim does, and that God leads him.  Pray for wisdom, and for direction as we think, dream, and pray about what to do next, if anything. 

  We have a home, family, friends here and love the beauty that surrounds us.  There are many, many good things about where we are now. But, and isn't there always a but? something's gotta give.  Fear fills me as I consider what moving would entail.  Fear of instability and potential needs, what if, like our last start over it fails?  What if we tried again and came back worse for wear, again.  Could my heart take it?  Could my faith? I don't know.  So many questions and not a single answer to be found today.  Apparently God is working on my patience again. Oh joy.  ;)  Maybe this time I will learn something and be refined!

  Thanks for reading!



Saturday, May 14, 2011


     My youngest is tired.  I think she has a cold, or maybe allergies.  She hasn't been sleeping well and this morning didn't come out of bed until after nine, her daddy tells me.  Maybe she's growing? I'm not sure what it is, maybe a little bit of all of it.  Whatever it is, she's tired and she's whiny. 

     My middle one is sore all over and has bug bites already that are swollen and hot.  Poor fairhaired girlie.  She's gone to bed with some medicine to help the aches, and a hug. Oh, and a Nancy Drew book.

     My oldest celebrated her bff's birthday yesterday and today and between the late night giggles, early morning wake up, and swimming, she's beat.  Her eyes could barely stay open at supper and her speech disentigrated from fast loud words to a low murmer that even I couldn't understand.  She's been sent to bed, and I do believe she'll be asleep shortly.

     Then there's me.  I made it through my 9 hours shift (less an hour for lunch) while babying my left foot.  While climbing over the dog gate on Thursday I kicked the back of the toilet lid in my living room. Yes, my living room.  You see, I'd moved it off the dogs blanket where Tim had left it after installing our new pretty white toilet and taking out the old ugly gray one.  I moved the lid so no one would get hurt and Callie, our puppy, would have more room on her blanket.  I have no idea why it was still in the living room.  But I moved it on top of the library book box.  Which is exactly where it was when I climbed over the dog gate and kicked it.  If my toe isn't broken then it's very prettily sprained.  I do like purple.  Just preferably on my toenails, not my toe itself! 

     My Saturdays at work are normally exhausting.  Saturdays at work once the cottagers come (duh duh dummmmmmm) are brutal.  The stress level is higher all around.  Oh joy. Oh bliss. Oh okay, so truly I have to work to have a good attitude at times.  And a few times today I did.  Within  minutes of arriving in fact and then several times through the day.  Which means by the time my shift is over I'm almost out of nice. 

     So I'm sitting here tonight wanting very much to have a conversation with my husband and he's off helping someone.  I love that about him, love that he is willing and able to help! LOVE that.  I just wish he'd hurry home.  He took our youngest with him and I hope she enjoys the privelege.  The other two are in bed! 

     I am not looking forward to this summer.  I know I can only control my attitude and I am working on it. You should HEAR what I haven't said!! Summer and I have a love/hate relationship. I adore the warmth, the growing of fruits and vegetables and flowers, but I loathe the exhaustion my husband experiences.  Hate the weeks of not seeing each other except to say goodnight, and sometimes even then it's iffy if he's awake.

     He's not home yet, but if I keep talking on here I'm afraid I'll be completely out of nice by the time he gets home. So I'm going to stop now.  It's enough to just say, "I'm tired." and know that so many of you know, on all levels, exactly what I mean.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Had A Dream Last Night

  It was a mixture of old and new, of my past and of my future hopes and dreams.  We were moving into a new house, except it wasn't a new house to me.  It was a house I lived in as a little girl.  I walked through the rooms with my mom exclaiming about how much had stayed the same and marvelling at the differences. 

  Awake I can think of the dream and see where my imagination changed the rooms to what I'd like them to be, not what they really were or are.  In my dream the crawlspace that went beside the two upstairs rooms was large enough to stand up in and make a play area for the girls.  The closet was a walk in and yet, I know for truth it is not.  I suspect if I were to go inside the house today I would really be surprised by how small it is. 

  It didn't feel small then.  The upstairs room with windows overlooking the front porch, the one where I saw an owl one Christmas Eve sitting looking back at me from its perch on the electrical wire, is likely not as spacious and big as I remember.  The bathroom may still be pink downstairs, I'd be more surprised if it wasn't!  The room at the front with the door from the porch where Dr. Sarah Miller used to see patients while her husband was pastor of the church next door isn't really large enough for bunk beds and a desk, despite my dream.  Although my concern about my youngest going out that door would be a real concern.

