Friday, November 30, 2007


Isn't it great to have friends? I have some of the best. I was in the presence of some of my dearest friends the past couple of days. I have some wonderful friendships that I have formed in recent years, but I've mentioned before my "group" of childhood friends that I still see from time to time. One of these friends, Donna, called me on Wednesday morning to let me know that her dad had passed away on Tuesday evening as a result of the emphysema he had been suffering with for the past few years. My heart was so broken for her. I immediately got on the phone with the other girls, and we made plans to gather at the funeral home the following evening. We got there around 7 p.m. last night and stayed until around 9 p.m. We probably smothered her for two hours, but we stayed by her side the entire time. (I haven't mentioned that she is nine months' pregnant and is scheduled for a c-section on Wednesday.) Her ankles and feet were quite swollen, so she followed her husband's orders and sat down on one of the pews in the chapel and propped her feet up. One of us, Angie, is a nurse, and she massaged Donna's feet the entire two hours! Is that a dear friend or what? The swelling was noticably better when we left.

Those of us that could met this afternoon for the funeral. It is really heartbreaking to see a friend go through this, but her dad was a Christian, and that is always cause for hope. I know that this is something we're all going to have to face sooner or later, and I'm already thankful that they'll be there when I need them.

We're looking forward to meeting together again in the coming days in celebration of the blessed arrival - isn't God's timing awesome! I'm sure it will be bittersweet as she had really hoped that her dad could meet her new son, but what more could make your heart rejoice than to see the sweet face of that precious newborn.

Then we'll have our annual Christmas party at Terri's house the Friday before Christmas. She always has things decorated beautifully and has a fancy table set where we share a meal and afterwards exchange gifts and have a wonderful time.

We really don't spend that much time together. We're there for one another during moments of crisis or celebration. In fact, when Terri's precious dad passed away around 10 years ago, that is when this group of friends found each other again. We had gone our separate ways after some went to college, some got married, had children, etc. At that point, we began having our annual Christmas party and haven't looked back since! For instance, we were there when Tina was able to finish college after many obstacles being put in her path. They were there for me when my Amelia went through some difficulties when she was a week old (I'll have an upcoming post about that). We have been there for others during crises that I'll not post here.

These are not friendships that take a lot of time away from my family. As dear as they are, there's still no one I would rather spend time with than my husband and children. I'm sure they feel the same way. These are easy friendships. Who has time for complicated, high-maintenance friendships? Not me. If it's not easy, I don't have time at this point in life to invest in making friendships work. Either they work or they don't, and this one definitely does. Thanks girls! (I know some of you read my blog!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On the homeschool front

I am usually not one for change when it comes to our yearly curriculum. I don't want to be wasteful, so even if I'm not thrilled with something I've chosen, I'll try to make it work somehow. I'm really pleased with everything we're doing now with one exception. Our Professor B math is just not working for us. I've tried using it different ways but without much success. I had been looking for something that would allow them to work a little more independently, and since this program is mostly on CD, I thought that would be the case. I think this program requires more teacher help than what we were using. I think it is a great program and probably would work well if that is what you started with, but I think it was just too different from what we were using, and that must have made it a little confusing. We may go back to Rod & Staff. A friend of mine is going to let me see her SOS math, so that's a possibility also. Next year, I'm pretty sure I'll let Madison do the Teaching Textbooks program. I've heard a lot of good things about that program, and as she gets closer to high-school work, I'm sure we're both going to need all the help we can get.

I really like the Easy Grammar text that we're using. Also, they discovered Mad Libs and Wacky Tales this week. What a great way to practice grammar! I remember when I was in elementary or jr. high school, I would always buy those Mad Lib books whenever our school had those book fairs. My friends and I had such a good time filling in the blanks and then reading the crazy stories. I can't believe I hadn't thought of them sooner for my girls.

Reading is still a bit of a drudgery around here. Yes, as a homeschool mom, I don't like having to admit that. They just don't enjoy reading. They like to be read to but don't necessarily enjoy just sitting down with a book by themselves. I was reading in The Old Schoolhouse magazine some suggestions for getting your kids to read, and The Boxcar Children series of books was suggested. I got these at the library, and my children are actually reading them! I think I read there were 72 books in this series, so I hope they'll continue to enjoy them.

This month we're going to try to add in some Christmas crafts. We started on some cross-stitch projects earlier this week. Maybe they'll have them finished by next Christmas! We'll make our annual gingerbread house hopefully next week. It's always a lot of fun, and I'm sure even Amelia will enjoy building this year!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Saturday - Emeril's Cowboy Chicken Casserole (this was Brad's newest experiment, and it was delicious!)

