Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm making plans for Norah's next year of home school, currently. I plan to start in September and end in May, probably. I'll let you know what I decide as soon as I know what I decide, Lord help me.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Done.

The keepsakes I decided to keep are now in a large Tupperware in our storage room.

I think I'll put my sewing machine and my basket full of sewing supplies and fabric in here for now.
I'm spending this rainy day sorting through the hope chest at the foot of my bed. It was getting so full of stuff that I couldn't even close the lid. I'm getting rid quite a bit (like piles and piles of old sermon notes. You wouldn't even believe how many of those I have!!). I've come across some keepsakes that mean a lot to me, especially on a day like today when my dad is in such bad shape in the hospital.


This is one of my favorite photos of all time. My mom has spent the largest portion of her career taking care of mentally and physically handicapped people, as many of you know. At Christmas time, my mom would usually recruit my dad to dress up as Santa for these people. My sister and I always thought this was hilarious because he is really the least likely person to pass for Santa that we know. He isn't jolly, in fact, he usually greets people with a growl. And, he is always so tan and leather faced, even in the winter that he looks nothing like the pale, smooth faced Santa. But, the people my mom worked with even couldn't tell or maybe they didn't care. They always adored him for making the effort to bless them (and so did we, really.)



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Norah's started this painting yesterday. She insists that she isn't done and has a lot more to add, but I couldn't resist taking a photo of it now.
The girls Skype with Grandpa from his hospital room.
I took the girls to Fairlawn Playground yesterday. It was right at lunchtime, so we had a picnic. (Near the back fence there are some large trees that make shade to sit under at midday.) The girls played on the playground for about ten minutes then they ended up in the sprinkler.





Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Success and the appearance of it look very different.

-Veronica Boulden

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Next week we're doing another installment of "Camp Boulden!"

At the beginning of the summer, I started making tentative plans to go to theme parks and aquariums and museums. After all, it was summer and it was time to have some fun! But, I quickly realized we didn't really have any extra money to devote to that kind of entertainment with the prices of gas and admissions and lunches eaten at fast food places, etc.

So I started looking for ways to have fun without spending a small fortune. I decided to focus on outdoor activities that will allow us to enjoy the sunshine and revel in the heat since both of those things will soon disappear again for six months. I also decided to make these "camp" schedules so I could prepare for the days ahead of time so I could make sure they really happen. I am calling this endeavor "Camp Boulden!"

Here's some of what the upcoming week will include:

Swimming at Washington Park at least two days next week, maybe three.
One day of swimming and nature study at the river.
Painting with water colors every afternoon.
Reading aloud from A Dog Called Kitty after dinner every night.
One board or card game every night before bed.
Have you ever seen the movie Hancock?

Do you remember the scene where the family has him over for dinner and they tell him they make spaghetti every Thursday night, every Thursday night they make spaghetti, etc. and then Hancock grabs a huge meatball between with his fingers and takes a huge bite?

That gave me an idea. I started making the same exact meal after church every Sunday, every Sunday after church now it's Chicken Alfredo.

I'll buy a can of alfredo sauce, a package of alfredo noodles or ziti and a bag of frozen, sliced pre-cooked, grilled chicken.

We get out of church starving. We so want to stop for Subway or Wendy's or Taco Bell, but we make it home without giving in to those temptations because (and only because) I have a workable plan for lunch.

When we get inside the house, I go directly to the kitchen and wash my hands. I start heating up the chicken in a skillet with a little bit of water in the bottom, I start boiling the water for the pasta and I heat the sauce in a sauce pan. I keep an eye on all this while I brew the sweet tea and set the table.

Lunch is usually done in about fifteen minutes, just enough time for everyone else to have settled in, removed their shoes and washed their hands.

I was reading about how to organize my kitchen and I came across this suggestion today. This professional organizer says to "Make Monday night chicken" meaning to do the same thing I saw in Hancock and the same thing I do on Sundays: make basically the same meal on the same day of the week at least once a week.

It's a good idea. You should try it.

