That’s my guy!

Just before we went on vacation, my dishwasher wouldn’t stop.  It just ran and ran and ran.  We knew that we needed to save our cash for vacation so we just decided to wait till we got home.  Well, vacation is expensive.  So when we got home we decided to wait a few weeks before buying a new machine.  (We had a repair man out.  He said it was fried.)  I think it has been about a month, maybe 5 weeks that we haven’t had a dishwasher.  I haven’t complained, out loud.  I know we need to make good financial choices.  But I’ve been so so sick of hand washing dishes.  I don’t feel like the kids can get them clean enough by hand so I’ve been doing it every time.   Last week Luke came home and told me that he’d bought me a new dishwasher and it would be delivered on Monday.  Best Buy messed up and we didn’t get it until today.  Then, he installed it for me and it works like a charm!  I’m so excited to be done doing dishes by hand. 

Just bragging a little

I love a good sale, but honestly I’m not really a great shopper.  I don’t comb the racks at Kohl’s and get things for $2.99 as often as I should.  But, I don’t ever pay full price and I always ask for an additional discount. 
I’m an Eddie Bauer “Gold” rewards member.  I know you are jealous but you too can achieve this status.  That isn’t a credit card, its a friends membership.  Basically it means we buy all our clothes at Eddie Bauer.  I shop at Old Navy some too.  ANYWAY, I got my member reward certificate in the mail today, it was worth $25.  I wanted something cute to wear out this weekend so I went over there really quick.  That is the main reason I shop at EB so much, it is about 2 miles away, if even that much.  They had some summer items at 75% off and the things already on clearance were an additional 50% off.  I was trying on a whole pile of things and the girl asked me if I wanted to try on some the the new fit jeans.  I told her no, that I was just shopping the sale and she said that if I tried them on she’d give me a $5 coupon I could use right away.  So I tried on jeans and they paid me $5!  (They are still running that special by the way.)  The jeans fit GREAT, I loved them.  But, at $70 a pair, I knew I had to wait.  Despite what I’m sure my husband believes I am not a big spender.  Ok, here is the good part.  When I got to the check out with my five items I asked the checker if they are still running the discount for teachers and students.  I told her I home school my four daughters and that I am a part time college student.  She proceeded to give me another 10% off.  So, all in all I paid $50 for five items at Eddie Bauer.  Based on their regular prices, that isn’t too bad!  This is what I got.

I have wanted this skirt all summer.  It was originally $60.  It is short and the bottom is frayed.  The top is lacy in the front.  It was originally $60.

I also waited all summer to buy this tank.  It’s original price was $40.  The jeans are carpenter style.  They were originally $60.

You can see the same jeans a little in this picture too.  This top was originally $50.  I  might get some skinny jeans and put a little belt with this.  It is pretty long.  IF I get brave.  I’m usually not extremely stylish.  That will take major bravery.
So that’s $270 full price, I paid $50!!! 
I think the sale will be going on at least through the weekend.  Perhaps you can go find yourself an awesome deal too. 
(I think they just put the full price on there to make you feel so good about paying what it is actually worth.)

1st day

Today was our first day of school.  It was a half day at best.  I remember now why I love teaching preschool.  Audrey was so pumped about every thing we were doing.  She approached every thing with such excitement.  Another thing I love about preschool, other than the child’s zest for learning, is that I know everything.  I don’t wonder what the answer was or if I can actually remember all the steps in the scientific method.  I’ve got preschool mastered.  So, I feel pretty good about that.  Also, I really love to color. That is a plus.

