Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Better Bear-Bear

Apparently kids can learn a lot from Reading Rainbow. Even things like how to make a mummy. Seriously.

We were doing a history lesson on the Egyptians. I wasn't aware how much my children already knew about the Egyptians from Reading Rainbow. We got into a great discussion about how silly it is that they thought the kings needed all their treasures and food and stuff after they died. How silly it is because you can't really take things with you to heaven.

Then it started. The tears. The whining. The d-r-a-m-a. "But, I just have to take Bear-Bear with me! I can't go without Bear-Bear! I would miss her!"

A little background on Bear-Bear. My grandmother gave Miss A Bear-Bear as a gift when she was a baby. She used to say a prayer and snore. (Bear-Bear, not Grandma, though Grandma is famous for that too.) After her battery wore down to the point that she sounded like a demon and it scared Miss A half-to-death in the middle of the night, we had to do a "surgical removal of the battery." Bear-Bear survived the surgery and has gone on to sleep with Miss A every single night for the past 4 years. They are attached.

So you can see why she would be concerned that she can't take Bear-Bear with her. I finally was able to convince her that Jesus was preparing an EVEN BETTER Bear-Bear for her to snuggle with in heaven, and that seemed to ease the pain. Somehow, when she gets to heaven, I don't think she'll even care about Bear-Bear anymore. I mean, when you've got Jesus, who needs Bear-Bear?

I'm just left wondering, will there really be a Better Bear-Bear, or did I lie to my child? Things that make you go hmmmmm.

Friday, August 29, 2008


FOUND ONE! I almost did a cartwheel in the gas station when I saw it. Instead, I photographed it for the blog. That was a much better option for all involved.

Now, is that a Spraw or a Stroon? What do you call it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Boxcar Children

Part of our homeschool curriculum this year involves read-alouds that are chapter books. I completely did not think that my children were ready for chapter books. The oldest two are 5 and 4. I thought it would be awhile before they could actually listen and comprehend. (I'm sure this has nothing to do with their listening and comprehension skills when it comes to doing something when I ask them to.)

Well, I LOVE reading. Have I told you that before? I have been gearing up since Miss A was born for the day that we would be able to read chapter books together. I have a great list of all the books we need to read together. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Little House on the Prairie, SuperFudge, Ramona the Pest, etc. It goes on and on and on.

First up in our curriculum's list of read-alouds was The Boxcar Children. I actually had never read it, but was excited to give it a go. I TOTALLY DID NOT EXPECT the girls to get into it. I sort of thought, "I'll read this first chapter and they won't know a single thing I said, and then we'll struggle with this all year." I am obviously not a the-glass-is-half-full-kind-of-gal.

I got out The Boxcar Children on our first day of school and told the girls the concept of a chapter book. (Other than the Bible, every book we have ever read them could be finished in one sitting or finished 500 times in one sitting.) They nodded excitedly and nestled in their "reading spot" to listen. We finished one chapter. They. did. not. want. to. stop! They begged me to keep reading. I thought, "Okay, so they liked it, but did they really know what I said?"

I began asking them questions. They answered EVERY SINGLE question correctly. I asked VERY detailed questions, and they knew them all! So, we have jumped into the world of chapter books! I am elated!

The girls decided to tell Daddy how excited they were about their book when he got home after work one night. He knew exactly what they were talking about because he actually read The Boxcar Children when he was a kid.

So, the other night, I asked him to read their chapter to them before bed while I combed hair and cut nails and all that jazz. Here's what the first paragraph said...

"James Henry Alden was a very rich man. His big mills stood just between Greenfield and Silver City. Now J. H. Alden liked boys. He liked to see them running and jumping and playing."

He pauses, looks at me, and says, "What kind of book is this?"

Oh, I was in stitches. I will forever remember our first read-aloud chapter book and the night that Daddy read it to them because that James Henry Alden, he likes boys.

Lest you be concerned, this is actually a very wholesome and great book. The girls LOVED it and did not want it to be over! Alas, we finished it tonight. A new book next week! I can hardly wait! This chapter book thing is just as exciting as I had hoped!

What are your favorite chapter books from childhood? We might just add them to our list. At this rate, we'll be done with the ones for the curriculum by Christmas!

I'm Just Sayin'

Miss O really wanted to watch TeleTubbies the other day. (Don't ask me why, I haven't a clue.)

Anyway, she comes up to me and says, "Watch Tummytuckies? Watch Tummytuckies?"

I chuckled and thought, "I could use one of those!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Miss C!

We spent the weekend celebrating Miss C's birthday. My Mom and Dad came up to take her out for the day. Mom also made what Miss C thinks was, "the coolest cake ever." It was pretty cool. Thanks Mom!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anyone Up For a Bloggy Bible Study?

Alright, do you sometimes feel like no matter how hard you try to give God the top position in your life, there is always something trying to knock Him off the throne of your life? Just when I think I've got it right, something else pops up and tries to get my worship and His rightful position, and most of it is "good" stuff!

Over the summer, Beth Moore hosted a study by Kelly Minter called "No Other Gods" through her blog. I really wanted to participate, but I was in the middle of leading one of Beth's studies at church. I knew that it would be too much to do both at the same time.

Well, we finished Stepping Up Monday night, and now I'm ready to pick up "No Other Gods". I really want to do this with other women, but my schedule right now is not going to allow me to do a face-to-face group, so it got me to thinking. How about my bloggy friends?

The study is really meant to be done in small groups where you share dinner together (it has recipes in it!) That won't be too possible over the blog, but what if you gathered some women who live around you and shared with them and then shared what He is doing in your group over this here blog? Or you can do it by yourself and still share what He is doing in your life? I plan to do it myself and then have a final gathering complete with food using the recipes in the book at the end of the study with some of the ladies who live here and will be joining us.

Here are the details. There are 5 days of homework for each week. We'll do the daily studies on our own. Then, on Saturdays, I will put up a post to prompt a little discussion on the blog. You can put a comment up whenever you have the time throughout the week. The book is an 8-week study. We'll do a "roll call" to see who all is joining us on Saturday, September 13 and then start the first week of study that following week. We'll finish on Saturday, November 8.