Pick a recipe that you don't mind having once a week or pick a day that you need to keep things simple and I promise it will work wonders for your stress level.
Before... and After


This is my husband's bedside drawer. It was full of holsters and other gun related items. After cleaning it out, it's still full of holsters and gun related items. I didn't even bother to take an "after" photo since there was no significant change in this drawer's appearance. I threw away some trash and I found a portable CD player that we can make a dollar off of at the garage sale... Score!
Avril carries her freshly washed baby dolls around. I used extra softener in that gentle load. They smell sooo sweet now.

Fly Lady says, "A load a day keeps chaos away." But I keep saying, "Two loads a day gets me on my way." I usually try and do one regular load of wash everyday, just like Fly Lady suggests. Regular loads include a load of white clothes (so I can bleach them), colored clothes, sheets or towels. But I also try and do one special load everyday. My special loads include things like mattress covers, quilts, car seat covers, curtains, stuffed animals, decorative pillows cases, etc. This really helps me keep up with every single thing that needs to be washed in my house.

My bathroom valance was a special load. It hadn't been washed since I hung it a few years ago. And until I started cleaning the bathroom every single morning, Fly Lady calls it Swishing and Swiping, I hadn't even noticed the thick layer of dust on them. Yuck!

I am getting rid of clutter and the stuff I think I can sale at our upcoming tag sale is going into Avril's closet. The rest is just going straight to the thrift store. So I've taken at least one bag of donations to the thrift store almost every day that I've gone out to go shopping in the last two weeks.

But after my last trip to Target, coming home with a bunch of new stuff in the back of my Jeep, it occurred to me that if I want the level of stuff in my house to remain the same or if I want the amount of stuff to actually reduce, I need to be in the habit of taking something out of my house just about as often as I bring new stuff in. Makes sense, right?

So I think I will try and make an effort to donate something I don't need anymore, (even if it's just a small, plastic shopping bag of something) every time I go out to get more stuff I do need. And I need to remain on the lookout for stuff that has outlived its use.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Before



After


I had already started to pull things out of the drawer before I remembered to take a picture thus the two "before" photos. I really need to be more organized, but at least everything that has another place is out of this drawer now and where it belongs... everything left in this drawer has no other place to go... yet. At least I am making progress toward getting my house under control and being aware of what's where and that is good.

I found this updated copy of The Read Aloud Handbook at the thrift store. I did a little dance in the isle. It will be really nice to own a copy. I've probably paid for this book twice over with the library fines I've racked up checking it out again and again over the years. And now I can highlight in it. I've wanted to do that to the library's copy so many times.

The stack of books that I want to read to Norah is ever growing: Mr. Poppers Penguins, A Dog Called Kitty, The Summer of the Monkeys, The Family Under the Bridge, 100 Dresses... and with this book in hand, I thought that list would just get longer. But, it might not.

Interestingly enough, Dwayne is reading a book called Freakonomics. It's not a book about homeschooling, but indirectly, something he read out loud to me from the book is very relevant and interesting and surprising on this topic of reading aloud to children and may influence my view of the importance of reading aloud to Norah.

He says that the mathematicians who wrote this book proved without a shadow of a doubt that reading aloud to your kids is less important, even insignificant when compared to having books in your house.

That's right.

But, that's also impossible, right?

The authors say that the numbers don't lie, but they also admit that kids can't learn through osmosis. So, they've come up with a theory that would explain the data. They say people who read are smart because, well... they read and smart people tend to have books in their house because they read them, so kids who live in houses with books have smart parents and smart parents produce smart kids because they talk to their kids about what they know... or something like that.

It seems obvious that a smart parent who talks to their kids would be more helpful than a dumb parent who reads smart things to their kids. Yeah. That makes sense. So instead of adding books to the stack of books I want to read to Norah, I may also add books to my reading list and then have new ideas to talk to Norah about.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Avril's playing with Norah's old dollhouse. It seems to be her favorite toy right now. I love watching her feed the babies and kiss them, put the family in the car and chatter like they're talking to one another and then push them around the house. She's making sense of her world.
My sister in law, Dwayne's brother's wife, is here with her kiddos. Cousins are the most fun.





