Thursday, January 29, 2009

Au Revoir!

I leave tomorrow morning for TX to spend the weekend with some lovely ladies, breaking away from our day to day routines so we can better focus on and hear from God. I can't wait to see what He has in store for us!

Since I am spending time packing and preparing for the weekend-- as well as spending as much time as possible with my family before I go-- I don't have much time for posting. I just wanted to pop in quickly and let you know I will be back on Monday! Hope you all have a great weekend and just ask you, if you feel led, to pray for me this weekend. I would surely appreciate your prayers!

I will announce the winner of the Aqua Juice on Monday evening-- so you still have time to enter if you haven't yet!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

little i

The other night my husband and i were at an event where the words to the worship music were placed on a screen for all to see, as no doubt you have all seen done. But this night i noticed something: every time they used the word "I" on the screen, it wasn't capitalized. My editor's eye was drawn to this glaring error, and i spent much of the time that i was supposed to be singing trying to discern why they had done this. Oversight? Trying to be cute? It bugged me.

Then i felt God's whisper to my heart, causing me to go a bit deeper. "Why do you capitalize the i?" He asked me. "Who started that? Why? Is it because you all think that the almighty i is so important it needs to be capitalized? Maybe these folks recognize that "i" am not important-- but I AM is."

While I am not proposing a little i revolution-- shaking up tradition and causing a crisis in the grammar world--i am wondering, what does a little i life look like?
Slaying self?
Setting apart?
Seeking Him?
Serving others instead of doing what i want?

This little i thing could catch on. It should catch on, because it's the life Jesus called us to. We don't need to be capitalized. We need to be small, insignificant-- just a jot and a tittle, the littlest marks in the alphabet. Instead of a capital letter that announces our importance. At least, that's what i am learning these days-- and trying to live out. Sacrifice, surrender and servanthood are hard. But i know that's what God calls us to do, laying down our wants, needs and desires and straining towards His.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Review and Giveaway!


I agreed to do a taste test of Welch's new Aqua Juice, just because my kids love juice and I would love to get more healthy juices into them, if they will drink it. When our bottle arrived, I gathered them around and asked each of them to taste it. They looked at me skeptically. But after tasting the apple kind, they were all smiles. One of my kids said, "Mom this tastes just like fresh squeezed apples!" Right after that, we went out for the evening. When we arrived home, the empty bottle sat on the counter, evidence that the juice was quite a hit! Here is some info that the company sent me to share with you:

Moms across America are quickly learning about Welch’s AquaJuice.

This new juice contains less sugar than leading kids’ beverages and many other healthy benefits Moms want in delicious flavors your kids will love!

An 8oz. glass of Welch's AquaJuice contains:

No high fructose corn syrup

No added sugar

No artificial sweeteners

Only 80 calories

One full serving of fruit

Excellent source of Vitamin C

Aqua Juice comes available in 52oz. bottles in these great flavors kids will love.

Fruit Punch

Strawberry Kiwi


One lucky winner will win a bottle shipped directly to their house! Just leave a comment here and tell me which flavor you think your kids will like best. I will announce the winner in about a week! Make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you enter-- either a blog address or your email will be fine.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plans and Other Plans

As I wrote a few days ago, my menu planning for last week never really got off the ground. My husband informed me sort of last minute that he was going to have to be gone for half the week (I didn't advertise that fact here for obvious reasons.) so I scrapped the big, heavy duty meals in favor of something more, uh, simple. (Read: easy) The funny thing is, my kids complained when I went back to cooking this weekend. "Can't we just have cereal and sandwiches?" they whined as I stood over a hot stove and stir fried chicken and broccoli and carrots.

These are the moments when I tell myself that someday they will actually miss the nice, hot, homecooked meals I labor to put on the table each night. Someday they will call me from college and ask longingly, "So, what are you guys having for dinner tonight?" just like I used to do with my mom.

Never mind that their idea right now of a "treat" is a frozen pizza or the announcement that they can choose their favorite cereal from the pantry and let that be called "dinner." There is no accounting for taste in this family.

And so, I am reposting pretty much the exact same menu I posted last week, and a list of some of what we are up to this week just to keep it from being a complete repeat of last week's post. Last week turned into a semi-strange week with a snow day, a child's birthday and my husband traveling. This week promises to be strange as well because... well, they all are, I am learning. Living with this many people who have this many desires and agendas and schedules makes life always interesting and most certainly never dull.

Monday) No big plans for the day-- my 14 yo daughter has her first voice class at our local community theater in the evening
Dinner: Chicken in marinara sauce (just chicken breasts cut into strips and sauteed in some EVOO then simmered for a bit in bottled marinara sauce), angel hair herb pasta (the boxed kind, sold with the packaged pastas and rice), corn

Tuesday) My 6 and 9 yo have their first homeschool theater class and my 12 yo has an orthodontist appt., Curt and I are going to hear Voddie Baucham speak at Charlotte One in the evening. (We saw him do part one last week. This week is, obviously, part two.)
Dinner: Country style steak over mashed potatoes, green beans

Wednesday) We have small group in the evening.
Dinner: Rotisserie style chicken, baked potatoes, peas

Thursday) Community Bible Study
Dinner: Homemade Chicken soup, french bread

Friday) I leave for Tyler TX to lead a women's retreat for the weekend.
Dinner: Chicken tacos (I will start the chicken filling in the crockpot before I go. This is just a bag of chicken breasts, 2 packets of taco seasoning and a can of chicken broth. Cook all day, then shred with two forks before serving. Simple and yummy! Also makes a nice taco salad or a burrito filling or a nacho topping. Take your pick.)