The books have to be ordered through LifeWay's website here or bought at a LifeWay Store. MAKE SURE IT IS THE MEMBER BOOK, not the trade book. The Member Book has the recipes and Bible Study in it. The trade book does not. (Many sites sell the trade book, but LifeWay is the only one that sells the Member Book.) We will start September 13 so that you have some time to receive your book if ordering it over the Internet.

I hope that if you are not already in a Bible Study or small group, you will consider joining me. I love myself a good Bible Study, and I love to share the journey with other women! Leave a comment below if you think you might join me! I'd love to have you participate!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stepping Up-Week Six

You ladies have just been awesome! I really do feel like we were just starting to bond, and then the study is done. I hope that you will continue to keep me up to date about the things going on in your lives. I really do enjoy hearing about each and every one of you and the many ways God has shown and continues to show Himself real to you on this pilgrimage.

I will just second Beth's words of encouragement to you and pray that you will come to know Him more intimately than you ever dreamed possible. Keep on the high road and remember who your Protector is! May you all be blessed "immeasurably more than you ask or imagine."

Beth asked us at the close of the lesson to share a blessing over someone and we didn't have time to share them in class, so now is your chance! Leave the blessing in the comments (you don't have to say specifically who it is for if you don't want others to know.) You all have been a great blessing to me over the course of our study. Thanks for your diligence in doing your homework, your commitment to our class, and your courage to share what God has been doing in your life! Keep Stepping Up! Keep Stepping Up!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can You Help A Sister Out?

I've been trying to combine three things lately and I can't seem to find a GOOD solution. Here are the three things.

1. Eating healthy and losing weight.
2. Reducing our grocery budget.
3. Simplifying my time in the kitchen (and not eating out!)

Here are the issues.

1. Healthy food costs more (i.e. whole grains; lean protein; fresh fruits) than the alternatives.
2. I still have a husband with a big appetite and three little ones to feed.
3. Somewhat picky children (they will eat most vegetables and fruit, the meat is the issue) and a very picky husband (won't eat fish, ham, turkey, or baked chicken, also doesn't like anything remotely creamy which rules out most one-dish dinners).
4. I don't particularly love cooking and am not very good at it. (I can follow a recipe, but can't just throw ingredients together on a whim and have it be very appetizing.) I don't want to fall into cooking something different for me than what I cook for the family.
5. I also don't have a warehouse store any closer than 45 minutes away, and I don't have a ton of time for shopping.

Here are the three things I'm considering trying for the first time or trying again. Any more suggestions?

1. Once a month cooking.
2. A friend recommended e-mealz (thanks Nancy!)
3. Sticking to my healthy menu and cooking from scratch as much as possible to save money.

Here are my questions.

1. What do you do to eat healthy on a budget?
2. How do you simplify your time in the kitchen and keep from eating out?
3. How do you accommodate different tastes in your family while still eating healthy and saving money?

Leave your ideas, recipes, or suggestions in the comments section. Also, there are two really great posts up at the following sites today taking this idea to the next level. They are talking about how to provide meals for others while staying on a budget (not necessarily healthy, but that would make a good post too). Good stuff in the comments. If you have time, you should check them out!

Money Saving Mom
Life As Mom

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'

I read this in three days. First fiction I've read in, oh, maybe 10 years? It was fab-u-lous! So fun! Thanks sis.

Star Wars Episode 2 1/2: A New Mission

I've been instructed NOT to move them from
the middle of the living room floor.
Apparently they are going to "tell the young people about Jesus."

May the force be with them as I continue to step over them the rest of the day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bowling with The Homies

Yes, this was the weekend we were supposed to go camping. However, Wednesday's forecast for the weekend showed it raining and thunderstorming ALL weekend. We all decided that didn't sound like a fun camping experience so we could just hang out at Grandma and Granddad's house for the weekend instead. Blue skies and not a drop of rain ALL weekend. Don't trust the weather-people. Just don't.

Fun was still had by all, just not of the camping variety. Grandma offered to watch all the grandkids so us couples could go on a triple date. (That is no small feat with this crew, so thanks a million Grandma and Grandad!) Of course we took her up on that offer! What rousing activity did we come up with for our triple date? Well dinner. Because who doesn't go to dinner when given the opportunity to go without children? Then, some bowling. That's right, bowling.

Us ladies hadn't brought socks along, so we made an impromptu stop at the Walgreen's for socks. I learned that Aunt C likes the socks that don't show past the ankles. Apparently she has skinny ankles. Aunt A and I prefer the other ankle ones that go a little higher. Anywho, we bought a three-pack of the other ankle ones and split it. I believe Aunt C will be displaying her autographed socks (by Aunt A, not me, I wasn't signing her stinky socks) somewhere because they aren't the kind she likes to wear.

Well, while us ladies were discussing the finer art of sock-buying, the men wrestled up some lanes for us (had to make it sound like a manly task, like they went all out for us ladies, really the place was pretty empty.) Anyway, can't beat some $1.00 games!

I hadn't been bowling in at least 6 years, probably more. I was aiming for 100. Did better than 100 first game. Second game, not so much. It's more about the company and the ambiance than the game for me any way. I mean who doesn't enjoy a stale smoke smell, stylish slippery shoes, and an always unsuccessful search for the perfect ball.

The ball search thing is quite interesting. I always go for the lightest one, which means that my fingers don't fit in the holes. Light=kids=small finger holes. Clearly, I know a lot about bowling and take great care in choosing the right equipment. A few of us (not giving names) actually own our own balls and shoes. Not kidding. They didn't bring them though. That would have added some great bloggable fun though I'm sure.

Here's the best bowler of the bunch, Uncle M, though I'm sure he would have been even better had he brought along his own ball and shoes, as would have Aunt C. ;)

See the X for strike? Yep, not mine. This one belongs to Aunt A. I didn't get a picture of Aunt C's. There was more than one, but I'm referring to the one where she might have actually broke out into The Running Man or was that The Roger Rabbit, I'm not quite certain.

I lost the picture of Aunt A "shooting a commercial" with her hair blowing in the air-thingy. Priceless. Thanks for a great night out homies!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stepping Up-Week Five

I loved Beth's challenge to wise up, encourage one another, and love each other deeply during the video portion of our study this week. So, today on this here blog, let's stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" and share about these three things.

