Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ten Thousand Reasons

This year J & I moved form serving in AWANA to serving with the youth.  We're leading a small group made of 4-5 frosh guys, 2 frosh gals & 2 junior gals.  I think we're really going to have a great year, with lots of challenges.  :)  I have to say that the LORD knows what J is good at & has given us a group tailored to his gifts.  I am so excited!!

During worship we sang Bless the Lord by Matt Redman.  I've sung it before, but last night it really hit me . . . 10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

Could I come up with 10,000 things??  Could my heart really do that??  How has the Lord blessed me?  How is He still blessing me?

Really, I have been focusing so much on the negative & the difficult challenges rather that focusing on Him & His goodness.  I need to take more time each day to mediate on Him & what He has done & is still doing.  He does command us in Phillipians 4:8-10 to think about what is excellent & praiseworthy, among other things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.And the God of peace will be with you.

So, keep an eye out.  I've started, but want to document it outside of the blog (scrapbooking).

Thursday, September 13, 2012


It's nothing new anymore . . . just Pinterest.

When people ask me where I found that idea or recipe & I reply Pinterest, I get the eye-roll.  Or the, "Oh, Pinterest." with the raised eyebrows.  Not many of my close friends use Pinterest.  Or they have an account, use it sporadically or not at all . . . anymore.

I've expanded my knowledge of quinoa & how to cook with it.  Need a slow cooker recipe?  How about something new for breakfast?  Try the pumpkin scones!

Even eating healthier has gotten easier.  I don't think I've had a bad recipe since I've started using Pinterest.  It's great because people only pin recipes they really like.  So when you're looking for something tasty AND healthy, you can find a pretty good selection.  I found this great way to make microwave popcorn without all the additives.

I love all the 'clean' cleaning tips!  Since S was born 4 years ago, I would get headaches from any strong cleaning product smell.  Now, I almost exclusively clean with a baking soda & dish soap paste.  It may take a little bit more elbow grease when I don't get the shower on a regular basis, but I don't get headaches.

I've started looking at stuff around our house in a different light.  For example, we have an old IKEA CD tower.  In the age of MP3's, we haven't put this tower to good use in at least 4 years.  So we flipped it!  It's a horizontal shelf above our desk.

It does have a down side - it's completely & totally addicting!  When I was first introduced to Pinterest about a year ago, I scrolled through pages & pages of . . . stuff.  After the kids when to bed, while I enjoyed my morning coffee, after lunch during the kids 'down time' - wow!  Thankfully, there is a limit to what is new.  Now I check for something new about once a week.

This does not include the times I hit up Pinterest for something I've all ready pinned.  That happens at least twice a week - usually for a recipe that I misplaced or for refreshing my memory for the number of cups of cooked quinoa 1 cup of dry makes.

Useful tool, absolutely.  Possible time waster, absolutely . . . did I let my kids play a little longer than usual after lunch, yes.

You got to have balance.  Like so many other things in our easily distracted lives.  But that's another topic for another day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Take a Profile Picture. Now!

I'm sure my issue isn't that uncommon.  Rings break.  And then they get fixed.

Just the tip of the prong broke off my ring.  Thankfully we didn't lose the stone.  So I sent is to get fixed.  No big deal.

If you've ever been without your wedding ring/engagement ring or both, you know how completely naked you feel!  Two weeks was almost unbearable.  Thankfully our amazing neighbor had a ring that fit my finger perfectly, just to settle my nerves.

My ring arrived about 4 days earlier than expected!  I was thrilled.  But the next morning it snagged on something.  As I went to carefully pluck out the fibers still stuck, the tip of the prong snapped in the same place!

I get it.  When something breaks, it will always be weak there even after the repair.  Even so, my emotions were on a complete roller coaster.

Later that afternoon, with the littles, braved the mall to return my ring. The gal there, who happens to be the manager, was very sweet & said that it would be taken care of.

Two weeks came & went.  So I called.  Turns out there was an administrative delay - paperwork was submitted to replace, not just the tip of the prong, but the whole head of the ring.  Fine, but maybe call next time.  My ring should be back Friday.

And it was!  I grabbed the littles, thrilled after being without my ring for 4 weeks now.  I looked at it, in the store, was so grateful to have it back, gathered up the littles & went home.  Arriving home, we whipped out some lunch, played & then went up for reading & naps.

As I sat reading to the kids, I noticed the profile of my ring wasn't the same.  The prongs were fatter & curved.  This was my ring, but it did not look like my ring.  Oh my goodness!!  I took it off my finger to look more carefully.  My eyes were not playing tricks on me.  In addition to the change of prongs, they were not straight and not placed in perfect 90 degree intervals.  What??  What jeweler does such crummy work??

That wasn't all.  They must have had to remove my wedding band to replace the "head" of the ring.  When they re-soldered the rings back together they didn't line up!  No wonder my ring was hard on & off.  I just thought it was the heat!  Devastation!

I called J.  I called everyone I could.  And no one was available.  Hours later I finally had the guts & emotional control to call the store.

We went to the store the next morning.  I was so nervous.  I don't like confrontation.

