Sunday, December 1, 2013

Look Whoooo Is Two!

 Sweet Pea is 2 (on Wednesday).  We celebrated today.  She was very excited about cake.

 She didn't know what presents were, and didn't really mess with them.  However, now she knows what they are and when the Christmas ones come out it could get interesting!

 I sat her on the table pre-party to get some pictures of her with the cake.  We had a family from church over to celebrate, along with my parents, and I knew that she'd be too excited and distracted after everyone arrived.

 The problem is she continued to climb on the table the rest of the evening.

 I chose "look WHOOOO is two" as her theme last winter.  I just thought it would be different and fun.  Thanks to Pinterest it was really easy to do.

 She didn't blow out the candles...she kept making blowing sounds but nothing productive.
 My mom made a beautiful owl bib that is reversable for her.  Bibs are always needed and well used at our house.

These are our Christmas trees.  The biggest one is our tree in the living room, the middle sized one is for the basement.  The littlest one was ours when we first got married in our little apartment.  I think it will also be in the basement this year.  Tomorrow the felt owls and streamers will come down and the regular stuff will go up.  Birthday trees were fun though.

I'll measure Sweet Pea on her birthday and then add those stats here so I don't forget them :o)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Truth About the Holidays

     Ok Mamas out there, here's the truth.  I want my house to look just like Country Living.  I want my foods to taste (and look) just like Family Circle.  I want my crafts with the kids to look like Family Fun.  But I have to face it.  None of it does.  Heavens, I'd like my kids to behave like Duggars, but that isn't happening either.

     But here's another truth.  NONE of that is important.  Except the kids' behavior.  But I'm pretty sure we see what the cameras want us to see.  Also we don't have cable, I've only seen the show when I've been the hospital having just had my own "and counting".

     I get SO frustrated when I do my once a month cleaning and then within 2 hours of coming home my house looks like I've done nothing.  I, of course, know better.  I know that the crud that has been lurking next to the stove is finally gone and that the bathroom is indeed disinfected, but to LOOK around my house you'd never know I'd worked so hard.

    But this morning I realized, yet again, that I'm ok with it.  There are art supplies in various places they shouldn't be.  Sweet Pea, who is going to be 2 in less than 2 weeks, has a knack for getting into everything and redistributing it.  However, the supplies are out in the first place as the kids are working on presents to take to a local nursing home and I'm getting ready for a birthday party.  I'd rather be doing those things and deal with the collateral than not.

   There's cereal all over.  Again, mostly because Sweet Pea is a live Pig Pen from Peanuts.  But its also because the kids get their own breakfasts and sometimes that's messy.  But they also are learning to sweep, unload the dishwasher, and clean up after themselves.  And as they're learning it isn't perfect.  And I have to step back, breathe, and know that it is OK to find a Cheerio on the bathroom floor.  I just should be thankful that I found it before any of the kids.  Because food on the floor apparently is also a snack.

   I just think during the holidays we put even more pressure on ourselves to have a perfect family.  Nobody does, and if they think they do they're in for a big disappointment at some future time.  Please enjoy your family and keep your head above water this holiday season.  Take time to be thankful for what you have, even if it isn't perfect.  Have joy in the Christmas season, while remaining thankful.  As I was reminded by a fellow mom who spoke at a mom's meeting at church, it isn't everything your kids will get this season, but what you do with them.  Slow down and enjoy the little moments.  That's what they'll remember.  I bet that's what we'll remember too.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

So...How IS Homeschooling?

Welcome to our school.  I now notice in the picture above that the parrot's head has been covered by the poster, but oh well.  If our school had a motto, this would be it.  "Read!"  Some people have been asking to see inside our day of homeschooling.  Come on in.

This is a busy place.  The walls are busy, the shelves are chocked full, and the kids never sit still.  That's ok.  I have an alphabet up because LMM and Rosebud are learning their letters.  Both are in preschool this year outside the home.  This leads to lots of driving during our day.  We are working through that.  Snug and I work at our church, which is very near the preschool, three mornings a week.

 We use this room to store all of our items.  We work in here Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings, and every afternoon.  The shelves you can see are all of our fiction picture books.  They are alphabetical by author's name.  I have paint sticks with letters on them in between each section.  I use the windowsill to display books that pertain to what we are learning in science, history, or language arts.  Often they are library books.