Let's share about a time when someone fulfilled one of these three things for you OR give an idea you have for how to do one of these three things for another sister-in-Christ (and then do it this week)!

1. Wise Up
2. Encourage Each Other
3. Love Each Other Deeply

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Random Eavesdropping

My girls LOVE to color pages in coloring books and then cut out the "people" as dolls, and play house with them. I overheard this comment the other day.

Miss C yells, "My kids are RIPPED!" She said it just like a proud personal trainer, though that's not what she meant.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Red Plate

We've had this for a long time now, but we finally have a reason to use it! So fun to see our children getting old enough to enjoy this new tradition. Miss A got to use it all day Monday to celebrate her First Day of Kindergarten. We plan to use this for special occasions such as first day of Kindergarten, graduation from medical school, and our kid's first Olympic gold medals. You know, the traditional milestones! :)

That Didn't Take Long

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stepping Up-Week Four

Wow! I really enjoyed our conversations tonight. Thank you ladies so much for speaking up. We all learn so much from each other when we are willing to share what God is doing and has done in our lives.

For those of you who didn't make it, be encouraged to do your homework and come back next week. We're learning so much through our discussion and through Beth's teaching, and I don't want you to miss out! We really miss you when you aren't there!

By the way, I just can't get over the fact that Travis, THAT MAN CAN SING! Hallelujah!

I especially loved Beth's discussion about the Living Proof women dancing. So, here's the topic for our discussion. Do you enjoy dancing? In public or just in the privacy of your own home? What great thing has God done in your life that just made you want to dance with joy? Has anyone ever seen such joy in your life that they wanted to know what the source was?

August Challenge Update-Week 2

Okay, so I was completely sucked into the Olympics last night and didn't get this post up. (Can you say swimming and gymnastics? LOVE THEM! Oh, and that was one AWESOME race last night!) That, and I'm not really excited about this post. I TOTALLY failed this week! Here's how...

1. The husband called me at 10:30 Thursday morning and asked if the girls and I could be up at the church by 1:00 to do a video shoot for him. Now, I'm not one to disappoint, so I said yes. What I wouldn't do for my man. The problem? I had not showered yet, and the girls were in pajamas, and the house looked like a war-zone. These shoots, you never know how long they will last, so everyone needed to be bathed, dressed, and have eaten lunch before 1:00. I didn't have anything quick to fix, the sandwich stuff was gone, and all that was left were things that needed cooked. I didn't have time for cooking and showering, so I opted for the showering. (I'm sure everyone was grateful even though they didn't know it.) Okay, you guessed it, we went through the drive-thru. AAAAAHHHHHH!

2. The above-mentioned video that was filmed at 1:00 in the afternoon on Thursday had to be completely edited by noon-time on Friday. All the dinner stuff I had left was for the grill. I haven't found a way to safely grill and watch all three children at the same time. Mr. N had to stay at the church until LATE to get the video done. We ordered pizza. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

3. Friday night we got invited to go out to eat with some of the volunteers and staff at church. Last time they asked and we said no, I said that we would NOT say no again. We really want to build relationships with people and if you keep saying no, they eventually will stop asking. We've learned that before. So, of course, we went out to eat with a group from church Friday night. It was all in the name of fellowship. :)

4. With the husband's LONG hours, he still wasn't home to grill and we still didn't have any other groceries (because I have also learned to try at all costs to shop without the girls!) So, of course we had to do a drive-thru on the way home from church. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

Translation: We had an EAT-OUT BLOW-OUT this weekend. We made it all the way to the 7th without eating out and then ate out like 4 times in 3 days. Needless to say, rule#1 has been broken. But, I am not going for perfection, I'm going for progress. I have not given up on the month. I sat down with receipts and it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

For two weeks of groceries and toiletries I spent $185.00. Looking at this perspective we are under budget. However, add in the $100 spent on those 4 meals and we are OVER budget.

Here's how I'm looking at it.
1. We still did WAY better than we had been doing, even adding in the eating out money, so PROGRESS. Baby-steps, remember?
2. I'm going to try my hardest to use the remaining $200 for the rest of the month. See, all is not lost. Maybe I'll reach my goal for August Challenge Second-Half?

By the way, we are more-than-likely, but not-for-certain going camping this weekend, so my next update won't be until a week from Tuesday probably. Unless we don't go camping, then it will be Sunday. :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

My First Tag!

I've been tagged by MamaHenClucks for a meme. It's the first tag I've gotten and the first meme I've done. She tagged me a while ago. I've been so busy organizing that I'm just now getting to it. I'm reminded of a little sign at the Hotel Pool "No Lifeguard on Duty, Swim at Your Own Risk". This meme, it's six things you wish you didn't know about me. "No Lifeguard on Duty, Read at Your Own Risk."

Rules of Engagement:
1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six things you wish you didn't know about me:

1. I am PETRIFIED of birds. The wings flapping, oh the flapping, I can't take it.

2. I will "hold it" as long as I have to so as not to use a public restroom. At all costs. Okay, maybe not all costs, but probably longer than I should. (Admit it, you do it too?)

3. I have never traveled outside of the good ole US of A. Can you say, cultured?

4. I get VERY cranky when I don't have soda, mostly Cherry Coke. (Look out kids, Mama is about to give up soda soon. You've been warned.)

5. I still bite my nails. (Disgusting, I know. They are so thin and brittle that they just rip if I try to grow them out. Excuses, excuses.)

6. I am one of they most self-conscious and shy people I know, yet I LOVE public speaking. Seriously, I do. Well, depending on the topic, but if it is something I am passionate about, LOVE it, and why would I talk about something I wasn't passionate about anyway?

There now that wasn't so bad. It took me less time than I thought it would to come up with six things about myself. I must love myself more than I thought. ;) Alright, It's too late to come up with six people to tag right now, so if you want to be tagged, consider yourself tagged!

Organization Overload-Prayer Schedule-What

Hopefully you read the when I pray post, and now you're ready for the what I pray part. I've come up with a weekly schedule to pray through all the things that I want or need to be praying for regularly. It's a way of reminding myself to talk to God about these things. It's not a to-do list that I must check off. I don't ever want conversations with God to feel like a to-do list that I can just get over with. I want to enjoy time spent with God.