PG 13 Church Service

If you happen to be a Newspringer (www.newspring.org) then you already know what I’m talking about.  We’ve attended the same church for nearly 11 years.  No church is perfect and there have been times we wondered if we were in the right place.  But, now I know that we are. 
Last night’s message was not anything I think I’ve ever heard in church before.  Pastor Hoover has mentioned many of the same principles that he taught last night, but I don’t ever remember an entire message devoted to healthy sex in a committed marriage.  My 13 year old sat by my side through the whole message.  One mom took her young teenage son out of the room.  He was absolutely mortified.  We could totally tell what was going on by the looks on their faces.  It’s not like pastor was being explicit.  He was being frank.  The deal is, our kids get sex information in music, movies, books, TV, magazines, the internet, the mall… EVERYWHERE.  We aren’t going to shelter them from it.  It just isn’t going to happen.  So, I am thankful to be in a church where my daughters are going to learn, in the right setting & at the right time, what a beautiful and healthy part of a marriage sex can be.  She can also hear what a demoralizing, degrading and painful thing it can be out of the correct context.  With all the negative images and false messages that kids get everywhere else I’m glad my church will talk about what God has to say about the subject.  The funny thing is, Madelyn said it wasn’t even awkward.  Probably because I’ve been talking to her since she was a little girl.  Probably because she knows her parents are in love.  (Maybe that makes it awkward and she just didn’t say.)  She made an interesting observation for a child of her age.  She said as she looked around the auditorium she could see two types of couples.  Those with their arms crossed and those holding hands.  Guess which ones we were.   How’s that for a REAL blog post?

stop me if you’ve heard this one

So the mom comes in from church on Saturday night and throws together a relatively healthy meal for her family.  This happens only after the children moan and complain about the food choices each proclaiming their order.  The mother asks them if this looks like a restaurant.  The meal is prepared and put on paper plates, because the dishwasher is broken and after all it is Saturday night.  After every one begrudgingly eats their dinner they leave.  YUP!  That was the punch line.  They leave.  Did I mention the dishwasher is broken?  Yes a new one is on the way, it will be available on Tuesday.
So the mom starts washing the dishes that haven’t been done since the night before, probably because it didn’t occur to anyone else that all those dishes piled in the sink were dirty.  The dad, bless his heart, watches a youtube video at the table.  He is clearly oblivious to the fact that the mom is sweating buckets because of the steamy water billowing up around her face and that as soon as she is done with this task a basket full of unfolded laundry awaits along with a teenager who wants to be driven somewhere…who always wants to be driven somewhere.  She thinks what a sweet gesture it would be if he would dry the dishes that are piling over the dish drainer.  He doesn’t, but does give the four year old a bath, slightly redeeming himself. 
When the mom asks the daughters for help, one complains that she is too tired.  The next says it isn’t fair for her to have to help if the other is too tired. The last is no where to be found because she is getting ready for a sleep over.  MUST BE NICE.
Obviously this was my night.  So here is the issue.  I know I need to be kind and serve my family.  I know that serving my family is serving God because I am doing that which I was called to do.  I chose this place for myself.  I chose my role.  BUT on the other hand is it right for every one else in this family to get to do whatever they please whenever they please no matter that I am constantly doing a job, just got done with a job or about to do another job.  Sure one could say, the girls should have assigned chores.  We go through phases, usually during the school year they do.  But, no one has to tell ME to wash the dishes.  No one has to tell ME to pick up my laundry or put away MY things.  I just know.  Surely by the ripe old age of 9, 11, and 13 their eyes are developed enough to see that this house isn’t run by elves.
So…serve always with a loving heart and keep my mouth shut when my heart doesn’t feel so loving OR tell every one that they should open their little eyes and stop being so selfish? 
Maybe I’ll be too tired to make their next meal or too busy with what I want to do to drive them somewhere.
(In her own defense the eldest child finally noticed something was wrong and upon realizing her failure to help, apologized. But it was time to go so she still didn’t have to help)

A peek inside my classroom

I promise this isn’t going to be a home school blog.  It is just such a big part of my life, I’m sure there will have to be home school related posts.  I know everyone doesn’t have the opportunity to have a dedicated school room.  I am very blessed to have such.  When we were looking for our current home I wanted a formal living room, but not because I am formal.  I wanted a home school room that was in the heart of my home, on the main floor and where I would have access to every one while doing school.  I’ve found over the years that school in the basement just doesn’t work for us.  I try to move things around at the beginning of every school year and decorate differently than the year before. I’m really excited about how it has turned out. 

