Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas, really?

It seems that lately I haven't been able to find any words for this little blog of mine.  Not that there haven't been things to blog about, there are plenty of things I want to share.  But, it seems that each time I sit down, fingers poised over the keyboard, my mind goes blank and the words just won't transfer from my brain to my fingers.  It makes me sad to think of all the things that I wanted to write about that I have missed ... kids' birthdays, school struggles and triumphs, LB's first play, JW's leading role in the Christmas musical, and the list goes on ... 

So, what is it that has finally prompted me to actually force the words from my brain to the screen?  I suppose it could be coming to the end of another year and looking forward to a new one ... that always makes me a bit reflective.  I don't really know the answer, but maybe I'll be able to find my way out of this blogging slump since I really do miss sharing regularly.

This has been the most un-Christmas like Christmas ever for our family.  We almost didn't even put up a tree and we didn't get out any of our decorations except for the Nativity scene that LB insisted we couldn't have Christmas without.  We did finally buy a very small tree less than a week before Christmas and decorate it with the new ornaments that we have received this year.  We jokingly called it our Charlie Brown tree.  I didn't even begin shopping until the week before Christmas and even then we basically only shopped for the kids.

We didn't plan for this to be an unusually small Christmas, but then things don't always go as we have planned, now do they?  I said several times that I couldn't figure out how we got from Dec. 1st to the 15th without my noticing the passing of time, but we did.  During the first half of this month, all three kids were in a production with our home school group.  LB was in her first play and the boys were in a Christmas musical.  

The following week, it became clear that Ronnie's grandmother would likely not live until Christmas, so he made a flying trip to the coast to see her.  He had only been home a few hours when the news came that she had passed away and we began making preparations to return to the coast for the funeral.  Her life should have a blog-post all its own, but I'll simply say that she lived all of her 96 years well and that her family is a testimony to her love for the Lord and her willingness to serve Him.

Ronnie, LB and I returned home on Sunday (leaving the boys with Ronnie's Mom) to try to get the house ready for his Mom to come stay with us for Christmas.  Again, this could be a post all its own, but suffice it to say that I have been reminded, in a very clear way, that I really need to get a better handle on keeping my home clean and organized.  A new continued project from years past, that I will take into 2013 ... maybe this will be the year I succeed!

So, Granny and the boys arrive on Wednesday (as in the 19th) and with her help we got the shopping done ... in other words, she kept the kids while I shopped.  It is a good thing that we basically finished on Friday, since she and Ronnie spent Saturday in the ER finding out that he had cellulitis (an infection under the skin) and not a blood clot in his leg.  We were supposed to spend Saturday with my family, but LB was sick and Ronnie was in the ER so I stayed home.  The boys did go, though they shouldn't have since they were both sick before the weekend was over.

And that brings us to another first for us, (we've never before NOT put out any of our normal decorations) all three kids were sick on Christmas.  JW was the most miserable, though they were all coughing, sneezing, and running low grade temps.  He was so miserable that he had to force himself to open his gifts and then he just set them aside took to the couch.  They have felt so bad that they didn't leave the house for a full week and when we finally ventured out today, they kept asking if they could please go home!

So, why all this talk of the Christmas that almost didn't come?  Because it has caused me to reflect on what Christmas really means to me.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I know the true meaning of Christmas, but what I am questioning is the place that Christmas has in MY heart.  Does worshiping my Savior come somewhere behind all the traditions that have always been important to me?  This year, with everything stripped bare, I have been able to see more clearly the things that need to change ... not in how I decorate or in how many presents I buy, but in my heart.

There was a song in our Christmas musical this year called What Christmas Really Means and it sums up how I have been feeling much better than any words I can come up with.  I wish that I could find it for you to listen to, but the printed words will have to suffice.  It is kind of long, but oh, so worth it.

We're invited to the sacred manger
where Glory sleeps upon the hay,
to bow in wonder at the myst'ry
of all that is fulfilled this day.
Oh hallelujah!  Where there was darkness,
now heaven's Light has intervened.
A child is born and we watch breathless
to see what Christmas really means.

We're invited to relive the journey
from Bethlehem to Calvary.
The Lamb will lead us to the hillside
where ev'ry willing soul is freed.
Oh hallelujah! He dies to save us,
and we fall silent at the scene.
Oh, pierce our hearts to feel the sorrow.
This is what Christmas really means.

