Friday, March 31, 2006

Fifteen on Friday

Fifteen things I am thankful for this Friday afternoon!


  1. My babies are outside, playing in the backyard, hunting for lady bugs and worms.
  2. The daffodils are blooming!
  3. I had the best BLAT for lunch today. (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato)
  4. Next week is Spring Break. Yay. No running around. We can be home all week.
  5. Chocolate chip cookie dough (I made a batch of cookies this morning and saved some dough for myself)
  6. My nephew received a good bill of health after some scary medical issues.
  7. My back neighbors. Such a nice family.
  8. My family is healthy and full of God's love.
  9. Jeff is enjoying his new job.
  10. We have an amazing church family.
  11. I am listening to my favorite Avalon CD right now.
  12. A full pantry.
  13. My comfy black yoga pants.
  14. Open windows in the kitchen and den - hearing the children laugh outside.
  15. Watching the dogs roll around the yard - playing with the kids.

What blessings do you have today?

edited: Jeff found out this afternoon that he made the cut for the University of Michigan position. Next step? A face to face meeting in April. What does the Lord have in store for us? I am excited, scared, nervous and intrigued.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ladies only. Men - pardon me, please.

Are you man? Did you ignore my request?
.
.
Click the little x and visit ESPN or HomeDepot.com
.
.
.
Okay, ladies.

Have you heard of the
Diva Cup? What a nifty little item! I was introduced to this invention about 4 years ago, right after the twins arrived. I think it was a fellow cloth diapering mother that told me about it?

Anyway....

No more tampons. No more pads. No more leaks. No more horrible cramps.

For a long time, I fretted over tampon use. I was diametrically opposed to my own self every 4-6 weeks.

Pads. No thanks. They just don't suit my lifestyle, at all.
And the cramps? Girlfriend, you know what I'm talking about - especially if you have had more than a couple kids. Ugh.

Enter the diva cup. Oh sure. The name is obnoxious but I can overlook that little issue.
For a minimal one time fee, I have monthly protection to last a very long time. No waste. No chemicals.

And yes, I meant what I said earlier --- the cramping is all but gone! There is no TSS associated with this product and you can 'let it be' for 6-8 hours at at time.

What a find!

Oh stop it!

I can see you squirming in your seat. You are probably thinking, "Kim. You have lost your ever lovin' mind. That is just wrong. Gross even!"
To which I reply, "Lighten up! Check out your options."

Ahem. For the couple of men that ignored my warning -- I bet you are sorry now, huh
?

Books!

And I thought I had a lot of books? Check out this link >> Books, books, and yes, more books

How many bookshelves do you have in your home? Currently, we have 9.
  1. Two in the den
  2. Two in the living room
  3. One in the kitchen
  4. One in the each of the bedrooms (4)

And yes, I could use at least one more shelf for the living room.

When I was a small child, I read constantly. I was an only child for 8 years and often used my books as playmates. When I grew older, I used books to escape home/school/life problems. With a good book, I could transport myself to another place, another time.

I was hired at Waldenbooks when I was 16. What a dream come true. I was making money while touching/reading/smelling books for hours on end. I eventually joined the managerial staff and honestly, loved my job. Had it not been for the grumpy customers, it would have been my nirvana.

A few books I have read lately:

On the Banks of Plum Creek (preparing for our next co-op session)

Stellaluna

Raising Great Kids

Julie and Julia

Monday, March 27, 2006

Grocery tips

A couple of people asked about my food budgeting tips.....
This is based on a family of 8 (with 3 pets).

I spend, on average, $240 every 2 weeks. I seldom go over that amount and usually spend closer to the $225 mark.

My two biggest budget savers? Meal planning and list making.
I shop according to 2 weeks of meals, planned according to 'specials' or in season produce.
For instance, if fish is on sale - we have fish a bit more than usual.

I plan all 3 meals, which makes my life so much easier!


I cook complete meals and do not rely on pre-packaged foods. I keep a well stocked pantry and have an inventory sheet on the inside of the pantry door. If something is used, it is marked off. I add it to the shopping list. I do the same thing for the big freezer in the garage.
When something is on sale that we use often (example: tomato sauce -- I stock up).

We are not milk drinkers, so we save a bundle right there! We go through, on average, 1-1/2 gallons a week, mostly on cereal or for cooking. Besides, too much milk is not healthy
(but that is another post...)

For meat, I am blessed to live near a large Amish community. I get fresh, free range chicken (cut up or whole) for $1.29 a pound. I also get my cheese from their little shop, as well as most of my eggs ($1.50 for 18). In the summer, I get most of our produce from their stands or my own garden. I can, dry or freeze the surplus, which comes in handy in the fall/winter.
I also buy the bags of skinless, boneless chicken breasts when they are 'buy one get one free' at the store (which usually happens every 6 weeks). When that occurs, I buy 4 bags (and get 4 free).

For other meat, when it is on sale, I stock up. I use my Food Saver for freezer protection. This summer, Jeff and I are going to go in with another family and purchase a side of beef and pig. The meat is locally raised, free range. It is fairly priced and will store beautifully. If that sounds like something you would like to try - check out your County Extension office (usually connected to a college).

