Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coincidence? Hmm...

I find it interesting that the day after i investigated my lost packages, which the post office didn't have, FedEx didn't have, and Amazon.com couldn't track, 2 out of 3 of them arrived.  Then, the day i called Amazon for a replacement, they informed me the post office had it and they couldn't refund or replace it.  The next day, the package arrived.  Hmmm....

So, a package can be lost in the system for 8 days, but the day i inquire after it, it shows up and gets delivered?  Interesting....

Well, at least all of my packages have now arrived safe and sound.  Odd, but happy, ending. :^)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lost

i want to know REALLY BADLY what happens to all the millions of dollars of merchandise "lost" in the shipping system.  FedEx/UPS/USPS had it in their hands, they say they lost track of it in such-and-such a location, but they can't find it?  REALLY??  Well, someone found it.  It didn't just disappear!  When someone found it, where did he/she take it??  IT HAS MY NAME AND ADDRESS ON IT.  It wouldn't be so very hard to get it to the right person, so i am left to believe that A STRANGER GETS TO KEEP MY STUFF.

This is especially frustrating at the holidays when multiple packages i am counting on for Christmas will not be here because someone "misplaced" my boxes.  In the past, i have lost personal boxes that contain items that cannot be replaced, some various curricula, a Nintendo Wii, and now several different things this year.  It doesn't just frustrate me that they will not arrive in time, but the fact that the shippers involved are always so nonchalant: "sorry, it must be lost. You'll have to contact the shipper for a replacement."

Seriously??  My only recourse is to TRY AGAIN?!?!?  How about you find out what happens to the stuff??  How about you go to whatever warehouse you auction this stuff out of and FIND MY BOXES and send them to me???  Sometimes, what is inside those boxes cannot be replaced! Go GET IT.

Grr!

Anyone else ever feel this way?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Year in Review

Looking back on the year i've had, i am left with a resounding "WOW" in my head.  Anyone else have one of those years??  The kind of year that makes you cry, laugh, sigh, scream, rejoice, and dance....

In 2010...
i wept often and laughed much.
i prayed both passionately and passively.
i found new reasons to be thankful for my friends.
i rediscovered the Truth of the Living Word of God, and i spent a lot of time with His Son, Jesus Christ.
i felt the love of family, friends, and a Holy God.
i renewed my love of motherhood, which had taken a sound thrashing but was struggling to hang on.
i rejoiced in new life, remembered those we've lost, and understood the delicate state that is our humanity.
i shared my love for Christ and His love for me with as many people as i could pin down.
i made both mistakes and enemies, but i repented when necessary, and learned to walk away. (this one's huge for me!)
i learned that "peace at any cost" isn't peace at all, and i began applying it to my life.

But perhaps the most notable thing of 2010 for me was learning to hang on to the "peace that passes understanding" that God promises us when we look to Him in our times of trials.  Jesus promises that we will have troubles, but that He will be with us... and i have lived that truth over the past 12 months.  He is faithful, strong, kind, loving, compassionate, comforting, dedicated, powerful, and so many other things i can't describe.

It has been a good year.  God has blessed me mightily, and i am undeserving... yet thankful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Are you aware of your child's eye strain?  Did you know that current educational advancements are partly responsible for the decline in eyesight among the young?  Yeah, i didn't know either... until last week.

In a routine eye appointment with our family eye doctor, we discovered a few interesting tidbits: children are supposed to be far-sighted when they're young (that means they see well far away, but not great up close); my eldest needs reading glasses; and fifth grade is apparently a typical point when we see children begin having trouble with print, though normally it is temporary.  In discussing this stage of "need them now but probably not forever" with our doctor, we learned something fascinating: the educational system we enjoy in this country is a large contributor to eye strain in the young, which leads to a need for glasses.  Huh.  Seriously?

The doctor told me about a study that was done over 50 years ago in which the Eskimos were evaluated, then educated, then evaluated again, and guess what they discovered?  A people who had PERFECT vision prior to "formal education" experienced massive decline in eyesight over two generations.  Yes, you read that right: just 2 generations!!

So, while i can't advocate going backward in educational standards, or ignoring the advancements we have made in this area, i must ask the question: is late really better than early after all??

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Swinging by a Blog

Lately, i have noticed incredibly high numbers in my blog traffic. (Cheer! Cheer!) Upon further inspection, i note the various countries from which people are visiting.  (Cheer! Cheer!) Then i wonder, "WHY?"  So i look at what is driving them here... and it is the clicking on "Next Blog" in the upper portion of the Blogger Bar. (Cheer! Cheer!)

Hmm... why, do you suppose, is it that folks from all over the world are popping in by clicking "Next Blog"... especially when i discover that most of the visitors to my blog stay "less than 5 seconds?" (Boo! Boo!)

Seriously, there's not much i write on here that can be digested in fewer than a few seconds, so i have to assume that these people in other countries are, for the most part, passing through quite quickly.  Still, i wonder, why now?  i mean, this is dozens of instances in a given week... all of a sudden.


Ah, well, doesn't much matter if they aren't staying around long enough to read some profoundly fascinating tidbit i threw together for the betterment of the world at large. {grin}

Guess i'll keep writing, you'll keep reading, and we'll just wave cheerfully to the Brazilians and the Indians and the Germans as they breeze through on their way to something... well, not more interesting, certainly. ;-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sight of Blood

Thinking about a few years ago when i walked into the bathroom to wipe the tush of my then-three-year-old son to discover a toilet full of blood got me thinking... about, well, blood.  Some people faint at the sight of blood.  Some have nearly-physical pangs of an empathetic nature.  Still others have a resolute, lets-get-this-figured-out-and-taken-care-of manner about them.

Blood is the life force - the giver of oxygen to necessary organs, the circuit through which nutrients and chemicals travel the body, and a healer in many ways.  But blood, when not seen, is easy to think of scientifically.  Once it is oozing from the body or collecting in a vial, though, it becomes something a bit more... disturbing... for some.

That day, many years ago, the sight of that blood beneath my small child was a panic-inducing nightmare.  Turns out, he has a severe sensitivity to digesting dairy.  Cease panic.  Phew!

Other days, while restraining my youngest child over the course of dozens of blood draws in the four short years she has been alive, the sight of blood is a necessary fight to get information from her body.  How is her thyroid doing?  Are her meds still working?  Will her body heal in time and become "normal?"


Then, however, my mind goes to the blood we women deal with monthly.  For many, it is a disturbance of our regular lives, an interruption in our rhythms, and even a nuisance.  For others, like my sister, the lack of bleeding each month is a sad reminder of what the body isn't willing or capable of doing... at least, for now.

Or the blood that meant the end of a life that was not to be... the life my body wasn't going to bring into the world after all.  The blood that was a purging of someone i would not get to meet this side of Heaven.  And to that end, i remember the blood that was expelled from my body when each of my three living children was born.  The blood that nourished and grew them into the babies i could hold and snuggle and play with.  That blood, while still slightly disturbing in its sheer quantity, was almost reverent blood.

Reverent Blood.  That takes my mind to the Blood of Christ.  Not a concept i was grateful to have pushed upon me as a new Believer, but one i embrace today with a bit more clarity.  This is Blood that grows us, covers us, washes us, purifies us, and claims us.  Reverent Blood.  Jesus' Blood.  Holy Blood.

The sight of blood is a unique experience for each of us.  What's yours?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ignorance is NOT Bliss

There are so many things in life we are led to believe we don't need to know... by the government, by our doctors, by the school system, sometimes by our own friends or our churches.  Things that people believe they can "protect" us from.

But the truth is, ignorance is NOT bliss.  NOT knowing something has never blessed me.  You?