Sunday - Pampered Chef Taco Ring (can you tell crescent rolls have been on sale recently? - plus I had coupons)

Tuesday - Cilantro Lime Talapia (Jordan Rubin recipe), Rice, Corn, Rolls

Wednesday - Chicken with fried rice and vegs

Thursday - Breakfast for supper - grits, eggs, turkey bacon, whole wheat biscuits w/jelly

Friday - Sandwiches

Breakfast ideas - cereal, oatmeal, whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup, whole wheat chocolate chip muffins

Lunch ideas - turkey sandwiches, pizza, chicken nuggets, tuna salad
For more menu ideas, visit Laura at Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hooray for CVS! and Please pray for Noah

Just wanted to quickly say that CVS has a pretty good sale going on this weekend, and I was able to drop by and check it out yesterday afternoon. I certainly got some great deals! Everything you see in the picture was $36 (don't remember the cents, so I'm just posting the $ amounts). I got some Hershey's Dark Chocolate, two packs of Christmas M&Ms, Bic Soleil Razor, toothpaste, freezer bags, Softsoap shower soap, Johnson's lotion, and Maybelline eyeliner and blush. After coupons and EB, I paid $5! In return, I received $26 in Extra Bucks!!!

On another note, baby Noah is in the hospital and not doing well. Please say a prayer for him as you are reminded. (See the link on the side of my blog if you'd like more info about Noah.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Oh My Goodness!

Now I remember why I don't shop on Black Friday!! Although, I guess I really can't complain because I did get my tree! I went with my dad this morning as he was wanting to go by Circuit City and get a laptop they were having a great deal on - it was $299 after rebates! Evidently, everyone else in the surrounding counties had the same idea. The store appeared to be filled to capacity, and they had a line going down the sidewalk of I would guess around 100 people waiting to get in. Not to mention there was not a parking space to be found. We didn't think twice about getting in that mess, so we circled through and headed to the other side of town to Joanne. Thankfully, there were not nearly as many people in that area. We were there about 15 minutes before the store opened, so I waited about 10 minutes and then went and got "in the line" - my first time to experience waiting in a line for someone to open the doors to a store. There really weren't that many people there when they opened up - at least not compared to what we had seen earlier, and I walked straight in and hurriedly began looking for my tree. I took a wrong turn, but when I turned the corner I saw a stack of six trees in the middle of the store. By the time I got to them, there were four. As I walked away, there were only two left. I'm glad I got there when I did.

I guess we'll be spending the afternoon decorating for Christmas with a break somewhere to watch the Texas Longhorns (hopefully) beat the A&M Aggies! Hook'em horns!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mission Accomplished: Thanksgiving Enjoyed

We had a very nice, enjoyable dinner with our family this afternoon. The girls and I cooked most of our dishes yesterday, although it was a very leisurely sort of day. We didn't spend the whole day in the kitchen, and I was suprised at how quickly we got everything accomplished. Madison started out by making Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars. They were quite tasty, and I sampled several of those yesterday. Cari helped me with the cornbread dressing, and even Amelia joined in by crumbling up some cornbread - which she enjoyed doing very much I might add. I then took some leftover chicken from the dressing and used this to make some chicken nachos for our lunch. Afterwards, we went outside for a while, and later in the afternoon we worked on a few more dishes. I got up early this morning and did some last minute picking up in the house - which was a good thing since we had some unexpected company for about an hour this morning - just part of a pastor's job and not a problem at all. I then finished up the rest of our meal, and Brad fried the turkey. It was so moist and tasted great. I'm glad we decided to try something new this year with the turkey, and thankfully, we never appeared to be in any danger and encountered no casualties!

Now, everyone's gone home (including my children who went home with my mom and dad to help put up their Christmas tree), and it's very quiet around here. The dishes are cleaned and put away, and the leftovers are waiting in the 'fridge. I guess I better get to bed soon since I plan to leave here at 5 a.m. in the morning to go get a great deal on a new Christmas tree. I haven't been shopping on Black Friday in years, but when I saw this deal, I figured it might be worth the effort. I can always take a nap when I get back home.....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Enjoying Thanksgiving....

Have I said before how much I LOVE this time of year? I think I have, but it won't hurt to say it again. We were all outside the other day, and the girls were having a great time jumping in the leaves. It was a windy day, and the leaves were falling like rain. It just seemed so peaceful. I'm in no rush for Fall to leave. I love Winter, too, but I have a new plan in place to enjoy as much of these seasons as possible. As my blog title states, we're trying to move toward the simple in terms of our everyday life. The routine of the past has seemed to be a "hurry up and get it done" routine that carries over throughout the whole Holiday season. I'm hoping to not let that happen this year. In that regard, I'm doing something different this year. I am going to ENJOY Thanksgiving and not begin celebrating Christmas until November 23rd. In the past, I have usually had my Christmas decorations, inside and outside, ready at least one or two weeks before Thanksgiving. As I look back at the times I've hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my home, I realize how having a Christmas tree all lit up in the living room must have taken away from the whole Thanksgiving meaning. I have chosen to not let that happen this year.

