Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I just remembered that some of my family members who follow my blog don't also follow my posts on Facebook, so some of you might not know about Norah's blog. Click here to see it.
We've been making a big batch of little pancakes from scratch, then letting them cool, freezing them and then toasting them every morning for the girls' breakfasts. These pancakes thaw as they toast and by the time they pop up, they are hot enough to be smeared with butter and covered in syrup, almost as if they just came off the griddle. (I've tasted them and they aren't that different than fresh pancakes.)

This has been pretty easy for me to do every day, mostly because I already know what I am going to make the girls and I don't have to give them choices and then wait for them to choose between two or three things.

And the girls love them. They eat them all right up. (Before, the girls would only finish half of some of the other breakfasts I was making them and just leave the rest untouched.)

Pancakes this way are also a much cheaper (not to mention hot) breakfast option than several of the other options out there.

And, with the same meal every morning (or almost every morning), I think I've found a way to keep the cost of at least one of our meals really, really consistent. I think that keeping costs consistent will help me stay on budget (since I won't need to pay for so many different groceries to provide so many variety of choices) and I am very pleased with that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How can this be?
You make me holy,
a vessel for honor,
prepared even for glory?

And then you pour
and pour
and pour
your grace in me
but I can't contain it.

So it spills over
and over
and over,
But you keep pouring.
Why lavish so much on me?

You do this so I,
as an object of your mercy,
can look around and see clearly,
how kind you are
and how much you love me.

-Veronica Boulden

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Thanksgiving plate this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As crazy as this sounds, as I read on Facebook about some of my friends headed to Grandma's right now, it makes me look forward to being the grandma making Thanksgiving dinner for like the fortieth time with my kids' spouses and grand kids all around me, God willing. There's so much to cherish today and so much to look forward to! I'm glad that in the Lord, I don't have to fear the passing of time. "Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future."

Monday, November 21, 2011

I thought I'd start using my blog to keep track of the songs I like when I like them so I can look back after a while and see what I was listening to when. So, this is one of my favorite songs right now.

Dwayne's reading the book EntreLeadeship by Dave Ramsey. In it, Ramsey suggests making goals for all the main areas of your life (so that your goals aren't too one sided and you become a more well-rounded person.)

Dwayne suggested we make goals in all these areas for the coming year. I was already thinking about my New Year Resolutions, so now, I am just placing my goals in the correct categories and concentrating on balancing all of the areas well.

Dwayne and I are also discussing some of the goals, particularly the "familial" goals, since they might require us to help one another in order to accomplish them.

Here is the list of life areas Ramsey suggests making goals for and the goals I have under them as of right now. As I think about this throughout the next month or two, these may change and I may add some more to them.

Goals for 2012-2013

Career- Master Sue Patrick's Workbox System, adapt it and implement it in my homeschooling. Finish ten sewing projects by the year's end.

Financial- Get the weekly circular and plan meals around the deals. Save receipts and track spending.

Spiritual- Read The Secrets of a Prayer Warrior.

Physical- Cut out all artificial sweetener. Recover from this baby well enough to run/walk a 5K by the end of the year.

Intellectual- Read The Well Educated Mind.

Familial- Start sending cards to family members for all birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I'll probably start paying for a monthly membership on Send Out Cards so I can manage this better.

Read out loud as a family after dinner. Finish all the Little House books by the year's end, at least.

Social- Go to at least one home school event or host/co-host an event every month.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Avril's the right size for the rocking horse that my dad made back when Norah was her age. She rides it all the time now.

Avril calls it "my baby yee-haw." She is very affectionate to it petting it, kissing it, hugging it before and during and after every ride.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We're still using Family Bible Time in Pictures by Kenneth N. Taylor but now, Norah is the one reading it to me. Each story is just about the right length that I want her to practice reading out loud everyday. Here's Norah reading about Jesus walking on water.

I took the girls to the Jump Zone last Friday, but it was a school holiday. It was sheer madness. I thought a home school mom would have no need for consulting the public school calendar... Lesson learned. They had a deal right where you only paid $5 per child if you bring in goods for their holiday food drive. I cleaned out my cabinets, taking all my extra cans of yams and corn that I bought for some reason, some time back, but can't remember why. It was a win-win for me. But, I will have to take the girls back when it isn't so crowded.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"In thee my soul shall own combined the sister and the friend."
-Catherine Killigrew

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My friend wants to learn to sew and I've been talking to her about the process today. Learning to sew is a process, I think, because you don't just learn everything you need to know at once. It takes a lot of trial and error.

