9/23/09

The Word: Jesus

I'm rather talkative tonight, but this is on my heart right now. Honeybear and I have been doing a bit of researching and studying. We're been asking ourselves "what do we believe? and why do we believe it?". I know that my husband has been reading through different creeds and confession such as the Augsburg Confession and the 1689 London Baptist Confession. Honeybear's even been reading through Early Church History and some online articles by some early church fathers.

This morning the girls and I were doing chores and we were listening to "Victory Chant" from our WOW cd. I cried. I heard "Jesus is my Lord, I will obey Your Word. I want to see Your Kingdom come. Not my will but yours be done". It was as though I heard in my heart (or soul)... I will obey *you* because though we refer to the Bible as the Word of God.. Jesus *is* the Word of God. He is the *logos* made flesh. To obey God's Word is to Obey Jesus. I do long for that communion with Him. I believe that He is reigning now but I know that heaven is also His Kingdom and I long for that time in heaven when I will be in perfect communion with Him.... forever. Oh I am not yet ready to leave this world, my girls still need me; my honeybear still needs me, but I look forward to His Kingdom in a way that I don't remember ever doing before. I love the line "Not my will but yours be done".. I am reminded of the passage in John where Jesus prayed in the garden before His arrest. And I am reminded of how we are called to pick up our cross and deny ourselves and follow Him. To deny myself, means to give up and surrender my will. I must surrender to Him all that I am in order to obey Him. The more I surrender of myself, the more I can be filled with Him and be conformed to His image.

23 If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24 For whosever will save his life shall lost it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Luke 9:23-24

Summer Meal Planning and moving toward Fall

We didn't follow a true rotating menu plan over the summer but we did tend to have some of the same types of summer meals, just not a set rotation. We based the "when" of the meal on a few factors such as "too hot too cook", "too hot to even grill", "daddy not home early enough to grill".

One of the things we did seem to have fairly regularly as a side dish was "baked potato" salad. Honeybear does not care for more traditional potato salads but this one was a big hit with the whole family.

here is an idea of how I put it together. I don't really measure, I tend to eyeball and then taste and adjust. Please adjust according to your taste and needs.

5-6 medium potatoes cooked, peeled and chunked. I did try baking but found that boiled were easier to work with.
Bacon bits or cooked crumbled bacon
about 1 1/2 cups (give or take) shredded cheddar cheese
Dried Chives to taste (buy in bulk spice section if available to save money)
salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing, I mixed equal parts of sour cream with mayonnaise and added a bit of garlic powder. I really did just guess about the amounts but I did keep it fairly "equal"

Mix it all together and refrigerate for an hour or so. If it seems to "dry" after refrigerating you can mix in a little milk to moisten it. I tend to make it a little creamier so that it isn't so dry after being refrigerated. You can garnish with additional bacon bits or chives when you serve it.

Today I pulled out the rotating menu plan. I looked for the week that had "lasagna hot dish" and then looked for Wednesday (today). Wednesday on my Rotating Menu Plan is soup. I decided that though fall is now official, it was too hot for soup. hence my falling back on my summer stand by of baked pototo salad. Tomorrow's a birthday here and keeping with tradition the birthday girl gets to pick her dinner.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my rotating menu and it was quite to nice to have that chart laid out and ready to grab for choices for dinner.

Things Children Say

Today was a "wacky" day. I'd been feeling "run down" and needed a nap. I slept longer than I anticipated but I think I needed it.

But after I got up, the children went out to play. Mantha doesn't have the strength or coordination to ride a bike (even with training wheels) or a trike (though we do work on those skills) so she usually "rides" her "car" (little Tykes Fred Flintstone style car where you use your feet to make it go).

Apparently she had a "collusion" and needed a "mechanist" to fix her car. She did mean to say collision and she was looking for the word "mechanic".

9/22/09

Thankful Tuesday

We just got home a little bit ago from having dinner with friends. We always have a great time when we get together with the P family. It was a joy to see Daddy P playing with his children and for both families to just enjoy spending time together. I'm so grateful for my friends and not just the P family but all the wonderful special relationships that bless and enrich my life. I hope that I am as much a blessing to you as you are to me.

I'm thankful today also for Honeybear. He sent me a sweet email today and a text message. Sometimes I just need to "hear" "just checking up on you. how's your day? I love you."

What's on your thankful list this week?

9/21/09

Mind Games

Today's Musings could really be posted under Frugal Friday as it has to do with grocery store savings but I decided it would work for today's pondering.

On Saturday Honeybear and I went to several different grocery stores to take advantage of store sales and coupons I'd printed. Two of the three stores print your "savings" on the receipt. Something like "You saved 60% because you used your club membership" and it breaks down how much you had in "membership" savings, "store coupons" and "manufacture coupons".

On the way home from the last store, Honeybear said "man, those mind games are starting to get to me". You see the last store, the store we spent the most money at, didn't print a nice "you saved gazillions of dollars by shopping here" tag on the receipt. Yes it did total our in store coupons and our manufacture coupons but it lacked that big number that tells you just how much you save by shopping at their store.

Honeybear was feeling himself getting sucked into the mind set that he really was saving 60%. Oh intellectually he knew and I knew and I knew he knew that we were not really saving that much money because we would *never* pay those store prices anyway. We only bought the stuff because it was on sale and I had a coupon and that made it cheaper than store C.