I'm the one in the doctor's office asking, "How much is in the syringe? Will it hurt? Does the stuff have any side effects? Will i get better without it? Do i need it?"  I'm the one in the grocery store looking at labels, muttering, "MSG?!? Really? In chicken stock? Milk? In a fruit drink? Natural Flavors, huh? Well, which natural ones: cow, dirt, blood?"

Asking questions is certainly something that i am compelled to do.  And it bugs most everyone. {smile} But it is by asking questions and seeking answers that i have discovered that too much protein increases a woman's chance of cancer, phenylalanine causes brain tumors, xylitol is a natural substance that strengthens your teeth, dairy is so hard for our bodies to digest that it actually leeches calcium from our bones, fingernail polish is toxic (as are most cosmetics), commercially-available soaps are really detergents that are caustic, sodium laureth sulfate is carcinogenic and causes increased susceptibility to canker sores (mouth ulcers), soy has its own estrogen, which feeds breast cancer, abortions increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, Planned Parenthood doesn't counsel women concerned about abortion - they send them to the pro-lifers - because there's no money in counseling her out of abortion, baby oil is mineral oil with fragrance added and mineral oil is only slightly different than motor oil... Need i continue?  I could.

So, why is it, if being ignorant of something doesn't save you from it, that elders, politicians, medical workers, and religious leaders continue to treat us like we're better off not knowing the truth?

~ "If we read the healthcare bill, we wouldn't allow it to pass, " paraphrased from Nancy Pelosi.
~ "Knowing the truth about abortion is too emotionally harmful for women considering abortion, so you may legally lie to them," paraphrased from legal wording allowing abortion clinics to lie about abortion.
~ "Oh, it's no big deal," my doctor told me before administering one of the most painful shots i have ever been given. (then he failed to mention the 48 hours of NEW pain i would experience AFTER the shot)
~ Major poultry farmers refuse to allow cameras into their facilities... wonder what they're hiding?

How many experts have kept you in the dark "for your own good?"

Right now, for me, it is health.  I notice many of my friends are on the same path.  God must be moving our hearts to learn more about what He intended for us.

Seek the answers to your burning questions and even your curiosities... you may learn more than you bargained for.  For your own good.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blessed... Blast!

What does being "blessed" really mean?
Okay, i'm moseying along, minding my own business, raising my children, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, cooking for my family, giving to the poor, reading my Bible, commiserating with friends, praying for healing, and BAM!  I get knocked down.

Yeah, yeah, like the song, "i get up again."  I dust myself off, look around for where that slam came from, take stock, and head down the road again... washing, teaching, cooking, reading, praying... BAM!  There it goes again!

Okay, so i get up. Again.  But now i'm starting to wonder what in blazes is going on?

I look around again, see nothing out of the ordinary.... But i sense the presence of evil just as surely as i sense God's presence in church on Sundays.  I know it's there, but i can't see it.  I know it just knocked me down, but i can't tell where it's coming from.

Eventually, i figure out the evil is coming from within.  From within me, from within my family network, from within my home.  That gets my attention.  My Home???

Now, i'm angry.  How have i let this happen?  How has the enemy managed to infiltrate my private quarters, my haven?  What do i do now?

As i pray, seek, and read my Bible, God shows me how "blessed" i am...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."

i am poor in spirit because i recognize i am nothing without the Lord.
"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted."

i mourn for my sin and the sin of others because God mourns our sin.
"Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth."

 i claim no rights to any good deed, for all Good comes from God.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled."

 i despise injustice; i yearn and strive for righteousness with the power of the Holy Spirit.

"Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy."

 How can we not show mercy to a dying world? Compassion, forgiveness, love... God helps us show these things to others in His name.

"Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God."

 i pray for pureness of heart... for darkness to flee... for God's desires for my life to be manifest in my desires.

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God."

 Strife is energy-depleting, soul-wrenching, and spiritually annihilating.  It is exhausting because it is not of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."

This part has always been where i start to wonder, "Why, Jesus, did you ruin a perfectly good list of Beatitudes with the last few lines??" (don't shake your finger at me: He knows i feel this way! LOL)  So i'll get Heaven when i am persecuted for the righteousness i so desire... and...

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." 
[all Scripture lines ~ Matthew 5:1-12 NIV]

Blast! (yes, Buzz Lightyear)

That is the one i always disliked.  Who wants to be insulted?  Persecuted?  Lied about??  Not me.  Remember, i despise injustice!

But... God says i'll be blessed.
Well, from the midst of the persecuting, insulting, lying and scheming, i can tell you that God is blessing me.  I am feeling His peace - if i just stop focusing on the people, the lies, the injustice of it all, and if i keep my eyes locked firmly on His.

The price is high.
But the rewards are great.
i. am. blessed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recipe for Weight Loss

Okay, first off, i am not a dieter by nature.
Second, no, it isn't because i am a toothpick who can eat 2 Whoppers with fries and sit in front of the computer all day sipping calorie-laden soda and never gain an ounce. (those women should be force-fed carrot sticks until they turn orange... just sayin')

Finally, i have not EVER in my life been on a diet that was a true diet in the sense that i was dieting to lose a certain amount of weight.

Still tracking??

Okay, that said... i have found the P-E-R-F-E-C-T recipe for weight loss, quite by mistake.

First, let your house get really messy.  I mean messy, folks, not 20-minutes-to-good-as-new!  I'm talking, we had a nuclear bomb go off in the house, followed by a small tornado, then the closets all barfed their contents... messy.

Next, schedule an appraiser to come estimate your home's current market value... in a sink-hole-of-a-housing-market era... so that you can take advantage of the astronomically-low interest rates (did i mention the housing market was crashing??)

Finally, use toxic chemicals you have never before used in combinations never before envisioned to scrub, scour, and whisk away the dirt, all while piling, storing, shoving, hiding, stowing, ditching, and stacking your crap random belongings that do not appear to live anywhere (since they have obviously not been put away since "W" was in the Oval Office).  While using said noxious-fumes-producing agents to make your house look like you never actually lived in it, feel free to break out 3 different varieties of paint and paint roughly 500 square feet of your home in 3 days... including baseboards, door trim, and dog- and toddler-gnawed corners. (oh, and you should still teach your 3 children the 3 R's, keep up with the laundry, cook 3 squares a day, water the garden, settle sibling disputes, tend to hubby's every whim, and wash dishes every day)

Yeah, i can no longer smell anything (including the above-mentioned toxic chemicals), my head is killing me from all the allergen-colonies we disturbed in our dedicated efforts to Take Back Our Home, i cannot breathe out of my nose unless i go outside and commune with the ragweed (go figure!), and i have lost a pound each day i have been doing this.  I haven't been this low on the scale for more than a blink in... well, years.

So, all that to say, if you've got a few extra pounds you just can't shake....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spackle

So, in the midst of my already-crazy life, we are trying to refinance our house to get on a 15-year mortgage.  That means i am getting our home ready for an appraisal.

Um...
Er...
Blech.

Well, here i am, scrubbing, painting, trashing, filing, cleaning, dusting, sorting, organizing, and patching, and it hits me: Spackle. Duh.

My life can be represented by the wall in my stairwell: there are dozens of fingerprints from all the people who have touched me, making their mark on my life; there are nicks from the times something got away from me along the way; there are cracks from the settling that naturally happens as we age, threatening to expose what is hidden away; there are half a dozen or so nail pops from screws and nails that are trying to get out of the original construction, which need time and attention to restore; and there are scuffs from people getting carried away and not being aware of the damage they are doing.

The Stairwell Wall = My Life.

