Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - Review

I was looking back at my blog post from the end of 2007. It was interesting to see how many of the things I stated at that time are still on my heart today. Let's review - (the italicized words were written last year.)

1) No one knows what a year holds in store for them, but thankfully I know Who holds and takes care of my years! At first glance, it would appear that 2008 will hold several BIG changes for our family, the first of which occurred last night. Brad resigned as pastor of our church, and it was so much harder than I ever dreamed it would be........We're still not sure exactly what God has in store, but we do know that He was not going to reveal it until we took that step of faith and were obedient to what He asked us to do. Hopefully it will be something that will take us further down the road of simplicity.

After visiting several churches in our area, we just could not find what we were looking for. Amazingly, God brought us together with other like-minded families, and we have truly been blessed this past year to get to know these families and worship with them in a home church setting. Did this take us further down the road of simplicity? I can emphatically say "YES!" So much of the stress that we had been under previously was done away with. Less stress definitely equals more simplicity.

2) Also along this path we’re taking, we feel like God has finally given us the liberty to try and sell our home....... The housing market is rather slow right now with lots of foreclosures in the area, so it may take a while to sell. We’re just trusting God’s timing on that one.

We're still trusting God's timing on this one as it's still for sale. One lesson I've learned in all this is the need to be content with where I am and not stay focused on what may or may not happen in the future.

3) Our other plans for this year involve continuing to move towards being debt free.

Still moving towards that goal. We were able to implement a budget and pretty much stick with it for the whole year. Our only debt is our house and one vehicle. This is amazing considering the extra income we lost when Brad resigned as pastor last year. God has continued to provide, and we really haven't noticed much difference. It's one of those things that doesn't really work out on paper, but nonetheless it does work out.

4) Another goal is to continue to clear our home of the clutter that can take away our peace and cause more work than is necessary.

It was a blessing to be able to keep up with this goal throughout the year. Sometimes I feel like I'm constantly cleaning out (although I'm really not). But I do clean out and try to maintain at least every month or two. If I only did it once or twice a year, it would take forever! In fact, we had a cleaning out day this past Monday. With all the wonderful new Christmas presents, I didn't want to put them away without first removing some things and making more room (i.e. Emilie Barnes - if you get something new, get rid of something old to avoid too much clutter). We cleaned out all of our closets and were able to do this in one day. Too much stuff can definitely equal stress, and although we probably do still have too much, the periodic cleaning out surely helps.

5) Of more importance, I also want to read the entire Bible this year and continue to study God's Word and be discipled by others (hopefully in person but also by reading books, blogs, etc.) in the areas of being a better wife, mother, and keeper at home.

As of yesterday, I completed my goal of reading the entire Bible this year! I also feel I've been blessed to be discipled by others this year (in person!). I've also read some good books but not as many as I wanted as it seems most of my reading was regarding child birth (but this time last year I had no idea I'd be doing that!).

6) My husband and I have a strong desire to truly implement family worship in our home.

It's been implemented! We're still working on the "when" and the "what," but it has been occurring this past year and is a blessing to our family. How do we do it? Sometimes we'll sing and we always have prayer. For our Bible study, we've tried several different things. Right now we're using Balancing the Sword. It's very straightforward with no fluff. You read the Bible text and answer questions about what you read. Very simple.

7) I want to commit to discipling my children more and spending time with them and teaching them things that are worthwhile like instilling in them what it means to be a keeper at home and how to love others (and each other), bless others, and to truly love God and have a desire to do His will.

Overall, I just want to love God more and seek to be more Christ-like in every area of my life. I want to be pleasing to Him, and I know that if I ask Him what I need to work on, He'll show me - day by day.

This is a continuing process and takes time and effort - definitely a repeat for 2009.

8) I hope to look back this time next year and see that we were able to make our lives simpler in 2008, but only with God's grace, provision, and help will we be able to accomplish these goals. I certainly trust Him for that!

And I'm trusting Him again for 2009!

I hope your 2009 is filled with wonderful blessings from above! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

It Truly is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I start feeling the excitement and anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas sometime around September, and by December 26th, I'm still not quite ready for it all to go away. Then I remind myself how quickly it returns, and then I'm okay with it. I started removing the ornaments from the tree on Friday afternoon, and by Saturday afternoon all the Christmas decorations were packed away. Now it's time to start thinking about the New Year and goals that I have in mind, but I'll save that for another time. For now, I'll share what's been going on around here for the past couple of weeks.

It's been a flurry of enjoyable activities but nothing overwhelming. It was all supposed to start on Tuesday the 19th with an afternoon party at our home for our homeschool group, but when Amelia woke up with what was probably a stomach virus, I decided I better alert everyone and cancel the party. My girls were definitely sad about that, but it turned out to be the best decision as by the time we went to bed, everyone except for me and Matthew had developed some symptoms.

The next day everyone felt much better, and we attended a nice Christmas party that evening at the beautiful home of my friend Kathy.

Thursday was a free day, and on Friday evening, I went to my friend Terri's home for our annual Christmas party. I blogged about that last year. It's the one with my close childhood friends, and we had a great time as usual.

Saturday morning, we were at the gym as the basketball team that Madison is playing with made it to the final game of the Christmas tournament. They lost by one point! (Cari is playing basketball this year, too, but unfortunately her team didn't make it past their first game.)

On Saturday evening, we had our church family over to our home for a Christmas service. We had such a wonderful time singing Christmas hymns followed by prayer and a Christmas message. Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious traditional Christmas meal that everyone contributed to. Before everyone headed home, we ended the evening with more Christmas hymns. Even the younger folks were skimming through the hymn book making their requests. It was really a lot of fun.

Since we didn't have our regular service on Sunday morning, we had the opportunity to go to Alabama and visit with our friends at the church where Brad used to pastor. It was great to see everyone again! One of the families invited us over for lunch afterwards, and we spent the afternoon with them. (This worked out well, as can you believe the real estate agent called and wanted to show our house on Sunday afternoon! Can you imagine what my home must have looked like after all of the activity from the previous week? We picked up as best as we could and didn't worry about the rest. I was very glad we weren't home when they came.)

Monday and Tuesday, the 22nd and 23rd, were pretty quiet around here, and on Christmas Eve, my mom, dad, and aunt came over for a Christmas Eve meal. I fixed lasagna, spaghetti, 7-layer salad, rolls, and sugar cookies. They stayed and visited for a while, and later that evening after they left, Brad and I, the girls, and Matthew opened our gifts for each other. Well, Matthew didn't actually open his gifts! I received (by request actually) a radio/CD player for the kitchen. It's one of those that attaches underneath a cabinet so it's out of the way. I love being able to listen to music or messages while I'm working in the kitchen - or anywhere else for that matter as it has very good sound and can be heard throughout the house. It also has an alarm clock, but I'm not sure why you would need an alarm clock in the kitchen - unless you turned it up real loud in order to wake up the whole family at the same time?