Store C is consistently cheaper than stores A or B when it comes to "regular prices" and often their "everyday low price" is cheaper than Store A or B's sale price. Store C doesn't have to play mind games to make you feel better about shopping at their store.

But yet, there is something about seeing "you saved 60%" on your order today that makes you feel good even though you didn't really save 60% because you would not have paid those kinds of prices. I know I saved more money than my cash register receipt says at Store C because many of the items were on sale to begin with and I could play my own mind game with myself by telling myself how much I saved by shopping at Store C instead of A or B for those items but since I *will* pay those prices at Store C and I will *not* pay those prices at A or B is it really a savings? In any case, that particular mind game did make honeybear feel better when I pointed out how much MORE I would have spent had I purchased those items at store A or store B.

I'm sure there's a deeper lesson that we can learn here about how we are manipulated by data to stir emotions and sway opinions to their point of view, but I'm about to serve dinner so I'll let it rest.

9/17/09

Today's Thankful List

I don't remember if I was going to do Thankful Thursday or Together Thursday so this will be Thankful Thursday.

First I am thankful for my husband. I am most thankful today for his love. He loves me. I can be so irritating but he still loves me. He can make me feel so treasured and special. Sometimes he calls me during the day just to check and see how my day is going. I am thankful that he thinks of me and that he loves me.

Second, I am thankful for my teenage daughter. I am especially thankful today because she cooks. More and more lately she has been cooking. She knows my pantry better than I do! Today she said, "mom, I'll put dinner together" and tonight, instead of me asking for children to get this or that, I got this or that for her while she put dinner together.

Third and perhaps a little silly, I am thankful for my Cue Cat bar code scanner. I got it free with my Readerware software and Honeybear modified it so that I can use it with any program. It allows me to scan the bar codes for ISBN numbers on our books. This saves me time. Rather than typing all the information such as title, author and publisher, I scan the bar code into Tracker and the ISBN look up feature connects to Amazon.com and downloads the information. This evening while BooBear made dinner, I inputted library books into our reading log (a part of Homeschool Tracker, the software I use for our school record keeping). So I'm thankful for this time saving device that happens to be fun to use too!

What are you thankful for today?

9/14/09

Themes

I've decided that I really like the idea of themes for days of the week. Still working on deciding what themes and of course I reserve the right, since it *is* my blog, to post whatever topic I want on whatever day :).

So far I'm thinking something like this:
Monday Musings--- I hope this is vague enough that it can include deeper thoughts and more light hearted topics

Wacky Wednesday--- my children are always saying or doing funny cute things and I always mean to record them and I just might try to pick a few every week. Or it might wacky things in the news or me just in a wacky mood and no this is NOT original at all.. I don't remember *whose* blog I saw this idea on but I saw it on somebody else's blog. The particular Wednesday I looked at that blog, the blogger had posted a picture of her child making a funny face. I fell in love with the idea.

Frugal Friday---- I'm just tossing this idea around and again it's not original at all. I learned about it here on my friend's blog. She posted this link to the blog that has the Frugal Fridays. I don't anticipating participating in the Frugal Friday of that blog but rather have my own: "This is what I am doing to be a better steward with the blessings God gave us."

I'm leaning towards a Thankful Tuesday and a "Together Thursday"... together as in "getting it together and getting organized" posts about my binder projects or how we have school organized or whatever project I am working on.

I'm on a roll and thinking Sonlight Saturday. Sonlight curriculum is a big part of our school so I'd name the theme after Sonlight but it would be theme for school related topics. I just like Sonlight Saturday better than School Saturday.

I may abandon the idea altogether or I might change the themes but for now I'm going to try this and see how it works for me.

9/9/09

I haven't really fallen off the face of the earth...

I know this is a MUCH overdue update and I decided that today 09/09/09 would be the day to write *something*!

I spent the summer doing organizing projects, the biggest of which included setting up lesson plans in my favorite software program: Homeschool Tracker.

I'll have to post some pictures of my book labeling project. We use Sonlight curriculum for history and literature and this year I am using 4 levels. In order to keep my sanity, I felt the need to be *extremely* organized. I have each level of Sonlight (Cores K, 3, ALT 7 and 100) labeled, arranged and shelved. I have a "working school binder" set up so that I can grab ONE binder that moves around the house with me as I coach, instruct and mentor the girls.

I've also started "couponing" this summer. More so in the last couple of weeks. Even BooBear has enjoyed printing out coupons and looking through the ads to get the best deal. Not the healthiest of food but now that school has started we've been eating cereal for breakfast to make things easier in the morning. I was *thrilled* to get several boxes of Cheerios for only a $1 a box.

I think now that we are back with a routine and some structure, I might actually have more time to blog.

4/4/09

Binder Update

Since my motto for 2009 is "Getting Organized One Binder at a Time", I thought maybe I should post a quick update about my binder organizing.

I've been collecting my supplies. I've decided to combine my three 1" binders that hold recipes that I've printed from the Internet or email groups into one 3" inch binder. My 6 week rotating menu-plan along with the recipes for those meals will still be in a 1" binder.

My oldest is going to make a cover for the Recipe binder. She's very creative and crafty. I think she's inherited it from my mother-in-law. BooBear likes to do "crafty things". I'm very blessed to have a daughter who enjoys those things.

I've also decided that the "budget" book will move from a 1" binder to a 2" binder. I'm thinking I'll had some type of zipper pouch to hold the checkbook, return address labels and stamps. I'm tired of hunting all over the desk (They have a home. They just apparently like to go visiting their desk friends and never make it back to their own slot!) The extra 1" will allow room for the pouch.