We're invited to the tomb, now empty
for dawn has come and hope is here.
The curse is swallowed up in vict'ry,
and there is nothing left to fear.
Oh hallelujah! Jesus has risen.
Come sing the song of the redeemed
as we proclaim to men and angels,
behold what Christmas really means.

Oh hallelujah! We'll shout forever.
Love's final chapter is complete.
And He will reign and we will worship.
Oh hallelujah to the King.

As I contemplate the end of another year, I want to begin 2013 with an attitude of worship ... not because the calendar tells me that some day has been set aside to recognize what my Savior has done for me, but because Jesus lives in my heart and that is the only reason I should need.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

daybook ... once in a blue moon

Have you ever wondered what that saying actually means?  Well, thanks to a question from one of my kids not long ago, I looked it up.  Of course, there is more than one answer to the question, but the most widely accepted answer is that a blue moon occurs when there are two full moons within a single calendar month.  Sounds good to me ... 

Now that you have been armed with a dose of useless information ... how about a little glimpse into my day.

October 2, 2012

Outside my window...
Yesterday's rain is gone and the sun is shining...the cooler temps are still hanging around, giving a decidedly fall feel to the air.  Ain't it grand?!

I am thinking...
about all that needs to get done today and about some things I need to order for school.

I am thankful...
for the cooler weather and for the way God provides the things we need.

In the kitchen...
I have a pork loin sitting on the counter waiting to be cooked ... just trying to decide how to cook it.

I am wearing...
sweats and a t-shirt

I am creating...
a trivet for some friends who are getting married soon ... actually, this one is for a joke and made at my husband's request ... since the bride is an Ole Miss fan and the groom a State fan, I have crocheted two pot holders, one blue and red and the other maroon and white ... I will stitch the two together and let them decide which one wins out.

I am going...
to stay home today and hopefully get some laundry and other housework done.

I am wondering...
if I'll ever get used to having to tell my kids that there are questions that I just don't know the answers to.  It is so hard to realize that we can't fix everything for our kids and somethings they will just have to struggle through.

I am reading...
Heart of the Wilderness by Janette Oke  and  the book of Proverbs

I am hoping...
that LB isn't disappointed with the ribbons she is awarded for her fair entries ... she is especially concerned about her wreath, since it was her favorite entry and she worked so hard on it.

I am looking forward to...
going to the fair on Thursday and seeing our projects displayed.

I am learning...
to trust God even more each day as I recognize the things in my life over which I have absolutely no control.

Around the house...
the housework was neglected last week as we completed fair projects and then had an extremely busy weekend, so I need to catch up this week.

I am pondering...
Proverbs chapter 2 ... there is much to ponder in those verses

A favorite quote for today...
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

One of my favorite things...
quiet evenings at home with the family.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
going to the MS State Fair on Thursday to see our craft projects, going back on Saturday to work in the booth for Operation Christmas Child and hopefully spending much of the rest of the week at home.

A peek into my day...
D doing mazes on my bed ... waiting patiently on me to do his phonics lesson

the potholders commissioned by Ronnie
that will soon be sewn together to make a trivet

I hope you enjoyed your little glimpse into my day ... if you want to take a similar look into the lives of other bloggers, visit  The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

i can't believe we pulled it off ...

On Monday, September 17, 2012, Ronnie and I officially became the parents of a teenager. 

To celebrate this milestone, I hatched the idea of a surprise party.  Now, I am not sure what put the idea into my head, but since my sweet little girl is such a "Nosy Nellie" I knew that it would be fun to plan something behind her back.  

And, plan we did!  

One of the hardest parts of the planning was knowing exactly which girls to invite.  Though I didn't think about it at first, I ended up inviting eight girls and only seven could come, which turned out to be perfect since the party would be at our church and our tables seat eight.  I knew that LB would want to invite our entire home school group, not to mention all the other girls that she knows from church and dance, but that was just impractical, so I had to make the decision on my own.  

For the party theme, I chose "Pinterest" ... LB is somewhat obsessed with the site and many times has hi-jacked my account and pinned tons of things to her own boards.  As a side note, she has been begging her Daddy and me to let her get her own facebook and pinterest accounts, but we haven't given in on those ... yet.  Anyway, back to the party ... I chose to make recipes and crafts for the girls from things that LB and I have found on Pinterest.  This is the other part of the surprise that I was worried that LB would wish she could have been in on.  It was fun for me, but several times I wished that I could ask her opinion on something without arousing suspicion. 

