Wednesday, February 27, 2008

more projects...decoupage!

I'm just having soooo much fun with this.
As you can see, I've been neglecting housework time, to do fun craft time with the kids, after school.

We all sit at the table, cutting, gluing and generally just having a merry time. This is during afternoon-baby-naptime, if the school stuff is done. Oliver almost always takes a 2-hour afternoon nap, so even if we still have work to do, we can usually get it done for some kind of craft!!

I decoupaged my knife block. Fun, fun.

Then my living room platter.

And then a cutting board to display in my kitchen.

What a neat way to showcase my favorite art. I'm so glad I rediscovered the thrill of the scissors and glue! YEA !

Ohhhh..and speaking of art. Check out God's handiwork. Aren't these birds just beautiful? I'm so glad that they discovered the kids' birdhouses. They've been coming every day.

The Five Love Languages...learning to understand his

Have you read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? I highly recommend it. I've read it twice, and Fred read it with me the first time. The five love languages, in case you aren't familiar, are 1) physical touch, 2) quality time, 3) acts of service, 4)words of affirmation, and 5) gifts. What is yours?

We decided right away that Fred is physical touch followed by gifts. And I am predominately acts of service. It really helped us understand all of our early-marriage frustrations. When I cooked him a big meal and had a clean house, I was showing my love to him. And when he failed to notice, but wanted to snuggle and buy me pretty things, he was trying to show his love to me. Oh, if only we'd seen it sooner. Seems so DUH now, but at the time, I was just wondering why on earth he wasn't vacuuming. Afterall, if I love someone I try to help them.

This last Valentines' Day is a perfect illustration. I asked for a homemade coupon book from him. I'm a saver by nature, and I don't like to see things thrown away, including flowers. Why buy something that's just going to die? It's beautiful, but it's more beautiful alive in a pot!! Or grown from my own garden and then lovingly placed in a vase (but that would fall more under "an act" than "a gift," in my opinion.)

Soooo, anyway, Fred bought me flowers, SpiderMan3, gourmet coffee, some chocolate, and my favorite diet Mug rootbeer. Let me explain. The flowers were silk. He knew I didn't want him to buy real ones, so this just made sense to him. Heh heh. They are pretty, and I'm certainly not complaining!! SpiderMan3? I have no idea!! He saw the look on my face and said, "but I thought you like to watch movies with me." I decided to just laugh about that one. Gourmet coffee...mmm...this is when he got smart and asked Isabelle what he should buy for mommy. Then he called my mom to find out what kind. What a great husband. And the rootbeer? Well, Wal-Mart has ticked me off again by discontinuing what I enjoy. (I don't drink ANY other soda. Only my diet mug rootbeer, which I enjoy with 1/2 c of Breyers fat free ice-cream. It's my special treat, and has fewer calories and the same amount of sugar as a glass of skim milk!) So Fred had to search nearby stores to find that for me. Awwww.... how sweet! Now that is an act that I appreciated!

I, on the other hand, bought him DieHard4, which he wanted, and I made him a card, cooked a big dinner, made heart-shaped pancakes, put roses on the bed... you know, all my acts of service!! When I asked for the coupon book, I think he fully intended to make me one, in addition to the gifts, but he got too sidetracked spending money. ;-) I wanted to whip out that book for a free back massage, an uninterrupted bath, an hour of computer time, breakfast in bed. Those four coupons would have been plenty for me!! I made Fred a coupon book years ago, which he promptly forgot about, and then found and tried to redeem years later. I say tried because those suckers had expiration dates on them! Yep, to encourage use. Obviously that didn't work. We just don't function the same way. It's become fun, though, to analyze each other. I like figuring out what makes him tick.

Yesterday we went to Hobby Lobby so I could grab some scrapbooking paper while it is on sale. They also had their Valentines Day stuff on 90% clearance. Can't beat that. We stayed longer than intended, and we were all getting hungry. Fred decided to take us out to eat at Cracker Barrel. If you know us, you know we very rarely go out to eat. I still like to point out that I have NEVER bought my kids a "Happy Meal" and I never intend to. But I do like Cracker Barrel and it's a treat every few months or so, to not have to cook and clean up.