Sarah was playing with my phone and these are photos she took.
Before

After

If had tried even harder, I could have gotten it down to just the coins and the bookmarks, but this is progress and I have a house full of company.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I just decided it would be a good idea to make a master list of the items I want to find at the thrift store, so that when I go there, I will know what to look for and so I don't feel the need to wonder the isles wondering if I might be missing something that I could use. (I hate that feeling.) But, if I have a list, I can just attack the parts of the store where they keep the items I am looking for.

I imagine that I will have to keep this list for a few months before I've checked off everything on it. Most of the items on the list are things that I'd like to have in our large guest room downstairs but that I still don't have because I can't justify purchasing them new (or really afford them new without going over budget).

Want to know what's going on the list I am making?

So far, I've got:


Two twin bed skirts (Preferably matching)

One twin mattress cover (Only one of the twin beds has a cover already.)

Update: SCRATCH THAT!!! I cleaned out the top of my closet and found another twin mattress cover that had long been forgotten. I guess it got washed and folded and put away with the linens in the top of my closet to be forgotten. These kind of details are so much harder to keep up with now that I have two kids.

Queen mattress cover (I found a brand new queen bed skirt for $4 at the thrift store the other day because I happened to be looking in that section. This is what inspired my idea for a list in the first place. But, the queen bed in the guest room still needs a mattress cover.)

Small lamp
(One of the twin bed's has a lamp. The other doesn't.)

Waste basket
(I am using the bottom of our wooden ice cream maker lined with a plastic bag as a trash can right now. It's cute, but I'd like to find something more traditional to use instead.)

Crib sheet and blanket
(I usually let Avril go without her regular sheet and blanket so any guests with babies will have a nice set. I wash them before our guests arrive, of course. But I'd like to find a decent crib set that can just stay in the guest room for the crib that's down there.)

I've gotten over one of the major obstacles that prevented me from buying things from thrift stores: the need to make everything match perfectly. In my opinion and experience, that has very little to do with making your guests feel welcome or making your home feel happy. I think it's more important to make sure everything is neat and clean and to make your guests or your family members the center of attention rather than the center of everyone's attention being on your lavishly decorated home.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I took the girls to a local park to swim today. About thirty yards from our Jeep, we set up under these trees in the shade.


This is the view from our seats.


It wasn't very deep. In most places it was only a foot or so. The girls kept their shoes on to help them walk on the rocks.

We brought sandwiches, green apples, granola bars and a cooler full of drinks.


I've learned from experience that if I pack a cooler full of drinks, snacks and sandwiches we will be able to stay up to four hours in some place. I think it's well worth the effort it takes up front to bring all the stuff I do because it allows us to be comfortable enough to "camp" somewhere for the bulk of an afternoon.


We did a lot of exploring and nature study. Norah watched this bug fly right into a spider web and get stuck. She wanted to rescue it, but I made her leave it since the spider probably needed the meal.


I blew up the canoe Dwayne's mom, Grandma Karen, bought us a few years ago and Norah used Dwayne's hamburger turner wrapped in packing tape for a paddle. She went back and forth and in circles all day. We walked up and down the river exploring. Many times I'd let Avril sit in the canoe and I'd pull her along behind us so she wasn't exhausted.


It's a good thing Fly Lady has us cleaning out our cars every Friday. This is just the spot on the seat that was under my cooler, you should see the floor boards.


We brought home a friend. Norah spotted the frog and I caught him with our bucket. (Having kids makes me much more brave than I would be without them.) We emptied our cooler of ice and bottles and filled it up again with river water and rocks and sticks so our little friend would feel at home. When we got home, we transferred everything into our plastic aquarium.

Before

After
1 down. 6 drawers to go.

I need to find a better way of organizing the contents of this drawer. Now that I am taking time to study the photos I realize that dental hygiene equipment and hair care items really shouldn't go together. It seems obvious to me now...

Maybe I should move the hair things to another (higher) place entirely. Give Avril ten minutes of unsupervised time in the bathroom and I'll be back to square one. She just loves this drawer.

I think I need to dedicate this drawer to stuff (like toothbrushes and contact cases) that I want to keep right next to the sink but that I don't want sitting out when company comes over.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Me: "If you want to paint a picture of an old man, do you have to paint him as a baby first? Or do you have to start with his great, great, great grandfather?"

Norah's eyes lit up: "No! If I am the artist, I can just paint him old to begin with!"