On Christmas Day, Madison and Cari woke us up around 5 a.m. to see what had been left out in the living room during the night. I had to wake Amelia up around 9 a.m. Among other things, Madison received a violin and a phone, Cari got a Leapfrog DIDJ and Little House on the Prairie DVDs, Amelia got a ladybug tent, and Matthew got some toys. I don't have time to list everything, but let's just say they were very blessed (and we're going to use this week to do some cleaning out before we do the putting away!).

I'm very thankful to have had a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends and most of all for the blessing of Jesus - the reason we celebrate!

*I can't believe I failed to mention the rest of Christmas Day! We spent the day at my mom and dad's with my aunt, sister, and brother-in-law. My mother goes crazy with Christmas and my children can hardly wait to get over there (me, too, if I'm being honest!). Here are a few pictures from the day at their home:

My mother holding Matthew.

Cari holding her American girl doll, Kirsten, that my mom and dad gave her.

Amelia wearing her new hat and holding her new doll she named Ellie.

Here's Cari, Madison, and Amelia modeling their new scarves that Aunt Angela knitted for them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Father Daughter Tea

On Sunday, November 30th, Brad and the girls attended a father daughter tea with other dads and daughters in our church fellowship. The place that hosted their tea was very nice and was decorated beautifully (from what I've heard and from the pictures I've seen). They heard messages on courtship, modest dress, and the blessings of a family. They also got to enjoy some tasty refreshments. The father and daughter that put this together did a great job, and my family had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

The day after Thanksgiving has officially become our day to decorate for Christmas. I used to do it a week or two before Thanksgiving, but in recent years I've decided that I prefer to not run the two holidays together. They are both special and deserve their own proper attention. :>)

This year we decided to get a REAL tree! It has been many years since we've done this. In fact, none of the children have ever really got to experience a real tree. Brad and I always had one when we first married, but then came Whiskers. She was an inside cat, and one Christmas she discovered that she enjoyed climbing to the top of the tree and riding whatever ornament she could find on her way down. That tree turned over a few times, we lost a few ornaments, and it was pretty much a disaster. The next year we went with an artificial tree - because of the cat and also so I could put the tree up earlier. (That was when my holidays ran together.) We gave Whiskers to a friend when Madison was born, but we continued with the artificial tree until this year.

I love our tree. Brad picked it up at Wal-Mart (we used to do the tree farm thing, but this seemed more reasonable cost wise and time wise), and it is really a nice tree.

He brought it home Friday afternoon, and we enjoyed hot chocolate and a little Christmas music while we brought in the many boxes of ornaments, lights, and decorations and started decorating and trimming. The house always looks like a disaster while we're doing this, and it was Sunday evening before I got all the boxes stowed away in the garage, but it's all finished now. Everything looks nice, and I didn't go too crazy this year. I tried to keep things simple so that the putting away after Christmas won't be such a big deal.

NOTE: Speaking of animals leaving when a child is born, Major (our Bichon Frise) recently found a new home. Once Matthew arrived, it was evident that Major was not going to be getting the attention he needed. He was a good dog but had become sort of a burden. Pets shouldn't be burdens, so we all decided it would be best to find him a more suitable home. It appears that he ended up where he needed to be as I received an email update this morning from the family that adopted him, and it sounds like he is fitting in wonderfully. He also has a female friend his own age who is also a Bichon Frise, so I'm sure that makes for good company for him also (in case you're wondering, there won't be any puppies in their future). It does feel like a burden has been lifted, and we're much happier with him living somewhere else and knowing that he's being well taken care of.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I certainly did! My sister hosted the meal this year and insisted that I didn't have to bring anything, which was very nice. The meal was great, and even though I was feeling a little sleep deprived, I still enjoyed the day. I have way too much to be thankful for to not enjoy this day, and what's not to enjoy? Spending time with your family and eating delicious food that you didn't have to cook - it doesn't get much better than that!

Here's a few pictures from the day --

Here's Matthew celebrating in typical two-week-old style....

I actually caught him with his eyes open!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crazy Eights!

I was supposed to be scheduled for an induction this morning, but thankfully that didn't have to take place! Our precious baby Matthew George-Lewis was born Saturday morning, 11/08/08, at 8:03 a.m. weighing 8 lbs. even. It didn't take us long to notice all the "eights" surrounding the occasion. Brad took a picture of the clock as soon as Matthew was born, and the clock read 8:03:08 - as in eight seconds! He is adorable, and if you'd like to see pictures, you can visit my sister's blog as I haven't had time to load any pictures yet.

We chose the name Matthew after Brad had finished teaching one Sunday afternoon at our church. In his lesson, he mentioned that Matthew meant "gift of God." I immediately thought that would be a great name to give our son. The middle name is a bit long, I know, but we chose those names after our fathers. Brad and his dad both have the middle name of Lewis, and my dad's middle name is George.

As far as the birth story, it all began on Friday afternoon. I was two days past the due date, and I had a doctor's appointment at 2:40. After the normal exam, the doctor decided to do the non-stress test to make sure the baby's heart was reacting properly to movement. During the test, three contractions were picked up on the monitor, but they were still just the tightening kind and not the painful kind. Everything looked well, and we decided that if I didn't have the baby beforehand, I'd come back in on Monday and schedule an induction for Wednesday. I left the visit and on the way home received a phone call from my friend, Cherraine. She mentioned that she'd just read on the internet a story regarding eating eggplant parmigiana to help induce labor. It especially caught my attention as my friend, Kim, had told me the same story earlier in the week about one of her friend's doing just such a thing to induce her labor. So, I called Brad and told him about the restaurant in Atlanta that makes the claim, and we found out that they had a sister restaurant in Douglasville. They offer a free meal if you have the baby within 24 hours of eating their eggplant parmigiana. The girls were spending the night with my mom and dad, so Brad and I headed to Douglasville when he got home from work Friday evening. We returned home from the restaurant around 8:00 p.m. and by 11:00 the contractions were getting pretty painful. We were headed to the hospital around 11:30 p.m.

The contractions were not getting regular, but they were getting more painful. Around 2 or 3 a.m., the nurse phoned the on-call doctor, who was still at home, and told her the situation. They decided that since the contractions were not regular and I was only about 2 cm, the nurse would give me a shot of demerol to help with the pain, and then I could go home and rest easier in my own bed. I was thinking, "you must be crazy!" I told her I didn't even think I could walk to the parking lot, much less go home. I remember saying that I wished Dr. H was on call because he knew how my labors progress, and he would never be sending me home like this. She said we'd reevaluate after the shot. I began to pray earnestly that the Lord would allow my water to break so that I would not be sent home. Within the hour, he answered this prayer and I joyfully hit the nurse call button and announced what had happened. Within minutes, I had an IV in my arm. I was also now 4 cm and was offered some stadol, which I even more joyfully accepted. (I know I said I was going to try to avoid this, but I couldn't.) Soon after that, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me my epidural. Because of the stadol, I slept through this. I remember him asking me questions, but I was having a very hard time answering him. The epidural didn't work on the right side (as usual), but I was unable to communicate this to him - again, because of the stadol. The good news is that I didn't have to have any pitocin this time, so the contractions were not nearly as painful as they had been in the past with the pitocin. This made it not such a big deal that the epidural didn't work completely.