Saturday) I am still in TX, the kids have a cousin's bday party to attend
Dinner: Barbecue sandwiches, french fries, fruit (I have some barbecue that I made from our New Year's pork roast and froze that I will have Curt thaw out for their dinner.)

Sunday) I return from TX that night and my family will go to our small group's Superbowl Party. Unfortunately, I won't make it home in time to join them-- but I know they will have a blast and I am glad they have somewhere to go.
Dinner: junk food at the Superbowl Party!

Goals for the week:
  • Prepare and pray for the retreat I am leading. Your prayers are appreciated!
  • Finally send out the permissions I need to have signed for our book. (These are all going out to friends who shared their stories in our book, so I haven't pushed to get the permissions like I should have because they are my friends. Must. Take. Care. Of. This.)
  • Request photos of all my contributors to the speaking book and submit them to the publisher. This is another one of those things I find myself procrastinating about but need to attend to!
  • Work on some devotion ideas I have for P31.
  • Make final arrangements for a field trip I am planning.
  • Make appointments for my daughter to see an eye doctor and her physical therapist.
  • Finalize sitter arrangements for a couple of out of town trips for Curt and me that are coming up.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009


Words can't describe the response that came from the devotion that ran on Friday. Many comments and emails later, I am at once hopeful and concerned. So many of you are facing very real hurts and very real fears. So many of you posed questions that are hard to answer-- questions I have wondered myself and can't offer very good answers to, to be honest. I find myself often saying to God, "You are sovereign Lord. I know Your thoughts are not my thoughts and Your ways are not my ways. Therefore I will trust You even when I can't see or understand Your greater purpose."

That might sound simplistic, and perhaps it is. But sometimes that's all there is to say. And so, when I start to feel anxious and worried, I just keep my thoughts where they should be, instead of letting them run away from me. I have to choose to trust God, no matter what. I have to look back at the times He has shown me that He really was at work when I didn't realize it, and look ahead to the times He most assuredly will be at work again. I can't get mired down in the moment.

If you haven't taken the time to read through the comments from Friday's post, please do so. If one of these needs really touches you, please take the time to pray for that person. There were several that really touched me and I hope they will keep me posted on what happens in their lives. God is a good God, a loving God who is just as grieved by the evil in this world as we are. I have written that my verse for this year is "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." I pray that each of you who are facing fears will be given a portion of strength just when you need it, in the exact amount you need. People are hurting out there-- we need to be praying for each other.

(Oh, and Ashley, if you read this, I left a comment on Friday's post specifically for you with a link to a sermon my pastor preached that I think will really speak to your heart. For anyone else who would like to check out his most latest sermon series, here's the first video, and you will see links to the subsequent ones on the righthand side of the page. They are all worth watching but the last one in the series was my personal favorite!)
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Masterly Inactivity Free Ebook

I already downloaded my free copy and can't wait to dig in-- this is aimed at homeschoolers but there is much rich information about parenting in there for all parents. Enjoy!

Do you ever feel like you're on the Mommy See-saw?
"I must teach my child to obey, yet I don't want to be a dictator."
"I want my child to enjoy his childhood, but I can't just allow him to run wild and do anything he wants to do."
Welcome to the Mommy See-saw. Up and down, back and forth we teeter, wishing we knew the secret to keeping a happy balance.

Charlotte Mason called that happy balanced state Masterly Inactivity. She talked about it in Volume 3, School Education, and we've written some articles that illustrate her basic principles with real-life examples.

Now those articles are available in a new free e-book called Masterly Inactivity with Charlotte Mason.

The articles in this Masterly Inactivity e-book will help you

* Discover wise and purposeful letting alone;
* Check that your fence of authority is in place;
* Learn when to grant favors and when to stand firm;
* Find out about the game that all children play; and
* Increase your confidence as a parent.
In addition, the book showcases more than fifty Charlotte Mason quotes on parenting.

Masterly Inactivity is our gift to you. Visit our site and download your free copy today.
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Friday, January 23, 2009


Welcome to all who drop by today after reading my devotion-- I am so glad you stopped by! Please be sure to check out Micca Campbell's blog today. She has written about fear, which is the subject of her new book. Micca is one of my favorite people in the world, so I can't wait to get my hands on her book-- I know it will be a blessing. If you are struggling with fear in your life, I encourage you to preorder your copy from P31 today!

If you would like to share a story about fear that you have faced or are facing, please do so here. I will be checking in throughout the day and leaving comments (in the comments section) about the discussion. I look forward to seeing you all encourage each other to persevere in faith, hope and trust even as you face your fears. That's what it's all about--- holding each other's arms up when we grow weary.

PS. My story didn't end with a sick child and a broken marriage! God, who resurrects, restores and heals, healed my son and my marriage. We stayed together (though the process of doing so was painful and LONG) and our son is now a happy, healthy twelve year old blessing who knows God has big plans for him. Hallelujah and amen.

I HOPE YOU ALL ARE READING THESE COMMENTS... WOW! Thanks to all of you who have shared...
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frozen Answers

Anyone remember this post? And how I said that I had been praying for snow? Well on Tuesday I got my answer! Our area (which rarely sees much snow, and even more rarely sees enough to actually cover the ground) got about 2-3 inches. This was a big deal for us!