We do have a lot of posters this year.  I have grades K4, 4th, 6th and 8th so there are a variety of themes and ideas I wanted to represent.  One of the single most educational things I’ve done for my children regarding geography was simply putting maps on display.  Having them in a book is good, but having them visible all the time has really helped my girls with understanding the layout of the world and our country.  My table, chairs and rug are from IKEA.

One of these IKEA units is barely enough any more.  I’m hoping to get to an IKEA in September to pick up another.  All of my containers are from Target.  I love them.  I learned several years ago that I needed to stop giving each child her own box for crayons, pencils, scissors etc.  Something would always be missing because they want to use them at times other than school.  By having containers that every one uses I can keep a little better inventory of it.  I know we will have what we need when we need it.  Our time is precious and we just don’t have a minute to spare to look for a glue stick.  Also I stock up during back to school sales.  You really can save money that way.  I also have containers full of math manipulatives and science materials.  They are separated and ready to be used. All we have to do is reach in and get what we need.  No time needed to gather materials.  It helps that I use a virtual school for this because they send me all those materials ahead of time.  (www.maizevirtualprepschool.com) If you don’t virtual school, you could look at a month of science lessons and get all your nonperishable items in advance.  

In this corner I have another science crate, an art crate, paint box and base ten block box.  The drawers have art supplies as well.  All the plastic containers are from Target.  The cage is our classroom pet, a dwarf hamster named Rainbow Pancake.  I didn’t name it.  I happened to already have that display shelf along the top of this wall when we moved here.  I display their sculptures and anything they make that is breakable as well as a few keepsakes like my dad’s ribbons from the Air Force.  He gave them to me when he retired. LOVE!

Last one!  Not too exciting.  Audrey has a little table to work at.  One of the problems with home schooling is that we often put children in adult sized chairs then expect them to sit properly.  Well, I do any way.  So, Audrey has her own little spot.  She loves to do crafts here while I teach the older girls, but this year she will have her very own school work!  The poster here is a writing process chart that Madelyn and I put together.  Improved writing is my #1 goal with all three of my older girls this year.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour.  Home school moms don’t get an open house to show off their work.  So this helped me feel like a REAL teacher, even though I’ve really been teaching my kids for 8 years now!

Rockin’ the mom style

I have our class room all set up.  New posters on the walls.  Shelves cleared and waiting for books to arrive.  I am hoping to start next week.  Madelyn will be in the 8th grade, a virtual school honors program that I’m really excited about. Emma will be in the 6th grade, we still don’t have her books.  I think they will come tomorrow.  Gloria will be a fourth grader.  We’ve got her stuff already.  Last, little Audrey will be in preschool.  I’d really love to have her reading by the end of the year.  This will be my only year to have all four at home.  It is my last year to homeschool Madelyn, even though I won’t be doing much with her because of the program she is in.  To commemorate the occasion of going back to school I provide a list of why even a homeschool mom would like back to school.

  • I’m a fairly organized person.  I like having a set schedule.  Summer is just a hodge podge of events with no rhyme or reason.
  • The kids go to bed between 8:00 and 9:00 in the school year.  Since the sun sets so late, the kids stay up so late.
  • Chores are organized.  For some reason I’m not very good at keeping the kids doing consistent chores over the summer.  
  • There is plenty to do.  By this point in the summer all I’m hearing is “I’m bored” and “I want to watch a movie.”  During the school year their time is filled with more important activities and real learning. 
  • School starting means fall will be here soon and this deadly heat will be over.
  • CYT will start their fall session and I LOVE CYT!  That means my kids will be busy and engaged.

So, I must go find my denim jumper* and keds!  Let another home school year begin.