I chose two craft projects for the party ... button bracelets

and glass magnets

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the girls and their crafts on my phone and I can't find the cord to put the pictures from my camera on the computer, so you'll just have to take my word for the fact that they were cute.  I did mess up a little on the glass magnets by not buying the right kind of glue.  I used my home made mod podge to make the sample and it worked fine, but I took my time and held the paper in place on the glass until it dried enough, but I forgot to tell the girls to do that, so some of theirs didn't stay glued very well.

For the food, LB had asked for a Kit-Kat cake that I had found on Pinterest several months ago and made for a friend, so that was an easy choice.  Then we had chocolate dipped pretzel rods and grapes dipped in caramel and crushed peanuts.  I had also planned to dip oreos in white chocolate and sprinkles, but we ran out of time.  We did have some, non-Pinterest inspired food, like little smokies and ham sandwiches, but those are hardly worth mentioning ...
The cake ... marbled chocolate and yellow cake, iced with white icing
and then surrounded by KitKats to make a bowl in the middle for mini M&M's.
The candles are another pinterest find...
cheap candles with colorful sequins glued on them.  Fun, huh?

The girls and the pretzel rods ... I dipped them in chocolate but the girls
drizzled the white chocolate and had a GREAT time doing it!
What was left after the girls (and my boys) finished eating

Of course, you can't have a surprise party without some planning and even a little fibbing to the surprisee ... and this is the part of the party that I couldn't have pulled off without my parents.  LB spent the night before the party at their house and then spent the day with them on Friday.  It was a good thing that I didn't have to see LB on the day of the party because I am a terrible liar ... as in even a small child can tell if I am not telling the truth!  Fortunately, my Mama is better than me and LB had no idea that they weren't really coming to the church to pick us up to go out to eat for her birthday.  The girls were hiding in the closet in the kitchen and LB was truly shocked when they came piling out yelling surprise!  I only wish I had a picture of the look on her face, but I was videoing and it is stuck in my camera with the rest of the pictures :(

LB and her guests ... she still looks a little surprised and overwhelmed here.

I am thrilled that we were able to pull of the surprise and even more thrilled that LB and her friends had such a good time at her party.  Though we usually blame the noise in our house on the boys, I will tell you that 8 pre-teen and teen girls can make A LOT of noise!  But, I can handle the noise for one night knowing that she really did have a happy birthday!

How we celebrated the actual day ... JW made LB muffins for breakfast!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

busy, busy, busy

This summer has been crazy busy for us but it has been a good kind of busy.  I doubt that any of you really want a play-by-play of our summer, but this is also my journal (of sorts) so please indulge me a little.

To get the summer started, Ronnie and I took a trip (sans kids!) for our 15th wedding anniversary.  One of these days I really should post about that, but today is not that day.

Last week, our church was in Vacation Bible School and it was a great week.  I don't think I will voluntarily repeat teaching preschool, but it was a good experience and I think I can now say that I have taught every age group in the church (not all in VBS, but including Sunday School as well) except Senior Adults.  According to my kids, the only problem with VBS was that it isn't long enough. I did enjoy the week, but I must say that I am truly glad that it is only one week!

Ronnie and I have also undertaken a major overhaul of our bedroom this summer.  Our room is the "junk/storage room" of the house and quite frankly, I am tired of it!  So, Ronnie took off Thursday and Friday after July 4th and we went to work.  We haven't finished all that we want to do, but we did get rid of more junk than I care to admit, not to mention several bags of kids' clothes and even a bag of my own clothes that are (thankfully) too big for me now!  We still need to rearrange the room, but  I am loving all the space we have since we got rid of the piles of junk!

The thing that has kept me the busiest this summer is the garden.  My Daddy planted more than 100 tomato plants and somewhere around 30 squash plants.  So far, we have put up more than 60 quarts of squash - most of it canned - and I have two drawers full waiting for me to can tomorrow.  The tomatoes have been a bit scraggly ... it was hot early, with no rain, but we'll take what we can get.  Normally we would can the tomatoes in a concoction that we lovingly call tomato relish, though, in reality it is what most people would call soup stock.  The tomatoes are peeled and diced and then we add bell pepper, celery, and onion and simmer the mixture before packing it in jars and then pressure canning the final product.  This stuff is wonderful ... I use it for spaghetti, chili, soups, and in most any other recipe where I would use canned tomatoes.  I absolutely love not having to buy store bought tomatoes with all of their questionable ingredients.  Our unusually busy summer has kept us from being able to actually can any tomatoes yet.  So far, we have just been peeling and cutting up the tomatoes and then freezing them in gallon bags until we have time to do the whole process of canning our relish.  At last count, we had somewhere around 30 gallon bags waiting for us to get our act together ... hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Oh, and I also have three cucumber plants that are late getting going (the first ones died and we had to re-plant) so hopefully I will be putting up pickles very, very soon!