There are two desks in the room.  One belongs to Snug.  The other is for whomever wants to come in and work quietly.  Inside are the backsides of papers Snug has completed and are free to be colored on. There are also some fun erasers, or other quiet things to do.  There are no pencils, markers, scissors, glue, or crayons in either desk.  Snug has a pencil on his desk that goes onto mine in the afternoon.  Sweet Pea is super sneaky and uses all of these items without making a peep.  So art supplies are on lockdown.  If you need them, go to the closet and get them-then return them.

The bulletin board is used to keep charts up (Bible verses, phonics progress, etc) and our poster we're working on for Bible.  The shelves under that are used to hold curriculum.  Next to that is our shelf that houses or hermit crabs and some other quiet manipulatives for little hands that are in the room.  

Next to that are two towers with colorful drawers.  Those are our workboxes.  One set isn't used this year, but will be if we decide to continue on and have more than one person being home educated.  Each box has a subject written on it (with a removable label).  I put any copies for the week in the corresponding drawer along with workbooks, special supplies that will be needed, etc.  One box says "read aloud" and that is where we keep books we are reading together or I'm reading to him.  
You can see more of the curriculum shelf and bulletin board here.  We have a timeline on the wall (we used painter's tape and sticky tack so it isn't permanent) that we are using for both Bible and history.  We also have a white board, ones/tens/hundreds chart, calendar, and a place to count money.  WAY up high is a blue basket that keeps all of our dry erase markers...again because Sweet Pea would use them otherwise.  To the left of the calendar are clothespins with letters on them Snug uses for spelling practice.  I'll talk about the shelf on the far left of this picture in a minute.  

Here is "my" space.  I have a desk and some files here.  Also on the shelf are our non-fiction books or children's treasuries.  I have math, science, and language arts manipulatives on these shelves.  SO MUCH of this stuff are things that I had bought when I was a teacher or things my mom gifted to me when she retired from teaching.  We have bought very little this year for homeschooling, even in the way of curriculum.  
AND HERE'S THE MESS.  I'm so blessed to have a "closet" I can close.  This room was the girls' room and this closet was always a big joke.  One girl wouldn't be able to keep her clothes in here, let alone two.  #1 built some shelves and it is saving my life.  Top shelf holds things for younger siblings and the little boy I babysit for to play with (provided they are quiet) while they are in the room.  I rotate these things out about every 2 weeks.  Next shelf down:  books I have from college, curriculum I"m not using, and books from classes I took while I was teaching.  Next shelf down:  The crayons, markers, glue, scissors etc. that we "hide" along with extra school supplies.  Next shelf down is art stuff like special scissors, Sizzix machine, stickers, drawing paper, etc.  On the bottom is stuff that I want to keep but have no place for so I keep shoving down in the bottom.  Nice.  

I know how fortunate I am to have a homeschool space.  I also know how blessed I am to not have had to spend much money on it.  All of our curriculum is used.  I either bought it from other people or got it used on Amazon.  The only NEW curriculum I is Snug's math workbook (which I bought on Amazon).  My mom also gave me tons of things to use, and bought him some fun practice books-she also bought the kids the big colorful maps and the second desk.  I'd like to thank Jenilee for selling  things she no longer needed and for all her advice on homeschooling.  I also have many MANY cheerleaders.  I cannot even name you all, but you know who you are.  

That didn't really answer "how is it going" though.  It's going ok.  Some weeks have been great, others are long.  Overall I'd say I really like it and that surprises me.  I never thought it would be horrible, but I didn't expect to actually like it.  We've been able to do some field trips and stop and learn about random things immediately which has been fun.  I have learned a TON this year.  