We're doing our school work through today (where ordinarily we would have probably been decorating for Christmas), and then, Lord willing, I am going to enjoy baking and cooking with my family for the next couple of days. My girls love to decorate when we're having guests, so instead of thinking about Christmas decorations, we can use this time to prepare the tables and add a little Thanksgiving decor while we're at it without the interference of all the red and green.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the Christmas season and fully intend to enjoy all the wonders of it and the celebration of our Saviour, but for this week, I am going to concentrate on being Thankful.

Slight change of subject
This is a bit of a change of subject, but I have to mention an example of how busy we, as a culture, have become. A lady at church Sunday morning mentioned to me that she would not be at church Sunday evening as she was going to her brother's church to hear their cantata. I said, "Oh, are they doing a Thanksgiving cantata?" She went on to tell me that it was their Christmas cantata. They were so busy, this was the only time they could fit it in! That is so sad to me. Just another example of how even churches are getting too busy. Also another reason why the family-integrated Biblical-based model sounds so wonderful to me. If you are so busy that you have to do your Christmas cantata before Thanksgiving, there is a good chance that too much is going on - and sadly, probably things that are separating the family and pulling them away from one another.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

I had already planned to post my Thanksgiving menu, so I thought I would go ahead and join in on "Menu Monday" (sponsored by The Organizing Junkie) and elaborate on the whole week.

I'll have to back up to Saturday since I usually go to the grocery store early on Saturday mornings, and my menu actually begins on Saturday. I'm only including our main meal of each day.

Saturday - Maybe I shouldn't have started with Saturday. We ate out at our favorite Tai restaurant where they serve amazing egg rolls. (On Saturdays, we usually eat out or my husband will cook and try a new recipe. )

Sunday - Pampered Chef Chicken Brunch Ring. This is a quick, easy, and a quite tasty meal for after church. The recipe can be found easily on the internet. I changed a few things this time around. I used organic turkey bacon instead of regular bacon, and instead of swiss cheese, I used sharp cheddar cheese - just because I forgot to buy swiss cheese. I think I like it better with the cheddar cheese.

Monday - Spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, spinach salad, and whole wheat rolls.

Tuesday - Beef stew in the crockpot and cornbread.

Wednesday - Stuffed Baked Potatoes and spinach salad. I bake the potatoes (organic of course!), and then everyone adds their own chili (we like Amy's Organic Chili), cheddar cheese, and/or sour cream.

Thursday - HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I'm hosting an afternoon meal for my family, and here's what my girls and I will be preparing: Turkey (Free after earning my six turkey points at Ingles! We'll be deep frying our turkey this year. Never done this before, so say a prayer!), Cornbread dressing, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Homemade Macaroni & Cheese, Black-eyed peas, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, 7-Layer Salad, Deviled Eggs, and Homemade whole wheat yeast rolls. For dessert, Madison is planning to make a pumpkin pie. My sister is bringing a coconut cake.

Friday - Leftovers!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cleaning Recipes and other tidbits

In case anyone is interested, here is the site where I found the "recipes" for making your own household cleaning products.

There are some other good tips on there also. I was able to try out one of those tips last evening. Someone left a small, rectangular piece of hot pink paper on my kitchen countertop. This piece of paper got wet. When I threw this piece of paper in the trash, there was still a hot pink rectangle on my countertop. Remember, I threw away all of the toxic cleaners, so it sat there a while until I figured out what to do. Then I remembered that the above site had mentioned that baking soda was an abrasive cleaner. I tried it, and it worked! I had to let the soda "sit" on the stain for a few minutes, but with a little elbow grease, it came off just fine - and my head wasn't spinning afterwards from all the fumes as there weren't any!

I visited Dollar General yesterday to pick up some $1 spray bottles to put my concoctions in, and I noticed that they had a Mr. Clean cleaning mit. I had never seen one of these before. It appears similar to the Norwex except it's not antibacterial. It says it can be used for dusting and wiping smudges off of mirrors or furniture. It says it's washable and reusable. We'll see. With the texture and feel of it, I think it will be good for quick dusting.

While I'm talking about cleaning, I'm going to list a couple of my favorite cleaning tips.

For cleaning the microwave, this is very simple. Get a big bowl, like a mixing bowl, and fill it full of water. Place it in the microwave and let it "cook" for about 10 minutes. The heat and condensation will make everything loose, and all you'll have to do is wipe it clean!

I read the following tip somewhere the other day. I tried it, and it worked. In our bathroom, we have a separate shower and bathtub. The shower is hard to clean. You pretty much have to be in the shower to clean it. In the past, I would use those toxic cleaners to clean the soap scum and water buildup. In such a tight space, I would have to wear one of those protective masks. It was not fun. I saw where someone suggested using dishwashing liquid and a scrub brush for cleaning bathtubs and showers. I tried this, and it was so much easier. After rubbing the liquid on, it would have to stay in place for a few minutes, but the longer it sat, the easier it was to clean. My dishwashing liquid is not organic, but at least it did not have the fumes, and of course I wore gloves to protect my hands. (I can't remember if it was Ted Broer or Don Colbert, but in one of their books, they mentioned how a lady had blue dye showing up in her blood tests. They finally related it to her dishwashing liquid. Ever since reading that, I prefer to use gloves whenever I'm using dishwashing liquid.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What our Home School Looks Like.....