Having said that, have you ever set aside time to pray about specific things and then after about 15 minutes realized that you've covered one thing and ran out of time for the other 10. Not because you were pouring your heart out to God about the one thing, but because you've let your mind wander. You've gotten your entire day planned and decided what to fix for dinner and figured out what you need to get at the store, but now your children are begging for breakfast or needing a diaper change, and you have no focused prayer time left.

That's where my "schedule" comes in. For me, having ideas in front of me keeps me on track. This is how I spend my first 20 minutes of my walking time every morning. I still allow time after my Bible Study later to just listen to God and talk to Him about whatever I feel He is wanting to talk to me about that day.

Here's the basic idea. I have written out a 7 day prayer schedule. I print them on 8 x 11 paper (one for each day of the week). I put them in a small binder, and put it by the treadmill. Every morning I put the binder on the treadmill and pray through the needs on that specific day. Then I leave it by the treadmill and it is ready for the next day.

Each day consists of the following. I love how God reveals His Character in scripture through different Names for Himself. I've chosen one Name of God for each day of the week that is speaking to me right now in my life. Each day is based on one of His names, a scripture related to that Name, and the various ways I need that particular Character of God in my life right now. In addition, I have 7 areas of prayer each day. I just list prompts in these areas, and talk to God more specifically about it each day. Here are the 7 areas.

PRAISE: Different characteristics of God that I am grateful for. Give Him praise for these.
FAMILY: In our immediate family (parents and siblings), we have exactly 7 families. So, I pray for one family each day of the week.
FRIENDS: People in our lives we know have specific needs. These change from time-to-time as a result of answered prayer! When they change, I like to write Thanks God next to them and then write someone new down.
NEED/WANT: This one is just for fun! I think God likes to give us blessings, and I don't think He minds at all when we ask Him. So, these are things that we NEED sometimes. Other times it is something we would just like to have! :)

Here's the schedule. I've left off specific family and friend names for privacy reasons. You understand.

El Roi-The God Who Sees-Philippians 4:4-9
Praise: Comforter/Peace/Presence
Me: Emotions/Thoughts/Anxiety
Spouse: Emotions/Thoughts/Peace
Children: Emotions/Thoughts
Need/Want: New Bed for Miss C

Jehovah-Rophe-The Lord Heals-Jeremiah 30:17
Praise: Compassion/Healer
Me: Health/Diet/Exercise
Spouse: Health/Diet/Exercise
Children: Physical health and growth
Need/Want: Deep Freezer

Jehovah Jireh-The Lord Provides-Philippians 4:19
Me: Homeschool/Mind
Spouse: Job/Mind
Children: School/Minds
Friends: Other staff members.
Need/Want: New Car for Husband/Bike for Miss C

Jehovah Shammah-The Lord is There-Psalm 121
Me: Marriage/Mothering
Spouse: Marriage/Fathering
Children: Sibling Love
Need/Want: DISNEYWORLD (for us and the Carlsons!)

Jehovah Mekadesh-The Lord Who Sanctifies You-1 Peter 1:13-16
Me: Character/Fruit of the Spirit
Spouse: Character/Daily Devotion/Fruit of the Spirit
Children: Character/Honesty/Obedience
Need/Want: Windows/Siding/Doors

El Elyon-God Most High-Psalm 57:2
Praise: Sovereign/Faithful
Me: Women's Ministry/Speaking/Blogs
Spouse: Ministry/TentPeg Productions
Children: Future Spouse/Purity/Faith
Need/Want: Digital Camera

Adonai-Lord and Master-Psalm 16:2
Me: Priorities/God First
Spouse: Priorities/God First
Children: Priorities/God First
Friends: Central Christian Church/Our new town
Need/Want: Extra income/Debt reduction

That's my schedule! I hope it is somewhat helpful to you or at least encouraging that spending time with God and making Him priority can be done (even when you have small kids around, or should I say, especially when you have small kids around!) If you are interested in using/adapting this schedule for yourself, leave your email in the comments and I will send you the file to adapt for yourself!

Well, that's all for Organization Overload! Thanks so much for joining me here this week. It's been fun! I still have lots of projects needing organized, so I'm certain there will be more organizing in the future (and probably more about space than time, the closets are overwhelming me!) Have a wonderfully organized weekend!

Organization Overload-Prayer Schedule-When

You've seen all our organization for getting the school year going, but the most important step in all of it is missing. Prayer. I can organize all I want, but without prayer, my attempts will be futile.

By now, you might be thinking my organization is a little ridiculous, borderline psychotic? I mean, when someone tries to organize prayer, isn't that stepping over the boundaries a little bit? I beg to differ. When I want to make sure that I accomplish something, I plan for it. Why should prayer be any different? I'm not talking about scripting out every conversation with God, that would take away the relationship part and allowing God to speak to me. I'm talking about having simple reminders to make sure I talk to God about the things I want to talk to Him about.

I don't know if you are like me or not, but I do great at talking to God about personal things that He is doing in my life. I do great at talking to Him about things that are "pressing". I do great at talking to Him about friends or family who have needs. However, there are some things that I know I ought to pray for and want to pray for now, but I always put it off until tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and next week and next month and I still haven't regularly prayed for them! Things like my children's future spouses, my husband's work, our church, etc.

I have read several books about scheduling prayer and they have been helpful, but not easy to use in my life right now with three small children. So, once again, as all organized-type people do, I decided to organize it myself. Here's the result, my weekly prayer plan.

Let me explain when I do this first. I have four main times that I pray.

1. I get up before everyone else in the house. This is NOT easy for me. (Actually I was doing really well, but I stopped for the summer, I'm starting again Sunday!) If you are like me, I cannot just get up and start reading my Bible and praying, I'm NOT AWAKE YET! So, I jump on the treadmill. I have set aside one hour every morning from 5:30-6:30 to walk and commune with God. Read the book PrayerWalk to know why. It actually serves two purposes for me. (Physical and Spiritual exercise!) I spend the first 20 minutes praying. The next 40 minutes I listen to some rockin' praise and worship music on my MP3 player and WORSHIP Him. When I'm done with that, I am ready for Bible Study!
2. I pray over my daily schedule in the shower every morning.
3. I pray for whatever or whoever is on my mind while I do the dishes.
4. I pray over my finances whenever I pay bills, prepare a grocery list, go to the store, etc.

