Saturday, September 14, 2013

Homemaking Journal 9/14/13

I'm going to try and post every Saturday about the things that us homemakers must contend with throughout our days.  It might be a rambling post, or it might be meaningful....or both.  I just like reading what other homemakers are up to so I thought I would share also.  I can guarantee that this post will be

Sissy wanted to make cupcakes this week so we did.....butter recipe cupcakes with pink icing.  She is very impatient.  She mixed everything up as I added it and then I got the first 12 into cupcake liners (I only have 1 cupcake pan - we make do).  Into the oven, timer set....she almost immediately started in on when they would be done.  So we had school and sometime in there I took them out and put the 2nd pan in.....but they were hot.  It was like agony waiting for them to cool.  Finally pink cupcakes!  She was delighted. 

I love having my children help me in the kitchen.  Bear and Abby both love to mix, pour and stir.  Bear has learned how to make his own chocolate milk and  how to operate the microwave to warm up hotdogs (with supervision).  Both of them can make their own pbj sandwiches or ham and cheese sandwiches.  It's a process.  I love having helpers.

Norman helped me measure my living room windows so I would know how much yardage to buy to make curtains....we need 13 yards.  That's a lot of fabric.  Still cheaper than buying full length curtains so I'll be saving those pennies :)

I found a new shawl pattern I want to make.  It wraps around and then ties in the back so you don't have to hold it shut or pin it.  Looks very practical!  I am going to figure yardage this afternoon and plot out how I could do it in a larger gauge (because I have some bulky yarn that would be perfect - and keep me from wishing I had money to buy yarn to start the project, trying to be content and use what I have!).  The air was very crisp this morning so I think Sissy and I will be able to start using some of the things I've been knitting this summer.  And I need to knit a nice warm pair of slippers....the floor was cold this morning!

Laundry was on the line today, only one load....some teenagers haven't been bringing their dirty laundry downstairs promptly.  Not my problem.  I try to do 2 loads of laundry a day with the exception of Sundays (mom's day off) and Thursdays when I work.  This week I didn't work so I've done 2 loads of laundry every day but Thursday and today - 1 load each.  My clothesline holds 2 loads at a time so that works out well.  Remember, I've got 4 children, one of whom is in sports.  They seem to change clothes frequently while working outside after school.  I'm blessed that my dh wears uniforms to work but they provide cleaning for them.....otherwise I would have at least another load a week. 

I swept all the downstairs floors and cleaned the downstairs bathroom, did dishes, folded laundry (if I get it outside by 9, it is dry by 1) picked up my room and Abby's room, burned trash and balanced out the checkbook.  We went into town for a festival parade and spent 1.5 hours at the park.  The littles had fun!  I'm looking forward to knitting or reading or both.....and maybe a soak in the upstairs tub later....we will see.

Have a great weekend friends....I'm off to read to my sweet Abigail :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Good morning!

Good morning readers!

I hope that this beautiful day finds you all well.  We got a little rain yesterday.  Disappointing as I had to run the dryer rather than hang my wash out on the line but it was a bonus that laundry got done quicker!

I enjoyed school with the kids, some very light housework and then read for a while yesterday.  Alex Kava is my new favorite author.  I've read 3 of her book so far and will be definitely be reading through the rest of them that the library has.  Speaking of library, I just packed up the library books that we have read since Tuesday.....14 books :)  Not counting the one I'm returning.  Right now, I'm midway through The First Family:  Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis.  It's a wonderful glimpse into the lives of a fascinating couple.  Even if their relationship wasn't steeped in such historical events, I love reading about families and relationships like that. 

I've been trying to stay away from facebook but that is easier said than done.  lol  I did go through my friends list and deleted a few people and I'm trying to spend only a short time morning and evening (I like to browse while stirring supper or waiting for the kids to take baths).  I've definitely freed up much more time and I'm very pleased about that.

We are getting new tires on the van today.  They are much needed.  I'll probably take the kids to the fall festival tomorrow, at least to watch the parade...probably only to watch the parade.  Soccer on Sunday.  I'm going to try to get some more pictures to go with the ones I took last week and include them in a post. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

MFW K Week 6

Good morning!

We are having another wonderful week of school here.  This week's theme is O for Octopus.  Many of our theme activities have revolved around an octopus, the ocean or God's variety in creation.  Have you ever thought about that?  God created the octopus!  Who would have come up with that?  I love it :)

Bear did mapwork yesterday!  Honestly, I pulled the map out of our weekly sheets and about had a heart attack!  I wasn't ready to try to teach mapping skills to a 5 year old.  We discussed oceans and land and then talked about where things were on the map (our home, China, hippos - the important stuff). 