We have a new schedule around here for our schooling, and it is working out wonderfully. We start off our day with our Bible study. Right now, we're reading through the book of Genesis, and afterwards I pick a subject where I think we could use some help in the Instruction in Righteousness book from Doorposts. We read the designated verses and then have discussion. If you're not familiar with that book, it lists areas where parents may have discipline problems and directs you to specific Bible verses to deal with those problems. It also offers suggestions for discipline. I think it is a wonderful book of reference.

I used to save history and science for our last subjects of the day. We would often be tired and our brains would be too weary to understand what we were reading or we would just skip it if time did not allow. I know we're not alone in that predicament. I've spoken to several moms who have a hard time getting those two subjects in. Now I've placed these subjects second in line, and it is really going well. Our minds are much fresher in the morning, and we move through these lessons so much more quickly than we ordinarily would have in the afternoon. I alternate these two subjects. For history, we're using All American History. We really like this curriculum (it's Madison's favorite). Right now we're still working through all the explorers, and we'll soon be getting into the colonization of America, which I think will be even more interesting. We read the lesson together, and then each of the girls has a workbook where they fill out an information sheet for each explorer. Sometimes it takes 3 days to a week to get through a lesson as there are several explorers within each lesson. When that lesson is complete, the next day we'll start on a science lesson. For science, we use Considering God's Creation. We have found that we like this program also (this is Cari's favorite). It includes Bible study, vocabulary words, projects, worksheets, and ideas for further study.

Next and in no certain order and in each of their grade levels, we work on grammar using Easy Grammar, math using Professor B, spelling using Dr. Aardsma's spelling drill on CD-ROM, and handwriting practice. For writing, Madison uses the WordSmith Apprentice workbook. Once a week, they work on a computer typing program, and on Tuesday and Thursday of each week, we have piano lessons. I am teaching them as far as I can with piano and then we will move on to lessons with someone more knowledgeable. (I play the organ at church, but it's nothing fancy. I never really learned the more difficult cords, etc.) Once a week, we do art. I have an art book that teaches basic drawings, but for the past few weeks, we've been doing something quite fun. I received some free art instruction from Nature Magazine as a result of a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. You basically free-hand the drawings as they are demonstrated on the paper, and we have a good time comparing our end results. I'm doing this with them, and I'm having fun with this as I had no idea I could draw anything but a stick person!

When their schoolwork is complete, they have 30 minutes of required reading time in the afternoon. When all of their chores and schoolwork are complete, they are allowed 30 minutes of computer time to email their friends or work on their private blogs. I have found those two things to be good writing exercises. It may be taking some of the fun out of it (although it doesn't really appear so), but sometimes I'll proofread their emails and make corrections before they send them. I think it's a great way for them to enjoy writing and also get extra practice on spelling, punctuation, etc.

That's basically what our homeschool looks like. It doesn't really take that long to accomplish all of that either. We used to have to do some school in the afternoons, but with our new schedule of doing history/science second, we are usually finished with all the book work before lunch. I'm enjoying our school year this year (this is our seventh year), and I'm pleased with the curriculum that we carefully chose through much prayer and consideration. I'm already seeing where we'll probably make changes next year (as always), but this is working well for now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simple Recipe

While I was putting together our soup for supper tonight, I was thinking I should share this recipe that someone shared with me a few years ago. It is very simple and a great meal for when you're short on time - or not. Even my picky eater enjoys this, and it is wonderful in the crockpot.

Salsa Chicken Soup
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 can chicken broth
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, corns chips or tortilla chips

Layer ingredients in crockpot in order. (Chicken can even be placed in crockpot frozen.) Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours. (I actually cooked it today on "high" for 4-5 hours.) Before serving, remove chicken and chop into bite-sized pieces. Stir chicken back into soup. Top with cheese, and serve with chips.

Simple Cleaning

Once again, I found myself in a discussion this week on household cleaning products. As I sit here typing, my head is in a bit of a cloud after using some Lysol bathroom cleaner last evening.

God has blessed me with a wonderful family, and I want to do the best job I can to take care of them. In that regard, I'm careful about what we eat (I'll be blogging about that soon), and I also try to be careful regarding the chemicals that come into our home. I began using Basic H (a Shaklee product) earlier this year. I use it for lots of light-duty jobs around the house, including dusting, easy kitchen and bathroom jobs, windows and mirrors, and mopping the floors. I wasn't sure if this was antibacterial, so without investigating further, I once again began purchasing the Lysol bathroom cleaner and other toxic cleaners I found on sale. I just wanted to make sure those toilets were really clean, and if I spilled "chicken juice" on the countertops while cooking, I wanted to make sure that nothing dangerous was left behind. I don't think this was a very wise decision.