Around 7 a.m., I was complete, so they started making preparations for the main event. He was stuck behind my pelvic bone, so that made the pushing a bit difficult, but the doctor stayed with me the entire time and did all she could do to help. In the end, I was very thankful that I ended up with the doctor that was on call, and I was once again reminded that God always knows best!

After pushing for less than an hour, he was born at 8:03 a.m., but of course, you already knew that. He is doing very well but did have a bit of jaundice, making us have to stay an extra day in the hospital. We have an appointment this morning to have that rechecked.

I am so thankful to be "on the other side" now, and once again I'm reminded how it is worth whatever you have to go through to get them here. Not that I really had to go through anything as I was blessed with a wonderful pregnancy and L&D. My fears were unfounded, and I truly appreciate all of your prayers throughout the past few weeks! I have so much to be thankful for. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful family.

Soon after Matthew was born, I asked Brad what the number "eight" means. It means "new beginnings." How appropriate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Weekly Update and Have you seen the movie Fireproof?

I've made it to 40 weeks! I had contractions from 10 p.m. until around 4 a.m. this morning. I almost called my mother around 3 a.m. to come sit with the girls while we headed to the hospital, but I was really tired and I really don't want to get there too early this time. So, I tried to go to sleep and was successful. When I awoke, they were gone. I'm still having a few this morning, so I'm hopeful they'll start back up.

At my doctor visit last Friday, I saw the doctor who always says I'm measuring small. She said I was measuring 35 weeks (the week before I measured 37 weeks), so she wanted to do an ultrasound to check on the baby. According to the ultrasound, the weight was estimated at 7 lbs. 7 oz. That's exactly what Amelia weighed when she was born, and I would really like to stay in that range this time, so I'm hopeful he'll be here real soon.

In other news, the girls and I went with my mother to see Fireproof last week. I loved it! This movie gave a clearer presentation of the gospel than you will get in some churches! If you haven't seen it yet, I would advise taking some tissues along.

Seeing Kirk Cameron also brought back some childhood memories. I should have been president of his fan club at one point. I had posters of him attached to my walls, and I used to tape Growing Pains and watch it over and over. I also remember going to Six Flags and seeing him in person when he made an appearance at the Crystal Pistol. Back to present day, I don't think they could have found a better person to play that part in the movie, and I've been very encouraged by his Christian witness in his adult years.

Yesterday, one of the other home school moms in our group was telling about a recent interview he gave that she saw. She told me something about the movie that I did not know. At the very end of the movie, he shares a kiss with his movie wife that you can see in the "shadows." She said that he had his real-life wife step in for that scene. I had been a little surprised by that particular scene, so I was very happy to hear what really happened. I thought that was just wonderful!

I'll definitely be purchasing this movie when it comes out on DVD, and I would also love to have the soundtrack. I really like the "While I'm Waiting" song. I think it's my own current theme song!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One Week!

Now I'm one week away from the official due date! There really haven't been any major changes. This past Saturday night the contractions were coming about every five minutes for around three hours, but the fact that I could sleep through them suggested it wasn't time to head to the hospital, and sure enough, they eventually fizzled out.

When I had my appointment with Dr. H on Friday, he told me to be sure and come in and see him if I go past my due date. I'm assuming we'll talk about inducing. The thought of pitocin is not really a good one, but I think that outweighs going nine days over and having another nine pounder! It's quite disappointing to go past the due date, so I'm hoping that doesn't happen.

In preparation for the big event, we've started condensed school days. The curriculum we use combines Bible, geography, science, and writing. It's sort of a unit study type program, and we reached the end of a unit this past Friday. I didn't really want to start a new unit with all that's about to take place, so I'm just having the girls do their math and grammar, and then we have daily Bible reading and Bible time with dad on our free evenings. I'm comfortable with this schedule as I did plan ahead for this by starting school in July, so I don't feel like we're getting behind. (On the subject of our curriculum, we've been studying and reading (read aloud) biographies on missionaries. Our first one was on Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators. It was a joy to read about him and how he allowed God to use him in such a tremendous way. We just finished reading about Nate Saint a couple of weeks ago. When we started the book, Madison commented that it was so boring. As we reached the end, I had to read the last three chapters on the same day as she just had to know what happened! I had read Elizabeth Elliott's version of the story some time back, so I knew what was going to happen. I had to compose myself a few times before I was able to continue reading. After we finished the book, we got the DVD "The End of the Spear" from the library, which was a movie made about Nate Saint and the other missionaries that were with him. It was a little hard to watch at times and we probably wouldn't watch it again, but it is definitely one of my favorite missionary stories. As these missionary men were being attacked, they could have easily used the guns they were carrying to defend themselves, but they refused as they knew where they were going and they knew that the Auca tribe did not know who Jesus was yet. What tremendous love! I'll be looking forward to reading the next biography when we begin our regular schedule again when things settle down.)

Yesterday, I was given another surprise! We always have play day on Tuesday with our home school group. These women are such a blessing, and I enjoy the weekly conversation and encouragement. One of the moms invited the group to her home yesterday, and when we arrived, the girls and I were greeted with a "Surprise!" These wonderful moms blessed us with a baby shower, and we had a wonderful afternoon of food and fellowship!

That's about it for the weekly update. Time for my morning walk around the neighborhood!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Weeks!

With two weeks left until the official due date, I've reached the point where that's about all I can think about. With each contraction, I'm wondering if this is the beginning. I know this is normal and something that every woman does as she is approaching the due date - at least I always have!

I'm going to the doctor every Friday now, and this past week's visit revealed that I haven't gained any weight in three weeks. I was quite surprised by that as I definitely haven't cut down on the eating! But, she said that the baby is still measuring appropriately, so maybe I'm experiencing the best of both worlds? I have been continuing my morning walks and have actually been stepping them up a bit hoping to "make something happen." Maybe that has contributed to the no weight gain. ?

I've had a couple of baby showers and have received some really cute boy clothes. I haven't really been able to find that much over the past few months - there doesn't seem to be nearly as many boy things to choose from, but my friends were definitely able to locate some of the cutest outfits I've seen. He's going to be very well dressed!

My friends at church gave me a surprise baby shower. Remember the Bible study we were having a couple of weeks ago that I blogged about? When I arrived for the Bible study, I realized it was actually a surprise for me! On my "list" of things I most enjoy, a good surprise is way up at the top, and this was wonderful!