The store manager was so polite.  She re-explained that the head on my ring was no longer manufactured.  I get it.  BUT they should have either 1)  called to see if they could replace with what was on hand or 2)  just made some new prongs that matched mine.  Right?  I think so.

She said that they'd correct the way the prongs were placed & make them straight.  They would fix the soldering.  Because I don't like confrontation, I tend to compromise often.  So I compromised & said they could leave the head on.  But they wouldn't be able to have my ring back for our family photo next week.  I kept my ring & said I would bring it back to them after my photo.

I actually wore my not-my ring for the week.  It was nice to have the weight of it on my finger & see glimpses of it.  But every time I really looked at it & pondered it, I became convinced that the store needed to make it mine again.

After our photos, I made it clear they needed to make it right - make my ring look like my ring again.  Unfortunately, the sweet manager had a conference out of town and I was talking to one of the employees that was filled in on the situation.  He was just going to be a yes man.  But what really got me is that I pointed out that the slip describing the work required did not have anything specified about putting it back.  I literally pointed it out & he simply replied that we will do what we can to "get past your feeling" and that "Our shop is a AAA shop."  WHAT??  What did you just say???  Of course I would never say that out loud . . .

After re-stating several times what I wanted done with my ring & the employee continuing to say phrases along those same lines - about working to get past how I felt - I ended up just letting it go.  He's just an employee anyway.  I guess I'll have to wait another two weeks, when my ring comes back, to speak with the manager again.  I honestly hope I don't have too.

What really gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach is that JP, who is a near & dear friend, shared a very similar story.  After having her's sent back 3-4 times, she ended up taking it to a jeweler that was related to another near & dear friend, SP.  JP's ring was finally fixed, properly, with the jeweler commenting that whoever did the work prior to coming to him, was VERY POOR!!

I don't have any confidence that I'll ever have my ring back.

JP asked me if I had a photo of my ring.  I did!  I could take it somewhere if I came back again being not-my-ring.  Ugh . . . unfortunately it's from the top.  You can't see the profile & the prongs.

I found this photo a few days ago.  Only, the file size is too small to zoom in on the ring & see detail.  I just emailed our photographer, but I doubt she'd have our photos from 8 years ago.

 (I disliked those fake nails - they were a first & a last for me!  Writing was so awkward!)

So, ladies & gents, take profile photos of your ring(s).  Then put them somewhere safe.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Classical Education

I came across this book:

I don't remember who recommended it or if I just stumbled across it, but I found a copy at our library.  I've been holding onto it for about 3 weeks, completely overwhelmed by the size of it!  Usually non-fiction books that are over 2 inches in thickness get brought home & returned without being opened.

This one was opened.  I honestly wasn't sure what to expect.  Would it be full of slow, dull text with out practical methods, resources & advice?  Would the authors come across condescending?  Would I feel like a loser for not education my child in this fashion?

The answer to my questions was, "No!"  It was quite readable & enjoyable.  The authors nailed this well-written guide.  They put me at ease with their own homeschool experiences.  They satisfied my questioning such an 'old & outdated educational philosophy' with a re-introduction to how children's mind think & the progression they make as they grow.  They built on that foundation, explaining how a classical education's practice matches the way a growing child processes information.

What I did not expect were the examples of how to teach your own child using a classical education.  In addition the amazing lists of resources.  The writers empowered me & excited me for teaching my children!  Fabulous book to read if you ever get the chance!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Madeline: A Lapbook

The last two weeks we have been 'rowing'* Madeline.  If you're not familiar with Five In A Row (FIAR), you read a book each day for five days and complete learning activities.  This is our first year with FIAR & our first year creating lapbooks.  A lapbook is (taken from web):
An educational method that involves (usually younger) homeschoolers making "mini-books" about what they are learning. It provides space for drawings, writings, timelines, pictures, graphs, or stories on any topic of current study, and is designed to fit on a child's lap.
Over the past year, I had been looking for more unique, creative & fun ways to homeschool my littles.  I read blogs, peeked on Pinterest, visited many curriculum sites & consulted with other homeschooling Mommas.  Lapbooking is the one that I thought & prayed about continually.  It wasn't too expensive.  The kids could regularly use scissors, markers, paint, glue, hole punches & more.  So it was decided.

As I started bookmarking sites & pinning ideas, I kept running across common books, like Madeline, The Story of Ping & more.  It triggered something a fellow homeschooling mom had told me about, FIAR.  FIAR is a curriculum, or rather unit plans for 70 books over 4 volumes!  That really appealed to me.  I'm not a huge fan of lesson planning.  So, having suggested activities & discussion points for books . . . it was just what I was looking for!  I have more to say about lesson planning & prepping for lapbooking, but I'll save that for another day.

Here are La & AMP's Madeline Lapbooks:

I have the kids print/sign their names to the covers & date them.  I have a basket in the living room where they will place their completed lapbooks.  The love showing their work to guests & grandparents.  After this school year, or when my basket starts overflowing, I'll relocate the lapbooks to my filing system.