  It was a pleasant dream and I woke up with a hopeful feeling despite it not being true.  We're not moving.  I don't get to stop working because we moved somewhere that costs lots less to live.  But I'm hanging onto the positive feelings because they are there and I need them. I need the hope.

  It also reminded me that my children don't see our home with the same eyes I do, or the yard either.  It doesn't look as small as it is to them the way it does to me.  They likely don't feel crowded or even deprived of what I'd like to give them.  They know the difference between our house and Grandmas in Illinois, the meadow in between must feel like an entire mile of space! They may wish for a swingset, room to put a swimming pool and other typical kid wish things but I hope that when they are grown up they will remember happy times and think with joy back to our days in this home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cookies, Homeschooling And Doing The Right Thing.

     My goal for this year is to quit quitting, and it's also to say "Yes" more when my girls ask to do something.  It's much easier to say, "No, not right now." and then never say yes to whatever they asked.  This is our second school day post my second homeschool convention of the year.  I came home looking forward to finding a way to implement what I'd learned and what had been reaffirmed for me as true.  And as much as those two things seem like separate things, they aren't.  Because most of what is in my life is connected.  Homeschooling is not a separate part of our family life but our family life is an integral part of homeschooling.  I guess you could say our life is our education. 

     So what did I learn?  Well, I learned, again (I'm slow to learn sometimes!) that music is an important part of brain development and that reading aloud, both listening and doing, help to improve language skills long after the story is over.  That reading above ability level is a GOOD thing. Also, that reading aloud, being read to I mean, is the favorite part of  many peoples memories of school. 

   So at the moment my middle child is working chocolate chip cookies.  The second sheet is in the oven right now. She asked me nicely and I didn't really want to help, but I said yes anyway and helped her do it.  My youngest is playing at the table, but she's listening to an audio book, thanks to  LOVE that site! It's not a highly intellectual book, it's a Boxcar Children story.  But it is higher than her reading level and both girls enjoy it.  Yesterday they worked on crafts while listening to Classical Music and I plan to do it again this afternoon.  I'm still thinking about what book I want us to read outloud as a family.  The last one we read was The Swiss Family Robinson.

   The girls have been asking about doing a food drive again too.  And today the middle one asked again and today I said yes.  So I sent an e-mail out to our non-group group of local homeschooling friends who like to do the food drive together and hopefully next week we will be doing this again.  We go on Wednesday afternoon or so and tuck flyers into mailboxes and door handles letting people know that we have a Super Simple way for them to give to the foodbank.  We know people often mean to give and just forget or don't because they don't have time.  So we offer to pick up a bag of food from them and take it for them.  We come back on Friday morning and if there's a bag on the porch, step, etc we'll deliver it to the food bank.  It's a lot of fun to do, and feels good to be helping! 

   It's not always easy to do the right thing, to say yes when I'd rather just sit.  To say no, when it'd be easier to say yes for things like going to play instead of doing work.  The best things in life aren't free is the way I've heard that saying but it's my opinion that the best things in life aren't easy.  They take work.  Children who are polite, fun to be around, and considerate of others don't just happen.  Learning to speak a new language.  Homemade breads.  Those things are all wonderful and all take work! Mistakes happen but what makes the difference between failure and success is simple, it's not quitting.  It's being consistent, even if that means starting again a hundred times.  It's trying again.  It's daily persevering because what you want to do is a good thing and well worth the effort.

   Where's this going you ask?  Here.  My daughter won't learn to make cookies on her own without a recipe until she's made them using the recipe so many times she has it memorized and that won't happen unless I say yes and help her for as long as she needs and wants help.  The girls will learn what they need to learn academically as we continue to read good books, work on their math etc. but that is just a noisy gong or a pretty apple with worms if they don't have character that honors and glorifies God as adults. The world needs more truly good people who exhibit integrity, honor, strength and intelligence paired with the ability to think, not simply follow the crowd. 
   This afternoon I made a batch of homemade rolls.  My girls made cookies.  We're going to listen to some classical music while we read about God and think about and then discuss what we've read.  I'd like to play on the computer all afternoon and just let the day slip away, but that's not the right thing and in the end doing the right thing one small thing at a time will add up to a life well lived. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mrs. Crankypants

Yep, that's me.  Could be a combo of too many late nights, caffeine and not enough fruits and veggies.  Could be hormonal.  Could be the moon.  Who knows! I do know it's ME.  I'm c-r-a-n-k-y! 

Like, send the children outside so mom doesn't snap their heads off, cranky. Like, don't ask me how my day is when you ate all the BBQ chips again, cranky.  Like, can't find what I want on the computer therefore the computer is stupid, cranky. Yep. The computer. 