For paper products, I do use quite a few paper towels. I buy them in bulk at Sam's. This is something I need to learn to cut down on.
As for napkins, we use mostly cloth. They work better and can be used over and over.
Toilet paper? We go through a lot as you can imagine. Not much I can do about that, except buy on sale and stock up.

For cleaning products, I use mostly hot water, white vinegar and lemon juice. You can clean just about anything with those three things.
No toxic smells and it is cheap!
Shampoo, laundry soap, pet food and the like is purchased on sale and in bulk. I store extras in the laundry room or garage.

I will share this weeks menu with you, as an example.

Monday
B oatmeal
L turkey roll-ups, pears
D tilapia, couscous, peas/carrots (jello for dessert)

Tuesday
B yogurt, bananas, berries, toast
L chicken salad sandwiches
D turkey burgers, sweet potato fries, green beans (pudding for dessert)

Wednesday
B scrambled eggs
L grilled cheese, grapes
D spaghetti (sauce made the day before), salad (no planned dessert - church night)

Thursday
B cereal
L leftover spaghetti
D grilled chicken, brown rice, salad (cookies or fruit for dessert)


Friday
B cream of wheat
L chicken noodle soup (in freezer)
D tacos, beans, fruit salad (sherbet for dessert)

Saturday
B pancakes
L leftovers from Thursday/Friday
D salmon, roasted red potatoes, spinach (popsicles for dessert)


Sunday
B cereal
L out after church
D beef stew, salad (strawberry shortcake for dessert)


Like I mentioned above, I do not purchase pre-packaged items. That saves a ton of money and is much healthier for you. Coupons? I rarely use them. Most of the coupons are for things we don't eat.


When I make spaghetti sauce, I triple my recipe and freeze it in meal size portions. Same thing for casseroles, soups and so forth.

Snack foods consist of popcorn, pretzels, fruit, granola and cookies (we bake a batch each week). I do not make a habit of buying soda or sugary junk food. For the occasional treat - sure. However, once it is gone, it is gone. It is not a regular staple in the pantry.

For bread, we go to the bread store (Aunt Millies) once a month. It is not day old bread, but bread that was overstock from the morning delivery. I can get 6 loaves of good wheat bread (3 grams of fiber per slice) for $3.00! That is .50 a loaf. I usually walk out with 30 loaves of bread (and lots of strange stares, LOL)
I keep 3 loaves at a time in the pantry (it goes fast around here) and the rest in the fridge or freezer.

It may all seem like a lot of work, but really, it isn't. You find your nitch and stick to a pattern. It is second nature to me now. With some careful planning - a lot of money can be saved!

Food, while important, yummy and sustaining, shouldn't take up a large percentage of the monthly income -- especially when you consider where the food eventually ends up, yk?

K.

It's just another manic Monday....

...wish it were Sunday.....(Ten points if you can name the song and group! And Sue, if you are reading this, I know you know it!)

The sun is shining big and bright. It isn't terribly warm, but at least it isn't raining or snowing! We are on the right track.

We spent the weekend tearing apart the bedrooms this weekend. We re-arranged furniture, cleaned out closets, drawers, shelves and baskets. We dusted, cleaned and vacuumed. The rooms look incredible now! Of course, with all the dust we bothered, my allergies are now in overdrive. See. Deep cleaning *can make you sick! For the kid's, I printed out signs for the back of their doors that read:
  1. Stop!
  2. Did you make your bed?
  3. Did you put your clothes away properly?
  4. Are there toys or books on the floor?
  5. Are your shoes in the closet?
  6. Are the lights turned off?

For the boys, I made pictures of the above items since they can't read yet. I'm hoping this will help keep things under control. I don't expect perfection, but after what I found in the closets yesterday, I am hoping for controlled chaos!

Friday evening I took E dress shopping. Score! We found the most darling dress at Von Mauer. It is fun, cute and perfect for a young lady. I will show pictures soon. And yes, I cried when she was trying it on. I embarrassed her. (I seem to do that a lot these days.....)

On the agenda for today:

  1. Finish the laundry that is going right now
  2. Make a vet appointment for Bailey (our 12 year old furry friend).
  3. Take G to ballet.
  4. Pick up holds at the library
  5. Mop floors
  6. Take S to gymnastics
  7. Mail birthday card to my brother
  8. Arrange teachers for our next co-op session.

And with that, I bid you a good day!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

$20,000 a year?

My girlfriend called me up this afternoon - "Kim, turn Oprah on, quick."
There was
a family on her show that spends $20,000 a year on dining out.
  • Instead of shopping for groceries and cooking at home, the Bradleys were
    eating out three times a day, seven days a week but all that's about to change.
    As Jean points out, the family can save $20,000 if they stop dining out.

I am all for enjoying a nice meal out. I am all for making life easier. However, $20,000 a year on restaurants? That simply does not compute.

Perhaps I am shocked because I enjoy cooking? My family are good eaters with adventurous appetites. I shop twice a month and fill, on average, two baskets each time. I budget $480 a month for groceries. Most months, I have enough left over for a quick trip to the scrapbook store!