Okay, so my life needs a little TLC, but overall, it is a simple fix: Spackle.

The nicks, scuffs, dents, and dings can be covered up with Spackle.  Just like the nicks, scuffs, dents, and dings in our lives are covered by the blood of Jesus.  Like they were never there.  Miraculous.

The fingerprints?  They are messy but real.
The cracks?  The facade is coming away to reveal what is really underneath.

With Spackle, all things can be made new.  Thank You, Lord, for wasting Your time on me, a lowly servant undeserving of Your grace... yet You bless me immeasurably again and again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Misunderstood

Do you ever feel so misunderstood that you wonder if you're losing your mind?

I often have trouble with my memory, so it is a handy excuse for anyone who comes against me to use... and it is offensive to be told i must've "had that conversation with myself" just because the other person doesn't remember it.  It is possible that i am not the only person who forgets things... so why can we not just admit we don't remember?  Why cast blame?  Why trash someone else's character?

Because in the midst of the battle sits an enemy.  It's an enemy i have met before.  It's an enemy who has tormented me in the past.  But this enemy's got nothin' on my God... and my God's got my back.

Little things become bigger,
    Bigger things become vast.
        It gets hard to progress when
           Someone's throwing up your past.
Through Christ there is healing,
    Abundant love and hope.
        Without Him, we struggle just to
           Hold tight to the rope.
Although it feels like failure,
    Trials are often good.
        A struggle grows us better than
            Any blessing could.
So, if someone wants to take you
    Down the path of long ago,
        Look toward the Savior.
            He'll show you where to go.
~ exclusive rights to Angela Varela, original

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stickers?? Really??

How is it that i can have a child that still surprises me after nearly 11 years in the Parenting Jungle?

How is it possible to have more than one child and still be taken off guard by the next?

What does it mean that i can have a Bachelor's Degree in early child psychology and still not understand how my children tick???

Oh, i know their personalities, i understand their temperaments, i've even figured out some of their gifts and a few of their struggles.  But how is it that after a surprising 20+ years of dealing with children, i am still floored by the simplicity of their minds??

Stickers!!
STICKERS!!

Yes, for pity's sake, i finally decided to try using reward stickers for my struggling youngest children and wouldn't you know it!?  Success!!

Stickers?!?!?
REALLY?!?!?

{sigh}

Sheesh.  Someone needs to send me the men in the white coats, 'cuz i may not make it out of this Jungle with all my wits about me.

[muttering to self] ...stickers... who knew?... of all the simple...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Proverbial Straw

How many times have you met The Straw?  You know the one: it's the very last straw you can handle... the one that "breaks your back?"  Furthermore, how many times have you met The Straw... only to find you can handle more than you thought you could?  Yeah, that's God.

Sometimes, i really think God has a LOT more confidence in me than He should... until i remember that He doesn't actually want me to handle anything.  He wants me to give it all to Him and Let. Him. Handle. It. All.

Okay, i'm a work in progress, and i am teachable.... mostly.  Well, He must still think i am if He's still wasting His time on me.

Several times over the past year, i have believed that i have reached the peak of what i can handle.  You understand - you've been there, no doubt.  Not surprisingly, though, i have mostly been wrong.  I can apparently handle quite a bit.  This past week, month, year, i have learned a lot about myself, a lot about my family, a lot about the world, and a whole lot about God.

While i appreciate the efforts to which God goes to ready me for His Kingdom, i must admit the process is often filled with grief and pain.  There is grief over the loss of self, the loss of relationship, the loss of understanding, and the loss of what i imagined was there before i learned it was a farce.  There is emotional pain, spiritual pain, mental pain, and physical pain.  And just when i think i can't take another cut, someone lays another blow on me.  Sometimes, i rant to a close friend and the steam subsides.  Other times, i bring my concerns to God and the Spirit calms me.  Rarely, but occasionally, i find myself enjoying a small pity party.  Those don't last long, but they are wrenching and bleak.

I have not know how to write on my blog during the past week or so - life has been too difficult to say anything positive or funny, and i do hate to make this blog a place for my whining.

However, tonight, i feel led to share.  It seems many of us are being "sifted" in preparation of the troubles ahead. I offer my prayers to each of you who rides this train with me.  The journey is long, the battles are weary, but the Spirit is capable.

May God bless you through your suffering.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ever Get the Feeling...

... that the whole world has gone mad and you are the only sane person left?  I realize that is often the definition of insanity, but sometimes i really think it's an accurate assessment of the situation.

Imagine a world in which everyone took responsibility for his/her actions and words.
Imagine a world in which people cared about other people's feelings more than their own.
Imagine a world in which people who supposedly cared about you didn't resort to throwing stones whenever their feelings were ruffled.
Imagine a world in which a ridiculous situation could be cleared up with a simple "i'm sorry" or a turning to truth.

Imagine....

'Course, that would be Heaven, 'cause it sure ain't happenin' here on this Earth.

Monday, August 16, 2010

God "Gets" Us

After a long weekend of hiking about in the Fall Creek Falls State Park, i have come to a stunning realization: God 'gets' me.  That may seem like something of a 'duh' moment for some of you, but i have begun to understand for the first time in my life that i am fine just the way i am.  I am quirky, anxious, compassionate to an extreme, moody at times, generous to a fault, pessimistic more than optimistic, fearful of just about everything, and overall, a strangely functional person with a variety of oddities.

However, in all of that, God 'gets' me.  He understands where i have been, knows what hands i have been dealt in life, and is aware of my hang-ups and coping skills.  He 'gets' me.

He created me SO THAT i could go through all that i have gone through and SO THAT i would come out of it all in JUST such a manner as i have.  He 'gets' me.

So, though i often struggle with the people in my life who do not understand me, i can rest in the comfortable knowledge that it doesn't matter whether they do or not.  My God, above all else, 'gets' me.

And i can look into the beautiful faces of my children, quirky and difficult though they may be, and know that God 'gets' them, too.  He understands all He has asked of them, all He continues to ask of them, and all He asks of me as their mother.  He 'gets' us all.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What is Normal... Exactly?

The word "normal" comes from the Latin roots that indicate "made according to the square" as in a carpenter's square.  So, you have this tool - it is inanimate and does not move... therefore it does not change.  Hence, you make something using it or according to it and you get... something square, right?  That's normal.  That follows the norm.  Makes sense.

But to say something is "not normal" or a person is "not normal" is to indicate that there is something "off" or "different" or "not quite right" with it/him/her.  You tracking?  I am "not normal" in that i can feel a UTI before it develops and can take steps to ward it off.  Never had a full-blown UTI in my life thanks to this "abnormality."  I am "not normal" because i have bunions on both feet and cannot shop for shoes in "normal" sizes or "normal" stores like the rest of the planet.  I get to spend way more money for this "abnormality," incidentally, than the average shoe-buyer spends.  I am "not normal" when it comes to my taste buds because God blessed me with an overdeveloped sense of taste combined with a texture sensitivity.

Last week, i caught a bit of Joyce Meyer on television while on vacation.  She was talking about the power of words.  I have heard it before; i get it.  There is inherent power in the spoken word.  Negativity breeds negativity; we know that.  But she specifically said, "be careful what you say about your children." and. i. was. crushed.

What have i done?  How many times have i said my children are "not normal" or "different" in some way?  Especially over the last few months as i have spent oodles of time and money researching Sensory Processing Disorder (a.k.a. Sensory Integration Disorder).  Oh.  Wow.  Darnit!

Well, i can't take it back, but i can start changing my vocabulary.  My children are not normal... but that is because the Carpenter Who made them doesn't use a "square" - He uses His heart, His hands, His eyes, His breath, and His Words.  The Potter Who created us began with a Thought, an Idea, and a Dream.