My daughter took this of the front of our house-- this was about 10:30 in the morning and the temps were already rising enough to start melting the snow. See the tracks in the front yard from my kids' attempts to sled? They were so excited!

Ready to brave the cold weather in hopes of some snow fun! We don't have to just read about it today, kids!

Playing with the neighbors.

And back inside for hot chocolate to thaw out cold toeses and noses.

And last but not least, a birthday to celebrate-- a snow day, an inauguration (which we totally ditched in favor of making snowballs while the snow fell), and a birthday all in one day. Happy birthday to my big nine year old girl!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just Keepin It Real...

That menu plan I posted on Monday?

Yeah, well, that hasn't worked out so well.

Blame it on the veritable snowstorm we had.

Or blame it on some plans my husband surprised me with.

Or blame it on pure-tee lazy-ness.

No matter what you blame it on, my kids are having sandwiches and cold cereal for the next two nights... so that means you can expect to see some repeats on the ole menu for next week.

That's how we save money round these here parts-- we feed our families sandwiches and then brag about how much money we just saved by stretching our meals into the following week. Then we strut around and talk about how frugal we are, thereby throwing off any family members who might be noticing that we are getting out of cooking altogether.

It's a good plan... you might want to try it sometime.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have been following this story as it has unfolded-- I first found this blog through the Christmas tour of homes. I loved how hip and fun this first time mom was, and popped over to check and see if she had had her baby only to see that she was born very ill and is in critical but stable condition. If you want to pray for her or check out their blog, you can just click on this link. I know this family appreciates your prayers.
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An Inauguration Postscript

If you, like me, missed the inauguration yesterday because your area was unexpectedly blessed with enough snow to cover the ground and your home was thrown into a certified tizzy over the white stuff then you might want to go here to read Rick Warren's invocation. I enjoyed reading it even moreso because I didn't get to see it. But even if you saw it, it's nice to pause over it, to read what he said slowly and take it in. I thought it was well done.

Not that you asked.

(HT: Elizabeth)
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Free Writing Workbooks for Homeschoolers (Or Anyone)

I got a link to these student writing workbooks which were designed for the NaNoWriMo site. These are totally free to download and use with your students-- there is one for elementary students, one for middle school students, and one for high school students. It features a lot of info on character development-- at least the elementary one did. But I liked how it got them really thinking about character development! This would be a fun departure from a normal writing curriculum. And anything that gets kids thinking about writing and creating is a good endeavor in my book!
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Inauguration Day

Today is a history-making day, no matter what your view of politics is! I plan to turn on the inauguration and count it as "school." The guide of what is happening below was helpful to me, so I thought I would post it here.

I plan to go over what will be happening with my kids before we turn it on, along with a brief explanation of what the inauguration is and why this is historical. This dovetails nicely with MLK day and our discussions of Martin Luther King's dream speech-- and how today marks a part of his dream coming true.

Full Schedule for Inaugural Ceremony Announced
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced today the schedule for the swearing in of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden on Jan. 20.
The ceremony traditionally begins around 10 a.m. and lasts for about two hours. Obama must be sworn in by noon.
The schedule is as follows:

Musical Selections: The United States Marine Band

Musical Selections: The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

Musical Selection: Aretha Franklin

Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court The Honorable John Paul Stevens

Musical Selection: John Williams, composer/arranger
Itzhak Perlman, Violin
Yo-Yo Ma, Cello
Gabriela Montero, Piano
Anthony McGill, Clarinet

Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack H. Obama By the Chief Justice of the United StatesThe Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.

Inaugural Address The President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama

Poem: Elizabeth Alexander (Click on this link to read more about her-- I really like the poem they included.)

Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

How do you plan to mark today? Don't forget to visit Krispy Kreme for a free donut, if nothing else!

And for all of you who don't live in the US, sorry this doesn't directly pertain to you! I love having readers abroad-- but I forget how "local" I can be in my writing. So forgive all references to grits, warm weather, and frequent use of the word "y'all."
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This is the first week in quite awhile where I don't have so many plans I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head! A big part of that is because, praise God, I got the speaking book done and turned in last week! That feels SO much better. I am not under any writing contracts right now, so I feel free to do some other things-- like write some spec articles I have been mulling over, or maybe write some more ebooks that are on my heart. We shall see.

Mostly I just want to devote some much needed time to our little homeschool and my family. Of course, making good meals is a great way to begin! So, here are my efforts for this week:

Monday) Taco salad (we are having our main meal at lunch for my friend Erica's bday since this is a holiday), homemade chocolate cake for dessert!