My childhood friends gave me a shower this past Friday night. I haven't seen most of them in several months, so it was fun to get together again.

Amelia had fun helping with the packages.

I have finished getting the hospital bag packed, the camera and camcorder are charged and ready to go, and the cradle is all set up for his welcome home. We still need to go get a new car seat, and hopefully we can fit that in this week. Otherwise, Brad may be going shopping while I'm in the hospital! That would be okay, though. He doesn't have to wait on a car seat to make his arrival!

As you're reminded, I would truly appreciate it if you would please pray for the L&D and for the baby. All my deliveries have been quite normal with no complications, but I don't want to take that for granted.

Another interesting note about my deliveries is that all three have occurred on Saturday afternoon, and the same doctor delivered all three. It just so happens that this particular doctor is on-call this Saturday.....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Yesterday, the Lord blessed me with energy and motivation, and I was able to accomplish everything on my to-do list. Whether you know it or not, I appreciate your help, too! :>)

The changing out of the clothes and closet organizing definitely took the longest amount of time, but I am so happy to have that taken care of. I enjoy seeing before/after pictures, so I thought I would share some of mine.

Here's my bedroom with all the clothes scattered everywhere!

A couple of hours later....

Stored clothes have been boxed and put away in the attic (Note that not all of these were done yesterday - only a couple of the boxes were added.)

The closet is ready and organized (It actually looks better in person than in this picture.)

The consignment shop bags are ready -

As well as the bags for the donation box -

After a short power nap, I tackled the car. I didn't take pictures of that since I did say I would spare you those details. When I got all the stuff out of there, I realized it needed to be vacuumed, so I took care of that and then loaded up all the bagged clothes so I can drop them off today.

I started the packing of the hospital bag but began to draw a blank as to what I needed to pack. I've always had the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book with all my other children, but somehow I failed to get a copy this time around. That was always where I got all my information, including what needs to go in the hospital bag. Without much effort, I found a list on the internet this morning, so I'll be continuing this task throughout the weekend as there are some things I'm going to have to purchase.

Thankfully, I had a quick supper planned of Sloppy Joe's and baked potatoes, so it was only a matter of minutes to prepare our meal last night, and I was able to get some other things accomplished while waiting for the potatoes.

I'm thankful that the plan worked, and now I'm thinking I should do this every day! Hmmm....While I'm thinking about it, what do I need to accomplish today?

-We have a short, local field trip this morning and will probably have lunch afterwards.
-Drop off clothes.
-Take Major to the groomer if they can fit him in today.
-When I get home, I need to catch up on my coupon clipping and get the grocery list ready for Friday or Saturday - whenever I can fit in the grocery shopping.
-Assign some school work. This will be a short school day since we have the field trip. We'll do makeup work tomorrow.

I think that's it. Doesn't sound too bad at all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I need your help!

All you have to do is read this. If there is just one person out there that reads this blog today, that will be a help to me.

I was speaking with a friend on the phone last night when I mentioned that this past Sunday evening I was having several contractions that were pretty close together, and I nearly started to panic because I have so many things that I feel are "undone" right now. You may ask, "then why are you blogging right now instead of doing those things?" Good question. I'll get right to the point. I need someone to hold me accountable today. Even if you don't want to, I can pretend you are. Here's what needs to get accomplished today:

*Get my bag packed for the hospital
*Do something with the piles of clothes that are scattered about my bedroom right now. I'm in the middle of changing Cari and Amelia's clothes out for the new season, as well as purging what doesn't need to stick around. The EBay sells weren't very successful, so I need to get everything bagged up that needs to go to the consignment shop, bag up what needs to be donated, throw out the junk, and store in the attic the things that can be handed down. I need to do this so I can actually take the stuff to the consignment shop and donation box when I'm out tomorrow. (I plan to stay home all day today.) Then I need to actually get everything organized into the closets.
*Clean out the car! I'll spare you the details, but it's a mess.

But first, we need to eat breakfast, do regular chores, and get the school work completed. Okay, here we go. Please pray for motivation (I'm starting to feel a little already after typing this) and energy - I need my vitamins!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


For the past several months, the ladies in our house church have been meeting once a month for Bible study. We bring our daughters, and the hostess usually provides tasty refreshments. It is such a wonderful blessing and something that I look forward to. The opportunity to meet with and discuss topics with like-minded women is something I've searched for - for a long time. We also get to do this on Sunday afternoons too, but it's nice to set aside a monthly meeting to get a little more in-depth on certain topics.

The last couple of months, we've been discussing gossip and slander. The first meeting that we did this brought lots of conviction and some serious thinking into the arena. We decided at that point we better do it again the next month to reinforce some of what we had discussed and to also be accountable to one another from one meeting to the next.

We used the book "Damsels in Distress" by Martha Peace as a starting point as she has an excellent chapter on this subject. There are many verses in the Bible regarding gossip and slander, and this is definitely something the Lord does not want us doing.

Why do women (and men, too) enjoy gossip so much? Gossip can almost be recreational for some people, and I must admit that in the past I've had friends that if we weren't talking about someone then there really wasn't much else to talk about. I now try to keep a distance from someone who I feel is likely to want to gossip. "Why?," you might ask. The main reason is I haven't quite figured out the proper way to stop gossip without appearing rude or "holier than thou." I can quickly change the subject, but once the piece of information has been spoken, it's there and probably won't be quickly forgotten.

For several years now, I can't say that I've enjoyed or participated in many gossip sessions, but I do think that slander may have been/is an issue for me. If someone did something to offend me, I could often be found finding or calling the person who is most going to sympathize with me and pouring out my sob story. Did I do this to ask for help with reconciliation with the other person? Probably not. Usually it was done to seek sympathy for myself and to make myself feel better. I have a new approach to this dilemma, which I was able to test recently. Someone did something that was really annoying and frustrating. I had that "boiling inside" feeling. But, I kept it to myself. Within a day or two, I was asking myself "why in the world did that bother you so much?" It was really no big deal. Had I ran to someone with the situation, that would have gotten them involved. I would have gotten over it in a day or two, but would they have gotten over it that quickly? Would they think of that situation every time they saw that person and would it make them think differently of that person? Yes, I think it would. That's the bad part about involving others. You and the person your irritated with may get over it and work things out, but how does that person you told work out the situation in their mind? It can make for quite a sticky situation.

I do think there are times when you do need someone to talk to. For instance, had I still been upset several days later about that situation, maybe I needed to go talk to that person and explain how I felt. What if I felt I needed to gain some insight or wisdom from someone before doing this? Personally, I would talk to my husband. But even then, I need to make sure that I'm doing it in the right spirit - a spirit of wanting to make things right and not a spirit of wanting to get my husband in the middle of it or get him upset about the situation, too.