When I have the time (ha) I will have to share my budget/planning/cooking tips.



Retreats, socials and monkeys - fun times!

I just realized, I never shared about E's first church youth retreat. It was last weekend. Her, and 58 other teens went up to the Amigo Center in Sturgis, Michigan. I was excited for her to experience the retreat, but I have to admit, watching my 'baby' ride away in that big bus for 2-1/2 days was tough. She arrived home tired but oh so happy! She talked and talked, sharing every minute of her time up in Sturgis. She also took pictures (that's my girl) but we haven't developed the film yet. It is so bittersweet. I see the young woman she is becoming and smile through the tears.

Speaking of bittersweet -- it is the teen social next month for our homeschool organization.

Why is it so hard to find a cute, in style but modest dress these days? Everything is strapless, low cut, super fluffy, or skin tight. The social is friend/group based and arranged dating is highly discouraged. The boys have to wear fitted pants and a tie. The girls must have straps on their dress, and the dress should be knee length or longer.

Tomorrow, Jeff is taking the boys to see Curious George. Perhaps the girls and I will go out to lunch and find 'the perfect' dress.

Have a great weekend!

edit: A few people have asked if we are Mennonite. No. The Amigo Center is owned by the Mennonites, but they rent it out to various churches in the area. I have several friends that are Mennonite. Beautiful people.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It seemed like an innocent question....

Have you ever asked a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Did you smile at the response? Were you shocked? Did you feel inspired? Hopeful? Frightened?

Think back to your freshman year of high school? What did you want to do with the rest of your life? Are you doing it?

Enter Florida.

Please take a moment to visit Spunky Homeschool. Her latest entry on socialism and high school is very thought provoking. Don't homeshool? That's okay. The information she presents is important for all of us.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Midweek mish-mash

I do not have a specific topic for this entry. Instead, I have a few things rumbling in my mind.

*If you enjoy beautiful photographs, you have to check out
David Jay Photography. His wedding work is magnificent. Make sure you check out the ceremony that took place at the Firestone Winery in California. Wow! I also enjoy Jessica Claire Photography. Her style is awesome! So full of life.

*For great homeschooling information, Shannon from Phat Mommy, has compiled the
12th Carnival of Homeschooling. There is something for everyone. Thank you, Shannon!

*A great quote from one of Jeff's t-shirts, "The Original Old Navy. One captain, twelve men, and a boat." (referring to Jesus and his disciples)

*My daffys are doing everything they can to bloom in the front yard. Poor things are confused though. One day it is sunny and nice, the next day, blistering cold wind and freezing temps.

*American Idol - Mandisa was incredible last night! She is such a class act.

*How is it that a female teacher can be excused for raping/seducing a 14 year old boy in this society? Mental illness or not, come on! If that teacher had been a man, he would be strung up by his toenails (or worse!). What a terrible double standard.

*We are dropping Abeka history from our curriculum. We are going back to whole history books and Story of the World (for the younger kids). Abeka, while good in many ways, was just not clicking with history. Too dry? Too mundane? I dunno. Hard to believe I am figuring out next years plans already, but there you have it.

*I started spring cleaning on Monday. I started small. I tackled the kitchen island cupboards. I ditched everything I haven't used in a year. It was incredibly freeing. On Tuesday, I cleaned out the pantry and re-organized my cookbooks(all 45 of them). Today, I am going to clean out the other cupboards in the kitchen, which thankfully, are not too bad.

*Speaking of cookbooks, I received a note from
Gooseberry Patch yesterday. They want to include one of my recipes in an upcoming cookbook(to be released this summer). Yippee! I have recipes in two other books by Gooseberry. They are a terrific company. I get a free copy of the cookbook, which is very nice.

*The end.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Show me grace. Show me mercy. Show me love.

This blog entry is in loving memory of Sean Paddock. He is a sweet 4 year old boy that died last week after his mother suffocated him, all in the name of Godly discipline.
You can read an article about his death here....
News Observer

I remember about 6 years ago - I was in church and sharing fellowship with other mothers. One of the young mothers pulled out Train Up a Child by the Pearls and shared her pleasure with the instructions. I borrowed the book. After reading it, I felt physically ill. I felt anger.

This book is about inflicting abuse. Plain and simple.

If you have to be told how and where to strike a child so neighbors, police, teachers and so forth don't notice, it's a bad idea. If the parent is shown how to use supplies from Home Depot to administer the 'punishment,' it's a bad idea.

What angers me the most? The authors prey on the Christian community, urging them to use their teachings for obedient, compliant, well behaved Christian children.

Some other ladies have voiced their concerns in a clear, concise manner.
Valerie Bonhan Moon
Happy Homeschooler

As a Christian mother to several children, I am often called upon at church to mentor in the area of parenting. This is both a compliment and burden. I do not have all the answers!
Jeff and I do not subscribe to punitive, pain inducing discipline for our children. Nor are we permissive push-overs. There is a very acceptable line right down the middle - where grace, fairness, compassion and boundaries live.