Abby has been working on numbers and colors.  She can say her alphabet reliably, knows most of her colors and can count to 20 most of the time.  This week she hasn't done a lot because she hasn't shown a lot of interested and she's THREE so I don't force the issue.  She sits with us for Bible time, songs and takes part in any activities.  I've started matching upper and lower case letters with her (A, B and C with name recognition but it is very gently).  Here she was getting into her box with laurie puzzles and pegs. 

Abby is always involved in our read aloud times and honestly, I read to her more than Bear.  She has loved the books about Johnny Appleseed this week and was telling her dad all about everything she learned.  She also told him all about eyes (a book left over from 2 weeks ago).  She just soaks everything up like a sponge.

Last night was AWANA.  Abby got to go for the first time.  She is a Cubbie and Bear is a Sparkie.  Abby's little friend was there and she was soooo happy.  She was very disturbed that I was there to pick her up.  So we will add AWANA lesson work to our school time. 

Tomorrow I am packing a picnic lunch and we are heading out to Sam Parr for some fun and nature study.  I took pictures last week but didn't get them up here.  I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are Distractions as Dangerous as Demons?

In Luke 11:24-26 Jesus tells about what happens when an evil spirit leaves a person's body.  The body or spirit is left empty and if it isn't filled with good things then the evil spirit or demon will return and the person will be worse off than before.

We discussed this in Sunday school class a month or so ago and we discussed that when you come to know Christ you turn away from evil things, sin and then....what?  Shouldn't we fill our lives with good, Godly things?  Yes! 

How about those of us who have been Christians for a while.  I was raised in church, although I don't feel that I came to really know and understand the truths of Christ until I was a young married mom. 

My thoughts are that distractions in our lives can be just as dangerous as demons in that we lose focus on Christ and don't make time or room for the Holy Spirit to fill us and work in our lives. 

Demons overtake a person and fill them with evil.
Distractions fill time, take space and energy - that should be used for the glory of God.

Because I am distracted am I missing out on God's leading and the filling of the Holy Spirit? 

James 4:3-4
And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure.  You adulterers!  Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?  I say it again:  If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.  NLT

Revelation 3:20
"Look!  I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  NLT

God is knocking on the door of my heart!  He wants me to make time, take time, make room for HIM!

What are some distractions for ME? 
TV, Facebook, worries (about life and what others think of me), books, magazines, internet, hobbies

**This is MY list.  Please don't feel that I am judging you!**

Now, lets take a look at my list. 
TV - there are some good things on TV, some ok things on TV and some horrible things on TV.  Even if I am watching a "good" thing, could I be doing something better? (serving somewhere, encouraging someone, reading/studying God's word)
Facebook - I spend a lot of time on facebook.  If it wasn't for facebook some days I wouldn't talk to an adult all day.  But that's no excuse.  There's a lot of trash on there.  Stuff I don't need to see or read.  And I probably post nonsense that I shouldn't (because I'm human too). 
Worries - Those are things that I need to give to God.  NOW!
Books - I try to  read decent books.  I love a good mystery.  I read a lot of non-fiction Christian books.  Couldn't my time be better spent reading the Bible?
Magazines - except for a few homeschooling, homemaking magazines (Eternal Encouragement, Keepers at Home, Practical Homeschooling) and my knitting, quilting magazines....mainstream publishing is trash.
Internet - Everyone knows there is a lot of trash on the internet.  I have a habit of surfing just to surf.  Not good.
Hobbies - I knit, garden, sew.....those are all good as long as they don't become an obsession.  I love to write but I need to be writing about good things.  Things that edify.  Sometimes that's a struggle.

Now that we have discussed my list of distractions, take a second and pray about the things that distract you.....

Is there a time and purpose for idle entertainment?  I think so, but not at near the frequency that we (myself included) tend to indulge.  God made us to WORK....if we are women he made us to work at home and for his kingdom.  God set aside one day as a day of rest, but lets make sure that our rest is really restful and not distracting from God's kingdom. 
Can some of the things (maybe all the things) I've listed above be used for God's glory?  Sometimes.  I'm sure we could go through the list and think of ways my distractions could be used to further the kingdom.  Am I using them that way?  Rarely. 
Can distractions take my focus off God?  Absolutely!  Even if something starts off to further the kingdom, sometimes it gets misled or lost.  Sometimes good intentions end badly.  It happens to everyone!  That's why it is important to regularly evaluate the purpose behind the things we do.  Each season of our lives is different and different things will be important at different times.  We/I need to seek God and make sure that our/my pursuits are lining up with His will for my life (and mine won't look like yours - we are unique!)