Our busy summer has kept us from getting as much school work done as I would have liked, but I am just going to call it home-ec and let it go.  LB has learned the process for canning both squash and tomatoes and the boys have both spent a fair amount of time in the garden with my Daddy.  We have done a little math along with the older kids and I've worked with D on his reading, but we haven't had much organized book-work.  I am enjoying the break though, and soon, I'll begin working on our schedule for the new year ... it will be here before we know it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a new appreciation

It is VBS week ... and, through no fault of my own, I am teaching preschool this year.

I tried to get out of teaching all together ... I signed up to help with the food - which, at our church, is a full meal each night.  (Tonight is spaghetti night ... yummy!)  I was thrilled...I'd get to do something totally different and then, once the work in the kitchen was finished, I could float around and help in other classes or take pictures, or maybe even go to the adult class.

But, God had other plans.

One of the first teachers to sign up this year was a lady to work with the preschool class, but a few weeks ago she called Ronnie to tell him that she was going to have to be out of town this week for work and wouldn't be able to teach.  So we began to look for another teacher, to no avail.  One of the perils of being married to the VBS director is that sometimes you get appointed to do something whether you want to or not.

Please don't get me wrong, I love preschoolers!  But the last time I taught a preschool class younger than kindergarten, I didn't have any children!  I have a hard time figuring out how to relate to small children and this week has been especially challenging because the kids in my class range from one who just turned three to one who is almost six.

Now, lest you think I am just posting this as a reason to complain, let me get to the real point of this post.

I am often guilty of lamenting how fast my children have grown and how much I miss all those stages that we have flown through over the last 12 years.  Now it is confession time.

After three nights ...
of taking kids to the bathroom ...
and trying to understand what they are saying ...
and trying to show them how to use a glue stick ...
and trying to get them to listen for more than 30 seconds at a time ...
and trying to remember to only give one instruction at a time ...
and the list could go on and on ... 
my eyes have been opened.

I have a whole new appreciation for the ages and stages we have reached with the kids.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

America, the Beautiful

We sang this song in church this morning and in light of the political mess in our nation right now, I found that the words touched me even more than they normally do.  I have no big speech to go along with this, just a healthy dose of patriotism to go with the knowledge that those of us who are Christians had better put 2 Chronicles 7:14 in practice, before this song is a thing of the past.

Listen closely to the second verse ... it gives me chills every time I sing it.

America, the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness, 
And ev'ry gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees, beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

crochet projects galore

I have been in crochet mode lately.

A friend asked me the other day when I find time to crochet.  The truth is that it is hard to find time to just crochet, but since crocheting is so relaxing for me, I use it as a tool to help keep calm during high stress activities like listening to my kids read or playing Rook.

You think I'm kidding, don't you?

I'm not.  Really!

All jokes aside,  I thought I would share some of the things I've been working on lately.

First up are the dishcloths.  Most of these will probably end up as gifts, though I may save a few for my own use.  Some of them are actually thick enough to use as a hot pad or trivet.

These two are simply granny square dishcloths with a pretty edging.
The pattern came from a dishcloth pattern book I found at Walmart.
The original pattern called for dark blue, white, and yellow, but I like this
sunny variation as well.
This is my new favorite pattern and I absolutely love this color,
though it won't work well as a dishcloth because the color fades too easily.
It actually dyed my fingers as I worked with the yarn!  I do love how
it turned out, though, so I plan to use it as a trivet. 
I was playing around with stripes on this one and I think it turned out cute.
The little round thing is made out of Scrubbie yarn,
which is kind of like a rough ribbon.
I have only found it at Michael's and it was pretty expensive,
so I won't be doing it often.
This is the new pattern in the same sunny colors as the granny squares.
I thought that these three together would make a nice wedding gift.

 The other thing I have been busy making lately is scrunchies.  I have been making these for awhile and I think I have probably blogged about them before, but since I have learned more about crocheting, I have added to the patterns I use for these and have even come up with a couple of patterns of my own.  I also decided (since my hubby asked) to see how many I could get from one ball of yarn.  My test is a little imprecise because I didn't make them all by the same pattern, but the answer is nine and a half (you'll see what I mean by that in the pics).