The power of the spoken word created this world, and it is the essence of each of us.  And we are NOT square.  We are unique, colorful, quirky, and radiant.

I choose to embrace my differences, seek out the uniqueness in each of my children, and stop letting the word "normal" have so much sway in my life.  My children are exactly what God intended them to be... which, needless to say, is not a bunch of squares.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blessed to Know Him

My Grandpa Don passed from this earth yesterday morning.  He was a lively fellow with a quirky sense of humor and a real love of life.  I got to know my Grandpa Don when i was 18 years old and moved in with my Nana and him in Jacksonville, Florida.  I learned a lot about the way God works, i discovered peace in the midst of chaos and turmoil, and i found a gentle spirit and a perseverance that i had never witnessed before.

Those days, weeks, months, that i spent with my Nana and my Grandpa were among the most stable in all my life up to that point.  It became a turning point for me, a landing zone, and a launch pad.  I became a stronger young lady for those times spent with Grandpa and Nana; i became a more understanding and accepting person; i began walking a path that led me to Christ.

Sadly, i never shared these thoughts or expressed my gratitude to my Grandpa Don... or to my Nana, for that matter.  Yesterday, i lost the chance to thank him for the change he affected in my life... but in my limited knowledge of God, i believe Grandpa knows my heart.  He is right now observing the lives he has touched, being embraced by Jesus, and beaming at the words he surely heard upon arrival at Heaven's gates: "well done, good and faithful servant."

Well done, Grandpa Don.

You'll be missed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to Teach Your Kids to Clean...

I've had an A-HA! moment.  I discovered something that fascinates me, so naturally, i must inform the rest of the world!!

My kids have had to help with household chores since the age of 4, and as they age, they are required to help with more and more disgusting complicated chores.  My son has a difficult time with doing chores, and he pouts a LOT.  Since i believe he has a condition that lends itself to this behavior, i am trying new techniques for eliminating it... so far, we've improved, but we haven't abandoned the pouting altogether... yet.

Today, i stumbled upon a way to get him involved in the cleaning with more eagerness, though i am certain it is just a passing fancy that will not stay around.... 

Cleaning supplies.  Honest.

You see, over the course of the kid's life, he has not been trusted to handle anything more toxic than the vinegar bottle we generally clean with.  Those other chemical-based cleaners i have up high are the Big Guns, and we reserve those for the Adult Cleaning Specialist (aka: Mommy) around here.

This afternoon, in an attempt to make the children's primary bathroom STOP REEKING, i handed the kid the bottle of Seventh Generation Multi-Purpose Cleaner and sent him into the bathroom to "use it on anything and everything until the place isn't yellow and doesn't stink."

Success!!

He is not only NOT POUTING, but he is HAPPILY CLEANING.  Gasp!

{Sigh}... too bad once he's used it a few times the novelty will have worn off and he won't care anymore.  Ah, well... for now?  Bliss!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hobby?? Or Home Business??

I have begun making hats and headbands just for fun, and i discovered i could be good enough to sell them... so i went out and invested in some cuter yarns, some flowers, and some add-ons, and i am going to make them available to the general public!  Yay!

Keep in mind, the hats take on average 2 hours to make, unless they are really simple and really small.  The headbands obviously use less yarn and take less time to crochet, but they have time-consuming and expensive decorations.

Okay, here are the ones i did this weekend - some are for sale, but some are already taken but don't worry!!  I can make whatever you like if i don't still have it. :^)

Teddy Bear Hat in gender neutral cream of thick and soft 100% acrylic yarn.
$12 - $15 depending on size
(this one is toddler size, age 1 to about 3)



Newborn hats in blue and pink, coordinated for fraternal twins in this photo.
$10 with no embellishments
$12 - $15 with embellishments
$20 for a matching/coordinating pair

Headbands with embellishments, this one 98% Acrylic/2% Polyester
Apple Green with Orange Ranunculus Flower
$8, regardless of size (the flower is the expensive part!)
For any and all of these, ask me about different sizes and colors!!  Also, i will coordinate hats for a sibling group and we'll talk discounted rates to do multiple of similar styles.
Contact: Angie
athomeandhappy@gmail.com

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thinking in Text

Okay, i'm not a potty mouth as a rule, and i often cringe at the colorful language in our everyday lives.  If i could slap my hands over my children's ears to save them from ever hearing the expletives uttered by unthinking adults, i surely would.  However, 3 kids times 2 ears apiece, divided by my 2 hands doesn't equal successful mathematics, so i will continue to educate them about the choice each of us has with our words.

That being said, there are days i think like a sailor - those are the days that i seem slow-witted because everything i want to say is being dredged through my child-friendly filter.  Now, however, with online chat and text-messaging as a regular method of interpersonal communication, there are handy abbreviations for all those devilish adjectives... and i feel proud to have learned a new language at such a ripe age!

This morning, my sleep-deprived brain was unable to properly filter a colorful reaction to a seemingly-unreal scenario - but it's okay, because what i said was "WTF!" Yep, the letters, not what they stand for.  As a general course of behavior, i do not use the "f-word," but "WTF!" really fit at that moment.

So, though i do not advocate the willy-nilly use of ignorant language, i can now thankfully add yet another method of filtering to my repertoire.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tired... but not beaten (i hope)

When i try and it does no good, i am tired - of trying.
When i give and it doesn't get returned, i am tired - of sacrificing.
When i pray and i feel no relief, i am tired - of hoping.
When i hurt inside and i can't make it stop, i am tired - of hurting.

Life is so hard, but i have to trust that God knows what He asks of me.
One thing i am sure of: when i think i absolutely cannot take any more, i think of Jesus and all He suffered for me... and i pick myself up out of the Self-Pity Pit and keep trusting God.

I may be losing some of the battles, but i know how the war ends... and that helps.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fine Motor Skills

In the child development world, we have numerous terms that apply to various stages and developmental milestones, as well as terminology for skills that are learned and mastered.  One such term is "fine motor skills," which basically means a child can use his/her hands and fingers to do smaller tasks.  These skills change and grow as the child changes and grows, which is why fine motor skills are delineated according to which developmental milestone rather than age (we know children mature at different rates, so saying a child should be able to do peg puzzles at a particular age is vague and unhelpful since some will do it earlier, others later, and the rest fall somewhere in the middle - thus, there are averages in place for us to "get an idea" of where our children lay on the spectrum, but we mostly think of it in terms of developmental ability rather than age level).

(i say all this because i tend to talk like everyone knows these terms, and i am frequently reminded that they are not as commonly-used in the average parent's vocabulary, so i don't want to lose anyone since we all know what fine motor skills are - we just may not call them that.)
Okay, lesson over.  Are you tracking me now?  Good!

It never ceases to amaze me the differences in my own offspring, put together using the same 2 sets of DNA for each of them.  My oldest was advanced in many things, right on track for many things, and a bit behind in a few.  No worries from me, though, since i knew this was all based on "averages" and that she was overall a balanced child.  The next child was a boy, which changed everything since they mature in different ways at different rates as girls (for the most part).  He was behind in things my oldest was advanced in, but advanced in things she struggled with.  Hmm...  Same DNA input, same parents... but, okay, they're individuals.  I get that.

Now, however, i have another girl that i have watched grow to be a preschooler and i am noticing even more differences!  She is NOT a boy, but she follows her brothers gifts and advancements quite well, while somehow achieving the advancements of her sister at the same time!  There's not much she's average in or behind on, so i am constantly perplexed that she is even my child!