Sick of feeling tired when I'm not sick enough to feel this way.  Sick of messes and stepping around or over things.  But I don't have the energy burst I need to clean it up. I just want it to GO AWAY!

Truthfully, I have absolutely no business being this irritable.  I had a lovely night out last night. I painted pottery and it was fun.  I got to spend time with a friend I haven't spent time with in way too long.  It was wonderful.  Today, my undies are in a bunch and apparently they aren't my big girl panties because I'm not sucking it up and being sweet. 

Lucky for those around me I recognize this fact and am doing my best to breathe through the waves of annoyance and exasperation.  But heaven help the child who makes a repetitive noise just for the noisemaking! 

I do believe I will put myself to bed early tonight. Perhaps I'll let the girls watch a movie downstairs where I can't hear them and therefore can't get cranky at them.  It's Friday and fun days are coming.  A little sleep, a little chocolate, and hopefully all will be well soon.  A prayer or two thrown in is a pretty good idea too. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Horrible Mom!

I slept too late in the morning.  Church started at 10.  I'd not planned ahead with a special outfit including shoes for each of my girls.  I had no idea what I'd wear even.  The clock said 9:20.  Now we'd have to hurry!  At a glance, they looked ok, so Tim told them to go get in the van.  We drove to the church and had to park a ways out, Easter morning it fills up fast. 

We got out of the van and it was obvious dd3 had not brushed her hair.  It was still wet from her shower.  And she put had black sandles on her feet, not the white ones I'd told her to put on.  Ya know, because her dress was white and green pastel shades.  Tim took her back to the van to brush her hair as I walked towards the church with the other two, pressure started at my spine.  A good mom would've made sure her hair was brushed, dried and looking pretty.  How could you have missed that?  And black sandals? Why didn't you check her feet before you let her leave the house?!

My oldest walked in front of me.  She had chosen her outfit, a lovely purple sweater dress. . . .with cerulean blue skinny jeans beneath.  At least her hair is brushed!   She owns lovely dresses and pretty dress shoes, but this Easter Sunday she has on a cute and comfortable outfit, great for shopping. . .

We walked into the church and despite it being mostly empty at this time of the morning the last three times we've visited, Easter Sunday is different.  The chairs are filled and I see just a few spots with  room for five.  Near the front.  Tim will never, ever go for that.  The usher tries to usher me.  I hate being bossed around.  Even by nice people.  I tell him I'm waiting for my husband and he asks how many. I say five and his eyebrows shoot up.  As if five is a lot!  He tries again to usher me to the front and I back away and say we'll wait.  I tell him my husband is 6'4" he won't sit near the front.  Thankfully Tim walks in at that moment and I'm saved from the helpful usher. 

My patience is worn thin.  My back is stiff with irritation at myself and frustration at not having had it all together for this Sunday morning.  My mom made sure we had nice outfits for Easter Sunday.  She got up early or stayed up late to make sure the homemade rolls were ready.  My house was still a mess waiting to be cleaned before family shows up at 1.  You are lazy.  You should've had this.  How could you have let something this important go? 

We slip into the seats just as the worship team begins to sing.  I relax a touch that we've made it.  I glance around.  Little girls with their hair done.  Women looking lovely.  Pretty dresses, obviously ironed and ready for this special day.  I'd failed again.  This is important! Looking good on Easter is important!!  I wanted out. I would've happily left the church and not come back.  I didn't measure up, my family didn't measure up and it was my fault! 

I'd whispered a silent prayer for help as we'd waited for Tim in the outer foyer when I felt my patience slipping and irritation building.  At that moment in the sanctuary God answered me, Really?  Looking pretty is what's important here today?  

I stopped whipping myself mentally and almost laughed out loud.  As though taking off sunglasses my mindset brightened and disappointment melted to a puddle in the light of the truth.  I joined in singing the hymn "Grace! Grace! God's grace! Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.  Grace! Grace! God's grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin." 

I'd love to tell you that the day went perfectly from that moment on and that I didn't have an attitude issue the rest of the day, just basked in the glory of His grace.  But, you probably know me better than that.  I fought my attitude at home while cleaning up in time for family to be here.  Smooshed the irritation at my lack of perfection, the table cloth never made it onto the table before we ate, grandma would've made sure it was on you know. 

Multiple times yesterday I was reminded of the lie I'd almost bought hook, line, and sinker!  I'm not a horrible mom, and pretty on the outside is not what's important! Perfection in the prettiness is not the epitome of perfection.  Living in God's grace, accepting it and moving on is, especially on Easter Sunday when we celebrate His ultimate sacrifice and victory over death and sin. 