I've spent some time trying to decide how I want to re-do my "household" binder. Do I want it in a regular binder or in the really cool zippered one that I had in the closet (that used to be my binder that could go with me. I even added handles to it! It looks like an oversized personal planner/purse combo thing.) All I know for sure is that this binder is way past due for an overhaul!

I found that I have lots of sheet protects and lots of tabbed dividers. Now that I've gathered supplies and made some initial plans, it's time to get down to work. I'm impatient though and I'm a perfectionist. I want it all done NOW and I want it done PERFECT. So seeing all that I want to do, I feel a little overwhelmed. I thought I would initially start with the household binder but I think I will actually start with those recipe binders. I'll be able to set up both the rotating meal binder and the 2" recipe binder so I'll feel like I got more done.

I've also started making notes (mostly mental, which means I'll lose them *grin*) about what meals will need to be switched out when summer comes. The rotating meal plan has really been a blessing. I've saved time by not having to sit down and figure out what to make. I've saved stress by not worry about what's for dinner. I've saved money because I know what I need to buy at the store and I'm not just buying food and then trying to figure out what to do with it. And when one of my children says "I really like this. Can we have it again." I just smile and say "yes, dear in six- weeks"

Whatever Happened to Honesty and Integrity?

Today a certain store lost my business. Was it because my order wasn’t ready when I went to pick it up? No. Was it because there seemed to be a computer glitch when hubby called it in? No. It is because they lied to me and they called me a liar. It is because they called to tell me the order was ready but I wasn’t ready for it. I asked what I needed to do to make sure that I would not *lose* that order. They told me not a problem, just call when we need it.

Today, they gave nothing but excuses. They told me that they didn’t really call to tell me that it was ready; they called to tell me they had to order it. Yet in the same breath, I was told but we have a record of it being filled and returned (um , hello but that was THEE phone call I was talking about).

They told honeybear that it would not be ready until Monday. Supergirl needs it tonight. I put on my “mean momma hat” and demanded that they *would* get what she needed. Suddenly other branches of this store had the necessary item. I asked “are you going to go get it or are you expecting me to go get it”. (They are going to get it as type this and will call when it is ready.)

Several mistakes and miscommunications happened that perhaps this could have been avoided but what bothers me is that it is so hard to just say “we messed it up when we marked it as returned. We’re very sorry, here’s how we’d like to fix the problem.”

I dislike the squeaky wheel syndrome. You know the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I dislike grown adults throwing temper tantrums that rival those of a two-year old just because they didn’t get their own way at a store. I dislike that I had to demand that they rectify the situation. Yes if I am honest (and I better be honest since I am complaining about dishonesty), I dislike that I didn’t follow my gut and make some follow up phone calls when they called to tell me it was ready but I wasn’t ready. But I despise being called a liar and I despise being lied to. It seems like lying is the acceptable way to pass the buck: the acceptable way to refuse to take responsibility for your actions and to stand on your word.

I am grieved by a world so caught up in self that we’ve given up integrity to protect our own hides from the consequences of mistakes. I’d much rather hear an *honest* “I made a mistake. I apologize. I don’t know if I can fix it and I think I might be causing you more inconvenience but here’s what I can do," then to hear every excuse under the sun. Please don’t tell me it’s my fault or your neighbor’s fault or the dog’s fault and above all else please don’t lie to me or call me a liar.

3/29/09

"Stuck" at home.

Yesterday we began preparations for going to church. Things like making sure we had a breakfast casserole to pop in the oven, planning a fellowship meal etc. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon it began to snow: big, white, fluffy flakes. Weather.com said that current conditions were "rain". I hate to be disagreeable but that "rain" sure resembled snow to me.

By 11 O'clock last night we had a good 3-4 inches of "rain" (read white, fluffy, frozen flakes of SNOW) on the ground. By midnight we had a tree that just couldn't take it anymore. It just fell over. Fortunately, it's a small tree and fortunately it missed the van. Unfortunately, it blocked the end of the driveway. By morning the snow was beginning to melt but the end of our driveway and our cul-de-sac could have been used as a skating rink.

With ice at the bottom of the driveway and a bigger problem of a tree blocking our driveway, honeybear decided we'd just stay home. It's noon now. The tree has been removed and the ice has melted. The sun is shining but there are still patches of snow.

When honeybear called to get the tree taken care of the man on the phone could not understand how it was that we had so much snow the tree fell over. When he came out to cut up the tree, he saw it for himself. I don't know where he lives but he only got a trace of snow. Apparently it didn't help that the roots of the tree had begun to rot.

So I've lost a tree and I missed out on church but the sun is shining. That it is a most precious treasure here in the Pacific Northwest.

3/28/09

"Profound" thought for today.

So we're looking at Daddy's photo albums with pictures from his childhood.

BooBear: "Wow, Grandma's hair looks like the 70's"

Daddy: "It was the 70's"

Good to know that the 70's are recognizable as the 70's. It'd be a shame if the 70's looked like today.

3/26/09

Quick Bible Reading update

Last week I mentioned that I was hoping to finish Exodus and start Leviticus. I haven't posted my Bible Reading yet but I wanted to share that I finished Exodus, started Leviticus and I finished Joshua. I've also continued with my reading of Luke.

Edited to Add: Oh yes and I started reading Deuteronomy this week.

So just who was doing school today?