Tuesday) Broiled chicken (marinated in Italian dressing first) over salad, french bread

Wednesday) Stir fry chicken with broccoli and carrots over rice

Thursday) Chicken, rice and broccoli (one pot meal-- recipe on the back of the Premium Minute Rice box)

Friday) Rotisserie-style chicken in the crockpot, baked potatoes, peas

Saturday) Chicken in marinara sauce, angel hair pasta with herbs, corn

Sunday) Country style steak over mashed potatoes, green beans

Monday) Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (this is my friend Renee's recipe that my kids love, Renee, why don't you post it on your blog?), Rolls

(For more menu plans, check out
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Great Song

This is a great song to listen to on a cold, dreary winter afternoon-- which is exactly what I just did.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along
I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break
And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Bit Of Randomness

  • I was supposed to be out of town this weekend, as I might have mentioned at some point. I was really looking forward to a girls' weekend with my very funny and interesting (she's an assistant district attorney) cousin. But alas, the night before I was supposed to leave, I got a headache in the middle of the night, which kept me up for most of the night. I knew Friday morning that I was simply too tired to make the five hour drive, so I was forced to cancel. That was a real bummer. I am enjoying using my time this weekend to get things done instead, but am sad to miss our fun time. We had planned to see two movies and she was going to teach me how to get better at PathWords on Facebook. As my daughter said with her patented eye roll going, "Wow, what a party, mom!" I know. The sad part is, with my travel schedule in the coming months, I am not sure when or if we will get a chance to do it again. Sigh.

  • The other day my 8yo daughter was listening to my ipod with me and asked me what a certain song was. I replied dismissively, "Oh, it's an old song." "Mom," she replied, exasperated, "That's all you have on your ipod are old songs. I mean the only song you have from like, this decade, is Irreplaceable." Clearly, I need some help catching up in the music department. I do like Irreplaceable though-- and I have been encouraging a certain friend of mine to play it often... and loud.

  • We got a treadmill today. My husband called me and said, "I've got a surprise for you." And it really was a surprise. I thought he had forgotten that he had promised to get me one this weekend! (And no, this wasn't one of those purchases that would land him in the doghouse. I asked for this.) He spent several hours moving furniture in our bonus room to make room for this new toy of mine, and then putting it all together. This one is especially fun because it has a port for your ipod to plug into and plays through speakers. He also rigged up an old computer speaker too, which meant that when I walked in the door (downstairs on the other side of the house, mind you) I could hear the music coming from the bonus room. I am so excited about having the ability to exercise while listening to my music, in the comfort of my home, with my children nearby so I can monitor them. This already feels like progress.

  • I ran errands for hours today. With my three year old. We are both exhausted. She is already in bed for the night as I write this-- and I feel like going to bed myself (but will opt for watching a movie with my hubby instead, while eating peppermint ice cream I serendipitously found at the grocery today, even though it's supposed to be limited edition for the holidays). We went shopping for mommy's clothes, to the Target, the cleaners, the library, the video store and the grocery store. I got the ingredients for all our meals for the week, which I will post on Monday for Menu Plan Monday. I also knocked out several things on my "to do" list, which always makes me feel good. I am planning a little birthday celebration for my friend Erica on Monday. Since the kids are out of school she is bringing her three kids here and I am making a special lunch and baking a cake too! Bring on the chocolate!

  • Last night Curt and I departed from the ordinary and met up with some old friends of mine from high school. Our 20th reunion was held in October, and since then a lot of us have reconnected on Facebook. One person decided to arrange some regular get togethers, and we ended up being able to go since I didn't go out of town. To be honest, I had forgotten all about it since I hadn't planned to go, but ended up seeing a reminder notice just in time. We quickly arranged our sitting and headed out to happy hour. It was so much fun! It's nice to branch out occasionally and see new people, have new conversations and do new things. I hope we will get to do it more often and am so glad we went.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free Donuts!

Mark your calendars! Here's the scoop on how to get a free donut... if you are fortunate enough to live near a Krispy Kreme, that is. We live frighteningly close to one. This is also my daughter's bday, so you can bet I will be surprising her with an impromptu trip to get a free donut-- fun!

According to their <> statement:

"Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom ofchoice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to everycustomer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating KrispyKreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies - just anotherreminder of how oh-so-sweet "free" can be."

Any doughnut you like! For Free!
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Snow Fun!

I have spent some time thinking and researching some activities we can do in conjunction with the winter themed books I listed here. If you don't homeschool, don't let that discourage you from reading this post. These are things you can do on those cold "cooped up" winter weekend days or snowed-in days.

As for me, I am praying for at least one good snow here in our southern town so that we can enjoy a snow day or two. Yes, snow is rare here, but I know the Snow Maker personally and I have put in my request!

Here is what I came up with:

Felt mittens-- I will cut them out and punch holes on the edge so they "sew" them together, glue a number to them, then count that many "snowflakes" to go with it. This is modified from an idea that I found here. From that same blog, I also like this idea, and this one. Oh, and this one too!

Make notecards using snowflake stickers and pretty paper. (I already have the blank notecards to use, bought in a package at Michael's years ago and never used. For great ideas, check out Kelli's blog. This was my inspiration.)

Make beaded snowflakes. I saw several ideas along these lines for Christmas ornaments, but I think these could just as easily be done and hung up for winter decorations. Pretty! Go here for a short "how to." I like the idea of using silver pipe cleaners and blue and white beads. This link also has a pretty simple explanation. (I only do simple crafts-- get too complicated and you've lost me!)

Cut out snowflakes the old fashioned way. I found a couple of videos on how to do this here and here. (I would much rather watch someone do something before I attempt it myself instead of merely reading directions. Plus my kids like watching with me.) We might just use coffee filters because the concensus of what I read is this is easier.

Be sure and leave a comment if you have any great ideas to add to this list! I welcome the help!
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free Bottle Of Suave Shampoo-- Hurry! Offer Expires Tonight!

I am never one to turn down something free... especially something I already like and use!