He is Risen! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Memories

  Potato salad.  Tonight I attempted to recreate a childhood favorite by making from scratch and from memory my Grandma's potato salad.  A few potatoes, some chopped onion, chopped pickle, mayonnaise, a squirt of mustard, some celery seed, a couple of chopped boiled egg and salt and pepper to taste.  I forgot to add chopped celery and may or may not add it in the morning.

  While I was peeling, chopping, and stirring, my thoughts turned towards past easter meals and summertime get together's.  Easter, memorial day, or just a summer Sunday all blur together in my memory.  Scents and tastes bring back memories for me faster than almost anything else.   Cinnamon and apples with a hint of green beans and I'm at my Grandma Quicks.  The thought of potato salad, warm rolls, and coolers of pop in the garage put me into Grandma Burks house on any given summer Sunday. 

  I realized tonight that I try to recreate those memories which mean the most to me.  It plays out in little things, like always having a veggie tray to snack on before the big meal is ready.  Or, feeling it is compulsory to have an easter egg hunt to make Easter complete for the kids.  Tonight I put the potato salad into a clear glass pyrex dish with white flowers on the outside and it felt almost like bringing my whole past of celebrations to my family.

They can't experience the baseball games in Grandma's, now the Wheat's, backyard.  The girls won't fall asleep while the dads and uncles watch baseball and talk about Caterpillar, gas prices and other local news.   There won't be an impromptu hymn sing because Grandma asks us to sing something or someone hummed a tune and someone else joined in with words.  It won't be hot tomorrow and there won't even be a ham.  There will be Little Debbie Cakes, a basket of goodies for the grown ups, and there will be potato salad.

 Time passes so quickly and all too soon I will be the grandma.  I wonder what memories my daughters will treasure and what they will try to recreate for their families?  Most of all I am thankful for those memories.  Thankful for cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that truly are a wonderful family.  I am not sure why God has spread us so far apart and I look forward to August, when on one side many of us will gather together to celebrate a new family forming.    Tomorrow I will set out the veggie platter, make a pot of green beans, and watch the girls look for Easter eggs and remember to give thanks again. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

On My Own

     I was thinking about salvation this morning while showering.  Thinking of the circular theological arguments:  faith by works, and faith equals works.  Faith without works is dead.  Yet, it is by faith and not by works that we are saved.  It is not of ourselves.  It is a gift. NO ONE can boast.

It occurred to me that I don't boast, but neither do I truly accept it is as a gift with no strings.  I know that I can't do it, I can't earn it.  But in the secret places I believe that because I believe, I have to be perfect.  I can't fail.  I know I'm called to be perfect as HE is perfect.  The reality in me is when I can't reach perfection, I quit.  I always quit. (I'm quitting quitting this year.)  Yet that's not exactly what His word says.  It does say be perfect as He is perfect, but it also says His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  If I could do it perfectly on my own I wouldn't need Him.   Did you follow me there?  I know I can be circular in reasoning too.

Once again this morning, while naked and vulnerable, it hit me that it:  forgiveness and salvation, is a gift and I have done absolutely nothing to deserve it, nor can I do anything to repay Him for it and equal his gift.  I am at His mercy, in His debt and nothing can ever take that away from me.  It is a gift and it's all mine.  Not only can nothing take it away, there's nothing I can fail that will mean He removes it from me.  I'm forgiven.

Casting Crowns has a song that I woke up hearing in my head,  Glorious Day. The chorus lyrics flow from my heart.  Living, He loved me.  Dying, He saved me.  Buried, He carried my sins far away.  Rising, He justified freely forever.  Someday He's coming, Oh Glorious Day!

Here's a youtube link if you want listen:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Orange Blossom White Tea And Other Lovely Things.

Mmmm, can you smell it?  The sweet, warm, fragrance of my Orange Blossom tea from Timothy's.   It has a fragrance that fills my upstairs and makes me smile.  A little bit of sugar stirred in and I have a moment of bliss.  I don't normally like orange flavored things. Except I've found a couple I do.  This tea is one, and a dark chocolate with candied orange peels is another.  Different.  Sweet, tart, silky smooth and light. 

I had a moment of complete contentment today.  Am still enjoying it now actually.  My feet are propped up on a rubbermade tote. My girls are in the basement happily playing together and the puppy is asleep. 
I'm home.  The sun is shining.  My lilac bush has buds on it!  The kitchen is mostly clean.  The laundry is caught up.  Schoolwork is done for the day.  Content, I sit here. 