I've been told that I am dismissing the Bible when it comes to my parenting abilities. Yes. Really. We happen to view the "spare the rod" scripture in a merciful way. The rod is a guiding tool. A comfort to the sheep when they were lost. It was not used to hurt or humiliate. I do not want my children to obey me out of fear, I want them to obey me out of respect and Godly intent.

Having said that, my main purpose for this entry is not to discuss the time tested flame war of 'to spank or not to spank.' Rather, it is a wake up call. Even the loudest proponent of corporal punishment must see this book for what is is -- a published manual for harming children. God's children. It needs to stop.

Wouldn't it be nice if more parents showed their children the same grace our Heavenly Father shows all of us, over and over?

Rest in peace, Sean. May you feel God's loving embrace upon your body.



edited 3/21: My blog is just a small slice of the online community. My opinion on this matter is just that, my opinion. If you share some or all of my thinking - I urge you to voice your concerns.
Special note to my homeschooling friends -- the Pearls heavily advertise in some of our educational magazines. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write the editors. If you hear about the Pearl merchandise at conferences or expos, please say something. One voice is loud when it is backed with truth!

Blessings.

:: blinking my eyes ::

Finally, I am back on the Internet. Where did I go? Well, Verizon decided to mess with my head and screw up our connection/lines/whateveryoucallitsystemfunction thing.

After many, many phone calls to customer service - we finally found a competent tech this morning.
With a few clicks and a bit of configuration for the modem, here we are!

Oh, and the the van is back in our driveway too! It found it's way home Saturday morning.
Wish all that money (to get it fixed) would find it's way back to the bank account...........

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thoughtful friends are the best friends

We were blessed with a surprise box in the mail today! We call those "Happy Mail" days.

This package of goodies arrived all the way from Japan, from my best friend, Gina. We have known one another since junior high. You name, we have been through it. Heck, we even had four daughters (each) in pretty consecutive order! I don't think of Gina as a friend, I think of her as a sister. I am blessed. Despite our far away distance (Air Force) -- we still manage to stay close with emails and prayers.

Back to the goodies. Not only did she bless me, but she blessed my babies! That is a friend for sure! Cookies, candy, Hello Kitty pasta, chopsticks, glow bracelets, toy microphones, origami paper and stationary. In the words of my son, Jake, "This is so very cool."
Image hosting by Photobucket

Lord, thank you for, Gina. Thank you for her heart, prayers and laughter. I am a better person because of her friendship. Bless her home, family and walk, Lord. ~Amen

Still no van

We are still without our van. Highly frustrating (and expensive).
Fortunately, the shop owner, having worked with us for 3+ years, loaned us a van from the lot (Chevy dealership).

We *might have our van back by Friday night. Might being the operative word.

I think the Amish have a fabulous idea. Horse, buggy, feed and love. I could do that.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The school bus is sick. Real sick.

Our trusty, well loved van (aka: schoolbus) went in for a tune-up and oil change last Friday morning. It also needed a "look over" due to some pops, creaks and fizzle sounds from time to time.

It is now Monday night and my van is being held hostage at the mechanics. Yes, that's right -- our family has been without our main transportation, sans dh's little commuter car, for 4 days. Four very long days.

On Saturday, it was nice. No van meant everyone had to stay home. Together.

Sunday, not so nice. We couldn't get to church.

Today, dd#4 had to miss her ballet class. This made Miss G very sad which in turn made me, the momma, sad.

Dh just got off the phone with the mechanic (whom we have worked with for years and trust).
Seems The Ol' Grey Mare just ain't what she used to be. The fuel pump and driving shaft need to be replaced. Oh. The driver side window motor too.

Can you hear me sobbing? How about my screams? For good measure, I am going to stomp my feet and whine (real loud) too!

If all goes as planned (ha) - our checking account will be drained by noon tomorrow.
But hey. We will have our van back.

You might be a homeschooling family if...

Over on About.com they are discussing, "You might be a homeschooler if...." content.
Fun stuff. Check it out.

I would like to add my own (of course).

You might be a homeschooling family if........
1. You like bookcases. A lot.
2. You know where every library is within a 30 mile radius (and the staff recognizes all of you)
3. Your children know their way around the art, science and historical museum - with their eyes closed.
4. You have tadpoles, ants (farm) and flower bulbs in your family room.
5. Your children know the zoo staff by name.
6. Your van is filled with games, books and tapes.
7. Your children know who Charlotte Mason and Ruth Beechick are
8. Your children do their math in their pj's, while sipping on hot cocoa
9. You know (and love) the index of the Rainbow Resource catalog
10. You have your library card memorized.
11. The downstairs coat closet has a bookcase in it for lesson supplies.
12. Your china hutch doesn't hold china. It holds books, art supplies and folders.
13. You can go on vacation whenever you want
14. Your children can pray in their classroom and receive hugs from their teacher

Saturday, March 11, 2006

To love and to cherish

Janelle, on Girl Talk is talking about cherishing our husbands. What a nice topic!

The definition of cherish: To treat with affection and tenderness; hold dear


A few ways that I cherish my husband. My best friend. My soul mate. My gift from above.