I’m supposed to be the teaching parent. Today I felt like I was the learning parent. Science was not a requirement for high school graduation when I was in school, so I didn’t take science. Now as an adult I have discovered that I really enjoy science. Yesterday, BooBear had a question about her physical science. She’s currently studying Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion. She needed help setting up the equation so that she could figure out the answer to how much force was applied to move the rock or something like that. This required a crash course on Physics for me. I told her to bring me her science book and we’d talk about it tomorrow.

I ended up reading and re-reading the section in order to understand the relationship between force and friction. Using the Charlotte Mason technique of “narration”, honeybear got to be my sounding board as I tried to understand the science well enough to teach it to my daughter.

So this morning we sit down together to go over the section of text and to work out the practice problems. Instead of a teacher/student situation though, we had more of two students working together to understand the concept. I think I get it now. There’s an old saying that you know you’ve mastered the material if you can teach it to someone else. I can now figure out the amount of force necessary to maintain constant velocity if the kinetic friction is exerting a force of 16.5 newtons to the south.

Cost of Physcial Science Home School course: $117
Time Spent on Newton’s Second Law: 2 hours
Seeing daughter’s face light up with the “I got it!!” Look: Priceless

3/24/09

She's Growing up!!

My baby turned ten this past weekend. It's seems like a blink of an eye since she was a little newborn snuggling in my arms. We make a big deal out of birthdays in our house. The birthday person gets to pick breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tailor chose French Toast Casserole for breakfast, canned soup for lunch (yes, canned soup. I laughed so hard. I make homemade soup on a regular basis so Campbell's Chunky or Progresso is a special treat I guess.) and since it was Friday she wanted Calzone's so that we would still have our pizza theme but it would be different enough to be special for a birthday. Oh and the calzone's... she wanted "white ones". At first I thought she meant no tomato based sauce but ranch or something instead. Nope. She wanted white flour since we usually have whole wheat. BooBear had offered to bake her cake but BooBear got sick so we bought a cake. Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling with chocolate frosting. Yes it was too rich. But just how often do you turn ten? And yes we did have birthday cake for breakfast the day after the birthday. It just wouldn't be a birthday if we didn't eat cake the next day.


We like to decorate for birthdays. It helps make the day seem more special.

Everyone gets excited about birthdays here. Especially Supergirl. She's just so excited because Tailor will be opening her gifts.

"I think there's something in here"

The Birthday Girl

3/16/09

Bible Reading 3/9 through 3/16

I am still making my way through Exodus and Joshua. I did finish Mark this week and started Luke. I did not read as consistently as I had planned but still making progress towards my goal.

Here's what I read this week:
Exodus Chapters 28-34
Joshua Chapters 8-12
Mark 15-16
Luke 1

I am hoping to finish Exodus and start Leviticus this week.

3/13/09

Needed a Facelift and Challenge update.

For the second time in two weeks, I'm feeling pretty miserable. Two weeks ago I came down with some sort of cold/flu/virus. It worked its way through the whole family, *except* for Honeybear. Just as Supergirl was starting to recover, Honeybear came down with a nasty head cold. So now this virus is working its way through the whole family. Yuck.

So since I feel pretty clogged up and miserable and unable to focus and concentrate on things like Algebra and Physical Science, I decided to play with my blog background. BooBear helped picked out a couple of designs to try out.

Now a challenge update. Since I was feeling good last weekend and he hadn't got sick yet, Honeybear and I went with $20 cash only to the grocery store and spent only $18.00! I'm sure we made quite a spectacle standing in front of the frozen lemonade debating between the Ritz crackers and Pink Lemonade. The Lemonade won! We did get a box of saltines though and the girls were happy to have crackers.

The really cool update: I decided I needed to see what was in the freezer. We found chicken wings (1/2 of a bag-- the really really big bag from Costco). We found a Costco bag of cheese ravioli.

I'm learning that one can use flour instead of corn starch and still be "lump free". I'm also learning that green bell pepper, though nice, isn't really necessary if you have celery and onions!

But most of all I'm learning that God does provide.

3/9/09

Bible Reading 3/3 through 3/8

This is what I read this past week.

Exodus Chapters 21-27
Joshua Chapters 4-7
Matthew Chapters 26-28
Mark Chapters 9-14

As I was reading through Exodus, reading all the commandants, I realized how thoroughly God provided for every circumstance. And a distinction was made between intent to harm and negligent homicide. I could see how our own laws have their basis in the Mosaic law of the Old Testament. If a thief died while stealing, no one had to pay for his death. We have provision in our civil law for protecting our property and provisions. I just had never really thought about that before.

3/3/09

The Challenge

Now that I've posted about my rotating meal plan, I'm posting about a challenge that I've given myself. I've named it "the Debra game" in honor of my friend Debra who inspired me. She had not done what she called "real grocery" shopping for something like 6 to 8 weeks (I'm sorry Debra, I couldn't remember how long it had been). I like challenges. I like being told something is hard, difficult or just not done and then setting out to prove that I could do it anyway.

So I've challenged myself to see how long I can go without doing any "real grocery" shopping. And to add to the challenge I want to see if I can stick to my rotating menu plan. Can I be creative and stick to the menu plan? I do intend to buy things like milk and eggs but at the moment I am blessed with a full chest freezer and a fairly well stocked pantry.

Would anyone (besides Debra *grin*) care to join me in this challenge?

Let the Game begin.