I Timothy 4:4-5
Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.  For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.  NLT

What does this mean for me?
Well, it means that other than to post a daily blog post (I'm trying to focus more on my actual writing and less on meaningless facebook status updates) and a quick check of email daily I won't be on the internet.  I am going to keep a list of things that I honestly need to check on (bank details) or research and do that on Saturday or Sunday but I am limiting my time.  If there isn't much on that list I may read some of my favorite blogs.  I'm probably going to avoid facebook for a time.  The bullying and hate that is passed around there is amazing and honestly I don't need it in my life right now. 
I'm also going to make time with God a priority.  I just started a study on Faith: Joseph's Journey by Sandra Lea Hardage (review coming soon) and am making time to work through that as well as my daily reading, study and Sunday school prep work.  The littles are starting Awana tonight so they will get some memory work and I'm going to work on it with them.  I've never been good at memory work and that is something I am committing to work on.
I'm going to try to spend time with people face to face.  I've been depending on this little black machine to control my interactions with people.  That's not good for me.  So that is a priority for me and the kids.
I'm still going to be reading, but I'm going to be putting limits on my daily pleasure reading (no more getting lost in a book until suppertime - at least not regularly!  lol)
I would go crazy if I quit knitting and since I make gifts and practical items I see the purpose in that hobby.  Actually limiting my time on the computer will make more time for that.  We need some curtains!!!!!

This is my journey.  I encourage you to step back and make sure that your path with God is heading in His direction.  Mine wasn't and I'm committed to getting it back on track. 

Please comment (if you are comfortable) with what distractions are filling your life and how you plan to refocus. 

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are Homeschoolers Part of the "Community"

This post is written partly as a response to a member of my community who implied that by choosing to homeschool rather than send our children to the "community schools" we were a lesser part of our community. 

Also, as part of full disclosure, for new readers, I feel the need to include the fact that my 2 older children do go to our "community" public school.  I am still homeschooling the younger two. 

Let's get started.

The above comment was written by someone in response to a discussion by 2 homeschoolers.  These friends of mine were commenting about the impact common core was going to have on homeschooling and the lack of critical thinking skills in public schools. 

I honestly feel that I learned more critical thinking skills in my first year homeschooling (preschool) than I ever did in 12 years of public school.  In our "community" school.

Here's the deal....a BIG deal....and public school proponents need to remember this.....if public schools were PERFECT parents wouldn't be pulling their students out in record numbers.  Trust me, homeschooling is not everyone's perfect job.  We make significant emotional, family and financial sacrifices to homeschool our children.  Some families struggle to make it on one income, some families homeschool on nights and weekends so both parents can remain employed.  Another thing that public school proponents need to remember is that homeschoolers are paying both ways.  We pay TAXES (against our will) to fund these wonderful public schools.  We then pay for homeschooling materials and outside classes for our children.  THEN we are turned away from public schools (that we pay TAXES to) when we desire to take part in their activities (in my case sports).  You see, my older 2 children are in public school now because they wanted to take part in sports.  In the great state of Illinois, you must be a FULL TIME student of a school in order to participate in their sporting activities.  So in order to participate in these activities (that my tax dollars are paying for) my children must attend their school.

Honestly, this has to be the biggest racket going.  If you don't see the absurdity in that then you need to stop reading because you aren't going to be able to keep up.  My children couldn't take part in activities that I pay for because I choose to take charge of their education.  Interesting, huh?

Now, the above facebook poster claims that I and my family are lesser parts of the community because I choose to take a large role in my children's education.  So are the elderly or single people in our "community" lesser parts because they don't have children attending these fantastic schools??  I'm just trying to figure this out.  I would have to assume that the way to be an integral part in my community is to volunteer and whole heartedly support our community schools.  Does volunteering as part of our local soccer program count?  That's not part of the school system.  {Our wonderful school system refuses to support a soccer program}  Does volunteering through our church not count as being an integral part of my community?  4-H participation?  Community classes?  Attending community events?  Shopping at community stores?  I thought those things made a person part of a community.  Not attending a community school.

I have listened for years about how wonderful the teachers/staff are at our community schools.  I would agree at least 90% of the time.  However, all teachers are not wonderful.  Some of these teachers have multiple complaints lodged against them, however they are still there.  Multiple complaints from multiple parents.  Everyone know who those teachers are.  And yet they are still there.  How is that for the best of the students?  How is that best for the community?  How is common core and dumbed down standards BEST for the students.  I have 2 students in that school.  How is this looking out for them?????