1. I pray for him every day. I pray for his health, strength, safety, worklife, courage and humility. In bed, when he is asleep, I lay my hand on his chest and fall asleep praying over him, our marriage, family and home. He caught me one night and teared up when he realized what I was doing.
2. I know his favorite foods and prepare them with love as often as possible.
3. I respect his leadership in the home (and thank him for his Christ-like attitude)
4. I leave him love notes in his briefcase, car, sock drawer and shaving kit.
5. I send him an email each afternoon to say, "I love you. Hurry home."
6. I pick up his favorite gum when I go shopping.
7. I TIVO his favorite shows when he is at school or away on business.
8. I respect and love his mother, father, sister and brothers.
9. I make our home as comfortable as possible. I pay close attention to our bedroom - the one room that is our quiet place, free from toys, noise and clutter.
10.I never wear flannel to bed (a goofy promise I made to him when we were first married but one I know he appreciates)
11. I know his friends and welcome them into our home.
12. I remind him (often) just how blessed the children are to have him for a daddy.

In today's world, it seems acceptable to bash, lecture, mother and otherwise disrespect the husband. I happen to think a lot of societal problems would be 'solved' if men were allowed to be just that, men. God made us distinctly different (and for good reason)!
Instead of fighting for equality at every turn, embrace the differences. Be helpmates. Work together. The benefits will last for eternity.

How do you cherish you husband? Don't tell me. Tell him!


P.S. While finishing this entry -- it seems we are experiencing our first, full throttle thunder-storm of spring. It's a real show off too! Lots of lightening, thunder and 'air' (Midwest folks should get that term).

One small paper clip

We watched a movie this weekend. A movie of love, acceptance and education.
Friends, watch this movie. Have your (older) children watch this movie. Please.
Paper Clips



PAPER CLIPS is the moving and inspiring documentary film that
captures how these students responded to lessons about the Holocaust-with a
promise to honor every lost soul by collecting one paper clip for each
individual exterminated by the Nazis. Despite the fact that they had
previously been unaware of and unfamiliar with the Holocaust, their dedication
was absolute. Their plan was simple but profound.
Paper Clips synopsis

I am left wondering - this movie has been out for a couple years now. Where was the publicity? Where is the media? Why must we, as a society, be bombarded with Hollywood's idea of 'education and entertainment' -- when fine and honest pieces are ignored?

Friday, March 10, 2006

You gotta check this out!

The state of our educational system

While browsing mainstream media sites today, a few things occurred to me.
1. Our government-run educational system is in serious trouble
2. I am paying more attention
3. 'They' are finally taking notice
4. All of the above


For instance, look at this piece from National Geographic:

"Americans ages 18 to 24 came in next to last among nine countries in the National Geographic-Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey, which quizzed more than 3,000 young adults in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States. Top scorers were young adults in Sweden, Germany, and Italy."

"Despite the daily bombardment of news from the Middle East, Central Asia, and other world trouble spots, roughly 85 percent of young Americans could not find Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel on a map, according to a new study."

Is it any wonder so many Americans are confused and naïve about the Middle East turmoil? If they can't even find the country, how can they understand the history?

Instead, we have high school students in Colorado being bombarded with dramatic ideologies, all in a guise of learning geography. Are the children
facing indoctrination?

Of course, some folks find the
Simpsons more important than their rights.
This is a sad commentary is ever there was one.


"Another finding from the poll, a telephone survey of 1,000 random adults with an error margin of 3%, was that 22% of Americans could name all five Simpson characters. By comparison, just one in 1,000 people could name all five First Amendment freedoms."

If people do not understand the basic rights we have as American citizens, how will they know when they are taken away?

In California, we have
parents suing the school board because Johnny or Betty can't face reality.

"On Wednesday, 20 high school seniors and their parents sued the state Department of Education and school Superintendent Jack O'Connell, claiming the exam is illegal and discriminatory. They worry the test may prevent the students from graduating."

"Many students in California have not been given a fair opportunity to learn the material on the exam,"

We are talking about a test that is set at the 8-10th grade level for graduating seniors? How can they say they were not given fair opportunity to learn the material? Did they skip grades 8,9,10 and 11?

Of course, this is the test that was set to take place back in 2004 but red tape and legalism took over, forcing a holding period. This is the first year California seniors will have to show their mastery of skills.

Here is this story from
South Carolina, about a senior, clearly in need of assistance.

"Dorian Cain told me he wants to learn to read. He's 18 years old and in 12th grade, but when I asked him to read from a first-grade level book, he struggled with it. "

Are the children being cheated by the schools? Parents? Is compulsory schooling dumbing us down?

Simple secrets

I found Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home in the library bookstore last weekend.
It is a small book, only 158 pages, but filled with encouragement and wisdom.
I so wish Emilie Barnes were a neighbor! How cool would that be?

The chapters:

  • The Secret to Welcome
  • The Secret to Creativity
  • The Secret to Femininity
  • The Secret to the Garden
  • The Secret of the Kitchen
  • The Secret of Stillness
  • The Secret of Godliness
  • The Secret of Hospitality
  • The Secret of Celebration

Good reading - good blessings!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On the flip-side

Yesterday, I shared some of the "rude" or "less than thoughtful" comments I have received due to our family size. Today, I will share the kind and encouraging comments, which thankfully, outweigh the negative by a long shot!