Meal Planning: Creating a Rotating Meal Plan part 2

It took approximately 8 hours (give or take) to make the rotating meal plan. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? But it has been *so very worth it*. We finished round 1 and this past weekend marked the end of week 1 of round 2. We haven’t followed it *exactly* and I know that this coming week we won’t follow it exactly either. I haven’t had to spend time *thinking* about what to make for dinner. I just have to go over to the binder, open it up and look to see what’s on the menu for this week. By making it 6 weeks long, I hope to be able to take advantage of buying in bulk and buying only on sale and in the long run saving money. I can also do bulk cooking and make life even easier but I think that is a topic for another day.

So here’s what I did step by step to create a six week rotating menu dinner menu plan of meals my family would actually eat.

Step 1: I asked honeybear to help. We gathered the children together and he stood at the white board. Honeybear divided the white board into sections labeled: Beef, Chicken, Bean, Soup and Misc. Then we brainstormed as a family, while Daddy wrote our choices. I vetoed anything that they came up with that “sounded good” but that was not “tried and true”. I wasn’t about to put *new* recipes on a rotating meal plan just because they sounded good. Once we had several choices for section I typed them up into word documents so that I would have them if I wanted to swap things around at some point.

Step 2: Decide on a theme for each day. Some theme ideas I had heard before “leftovers”, “fun night”, “cook’s choice” “kid’s choice” or perhaps “breakfast for dinner”. Another option is to assign by “main protein”: beef, chicken, bean, vegetarian, fish. Some that we have done in the past include “Taco Tuesday”, “Tortilla”. Taco Tuesday wasn’t just tacos but I liked the name. And the Tortilla night was more of a wrap as it was summer. We’d grill some meat and veggies and wrap it in a tortilla. We decided to blend an “ethnic” theme into our rotating menu plan. We love Asian style food and Tex-Mex/Mexican has really grown on my children. We eat Pizza every week. We want to eat a bean or vegetarian meal each week and we want to eat soup one night a week.

We went with these for our “themes”

Sunday: Leftovers.
Monday: Italian
Tuesday: Tex-Mex/Mexican (formerly known as Taco Tuesdays)
Wednesday: Soup
Thursday: Asian
Friday: Pizza Night
Saturday: Other

We decided that we would like to have a “cook’s choice” once a week and have that rotate between the different themes. This would allow us to try new recipes and give my daughters a chance to experiment in the kitchen.

Step Three: Picking out the meals to fit the theme. Taking the meals from the earlier brainstorming I wrote them on the board by theme. We wanted to have at least one bean meal a week but we decided to have it float between themes. So for Italian night, I put all the dishes that seemed to fit in that category. We then voted for our favorites. The rules were that you had to vote for at least one bean dish.We only needed 5 meals because Cook’s Choice would be the 6th. We did this for each category except Pizza and Leftovers. We did end up with ONE week that does not have a cook’s choice.

Step Four: This was the *hardest* step. It involved solving a puzzle. I wrote each meal on a color coded index card. (Yellow is Italian). I did NOT create index cards for Pizza Night, Leftovers or Cook’s Choice. I used White Blank Cards as “place holders”. I used the index cards to create grid. Instead of trying to type it into the computer and keep deleting or cutting and pasting and instead of using a pencil and erasing, I could move and rearrange each card until I had them arranged to my satisfaction. The white blank cards helped to keep the grid shape. I used a blank calendar page and wrote the final deal in pen. I put the paper in a sheet protector and put in a binder. I’ll talk about this binder in separate post.

The above is a picture of the color coded index cards. Once I knew where they went, I wrote the week number in the lower right corner. On the back, I put possible side dishes and notes and grocery list for that meal.

3/2/09

Bible Reading 2/24 through 3/2

I didn't spend as much time working on my reading goal this week but here's what I read this past week:

Exodus Chapter 20
Joshua Chapters 1-3
Matthew Chapters 13-25
Mark 5-8

A very dear sweet friend of mine, shared with me that she too is working on reading through the Bible this year. Adapting her idea to fit my preference, I have taken to putting my One Year Bible and placing it on top of my closed computer and reading *before* I even turn on the computer. It takes a long time (supposedly 21 days but I think some of us, or me anyway, need longer!) to develop a habit. So I am working on creating a habit of working on my Bible reading goal *before* turning on the computer.

2/25/09

Meal Planning: The Rotating Menu Plan

About 9 years ago, I decided to create a rotating meal plan. I was using the crock pot nearly daily at the time. I had 4 children ages 4 years to 10 months, one whom was medically fragile and had lots of special needs and required so much of my time and effort: even more than the baby!! I set up a six-week rotating menu plan using mostly crock pot recipes.

I was inspired by two books: Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell, and The Organization Map by Pam McClellan. In MOTH, Mrs. Maxwell has a chapter about getting organized in the kitchen. In chapter 7, “Scheduling in the Kitchen”, Mrs. Maxwell suggested having two or three family-favorite meals that are the same every week. This would limit how many meals you would have to plan each week, making meal planning easier. She said “this idea works for lunches, too, but with lunch you can take it even further.” She suggested that you plan the same thing for lunch every Monday, and something different for Tuesday but have that every Tuesday and if you do that for every day of the week you would have 7 different lunches but you would not have to worry about planning lunches.

Ms. McClellan, in her chapter “Meal Planning Made Easy” she describes the rotating meal plan and how to set it up. She advocates a 4 week plan but one night each week is leftovers so you do not have to plan out 28 meals. I like trying new recipes and we like more variety so I did a 6 week plan. I prefer the 6 week plan.