Every time I clean with those products, my body feels the effects of it - headaches, change in breathing (I wouldn't call it difficulty breathing, but it does feel different), runny nose, cough, etc. If you read my post below about our busy weekend, you will understand that we used lots of that bathroom cleaner in a short period of time to tidy up, spot clean, and of course, make sure the bathrooms were ready for guests. Yesterday, my family nearly went through a whole box of Kleenex because of runny noses. Do I think there is any connection here to the toxic products? I most certainly do.

During my morning chores today, those toxic products are (for the second time) going in the trash can. I'll be sticking to my Basic H. I have some "recipes" for household cleaners that include using vinegar, which someone told me is antibacterial, so I'll be mixing up some of that. I also saw some cleaning cloths called Norwex. Anyone familiar with those? I would love to hear about it if you are. They are antibacterial cloths that you clean with, either dry or wet. You simply wash them in the washing machine as needed, and they appear to last a while. They look a little expensive, but Marilyn Moll has a deal going on through November 30th. I may have to try these.

If anyone has any other ideas about safe, non-toxic cleaning, I would love to hear about them!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CVS Buys

Here's what I purchased this week. It wasn't the best of deals, but I only purchased stuff that I actually need right now, and I got more back than I spent, so that's always good. Total was $35. After coupons and Extra Bucks, it came down to $18. (Unfortunately, I left one of my coupons at home or it would have been less.) I received $20 back in Extra Bucks.

New beds

Amelia and Cari have new beds. They share a bedroom, and I wanted to find a matching set of twin beds for them or a full or queen size bed, whatever we came across first. My mother found these cute antique twin beds at a yard sale for $15 for both of them. My daddy worked on them with some glue and white paint, and I thought they turned out very nice. It's always kind of sad to me when the baby leaves the baby bed for the "big girl" bed, but she loves her new bed and is sleeping well in it.

Cari likes her new bed also. She doesn't really like to sleep by herself, but she is doing better with that in this new arrangement. She got to help choose their new bedspreads, which I think are pretty cute and simple. They did cost more than the beds did but were still a good buy.

As an aside, I used to not care for antiques, but I've recently grown more fond of them. They have such character and I love to think about how they were used and who may have used them in the past - during a simpler time. I guess that's the main reason I've started to like antiques. They remind me of a time when lives were not so hectic and busy. Of course, there were no epidurals for childbirth or automatic dishwashers, etc., but that's beside the point. :>)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where am I, and what just happened?!

This was one crazy (but fun) weekend. I wish someone were having a contest for the busiest mom. I probably wouldn't win, but I would have to come close. Let's see if I can document this whole fiasco!

I'll start with Thursday. We completed our school work by lunchtime on Thursday, so we went to our local rec. dept. gym to let the girls play with other children in our group. We left at 3:00, and I came home and began rounding up stuff for a yard sale on Saturday. Afterwards, I thawed some chicken wings for supper (remember the $.99/pack wings I bought a couple of weeks ago?). When I opened the package, I just wasn't sure about the smell. Wasn't that bad and could have just been normal chicken smell, but I dumped them just in case. I was short on time at this point, so I cooked a lasagna box meal that someone from church had given us at our "pounding." The kids ate a little bit, but I just couldn't bring myself to try it. I ate a salad, and Brad had a sandwich. Then we went to Sweet Tooth for an ice cream, and that made it all better. Around 9:00, I started checking to see if I had work for the evening. There wasn't any, and I was very glad about that as we had to get up early for a field trip on Friday morning. I checked back around 10:00, and this time there was work. I knew I'd have to stay up to get it done because there would be no time on Friday. Amelia wanted me to rock her, and as usual, I rocked myself to sleep also. I woke up around 11:30 and put her in bed, and then I went to work. They sent me a doctor I wasn't used to typing, so it took me a little longer. I finished around 2:00 and then went to bed.

The alarm clock went off way too soon at 6:00. We were all dressed and ready to go at 7:15 and met our friends at 7:30 in town to caravan to the field trip. We needed to be in Sharpsburg at 9:00, so we were well on track. When we were getting close, I realized it was getting hot in the car. I mentioned to the mom that was riding with me that Amelia sometimes gets car sick if it's too warm, so I started trying to cool things down. Obviously, I didn't start trying soon enough. About five minutes from our destination, it happened. I rapidly pulled in the first road I could get to, and it turned out to be a subdivision. I'm sure we were quite a sight lined up down their road running around frantically! I told Cari and her friend that they could go ride with her friend's mom, and they were out the door before I could finish the sentence. I cleaned things up as well as I could, and then we were off again. I didn't bring her a change of clothes, so since I was leading the pack, I got everyone to the school where we were going, and then Amelia and I took off to find Wal-Mart in nearby Peachtree City. (Whoever the initial city planner was for Peachtree City must have loved the game Hide and Go Seek. It was my second time to be in that town, and my second time to get lost trying to find something. My sister lives nearby, so I called her and she led me to Wal-Mart where we purchased a new outfit and cleaned and changed in their restroom. ) By now, it was 9:00, and the conference had started.