This is the first scrunchie pattern I learned ... it is simply single crochets around a
pony-tail holder and then chains and single crochets.
This was the first pattern I came up with myself.  It is simply treble crochets
around the pony tail holder.  These are probably the fastest ones to make.
A sampling of the ones I've done ... the one in the bottom right corner is another
one I came up with ... double crochets for the first round and then scallops for the
second round.  You can't tell it here, but it looks kind of like a flower.
Here are all the scrunchies made from the single ball of yarn.  The little ball of
yarn on the bottom is all I had left when I finished.
Most of these scrunchies will probably end up in shoe boxes.  LB has already claimed one and she likes to give them to her friends, but my intention is to use them for our church's shoe box packing party.  And since I can get approximately 10 scrunchies out of one ball of yarn and the yarn costs around $2 a ball and I got a 10 pack of pony tail holders from Target for $1, this is a pretty cost effective item for the boxes.  My only advice for someone planning to make these is to use the brand name pony tail holders - the cheap ones break too easily.  I also advise using 100% cotton yarn.  I've tried other types and they just don't look right.

Finally, here are a couple other projects I have done lately.

This isn't the best picture, but I made this little teacup and saucer
for Mama for Mother's Day .  To be honest, I can't remember where  I
found this pattern, but I hope I can find it again!  I would like to do one in
Christmas colors to enter in the fair.

I found this sweet little granny square heart on Pinterest the other day
and it was so much fun to make ... not to mention the fact that it was
incredibly easy!  I did change the original pattern a little, it had
 a picot stitch for the edging, but they aren't my favorite,
so I used scallops instead.
One other project I have made recently was a granny square water bottle cozy.  My friend Donna needed a little help with the pattern, so I made one with her.  I don't have a picture, but Donna has one on her blog, along with a link to the pattern, if you are interested.

I do have some other things I want to try ... like an interesting pattern I found on the same site that one of my dishcloth patterns came from ... her blog post is titled You Can Crochet with Sheets!  Sound like fun, huh?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I don't have much to say tonight, 
except that we are almost done.

When Sunday morning rolls around we will have finished another year of both baseball and dance.

D had his baseball party tonight at the 
Mississippi Braves game.

JW has his last game on Friday and 
his party on Saturday afternoon.

LB has her eighth dance recital on 
Saturday night.

That leaves only one thing to say ...


Friday, May 25, 2012

maybe the best answer would be an invitation ...

The subject of this post is one that I usually avoid, but it deals with a question that every home-educating family has heard over and over again, and quite frankly, I am sick of it.

If you home school, I don't need to tell you what I am talking about.

If you don't home school, then you need to know that this question is a little like fingernails on a chalkboard to families who do home school.

Now, I don't normally sit around thinking about how to answer this question, but a fellow home educating mom shared something this week on Facebook that got me started wondering if the way I respond is the best way.  I started thinking that it is possible that the better way to respond would be to offer an invitation, but before I tackle that aspect of this topic, I want to start with how I want to respond to the way this question is typically posed in the media.

The next time someone asks me if I am worried about my children's socialization, this is the response I hope to be brave enough to give them: "Absolutely, that is one of the main reasons I home school."

If you don't understand what I mean by that response, spend a little time researching exactly what socialization means and I think you'll get it.

Now that I've got the annoyed response out of the way, let me share how this conversation normally goes.  Most new people I meet seem to be worried about my kids having adequate opportunities to develop their social skills, but they ask the question with a little more tact.  It usually goes something like this: "Are you part of a home school group or co-op or something?"   The first few times this happened, I really didn't think much of it.  At the beginning of this journey, I honestly didn't know how to answer the question ... and back then, I didn't even understand the difference between socialization and developing social skills.  Now, several years and three kids into our home-schooling adventure, I think I have been asked some version of this question by every (non-homeschooling)  person I have met since we started.  For the most part, it really doesn't bother me, but once in a while I come across something so outrageous that I can't help but wish I had a better answer for those random people (like a lady who quizzed me for several minutes in Walmart one time) that feel the need to check up on my kids social skills.  And now, thanks to the most ridiculous blog post about homeschooling that I have ever read, I think I have finally found my answer.