I was discussing this with a friend recently, and she mentioned an area that she has to be careful with - prayer requests. I agree. I have seen times of group prayer requests turn into gossip sessions, and this is something else that we need to be aware of.

I could go on and on with this, but I'll just add one more thing. We need to be careful in this area in regards to our family members - husband, children, parents, in-laws, etc., etc. We can say things sometimes that are not very nice or maybe even disrespectful regarding our family members. How many times have I jokingly said something about my husband or children that may have been taken the wrong way or made them look bad? Just because I laughed when I said it doesn't make it okay.

Philipians 4:8 comes to mind: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. I think if I keep that verse in mind, it will make this gossip/slander thing a lot easier to deal with.

Here's another good one - Psalms 19:14 -- Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

The women/girls are meeting tonight, and once again, I'm anticipating a wonderful evening of fellowship, growing and learning!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Leisurely Saturday - Finally!

It's been quite a few weeks since we have had a Saturday to do what we wanted/needed to do instead of having something scheduled that we had to do. For the past few weeks, we've been having softball tournaments ---

and one Saturday we participated in our local fall arts & crafts festival ---

With all that behind us, here are some things I was able to accomplish this Saturday - things that are hard to fit in during the week.

I was able to take some time to freeze some fruits and vegetables that were getting a little soft in the refrigerator. I also got a big bag of bananas at Ingles last Friday for $.99, so I peeled, chopped, and froze most of those for making smoothies. Overall, there wasn't an abundance to deal with, but I felt it was definitely too much to throw out and waste. I had several bell peppers from my dad's garden that I chopped and froze for later use, as well as some leftover apples that I chopped and froze for cobblers, muffins, etc.

Afterwards, I took the opportunity to list some winter clothes on EBay. I had them bagged up to take to the consignment shop, but I've learned (if they sell) that the money comes much quicker with EBay. I only listed one out of the three bags. If they don't do well, I'll probably send them all on to the consignment shop.

My mom had a spur-of-the-moment yard sale, so I helped Brad load up a couple of large items to take over there. I had no time to put together any little things, but it was nice to get a couple of big things out of the way. I spent a little time there in the afternoon and then it was off to Madison's ball practice.

While we were at ball practice, Brad set up a campfire in the back yard. When we got home, we all sat around the fire and roasted hot dogs and later roasted marshmallows and made S'mores. Yummy!!

When we finished, we went inside and made preparations for bedtime before settling in for the night to watch some Texas Longhorn football.

This was my kind of Saturday - no hurries or worries!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fall Fever

We set out on our morning walk yesterday with a basket in hand to collect various supplies from nature for a fall craft.

Taking a break --

And here you go - our fall creation! We have to give the credit to Family Fun Magazine and my sister for sharing this subscription with us. We had to make one change in regards to his head. FF used an acorn for the head, which was quite cute, but the acorns in our neighborhood made a very, very small head in comparison to the body, so we just used a cotton ball instead.

After lunch, we went back outside for some more fall photos.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why Am I Excited About the Upcoming Election?

Because it's the day before my due date! I absolutely cannot think of any other reason to be excited about November 4th. We do have a McCain political sign in our front yard, but am I wearing the t-shirt, displaying the bumper sticker, or planning a celebration party in case he wins? No. I'm not.

It's been difficult trying to decide what to do about this election. Obama is definitely OUT of the question, and our family slogan has been "anybody but Obama." A friend of mine made a statement the other day that made sense. She said something like "this election will determine whether our country continues to go downhill slowly or quickly." It's sad when all we have to choose from is "slowly" or "quickly."

John McCain is okay, and I like some of the things he has had to say - especially in the pro-life realm - but does his voting record back up all that he's saying. I'm not sure. And Sarah Palin seems like a wonderful lady, but like many others, I'm not sure women were created for such a position. I've read blog after blog and article after article on just that subject. I even read one blog that had over 200 comments on it - most of which could not be backed up biblically and seemed to have more of a world view. I received a daily thought from Nancy L. DeMoss this morning that sort of sums up the reason for that:

"I think we have all been influenced by feminism—all of us. Some of the ideas that we accept as truth and as standard ideas have not come to us through our study of Scripture but have just come to us through culture." Might I add that some of the ideas have even come through the modern-day church.

Out of all that I have read, Voddie Baucham seems to have had the best article on the subject. It's titled "Did McCain Make a Pro-Family Pick?" He was interviewed on CNN a few weeks ago after writing this piece. It is wonderful, and I think it took a lot of courage and boldness to say some of the things that he said.

Here's another good article: LA Times Front Page Highlights Concerns Over Biblical Problems with Palin Nomination

And I was very inspired by what the Botkin sisters recently posted on their blog: Why Sarah Palin Inspires Us

All that being said and read, I find myself wondering again if I should be voting for someone or something that I don't believe in just to help keep someone else out of the office.... Should I be finding out more about Chuck Baldwin? Would that be a wasted vote? Do I vote my conscious or just not vote at all? Oh, the dilemma.

Note: After posting this, God reminded me that He's in control of this election, not me. Talk about taking a load off! :>)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big Families

For the past couple of years, we've had the bare minimum of channels on our TV - a.k.a. Dish Network's Family Plan. Brad and Madison were really missing their football games, so Brad has temporarily upgraded our channel plan to include the ESPN channels. Along with this upgrade, we got a couple of channels back that I enjoy watching - HGTV and TLC. I especially like Monday nights on TLC. I don't know if this is their regular schedule but for the past two weeks, they've shown a program called Children by the Dozen. A few Sundays ago, they had an all-day marathon of these shows. I love watching these large families and how they interact with each other and "get it all done." Last night they aired an episode of a family with 13 children (evidently not finished yet) with 11 still at home. (BTW, their grocery bill on average is $150/week. Wow. Ours averages $120/week, so I would love to know how she does that.)

There seemed to be a "big family" theme going on last night. I'm usually in bed by 10:00, but last night at that time they were showing the Duggar Family in NYC. They are a fun and interesting family to watch, so I stayed up past my bedtime to see the two episodes that documented their stay there and also their time on the Today Show. What a lovely family.