This offer expires at midnight tonight-- sorry if you see this after the deadline. But for those of you who happen by, click on this link for your free bottle of Suave shampoo.
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My Apologies

I apologize for my absence these past few days. Sometimes the well overflows with blogging ideas and deep thoughts and sometimes... not so much. I did finally finish my speaking book project and get it sent off to the printer. That was a great feeling! This week I am working on finishing up all the stuff that needed to be addressed (but wasn't) while I was finishing the book. So those items are what's populating my thoughts lately-- and that's not really the makings of intriguing blog fodder. Trust me.

We still haven't begun school in earnest. I still haven't instituted the "focused time" concept of blocking off time in my schedule to do just one thing and nothing else. I had a crazy week this week with my big kids being in exams and needing to be picked up at 11:20 each day-- which really cut into our time at home. Tomorrow I leave for a weekend with my cousin that has been in the works for a whole year. And Monday is a school holiday, which means all my kids will be home. With that in mind, I am aiming for our new schedule and school to begin in earnest on Tuesday. In the meantime, they are doing some independent work and playing with each other, building memories and character in the comfort of home.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Random Books From The Library

Lester Fizz, Bubble Gum Artist by Ruth Spiro

I Spy A Freight Train: Transportation In Art by Lucy Micklethwait

Lucy's Picture by Nicola Moon

The Wishing Club: A Story About Fractions by Donna Jo Napoli

The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer

Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (book on cd)

Princesses Are Not Quitters by Kate Lum

Lost In The Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl Sams

Stranger In The Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl Sams
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Weekend Report

This weekend was great in that we had nothing on the calendar-- nowhere to be, nothing to do other than just be at home. Which left us with lots of time to catch up on work and projects around the house. I got a lot done, but not as much as I wanted to. Isn't that the story of a mom's life?

Here's what I did:
  • Baked a lot. I made three loaves of pumpkin bread, one loaf of banana bread, raisin bran muffins, and chocolate chip muffins. This morning we had pumpkin bread for breakfast and tonight we are having eggs, bacon, grits and muffins for dinner. All the leftovers will go in the freezer for another time.
  • Got the book nearly finished. I am waiting for one more contributor's bio and I will be ready to send it off to the publisher!!
  • Wrote my column for Christian Women Online for February and an article for The Old Schoolhouse.
  • Sorted library books and made a tentative plan for what we will read this week. This is an odd week (when is that not true?) in that my older two are in exams so they are having short days. Which cuts our day short too.
  • Did tons of laundry. As I write this, it is caught up... until the kids take off their clothes in a few hours to go to bed, that is!
  • Whittled down my emails, which had crept way past the number I like to keep them at.
  • Made our meal plan and grocery list for the week-- Curt ran to the grocery for me, which was nice.
  • Sorted a large stack of papers that had piled up into three very scientific piles: "trash," "to deal with now," and "to deal with later."
  • Made a rather long to do list based on the papers that were piled and the emails I had sorted. Then I divided that list into two lists, one for this coming week and one for the following one. That way I would feel less overwhelmed!

This week promises to be busy, with my older kids' exams and our church's homeschool moms' night out meeting here on Wednesday. I was supposed to be leaving on Thursday to visit my cousin for a girls' weekend that has been in the works for a year, but alas I just found out today we might have to reschedule... again. I am bummed about that! Meanwhile I will be working on my to do list, as always. Whittling away at it as much as is humanly possible while trying to keep living my priorities and focus my time like I need to do.

ETA: My cousin and I are back on! We worked out the kinks and, barring any more issues arising, I am heading to GA this coming weekend after all. We have a girls' weekend planned that includes seeing movies, laughing a lot (my cousin is one of the funniest people I have ever met), and eating. It doesn't get much better than that!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Frugal Living

Is saving money a goal of yours this year?

If so, check out this great list of blogs that offer tips for frugal living. A reader of mine sent this link to me, so I just had to share!

Thanks Jennifer for doing this homework for us!
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

January Books

In January, I plan to read books about Winter and Libraries. (Don't ask how I came up with this, I just did.) In February, I plan to read books about love, the heart, and presidents for president's day. (I will post those lists in early February.)

Here is a list of Winter books I plan to read through in the next week or two:

First Snow by Emily Arnold McCully

Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee

When It Starts To Snow by Phillis Gershator

Winter Visitors by Elizabeth Lee O'Donnell

The Winter Wren by Brock Cole

A Winter Walk by Lynne Barasch

Winter Trees by Carole Gerber

Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur

Katy and The Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here by Jean Craighead George

Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root

The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills

And here are our library titles:

Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss

The Library Dragon by Carmen Deedy

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

When The Library Lights Go Out by Megan McDonald

Winston The Book Wolf by Marni McGee

Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Plans For A New Term

I wrote yesterday about building in more focused time in my day, which I suppose is a fancy way of saying I need to create blocks of time for certain tasks. One of the things I want to focus on each day in a way that, truthfully, I did not this past semester is to have more intentional, sit-down time within the kids' homeschool day. Instead of merely handing them work to do and telling them to "get their work done" in a very disconnected, I've-got-a-million-things-to-do- so-don't-bother-me-unless-you-have-to way, I want to designate time each day to focus on them. I want to really do school with them, not just give them schoolwork to do, investing my time and pouring into them-- not the computer, not the phone, not the household chores. Just them.