A friend on Facebook brought to my (and other home-educators) attention a blog post entitled More Like Homecrueling written by a young woman in upstate New York.  The best I can tell, this girl isn't married and doesn't have any children, but she has come across a few home schoolers in her life and based on these 3 or 4 individuals, she has formed the opinion that home schooled children are all socially awkward recluses sitting in their homes pining away to join the normal kids on the school bus as it passes by their home every morning.  I don't feel the need to address the absolute absurdity, not to mention, narrow-mindedness, of her opinion, but after reading the 300+ comments on the post, I must admit that she obviously touched a nerve ... and not just among home schooling families.  It really shouldn't surprise anyone that such a derogatory opinion put forth in such an inflammatory way might ruffle a few feathers, but I was shocked at the number of comments and the many issues surrounding home education on which they touched.  I won't go into all of that here, let me just say that the discussion became a spring board for what I am about to share.

In the future, perhaps I should answer questions about our home schooling with an invitation.  Maybe I could word it this way.

If you are interested in knowing anything about my kids, let me invite you to get to know them.  Talk to my children ... don't quiz them on whether or not they would rather be in public school, or if it is hard to have their Mama teach them all the time.  Just get to know them.  Ask them about their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, and what they like to read or the games they like to play.  Come with us to little league games and dance recitals and see them interact with their friends (most of whom attend public school).  If you still aren't satisfied, come visit our church and witness first-hand their relationships there, both with other children and with the adults that they easily communicate with on a regular basis.  

Still unsure?  Here's one final option ...

Join our family at one of our home school group meetings and just observe the kids.  You might be surprised to find a group of kids from all types of backgrounds ... some are rich, some are poor, most are probably in the middle.  The reasons why these families have chosen to home educate their children are as varied as the children themselves.  If you view us with an open mind, you will find that very few of us are operating under the belief that our children are perfect, or that the education that we are providing for those kids is perfect.  Most of us have many fears about our own abilities, but we move forward in faith that God is going to honor our efforts.  And, contrary to what seems to be a popular opinion, most of us don't think that we are better parents simply because we home school our kids.  We don't look down on the parents of children in public school, and, while some home schoolers are definitely over-achievers, most of us are parents of normal kids going about normal lives, with this one exception - we choose to be fully responsible for our children's education.

I feel quite certain that I will never deliver this little speech anywhere but here, but it feels good just to get it out of my head.  After having read almost all of the comments on the blog post mentioned above, the one comment that was repeated several times and that made me want to respond most vehemently, was the idea that because I don't hold a degree in every subject that I will need to teach my children, I am obviously unqualified.  Since I didn't care to add to the craziness on the blog (and since the author was obviously uninterested in hearing any point of view that opposed her own), I'll tell you what I think about that here.  While it is true that I am not an expert in much of anything, I am passionate about my children learning what they need to know and I am fully aware that the responsibility sits squarely on my shoulders.  I cannot tell you right now exactly how I will handle advanced math and science classes for my children because we haven't reached that level yet, but I can tell you that I firmly believe that if I instill a solid work ethic (which we are still working on) and a love of learning in my children then they will have the tools they need to learn any subject.

This just might be one of the longest posts I have ever written for this blog, which probably tells you how very passionate I am about the subject at hand.  And, while the attitudes of others may not affect my ability to educate my kids, no one likes to be stereotyped for any reason.  Somehow, I don't think the author, or those commenting so strongly against home schooling on that other blog, would like to have the choices they make for their children (if they even have them) scrutinized and declared cruel or unacceptable, especially by those who know absolutely nothing about the life they lead.  Who would?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

baseball blues ... ranting just a little

It is that time of year again ... the yard needs cutting and the flowers are blooming and ...

    the baseballs are flying. 

Baseball is the only sport my boys play and I dearly love to watch them play, but I have a terrible tendency to get a little too involved in the game and if I am not careful, my boys just might get a little embarrassed by my ... ahem, enthusiasm.

Don't get me wrong, I really don't care if their teams win or lose.  I want them to play their best and I want them to learn good sportsmanship and I want them to give 100 percent all the time.  Most of all, I really want them to enjoy playing the game.

There are a few things that really, really bother me, though.  Some about the boys themselves, but more about the adults involved in the game.

The one thing that bothers me about the boys is when they don't seem to be paying attention to the game.  Case in point, my littlest one was playing in the grass instead of paying attention to what was going on around him last night.  Yes, I know he is only six years old and I had to keep reminding myself of that fact while trying to resist the urge to remind him of what he's supposed to be doing. 

Anything the boys might do to get my feathers ruffled would be mild compared to my two biggest complaints about playing rec league ball.  One is coaches who get way too uptight about the game and the other is umpires who can't or won't be consistent in their calls.