I'm sitting in my favorite pink chair.  Once upon a time it was a lovely chair.  Now it is simply my favorite chair.  I have two exactly alike, but this one is closer to the electrical outlet and so it's my favorite because of my laptop. 

Earlier today I posted asking for help on another forum.  My oldest has inherited her mother's inability to think. LOL, no I mean it.  She is proficient at finding answers spelled out in books, at regurgetating the words written in response to questions asked.  But ask her to answer a question that requires thought and not simply repeat information and she freezes. 
For a moment I felt failure keenly.  She can't think.  Panic and memories of being in college and not knowing how to give the professors what they wanted because it wasn't simply giving back facts found in the texts hit me full force.  Followed quickly by a desire to make sure she does know how to think.  But HOW?

So I asked other moms who homeschool their children.  These wise women overflowing with years of experience and knowledge.  They would know.  They could spell it out for me and tell me how to make this right. 

They did.  They told me they too have this problem with their children.  That their children also stare at a blank page when asked to write, and weep. I'm not alone.  She's not an exception.  This is normal and can be overcome with time and doing. . . .guess what? Exactly what I am doing! 

Thank you, God for the internet, for homeschool boards where I can quickly hear back from those who have been there, done that.  Thank you for honesty in answering and no pretending perfection!  Thank you for orange blossom tea and other lovely things. :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Birthday for me!

I love Birthdays! Maybe when I'm really and truly old I won't, but I suspect I still will.  I love the celebration.  Love looking back on the year and knowing I survived it, hopefully thrived in it.  I love that it's a new start.  I'm 34 this year.  I don't feel a whole lot different than when I turned 14 or 24, I mean, I'm still me.  Older, bigger, hopefully wiser, but still just me. 

Some years we have celebrated my birthday in a BIG way and I've loved it.  For thirty, Tim wanted to take me to see Phantom in Toronto but I asked if we could do something else because my memories of Phantom in Chicago are amazing and I just don't think it can be matched.  However, I was blown away by his thoughtfulness and consideration.  He told me because he wanted me to be happy, smart man.  I wouldn't have been because it would've been a super fast trip to go see it and then dash back and pick up the kids from his parents. No thanks.  Instead I had a spa-day, my first ever, with two best friends.  Then we had dinner catered at one of the friends house.  It was fabulous!

Another year I was able to get AMAZING tickets to a Raptors game, and they were a decent team.  We stayed in Toronto overnight and watched the game.  Another year we did the Raptors game, hotel AND picked my dad up from the airport for a weekend visit.  Loved that too. Yet another year we drove to Illinois and I got to be with my family for a weekend visit and Tim took me for lunch at Chili's. YUM.

Yesterday was such a non-celebration day that it will probably fade in my memory as a day itself.  I worked hard cleaning and sorting, filling 5 garbage bags for Goodwill.  My girls weren't fabulous, but could've been worse.  My 6yo threw a couple of tantrums but recovered in time to not ruin the whole day.  I took them for lunch at my favorite Deli downtown and their favorite toy store.  How that celebrated my day I"m not sure, but they liked it. LOL  Then Tim took me out for supper and we had delicious burgers at a new burger place near us.  We then walked around Canadian Tire (at my request! odd) and our sad excuse for a mall.  A non-day, day.  Nothing super special. 

But see, next week I am going to Illinois.  And again it is a treat because my sweet, caring, give you the shirt off his back husband has taken time off work for ME.  I've wanted to go since my dad's motorcycle accident.  I've also wanted to attend the homeschool convention in Peoria and never have been able to.  This year John Stonestreet from Summit ministries, and Jay Wile, author of Apologia upper level science curriculum will be there.  There are multiple sessions on homeschooling high school and well, I want to go SO badly.  SO my husband has made it happen. 

While we're there I'm going with my best friend to the homeschool convention.  That is a double blessing, time with Tiffany AND the Apache convention.  Cool!  Tim will be working on my parents roof.  It badly needs replaced over the addition.  That is the kind of man he is.  Take time of work, drive 13 hours to be with your in-laws and then work your tail off.  He's amazing.  I am so blessed. 

So while the actual day yesterday was a non-huge day, my birthday was not forgotten.  My husband didn't bring me flowers or fly me to Paris.  He didn't bring me diamonds or another day at the Spa.  There was no cake, not even a card or a single gift to unwrap. But he's showing me again with his actions that he loves me, that he puts my needs and even wants above his own.  I will take that love and consideration over a million things with only earthly value. 