In order to do this, I had to come up with some things we could do together that would take longer than the mere 20 minutes of reading we were doing last semester. So, I thought that I would share these plans with you, just in case this type of information intrigues you, or you are seeking similar things to do to change up your school day:

Reading practice for the 6yo: I got this from Elizabeth Foss' Serendipity blog: Read the Beginner's Bible with your child. Read one story a day. After reading, the child may dictate the story for you to print. She can illustrate. these pages should be saved in a notebook and used frequently for reading practice. In the beginning, the parent will probably be reading the stories in the book to the child. Over time, the child will read it aloud for the parent. when you reach the end of the book, begin again. The second time, the child will be reading most of the stories without help.

Also using Elizabeth Foss' Serendipity blog, I plan to use her plans for the Ruth Heller's grammar books. This link will provide all the information you need. I am thankful that our public library carries these books!

I am adding the book 365 Days of Celebration And Praise by Julie Lavender, which is a short devotion for homeschool families that features a unique holiday for every day of the year, with activities and scripture to correlate. I love the idea of choosing to celebrate every day.
I would also like to add a weekly craft time. They loved doing crafts at Christmas, so I know this would be a great thing to continue. I plan to glean from blogs like Make and Takes and The Crafty Crow-- not to mention the abundance of craft idea books that I have bought through the years.

We will also be reading books on several subjects: winter, libraries, and love for Valentine's Day. That's the plan thus far. I will have separate posts where I list out what exactly we are reading. These aren't unit studies, per se, more just read alouds all centered around specific subjects.

Here is what they are doing for their independent work:

Third Grader:
Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Spectrum Math Grade 3
Read and Understand Science, Grade 3
Wordly Wise 3000, Book B

First Grader:
Explode The Code Book 2
Mathematical Reasoning Grade 1
Visual Perceptual Skill Building
Language For Little Ones

Last semester we had somewhere to go almost every day. This semester I have scaled way back. We will only do our weekly Community Bible Study classes and go to Science class two times per month.This is much easier on me, and allows for more consistent sit-down time like I described. I am looking forward to implementing this plan, and to being the kind of homeschool mom I hope to be.

Just keeping it real: we will not begin this until next Monday-- I have to get the book sent off to the publisher first! What a great feeling that will be!
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Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I read a post today about how one of the things that people like about blogs is just the opportunity for a glimpse into the dailiness of life-- not the "big stuff" that happens, necessarily. Just the little things that go into making a life. I know that's what I connect with-- the randomness of what books people are reading, how they spend their time, what foods they eat, the cups of tea, piles of laundry, and little feet encased in dirty socks... you know, just stuff.
And so, after I read that, I got inspired to record the dailiness of our day today-- a very ordinary Tuesday... a rainy, gray day that found us indoors, occupying ourselves with a variety of activities.

Trying our hand at drawing a horse-- even though the book was kind of hard. This was my daughter's attempt.
(Forgive me that this photo is sideways. By the time I discovered it, it was already posted and I was too lazy to go through re-posting it!)
Reading a book-- yes, that's my nearly nine year old reading Multiple Blessings by Kate Gosselin. She said she was reading it, but I think she was just looking at the pictures! I read this book yesterday (in one day--I was sick and couldn't do much else). It was very good-- I am a fan of the show so I couldn't wait to get it from the library hold list. I was pleasantly surprised by the book-- it was definitely worth reading, especially if you already love the show!

Painting with our new Color Wonder watercolors.

Building I-don't-know-what's with Legos.

Having a surprise treat-- bought for half off this past weekend!

Watching a movie to pass the time, since going outside wasn't an option.

And tonight we will finish off this day with steaming bowls of this, cooked in my new ugly orange pot which I dearly love because a) it is nice and big and b) it does not have flakes of teflon coming off into our food... Trust me, that's a good thing. I am looking forward to chicken tortilla soup, topped with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese (for some).
A perfect meal for a cool, wet day.

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Focused Time

One of the things my husband has been challenging me on (read: calling me on the carpet about) lately is the concept of not being so scattered in my daily life. He has noticed the way I dash about from one task to the next, often leaving one thing undone as I get sidetracked with another. This practice leaves me spinning my wheels, constantly running and always frustrated. He has been asking me some pretty directed questions about my priorities and the amount of time I spend doing "work stuff" (writing, blogging, speaking business stuff) as opposed to the amount of time I spend focused on my kids. He is a good accountability partner in my life, even if I don't always like what he says!

Reading this post helped me a lot with this whole concept. It was a lightbulb moment for me as I realized that I need to get back to a more scheduled day with more focused timeframes-- a time for cooking, a time for cleaning, a time for schooling, a time for errands, a time for the computer. And so, I began to work through what this all would mean. I also own Holly Pierlot's book A Mother's Rule Of Life that she mentioned, and recommend it highly. While it is definitely a Catholic book (and I am not Catholic), there is still much to glean from her advice. I found the book at a time in my life when I was at the end of my rope, and the book ministered to me from the first paragraph-- so that's saying a lot! Since then, it stays in a place where I can get to it at any point as a refresher/reminder. But what this blog post pointed out had never jumped out at me before, especially not the way she words it:

My goal when sitting down to create routines and schedules was always to "get things done," so I'd aim to squeeze in as much as possible. I would drastically underestimate how much time was needed for each task in an attempt to fit more in (I realize now that nothing takes "just five minutes" around here). When my goal changed to "bring peace to my household," it became glaringly obvious that obtaining peace was going to involve sacrificing a huge chunk of my to-do list; that I would have to give up not only on the idea of being able to do it all, but the idea that I can do much of anything other than just keep diapers changed and kids fed and the toys and dirty dishes put away and have some quality time with the kids and free time for myself.