After awhile, we got away from the rotating meal plan. I had a couple of different rotating meal plans that I used over the years but found different seasons of life required different approaches to meals. One thing has remained constant: PIZZA NIGHT.

One more idea that I picked up from Ms McClellan had to do with creating a theme for each day or as she said “choose certain nights for certain types of meals” Even when I “got away” from doing the rotating meal plans, I still kept up the idea of having certain types of meals on certain days because that really helped with weekly meal planning. I had things like Pasta—which wasn’t just spaghetti but I would also plan things that use egg noodles like “tuna” casserole or hamburger stroganoff. We had “stir fry night” which wasn’t always stir fry but was sometimes fried rice or chow mein or sweet and sour.

A few months ago I was getting tired of meal planning. I had kept up with the idea of themes but had gone back to planning meals weekly or worse not planning at all! I started playing with the themes again to try some new ones and that helped a little bit. We added a “bean night” a couple of years ago and it would go away for awhile and then it would come back again. We started doing Taco Tuesdays (but really it was just Mexican or tex-mex style).

Finally about 7-8 weeks ago, I bit the bullet so to speak and involved my whole family and we created a 6 week rotating meal plan that I expect to use until summer. Then I’ll create one for summer and when the weather changes again I’ll pull out this “winter” one. I’ll post separately about the process we went through to create our current 6 week rotating meal plan.

2/24/09

Bible Reading 1/1 through 2/23

I said that I would like to keep myself accountable for my reading goal. I meant to post this yesterday morning but didn't have time.

So from January 1st through February 23, I have read the following as part of my "read the Bible in a year"
The book of Genesis
Exodus chapters 1-19
Matthew chapters 1-12
Mark chapters 1-4

The following verses really spoke to me yesterday. Our Pastor is preaching on 1 Peter right now and on Sunday, Pastor preached about election from the first two verses of 1 Peter. That sermon caused me to see these two verses from Mark in a whole new light:

"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them." Mark 4: 11-12

I am still "struck" by the "lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them". This is something I have to keep pondering and discuss with my husband.

2/22/09

"Profound" thought for toay.

All of us who have children have experienced that moment when our child says something that is just so precious that you need to remember it. Hopefully, you are not like me and end up NOT writing it down and then try to remember it and realize uh oh.. I’ve lost it.

I decided that now that I have a blog, I’m going to write these precious moments down so that when my children are grown, I’ll have these moments to share to with them. Kind of like a diary or journal entry. A place for me to record something that I’d like to remember that I’m sure that I would forget.

So today’s profound statement comes from 9 year old Tailor. I was making Creamy Tuna Noodle casserole to take to church for the fellowship meal. I asked my 13 year old to taste it. She said that she really liked it and that it tasted like Tuna Helper (somehow I think I should be insulted but I know she loves Tuna Helper and so this was a great compliment). That’s when we heard:

“I love it when food tastes like food” the Tailor age 9.

It’s a good thing food tastes like food. Daddy asked her what happens when food doesn’t taste like food. She replied “then it tastes yucky”. I didn’t know that food could taste like something other than food. It’s good to know that if tastes like food is good to eat and when it doesn’t taste like food we can be sure it is yucky.

2/20/09

The Perfect Program

As homeschoolers we are always on the lookout for that perfect math program or that miracle spelling program or that ONE phonics program that will be SURE to teach our child to read fluently nearly instantaneously.

We also gravitate towards a tendency, if we’ve found that perfect program, to push that program to everyone we know. We overhear a homeschooling mom say that junior is struggling with math and we’re quick to recommend the math program we’ve recently found that has really helped our tator tots to learn their facts.

What we fail to see is that each program has its strengths and yet it also has its weaknesses. Just like our children. It doesn’t matter how many (or how few) children we have. Each one is a unique and special individual created by God, in His image and for His glory. They are not clones of each other, nor are they clones of us. So if each of our blessings are different why do we assume that curriculum is a one size fits all affair?

Lately, I’ve been really pondering how different programs target different strengths and yet have different weaknesses. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Lord is showing me how different my girls are from each other, I think I’d still be caught up in the “math wars” (you know the Saxon versus MUS versus Teaching Textbooks. )

It’s like we think we have to use the same program for each child in our family and if the program doesn’t work with a child it must be the fault of the program. Maybe not though. Maybe it isn’t a fault of the program *OR* a fault of the child but rather merely a difference in how the strengths of one meshes with the weaknesses of the other.

I’m learning that a phonics program or a math book maybe a *great* program and still be a wrong choice for that student. I *love* Math U See. I think it is a solid math program. I would almost be willing to swear that Mr. Demme created MUS for BooBear. It really is the *perfect* program for her, But Rosenburg, on the other hand, does not mesh so well with this program. It just doesn’t fit her learning style. If Rosenburg were my oldest, it’s entirely possible that I would have dismissed MUS as a “not very good math program”. Does Rosenburg not doing well with the program make it a “bad” program. No, no more than BooBear having success with the program would make it a “great” or “perfect” program.

It’s very frustrating to hear moms promote a program based solely on the success of one or two children. Oh I don’t mean that they shouldn’t ever recommend the program but I’d rather hear: “This program worked very well for my daughter. Your daughter sounds like my daughter so I think it might work well for you.” I’m growing weary of hearing :”This is THE BEST program ever. You should use this program because I am convinced that it is the best and it will work for every child under the sun”. Ok so that is a bit of an exaggeration. My point though is that just because a program works with ONE child and works really WELL with that one child, does not mean that it will work with EVERY child.