I have to admit, we live in a pretty easy going place now. I don't hear much negativity these days, which is very nice. Large families and homeschooling are second nature to most in these parts. While living in Southern California, complete different ballgame, in more ways than one!

On to the comments.

"Six children? What a loving household!"

"Wow. Look at those happy smiles. You can see the love."

"If you are going to be busy, being busy with children is the way to go!"

"They are so well behaved. Good job, mom and dad!"

"You are so incredibly blessed."

"Since you have such sweet kids, you should have a few more."

"I was watching you from the other table. What a joy. You can feel the fun and love."

"They are so well-adjusted."

"Come over for dinner. Maybe we can learn a few pointers from your family."

"Thank you for being a parent."

For everyone that left a comment for me yesterday, thank you! I loved reading your responses.
Before I go, a quote: "How can you say there are too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers." ~Mother Teresa



Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Grab a cup of tea -- it's a long one, folks!

What NOT to say when you encounter a large family
(Or, how to be rude without really trying)

Wow. Are they all yours?
Nice response: Yes. I am blessed.
Not so nice response: Nah. I pick up kids along the way. I hate grocery shopping alone.

:: snicker :: Don’t you know what causes that?
Nice response: :: blank stare::
Not so nice response: No. Please explain it to me, step by step.

Better you than me! (usually said with disgust in the voice, for full effect)
Nice response: I am blessed.
Not so nice response: Well, with that kind of attitude, I whole-heartedly agree.

How do you handle all those kids? I can’t handle the two I have! (said in front of the children, of course)
Nice response: A lot of humor, grace and prayer!
Not so nice response: Perhaps if you didn't speak like that in front of your children, more grace and respect will be shown?

And you homeschool them?! Oh my insert rude word here I would go nuts! I need to be away from my kids (said in front of the kids, of course)
Nice response: We love our time together.
Not so nice response: Do you hear yourself right now? Your kids can sure hear you....

You must be Catholic or Mormon!
Nice response: No.
Not so nice response: No. And if I were?

How do you afford all of those kids? What does your husband do?
Nice response: We try to be good stewards of our time and money. It works.
Not so nice response: Are you planning on contributing to our savings account? Why else would ask about our financial standing and/or career choices?

I suppose you stay home? (with the *look on their face)
Nice response: I am busy at home.
Not so nice response: No. I keep having kids so they can do everything for me.

You have your hands full!
Nice response: Happily.
Not so nice response: Wow. I’ve never heard that comment before! Now, instead of standing there gawking at us, how about holding the door for me?

Are they all from the same father?
Nice response: Yes.
Not so nice response: You know – I just can’t remember.

:: While watching the person silenty count my children, staring wildly... ::
Nice response: :: smile ::

Not so nice response: Here. Let me help you count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and yes 6!

Don’t you know our world is over-populated already?
Nice response: That isn’t true, actually.
Not so nice response: So. You will be leaving soon then?

Don’t you feel like a ‘breeder’ with all those kids?
Nice response: :: blank stare ::
Not so nice response: Don’t you feel like an idiot for saying that to me?

I have this huge bag of hand me downs and extras. When can I drop them off?
Nice response: Thank you for thinking of us. Perhaps the church or Salvation Army could use them more?
Not so nice response: Assume much?

I would hate to see your grocery bill! Do you eat a lot of beans and rice?
Nice response: Really, the bill isn't too bad all things considered. I have it down to a science.
Not so nice response: By the looks of all that 'stuff' in your cart, I'd hate to see your bill (or arteries) too!

When we had four daughters (and no sons) we had a whole set of questions/comments:

Oh. Where is the boy? You need a boy.
Nice response: We have four great children. Aren’t they beautiful?
Not so nice response: Where are your manners? You need manners!

Oh, your poor husband. All those girls…..
Nice response: My husband is the richest man alive.
Not so nice response: Oh, poor you. All those rude ideas….

Are you going to try for a boy?
Nice response: God will give us what He thinks is best.
Not so nice response: Are you going to try for manners?

Wow. You have four daughters?! (said with great surprise)
Nice response: Yes.
Not so nice response: We do?! How in the world did that happen?!

Oh, ol’ hubby can’t shoot girl sperm, huh?
Nice response: :: blank stare::
Not so nice response: Oh, you can’t control your mouth, huh?

When we became pregnant with the twins and people found out they were boys -– more comments:

Twins? I am so sorry. You are already so busy.
Nice response: :: blank stare ::
Not so nice response: Wow. Did you set out to be so rude today?

See what happens when you keep trying for a boy. You get twins!
Nice response: We are so blessed. We wanted children. Gender doesn’t matter.
Not so nice response: Oh, you are so funny and witty. Thanks for the education.

How did you get pregnant with twins? Sex or drugs?
Nice response: The old fashioned way (or blank state, depending on my mood)
Not so nice response: What? Would you like to see my ovulation chart too?

I always wanted twins. How did you do it?
Nice response: No special way.
Not so nice response: Would you like diagrams and pictures? Maybe hubby and I can show you right here, in the cereal aisle?

