Friday, August 12, 2011

A Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils

Most of you ladies will know what it means to obtain a "bouquet of sharpened pencils." It is from the classic movie "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. No I'm not in New York and I don't own a bookstore, because I'm NOT selling the 10 shelves worth of books that I've accumulated over the past 13 years. I am something completely different, I am a Home Educator. If I'm going to accumulate something it is going to be books. It has always been a dream of mine to own a bookstore, but used books for the people who don't have to have that new book smell, for people who know that the grubbier a book is the more adventurous it must be.

That is the case with the best books in our house. We have begun our nightly ritual of family reading and started with "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis. The first book is the older kids' choice and they usually pick a set and we give in. This book is worn out with a peeling binding that declares age, use and love. If you could see my set of "Anne of Green Gables" books, which are even worse you would know this is a book that is adored by me and I'm sure will be by my daughter. Do not even ask about our copies, yes I said copies, of Lord of the Rings trilogy, they are a mess. A major part of our day and of our home schooling adventure is about reading and that is reading aloud.

On my night stand is a book called The Read-Aloud Handbook, the publication I have was 1996. It is a fabulous read for anyone, especially those proclaiming to educate children or who want to make sure their children have a great start in life. Reading is the core of everything you do. You do not realize the gift you have and that is being bestowed upon children to read. You may think that is the real gift and all you have to do, but you are only fooling yourself.

I have been of the belief for years that children LOVE to be read to by an adult. This started for me with my kindergarten teacher Miss Robins.We would have reading time right after lunch, I believe it was to settles us down back into our day. This didn't happen for me again until 6th grade, where I was exposed to two of my favorite books, "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." I still pull out these books every other year to read to my children and this is the year. These two teachers, my favorite and my least favorite, taught me that reading aloud was very important. They instilled in me a peace that comes with reading and the knowledge that when things are crazy in life to grab a book.

I've grabbed many books over the years, some have become like an old friend, while others are just an acquaintance that I met in the air port on my way to somewhere else. Both are nice, but it is the old friend that will help you through the hard times. It is the old friend that will become so ingrained in you that you quote her and she changes your life. You may not know it at when you read it at first, but she buries herself deep in your soul and just stays there waiting for you to realize who she is. This is how it was for me and how I desire it to be for my children.

Jackson already has a favorite author. He will read anything that was written by G.A. Henty. He will read the other books I assign to him, but Henty is his go to for fun, adventure and relaxation. Audrey hasn't found that for herself yet, but I'm sure with time it will come. We are going through the Little House on the Prairie series this year so who knows what will become of that. For the boys it is anything they can get their hands on, they love to be read to and know that it means cuddle time with mom.

If you haven't spent some time with a good book lately, or you haven't spent the time with a good book and your children, you are missing out on special memories that will last for generations. I've found that when I wanted to get in the groove of reading to my children that I needed to pick something that was as interesting to me as it was to them. We started with Winnie the Pooh when Jackson was still in utero and haven't stopped since.

So as the school year begins, I challenge you to find your favorite children's classic and read to your children. Even if it is just a chapter a night, it will be worth it.You may think the book will be boring to your teenagers, but I promise you they want this family time just as much as your younger children do. I know this requires that you turn off the television and plan for about an hour before bed time. This will be harder for some than it is for other, but it is certainly not impossible if it is important to you.

Make time for your children, make time for your family. I promise you it is something you will never regret, and neither will they.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of Homemaking

First I will confess that I really didn't know what it meant to be a homemaker when I found my husband 16 years ago. I did know how to do laundry, cook a decent meal, and crisis clean if someone was coming over, but to really make my house a home, No.

It has taken me 16 years, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of patience from Stephen to find out what works from me.  I have several things working against me that have caused me to find new and better ways to make things work, but eventually I have jumped that hurdle and moved forward. (I'm so thankful I jumped hurdles in junior high and high school so I can have that real life comparison.)  In my effort to move forward with my life and not look in the rear view mirror so much, I'm only going to mention the hurdles so I can talk about overcoming them.