So, with sewing on the brain and for the fun of it, I thought I'd go back and see if I could collect some pictures of what I've made over the years. I wondered if my pictures would show any apparent improvement in my sewing abilities. And I think they do!

It's clear to me that my projects have gotten more difficult over the years. This has been very encouraging to me today and it just makes me want to go sew some more!

Using a poncho pattern, I made Norah a ladybug poncho for Halloween in '08.

I bought Norah's pajamas way too big and hemmed the legs (then let the hem out as Norah grew) so we could get more than one year's wear out of the same pair of pajamas.

I followed (and then altered and customized) a pattern for an Native American costume to make Norah's Halloween costume in '09.

I made my own pattern for this Christmas stocking for Norah in '09. (In my opinion, the store's stockings are never big enough or they are always made with the wrong color red or green.) I only had to make one that year because Avril was a baby and didn't even understand Christmas. But, I got enough fabric for several stockings and I will need to make one for Avril before Christmas if I ever want to hang stockings again. She's old enough now to notice whether or not she gets one!

I made a patchwork tree skirt without a pattern and matching pillow cases also without a pattern.

When I served as my friend's birth partner in December '10, I made a baby blanket for her little baby boy. I didn't have a pattern, but I watched some online tutorials to figure out the process.

I made the blanket complete with ribbon tags for him to suck on and play with. (My babies always loved tags.)

I followed a pattern and made Avril this little dress last month. It was the first time I actually finished something with sleeves! I have some fabric with a red and white design to make another dress like this for Avril to wear this Christmas season.

I made this skirt for Norah's Halloween costume this year without a pattern and I sewed Avril's Yoda ears, also without a pattern.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

If you look around at the people you associate with and find that you are the most respectable person in the bunch then you might want to rethink your friendships.

This little proverb occurred to me tonight while I was thinking about the day, praying for one of my friends, overwhelmed with how good she is, how much I love her, how thoroughly she inspires me, how much I want God to bless her and her husband and kids.

Dwayne and I barged in on them today. As they welcomed us with kisses and hugs and laughter, the savory smells and warm air coming through her door pulled us right into their home. We found her busy simmering a pot of homemade soup, cutting out made-from-scratch biscuits and cooling some carrot cakes (made with fresh carrots) for her friends and family. She was doing as much work as I do in the kitchen on a holiday on a regular Saturday and all this for other people. And, perhaps most notably, she is doing all this in the midst of fighting breast cancer, the cheerful handkerchief covering her head a reminder to me as we visited.

As Dwayne and I drove home, we talked about her and I told him that people, including me, might have been able to chock up her excellence as a woman before cancer to "having more energy than most people," but I think it's clear now that she is fighting cancer and still accomplishing so much that she does what she does because she is who she is, not because it is just easier for her or something.

She graciously let me help her in the kitchen today, even though I am pretty sure I was mishandling her biscuit dough, and I learned so much just by talking to her about everything as we worked. Be it the name of a one of the best childrens' book ever or how to make espresso or not to turn the biscuit dough as I cut it out because it makes the layers stick, I always learn something from her when I visit.

As we worked, I mentioned that I need a food processor. There's a lot I can't do in the kitchen without one, etc. A few seconds later, she was pulling one out of the cabinet so I could take it home. "I have another one downstairs that's better for what I need anyway," she said. I took it without even bothering to try and talk her out of giving it to me like politeness dictates I should. I've come to realize she is perfectly serious when she says she wants me to have something, even if she says it after only a second of thinking it through. Her propensity to give has become a running joke, actually. I told her I thought mentioning a food processor would be safe enough because there would be no way she'd be able to give me one of those, but then again, with her, I should have known. I never leave her house empty handed.

I'll admit now that when I met her several years ago, I was intimidated by her excellence. I wanted so badly to get to know her better but I didn't feel like I could converse with her on equal footing. She was so smart, so funny, so capable, so Godly. I felt sure I'd just stumble over my words when I spoke to her and that all my inadequacies would be apparent to her when we talked in any depth. It took humility for me to accept her invitations of friendship and be myself when we were getting to know each other. But, I was wise to go ahead. I knew she was the kind of woman I should befriend and now I am so glad I had to courage to do so.