Why do I enjoy watching these families so much? I think I can relate it to something I read the other day by Doug Phillips in a Vision Forum e-mail. It was "excerpted from the chapter “The Art of Home School Opera: The Blessing of Family Eccentricities,” from The Little Boy Down the Road: Short Stories and Essays on the Beauty of Family Life, by Douglas W. Phillips, to be released from Vision Forum, October, 2008." The message began with the problem of "sound pollution" and how everyday there are "thousands of sounds competing for the attention of fathers." Here's what he went on to say ---
We live in a world of sound pollution — too much sound, all the time. We spend so much time listening to indiscriminate sounds that we often fail to hear the music of life. We need to reduce the pollution and start listening to the most important music — the sounds that make a Christian household a Christian household.
There is music in the sound of a family worshipping the Lord together. There is music in the sound of babies laughing, of children studying at the family table, of sisters preparing meals for their family, and of moms reading bedtime stories to little ones. When these sounds truly reflect hearts that long to please their Heavenly Father, they make up the aroma of a life well-lived before the Lord.
Of course, the most beautiful music to a father’s ear are any sounds which allow him to experience the blessing of watching his children walking in truth. On this point, Jesus Christ, the author of Holy Scripture, wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).
I am persuaded that the sounds of a household are a window into the soul of the family.
For most American families today, the sounds being projected are filled with the noise pollution of the television or even with the discordant shouts of family turmoil. In other cases, the modern household is an empty tomb — a shadow of what family life was meant to be. In these households, there is little sound because there are no children. Or perhaps the silence stems from years of family fragmentation in which mother, father, and children each have their own individualized lives largely lived out far from home.
The Christian household is meant to be different. It is a place of love and living
And that means noise. It means houses filled with the glorious echoes of babies crying, of children playing, of mothers teaching, of fathers training, and even a few animals chirping, meowing, or woofing. It means life — with all of its glory, sadness, and joy. It means happy homes of highly eccentric families, each with their own unique vision, style, personality traits, and expressions.
These homes are not museums. That means they are rarely immaculate. Gloriously organized chaos is sometimes a more apt description. They are homes made up of grateful and forgiven sinners who recognize that there is no greater joy than to daily experience the nobility of the commonplace, from the simple disciplines of Christian life — prayer, studies, work — to the thrill of watching fathers eating the fruit of their labors, of moms who radiate the glory of being fruitful vines, and of brothers and sisters who gather around the family table like precious olive plants (Psalm 128).
Look for these households. For their number is growing. They are part of a great spiritual work where the hearts of parents are turning to their children and children to their parents (Malachi 4:6). And when you find them, listen.

Hmmm......Yes, I like the sound of that........

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Grocery Experiment

A couple of weeks ago, I tried something new at the grocery store. (Note that for the previous three months I had been couponing the "Coupon Mom" way, and I had finally realized that was not for me. After several days of clipping here and there, I had all my coupons clipped and organized in the coupon box and was ready to make up for the savings I had been missing out on!)

I went to our local new Ingles - which is fabulous, not to mention they offer double coupons up to $.50 - and I took my coupon box with me. I've never done that before as I had a fear of dropping the thing and a million coupons being scattered everywhere, but I decided to take a chance. I also went without a list or a menu plan - something I've done maybe two or three times in the 16 years we've been married.

My plan was to buy only what was on sale, hopefully also accompanied by a coupon. This really worked out well, and I ended up with a LOT of groceries. I then went home - actually I think I did this in the doctor's office while waiting to be seen - and after considering what I purchased, I made out our menu plan for the week. I ended up needing a few more things to complete the menu plan, so I stopped by Wal-Mart on the way home and picked up those few things. I still came up $15 under budget and had much more than usual.

There was only one drawback - it took forever! I must have spent 1 to 1.5 hours in Ingles, whereas normally I spend 30 to 45 minutes. I knew of a few deals ahead of time since I had their weekly flyer at home, so I was able to plan ahead for those. But, they often have unadvertised deals, so I would come up on those and then have to search to see if I had a coupon, and that was a little time consuming. Overall, I think it was a good experiment, and even though I rarely have time to spend an afternoon at the grocery store, I'll probably do it again someday.

On the subject of coupons, someone had asked me the other day what coupons I'm able to use since we try to eat healthy most of the time around here, and most coupons seem to be for things that aren't so healthy. Here's an example of some of the items I used coupons for this past week - for a total savings of $15 off the grocery bill:

Kellogg's Shredded Wheat Cereal
Uncle Ben's Rice
Duke's Mayo
Spaghetti Noodles
Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffin Mix
Nestle Chocolate Chips
Fiber One Granola Bars
French's Fried Onions
Yo Plus Yogurt
Coleman All-Natural Hotdogs
Toaster Strudels

I always use coupons for laundry detergent, dish detergent, paper products, soap, baking products, oils, dressings, condiments, cereals, juices, makeup, shampoo, lotion, etc. - pretty much everything. I don't always have a coupon for everything I need, but all in all, it's definitely worth my time and effort to clip those coupons. Although it was a little bit of a slow process determining the best way to make out my grocery list each week regarding best deals, coupons, etc., it's getting easier each time I do it and less time consuming. Like I've said before, eventually I want to be that person that buys $100 worth of groceries without spending virtually anything out of pocket. If only grocery stores had Extra Bucks!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Household Update

I'm currently approaching the 34-week mark in the pregnancy. I absolutely cannot believe how quickly it has gotten here! The baby is reaching the point where he's "running out of room," so it's helping me anticipate the labor and delivery a little more each day. Until now, I've had several thoughts like "I don't think I can do this again." I do understand that I don't have a choice, but I've been really nervous and scared about the whole L&D thing. Some friends have seemed surprised when I make that statement since it is #4, but I guess it's all to deeply embedded in my brain. I've read several books over the past eight months regarding natural, medication-free child birth. While reading the books, I can almost convince myself that I can do it. Within a few days, the confidence begins to dwindle, and it's pretty much gone at this point. Since I've still been visiting the chiropractor every other week, I am curious to find out if an epidural would work this time, so I'm pretty sure I'll end up trying it again, but I am going to try to hold off on the pain medication until I really need it.

We are all very excited to meet this little guy, and I'm hoping he'll make his appearance sooner than later. Madison was my earliest baby - coming three weeks early (6 lbs 13 oz), Cari was two weeks late (9 lbs 1 oz), and Amelia was right on time (7 lbs 7 oz). I much prefer the 7 lbs 7 oz or less, but with the huge appetite I've had, who knows what we'll get! I was much more active with Madison and Amelia during the months before they were born, so I've tried to do that this time also - lots of walking around the neighborhood and continuing with daily activities, not to mention the 50 times a day I go up and down the basement steps during school hours! I was rather lazy with Cari as we were in a rental home while we were building the home we're in now, and there just wasn't much to do. I credit that to her being two weeks late.

Speaking of staying active, we worked in the yards a lot yesterday, and I think I overdid it. My back is not wanting to work this morning. I'm finding myself wishing I had a cane! We still have our house for sale and needed to do some maintenance outside yesterday - plant grass, put away the summer stuff, clean all the persimmons off of the sidewalk!, etc. We recently acquired a new real estate agent and dropped our price. She was recommended on Dave Ramsey's site, and she seems to have had a pretty successful year in comparison to many other agents. We're hopeful that she'll be able to sell it quickly, but we know it's all in God's timing and in His hands. In the meantime, we continue to wait.