1. Not really know where to start: This is NOT a slam against my mom or grandmothers, but against me. I never really paid attention to what they did. I mean I knew about the things I mentioned above, but I never paid attention to the details.  I always had the things I needed. The only thing I had to let me mom know about was when I out grew my clothes. She just took care of everything. When I was little I remember thinking that toilet paper just grew from there, and that the bar of Lava soap would stay a sliver forever. :D It never crossed my mind that my family was making sure everything was there and provided for.   Even as a teenager I never noticed, I guess that goes with being wrapped up in my own life.

2. No desire to do it: This goes along with never having to take care of things. I went along thinking they would always be taken care of by someone else. Looking back at this now, I realize that I was lazy. I didn't want to learn and so I ignored all the wonderful advice. It wasn't until I was blessed with a beautiful little boy that things started to change.

3. Children who make a mess as soon as I clean it: I remember when Jackson and Audrey were little. Our house was a constant mess. It was everything I could do to keep up with them. I was constantly tired from neither one of them being good sleepers and a hard time sleeping myself. The final embarrassment was when my SIL and her husband saw the mess that was my house. I kept saying I didn't want them in the house, but they insisted and Stephen said yes. I felt like I was going to die. This set me to start looking at how to prevent this from happening again.

4. Physical pain: Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a really bad knee, but now I have to add the lower back issues into it. There are still days I can't get out of bed, but they have become less and less. This leads to depression because I can't do the things I want and need to do. This has been the biggest hurdle of all for me. I can make a great plan, but then the execution is always hard.

5. Constantly moving: Just when I get things the way I want them to be we move. Each move has been by choice, and once we are settled I'm thankful for the move, but until I'm a mess. For example we have been in this house since December and I still don't have all the boxes unpacked. The only thing I can say here is that each place we have lived has required different things to make sure everything has a place. The storage for each place has required money and that seems to always be in short supply when trying to cloth and feed 4 growing children.

Now with all of that out of my system, (I'm sure I could find more excuses, but I'm not going to.) it is time to talk about ways I've managed to overcome some of these.

I'll start off with children. Jackson and Audrey are no longer those little monkeys, but have become my biggest helpers. We have been blessed with the ability to home school our children. This at times causes even a bigger mess because they are home all day, but I have tried to turn this into a blessing. We have a daily schedule, which we try to live by. This includes time for chores, school, family time and even some fun time. The older two children have chores that they have to complete daily. There are fights about this, but I remind them that we have to work as a family to accomplish things or it will only become worse. We've had a few times where the cleaning went into the weekend, which messed up Family Fun Day and that has helped them want to work during the week.

In my search for how to clean, I've come across some fabulous websites that I'm sure most of you already know about. My main go to website is It was there that I learned that I don't have to be perfect in my cleaning, but doing something was better than nothing. I also learned I can do anything for 15 minutes. This has given me the freedom to just do what I can when I can, and to be thankful for what I can do.  I fall off of the path I set for myself now and then, but I can get right back on since I'm never behind. This has been a true blessing in my life and allowed me to focus on what is important. It has allowed me to be both a Martha and a Mary. For years I thought that being a Mary was all I had to do, but being a Martha has allowed me even more freedom to be a Mary.

I can tell you my house is NOT spotless and right now I would not be happy if someone walked in my front door, but give me an hour or two and I would be just fine. (Morning chores haven't been completed yet.) My house looks lived in and that is what it is, considering that we are home all day for school.  There are things that I want to improve on and they are on my list. We add new things to our chore list every month slowly building until we get it right.

The big thing I'm working on is making sure my children don't have the same problem I have, of not knowing how to clean, when to clean and why they need to clean. I want them prepared to face life head on. I know I have 3 boys who will eventually go out into the world to provide for their family, but my future DILs will love me if my boys are more than willing to pitch in and help. Not only be willing, but to know how to do it, to do it correctly, and know they are loving not only their wives but God by helping. For you moms out there, this is also part of an "evil" plan to have helpers, or as my oldest would say "slaves",  I don't consider my children slaves, but part of my team, the team that makes this house a home.

My home is far from perfect, but with my pains I've learned that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. There is only so much I'm physically capable of doing. In order to have my house "clean enough" to have people over I spend a lot of time meeting my expectations, and completely wipe myself out. I'm in pain for a week to accomplish this task and that is with help from my children and Stephen. I don't regret it though, as nothing pleases me more than having friends over for dinner and fun. My kids my grumble along the way, but when the guests arrive they have a blast. We usually have a family meeting to talk about how we could have done it easier and to talk about how much fun we had. When this meeting happens the kids always admit that it would be easier if they did their chores more consistently and if they didn't lolly gag along the way.