As I was thinking about this friend of mine, it lead me to thinking about all my friends these days. I can't name one that I don't respect, admire, and that I don't consider equal to or more excellent than myself (speaking openly). When I was younger, I was drawn to befriend people who made me "comfortable," those who made me feel better about myself because they were flawed in some very apparent way. But, now I try and make friends with people who are so excellent it scares me to death at first. They end up inspiring me to be excellent, too.

So, once again, if you look around at your friends and realize you are the only one with sense, it may be time to accept that invitation from that someone you haven't had the courage to get to know. Because "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 13:20

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God is in the process of showing me that humility looks different than what I thought it looked like, entirely.

Until recently, honestly, I thought that I could learn humility without ever having to suffer actual humiliation.

I guess I always thought the road to humility should leave my pride intact.

Or that humility would lead (fairly straightly) to my being exalted before men.

I laugh at myself now that I realize these things and say them all out loud.

But God is leading me into one circumstance after another that is shattering these misconceptions.

I am beginning to see that humility is more like:

bearing up under the knowledge that others have judged and even condemned me,

not contending with to the proud,

holding my tongue when someone is using theirs to tear me to pieces,

even praying blessings upon those who curse me,

and leaving room for the all-important possibility that I could be wrong even when I feel that it's the most unlikely.

Humility is downright humiliating!

With a poor spirit I realize that for me to respond as I should and be humble, genuinely, requires more faith in God than I have, usually.

May He grant me all the strength I'll need to wait under His mighty hand again and again and again!

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due time." -1 Peter 5

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We put an egg in a tupperware without water and ran around and threw it down. Splat! The egg broke inside the tupperware. (This is to show what would happen to our brain without the fluid that surrounds it.) Next, we put in another egg and filled the tupperware with water. We had to try really, really hard this time to even crack the egg inside the tupperware, demonstrating how well the fluid that surrounds our brains protects our brains and how well God designed this part of our bodies.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween '11

We had heard people talking, but we weren't totally sure until we found the mayor's official announcement in the newspaper online: Waterbury has moved Halloween to tonight. (It was canceled on Oct. 31 due to the big snow storm that took out most of the city's power, including ours.) So I have been finishing the girl's costumes this morning.

I was going to cut this old, brown shirt and sew it to make it into a genuine cape, but Dwayne talked me out of it. With a brown shirt and pants and boots, he's right when he says this will pass for Yoda's cape as it is.

I also finished attaching the yarn braids to Norah's ear muffs.

And instead of making a separate belt, we saved serious time and effort by attaching the silver-gray patches directly to the skirts elastic. And we did this in a matter of seconds with crazy glue. So the girls are ready for tonight, basically. I'll take more pictures when they are all dressed up and ready to go and if I can, I'll post them before we all go to bed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On a previous post, I took pictures of the girls playing in the first few inches of a snow storm a few days before Halloween. Actually, the weight of that same snow combined with the leaves still on the trees ended up being so devastating that it took down many power lines around the state and we went without any power from Saturday night through Tuesday afternoon. (I didn't have working internet during that time but my blog was still posting things because I had written and saved them several days ahead of time.)

Many friends and neighbors and businesses are still without power so we are very fortunate to have ours up and running again. We spent most of our powerless days in front of the fireplace in the front room for warmth. Everywhere else in the house was freezing. We enjoyed a lot of family time since we were totally dependent on one another for entertainment. My camera's battery was charged so I managed to take photos even though almost every other piece of technology was useless to me at the time. Here are a few photos to help tell the cold, cold story.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We started our chapter on the skeletal system in science. The first project was to build a clay man with and without toothpicks to demonstrate how our bones support us. This was a really interesting demonstration and I suggest doing it with your kids when you study bones.

Without the toothpicks, the clay man just fell over. But, this picture shows how well he stood with the toothpicks inside his frame. You can see a toothpick in the man's neck if you look closely.

Note: I decided to stick with Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology this year. It's very, very advanced, but I have decided to really shorten the lessons and this seems to make in manageable enough. It's going to take us a really long time to get through each chapter, so it will, naturally, take us even longer to work through the entire book. (I am guessing it might even take two school years!) But all in all, I don't think I will find a program that I like better, so we're sticking with it.