That's when I pray. I'm not saying this would work for everyone, it just works for me! The second half of this post will be what I pray. What about you, when do you pray and do you schedule a regular time to pray?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Organization Overload-Daily Schedule

After seeing where we will be doing school, I thought some of you might like to see what a day of homeschool looks like (on paper of course). Scheduling for homeschool can be difficult. Try to homeschool without one and you'll find yourself never accomplishing anything. Try to rigidly stick to one and you'll find yourself (and your kids) stressed out.

Basically, the schedule is the goal we aim for each day. It keeps us on target, but we don't stress over it. If math takes extra long, then school gets over a little later. If science goes quickly, then we have more play time. The cool thing about it is that we have the ability to do as much as we want or as little as we want, as long as we accomplish what we need to this year. It's golden.

The key for us is to make sure we start on time every day. If not, we're playing catch-up the rest of the day, and that is not fun! So, start on time and start with the B-I-B-L-E! I really wanted to do everything in the morning, seeing as how it is just Kindergarten! However, I think Science will go much smoother if we do it while Miss O is napping. So, Science will be in the afternoon, everything else in the morning! Here's our schedule. I, of course, typed it out and hung it in the schoolroom and in the kitchen. It is even color-coded. Blue=meals and snacks, Red=school time, Black=everything else. Fancy y'all, fancy!

I couldn't get a picture (or figure out how to upload it), so here is what the schedule says. (As if it can talk?) I've added in links (which totally messes up the color-coded thing by the way), so you can see what curriculum we are using. Just for fun.


7:30 Breakfast
8:00 Chores 1&2
8:45 Bible Time/Character Study/Prayer
9:00 Calendar Time (Weather, Days of Week, Months in Year, etc.)
9:15 Handwriting Miss A & Miss C
9:30 Spelling/Phonics/Reading
Miss A & Miss C
10:15 Morning Snack and Break
10:30 Math Miss A & Miss C
11:00 History and Read-Alouds
11:30 Fix Lunch/Play
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Science/Odelia Nap
2:00 Quiet Time TV/Odelia Nap
3:00 Afternoon Snack
3:30 Outdoor Play/PE
5:00 Fix Dinner/Eat Dinner
6:00 Play
7:00 Clean Up Toys/Bathtime/Odelia Bedtime
7:30 Read books quietly in bed/Manners book with Mommy
8:00 Bedtime

Most of you lovely readers (that I know of) aren't homeschooling quite yet (just Chandra and Susan?), but I would love to hear if and how your day is scheduled with little ones. If you would like to share, post a little schedule of your own in the comments!

We've got one more day of Organization Overload. I'm going to finish this out with one more post about time organization. We've got the school stuff ready, now it's time to cover it in daily prayer. See how I organize that tomorrow! Have I triggered your gag reflex yet from the overload?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Organization Overload-NEW SCHOOLROOM-Before

I love watching HGTV. I love a good before and after. I don't really care about the inbetween. When I watch a show, I typically watch the first 5 minutes to see what it looked like, then I go about my business for 20 minutes, and come back and watch the last 5 minutes. Yes, I do not have a DVR right now. I don't have the fast-forward privilege anymore. :( Consider this the first 5 minutes of the show called, "Ugly Basement Workroom Turned Schoolroom Makeover".

We are beginning our first year of homeschool next week and I had been trying to figure out where to do school. It began with my trying to figure out where to store our school materials out of the way of Miss O while doing school in the dining room. I didn't want the school stuff out where Miss O could get into it or where any dinner guests would be forced to look at it during their meal. So, I did what I always do and I called my sister to brainstorm an idea.

After a very rousing discussion of different kinds of cabinets and storage contraptions, she suggested using the workroom in the basement. A light bulb came on and the dreaming began. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that she created a makeover monster. What is the workroom you say?

When we bought this house, it had a hideous workroom in the basement that we desired to someday turn into a guest bedroom. It is the type of room that is just creepy. You have to walk through it to get to the laundry room, and that was pretty much the only reason to walk through that room (and never without shoes on!) Anyway, the guest bedroom makeover is a long way off because we have a very long list of home improvement projects more pressing than a guest bedroom currently. It had become a storage room for the most part.
The conversation with my sister was about 10 days ago. We started painting the next day. Here are the before pictures with the girl's beginning the paint process. What was I thinking letting an almost 4-year-old and a barely 5-year-old paint?

Organization Overload-NEW SCHOOLROOM-After

Are you ready for this? You're about to see the results of one week's worth of work. Miss A had VBS last week and Miss C wasn't old enough to go. In an effort to keep Miss C from having a meltdown every night about the fact that she didn't get to go, I made her my special helper on the schoolroom. It was our little project that we were working on to surprise Miss A with on her last night of VBS.

When Miss A got home from VBS last Friday, she ran to the basement to see it. I heard her say, "Oh my gosh! I love it! This is so cool!" Then, I came downstairs and asked her what she thought about it and she said, "I love it. Well, actually, I think it is just amazing."

Here you go, The Amazing Schoolroom Makeover. We painted all the existing cabinetry. Those cabinets you can see in this picture are painted in blue and brown and the black ones are chalkboard paint, so they can be used as chalkboards as well. :) They are really deep cabinets. All of our arts and crafts supplies are stored in there and they only take up maybe two cabinets! The rest are empty! LOTS of storage! Oh, and that's a hopscotch rug, so fun!

This is a close-up of the cabinet near the left wall. It has the weather chart for our daily calendar time on it. See the chalkboard doors?

This is the rest of the calendar time calendar. It is on the pegboard wall to the left of the cabinets.
This is a picture of that wall from the doorway. This is where our counter top "desks" are. I actually have three of those bar stools (two still need put together!) Miss A and Miss C each have their own section of the desk with their books and a basket with their supplies. Underneath the counter top is a GINORMOUS cabinet that is storing ALL of the girl's clothes (and we have a lot of clothes!) We put some cool ABC, addition, telling time, and counting posters up on them.
This is the opposite wall from the "desk". It was the one with the shelves and all the storage in the before picture. Now, it has a cool reading area with a princess canopy and bean bags. Also, the shelves are full with the chore chart, and all kinds of preschool manipulatives and puzzles and a kid's table for Miss O. Her own special little spot. Oh, and more posters here too.