So my house isn't a house that they would show on HGTV, I'm content. It is warm and inviting, and will be more so once our new couch arrives.  It is a place of refuge. A place where my family knows they can go for comfort, love and a safe haven. They know that this place is filled with love and they will be loved here.  My family knows that God is the heart of this place and that as long as we keep Him that way we will be blessed even if we live in a cardboard box. Could it look better? Yes. Could I be a better homemaker?  Yes. If I've learned anything from Flylady it is that I don't have to be perfect, but to do the best I can possibly do. That whatever I do will bless my family.

So as I start my day, I contemplate what can I do today to make my house a home. The first is to get off of here. :D

May your day be as productive as you wish and May you realize that you bless your family in all you do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No one eats Peeps Mom

The weather is finally starting to act like spring. Hopefully we have seen our last frost and can begin our gardening. Stephen hasn't built our SFG, but it is a good thing with the way the weather has been.

Speaking of our garden here are a couple of pictures of our seedlings.

As you can see they are growing very well. We have only had to water them a few times. We are going to wait until the end of the week before starting tray 3. This way we can stagger out the planting and the harvesting.

In other plants I found some bulbs fairly cheaply that Audrey and I will be planting next week. It is my hope that the land across the creek will still have top soil. The soil here is so bad that we can't even grow tulips. I find this so disheartening, but Stephen says we won't do anything about it until AFTER we buy the house. He is right we need to save money to purchase the house, not to fix all of its problems, which includes finishing the basement (that's a totally different story).

The peeps are growing quickly. Pip says they don't look like babies anymore. Last week when he asked me what was for dinner I told him Peeps. He gave me a stern look and told me he would report me for animal abuse since NO ONE EATS Peeps. Won't he be surprised come Easter morning when he has Peeps in his basket, and not just yellow ones either. :D

Audrey held up a Peep for me to take a picture of it. They really don't like being held and we do leave them alone, but they will have to get over posing for the camera for now.

They have certainly grown. They are constantly eating, drinking, scratching and peeping. We still have an escapee now and then, but not much since Stephen put a lid on their box. Lily doesn't care for the lid as it keeps her from her "toys", but I just smile and give her a dog bone to chew on.

We made our first trip to the Louisville Zoo. It was a lovely day on Saturday. The kids had a great time even if the polar bear exhibit wasn't ready yet. William loved watching the seals play and splash around in the water. He kept asking if he could play too. I felt bad telling him no. Pip of course loved the penguins, but spent more time watching the monkeys. We didn't see everything, but I promised them we would come back. I'm so thankful we bought a dual membership to the Zoo and the Science Center.

Here are a few of my favorites.

If you are wondering about the goose..... well she about chopped a guys head off coming in for a landing at our feet. She then proceeded to look at each of the kids expecting them to feed her something. I have to admit it was my favorite part of the zoo. Don't get me wrong I love the animals, but this was priceless.

School is going well. We are finishing up right before Memorial Day. We don't have snow days here. :D The kids are thinking that it will mean NO school work and all playing, but I it won't be. We will have a garden to tend to. They will be gone the entire month of July at different camps. Not to mention summer reading and their nature journals. We will make time for field trips, camping and all kinds of other crazy things. As you can tell the education process never stops here. We are always learning about something. The kids are constantly asking questions. Like the other day Jackson asked when did men start wearing pants instead of sheets/togas like they did in ancient times. This leads to internet research.

Finally before I go, I found a yarn shop in Jeffersonville. It was small, but full of yummy yarn. All of it was wool, so a dear friend of mine would never go, but it was fun to play with. While we were there we found out about a Fiber and Music Festival that is happening in Charlestown at the end of the month. I guess I better save some pennies, because I will definitely want to bring home some new yarn to play with.

That's all for now from my little corner. May the sun shine down and you receive enough rain to allow your garden to grow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peeps and Seeds

Spring is progressing here in my little corner of Sellersburg. We have two trays of seedlings and they are starting to sprout. The lettuce, peppers and green beans are already sprouting at a great pace. This means I need to finish my book and Stephen needs to start building boxes with grids so we can start our SFG. 