Right now I'm struggling with motivating him to work.  It's hard when you spend a lot of time in the car, working in a different environment, and battling through curious and crying siblings. He's a daydreamer and he'd fritter his entire day away if I let him.  School is both easier and harder for him this year.  Last year the math was too hard because, for many reasons, he had never learned the basics...which made the higher level thinking things very frustrating.  I was trying to cram basic things like counting money (money was never taught in first grade, and only how to recognize a coin in kindergarten) and basic addition skills in the evenings after he'd been at school all day-he just cried through it as he was tired.  So we've been able to do that and he finally doesn't hate math.  But language arts is much more challenging this year as I know what he can do and I expect it.  Also he is now reading books on his level-mostly non-fiction as fiction written on his level really isn't interesting or appropriate for him.  He reads several levels lower for fun, and I'm ok with that.  But he's never had challenging reading or writing at school.  So he gets a little mad at me.  Too bad :o)

 I asked the other day if he'd rather go back to school and his answer was a firm "NO".  Interesting.  I'd say a bad day of homeschool is still better than a good day of traditional school was.  Some things have been coming out as we sit and talk that happened last year at school.  They have convinced me that we are doing the right thing.  But it is the hard thing.  I have very little free time.  I have even less energy.  I have a tiny social life.  It's called Facebook.  

Are we going to do it again next year?  Well, Snug has already asked that he do it again next year.  I have no idea what to do with LMM.  Much of that will depend on if our district continues its every other day full day schedule.  Then he is FOR SURE home next year.  I can't imagine doing this with more than one kid...but last year at this time I couldn't imagine doing it at all.  When I first decided to go ahead with this crazy idea of homeschooling I said I'd take it a year at a time.  I'm down to a week at a time.  Next week, we'll be homeschooling.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

I have so much anxiety right now.  Cool, calm, and collected do not describe my spirit.  I feel all bottled up inside.  I called my poor friend yesterday about having her bring the girls she is sitting for over to play this week and ended up crying.  CRAZY TOWN.

I really can't pinpoint the exact cause of my irrationalness. I have a few theories.

 I just returned from girls' camp-I've worked there since 1995.  This summer I realized I am no longer really needed.  At least not at girls' camp.  I'm kinda too old to be a counselor-the kids want the cute fun 19-24 year olds.  I know I did when I was a kid!  I'm no longer training counselors, which is hard because I LOVED it, but I know God has made it clear I'm done.  This past week I was on activity staff.  I had a good time, I taught classes, but I felt an unrest.  I really felt like God was telling me "this is it".  And that was hard.  Is hard.  I love camp.  It is home to me.  I love that my kids love it.  I know I'll still be involved, but I also know that everything has changed.

We're building a bedroom in our basement so that the girls can have our bedroom and then theirs which is pretty small, will become our homeschool area this year.  Although promised it would go quick, the guy who is doing our drywalling hasn't finished yet and it has been over a month.  We have no idea when he will finish.  Our house is in chaos.  All the homeschool stuff and many things I'd like in the girls' bedroom are piled in our "family room" (not finished but we use the space as that anyway) in the basement.  That means that the "family room" is ALWAYS a mess.  Also, our garage is a construction zone as it is where we have all the materials we need.  There is drywall and mudding dust being tracked throughout my house.  I can't even get to my homsechool stuff and school starts in a month.  I'm feeling panicked.

I've had a sore throat for over 2 weeks now and am super tired.  Going to the doctor today to make sure I don't have anything more than allergies or something along that line.  Not feeling well never helps the day go better.

I have been going to Zumba at my church for a little over a year now.  I ALWAYS feel better when I am consistently going.  I mentally feel better.  I have more energy.  I'm a better mom/wife.  I haven't been in WEEKS as we've been traveling/working on the basement.  I was so looking forward to getting back. I read on Facebook that the class is no longer there after this week.  It is moving to a location that will take me 30 minutes to get it instead of 10.  So that's out.  That is a hard hard thing for me.

I'm clinging to the following promises today.  And tomorrow.  And as long as it takes for this uneasy, jumpy, anxious feeling to pass.  Anyone else worry too much?

Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Matthew 6:27
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thrifty Birthday Party Fun

Ahoy Matey! Welcome aboard!

I"m going to go through what I did to do a big, yet low budget, birthday party.  My kids get a friend birthday when they turn 5.  Knowing the theme WAY ahead of time helps.  Everytime I go through a sale or clearance isle, I know what I can look for.
 This is where the ship sets in port.

I turned our deck into a ship for the party.  Most everything I had on hand, but I did buy a few yards of material-I have another purpose for all of it and it was about $20.
 Put yer cargo here!

For the signs I downloaded a font that I found on Pinterest-it was free!
 Watch out for Black Beard or he may make you walk the plank!