La begs & pleads to do school - every day!  Even after I've been up all night with a croupy twin or have 20 lbs. of tomatoes to process, she's at my feet begging to do school.  This year she is so proud to be working right along side her big brother & I love having her there!  She is so much fun to teach . . . unless she's having a "like Momma" day.  She can be stubborn . . . like me, and only want to do things on her own terms.  Definitely something to improve upon over her years at the Academy for the Absent Minded & Seriously Silly.

 La does everything AMP does in our lapbooks, but often in a slightly different way.  For example, I write titles, verses, lists & passages out & she traces them.  In math for Madeline, we talked about symmetry.  She  could grasp it enough to classify pictures into symmetrical & asymmetrical piles.  But she struggled with completing shapes to make them symmetrical.

AMP, on the other hand, grasped the concept of symmetrical & quickly completed the other sides.  He then went a step further & turned his symmetry cards into common objects.  The upper left to right:  a package that arrived in the mail, a face, the Red Cross logo.  Lower left to right:  pizza, a heart --> AMP ♥ MOM, and last but not least, an oyster cracker.  I love his creativity.

I am in awe of how proud La is of her work!

In addition to our symmetry discussions, we had handwriting using a passage from Madeline, we rhymed, looked at the major organs in the body so we could learn what an appendix is, discussed the importance of & proper hand washing and ordering from largest to smallest (and the smallest one was Madeline).

AMP loves to cut.  We used to have a box of scrap paper that I would let the older two cut.  That turned into a confetti mess at least twice a week.  Much to their disappointment, I put it all away after Christmas.

Scissor Ninja, AMP.  He often will say, "Thanks for not having us do workbooks all the time."  ♥

We spent 2 afternoons exploring France.  We read a few books from the library about France & found a video to watch.  We all loved it!!  Afterwards, we made a flap book about where France is, another with the flag of France & a third book containing facts about France.  The little Tour of France book with the bow was fun!  It includes real printed photos of famous places in France that can be seen in the illustrations in Madeline -- such as Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, 

AMP is pointing to his favorite part - the maze.  He loves mazes so much that the tooth fairy brought him a book of mazes instead of money.

There is a line in Madeline, "They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad."  So I brought in some scripture - Philipians 4:8-9.  We discussed it - specifically identifying good things to think about.  And that when something goes wrong, we should find the good & be thankful for it.  We also read Colossians 3:12 & 1 Peter 3:10.  

If you're interested in making a Madeline book like ours, you can find 100% of these mini-books & such at HomeschoolShare in FIAR Resources Volume One.  Here if you have problems locating it.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmanns
France by Rachel Grack
Eiffel Tower by AV^2 - Virtual Field Trip
The Human Body by Sonja Black (not available on Amazon - our library had it)
Nature Math by Penny Dowdy
Patterns Outside by Daniel Nunn
Video: France - Countries Around the World (not available on Amazon - found at our library.  Amazon does have the Activity Packet for the video series.)

* rowing - to study by reading a book each day for 5 days via FIAR & other fun learning activities that you                                        can create!

Some credit on the photos go directly to AMP & La.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A & B Scrabook Pages

I'm trying to get caught up on some important moments in our life.  First to tackle was the birth of the twins. I always want to get it down on paper so I don't forget.

 Credits for all 3:  Sahlin Studio - I'll Love You Forever

It's been so enjoyable to get these completed.  And so bittersweet.  We're pretty sure they'll be our last babes.  Lots of tears shed while working on them.

As I post this, I hear my littles through the baby monitor.  They're upstairs playing school.  A&B are only 2, but AMP & La are working on addition with them.

La:  What's 1 + 2?
B:  uh?
La:  It's three.
B:  Tree?
La:  Yes, three.
B:  Tree.

LOVE them!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


J is going to be gone for a few days.  He asked months ago to attend a workshop on design that will be held across the state.  I know how useful this information will be to him, so I gladly gave him my blessing.  He will be gone for 2 nights, 2 days, but 3 bedtimes.

The day has arrived for Him to depart.  It really snuck up on us.  I didn't start prepping the kids for his absence like I normally do.  I really hit us last night.  Now he has just over 3 hours before leaving.  I'm pretty sure he's napping with the kids right now.

And the worst is that I'm mourning or anxious or something . . . I can't quite put my finger on it.  I know I'll be fine while he is away.  I know that God is more than able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine.

But my chest is tight - if feels like both twins are sitting on me.  And I want to cry.

We're not apart over nights . . . like hardly ever.  The last time was while I was crafting at a weekend retreat with the gals.  I can handle that, even though it is hard to say goodbye.

And before that, a few other crafting retreats . . .

At least he's not flying to New York again & gone fore 5 days.  That was hard.

I don't sleep well when he's not here.  Or . . . really I don't fall asleep well.  My strategy has become to read or watch TV until I fall asleep in the process.  I can't just turn off the lights & lay down.  My mind starts racing then.  I noodle.  The "what ifs" zoom around in my brain until I'm planning on how I will be able to keep homeschooling our 4 while being a single parent.  It's awful.

So, if you think of it, pray for me.  For my almost overwhelming anxiety over J's absence.