The plan is to have a total of 26 - 4x4 boxes. Some will be cut in half and put along side the house. We will place a 3' aisle and then another row of boxes. These will wrap around the east side of the house and the back of the deck. Audrey has been assigned to take care of the herbs while Jackson will be taking care of the other plants. Of course, Stephen and I will be overseeing everything, but the kids are excited about this new venture. Just one more thing to add to their home schooling  curriculum.

We have a nice size yard, but definitely NOT big enough for a real garden. Also neither Stephen nor I have time to prepare the soil here for a garden. The soil is full of clay, sand and rocks. There doesn't seem to be ANY topsoil at all. This will allow us to have produce our first year with out all the hassle of dealing with soil and weeds. That's right I said NO weeds.  If you want to know more you can check it out on

Just to add to the insanity, we went to the Tractor Supply store today and purchased SIX pullet chicks.  Stephen and Audrey are using 2 medium sized moving boxes for the first home for the chicks. They are all very cute and playful. Each of the children placed one of the chicks in the new box, which thrilled William and Philip.

So far one of the chicks has flown out of the box 3 times. Audrey was calling him Fluffy, but has now decided to call him Wonder. You see I wanted to name them all Peep, and the kids wanted to give them all each individual names, so they all have the middle name of Peep. SO, the chick that is trying to escape is called Wonder Peep.

Earlier the Peeps were fighting over a piece of paper they had scratched up for the newspaper in the bottom of the box. Since it was rolled up it looked like a worm and they began fighting over it. We all laughed so hard it scared the Peeps, causing the "worm" to be dropped. Wonder Peep immediately claimed it and ran off.

Did I tell you that the Peeps can eat? Well they can. We filled their feeder with food and tonight it is less than half full. Stephen said he has to wonder if the Peeps won't finish eating us out of house and home. I told him that they better not eat much, because the kids and dog don't leave much behind.

Lily is not happy with the added members to our family. She is very upset that we will not share them with her, allowing her to play with the Peeps. She seems to listen to Stephen. The test will be when he isn't here. The Peeps are in the kitchen, where we complete school work and spend almost all of our time. I hope that keeps them safe.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.
Until next time from my little corner.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A NEW Direction

I woke up at 5am this morning wide awake, and wondering what the day would bring. There are a lot of new things happening and some issues that are coming to light. I spent some time in prayer and asked God to give me some inspiration on how to deal with everything and it was placed upon my heart to use my blog. I know I haven't written anything since January, but that is about to change.

Our family made it through this winter with more than our share of illnesses. It wasn't the kids bringing it home from school because we home school. I'm crazy about hand sanitizer on grocery carts. The only place it could have come from was my poor husband. He would tell us what the bug going around work was and a few days later I would be sick. My immune system could never seem to catch up. After 2 months and 3 bottles of Sambucus, I think I'm finally over everything.

During this time we still commenced with school, but at a slower pace. My oldest at 13 is 2 years ahead of what I was studying at his age in all subjects. He's finally hit a wall where he actually has to work to get good grades. He isn't happy about it, but he needs to learn to work for what he has and that hard work will always get you farther than  brains.

To add to the insanity that is my life we are going to try, square foot gardening. It is a raised bed garden, but taken to another level. Later today we will be starting the last of our seeds to plant in a few weeks once Stephen has everything built. I will be taking pictures and adding them here and on facebook as we progress with this.

Some thing else that has happened is that my favorite menu mailer is no longer free. I was thinking that maybe it is time to start something like that myself. I LOVE to cook and try new recipes. It has become a tradition for me to bring a recipe I have NEVER tried before to a gathering even for a family holiday. Some have gone over better than others, but none of them have even turned out horrible.  I seem to have a knack for finding recipes that my family will like.

I have also in my "spare time" crocheting baby afghans that I hope to be able to sell on Stephen has been my photographer and has done an amazing job. I'm hoping that my hobby will make me enough of a profit to offset my yarn obsession. My yarn collection is building, but I'm using it almost as fast as I buy it. Also being able to sell what I make will relieve the guilt of the money I spend.