Twice in the last two weeks, JW's team has played teams from other cities that aren't regular league teams ... these teams are select tournament teams that are just using these unsuspecting league teams for practice.  That in itself wouldn't be so bad except that the coaches for these teams are incredibly intense and they are quite adept at intimidating and frustrating our players by questioning calls and trash talking to their players while ours are listening.  The point is, that I don't mind losing to a superior team, if they would just let the boys play ball, but when a grown man makes it his aim to get young boys upset just so his team can win, it hacks me off.

I have to hand it to JW's coach, though.  Last night, when our pitcher was about to fall apart because the other coach kept yelling balk, our coach told him that he didn't care how many times they called balk or how many runs scored, his only desire was for the kid to have fun.  Despite the fact that we were losing, and that we have other pitchers who might have been able to do better, he just let the boy finish out the game and then congratulated him on how he played.  That little boy's feelings were more important to him than the outcome of the game. Then, after the game, they were able to talk to the umpire and get a lesson on how to pick off a runner on third without getting called for a balk.

I want my kids to be able to walk away from every game and say that they gave it their all, and that they played with integrity, even if they are still learning what that means.  In the end, it really isn't whether you win or lose and it really is about how you play the game ... now if all the coaches could just learn that truth, it would be much easier to teach it to the kids!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

decisions, decisions

For roughly the next 3 hours, all three of my kids will be at musical practice.  The moms have been banned from practice since we can't seem to keep quiet and keep from disturbing the kids, so I find myself with a little time on my hands.

What to do,

                  what to do?!?

On the one hand ...

      we went out of town this weekend and now my house looks like a bomb went off in the living room...

the remnants of last Friday night's baseball game followed by frantic packing for our early departure on Saturday morning are all over the place ...

(Marie, you would have been ashamed of me for leaving my house looking like that!)

...added to that, is the fact that we walked in the door last night, changed clothes and headed back the baseball field for practice and so now, added to the already totally trashed living room are a couple of suitcases waiting for someone to unpack them AND a couple of boxes of new curriculum (which makes me smile and will have a post all to itself soon) and who knows what else is hiding underneath the top layer of junk ...

And then there is also the laundry that needs to be done ...

Not to mention the fact that I am supposed to be working on the program for the kids' musical ...

I am sure that there are at least half a dozen more things that I could think of that I need to be doing ...

however ...

sitting on my bed are three new mysteries I just picked up from the library and they,

        along with the quiet,

                       are calling my name ...

...wonder which voice will get my attention...

Monday, April 16, 2012

pardon me, please

I'll start this post by asking for a little indulgence and giving you fair warning: this post is going to contain a healthy dose of motherly pride.  Okay, now you know ... don't say I didn't warn you!

Last summer, the Wednesday night TeamKids at our church, under the direction of their wonderful leader, Ms. Sheri, challenged the church to memorize 100 hundred Bible verses.  The idea came from a book called 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, by Robert J. Morgan.  The verses are ones that most Christians are familiar with, but may not know the exact words or the reference where they can be found.  The plan is that we will memorize one verse a week as a church and then anyone wishing to can recite the verse and get a sticker on the big board.  Some of our ladies decided that they didn't want to just memorize one verse a week and 3 of them, including Ms. Sheri have completed the 100 verses. 

Me?  I think I have said about 20 verses ... maybe.

My 12 year old daughter?  She finished all 100 last week.  In just 9 months!  She has definitely had some help in the form of Ms. Sheri, who has taught all the kids different strategies for memorization and prepared various sheets for them to use to practice on Wednesday nights, but for the most part, LB has done this because she wanted to.  I have been amazed by her diligence and determination to get this done.

As a way of congratulating LB on her accomplishment and also to encourage others in their memorization, Ms. Sheri planned a special time of recognition during the worship service yesterday.  I am so thankful to be part of a church where the adults are so encouraging to the children and I pray that this will be something that she will remember for a long time.

Mrs. Bertha talking about the Memory verse challenge and congratulating LB
Mrs. Evelyn giving LB a certificate
Ms. Mary Ann giving LB her Children in Action memory verse stars
Mrs. Linda (our pastor's wife) giving LB flowers
LB and our pastor
LB and Ms. Sheri (she didn't know that Bro. Don intended to recognize
her for completing the 100 verse memorization yesterday, too!)