A friend and I just discussed this when we had lunch together this weekend. She said that one thing she has found is that she makes commitments and vastly underestimates how much time those commitments will take. Then as those commitments start hitting, she gets stressed and starts micromanaging her family in an effort to maintain some sort of control as her life spins out of control. This ups the stress level in her whole family-- which causes strife for all of them. She commented that she is learning to keep track of how much time things take-- to the point of keeping a log and writing it all down. Then when she is asked to do something she can commit with a more realistic view of what that "yes" is going to involve. I thought this was very smart and will most likely begin doing this myself. Most of all, I am looking forward to a winter season of S-L-O-W living. I am turning in my book, Lord willing, this week and plan to not take any big writing projects for awhile. That's my plan, at least.

I loved the idea of weighing our commitments against our goal: a peaceful home versus getting "just one more thing" done. I knew this would be key in setting my new schedule. And so, with that in mind, I have spent the last several days working through a schedule and goals that reflect my focus. This means there will be focused time for devotions (and nothing else), focused time for school (and nothing else), focused time for housework (and nothing else), etc. That means when I am doing that thing I am not answering emails, surfing blogs, making phone calls, etc. I hope to stick to this focused schedule in the new year, and not forget about it and get sidetracked as I am prone to do.

Being "all there" wherever I am is a good goal to have for this new year. It will be a new thing and a welcome change.

*If you left me a question in the comments section, please read the comments as I will be answering any questions there instead of here. This will be my new policy on this blog. Thanks!*
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Monday, January 05, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

If you read my menu plan for last Monday, you will see some of the same meals relisted here. I am sorry for that-- my plans got scrapped largely due to a stomach bug/cold thing making its way through the house. Yuck! We are still in the throes of it, so I am wondering how much I will be cooking big meals this week, to be honest. You might just see these meals relisted next week as well...

Monday) Homemade Chicken Pot Pie, Cooked Apples

Tuesday) Tortilla Soup, Crescent Rolls

Wednesday) Garlic Lime Chicken over Rice, Salad

Thursday) Pizza Rolls, Carrots with Ranch Dressing (leftovers for the parents)

Friday) Beef Burgundy over egg noodles, peas

Saturday) Chicken Nuggets, French Fries, Pineapple(parents eating out)

Sunday) Pork Chops, Homemade Dressing, Green Beans

Monday) Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwiches, grits, fruit cocktail

Note: the days listed are really just to give each meal an assigned day and make sure I have enough for each night of the week-- My family knows I reserve the right to change up the order at will!

Lunches this Week:

Spaghettios and sliced apples
Tomato Soup and Crackers
Hot Dogs with chili, chips
Leftover Barbecue Sandwiches (from what I made this weekend)
Deli Ham or Turkey on Rye or Whole Wheat bread, Chex Mix
Leftovers, if there are any

Breakfasts This Week:

Scrambled Eggs on Toast
Raisin Bread Toast
Raisin Bran Muffins
Pumpkin Bread
Instant Grits or Instant Oatmeal

(All stuff they can get on their own-- not fancy, but it does the trick!)
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Good Series on Scheduling And Organization

This blog has been helping me a lot as I prepare our new school semester. She has written a series of posts, beginning Dec. 28th. I will share details of my own later, but in the meantime, I thought you might be as inspired by her series as I have been!

(HT: to Cay!)
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Friday, January 02, 2009

How Do I "Do" Time With God?

Ok, the new year is officially here and your goals are set. (Yes? No?) One of them just might be spending regular time with God-- some people refer to this as "quiet time," others call it "devotions," or "Bible study." Whatever you call it, it all amounts to the same thing-- a regular, consistent, committed time to meet with God, to hear from Him and learn who He is. It is a time for digging into His word, reading inspiring books, devotions, or commentaries from wise, godly people, and praying. You also might want to spend some time in worship-- listening to a song or two that you love, one that helps you focus on Him. Songs like this one or this one, just for starters.

Some people like to light a candle, or have a special place designated in their home. I knew one woman who had a whole separate little building on her property for her prayer and study time! My friend Jessica has a prayer basket, all stocked and ready to be picked up and carried wherever she can find some quiet in her busy house with three young children. Sometimes she picks up that basket and takes it to the prayer room at a nearby church and spends several hours with God. I love this idea!

Most importantly, there is no one right way to "do" your time with God. Your time will be as unique as you are.

When I read Wendy Pope's blog entry about kicking off a group effort to read through The Chronological Bible in a year, I noticed a question one commenter had asked her. I loved her answer and wanted to share it here, in case it inspires someone as much as it inspired me!