I guess that's it for now - time to try to get busy! I hope you all are doing well!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Grandparents Day, September 7, 2008

Cari was looking at our wall calendar this week and had noticed that this Sunday was Grandparents Day. I admit it probably would have passed me by had she not mentioned it. It seems to be one of those days that doesn't seem to get a lot of attention. She immediately said she wanted to get something for her grandparents, and I suggested she make something - like cookies. We visit my parents every Friday, so we spent yesterday afternoon in the kitchen baking cookies so they could be delivered today. She wanted to do them by herself, but Madison wanted to help. In the end, it was decided that Cari would go first and make her cookies, and then Madison would make a different cookie recipe when Cari was finished.

It helped that I made a quick run to CVS yesterday afternoon. I noticed that I had one $5 Extra Buck that was going to expire yesterday, and I wasn't about to let that happen! I ended up getting two tubes of CG Amazemint Lip Gloss for $5.99 each. After using a B1G1 coupon, a $1 coupon, and my $5 EB, these were free. I also received $5.99 in Extra Bucks for my next trip - not to mention $10 in EB that printed from a survey I participated in a few weeks ago! I know that was off the subject, but I had to throw that in. Anyway, we were wanting a little dessert, so I purchased three bags of candy for $1 each while I was there. These helped add to our cookie baking.

Cari's cookie was a basic chocolate recipe with chopped up Snicker bars added in. Madison made M&M cookies. They were both quite delicious! Amelia enjoyed pitching a few ingredients in the bowl every now and then but mostly had fun taking care of the leftover dough!

Cari spooning out her cookies

Madison and Amelia working on the M&M cookies

Amelia helping "clean up"

My main duty yesterday was cleaning up while the girls cooked. During this time, I had thrown some tuna in the trash that was left over from lunch. Then I threw in some leftover watermelon. When I turned around and looked back in the trash can, the tuna was staring back at me! I just had to take his picture.

Cari and the chocolate Snicker cookies

Madison and the M&M cookies

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Chore List

We're trying to get back on a normal "school" schedule this week. Since we officially started back to school in July and it was still summertime, we did what I called our summer schedule of school. It was a little more laid back, and the girls were allowed to sleep a little later and have extra "play" time after lunch. It worked well, but now that we've added a few activities to our weekly schedule, I'm finding the need to jump into more of a routine.

A few years ago, Mrs. E was kind enough to send me a copy of her children's daily schedules. I thought they were a wonderful idea, and I implemented similar schedules with my children. I had not pulled these out this school year until this week, and I was reminded of how it seems to make life much easier. Instead of constantly saying "did you finish this or do that," all I have to say is "is your chore list complete?" It seems to free me up from having to constantly nag about chores getting done.

The left-hand side of their lists includes their daily school work, and the right-hand side lists their daily required chores.

Some of their chores include:
Madison and Cari - Daily: Clean room, put up clean clothes (I try to have these sitting outside their doors when they wake up each morning), take all dirty clothes to laundry room, straighten closet, empty dishwasher (this is usually waiting for them each morning, and each day they alternate doing top and bottom since they each prefer the top {no silverware!}), and feed Fluffy - the cat (alternating days).

In addition, they have chores that are done once a week on different days of the week, which include: Madison - clean out drawers and under bed, clean deck door window and kitchen mirror, dust TV and shelves in living room, vacuum living room, change bed sheets, and dust and vacuum bedroom. Cari - clean out drawers and under bed, wash outside of refrigerator, and clean and dust living room tables.

The above things are on their chore lists and are to be completed each morning before beginning school.

There are some things they have to do that are not on their chore lists such as bathing the dog and taking him out as needed.

Madison often helps with dinner preparation, and Cari and Amelia participate on occasion. In the evenings after supper, they take turns clearing the table, wiping it down, and sweeping the floor. The other one will dry the dishes after I wash them. I used to do this all myself, but it's wonderful to have helpers as it makes it much easier and quicker to get this dreaded chore accomplished.

Amelia just turned three a couple of months ago, but there are a few things that she can do. She loves to help! I'm working on helping her learn how to put away the silverware out of the dishwasher, and she also enjoys "helping", i.e. play in the bubbles, wash dishes. She also likes to put clothes in the dryer as I hand them to her out of the washing machine. She's also quite good at putting her shoes where they belong and keeping doors, drawers, and cabinets closed (since other older members of the family haven't quite gotten hold of that idea yet!)

They are a great help around here, but believe me, they don't do everything. I still have plenty to do. Later in the year, I will switch some of their chores around so that they can learn new things and be better prepared to be keepers of their own homes someday. I admit I was a little lazy when I was growing up and was rarely made to do anything except clean my room every now and then (which I must add I greatly enjoyed as a child!), and every so often if I was in the mood I would wash some clothes or wash dishes. I did learn a lot by example as my mother took very good care of our home, but that didn't help the laziness factor. I want my children to be better prepared than I was, and "the chore list" is certainly helpful in regards to this goal.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Rome Braves

Another fun activity we enjoyed last week was going to a Rome Braves game last Thursday evening. They are a minor league team - I think single A. We enjoy these games so much more than the Atlanta Braves. The parking is not nearly as much of a headache, it's much cheaper, and no matter where you sit, it's a good seat. You do have to be careful where you sit because the stadium is rather small, and you never know where those foul balls are going to be hit. That makes me a little nervous, but it's still fun. We've always gone on a Saturday evening, so we were surprised to see that there were not nearly as many people there as usual. We sat a couple of rows behind the Braves dugout, and when we arrived at our seats, I felt like we were definitely in foul ball territory, but thankfully no balls ever even came close. I credit the many prayers I sent up after we sat down and were waiting for the game to start!

The girls had their picture made with Romey and Roxie. I think they made Amelia a little nervous as throughout the game she kept wanting to know where "that boy and girl" were. She would fly into my lap if she saw them getting close.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Biblical Femininity

I receive a daily thought via email from Revive our Hearts ministries (Nancy Leigh DeMoss). This is one that I received this week regarding the beauty of femininity. I agree that we do glorify God when we strive to be the feminine women that He created us to be. When I'm out and about, it is often rare to see women that truly display this character trait. Displaying Biblical femininity is not only an outside characteristic but also includes what's on the inside and how we conduct ourselves in conversations and actions. It's my desire to be more aware of this in my own life. Here's what Nancy had to say:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I remember watching the ladies' free skate program in a world skating championship a number of years ago. My ears perked up when I heard the commentator, Dick Button, talk about one of the performances. He said, "She's a very ladylike skater. She makes me feel very relaxed when I watch her." He was describing the beauty of femininity.