I’m sure I’m guilty of having pushed MUS. I’m having to eat my words now so to speak. I think it’s a great program and I do still recommend it. I just am learning to be more discerning. I’m not willing to say that it’s better than every other program on the market. I am willing to say that it’s the best choice for those students who have a mastery based learning style. Some children really do do better with a different approach.

It sure would make my teaching easier if I could use the same exact math and spelling with all four girls.But then again, I think I really prefer being able to see them as four separate, wonderful individuals instead of as cookie cutter daughters molded to one shape.

2/19/09

Teacher or Mom?

Today, we had unexpected visitors. Miss K stopped by. Miss K usually comes on Mondays to do PT with Supergirl. Today, she didn’t come to do PT. Today, she had her two children and her dog with her. They were in the neighborhood and decided to stop to see if we could play. Tailor loves animals. She was thrilled at the opportunity to play with a dog and to show B her model horse collection. Supergirl was excited to see Miss K and gave her a big hug. They all trooped to the park to play and walk the dog. Supergirl, so used to having Miss K do PT, asked if she could do some of her “exercises”. Miss K said she didn’t mind so Supergirl got some PT today.

This got me to thinking. Miss K didn’t stop being a PT even when she was just being a friend. I don’t stop being a mom just because I home school. Miss K didn’t come over to work, but even in playing she didn’t stop working. I don’t have times in my day where I am “just a mom” or I am “just a teacher”. Teaching my children and being a mom, it’s who I am. I can no more stop being mom to them than I can stop breathing. And I can no more stop teaching them than I can stop being their mom. They ask a question, I answer it. Am I teacher or am I mom? I’m both, I’m Tess, a mom who happens to home educate her children. If they need cuddles, we stop the formal lessons and we cuddle. If they are in curiosity mode and wanting to learn, we learn. I guess I don’t see a hard and fast line dividing mom from teacher. I just don’t see that distinction. I don’t stop being mom when I am teaching and I don’t stop being a teacher when I’m being a mom.

"My son, hear the instruction of they father, and forsake not the law of they mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto the head, and chains about they neck." Proverbs 1: 8-9

"Hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding."Proverbs 4:1

2/16/09

Be Still and Know

How is your quiet time? I am ashamed to say that most days mine is non-existent. Oh I don’t mean that I don’t pray and I do have a bible reading plan ( see my blog post on goals) but I can’t say that I have been consistent lately with a daily QUIET time to be still and listen to Him. I’ve not taken the time to sit at His feet and drink from the Living Well.

Quiet time, for me, can include reading scripture. It can include praying. It could even include memorizing scripture. But there is something else. Something more. I do the above things. But they are not necessarily “quiet” and they are not necessarily “alone”. There is something wonderful about praying with someone else and memorizing scripture with others is helpful. I enjoy reading scripture with my family, but those things, while very good, are no substitute for going to the Father and spending some quiet- one on one- time with Him alone. Being still and knowing that He is and that is all that I need.

I think quiet time adds an element of private worship; of private commune of my soul seeking the Father ‘s face. Of pouring out of myself so that I can be filled with Him alone. When I feel tired, dragged down, discouraged, or even angry, when I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed and yes even afraid, then I can be sure that I have not been getting enough of that quiet time. Quiet time is opening myself up to receiving from the Lord. This is why quiet time is so much more than just praying or just reading scripture or just memorizing scripture. It’s surrendering myself to Him so that He can speak to me through His Word and minister to my soul as I pray. I can read scripture without surrendering myself. I can memorize scripture without hearing His voice whisper in my soul. To hear Him, I need to be still. I need to be quiet.

It doesn't have to be a certain length. It doesn't have to be at exactly the same time every day. In fact some days 5 minutes is sufficient, other days may need multiple rounds of "quiet time". But I know that I am too much like Martha and I do not have enough of Mary in me. I need more still time, more quiet time sitting at His feet.
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall Icome and appear before God?" Psalm 42:1-2

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathens, I wil be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

"But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10: 42

Goals for 2009

I didn’t start this blog until February but I did set some goals in January for 2009. I have two goals that I plan on blogging about in order to hold myself accountable.

The first goal is to read the Bible in a year. Yes, I have an unwritten, unspoken goal of reading SOMETHING (even if just one verse) from scripture each day but when praying through this goal and trying to set up a reasonable expectation, I realized that when I think of reading “the bible in a year” I have this idea or image that I must read some bible plan each day that requires so many chapters from the OT and the NT so that I read the entire Bible in one year. I put stress on myself because I get “behind” and then I get discouraged and eventually I give up.

So this year I have the goal of reading through my One Year Bible in a year but *ignoring* the day designations. That means that some days I may not read that particular Bible book at all and some days I may read two or three or more “days” worth at a time. I plan on posting on Mondays what I read the during the previous week. Some weeks maybe lighter than others but this way I will have some accountability for myself and a record of what I've read.

My second goal is based on my motto. I read somewhere that I should have a motto for the year. So I came up with "Getting Organized in 2009: One Binder at a Time." I love using 3-ring binders to keep things organized. I have a three ring binder that I call my "working binder" that we use for school. I have a three ring binder for "household stuff". I have a several three ring binders for recipes. I have a binder that we call "the Budget book". One "binder" that I've had in the past was my prayer journal (it wasn't a binder, it was a spiral notebook but it worked). So my goal is to clean up these binders so that I can actually USE them and be more organized.