Lastly at night I've been trying to do some reading before I go to sleep. Right now I'm reading Family Driven Faith Doing what it takes to raise sons and daughters who walk with GOD. by: Voddie Baucham Jr. I'm only on chapter 2, but so far I've found the book to be amazing and exactly what I needed.  It has reaffirmed what I already believe about parenting and my place in my children's lives and also given me the courage to continue down this path.

These are just a few of the things I'll be talking about. I know some of you may not like me being so candid, but if I can encourage just one person then I will be happy.

Happy Monday to you all and may the wind of change bring blessings to your life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fear of the Past and Making Peace with the Present

I've found it interesting being back "Home again in Indiana." Things are not what they use to be nor are they where they use to be. I still have to remind myself to exit off at Veteran's Parkway to go to Target and Michaels. (I do try to avoid there though, because the Pie Kitchen is there and it is a HUGE temptation for me.)

I'm on the hunt for a new paediatrics doctor and specialist for William. It is also time to find a dentist, as I hate to visit the dentist this will not be fun, but needed. This is just the beginning of the list of doctors that are needed.

What I'm getting to is this, the last time I was really here in Southern Indiana I was 18. My parents had already done the hard work of finding and approving all of these people. I knew which doctor to go to for what problem, my mom would set up the appointment and then proceed to pay the bill. Now it is my turn and it feels weird. This feeling hit me a couple of weeks ago as I was cooking in my kitchen. I'm an adult living in what I always considered my hometown, even though I actually lived in Henryville. It was what I had always wanted, and I finally have it.

The funniest part is now that I have it I don't know what to do. I know that at any moment I could come across one of my class mates. Though I am excited about the prospect, I'm also nervous. I know we have all changed, it has been 17 years since we graduated from Silver Creek, but will I like the person they have be come and more importantly will they like the new me.

Maybe this accounts for me not really getting out much. The fear that has seeped into me and has settled deep with in my heart. This has me really looking at myself. Who I was and who I have become. I was a scared girl when in high school, always wanting to be liked, which is really nothing different than any other person. The thing that made me different was how unsure I really was of myself. The only thing I knew for certain was that if I worked hard I could make good grades. I flitted around from group to group trying to find my place and still to this day I don't think I did. I'm sure if I asked people would tell me what I could have done differently and what I could have done to fit it, but that is the past. Seventeen years to late for me to do anything about it.

Now I'm left with today and the future. What will I do with what I have? LIVE! I will live and love. Be thankful for the time I have been given.

To all my old high school chums: It is great to be home among you, and I can't wait to meet you again. It will be great to catch up and see who we have all become.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays (I know it's Tuesday) make me sleepy

You would think after 5 straight hours of sleep that I would feel like I'm on top of the world, but I'm not. I'm dragging my feet and my children along with me.Yes the chores are done. We have the white noise of the dish washer, washing machine and dryer going so I shouldn't complain. But it is days like today that make me wonder if I shouldn't grab a good book, curl up under a blanket and read until I go to sleep which wouldn't take long. :D

With that in mind, I'm reminded of all the things we still have to do. Spelling tests to give, math lessons to grade, science experiments to do, children who seem to think they should eat more than once a day and other sundry things. It is with all of this heavy on my heart that I bow my head in prayer and turn to the only comfort I can really find in this world, My GOD and His word. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. This is what will carry me through my day. This is what I will hold to my heart to let me make it until my kids go to bed and I can then collapse into blissful sleep.

So the sky may be cloudy and the rain my come pouring down, I may have a to-do list that is a mile high, but I will accomplish what NEEDS to be accomplished. I will face the day knowing that I can attack anything that is set before me, because HE is on my side the whole way.

Many thanks to my husband who reminded me of this, this morning before he left for work. He was in the right place at the right time to feed my soul.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting Started

I've seen many of my friends have blogs and find them vastly interesting and entertaining. I think it is time to start one of my own. You may not find my life interesting, humorous or enlightening, but it is the life I have been given. I am thankful for each and every part of it. I'm going to rejoice in the good and in the bad. I'm hoping that this will not only help me see the good in all things, but help someone else who is struggling along the way. So now the adventure begins and who knows where it will take me, but I am going to enjoy the scenery along the way.