Our field trip was an Answers in Genesis Creation Conference, and I made it back by 9:30, missing half of the first session. The speaker was Dr. Donald DeYoung. He has written many books and has been a Christian speaker for I think he said 40 years. He had such a pleasant voice and was very easy to listen to. We went to two classes. The first was on the days of creation and was very elementary - like 3rd grade and under, but they all enjoyed it. They said I missed the best part. When it was over, we had a three-hour break, so we went to Chick-Fil-A and ate lunch and then let the children play. We then got back to the school at 12:30, and the next class began at 1:00. It was on dinosaurs and was very interesting. He used the book of Job in the Bible to discuss some of his points, and I found it very informative. I purchased a subscription to their Answers magazine and received a free DVD. I also got Amelia a creation book w/CD for a Christmas present. The conference was over at 3:00 and we headed home.

Madison and Cari brought home two friends from the conference for a sleepover. When we left the conference, we went straight to my parents' home to let Amelia spend the night, so she wouldn't have to deal with the yard sale on Saturday. After that, we came home, and I began making out the grocery list since I would need to go on Friday night instead of Saturday morning because of the yard sale. Thankfully, Brad ordered pizza for everyone, so I didn't have to cook. As soon as he got home, I went to the grocery store and got back home around 8:00. I ate supper, and then we loaded up the truck with all the yard sale stuff. Soon after, I fell into bed as I was exhausted and could no longer think straight.

I felt much better Saturday morning. I got up quickly and got dressed, ate a little breakfast, and, most importantly, I took my vitamins! I knew I'd never make it through the day without them. We had fun with our friends at the yardsale and got rid of some stuff. I made it back home around 2:00. The house was a mess. I couldn't blame it on the sleepover as it was that way before the company arrived, and these girls are not mess makers. I didn't have the energy to clean anything on Friday, so I saved it for Saturday afternoon. I had to kick things into high gear as we were having a baby shower at our home at 6:00! I was actually "running" from this job to that one. Not to mention, I had to make cupcakes and brownies (everyone else was bringing the food for our meal) and somewhere find time to get dressed. It was nothing short of a miracle, and I thank God for helping me get everything done. My girls and husband were a big help, too. Everything was ready by 5:30, and I had even had time to put a hair color on my hair! (I'm only 35 years old - too young to let the gray show through just yet!) We had an enjoyable time with our friends, and the last couple left around 9:30. Within an hour we were all asleep.

I know everyone has days like that, but thankfully we don't have a lot of weekends like this one around here. Sometimes there are many things you want to do, so you just make it happen. On Thursday, I had started thinking about all I needed to do over the next few days, and I started feeling very anxious. I then made a plan to just do one thing at a time and not even think about anything else that was going to happen next. I prayed for wisdom regarding the best way to get all these things accomplished. That plan worked very well and saved me lots of stress. The big picture would have been too overwhelming, but just taking care of a piece at a time worked wonderfully. (Yesterday, when I was getting our lunch ready after church, I looked in the pantry and saw a bag of Fritos. That reminded me that I had planned to make a taco salad for the baby shower, but that thought never crossed my mind on Saturday! I wonder why?)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

No CVS Deals for this Week/Couponing

I didn't make it to CVS this week for any deals. I just didn't see anything I couldn't live without. Since my ExtraBucks don't expire for a couple of more weeks, I'm going to hold out for next week.

The couponing at the grocery store is still going very well. I thank God for His wonderful provision in this area. With the coupons, I'm able to buy so much extra, the cabinets are quite full right now. I shouldn't have to buy much this week at all. Last week, I still was able to come in about $15 under budget, and I even purchased things like socks, hair styling products, and a few other extras! (Also, our church "pounded" us last Sunday for Pastor Appreciation Day, so I am well-stocked on paper products and pantry items. In case you're not familiar with the word "pounded," it's where everyone brings us pantry and staple items. Didn't want you to think we're a strange Baptist church where the members are allowed to hit the pastor! Anyway, it's a tremendous blessing. The last time they did this was October of 2006. I didn't have to buy paper towels again until September of 2007!)

One more thing - I wanted to mention this about the hair styling products. My hair is curly, but sometimes I like to straighten it with a flat iron. I was using expensive styling products for this (actually purchasing most of them on EBay but still expensive), so I decided I would try to see if any of the cheaper versions worked. I know that can add up if you buy a lot of stuff you won't use, but I have a daughter who will use it if I don't. Normally I would use one of the silk-based products that keeps away frizz and adds shine. I tried one product a few weeks ago - didn't work. I tried again this past Saturday, and I actually found something that worked for around $4! It's called Fx Silk Drops, and I found it in the styling products section at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the name brand is going to be best and you'll just waste money trying something different, but sometimes it can pay off and you can find another way to cut costs and save money!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

November Newsletter

I put together a little monthly newsletter for our homeschool group to keep everyone aware of what is going on. I usually try to write an article for the first page. Since I'm a little short on time today, I'm going to post the article that I wrote for this month.
What else could I write on in November except for Thankfulness? I have so much to be thankful for, and here is just a short list.