 I have been a little worried that LB would misunderstand all the attention she was given yesterday.  Yes, she has accomplished something pretty unsusual for a 12 year old girl, but I don't want her to miss the true gift that she has been given in the these scriptures she has memorized.  And, while the memorization of the scripture is the most important part, I hope she also recognizes that the encouragement she receives from the adults in our church is also a very special gift from God.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
that I might not sin against thee.
Psalm 119:11

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
 and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

Thursday, April 12, 2012

a little contemplation about school

My oldest child will be in SEVENTH grade next year.

That is JUNIOR HIGH people!!

Okay, so I know that they don't call it junior high any more... it is middle school in the public schools around here, but I don't care, it still feels like junior high to me.

Just for the record, I am terrified.  There are many reasons I could give you, but the two preying heavily on my mind these days are curriculum and creating goals for next year.

If you homeschool, you know that choosing curriculum can be an overwhelming task.  When I started out I had no idea how much was available and I daresay that there are even more options now.  I have already decided that we will do Mystery of History and that we will continue with Math-U-See, but I am still struggling with Language Arts and Science.

I have to admit that I have been lax in teaching grammar and writing with my kids.  With that in mind, I really want a more comprehensive and structured program for next year that will help get them on track.  I am leaning toward using Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  I like what I have read about this curriculum, but I don't know anyone who has used it, so I am still a little nervous about actually ordering the material.

When it comes to science, I have always used, and been very pleased with, Apologia courses.  We have done several and my kids love them.  As a matter of fact, I had planned to continue the Apologia elementary series with the boys and begin with General Science for LB.  However, I recently heard about the Answers in Genesis science curriculum and after reading the description on their website, I think it is definitely worth considering.  If I go that route, I am leaning toward choosing the Physical Science curriculum.  The upside would be that I could use one course for all three kids and just tailor the activities to their individual abilities.

(Okay, this is the part where I stop and ask all you homeschoolers out there to give me your opinion on science and language arts ... any good ideas that I have missed?)

Back when I was a new mother and home educating my children was just something I planned to do one day, I never even considered curriculum.  Back then, in the dream world I lived in, there were no questions when it came to schooling, everything would just fall into place the way that it was supposed to.  And, in that same dream world, nothing would compete for our time and my children would beg to do their school work and I was an incredibly fun mom and teacher ... now go ask my kids how much of that dream came true ;o)

Back in the real world ... I want things to be different next year.  I don't know exactly what I want things to look like, but I want them to be more organized and less hectic.  I want to remove the distractions and keep only the good things.  I don't know exactly how all this will play out with curriculum choices and activity choices, but I am fairly certain that I had better start planning now if I want it all in place by the fall, 'cause change doesn't come easy to my kids ... or, ahem, to their mother.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

the wonderful cross

The Old Rugged Cross, There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Calvary Covers it All, I Saw the Cross of Jesus, Are You Washed in the Blood, Nothing but the Blood, Jesus Paid It All ...

Do you see the pattern?  Are you offended by it?

I've spent a fair amount of time over the last few days thinking about that question and about the stories I have heard about people who would like to remove the mention of the cross and the shedding of Jesus' blood from church services so as not to offend anyone.

So, am I offended by the cross?

My pious answer would be of course not, I love to sing about the cross and I love to hear the Word preached, even when it makes me uncomfortable.

But then I begin to think about the truth of my life, every aspect of it.  The way I choose to spend my time, the way I treat my children and my husband, the attitudes that others rarely ever see...and the list goes on.  It is at this point that I cannot deny that my words and my actions don't line up.  I love to sing about what Jesus did for me when He willingly gave His life for my sin, but I so easily forget that while it is true that Jesus Paid It All, it is equally true that All to Him I owe... and it is here that I fail again and again.  And it is here that again and again I must return to the foot of the Cross and seek forgiveness and renewal.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; 
and renew a right spirit within me. 
Cast me not away from thy presence; 
and take not thy holy spirit from me. 
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; 
and uphold me with thy free spirit. 
Psalm 51:10-12

I leave you, on this weekend when I have been reminded time and again what my Savior has done for me, with the words to one of my all time favorite hymns.  I hope that these words hold a special meaning for you like they do for me. 

Jesus Paid It All
Words by: Elvina M. Hall
Taken from: The Baptist Hymnal

I hear the Savior say, "Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all."
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find Thy power, and Thine alone
Can change the leper's spots and melt the heart of stone.
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I'll wash my garments white In the blood of Calv'ry's Lamb.
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete,
"Jesus died my sould to save," My lips shall still repeat.
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.