Why am i writing about this??  Not to brag, that's for sure!  I had nothing to do with my children's level of intelligence, and i take no credit for it.  Additionally, it is oftentimes more difficult to parent the bright children than the average children, so i have on occasion begged God to give me stupid children (tongue in cheek, here) so they will not strain my parenting skills so much!  However, the Lord, in all His Wisdom, has given me the ones i have, and i cherish them.

So.... yesterday, i received the laminator i ordered and have been laminating stuff like mad for 2 days! (if the dog'll sit still for half a second, he's getting laminated!) Today, i had a stack of freshly-laminated pages stacked up, ready for me to cut the small pieces out so i could assemble some file-folder games.  When i noticed one was cut not-so-neatly-but-certainly-functionally, i assumed my eldest got sloppy in her assistance with my project.  However, about an hour later, my littlest child was discovered sitting in the floor with the pages of laminated raindrops, the scissors, and a small stack of cut-out raindrops.  Wow.  She was so proud of herself!  And i was amazed at how well she was cutting these things out!!

The fine motor skills of this child have always awed me, but today, i was nearly speechless.  I really wanted the pieces cut away from the outlines to the laminate wouldn't peel away from the paper with use, but i couldn't really fault my 3-year-old's success with cutting on the lines, so it'll do.  Just exactly how it is.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Fly on the Wall

Okay, so i'll just lay it all out on the table here: we have flies.  LOTS of flies.  Someone told me it is because flies, like mosquitoes, flourish in wet conditions so all the standing water we had in May with the flooding encouraged their over-$#@%&*-abundant procreation.  But it's fine; i'm not upset by flies.

Here's a little background for you, Dear Reader: when i lived in my first real house in this lovely city in Middle Tennessee, we noticed that there were a lot of flies in July.  I was opposed to rampantly annihilating them just because we're bigger than them, so we humanely left them alone. (you can stop chuckling now) Well, as you can probably guess, it wasn't long before i was sweeping in my kitchen and noticed that those "grains of rice" were wiggling!  Ewww!  I'm not ashamed to say that ALL FLIES MUST DIE in the interest that i NEVER stumble across maggots in my home again.

So, fast forward 6 years and the fly population being so out of control that i am thinking about creating a Planned Parenthood just for insects, and you can find me on any particular summer day with fly swatter in one hand, toxic fly-killing spray in the other, with a bit of a lunatic look on my face... hunting... hunting... hunting.

Well, yesterday i decided to go to the store and get fly paper to hang about like Christmas lights in the hopes that i could capture and murder millions of flies (insert maniacal laughter).  As i proudly began to hang the first strand of sticky stuff above the kitchen counter by the back door that is the Preferred Portal of Entry for the flies, the tape stuck to the wall.  Nice.  I had to peeeeeeeeel it off.  Yuck.  I hung that blasted sticky stuff anyway, but now i can't help but wonder where the flies will stick: the tape that i can dump in the trash... or the sticky spot on the wall.  Yeah, i know exactly how that's gonna turn out. (sigh)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Getting a Handle...

... on all of it.

Lately, i have realized how infrequently i feel confident in my job.  As a mother, i fret about lost tempers and overreactions.  As a wife, i worry over doing too little or expecting too much.  As a teacher, i stress about the wrong fit for curriculum, child, activity, grade, attitude, etc.  As a household manager, i panic over the bill that i forgot to pay and wonder at the laundry that piles up when i take a day away from the washer.

It seems there is always more to do, a better way to do it, and a feeling of being out of my element.  There is always something i can improve, something i need to stop doing, and something i need to figure out... and generally, these happen simultaneously (not much surprise there!).  All of it leaves me feeling like we are always in upheaval, i am seriously underqualified, and my kids are getting less than they deserve in me.

So, trying to get a handle on our household, i have been rearranging furniture and rooms to (hopefully) better suit our needs.  Trying to get a handle on our education, i have implemented a summer adjustment period in which the oldest child has to get used to doing her schoolwork by herself and every day and the teacher (me) has to do a better job planning activities and lessons for all the kids.  Trying to get a handle on our health, i am limiting junk food more than ever, increasing the fresh fruits and vegetables, learning how to freeze (and hopefully, i'll learn how to can this summer!), making even more stuff from scratch, and now... (gasp) i have had my first cup of coffee without my usual amount of flavored creamer (which is completely junk and soooo bad for me!).

Surely, we all face these hiccups in life, and i am confident that God will steer me through it to a calmer place... eventually.  I just hope He has flavored creamer in Heaven when i get there....

Monday, June 21, 2010

You Know You Have Pre-teens When...

... the phone rings and you don't have to even think about getting it.
... the bathroom smells like a cosmetic counter for a few minutes everyday.
... you can tell whether you'll be walking on eggshells for the day by how she acts about breakfast.
... spending the entire day with a friend doesn't appease your daughter's need for a sleepover with said friend.
... you don't have to make your own coffee, wash all the dishes, or change out the laundry, but you still have to remind her to feed the dog.
AND FINALLY...
... you are not only often wrong but you're rarely right.  About anything.  Ever.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photos!

I want to write on my blog regularly, but i'm often at a loss for words.  Hard to believe, i know.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy while i spend some time with God.

We went camping with The Smallish Man-Child's Best Bud in April.

 It was in the low 40s the night before.  In a tent.  Good times.

Littlest Drama Princess... Proud of herself for decorating the dog.  He's not convinced.

The Smallish Man-Child plays baseball.

The summer reading program at our house... 
...no pictures, please.

Mmmm...ice cream is how we bond.

Practicing for Puberty.  Oh, my!

Final thought:
Count your blessings, not your hardships.
Think of all God's done for you.
Remember good times, grow in sorrow;
There is much still left to do. 
~Angela Varela, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

God is in Control (thank God!)

God is in control when babies are born early....
God is in control when a woman develops complications during pregnancy....
God is in control when we wait expectantly for news that everything is going to be okay....
God is in control when we celebrate good news....

God is in control while we worry, fret, cry, panic, and pace... and thankfully, He doesn't relinquish control to our way of handling stress.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Welcome Back, Tennessee Weather!

For the past few weeks, it has felt like i was transported back to Florida and someone forgot to tell me!!  The humidity and heat have been overkill, for sure.  However, last night, a quick shower brought in some cooler temperatures, and today felt more like the Tennessee weather i have come to know and love!

We were able to spend more time outside, and nobody melted or combusted.

It was a good day.

Tomorrow, i have high hopes for more of the same....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Family, Friends, and Fudge

We had a nice weekend... we spent loads of time together with family and friends just kickin' around at home, did up a spectacularly hot baseball game, took a family bike ride, smoked a chicken, cooked up a small vat of laundry soap, and made some peanut butter fudge.  The baseball game was close, the bike ride burned my biscuits, the chicken was paired with sticky rice, the laundry soap will last us months, and the peanut butter fudge was a first - it came out of a cookbook my grandmother sent each of us so we could make her Christmas-time favorites for years to come. Yum.

We have been blessed beyond measure.

Now, i'm going to fold the mountain of clean laundry on my bed before it begins to multiply like rabbits, gulp some H2O, and head back out to supervise the little bear cubs at play.  Fun times.

Have a good one, Y'all!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wow. Wednesday.

Today could've been a Monday.  Again.
Clearly, i have not been experiencing enough Mondays in my life.

However, i have it on good authority that it is Wednesday.
Praise. The. Lord.

Today, The Littlest Princess had more cavities filled (yep, Mother of the Year, right here) and a space maintainer put on her teeth.  Fun times.  The poor thing talks with a bit of a lisp now.  Her advanced speech is blown, and she has to wear this thing until the adult teeth come in... By the way, they're molars (yep, still got the MotY Crown on).