I attended these wonderful community schools as a child.  In THIS community.  In kindergarten I was forced to spend 30 minutes scrubbing crayon off the back of my chair.  Crayon that I didn't put on that chair but the teacher was convinced I did.  And I cried the whole time.  And the teacher ridiculed me in front of the whole class the whole time.  I was also demeaned because I needed to go to the bathroom that year.  I didn't use the restroom at school the whole rest of that year.  I was terrified of that teacher. 

In 3rd grade we had to take standardized tests.  My teacher convinced us that if we didn't do fantastic on those tests that we would be held back in 3rd grade.  I picked up some irritating habits that year (hair twirly, nail biting).....why would you put all that pressure on an 8 year old???

The next few years were ok.  Some better than others.  In 6th grade our math teacher decided that she was going to put us in groups, do our homework and tests together and then average our grades.  At the time I was an A student in math and although I didn't mind helping others, I did mind getting their grades.  My mother and some other parents managed to get that stopped quickly.  How about one of my high school math teachers that refused to actually teach the subject?  I was a good student but we still had to call another teacher several nights a week for help. 

I was not a student that caused trouble.  I never rocked the boat.  I didn't really want to be there at all.  Quiet.  Responsible.  Hardworking.  I can't imagine what the experience of those that didn't keep their heads down and their mouths shut was like.  I can't imagine how a teacher would treat my 5 year old that has ideas about everything and can't sit still for 30 seconds.  How would they manage him?    They wouldn't.  He would spend considerable time in the principles office, or off in a corner or in special classes.  He wouldn't get the education he deserves.  I'm not perfect but I have my children's absolute best interests at heart.  And before you jump my case, I'm sure there are teachers that have the student's best interests at heart but how are they going to manage with 30 students?  And what about the bad ones?  Because I know they are there.

I've had several teachers comment that my older children are well spoken, thinkers, willing to speak up for what they believe.  In case you didn't notice, they learned that from me.  At home. 

Now we struggle with poorly explained math assignments....busy work.....questionable reading material.....not exactly what I hoped for in my sons' education.  They eat lunch in an overcrowded lunch room (my 8th grader gets 5 minutes to eat his lunch).  The junior high has no library or dedicated "study lab" (he can't go to the school early, sit at a table or desk and work on homework or projects).  Trades classes were cut at the high school level and sports may take a hit next.  At that point there will be no valid reason for my children to be there.

Maybe these public school groupies need to focus more on why homeschoolers are homeschooling and less on attacking us for choosing the best for our children.  It seems they have a say in the process (at least they think they do) community serfs don't seem to.....that's why I homeschool. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Our 1st 4 Weeks with My Father's World K

Good evening!

I'm working on prioritizing some "momma" time and this blog is going to be one of those things (1. bible study, 2. exercise, 3. blogging, 4. reading, 5. knitting). 

I am severely delinquent in keeping up with our school stuff.  We started school the first Monday of Aug.  I don't remember the date (you are going to have to bear with me on this). 

I guess I should back up.  We started MFW K last year, January I think.  We worked through a few units, the creation unit and then I think units 1-5.  It was going ok, but I was having to push Bear a little and I didn't really want to do that so we just backed off.  It's ok to back off something if your child isn't ready!

Now, technically Bear is in kindergarten this year.  His late birthday would have only had him in preschool last year.  Even if he should have been in kindergarten last year I still wouldn't have pushed.  We might have worked on developing skills and review but I would not have pushed.  Pushing kids to do things they aren't ready for can really hamper learning later.  Trust me on this one.  There are a lot of FUN things that can be learned while skills develop and children grow in maturity. 

Back to planning:  I started where we left off and then scheduled 4 units, then a review week, 4 units, then a review week.  That way, if Bear was still struggling we could back off and go at a slower pace.  Scheduling this way also allows me to take time off without guilt.

Amazingly, Bear is just zipping through his work now.  We are finishing 4 days of work in 3 so moving at a quick pace through our worksheets.  I don't want to push to hard so I throw in review sheets when needed to keep him busy (and it reinforces the "I can do it" attitude).  I get the review sheets from little workbooks you can buy at Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Walmart.  I recommend Dollar Tree.  You can pick up the neatest things there!