Though I have the binders, many of them just have papers shoved in waiting until I have time to be perfect. Well that day will never come so we're moving from perfect to usable, one binder at time. As I work through organizing my binders, I will be getting organized in other ways and I'd like to keep a record of this process for my girls as they grow up and eventually have homes of their own to manage.

2/14/09

Family Traditions, The Building of Treasure

Today is Valentine's Day.. well what's left of today. We don't really have any specific Valentine's Day traditions in our family but we try to have a nice meal. Tonight we served shrimp (not for me.. I had steak LOL), Gourmet Pototoes, and fresh steamed asparagus. This is NOT everyday fare for us. This is special.

Last night was pizza night. That's a family tradition for us. If it's Friday night, it's Pizza Night. SpecialGirl is learning the days of week. She's knows her days like this: Monday is "Therapy Day", Saturday is "Daddy stay home day", Sunday is "Church Day" and Friday? yup you guessed it.. Pizza. Conversations like this happen nearly every week: SuperGirl "Is it Friday?" Me: "Yes" SuperGirl "Daddy make homemade?" Me: "Yes". Then SuperGirl does her little happy dance and says "I'm so excited". (I am going to have to videotape it!)

Friday Night Pizza night is not the only family tradition that we have. We also have "Birthday Cake for Breakfast". The day AFTER a birthday, the leftover birthday cake is served for breakfast. I refuse to serve ice cream with it but I let them drink all the milk they want. I don't remember exactly how the birthday cake breakfast started. I just know that it is part of our family. It's something we use to build those memories and foster "togetherness". The traditions are kind of like nuggets of treasure that we are building up in our family.

Scripture tells us that where our treasure is there our heart is also. Yes, Jesus is telling us to lay up treasure in heaven and not to be concerned with the things of this world. But it struck me that if I want the hearts of my children, I need to help them build up the treasure of the family so that their little hearts would be with the family. The traditions build up the treasure in the family. Are you building up treasure in your family?

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6: 21

2/12/09

"What do you like best about homeschooling?"

This afternoon BooBear, my oldest daughter, asked me "Mommy, what do you like best about homeschooling your children?" Hmmm, good question. I told her I wasn't sure. I had to ponder that one. I really enjoy homeschooling, there are lots of things I like about it. I like that I get to choose what kind of math program or history program to use. I like that I get to sit on the couch and read. I love reading. I like that I get to do Algebra problems. Ok, so I'm kind of geeky that I get thrilled when BooBear needs me to help her solve for x.

But what do I like best about it? Then it hit me. I like best that I get to be with my daughters and I get to guide, direct and teach their hearts. I get the opportunity to share my faith and my values with them. I like that I can stop in the middle of a math lesson and talk about scripture and take the time to pray with my daughter. I like that they ask me questions like "what do you like best about homeschooling your children?" and I like that because I homeschool I'm with them to answer those kinds of questions.

Homeschooling gives me the opportunity to share with them "as I sit, as I walk, when I lie down and when I get up". Though that was not why we started homeschooling, I think that is why we continue to homeschool. I like best that I get to teach them so much more than just their ABC's and 123's.

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And though shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

2/10/09

Taking Every Thought Captive

Today, I've been feeling... I don't know.. not quite depressed, not quite angry... maybe more like something restless in my spirit. I've struggled today with thoughts like "he never does what's he supposed to" or "if only he would do this or that". (He of course being honeybear and my best friend). I wrestled with myself trying to reign in those thoughts. I'm reminded of the analogy I gave Rosenburger yesterday. She's my "stuck in the middle" daughter. She's been struggling with feeling left out and unloved. So I told her that she needed to change her perspective. Our emotions, thoughts and feelings are driven by what we perceive. If we perceive that we are unloved, we will feel unloved. Our feelings though are NOT an accurate measure of truth or reality. The Truth is that my daughter is loved. She is loved by One who loves her more than I could ever love her. He is faithful and true and will never leave her nor forsake her. She is, of course, loved by her family but she is loved oh so much more by the One who gave His life for her.

As we talked about her feelings being based on her perceptions, we examined her perceptions to see if they were based on reality. She perceived that her twin sister received special treatment that she did not receive. As I asked her questions, she began to see the reality that she is treated just as special. Maybe not treated exactly the same but treated as the special, wonderful daughter that she is. She began to see that her perceptions lead her feelings.

Our perceptions are like a team of horses and our feelings or emotions are the cart that follows behind. We need to reign in and redirect those horses or our carts may be dragged into places we do not intend to travel.

Today I had to focus on reigning in my horses and not feeling sorry for myself. I needed to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" I needed to consciously and continually correct my thoughts and bring them in line with His truth so that my cart (feelings) could be directed on a new and better path.

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2 Corinthians 10: 4-5

2/5/09

Starting Down the Blogging Path

I've gone and done it now. I've entered a whole new world. I thought this first post should be a musing about the title. I once wrote a poem that had the line: we go round and round, circling through this life, some people life their life in a dream. The poem was about people who spent so much time "dreaming" that they missed out on the wonders of life happening in the here and now. I don't remember all of the poem and I don't remember if I even have a copy of it anymore but as I pondered what to name this blog I kept coming back to "and we go round and round circling through this life". I make no promises as to the frequency of posts.