I’m thankful for my family. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband who loves the Lord and is always seeking God’s will for our lives. He does whatever he can to provide for us so I can stay home and care for and teach our children. God has blessed us with three terrific little girls (Can I still say "little"? I’m sure I can with Amelia. Not sure about the other two.) who are so very different but are such blessings. They have each added so much joy to our lives. I’m thankful for my Christian parents who did their best to give me a Christian home and anything I ever needed. I’m thankful for my sister who, by the way, was the one who actually first put the idea in my head about homeschooling.

I’m thankful for my wonderful friends who are like family. I have a small group of friends (there are eight of us) that I went to school with (some of them since kindergarten), and we still remain close today. Some would think it silly that school friends would still spend time together, but I don’t look at them as friends. I see them as a part of my family. I’m thankful for my new friends that I’ve met in recent years, especially my homeschooling friends from whom I have learned so much. I’m so glad that you are here to talk to because no one else would understand what we homeschooling moms go through sometimes. I’m thankful for my church friends and family. My husband is a pastor, and our church is so good to us. We don’t deserve all that they do for us, but I am thankful.

I’m so thankful that I live in America.

I’m thankful for the material things that God has blessed us with like our home, our vehicles to get us to our many activities and errands, nutritious food, clothes to wear, and a warm, comfy bed to sleep in at night.

Most of all, I’m thankful for Jesus. He is the glue that binds all of these other things together. Without Him, there would not be any reason to be thankful. Sometimes He gives us reminders to be thankful. I received one this past weekend, and I’m going to share it with you. The story is as follows.

I was talking with my sister, and she was telling me of a memorial service she was going to attend on Sunday. It was for a friend of hers, Karen, who had passed away last week after a few years of dealing with breast cancer. The lump in my throat swelled until I just couldn’t help but cry as she was talking. Karen was a homeschool mom of five children ranging in age from 12 down to 3 or 4. I only met her briefly at one of my sister’s wedding showers last year, but she sounds like she was an amazing woman. She and her husband had the attitude during her sickness that they were going to glorify God no matter what happened. They wanted God’s will to be done, even if it meant her healing would only come through leaving this life. Sounds like she had a heart of thankfulness. As my sister talked, I heard stories of God answering prayers throughout this sickness. I’m thankful He does that, too. Even during our hardest times, He is so gracious to be there with us and comfort us. When Karen first got sick, her oldest son prayed that the youngest son would have the opportunity to know his mother. As she lay in the hospital bed last week, the dad was holding the youngest nearby and pointing at his mom asked, "Who’s that?" The young son said, "That’s momma." God answered his older brother’s prayer.

I have to mention another touching moment she told me about. This couple was married on September 11th. They had a policy of always trying to call each other at 9:11 if they were away from one another. God chose to take her home with Him at 9:11. What a way for God to honor her husband in such a sad time. God is so good to us, and He loves us so much. Even during the most difficult of times, if we’re trusting in Him, He shows us how much He loves us. I’m so thankful for that.

I didn’t share the above story to make you sad but just to remind us all how thankful we need to be each day and how we don’t need to take anything for granted. My sister also shared that at one of Karen’s last doctor visits, they were getting ready to leave, and there was another lady ahead of them in line. She was arguing with the people at the front desk because they were making her come back in January. She told them she just didn’t have time and wondered why she was having to come back so soon. Karen and her husband laughed about this and spoke of how people can look at things from such different perspectives. I’m sure Karen would have loved to have been told she could come back in three months, but this lady was not at all happy about that. I pray that this story will encourage you and me to be more like Karen and not the other lady. It may have just been her way of dealing with what she was going through, but it doesn’t sound at all like the other lady had a heart of thankfulness. May that be our ultimate goal at all times – to have a heart of thankfulness in all situations. I think our lives, our homes, and our home schools will be better for it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

If you have a 2-year-old......

You might want to hide the lipstick!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Take a Hike

We did, and we had a great time! Sometime last year, we decided we needed to come up with something fun that we could do as a family. Somehow hiking was chosen. We just did our third hike this past weekend. The first one was October 2006 in Texas at Enchanted Rock State Park. I didn't get to hike too far when we were there, as it was quite a climb, and I didn't think I would get too far with a one-year-old in a stroller! The rock was very pretty, and all I could think about was what pretty countertops that pink granite would make. That and the warning to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes!