*I will not actually be wearing a denim jumper, or keds.  Come on people lighten up!
You may want to check out www.cytwichita.org and http://maizevirtualprepschool.com/

Batman vs. Shakespeare

I’m torn about how I feel about the whole Batman thing.  I know you are thinking there’s nothing to be torn about.  What happened in CO was a tragedy, a senseless act of violence.  It was, I know that.  What I am torn about is the level of violence we’ve come to accept as a normal part of entertainment.  We’ve come to expect it, hardly notice the looks on the faces of the extras in the movie who run, or duck and cover.  We don’t even look at them, but those are the expressions made by real people when faced with the potential that their life might be taken by some psychos semiautomatic weapon.  I saw the new Batman flick, as far as that kind of movie goes, I guess it was good.  But I can’t even believe that I can say that.  The violence is disturbing.  The movie’s villain acts with the same kind of terrorism that unfortunately is a reality for too many people.  It seems like we hear about a shooting like this about once a year now. Maybe this is how the world has always been.  Maybe being a mother makes one hyper sensitive to such issues.  Or maybe we should honestly give some thought to what we are setting our selves up for as a nation.  What our grandparents and maybe even parents were appalled by is common place for us.  I fear that what is so disturbing to me will be the every day life of my children and grandchildren.
I’ve heard the arguments about how the violence in fairy tales, Shakespeare and even the Bible has been accepted for hundreds even thousands of years.  The argument is basically that those things didn’t cause people to be crazy anymore than our violence today is the cause.  I get that, I understand.  I just feel like our level of violence is more realistic.  We have the technology now that blurs the lines between what is real and what is not.
I’m not suggesting we all boycott the movie industry.  I’m simply suggesting, as I often do, that we stop acting like drones and stop doing what every one says is cool.  Just give your movie choices some thought.  How do they affect you or the person next to you?  How do they affect your children now, or in 10 years? Does that violence change the reactions of others?  How do you want your hard earned dollars spent?
Lastly, this isn’t to say you won’t find me at the Bourne movie or the next super hero flick that is released.  Don’t call me a hypocrite for doing something like that.  These are just my thoughts on the matter.  I’d love to hear yours.

Sex or Vampires

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be about who’s hotter, Edward or that other guy.  I just thought that title would draw you in.  Mwaaaahahaha.  Actually this post is about that, or more so not about that.  See, the problem is that my 13 year old is an avid reader.  She reads ALL the time.  She has gone way past reading “grade” level books.  So, now she is reading the works of Jane Austin, she loves classics. She’s read Little Women, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Hobbit, and King Arthur, just to name a few. We jokingly tell her that her books take up too much room and that we’d really like her to pick up another hobby such as watching TV or talking to boys.  (It’s a joke people! Of course she talks to boys, while I read every line of chat over her shoulder… kidding again!)
She really wants to read something written more recently, something more modern but recent literature, if you can call it that, has two main topics.  In her words, she wants to read something that isn’t about sex or vampires.   A friend of mine is a high school literature teacher at a local private Christian high school and gave me some recommendations.  I’d love to start compiling a list though.  I’m looking for quality literature the will help her think and understand the world. What would you add to this list?

To begin, my friend suggested:
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine H.
Lord of the Flies

Wigwam

I’ve lived most of my married/adult life without a consistent group of girl friends.  About a year ago a very dear friend invited me to join her Bible study.  The group is pretty private, very close and extremely funny.  When we are together we are either crying, or laughing and usually a combination of the two.  We spend hours deep in conversation and hours talking about pretty much nothing.  I feel so overwhelmingly blessed to be with this group of women.  So when I came home tonight after 3 and 1/2 hours at Bible study (the terrible part is we didn’t even talk about the homework that we were suppose to talk about) my husband asked what we talked about.  The only thing I could think to tell him was what one of my friends referred to as “the least funny joke of all time,”  just after another girl told it.  The best part is we were all in stitches laughing at how funny the teller thought it was.
So this lady goes to the doctor and says with extreme stress in her voice “I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam.”  The doctor replied “You need to relax, you are too tents.” 

Really though, what I want you to know is that Bible study, our Bible study, is one of the best things in my life.  Even if we don’t always talk about our study for that week (most of the time we do) it is definitely a source of strength.  I love what I learn, I love the girls, I love praying with these people.  Our Bible study quite literally saves lives. So maybe that is what I should have told my husband when I came home.   I hope you have a circle.