Here are a few more pics of Miss O's special spot. If you look at the top, those are metal clips hanging the girl's artwork on the air vent. This will be awesome for hanging projects to dry.

The best part of the whole makeover? It only cost me exactly $100.00!

PAINT=FREE (We used paint and paint supplies leftover from painting the upstairs when we moved in.)


AREA RUGS=$40 (Couldn't resist. That floor needed something to make it fun and comfy.)

BAR STOOLS=$38 (A whole blog post on this coming up!)

NEW CURTAIN=$15 (Should have gone for the $5 one at Big Lots, oh well.)

BEAN BAGS=FREE (Miss O's birthday presents from Grandma and Papa. Thanks Grandma and Papa!)

PRINCESS CANOPY=$7 (on clearance)

We already had everything else! The girls are so excited. They keep asking if they can go downstairs just to look at the room again! I'm glad they like it, because we are going to be spending a lot of time there starting next week. Speaking of which, next Organization Overload post is all about our homeschool schedule. Now that you've seen the room, I thought you might like to hear how a day of homeschool will go. It's all about organizing our time!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Organization Overload-Chore Chart-Part Two

I'm going to admit something here that I would never have thought I would do in a million years.

I bought a hot glue gun. And I used it. Lots. And it was kind of fun. I only burned myself 30 times.

Seriously, this project took me back to the college days of making bulletin boards for the campus preschool for my work study job. I haven't been crafty since then. I don't really do crafty. I do practical. Since this crafty job is going to get my children to do practical jobs, I decided it was worth breaking out the craftiness that I have kept hidden deep inside. For such a time as this. For such a time as this.

Okay, yesterday I showed you part one of the chore chart. That is the part they will do daily. They will do the chore, i.e. make their bed, and then place an "X" through it on the chart in their bedroom (with dry-erase marker). Then, this is where part two comes in.

Our chore chart is like a flower garden. Once they have done all the chores for the morning, they will get to place a flower in their garden. Same goes for their evening chores. Each day they have a chance to earn two flowers. With me so far?

Here's the chart at the beginning of the week, with all flowers in their Days of the Week Pots waiting to be moved to the Girl's Garden Pots.

We are not doing chores on Sunday (you know, a day of rest!). So, at the end of the week, if they have done ALL of their chores and gotten every flower, they should have 12 flowers in their garden. Like this...

Here's the ringer. There are UGLY weeds. In our house whenever someone is not obeying, we say that they are "being ugly". Thus, ugly weeds. They can get an ugly weed for having a bad attitude during school, fighting, and whining or backtalking.

This is what their garden would look like with ugly weeds. I'm sure we will NEVER have them looking like this. Funny thing is, I couldn't decide how many ugly weeds to make. I really wouldn't want to run out of them, because that is a high probability around here. ;) See how the weeds crowd out the pretty? A spiritual lesson here y'all, thus the point.

On a positive note, there is a little cup full of yellow and blue flowers that are Mommy and Daddy's flowers respectively. Whenever we catch them doing something good that they were not asked to do, we can place a special flower from Mommy or Daddy in their garden. Won't it be fun for them to find a surprise special flower some day!

Take note, there are different color flowers for each day of the week, so it is easy to tell who didn't do their chores on which day. ;) Clever, y'all, clever.

At the end of each week (Sundays) we will give rewards for their chores. Last year we did money for their piggy banks if they did their chores, but it was hard for them to see any results because they never really got to spend the money. This year there will be a whole reward system.

Each flower is worth 1 token. So, with six days a week, two flowers each day and one token per flower, they have the chance to earn 24 tokens each week. My math skills, they are fascinating!

However, ugly weeds count as minus 2 tokens. So, we will count up flowers, give tokens, and then take away any tokens for ugly weeds. Still with me?

Once they have their tokens, they can keep them (in a special box) or they can spend them. Their "spending" choices are the following...

10 tokens=pick from treasure chest (The treasure chest is full of little things like stickers, jump rope, jacks, suckers, fruit roll-ups, etc.)
15 tokens=stay up late (15-20 minutes to hangout with Mom and Dad alone)
20 tokens=ice cream cone (go with Mom or Dad to get one, probably Mom)
20 tokens=rent a movie or go out to eat (go with Mom or Dad, probably Dad)
40 tokens=go to movies with Mom or Dad (probably Dad)

Here are their "coupons" for some of the above choices to hold onto until we are able to redeem them.

Our kids are so young, that they will most likely want instant gratification, so they will usually probably pick the treasure chest. That's why it only takes 40 tokens to get to go to the movies. My guess is that they will use half their tokens on the treasure chest any given week, so it would take them 1-2 months to save enough tokens to get to do the things that will actually cost us money! We may be revising that if they end up earning a trip to the movie once every two weeks. Daddy would love that, our budget, not so much!

We are kicking off the new Chore Chart System on Monday. We've going to read this book and explain the system and get them SUPER PUMPED! We're even working on a little "chore time soundtrack". You may just get to see a little video sometime in the future of our Chore System in action. How's that for fun?

By the way, if you have boys who wouldn't really like the flower garden idea, this is totally adaptable to other themes. Such as, fish bowls with sharks and different kinds of fish. Really, the skies the limit here. Have fun creating something your kids would LOVE.

Alright, next up in the Organization Overload revealing, THE NEW SCHOOL ROOM! Oh my stinkin' heck, you DO NOT WANT TO MISS THE NEXT POST! It is thrilling!

Organization Overload-Chore Chart-Part One

I have been trying to teach my girls from an early age to make their beds every morning. Miss A could do it by herself when she had a toddler bed, but then when we moved her into a twin bed it was more difficult for her to reach. It has just been over the last few months that she has been able to do it by herself. I would praise her about how good she was doing and that I couldn't believe she was big enough to make her own bed and tell her she must be one super girl to be able to do that. Yes, I talked it up incredibly. You would have thought she had just pulled off a Mary Lou 10 on the vault!