When the twins arrived, more comments:

(While looking at two identical babies, side by side in a stroller) Are they twins?
Nice response: Yes.
Not so nice response: No. One is really 12 months old. He is just really small.

Do they run in the family?
Nice response: No
Not so nice response: Babies can run? Man. No one warned me!

Twins? You can’t possibly have them vaginally or breastfeed. Right?
Nice response: That isn’t true.
Not so nice response: Well, they passed through my birth canal so I guess your theory is wrong. As for the nursing issue…..two babies – two breasts. Viola.

Which one is “good” and which one is “evil?”
Nice response:
They are both blessings.
Not so nice response: Which one of your personalities is speaking to me right now? Good or evil?

I understand that most people are trying to initiate converation and mean no harm, but some folks are downright rude! I do my very best to answer curious minds with grace and tact, but geesh, whatever happened to saying "Hello" and "How are you?"

Chris, Carmen, and Owl have lots to say on this issue! Check 'em out.

Tasty treats that teach (say that real fast 3 times)

Like cupcakes? Like astronomy?
Shannon from, Rocks in my Dryer shared an out of this world idea.
Get it? Out of this world? (I crack myself up......)

The 'Crunchy Con' label

I'm not one to wear a label (other than Christian) -- but this Crunchy Con idea has sparked my interest.

"The result of this materialism is “a society dedicated to the
multiplication of wants and the intensification of desire, not the improvement
of character.” What sets Dreher’s “crunchy cons” apart is the extent to which
they have recognized the corrosive effects of a culture that is both
materialistic and pornographic, and they are prepared to do something about
it.
" ~Colson

To read more, go here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Taming the laundry monster

Jump over to see Barbara, at Mommy Life, for some good clean fun! Prepare to giggle.

Now, to answer the ever popular, "Kim, how do you manage so much laundry?"

Taming the Laundry Monster

I get asked “How do you manage laundry with so many kids?” on a frequent basis.

I think I have finally figured out a system. It didn’t happen over-night. There have been several plans that failed miserably before this ‘plan of attack.’

First, consistency is vital. In order for any system to work, you have to work it. Inevitably, life will throw a wrench into your skills from time to time, but the key is to stay on track so you can swerve around the wrench.

I do, on average, two loads of laundry a day, with the exception of Sunday. That is a day of rest, for me and my laundry room.

I am blessed with a large laundry room, upstairs, right outside the bedroom doors. I know a busy mom designed this floor plan!

In the laundry room, there are several baskets on the floor. They are marked as such:

Whites
Darks
Lights
Linens
Delicates (sweaters, etc)
Misc. basket for “Mom, where do I put this shirt…it has too many colors”

Everyone is responsible for getting their clothing into the appropriate basket before bed each night.

When one of the ‘dirty’ baskets has enough for a full load, it is washed. Like I mentioned above, I average about two loads a day using this method. The linen basket is done on Saturday, along with all bed linens (bed changing day).
Side note about linens – I only use white linens (towels, sheets, etc.) This makes my life so much easier.

On the built-in table, you will find 7 baskets.
One for E, S, P, G, C/J (they share), linens and Jeff & I (we share a basket as well).

Now, here is the backbone to this plan. When the dryer is done, I do not pile the clothes into a basket and dump it on a bed (a method used long ago). No. Instead, I fold the clothes as I take them out of the dryer. As I fold them, I place them in the appropriate basket (see above). It takes far less time to do it this way – honest! Long ago, I would literally be buried under clean/wrinkled clothes at the end of the day. I hated clothes. I hated laundry. It was a massive chore.

Before dinner, the person with the ‘put away’ chore (for that day) is responsible for putting away all of the clean/folded clothes. It is a quick chore since the folding and sorting is already done. The empty baskets are placed back in the laundry room, ready for the following day.

One little ‘dirty’ secret I have to share….
Socks. They are my thorn. Like linens, we only have white socks (with the exception of Jeff’s work socks). When socks come out of the dryer, they are tossed into a sock basket, unmatched. They stay there until someone needs a pair. It isn’t the neatest system known to mankind, but it works for us. I admit I let out a happy squeal when sandal weather arrives. No more socks!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Get out there and read!


Image hosting by PhotobucketTime Management from the Inside Out

I am a sucker for organizational and time management books. If I were to be honest, I would realize that the time spent with these books would be better spent in and around my home. I am a work in process....

Image hosting by Photobucket If You're Trying To Teach Kids How To Write

I dare say, this is one of my 'favorite' writing books. I reach for it time and time again when working with our lessons. I borrowed it many times (from the library) before purchasing it for our collection. I do that a lot. (It is a great way to maintain a solid library without wasting money)

Image hosting by Photobucket Stone Soup

A childhood favorite. One of the first things the girls learned how to make in the kitchen was 'stone soup' - thanks to this book.

Image hosting by Photobucket Living Spaces (Bringing Style and Spirit to Your Home

The title intrigued me. In a busy home, such as ours, I am constantly on the look-out for new ideas. I strive for a welcoming home, to family, friends and Him.