There's something engaging about femininity when it's truly lived out. When women are true women and men are true men, it can touch people in powerful ways. It reflects the order God intended when he created man in His own image—"male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

You don't have to be a championship figure skater to display femininity. Could someone say of you, "She's a very ladylike teacher" or "a ladylike executive" or "a ladylike mom"? Whatever position or season of life you're in, you can glorify God by being a true woman.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cheap Entertainment

My mother-in-law, who lives in Texas (with my father-in-law who couldn't get off work), is visiting with us this week, and my husband is on vacation from work, so we're taking a break from school this week. Since we're not traveling anywhere, we've been trying to think of some fun things to do around home. Yesterday, we went bowling, and unless it's free, it's pretty hard to find cheaper entertainment than bowling.

I didn't actually bowl since it is sort of easy for me to get off balance right now. I remember bowling when I was about seven or eight months' pregnant with my second daughter. I stepped over the line and immediately started sliding down the alley with my bowling ball. I don't remember how I landed, but nonetheless, I did land. It wasn't pretty. We were with a church group, and yes, it was rather embarrassing. Madison was 3 years old at the time, and I remember she started to cry quite loudly as I guess she wasn't sure what had just happened. There were no physical injuries, but after that episode, I've made it a personal rule to not bowl when I'm that far along. So, I was just a spectator yesterday.

The cost per game per person was $2, so with four people bowling two games, including the lovely shoes, it was $20. Now that's hard to beat. Everyone had a great time, and even Amelia was given several chances to try to knock down some pins. We were also practically the only ones there except for a couple of guys next to us and a group of older people way down at the other end. The guys next to us included a mentally disabled man and his friend who was obviously there to help him. It was a blessing to see him having such a good time, and I think it was a good lesson for the girls to see.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blog Entries Worth Mentioning

When you have a chance, you might want to take a look at Mrs. E's blog. She has a couple of new posts, and I especially enjoyed reading her post about their current school year and how they get everything accomplished. I would love to spend a few days at her home - I'm sure I'd be taking LOTS of notes!

We had a great time at my sister's home yesterday. She hosted a tea party for my Aunt Jane's 60th birthday. You can read more about it here and here.

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Here's a few paragraphs that I recently posted on our home school group's web site regarding something that has been on my mind recently -

It’s that time of year when most of us are placing a lot of time, focus, and thought on our home school. If you’re like me, I generally let my brain rest from such activity during the summer break. I was fortunate this year to know early on the curriculum I intended to use when we started back, so I was able to make the purchase and even get our school room prepared and organized at the beginning of the summer. This left me with several weeks to just relax and enjoy my family and home. That time of relaxation officially ended a few weeks ago, but I’m pretty sure we were all ready for some structure and schedules to return to our household.

As we have returned to a daily routine, I’ve noticed that others have also. The email lists I subscribe to are already being flooded with field trip opportunities, extra-curricular activities, co-op classes, etc. It’s enough to make your head spin if you’re not careful. And that is an important key, we all must be careful to “be careful” in this area. In the July-August GHEA Newsletter, this very topic was discussed. In a nutshell, it brought up the idea that we as parents can be victims of peer pressure in the homeschooling world. I especially enjoyed a story within the newsletter titled “Somebody Else’s Priorities,” written by Raquelle Sheem. The main character was Mrs. Robin – “a new homeschooler, anxious to give her little chicks a good education.” Mrs. Robin was confronted by several well-meaning friends whose children were excelling in different areas – singing, music, foreign language, and medical training. The other parents were so thrilled with the success their children were having in those particular areas, they did their best to convince Mrs. Robin that those things would also be best for her children. Once again, eager for her children to have a good, well-rounded education, she was quick to hop on board with all of these activities.

What was the end result? She and her children found themselves absolutely exhausted. She came to the conclusion that she must drop something, but all those things were good things. How would she choose?

Surprisingly, one of her typical enemies, Thomas the Cat, gave her some wonderful advice after hearing her predicament. “Everybody always thinks what they’re doing is important or they wouldn’t be doing it. But just because it’s a priority for them doesn’t mean it has to be for you, does it?” I thought that was very well said, even if it was a cat.

Most of us have been around families that are excelling in areas that we are not, mainly because we’re not participating in those areas. Sometimes this can lead to a sort of peer pressure where we think we are shortchanging our children if we don’t allow them the opportunity to do the same. In the midst of this pressure, we need to stop and think about what is best for our children. There are so many good things available for homeschoolers right now, but choosing to do all of these “good things” is definitely not best.

Ruth Martin also had a wonderful article in this same GHEA issue titled “Peer Pressure Isn’t Just for Kids.” Here’s a few quotes I enjoyed reading: “Because our traditional school friends and family tell us all the things their kids are doing, we feel pressured to provide all those activities for our children. But, because our activities aren’t housed under one roof [like within a public school setting], we run ourselves ragged trying to get our children to all these enriching activities. Then, we wonder when they tell us they’re bored when they aren’t occupied! Children who are programmed to a quiet life expect a quiet life; those who are programmed to a busy life expect busy-ness!…“make it your ambition to lead a quiet life….” (1 Thess. 4:11) Don’t be so worried that they’re going to miss something that YOU miss the blessing of being with them and teaching them…..If you find yourself with more books in the car than in your schoolroom, rethink all those activities.” There are many more wonderful words of advice in this article, and I’d be happy to pass along the newsletter to anyone who would like to read it.

The past couple of years, we’ve been able to pare down our activities and do what is best for our family and what is most enjoyable to us. Madison immensely enjoys sports and so is currently playing on a local softball travel team. Cari enjoys art, and since I have no talent in that area, I intend to make sure that need is met for her via outside classes. I want the girls to learn to play the piano, but thankfully, right now I’m able to teach them at home, alleviating the need to seek outside lessons at this time. That’s about the sum of our current extra-curricular activities, and that’s the way we like it. We enjoy throwing in a field trip to break the monotony from time to time and doing other activities within our support group, but when something becomes a burden to my family – or yours – it’s time to reevaluate our priorities. Maybe your family needs more activity then ours – or less. Most importantly, as you’re beginning your school year, I just wanted to encourage you to not fall into the trap of trying to replicate what others are doing or trying to participate in every activity that comes along at the sake of your family’s sanity. All in all, don’t be afraid to say “no” to the many good things. Save your “yes-es” for the best things!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recent Photos

A few weeks ago, during Madison's last softball tournament, she fractured her right ankle while running to first base. If you're keeping up, yes, this made for our third trip to the orthopedic clinic this year. Hopefully, it was our last!

The following are Sunday morning photo ops:

When Amelia saw the above photo on the computer screen, she remarked, "I'm so cute!" Okay, we'll work on humbleness some other time. But I do have to agree!

Just another advantage of homeschooling...... Having a difficult school (math!) day? Take a break, go jump in the pool, and have a watermelon picnic!

And, lastly, here are some updated garden scenes....

I know I planted cantaloupe seeds, but for some reason this looks like a watermelon. I'm guessing that's normal.

I have some tomatoes making an appearance!

Is this what a cucumber is supposed to look like? I'm assuming it's not finished yet.