Anyway, I told her yesterday to go make her bed. She tells me she can't do it by herself. I tell her she can and she better go do it. She responds, "No Mom, I can't, I think I've lost my talent."
I laughed hysterically and then still made her make her bed herself. Apparently she hasn't "lost her talent" after all. In fact, her "talent" is growing because she also took a bath by herself yesterday too, did all the washing of her hair and body by herself, got herself out and put her towel on, dried herself off, got dressed, and combed her hair!

She was so proud that she ran out to her daddy and said, "I just did my bath all by myself. I don't even need Mommy anymore!"

As a result of that little proclamation, my goal in our chores over the next year is to prove to her that she does still need me! Okay, so it's not really my goal, but I think it'll be clear that I haven't taught her all the talents she needs to have just yet. I do still have a few more things to teach her before she gets married. Although, she has been asking how old she has to be to get married. Definitely 30. :)

Last year we bought some chore charts like this. They were good, but it required me to rewrite the chart every week. Most weeks it would be Tuesday and the girls would be reminding me that they still needed a new chore chart for the week! Needless to say, it didn't work well for us, so I began the Great Chore Chart Search of 2008. It led me to all kinds of great products like this, this, this, and this. Problem was that for the amount of money to spend for two kids (Miss O not included yet!), I wanted it to be EXACTLY what I wanted. And none of them were.

I brainstormed with my sister for awhile and she sent me some links to some other great products like this and this. The more I looked at the chore card ideas, the more I liked them. I still couldn't find EXACTLY what I wanted, so I decided to make it myself. Are you ready for this. My redneck chore chart if there ever was one. And the pictures with the BlackBerry flash add to the redneckness of it all. Just so ya know.

I found clipart for all the chores I want the girls to do (since Miss C doesn't read yet) and developed my own system. And believe me, it is a system. I'll try to post in parts, so as not to totally confuse you. Part one: These charts are on the back of the girls door in their room. They have one row with a sun for their morning routine and one row with a moon for their bedtime routine. I laminated them so that they can use a dry-erase marker and "X" through each item after they do it. Then, before they go to bed, they can erase it all and it is ready for the next day. Pure genius! Here are the pics, crummy as they may be.

Attempted close up. The left side has "This is the day the LORD has made,..." and the sun and moon to indicate morning versus evening chores.

This pic is really pathetic, sorry. The zoom is gone on my BlackBerry, all I can do is hold the phone closer or farther away. Redneck BlackBerry or redneck operator? You decide. Anyway, close up of the blue row, which represents morning chores of Make Bed, Get Dressed, Put Clothes in Hamper, Brush Hair, Brush Teeth.

Okay the flash got me on this one! Close up of nighttime routine. Clean up toys, Put on Pajamas, Brush Teeth, Go Potty.

That's step one, the daily process. Step two will be how we track weekly and give "rewards" and "punishments." See you tomorrow for Step two of the Organization Overload Chore Chart! I promise it is much more fantastic than step one, don't miss it!

Stepping Up-Week Three

Good Morning Ladies!

I trust you took Beth's advice and got lots of sleep last night! I'm working on the whole sleep thing. My youngest has finally stopped waking up asking for the pacifier in the middle of the night, so I'm beginning to get better sleep.

This was a great week in God's Word. There were several things that have stuck with me from this week's study, but I can't seem to stop thinking about the whole sow the seed versus eat the seed thing. Beth wrote this, "Sometimes we don't even realize the difference. We'll think we accepted the teaching because we were so moved by it. But you see, the seed of God's Word can fill our stomachs and give us immediate satisfaction and still not produce a harvest--that's when we eat it but don't sow it. many times we apply biblical truth to our theologies without applying it to the actual practicalities of life."

My family attempted a garden for the first time this year. We have fought desperately with the birds and rabbits and bugs. We have yet to harvest anything from the garden. The girls had a blast with planting the seeds and watching the sprouts grow, because they came quickly, well the ones that didn't get eaten by the birds did anyway. But then the hard work of remembering to water the garden every morning and keeping out the pesky weeds and animals set in. It has been difficult to keep up the work when we cannot see the harvest, but we continue to do it because we know that we will harvest something (just not the green beans or peas or cucumbers that the rabbits ate!)

I love Galations 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I am sooooo tempted to give up on this garden, but then I remember the joy that will come with the harvest. This garden has become my literal reminder this week of figurative seeds that God has been sowing in my life and the future harvest that will come from them. I must not give up! I must not become weary!

In respect to the seeds in the garden and the seeds in the Word, and eating versus sowing the seed, here's our discussion question for this week. Well, it's two-fold, because I like two-fold. I get to learn more about you! Feel free to answer one or the other or both!

1. What is your favorite food to eat that comes from a seed?

2. What scripture seed is God asking you to sow this week?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Organization Overload-Cleaning Schedule

Back in our old town there was this frozen custard place that everyone raved about. The husband and I decided to try it out one day. He ordered a little something called a Chocolate Overload.

Now, on first thought that seems like an oxymoron. You can never have too much chocolate right? Um, this little dessert proved that theory wrong. Basically, it was a chocolate brownie with chocolate chunks with chocolate ice cream on it all covered in hot fudge.

It was so unbelievably rich that he couldn't even stand to eat it. It was making him physically ill. Since then, we've had this little joke about the Chocolate Overload (along with the joke about the blue-cheeseburger) which can pretty much trigger the gag reflex with one mention.

All that to say, that I LOVE organizing, but I've been doing so much of it that it is beginning to feel like an Organization Overload. My gag reflex isn't triggered, but my brain is fried, which pretty much makes me want to overload on chocolate daily, just not The Chocolate Overload, peanut M&Ms are just fine.

So, in honor of The Chocolate Overload and organizing, this week at Pink-a-Doodle-Doo is all about Organization Overload. I've been working very hard on my Diligent Days of Summer, so I thought I would share the results with you. We're gearing up to start our first year of homeschooling next week. Well, the first year that counts anyway.

I can be so distractable when things are not organized, so I need everything to have a place and everything to actually be in its place. Things have NOT been in their place since we moved mostly because things don't have a space yet. So, there's a whole lot of getting things organized happening here. And by things, I mean time and space.