Image hosting by Photobucket The Little House

This would be in my Top 10 list for picture books. When the boys pull this book off the shelf, I let out a little giggle. I love it.


Not pictured, but in the pile....

Jesus, the One and Only

Parenting Teens with Love & Logic

Dirty Dancing at the Prom (and Other Challenges Christian Teens Face)

Basic Montessori - Learning Activities for Under Fives

Complete Collection of Curious George


Looks like some students in California will have fewer books to read after a recent hearing. In print, it appears this decision was based on 'funding issues' -- but I believe it is a form of censorship.

We may not allow certain books in our home, for various reasons, but I will always speak out against censorship tactics.

Hey, I wasn't a bookstore manager for nothing, way back when.....

This article saddens me. I think more people need to pick up a book?!

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~Benjamin Franklin

Weekend whimsy

I had such a "girly" day on Saturday. Much fun!
I got my hair cut, received a manicure and went shopping. I found several cute tops and a few pairs of shoes (my current weakness).

Come on girls, say it with me -- "I love being a girl!"

Like a good shoe hoarder, I took pictures.

Image hosting by Photobucket

First, a new pair of tennis shoes. My old ones were just that. Old.

Second, a lovely pair of brown sandals with a great heel. These will go great with lots of outfits.

Third, a black pair of flips. Yes. Another pair.

Fourth, a super soft pair of leather driving shoes. Talk about comfort? Bliss.

Fifth, and possibly the best -- a pair of stylish wedges. The picture doesn't do them justice. Lots of sparkle and cuteness.

And, because I needed to re-fuel after the shopping work out...I tried a new place called Moe's. Wonderful, fresh food at awesome prices. Welcome to our city, Moe!

Coming up this week?

A current book list.
I will answer the ever popular question, "Kim, how do you manage so much laundry?"






Friday, March 03, 2006

Prayers needed

I learned today that a fellow homeschooling mother passed away yesterday, during an emergency c-section. She left behind a loving husband and 5 children, ages 11 to newborn.
Missey was active with the Ambleside community and authored a cheerful and insightful blog
Heart Schooling.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Missey personally, but that doesn't change a thing. Her family needs prayers, love and support. Please bless them.

Family-night

I love our Friday evenings.

Tonight, we will watch
Image hosting by Photobucket
Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo take on the roles made famous by Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball in this remake of the 1968 comedy about two single parents who plan to marry and merge their broods into one "happy" family. But when the Coast Guard admiral and father of eight (Quaid) and the handbag designer with 10 tykes (Russo) prepare to wed, their collective progeny attempt to sabotage the union.

The above is a remake of a classic by the same name, starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. Personally, I like the charm of the original better -- but the remake is fun just the same (we saw it on Thanksgiving Day).
From the original:
Forget the SUV, this family needs a school bus. Widow Helen North (Lucille Ball) marries widower Frank Beardsley (Henry Fonda), a union that results in a grand total of 18 children. Household chaos ensues as they all learn to share the same space, and when flu season hits, the family doctor (Tom Bosley) finds himself a very busy man. Just as things begin to settle down, Helen finds out they'll need to make room for one more at the dinner table. … .

Off to finish the laundry, sweep the den and help the kids with history lessons. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thursday thoughts

Another busy day for us! Co-op went remarkably well -- the kids are so amazing!! I am reminded time and time again, just how blessed I am to be on this journey with them.

Some things I have been pondering and/or wanting to share.

*Every once in awhile, I need some 'easy going - pure entertainment' books to read. In the last 18 months, I have found three authors that never disappoint me.
Adriana Trigiani
Jeanne Ray
Claire Cook

* E is going on her first church sponsored youth retreat this month. Jeff and I feel secure with the female chaperones, activities and camp location. I know she will have an amazing time. Still, it tugs at the heart to know your first born, the original 'baby cakes', will be 80 miles away for 3 days.

* This Denver high school teacher is comparing President Bush with Adolf Hitler. Words escape me...

*When did purity become a 'sin' in our culture?

*Why do so many people prefer a wishbone over a backbone?

*Why don't people, in general, understand the difference between a 'want' and a 'need'?

*What will happen tomorrow when Jeff has an interview with the University of Michigan?
update: interview has been postponed

In closing, a portion from one of my favorite Christian songs, Wonderful Maker

What a wonderful maker

What a wonderful savior
How majestic your whispers
And how humble your love
With a strength like no other
And the heart of a father
How majestic your whispers
What a wonderful God



Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A touch of fun (and something to read)

Kate from Tate School has this fun Q&A on her blog.

1. I know you indulge yourself - but how?
Starbucks and Target make me so happy.

2. What's one book you'd like to read sooner then later?
Oh, that is a tough question. My 'to read' pile grows and grows.

3. What's the next practical TO DO project for your home?
Paint J and C's bedroom


4. Do you like silence or background noise?
Lately, silence

5. If you could revisit a certain era, which one would it be?
For a short trip - the mid 1800's.



In other areas of the blogging universe, may I point my Christian sisters toGirl Talk? This site is wonderful -- filled with wise words and encouragement.
I especially enjoy their entries on love, marriage and family.

Be blessed!