The best thing that happened today was that my eldest child and i spent some quality time together (thank You, God!): we went for a walk and watched the lightning show (what a sight!); we went to the store and shopped (and got some great deals on meat!); and we talked.  About nothing, really.  But.  We talked.

All in all, despite a rocky start, it was A Good Day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A New Day

Today is a new day.
I am no longer a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew.
It is a sad thing to be sure, but i confess that i am also looking forward to settling into some sort of routine with schooling... sticking with something for more than 3 weeks sounds good right now.  Who knows, though?

I am staring at the Compose screen, and i am at a loss for something to write!  I am so used to writing several reviews during the week that i have gotten off track with personal posts - just a couple every so many days....

I could tell you about our cookout this past weekend... but that just reminds me that my husband broke his foot, my eldest sprained her ankle, and my youngest got her foot slammed in the door.  Tainted memories.

I could talk about my journey down the learning disabilities path and the mounds of books i am currently reading regarding Sensory Processing and labeling children... but that overwhelms me.  Taking a break.

I could even write about sitting down with my children this morning and discussing our Love Languages in the hopes of defining ways i can parent them more effectively... but my eldest had a pre-pubescent breakdown.  Not fun.

Sigh.
It feels like Monday.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

This Memorial Day...
...offer a toast to an unseen soldier who is whiling away the hours in the sun... in full fatigues and loaded down with heavy artillery in the Middle East.
...say a prayer for a soldier headed out on a plane to an exotic location... to serve and protect far from hearth and home.
...give thanks to the men and women of yesteryear who dedicated themselves to the military in spite of homesickness, strenuous training, new births, heat and cold, family tragedies, little pay, daily risks, and losing friends to enemy fire.
...remember those who have served to keep us a free country... and got buried for their trouble.

Memorial Day is not just a day to save money at the mall or get a better deal on a car... it is A Day of Remembrance... A Day of Honor... A Day of Prayer... A Day of Respect... and A Day of Thanks.

For the countless members of the armed forces who train, equip, dispatch, salute, rescue, protect, risk, and sacrifice even their lives so that i can sit at this computer and wax poetic on their behalf... i humbly Remember, Honor, Pray, Respect, and THANK each one of you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kregel - 2nd Shipment (TOS Crew Review)

My Final Crew Review.  Wow.  Who knows what the future holds, but for now, I am going to step back from homeschool reviews and concentrate on things around here.  Being a part of the Crew has been an amazing blessing, and I am so grateful to go out with a BANG!


The second book we received from Kregel Publications was called Andrea Carter and the Trouble With Treasure by Susan Marlow. Here is the summary from the publishers: "When innocent horseplay temporarily lands Andi and her friends in jail, they decide that a trip into the mountains will leave their troubles far behind. Accompanied by big brother Mitch and armed with a map showing old gold diggings, they canít wait to strike it rich. What could be better than two weeks of camping and horseback riding?
But instead of gold they find heaps of trouble — trouble that leaves Mitch gravely wounded. Andi needs help fast. But who can she trust? And what good is a bag of gold when her beloved brother lies near death in the middle of nowhere?"


This is a story most kids can get into, with characters you can relate to, and it was an enjoyable read.  The story would appeal to girls and boys alike, and it keeps you hanging at the end of each chapter.  In fact, there were days my kids didn't want to listen (just because they wanted to go outside, though) and I wanted to keep reading, so it was often me begging to continue the story! :-)

I highly recommend the Kregel Publications books, and this latest book is a great read!  To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say, click here.

*Disclaimer: I received the above book for FREE to read and review.  This is that review.  I have not been compensated for this review.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Living

Yesterday, the kids and i made a solar oven and cooked hot dogs in it for lunch.  The oven got up to 175 degrees and cooked the hot dogs in one hour.  The Smallish Man-Child was VERY impressed and requested a second hot dot... then was joined by the others wanting another, too!

Then we went to the store and bought our yearly blow-up pool (smaller this year, though, so we don't annoy Daddy). We picked up some popsicles and ice cream while we were at it, and added a couple of new water blasters to our collection.  Fun times!

This morning was a beautiful morning, and our weekend was so crazy that it was nice to soak it up on the back patio with my coffee while the kiddos filled the small pool with water.  Then i got a wild hair and decided to mow the grass for my hubby.  Let me just tell you, that mower is not built for a 120-pound, just-over-5-foot-tall female.  Furthermore, you sure notice how lumpy and hilly your yard is when you're pushing a mower through it!  And lastly, you know you're overheated when a warm shower feels cool on your face.

Ah, summer living.....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lobster Network (TOS Crew Review)


Okay, here's a fun review: LobsterNetwork.  The idea behind this is that you've got stuff, your friends have stuff, your extended family members have stuff, your local church members have stuff, and maybe, just maybe, you need something, like once.  Example: your Little Angel caught the latest stomach virus and, of course, she just had spaghetti for dinner... eww.  You can't go to the store to rent the Rug Doctor (or whatever That Monstrosity is called) because it's 10 o-clock at night and, well, you're coddling The Puking Princess.  You know someone was telling you that they just got a carpet cleaning thingy and you can't remember who it was, but you're sure they'd let you borrow it if they knew you needed it.... So, you hop onto the (Wonderfully Wicked) World Wide Web and log into your LobsterNetwork account while The Puking Princess naps on the floor by the commode, and you notice that your neighbor has a carpet cleaner listed that she is willing to lend.  Perfecto!  You make the call, she runs it down to you (hey, she's a good friend!), and your Beige Berber is back to its Pre-Primavera State.  Thank you, Lobster Network!

Another scenario: you need to make room for your new curriculum books on the bookshelf, and you know there are a bunch of good books over there that no one in your family reads anymore.  Hmm.... You can log into LobsterNetwork and add all those Fun Fables to your account to sell... or trade... or give them away for free!  (That's precious real estate!!)  I sold an entire curriculum using LobsterNetwork!

Okay, okay, it's true: LobsterNetwork was created to help people keep track of their stuff when they lend it to friends.  Yes, it's true: there is a reminder built into the system to help the lender (and borrower) get their stuff back at the end of the designated period of time for the loan.  And sure, it is certainly true that you can create your own community on LobsterNetwork and not send your stuff to strangers (I created a community for my local Co-Op.).  But the best part of this inventive online community is that it is FREE.  That's right: F.R.E.E.  Zippo!  Zilch!  Your money's no good there!

So, you should definitely head over to www.LobsterNetwork.com and sign up... after all, you might have something I need. (wink)

To see what the other Crew Mates thought of LobsterNetwork, click here.

*Disclaimer: I was given a FREE subscription to LobsterNetwork for the purposes of reviewing the site... but YOU can have a FREE subscription, too, for the purposes of loaning/borrowing/trading/selling/buying YOUR stuff.  I have not been compensated for this review.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Season to Remember

The seasons will change, on that you can bet.
And this Spring will be one we won't likely forget.

A cake - or TWO - what fun! What a joy!
For a TWINS baby shower - a GIRL and a BOY!!

From Minivan Moments
The very next day, a surprise Mother's Day gift
Was a garden - a raised one - how perfect is this?!?

From Minivan Moments

We also acquired a couple new pets...
From Minivan Moments
From Minivan Moments
So you see, this Spring isn't one we'll forget.

Cerebellum Corp/Standard Deviants (TOS Crew Review)

We recently received a video from Cerebellum Corporation/Standard Deviants called AP Exam Prep: History of the U.S. Although my children are nowhere near needing Advanced Placement classes in U.S. History, I watched the video myself for the purposes of this review.  Having no experience with AP classes myself, I can only guess at the substance of the video, but it looks really good.