This week I plan to put a new post up each and every day about the organizing we've been doing. Since you are no doubt dying to know what I've been doing with my time, let's get started.

First up, a cleaning schedule! The routine I've gotten into has been to spend all my time Saturday morning cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, vacuuming, etc. It's driving me crazy! I don't want to spend my Saturday that way anymore! So, I'm implementing a weekly cleaning schedule. I made it on the computer, printed it, and then laminated it and hung it in the kitchen. Here's what it looks like.

Here's what it consists of...

I have daily chores of dishes and sweeping. Other household chores are spread out throughout the week, like so...

Sunday=grocery list, coupons, meal plan (my planning day).
Monday=grocery shop, mirrors, windows
Tuesday=laundry, vacuum, mop
Wednesday=toilets, sinks
Thursday=vacuum, mop, dust
Friday=laundry, linens, door knobs (trying to prevent illness this way this winter!)
Saturday=scrub shower, vacuum

In addition to my chores, the girls each have two days a week that they are my "special helper." They LOVE helping me cook, do dishes, and laundry. However, it turns into more of a fight between the two every time.

In an effort to have some one-on-one time with the girls and teach them how to do these things without the fighting, they are trading off. I'm totally going to play up the "special helper" thing and make them feel like they are waaaaay cool on their special days. You know, the way you felt super cool when you were the "teacher's helper" in kindergarten.

On those days, they help me with laundry, cooking, dishes, sweeping, and anything school related. I may even make a special nametag or something they get to wear on that day, just to be clear who is the special helper on any given day. For the record, Miss O doesn't get this privilege yet, just Miss C and Miss A who will actually be a help.

There you have it, the weekly cleaning schedule. Tune in to tommorrow's Organization Overload for The New Chore Chart. (You didn't really think that was all that I would make them do around here did you?)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August Challenge Update-Week 1

Actually it's only been 3 days, but I said I would update on Sundays, so here it is.

We have not eaten out! (I was tempted today though! I really wanted to "grab" something on the way home from church because it is always so late! But we came home and had leftovers!)

I spent @ $74.00 at Wal-Mart on groceries on Friday. (I'm too lazy to go get the receipt right now.) I didn't use any coupons. I just started clipping them again, so I didn't really have any to use yet. We had some meat in the freezer, so I based my meal plan on that this week. I'll have to head out for more fruit at some point and maybe milk, maybe not? Otherwise, we'll have enough food to make it until next Sunday. So, I do not plan on grocery shopping this week.

I made out my CVS plan for free or cheap toiletries and then never got the chance to go. I'll be working on going this week. I bought three newspapers this morning to get LOTS of coupons. (I need to find someone who doesn't use their coupons so I can get them free!) Hopefully, I'll be able to get some really good deals and build up somewhat of a stockpile for toiletries in the next few weeks. We don't really have anything stockpiled, so this could be interesting! I'll update again next Sunday, maybe sooner if I get any really good deals!

Sweet Revenge

You know my little issue with the flies? Well, we put these up.

It is fascinating entertainment y'all. The husband can now be called Lord of the Flies. He's been taunting the flies all day. He shoos them into the window trap, and then watches them get stuck. We've been saying things like, "Look at you now little fly, come and get me. Go ahead, fly off and get me. Oh, you can't can you? That's right, you're stuck. Hahahahaha."

The strips, they are a-working. We've got 14 in the kitchen one. Take a little looksie. (Look at the blurry strip with those black spots. The black spots are flies stuck to the window strip.)

Closer up, just so you can see it better.

Here's the part that disturbs me.

Who would really leave that on their window for months? It is really rather disgusting.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Challenge

Is it seriously August already? How is that possible? It feels like I just bought the blow-up pool and sprinkler yesterday. Granted we haven't used it in like 4 weeks, but still.

As much as I like summer and the fun in the sun that goes with it, I LOVE FALL! So, I think I'm ready for summer to be over. I know fall doesn't actually start until late September and it stays hotter than blazes here in the Midwest for several more weeks. But for me, when school starts, it's fall. Having said that, we're starting our new homeschool adventures on August 12. That's less than two weeks away, just in case you haven't looked at your calendar recently.

We have been feverishly working on several projects around here to get ready for school. I'll be having a little "themed" week on this here blog next week. Remember my diligent days of summer? Well, I have been somewhat diligent and we have lots of finished projects to share. So, starting Monday, I'll be putting up a new post every day on our finished projects. If you are remotely interested in organizing, planning, and scheduling, you will at least find them interesting! (Though, if you are a sanguine, you may find them more amusing in the "she's fallen off her rocker" category!) Join me on Monday for some serious Organization Overload.

Until then, I want to share something with you that I am implementing this month. A little challenge of sorts. I've mentioned before that I am a great planner, not a great follow-upper. I've planned and now I'm following-up. I've been working on the ole' get the grocery budget under control thing for some time. I finally bought the e-book Supermarket Savings 101 a few weeks ago. If you don't know what it is, go here. Money Saving Mom manages to feed her family of four on $35 a week. No, that is not a typo. I'm not even kidding. Oh, and that includes toiletries. Yes, mam it does. She wrote the e-book (kind of an e-course) to help other people learn how to do what she does and her blog is fantastic too.

Anywho, I'm following some of her principles as much as I can starting in August. My goal is $100/week for food and toiletries combined. Some of you may already be there, but let me just say, we've been way over that for awhile now. So this is a serious challenge for us. At the same time, we're trying to eat healthy (post coming soon on this too), so that makes it even more challenging. So, our August challenge is two-fold.

1. No eating out. At all. (This is more to break the fast-food addictions and quick-dinner-solutions we've developed since moving and having crazy schedules!)
2. Only spend $400 total this month for food and toiletries combined.

I'm approaching this in a couple of ways. First of all, I'm covering this with prayer. God is able to help us do this and I believe it honors Him, so He will! Second, I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm not going to be ridiculous and inflexible, but it's a challenge and I'm going to stick with it! I'll be posting a weekly update just so you can see how it goes, probably on Sundays, since those are my weekly planning days. So, anyone have any pointers for me or care to join in with a little challenge of your own?