Thank you God, for knowing my needs and blessing me beyond measure with a man who loves you and obeys you by loving me.  Thank you for children who are healthy and normal and silly and slightly nutty.  Thank you for a home that is warm in winter and cool in summer.  Thank you for food to eat and money to be able to afford our needs.  Thank you for a job for both of us.  Thank you for friends and family who love me no matter what.  I am blessed. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

One step at a time,

Earlier today I sat here, in my favorite pink armchair and whined about having so much to do and no idea where to start.  It's funny how writing it out somehow helps me figure it out!  No one responded to my post about it on the board where I frequent.  But I had taken steps to getting things done and I was happy to mark the tasks with a bold "done".

In the shower this morning I tried to recite James 1.  I'm working on memorizing it.  A challenge taken up by several of us on the Hearts at Home bulletin board.  I've done it before, when my oldest was an infant.  I was bored, lonely, and depressed so I started memorizing James.  I only made it through the first chapter and a few verses of the second.  This time we're shooting for the whole book.  It may take awhile.  It may take months.  But we'll get there. 

I find it ironic that I am willing to meet large challenges head on.  I will plan, think, pray, prepare for them and look forward to it.  Yet, small things.  Daily life things can break me down.  Feelings of failure swirl around in my head and my own voice taunts me with how incapable I am. 

It is good to sit here with the sun shining outside my windows.  It is good to see my girls laugh and play in that sunshine.  And it is ok, for today, to not read outloud our history, science and even Bible.  God's world is full of ways and things to learn about.  I'm not a failure for letting the girls be children and play.  I am a success.  I have evaluated what was critical for today, and bookwork inside was not it. 

The laundry was set to defeat me as well.  Tim is in the midst of renovating FOR ME! He's making our downstairs bathroom into a bathroom and laundry room that will be pleasant to use.  A new shower, new (at least to us) washer and dryer to come, a new floor and a white sink and toilet. Bliss!

But for now it is hard to use that space.  The area is cluttered with tools and debris.  There is a partial wall, with the spaces between the boards too small to slip a laundry basket through (yes, I tried).  So I need to go around.  To get through that doorway I had to clear rolled up carpet, underlay, and more garbage.  PHEW!  I opened the door to the dryer and groaned.  It was full of clean towels.  A good thing, except, where to put them?  I started the washer first, giving me an empty basket, moved the now full basket of towels into the hallway and THEN I was able to put the wet laundry into the dryer. 

That too is a success.  I didn't have to leave our house.  I didn't have to use money at the laundromat and take time from my day I just don't have to spare away from home.  I didn't have to load the van, unload the van, then load and unload again.  But most of all, I am washing the clothes and blessing my husband with clean jeans.  

Supper is in the crockpot, a roast with potatoes and carrots.  I will go to work and my family will still be fed.  There might even be leftovers for me to eat when I come home! All this because I wrote a list of what needs doing and started doing one at a time.

Do you know what was crippling me?  The feeling that I had to figure out the perfect way to do it.  That there was a perfect way and if I was just smart enough I could figure it out.  Crazy, huh?  Since I couldn't figure out the perfect way to fit everything in I wasted a bit of time just sitting whining about how hard it was going to be.   So I am thankful today that God hears my thoughts and answers prayers I'm not even wise enough to pray.  He gave me clarity of thought, but beyond that he simply impressed to do one thing then another then another til my list is nearly done. 

One step at a time.

Here's the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns:
  1. Day by day, and with each passing moment,
    Strength I find to meet my trials here;
    Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
    I've no cause for worry or for fear.
    He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
    Gives unto each day what He deems best,
    Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
    Mingling toil with peace and rest.
  2. Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
    With a special mercy for each hour;
    All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
    He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
    The protection of His child and treasure
    Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
    "As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
    This the pledge to me He made.
  3. Help me then, in every tribulation,
    So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
    That I lose not faith's sweet consolation,
    Offered me within Thy holy Word.
    Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
    E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
    One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
    Till with Christ the Lord I stand.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hurray for Spring!

Hurray for Spring and sunshine filled days to come. 
Hurray for mud because the ground is softening into earth that can be planted!
Hurray for wind that chases away the cold and brings in the warm.
Hurray for March giving way to April and crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinth peaking through the ground.
Hurray for lilac bushes with tiny buds hiding bounty of wonderful richness and beauty.
Hurray for birthdays and growing older.
Hurray for my child's birthday and watching her blossom into a lovely young woman!
Hurray for mercies that are new every morning and faithfulness that is everlasting despite myself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thank You for this day.