The beginning of the video is about the exam itself: what to expect, how to take the test in the most efficient manner, tips for writing the essays, and how the test is scored. Then there is a quick, but thorough, review of 30 main points in the United States' history from the early colonists to the Vietnam War (they call this "30 in 30" - 30 historical tips in 30 minutes).  Yep, I said it was quick.  Altogether, the video is 73 minutes.

There is also a digital workbook included on a separate disc that the student should print out and use along with the video.  It looks like it would really help the student understand and study the topics in the video and practice writing the essays.

The video costs $14.98, but it is currently on sale for $11.24.  That's a heck of a bargain for a crash course in US History!  And the video will hold your attention, too!

You can check out what my fellow Crew Mates thought of the video, and see reviews of some of the other Cerebellum Corporation/Standard Deviants products by clicking here.

*Disclaimer: The above DVD was provided for free for me to use and review.  An honest review was all that was promised, and this review is based on my own experience with the product.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Crew Favorites Are in!

Here are the winners of the 2010 Homeschool Crew Seaworthy Awards:

Favorite Language Arts Product => EDUDPS

Favorite History Product => Bright Ideas Press (All American History and Mystery of History)

Favorite Science Product => Nature Friend Magazine

Favorite Math Product => Math Mammoth

Favorite Online Math Product => Mathletics

Favorite Handwriting Product => Zeezok (Presidential Penmanship)

Favorite Fine Arts Product (art, music, etc.) => Artistic Pursuits

Favorite Pre-school Product => Time 4 Learning

Favorite Elementary Product => Critical Thinking

Favorite Upper-Grade Product => Professor in a Box

Favorite College Prep Product => Cerebellum/Standard Deviants

Favorite Special Needs Product => Super Star Speech

Favorite Health and Beauty Product => Virginia Soaps & Scents

Favorite Christian Product => Grapevine Studies

Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed => Studypod

Best Homemaking Product => Sue Gregg

Best Customer Service => Graphics Toolbox
Best Online Resource => ABC Teach

Best e-product => Nutrition 101

Best Office and Technology Resource => Web Designs for Kids

Best Homeschool Resource => Apologia – Ultimate Guide

Best Map Resource => Homeschool in the Woods

Best Book, Novel or Magazine => Sarah Books

Best Children's Book => Children’s Bible Hour

Best Hands-On Resource => Journey Through Learning

Most Adaptable Resource => Sue Patrick’s Workbox System

Most Unique Resource => Lobster Network

Most Family-Oriented Product => Family Mint

Kid's Choice => Maverick Books

All Around Crew Favorite => All About Spelling

(I put the products I reviewed in BOLD TYPE so you can get a glimpse of some of what my family received.)

You can go to the Homeschool Crew website to check out all the reviews for these and more!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lifelong Learning

Tonight, i am putting on my Student Hat and researching some new concepts i didn't even know about until an hour ago.  I need to go back to the basics with each of my children for a week or two and evaluate their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and quirks.  I am hoping to find some gems in my search that will help me understand them better as a mother and as a teacher.

God keeps upping the ante around here and asking me to do a little more... the good news it that He asks after i have already done some of what He has laid on my heart to do.  I figure He must be taking me through some big stuff, and being God, He understands how i function so He is feeding me in small bits to keep me from being overwhelmed!  I look back over the past 2 years and i wonder how i got here, but then i see all the place markers along the way where God has stopped me and taught me something new.

I hope to be a lifelong learner, but more than that, i hope to encourage a love of learning in each of my children.  The desire to seek information and apply new concepts to your life is something invaluable, and i pray that i do enough to foster that in them from day to day and week to week.  I also hope and pray that i can instill a love for God and a passion for seeking His truths and wisdom in all aspects of their lives.  Without God, i would probably be living on the streets (if i was alive at all by now), addicted to some drug or other, tramping it up with virtual strangers... and who knows what else.  But since God has never left me, i have been comforted, loved, taught, Held.  I want my children to know God that way, too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ideal Curriculum (TOS Crew Review)


As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received a free download from Ideal Curriculum.  Now, this one is a bit different.  Ideal Curriculum offers a full school year of monthly kits (9 altogether) just for preschool.  You can get a print version of each monthly unit for $55 or a downloadable version for $30.

I received the downloadable files for the first month/unit, which is Transportation.  In the downloads there are things to read on the computer, things to print (yes, that's right! There is a FILE of things that you can expect to print so there is no guessing!), music files, and teacher files.  The curriculum covers early literacy, math, science, and social studies.

I found the program to be well organized and expertly directed... if you want a formal preschool curriculum.  We don't particularly, but if we did, this would be one of my first choices!  There is a schedule, a teacher's guide, and a wide range of activities and advice for orchestrating this curriculum in meaningful and fun ways.  In the teacher's guides, there are educational tips for parents that may not know all the ways children learn through play.  I happen to, but I was impressed that the makers of this curriculum cared to offer that information.

So, although we're not going to rush out and purchase these kits to finish out the year's topics, I can say that if you are looking for a more structured preschool curriculum, this one is probably for you!  To check out what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about it, click here.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with Month 1 of the Ideal Curriculum preschool program at no cost in order to use and review it.  This review is my honest experience with the program.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Humbled

It is hard enough to go back to daily life around here after seeing the horrifying images of our fellow Middle Tennesseans in various stages of disaster.  It is hard enough to cook our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners knowing there are hundreds of people still without power.  It is hard enough to plant my garden and dream of the fresh veggies and fruit that will come out of it knowing that there are families nearby who are dreaming of the days they had a bed to sleep in and a roof of their own.

To say that it has been difficult for me to sit and do nothing is an understatement!  I have sent supplies, washed flood-affected laundry, cooked meals, and met some of the faces of the Nashville Flood of 2010.  But i am humbled by what i saw yesterday in East Nashville.... Ruined furniture and broken pieces of people's lives litter the curbs in the communities devastated by the floods.  But these people are back at school, back at work, and waiting for the gutted shells of their homes to dry out so they can begin to rebuild.

The kids and i met a charming family of 5, and the kids were sweet and cheerful in the midst of the chaos that had become their lives.  The grandmother who is raising her 4 grandchildren all alone (but she has Jesus and she knows it!) recently had hip-replacement surgery, but she was one of the families affected by the floods that had no help, so she was trying to do it alone when the Ordinary Hero people found her and got involved.  It was a pleasure to meet them, and i hope my children are changed by what they saw in her company.  Faith.  Family.  Perseverance.  Determination.  Joy.  Love.

Oh, i won't lie, Satan had a field day with me in my quest to show the love of Jesus.  But, once banished, the scene remains untarnished by lies and doubt, and i am humbled.  God called, i followed, and of course, there were consequences... But.  It.  Was.  All.  Worth.  It.  And i do love an opportunity to give the enemy a black eye. {grin}

God is Good.
I am Not.
So, i will continue to follow His lead.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Madsen Method (TOS Crew Review)

We had the opportunity to review English For Life: The Madsen Method with the TOS Crew.  We were not sent this package and forced into it.  I spoke with Joe Madsen by telephone.  The product is expensive and somewhat different from the average Language Arts curriculum, so he wanted to be sure we would want to try it.  Perfectly understandable.

Let me tell you about my initial reactions. I love the idea of The Madsen Method (TMM).  I love what it's setting out to do.  Speaking with Joe Madsen cemented that for me.  I believe in their goals, their passion, and their dedication.  I understand from a child-development stand-point just what it is they are trying to accomplish.  It makes sense.  I agree.  100%.