We were discussing God as Creator and the age of the earth before bed tonight.

I took this photo with my phone earlier today. I took the girls to the pool for three hours this morning. I am loving our pool time this summer. We had a great day except for one serious incident.

Norah went to the deep end without asking. She says she asked, but I told her, "If I don't hear you, you didn't ask. It's your responsibility to make sure I hear you." She is technically able to swim in the deep end (thus I turn my head and let her swim for several seconds before looking back), but she isn't allowed to go into water over her head without me since she isn't a strong swimmer. She's a pretty lazy swimmer, in fact. I like to stay close by her when she is over her head because she will often panic when she has to tread water and she isn't close to a wall.

Anyway, I was playing with Avril and when I turned around to check on Norah like I do every fifteen seconds or so, she wasn't in the shallow end with us and she wasn't sitting on the side of the pool or on the steps or on the deck... I couldn't find her for about thirty whole seconds. It was the longest half minute of my life.

When I found her with a group of friends in the five foot, I could see that she knew she'd done something wrong. Five feet is past the point where she's allowed to go without me and just deep enough to be a problem for her at times and she knows that well enough. But, her friends today were older than usual and I think she wanted to be seen as a big girl and having me near when they decided to take their games to the deep end would have cramped her style. I'm pretty sure Norah was just clinging to the wall, watching through her goggles while the bigger girls dove for coins, but still...

I made her sit out of the pool for twenty minutes (maybe more) while Avril and I played and while I decided whether or not to just take her home. But, instead of going home, I decided to have her meet me at the deepest part of the pool. There, I made her do ten laps. She had to jump in and then swim across and tread water in between breaths and she wasn't allowed to hold onto Avril's float or to me for more than a few seconds at a time. (I was swimming just out of reach along side her.)

By the last lap, she was exhausted, but she also went the whole way across without reaching for me even once. I told her, "If you're going to try and swim in the deep end, you're going to learn how to swim in the deep end for sure." I will probably make her do these laps every time we go to the pool now until she's such a strong swimmer that she doesn't even need to let me know she's in the deep end.

Did she fight me over doing so many laps? Yes, she did. She tried really hard to get out of them. But, I told her, "You can swim ten laps or we can go home." And she knows I mean what I say.

I am humbled by my inability to keep my kids totally safe, especially at times like this when they are old enough to understand and to obey, yet still hell bent on doing exactly as I instruct them not to. I am also so grateful for God's protection today. I think we can safely say this is the day Norah learned to swim, officially.
Be excellent at what's excellent, be good at what's good and be clueless about everything else. -Veronica Boulden

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"A drawer a day" for the next seven days... That's my goal. I was thinking in the shower and realized that I have approx. seven drawers around the house that are full of junk. Well, they are full of so much stuff that I can't even tell what's in them. I plan to go through one drawer every day for the next seven days taking a before and an after photo of each. Note: I have a big crowd of company arriving at the end of this week and they are staying for a whole week. I am assuming I can do this while they are here, but I might have to skip a few days to be hospitable enough to them. But, if I do stop while they are here, I'll finish up after they leave.
I finished Oliver Twist. It ended happily, but it was misery getting there. Now I am focusing on King's Cross. Kon Tiki had to go back to the library. But, I plan to check it out again once I'm done with this.

Squirrel proof my a**.

This is an easy activity to practice the months of the year. Write the months on a piece of paper, let the kids cut them out (this will buy you at least five minutes free time) and then let them rearrange them in order. You can also do this with days of the week, planets... anything that needs to be put in order. And since you didn't spend a lot of time making these by printing them, laminating them, cutting them out just perfectly, you don't even have to keep them. Just toss them when you are done reviewing.

"Every home school family should have a box of Turkish Delight." -My friend Anna

The same friend who gave me all those books way back, gave us a box of Turkish Delight today. This is actually a prayer answered, believe it or not. (I pray about everything.) Norah couldn't wait to try it. She remembers what it did to Edmund, but she also pointed out (mostly to assure herself that it was safe), "The witch's Turkish Delight was magic."

This is what happens when I tell her to stop watching television and do something else. It's not a great incentive to keep her off the t.v.

Monday, July 18, 2011