     There are moments when the superfluous extras in life swirl to gray and the immortal truth of mortal life becomes crystal clear.  Moments when the heart stops and holds still before rushing on while you gasp for breath and struggle to hold onto what is true.  These are the moments that forever after you look back on think, "I remember when, and I'm so thankful now."

     Sunday, my husband calmly told me that my dad had been in a motorcycle accident.  Life focused at that moment and the most important need became the words he would say next.  "He's ok. They think.  Your mom is taking him to the hospital."  I took a deep breath, then another and another.  I knew perfectly well that I am helpless here.  I can't rush to his side and be there to wait in the hospital and know he's ok.  So I prayed asking God to let him please, please be ok.  Then I took another deep breath and we continued to Walmart. 

    Yep, Walmart.  Funny how quickly the boring every day details still need taken care of even when you very much want it to stop.  I smiled as I read my girls shopping lists, deciphering a few words and feeling proud of the one who spelled "raisin bread" properly!  Laughed at the idea of a Barbie doll being a grocery need.  And I put a bottle of orange pop in the cart, simply because I could, and they are my children, I love them and it was something small I could do. 

     Then we came home to wait.  And wait.  Then wait some more.  It was just a couple of hours but it felt like too long.  I forgot to pray for a little while and started to crave food, any food in massive quantities.  While standing at the cupboard I remembered that this is not what I want to do.  Food is not my drug, it is not my god, it is simply food.  So I stood and prayed again.  I asked some friends to pray too.  Amazing how quickly communication started after I remembered to do that. 

     I did eat.  I ate frozen yogurt.  Totally within my plan, although a bigger portion than I would've chosen to eat on a regular day.  But still, it was ok.  It wasn't too much in a big way.  And I prayed again thanking God that he really IS going to be ok. 

     So as I sit here today and listen to my husband talk to my dad, listen to him joke about how now dad's ruined it for him to ride a motorcycle,  I am thankful.   I am thankful for motorcycle helmuts.  I am thankful for Carhart jackets, cold weather that required multiple layers of clothing, and thankful for life.  I'm thankful that today I still have a dad.  There are two young men in our community whose dad chose to take his life yesterday and my heart breaks for them.  For the man's wife as well.  And again, I am thankful for my husband and for this day. 

In everything give thanks for THIS IS the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow Tubing aka Going Out Of My Comfort Zone

Snow tubing.  Riding an inner tube covered in cloth down a steep hill that is icy and slippery. Riding a carpet moving sidewalk back up the hill to do it again. 

There are a few things about that scenario I have issues with.  One, the moving carpet UP a fairly steep hill.  Two, standing at the TOP of said steep hill and looking down it knowing there's one way to get to the bottom.  Three, riding the tube down the hill at speeds I prefer to be in a car while traveling. 

I told my sweet husband and girls that I would try it.  Meaning, I would do it one time, and if I hated it, I didn't have to do it again.  So I did it, survived it and hated it.  I spent the next forty-five minutes taking pictures of the others and really didn't mind that a bit.  Then I started thinking about how wimpy it was to not do it again. 

Once? You did it once?  Really? Try it again.  You don't have to love it, but it's something your kids and husband are loving!  Next time they come down go back up the hill with them.  You can do it.  You won't die, or get hurt.  

It didn't help that we pulled into the parking lot and there was an ambulance with lights flashing sitting there.  Turns out they were simply stuck, but still. . .didn't help.  I stewed for a few moments, watched my kids and others fly down the hill screaming and laughing and decided I would do it.  Just one more time.  Then one more time.  The more often I did it the less fear I felt. 

This year is the year I quit quitting.  Today it feels like I've made some progress.  I often quit things before I start simply for fear of failing in them.  How sad.  But today I tried something new.  Then I tried it again and again until I was no longer afraid.  I do not love snow tubing.  You won't find me begging to go again.  I'm much more inclined to soak in the hot tubs at Le Scandinave, which reminds me I think it's time to go again, it's been a year! 

Maybe tomorrow I'll pick something else I've resisted doing for fear of failing.  Or maybe we'll make that this week.  I think tomorrow should be a light day of rest and recovery.  Something about four and a half hours sleep Saturday night leads me to this conclusion.  And on that note, Goodnight!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Made For More

  Deep inside I've longed to extra good at something.  I've dreamed of discovering something no one else has ever found or thought of before.  I wanted to be the BEST at something, anything.  But my reality is I'm really good at being average at a lot of things.  Yet inside there is still a desire for more, to be more. 