We are 5 weeks in and finished with the first 4 units I had scheduled.  We are also working on Alphaphonics.  I wasn't sure if we would start it yet because I didn't want to push, but he was ready and is doing great.  He loves that he can read now!  CVC words right now but we are getting ready to do consonant blends :)

A lot of people ask about phonics programs.  I use alphaphonics.  It is cheap.  One reusable book.  I've had our copy for 11 years now.  It is falling apart, but useable.  If more review is needed I use Victory Drill Book. It is also reusable.  I don't use it as intended and am not using it with Bear at this point.  That can be another post.  I also love the phonics attributes of All About Spelling and would probably love their reading program.  I'm using what I've got :)  I used All About Spelling with the older boys and was amazed how much it helped their reading skills.  We will start that in 1st grade.  Back to Alphaphonics......on day 1 we read lesson 1.  We did it for a few days till I felt he was comfortable (I honestly think he had it memorized).  The next day after that we did lesson 1 and lesson 2.  The next day we did lesson 1, 2 and 3.  The next day we did lesson 2, 3 and 4.  We kept doing those 3 until I felt that he was comfortable with lesson 2, then we dropped it and added in the 1st half of lesson 5.  At this point we are doing lesson 4 and all of lesson 5.  I think on Monday we will add in lesson 6 and see how he does (consonant blending).  We continue on this way, at the students pace, until the book is done.  Sometimes we spend a lot of time on 3 lessons, or I drop one but don't pick a new one up.  You will know what is best.  Don't push.

We read a lot.  I tried ordering the reading suggestions from the library online, but either my computer doesn't like their system or their system doesn't like me....I couldn't get it to work.  Now I take my list to the library every week and they order for me.  It is hand written.  2 lines for each book (title/author) with a line in between each book.  About 20-25 books a week.  The librarian looked at me like I had grown 3 heads but doesn't even batt an eye now, cause we are bringing them back as fast as she can get them ordered (I also check out 1-2 books for myself per week and allow each kid 5 books and 1 movie apiece, each week).  What the librarian doesn't understand is that we read each of those 40 some books each week and sometimes more than once.....and we also have an extensive library here at home.  We read ALOT.

We are going to spend several days this fall at our local state park.  I think it will help all of us to smooth the transition to school, especially to see the leaves change color.  It is beautiful there!  We took a picnic lunch Friday and enjoyed some time at the lake and playground.  Good memories!

Abby is working on colors (she's about got them), shapes (almost got them also), number recognition and letter recognition.  We also do the songs, rhymes and Bible stuff together.  She picks up a lot of things from read alouds and her speech is improving....slower than I would like but it is improving. 

I'm really pleased with how this year is going :)  I'm in a good place with homeschool.  I've done it long enough now not to be pushy and really is a short period that we get to be with these goes fast.  Enjoy it!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Review: Get Real: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask by Jamy Whitaker

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.

A popular topic in homeschool circles, at least around here, is "keeping it real".  As far as I can tell that involves sharing our daily struggles, fears, disappointments with a support network or social media contacts.  I do it, my friends do it......but honestly, other than venting our frustrations (and doesn't that make all of us feel better??) are we really accomplishing anything?

I put a "pity party" facebook post up today.  I was really struggling this morning.  The list of reasons why is long and not really pertinent to the current task but lets just say that life isn't fair.  Right? 

When sharing my pity party on facebook what was my desired outcome?  Honestly, I wanted someone to tell me to hitch up my big girl panties and get on with it.  I wanted someone to say that they've been there and lived to tell the tale.  And several friends did.  Mission accomplished.

I wonder though, sometimes, what the world would be like if we were REAL all the time?  What would that take?  How would God use me if I didn't strictly control my world and others perception of it?

Good question.

I was asked to review a new book by Jamy Whitaker, Get Real: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask. 

This book is deep.  Jamy covers everything.  She starts by explaining why we put the mask on to begin with.  This part was painful for me.  First, I wanted to pretend I wasn't wearing a mask.  Second, if we allowed that I am "putting up a front" then why am I doing that???  Ok, I waded through my past and you probably should too.

Next, we explore why keeping the mask is wrong.  Hmmm.  I was kinda thinking about keeping mine.  I built it, I should be able to use it!  Right?  Wrong :(  So, we go through all the ways that God can't use you, can't use me, if we are wearing our mask.   I want to be used by God!  Isn't that why I'm here??? 

Now, we know we've got a mask; we know that we shouldn't be wearing it.  Jamy walks us through how this information can affect our lives.  How it should cause us to change. 

Like I said, it's deep.  In the back of the book are Bible study questions, making this perfect for a small group. 

As painful as it was, I'm glad that I've got this information, I'm glad that I've taken a good, hard look at myself and can see myself how God wants to see me.  Isn't that the best place to be?  I think so too.

You can check this book out at Amazon for $3.99 if you've got a kindle or $11.33 in paperback.  Or visit Jamy at