Wendy-I am very excited about spending this next year in God's Word. I know you posted the supplies you will be using in your quiet time...Just wondering how you will use them? Sometimes others have neat ideas that they use in their quiet time and I have been blessed by gleaning ideas from others. Thanks, Sarah

Sarah, I write the date to the reading in my notebook and prepare myself to write what the Lord leads. It may be an interesting fact I knew but had forgotten about. It may be how the text ties in with another scripture I already know. I make notes cross-referencing the two passages. I write the verse in the margin then write my comments on the lines. I use college ruled paper because I write a lot. I highlight things that are repeated or referred to more than once. The sticky notes are for me to jot down thoughts or questions that I want to research after my QT. I take it and put it on my computer for later research. Many times God is leading my on a fun rabbit trail to a nugget He wants me to use in a message that I am preparing for a conference. Hope this helps, Sarah. Good question.

If you have any great ideas for personalizing your time with God, or tips you have picked up along the way for enhancing your time, please leave a comment and share it with us!
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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Just For Fun

Which Friend Are You Quiz on

Your personality: Like Chandler, you consider yourself the only "normal" member of your social group. And considering how strange your parents were, that's quite an achievement. Always keeping a sense of humor, your intelligence shows in your quick retorts and use of sarcasm. Despite your hard shell, however, you have surprising depths of emotion and sympathy, proving to be an excellent friend.

(I was pretty bored tonight... can you tell? What's even more disturbing is how accurate this little personality profile was (except for the part about me thinking I am the only normal one among my friends... I know I am not!) I ask you, who needs the DISC when you have the friends quiz?)
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Goals For This Year

I don't like the term "resolutions," but I do like the concept of setting goals for a new year. As this new year begins, I thought it would be good to share my goals for this year:

  • Work on making our house a home. Since we just moved this summer, we still feel like we are getting settled. But it's time to start hanging pictures and making it feel more homey. I will make an effort to do this, possibly spending any "extra" (ha ha!) money I have on things for our house instead of on books, as I usually do.
  • Take up scrapbooking again. Figure out some sort of plan for developing my digital photos. Digital photography is wonderful--- but it has messed with my scrapbooking rhythm big time. It's time to stop making excuses and start doing something about it! My friend Lisa had a great suggestion-- she sits down every Sunday night and places orders online for any photos she took that week. If she didn't take any, of course, she doesn't do it. But building that regular time in seems doable. Now to just order all the backlog of photos I have sitting in the various computers we have!
  • Come up with a master housecleaning schedule and a rotating chore list for my kids. My husband has been asking me to do this for some time and I am finally admitting that it would be a good idea. The idea of assigning each child a room or area of the house for a week, and rotating the responsibilities from room to room, child to child appeals to me. I am also going to purchase the Motivated Moms planner to use for keeping myself on track with the household duties I neglect simply because I don't think about them! This handy guide schedules out things like "clean out coupons," "wipe down front of dishwasher," "clean microwave inside and out," etc. for you! I am excited about implementing this new tool in my quest to stay on top of my domestic duties! They even have a format that includes a schedule for reading through your Bible if that's something you are looking for!
  • I wrote about my plans for reading certain books during my morning quiet time. I also want to devote time to studying prayer, worship and the Armor of God. This is for my personal spiritual growth.
  • Learn more about being frugal and implement more money-saving efforts and ideas in our home. I have joined an online group for this purpose and am learning so much already! I am going to even, ahem, maybe attempt, gulp, couponing this year. Maybe. One thing that has become apparent to me recently is that part of my job description is to be a helper to my husband. One way I can do that is to go the extra mile to save money. This might mean clipping coupons. It might mean meal planning and eating at home. It might mean driving a bit further and shopping in a store I don't really love (hello, Wally World!) to get the most for my money. Whatever it looks like, it's worth the effort to make our money go further and this is just another way for my husband to "have full confidence in me." (Pvb. 31:11)
  • Be more hands-on with my kids and their schooling. I have a written a whole post on this subject that I will be running next week.
  • Devote more time to my goal of one day writing fiction. Meet monthly with a friend who will hold me accountable to this goal and give me feedback on my writing. (I have already set this up with a friend and we are both excited about this!)
  • Read the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich this year (I may participate in a women's small group that is going through this book), and put the concepts in that book to use. Also, go to a Family Life marriage conference-- after my friend Rachel went and raved about it to me, I ran the idea by Curt and he agreed it would be good. He and I have a book coming out together this year, so I know that Satan will work to keep us from encouraging other couples to have victory in an area where people feel so defeated (money). We would appreciate your prayers about that!
  • And finally, the dreaded exercise goal-- this past year I broke my foot and that put the serious kibosh on running, which I used to love so much. So I have asked my husband to consider taking down the big dinosaur of a PC that the kids use in the bonus room and buying them a laptop, then using that space to put in a treadmill that I can use each day. I know I would use it if I had it, so I am really hoping to work that out.

Above all, I must temper every decision I make, thing I take on, and thought I have with my verse for the year. I found this great quote that directly pertains to my verse on another blog and want to share it here:

I am a firm believer that God gives me the strength to do the things that He has given to me and everything else I do that is not in His will I do out of my own strength. I pray for wisdom and understanding and am always having some conversation with Him trying to be in tune with what is His will for my life. (Source:

This is my biggest goal of all-- constantly drawing my strength from Him, cutting out the things I find myself doing in my own strength, and dialoguing with Him about it throughout the process.

What are your goals for this coming year? If you write a post about it, be sure to leave a comment and let me know, as I would love to read it-- or just leave a comment and share them right here!

I will leave you with this verse, which I am going to post on our fridge for the month of January. It was left by a commenter and I thought it was a great goal for all of us in 09!

I Samuel 12:24, "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."

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