Sometimes that desire feels like pride.  When I think less of others and more of myself it IS pride.  But pride and desire are twisted here and I haven't been seeing clearly.  Earlier this week I started reading a book called Made To Crave and today's chapter was Made for More.  It struck a chord in me.  YES! My heart cried out, yes, please.  I have felt this way for so long!

Tired of failing and yet too stubborn to give up completely I had come awfully close, am still awfully close to the edge of just that.  I've failed for thirty-some years.  My want-to has gone rogue.  But still my heart longs to be more.  To belong. 

Ephesians 1:17-19 says, "I keep asking that the God our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." 

The emphasis are mine.  Paul kept asking. PAUL kept asking.  Paul, who God appeared to, who was so good at being God's that he sometimes annoys me, kept asking.  He didn't stop. He didn't just ask once.  I'm not annoying him by continuing to ask, and unlike me when my kids pester, he's not sick of hearing from me. 

"So that you may know him better" this is also my prayer.  Please, can I know you?  I am so distrustful of touchy feely churchy things right now but still my heart longs for all that I've been taught to be real.  If He does want to be known by me and not just those elite perfect ones, then I am willing and do want that too! 

Open the eyes of my heart Lord is a song I still love to sing despite how old it is.  Please do enlighten the eyes of my heart, let me see the hope that you've called me to.  Riches of his glorious inheritance and his great power sounds almost to good to be true.  I'm going to walk this way, talk this way and pray this way though. 

If I can win just a few battles.  If I can get some success instead of failure under my belt.  If He will grant me the wisdom, courage, and strength to defeat some of the strongholds in my life I know that my faith will be restored.  Perhaps even rebuilt is a better term for it.  So my prayer for today is that the eyes of my heart will be enlightened. That I will see Him and learn more of Him, not just about Him.  I believe that I am made for more.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Space to Stuff Ratio equalization attempt #406

It's probably higher than 406, but I'm not counting so that's the number assigned to this attempt.  I am so tired of stepping around, over and beside things that do not have a home or are simply out of their home.  What is WITH my need to collect clutter and not want to give it away?  GRRRRRRR  And worse yet, I've got four other people who do and feel the same.  I did not marry this house and this is "for worse" so I want out! *grin*

We want a dog.  Well, the girls want a dog and I've decided it's a good idea to get one now, although today I'm wondering if I'm totally NUTS!  We have a house so full of stuff there's rarely an empty space and do you know what happens if I manage to create some?  Someone puts something IN it.  We all have this need to fill in the spaces.  What is with that? 

Today I've worked in my own room and in my girls room that the two younger ones share.  I'm not even close to done in either.  It seems to me it's one of those never done things.  I get it *done* and it's undone before the week is out.  I believe it's largely because there is just too much stuff.  But how to choose what to keep and what's gotta go?  I understand emotional attachment to stuff.  The desire to keep it because it's yours and you like it! But really folks?  When the child can't sleep on her bed but sleeps on top of stuffies on the bed, and those toys fill two small white garbage bags??? That's too much.  When the drawers and closet are full but there's still two baskets full of clothes (for two kids) that's too much.  When the closet basket is full of shoes, there are shoes on the floor and shoes in the entryway, that's too much. 

So last week we had a talk, again.  We talked about honoring God and respecting him by taking care of what he's given us.  I told them I will be requiring them to choose some things to give away.  *gasp*  The younger two think this prospect is especially hideous, tears ensued.  But see the above!! 

We can't bring a puppy into a home that is dangerous.  I can't fathom cleaning up after a puppy AND four other people in this house. Not. Gonna. Fly.  So clean it is.  I can make the girls clean.  I can even force myself too, but how, oh someone please tell me how, do I get my husband to?  I think it might be a lost cause.  I guess I'll just keep putting his stuff on his side of the bed.  I do wish the poor man had a garage to put his tools and toys, etc. 

For a moment I fantasize of a larger space, closets! A linen closet, and a pantry cupboard too!  Two closets in the master bedroom, and room for the dressers for each of us.  A closet in the entryway large enough to hold our coats, and an entryway large enough for us all to stand in at the same time.  Bliss! But I know us, we'd just fill it up and stack boxes on the edges (toy room, cough, cough!). 

So once again I'm back to attempting to not horde (OH HELP! Please, not that!) and to be content where I am.  I will work hard to get rid of things we like but don't need so we can enjoy our home.  OH, and I am very very thankful for the sixth pantry cupboard that will hopefully be put together tonight and in my laundry room creating a place to store sheets, blankets and maybe even cleaning supplies! Whoohoo! Thanks to my very mechanically inclined, good at putting things together husband for that.