The last two hikes have been a little easier. A few weeks ago, we visited Sweetwater Creek State Park. I've lived in Georgia all my life, and I can't believe I never knew about this. I have found that I enjoy hikes that have an end goal in mind. I mean, a walk through the woods or up a small mountain is nice, but it helps if you know you're going to "see" something when you reach your destination. From their web site, here's a brief explanation of what we were going to see. "A wooded trail follows the free-flowing stream to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill burned during the Civil War. Beyond the mill, the trail climbs rocky bluffs to provide views of the beautiful shoals below." It was a beautiful day, and the weather was wonderful. There were a few tricky places now and then, but we made it through just fine. Instead of turning around when we reached the mill, we continued on the circular trail that eventually led us back to where we began. It was a lot of fun and sort of seemed like a field trip since we were able to see a piece of history. When I was telling my mother afterwards about our hike, she mentioned to me that she use to go there a lot as a teenager. She said the boys would carve civil war bullets out of the trees, and that she had quite a collection that she had given to her brother many, many years ago. There probably aren't many bullets left in those trees, but if we ever go back, I'll definitely be looking!

This past Saturday, we visited Cheaha State Park in Alabama. The leaves were not quite at peak yet, but they were still very pretty. We parked at one of the entrances to a trail and proceeded to walk into the woods and up the mountain for about 1.5 hours. We were looking for a small abandoned plane that had crashed there in the 1950s. We never found it and decided we better head back before it started getting dark. I think we may have taken the wrong trail. We will have to go back another time and find the right trail that leads to the abandoned plane. We always take a snack and water and stop half-way for a little picnic, which is always fun. There were not nearly as many people on this trail as there were at Sweetwater Creek Park. It actually seemed a little strange at times to be that alone with my family so deep in strange woods. We passed a few people as we were heading into the park and eventually someone finally came up behind us and passed us. Several minutes later they passed us going back the other direction, and I think we were on our own from that point on. On the way back out, I was fine until I started wondering if bears lived in those mountains. I think I started walking a little faster! Other than my crazy thoughts getting in the way, it was a fun, beautiful day also and we had an enjoyable time.

At one point we reached a clearing, and this is the view that we saw.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Manners Meal

We had a great time at our home yesterday with our homeschool friends. It was such an easy morning since we had accomplished so much earlier in the week. All we had to do was a little straightening up, add some finishing touches to the table settings, and make a run to Zaxby's to pick up our chicken finger platter.

When everyone arrived, we had a total of 13 children and six moms. We had places set for the children. I won't post pictures of our guests as I didn't ask permission, but here is a picture of one of the table settings:

Here's a picture of me and my girls that one of the other moms took for us:

After we made all our pictures, we gathered together in the living room to discuss table manners and proper etiquette. One of the things I mentioned is that in today's society, proper table manners are rarely used. I encouraged them to not be rude in doing so (like correcting others) but to lead by example. If they have good table manners, then maybe they can teach others how to have the same by "showing" them how its done. These children probably knew most of the things we discussed, but we had a good time going over the basic rules. For a resource, I used an excellent book that I have. It's called "Manners Made Easy." It's a workbook for student, parent, and teacher. It is written by June Hines Moore. It covers other areas of manners besides table manners and includes a Bible study for each section.
Next, the children found their places at their table (we had place cards), and then they sat down and enjoyed their meal while practicing their good manners.
Afterwards, most of them shed their dress clothes for play clothes and had an afternoon of playing. It's always great to give the children an opportunity to play, and of course we moms love our discussions and wonderful fellowship. God has truly blessed us with a wonderful group of families in this homeschool support group.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

CVS Deals for w/o 10/29

I didn't do a lot of shopping at CVS this week. They had a few good deals but not much of anything I needed. I decided to save most of my Extra Bucks for another time. Since we're trying to be better stewards of the money that God gives us, I try to evaluate those purchases also. Even if it's free, if we're never going to use it or I don't know someone who will, it doesn't make since to purchase it. (A few weeks ago you could have purchased a blood glucose monitor for $20 and received $20 in Extra Bucks. I wasn't sure if my mother-in-law would appreciate that as a Christmas present, so I left it alone.) I could have gotten Soy Joy bars for free, but they just didn't look too appetizing. I ended up getting Rohto eye drops, two packages of Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and a pack of gum. I used $4 of my Extra Bucks, paid $3 out of pocket, and received $5.99 back in Extra Bucks.

Since the eye drops were free, this was a wonderful opportunity to pick up an extra bottle. My husband is the pastor of a small Southern Baptist church in Alabama. It's a very nice building, but there is something in there that he is allergic to. Often while he is preaching, one of his eyes will get very red and almost swell shut. Hence the need for the eye drops. As soon as we get home, his eye will be fine. We have no idea what is causing this, but it only happens at church. ?

I'm not usually one for purchasing a lot of junk food, but since we decided to stay home last night and not participate in any Halloween functions, we thought we'd treat everyone with some PBC. We went out to a Mexican restaurant, and then came home and played a game while we ate our candy.

Maybe there will be better deals next week, but I'm pleased with my purchases for this week since they all made sense, and I did get some more Extra Bucks to boot!