#1 made the plank out of boards our church had ripped out during construction.  We've collected and repurposed many of them.  I got a lot of my ideas from Pinterest.
 Our sail is up and ready to go.

The mast is a cardboard tube I got at JoAnn Fabrics when I bought some plastic to cover our diningroom table.  It was free.  The jolly roger we borrowed from a friend, and the sail is a table cloth we have.
 The first mate will make sure you get yer pirate gear!

Snug was in charge of passing out gear.  The bandannas were less than a dollar a piece as were the swords that each came with an eye patch.  We had 12 kids at the party so everyone was "outfitted" for less than $2 each.  We got them off Amazon and we have Prime so no shipping costs either!
 I cut the ships wheel out of a big piece of cardboard I got last time I ordered Rosebud's pictures from MPix.  It was helping to keep them stiff during shipping.  We had the large brown paper-we have a big roll of it that was here when we moved in.  The little black and red flags are material that I got that day at JoAnn's, and I will sew them together to make cloth napkins for the kids.
 Here's a side view.
 Sweet Pea enjoyed the very beginning of the party and then hit her berth.

 Rosebud was SO cute.  However, most of her costume was gone about 15 minutes into the party because it was HOT.  I made her costume out of an old dress shirt, and pieces of material.  Her pants are just brown capris.
 LMM didn't care how hot it was, he wore his gear till we went to the pool that night.  A friend gave us his costume when her boys outgrew it.

 I take too many pictures of her.  I can't help it!

 Snug's costume is the same-I made it from things we had around the house and his bandanna is the leftover material from making the little flags.

 I used black acrylic paint to give any of the party-goers facial hair if they wanted it.
 Another friend of ours had this ship and was putting it in her garage sale-she gave it to us for the party instead.

Snug's facial hair.  He was the first mate and LOVED having a job.  

 Before the party even started my kids were on and off the plank.

 #1 was the villain-Black Beard.  Again, I made his costume.  I wore one too, but I never made it into any pictures.  He stole the birthday treasure and the kids had a series of games to play in order to find it.

 Black Beard being apprehended.
 The kids caught him and he actually got whollaped a few times with their swords.

 Part of the birthday treasure was found here in the piñata.  I saw him at Kroger but they wanted $20 just for the piñata!  I waited a few weeks and he clearanced out at $5!  Yay!   He was filled with Easter candy that also went on clearance-none of it even looked Easter-y.  It was like Snickers and Pixie Sticks and stuff.  There were also some pencil toppers that I had from way back when I was a teacher, and some little bubbles that I had as prizes at Snug's 5 year old birthday party.

 Rosebud LOVED hitting the piñata.  We had a stick and after all the kids had two turns we got out a baseball bat.  Everyone had one more turn, then we let Snug have a last whack and as expected Snug+baseball bat= piñata open!

 The kids are throwing "cannon balls" at Black Beard.

Look closely and you can see a water ballon just about to hit #1.  He was then re-apprehended and led them to the rest of the treasure.  

 In the sandbox we had hidden bead necklaces (13 for $1 at Dollar Tree and someone gave us a whole bunch that they'd collected too-tell people things you are looking for.  Often people would love to un-load stuff).  There was also plastic pieces of "gold" that I got on big time clearance after St. Patrick's Day and ring pops.  I had a friend step in and buy 6 on the way to the party as I realized there might be tears if everyone didn't get one.
 The cake was an idea Betty Crocker had on their site.  He was SUPER SUPER easy.

It rained for awhile, but the kids didn't mind.  We had a big cooler of water out for the kids as it was in the high 80s and HUMID.

 I love this man.  Drama type activities are NOT his thing, but he played the part of the pirate so nicely.

 I made (with fabric I had on hand) each birthday guest a bag to put their treasure in.  When they did the piñata I had the bags in a box and as they collected things they brought them to me to put in.  Then I took the bag to the sandbox where they added more.  I then put a thank-you note inside each one, tied it up, and gave it to the parents as the kids left.

I was hoping to get more of these and have them as decoration, but never got around to it.  It is a olive oil bottle.

 After the party it all had to come down.  I think he was a pretty happy little guy.

Happy Birthday LMM!  We love you!!!!