TMM believes in teaching the whole brain, and I whole-heartedly agree!  You teach the kids to say to hear and write to see, and you demonstrate the 4 ways that doing so puts information into their brains.  This concept is taught as Say and Do in TMM.  "When I say, I automatically hear; when I do, I automatically see."  The kids got it!  They understood it so much that we were using these techniques in other areas of our home within a few days.  Even the 3-year-old (who was not part of the L/A program) would Say and Do: "I put my cup in front of my plate" and "I put my shoes in the closet."

The idea of TMM goes beyond the HOW, too, and sets the bar pretty high: they believe that students can accomplish all 4 levels of TMM in 6-8 years and be done with all Language Arts.  They believe TMM is the way our forefathers in America were taught to read and write.  While all that sounds good, and I certainly like the idea of completing the coursework in less time, as a student of child development, I hesitate to fully embrace a system that is wholly based on a time when children were expected to be little adults.  So, it is possible that some of what we experienced might've been my own bias against the "mass education of large groups of children" that we see in the public school system.

In practice, however, it wasn't a great fit for our family as it was written.  With a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old, we might've been too far beyond the basics to appreciate the backpeddling the program asked us to do.  But it is my opinion that the biggest downside of this L/A program is the strict speech - both for the teacher and the student.  My son, who is very frustrated by not getting something right the first time, was discouraged by not being able to memorize all the words exactly as I said them after 2 or 3 tries.  My eldest could do it fine, so she got to move on more quickly.  That added to the poor boy's frustrations, I am sure!  (It didn't help matters that really early on we discovered we cannot physically "Go to the learning position" in any of the furniture in our home.)

I altered somewhat, as Joe Madsen allows, in order to "fit" our family but without compromising the "message."  It helped, but it was still pretty painfully slow.  I realize that the groundwork has to be laid, and that is a lot of what we were doing, but it made it really difficult to even pull the thing off the shelves after a few weeks... especially when the kids resisted it so much.

I wanted to love it.  I really did.  The people are so wonderful to work with ("my success is their success" seems to be their motto!), and their passion for this product is so obvious and contagious!  But I guess I didn't expect it to be so rigid, which is just not a good fit for me.  And I still think if I could speed it up, skip a few lessons, and use the basic techniques to teach the "meat" of the program that it would work beautifully in our home.  And I may still do just that.  But for now, my kids would rather I not even get the books out of the cabinet.  So, we'll take a break, catch up on our grade-level L/A skills, and then... who knows?  Maybe with a summer of planning, I can modify TMM just enough to fit what I believe is a good theory into a homeschool environment that is just not that strict.

Side note: my youngest child might be the poster child for this program, so time will tell as the next year passes if we have more luck with her!

English For Life: The Madsen Method is available in four levels, and the level I received was Level One, which is available to homeschoolers for a discounted rate of $219.95.  To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about TMM, click here.

*Disclaimer: I received Part One of The Madsen Method for free to use and review, and this review is my own personal experience with the product.  No compensation for this review has been provided.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beeyoutiful (TOS Crew Review)

Last year, when I signed up as a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I opted to review items that were not specifically homeschooling resources.  Because of this, I was given the opportunity to review a product by Beeyoutiful.  Each member got to make selections and requests, so we got quite a variety of goodies to try.  Check out other reviews and products by clicking here.

I received Beeyoutiful Balance, which is a natural progesterone 'cream.'  As a woman embarking on the Peri-menopausal Journey, I was ecstatic to have this opportunity to try something that I had obsessed wondered about!  I have many annoying common symptoms of being on the Peri-menopausal Journey, but my doctors aren't concerned.  Of course, if you aren't the one forgetting to take a shower, snapping at your children, coping with irregular menstrual cycles, and feeling overly tired, I supposed you may not care... but since I AM, I kinda DO.


Okay, enough about me, let's talk about this cream: it is bio-identical and all natural, it comes in a 2 oz. tub and costs $23, and it has all of the ingredients listed on the bottle.  No "and others" or "natural oils" or such nonsense.  You get the real scoop on what it in the cream, and frankly, when you're talking about hormone replacements, that's a darn good thing!

Here's the WHY (from the Beeyoutiful Balance website):
"Beeyoutiful Balance progesterone cream is specially formulated to help women’s bodies achieve hormonal balance. Progesterone deficiency is epidemic in America, with approximately 90% of women suffering from a host of related symptoms such as PMS, hot flashes, osteoporosis, infertility, early miscarriage, depression, menstrual irregularity, and breast cancer. When applied properly, Beeyoutiful Balance will give the body the physiologic amount of progesterone needed to help bring balance to the hormonal system."
   (sounds good to me!)

Here's the WHAT (again, from the Beeyoutiful Balance website):
"Beeyoutiful Balance contains 1000 mg USP progesterone per 2 oz container. It is rubbed into the skin, absorbs into the fat, and then into the bloodstream with almost complete absorption, as opposed to oral doses of progesterone which filter through the liver. Beeyoutiful Balance is made with luxurious skin-nourishing Jojoba oil, expeller pressed Avocado oil, and Coconut oil, which help to restore damaged tissues and make skin appear healthy and more youthful. It is lightly scented with refreshing sweet orange essential oil."

 So, you're probably wondering what my results were...?  Well, it is my opinion that one month of using this cream should show improvements if someone is experiencing symptoms of low progesterone, and I probably could speak to that.... except I didn't get to use it for a month.  By the time Beeyoutiful Balance arrived in my mailbox, I was taking a 10-day course of antibiotics for strep throat and a bronchial infection and using a 5-day course of steroids.  I just didn't think it was a good idea to use a hormone replacement cream during all that.  So, I figured I would use the cream in the second manner suggested: for menstrual cramps.  However, I got my monthly "Visitor" on our campout that month... in another state... and the Beeyoutiful Balance was, naturally, at home.  I was actually wishing for it that day as I tried to cope with packing up a cabin of 5 people's belongings while enduring my usual Day 1 Abdominal Pains (the word "cramp" just doesn't adequately describe what happens to me...).

I am currently anticipating my May "Visitor," so I have used the 'cream' for several days.  Here is what I have found: I am not as tired, I have not craved chocolate (at all, Wow!), and I have not lost my temper with my kids.  My "Visitor" is due in the next few days, but this review is due today, so I cannot speak to the full effects, and I feel I have let the suppliers of this remarkable product down!  I did wake up with slight cramping this morning (which is a normal sign of my impending "Visitor") and I immediately applied the 'cream' - and lo and behold, the cramping has stopped!  Seriously.

I plan to use the 'cream' with my Day 1 Abdominal Pains this go-round, and I will update you all here on this blog post if you care to come back next week.... I also intend to continue using it for the 2 weeks prior to my "Visitor" the next few times so I can really get a feel for my own need for hormone supplements.  So far, I am leaning toward becoming a regular customer of this stuff!

One more note about the product: since the skin is the body's largest organ, I really like that it is in a sort of ointment form (it isn't really a cream, it is thicker and more like an A&D-type ointment) and absorbs more quickly and more efficiently into my body.  This really makes me think that there is less waste - if more of the active ingredients are being absorbed, less junk is floating through my system that I don't need, right?  Also, the 'cream' does have a pleasant ointment scent, but it fades (after rubbing it in) so quickly that I am certain it is being absorbed right away!

Well, there were many other fun treasures that my fellow Crew Mates got to try, so be sure and check them out... or see what other Mates thought of Beeyoutiful Balance (click here to go to reviews page).

* Disclaimer: I received Beeyoutiful Balance for free in order to use it and review it.  An honest review was all that was expected, and this review is my own experience with the product.