We got seated right away. They gave us the big round table in the front room. I love that they give the kids papers and crayons. Way to go, Cracker Barrel. Maybe all the restaurants do this now, I don't know. Anyway, there's so much food at this place, we just order 2 or 3 meals for the 6 of us, and still have leftovers. The kids were patient about waiting. They drew pictures and we talked about our day and our craft plans. It was just so nice and relaxing.

After we ate, when Fred went to pay, an older lady came and put her hand on my shoulder. I was a bit startled, and she smiled and said, "I've been admiring you this whole time, how you manage your family. You are doing a good job." All I could manage was "thanks," and then she was gone. Wow. That just took my breath away. Yes, my kids were all very well behaved in there. And there were other children screaming. I just didn't expect to be approached like that, and I greatly appreciated it. So now I'm thinking that maybe I am a words person after all! Or at least it might tie with acts of service!

When I see praise-worthy things, I need to offer the praise! Every mom needs it. There are times I want to pull out my hair in frustration. There are times I just want to change my name from "mommy" because I think I'll go crazy if I hear it even one more time. And then there are times, when four little ones act like precious angels and I enjoy every moment. It's so neat when the public "catches" me at those times! :-)

Monday, February 25, 2008


I skipped out on the Lowe's workshop this past Saturday. Fred went to play poker in West Fork, and I just didn't feel like waking the baby up from nap-time and bringing all four kids to do the workshop. Jerri was sweet enough to pick up extra kits for us and drop them by afterwards. She caught us playing loud music & dancing in our dress-up clothes! ;-) What can I say? When the man is away, the mommy and kids will play. Haha.

Anyway, the kiddos were really excited about it, and the Oliver was still asleep, so we set up shop it he playroom and got to work building:

I could only find one hammer, so we took turns. Hammer two nails and then pass. It was fun! Trevor...oh, Trevor. Like I've said before, when he has a hammer everything looks like a nail! But he did pretty well, except for smashing my finger once. Ouch

We decided to paint our houses next:

I should have known I was awakening my creative juices. I love to paint. Seriously. The year I got pregnant with Trevor I was supposed to take two more art courses at JBU. I ended up postponing those classes...indefinitely. Of course, I don't regret that in the least, but I do sure miss the art classes!! I HAD to sketch then. Oh, what wonderful assignments!

We do crafts all the time, but the birdhouse painting combined with my chance "encounter" with an artsy blogger just stirred something in me. At 10am Saturday night I did this:

Isabelle's Art chair. On Sunday I did this:

Isabelle's Loft Bed
(Also her art table, but I don't have a picture of that.)
That afternoon I let Isabelle totally design her dresser, and we went to work. This is our progress so far:

Today, on the kids' "break time" after lunch, I made a mouse pad for myself...

...and I completed the kids' "quiet box" (a great idea from Simply. It has little wooden people inside for the kids to play with when they need to be quiet, such as in a waiting room, in church, at a restaurant.)

Forgive me for not turning the picture. I'm just being lazy now. Too tired from all the crafting! I am very psyched about doing the boys' room next!! They want Dr. Seuss!!


Ethan was in charge of vacuuming the living room yesterday. I usually supervise that, but I was needed in the other room. (Apparenlty Trevor had gotten a bit carried away with the "cleaning"/ water bottle I had given him, even with the nozzle on slow flow.)
Anyway, I heard the vacuum going, but when I walked back in the room, I still saw a messy carpet. Hmmm.... He assured me that he had indeed vacuumed the floor. I had him start over, and this time I watched. This is what I saw...

Yes, that's my son "popping a wheelie" while he vacuums.

"It's much easier to push like this!" Yeah. I bet it is.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Financial Peace: paying off debt!

Woo-Hoo Friday!! I just paid off our car.

And the dentist.

And now...
Sing with me. Dance for joy with me. Praise God with me. Yes, I am happy, happy, happy. :-)

Fred and I have never had a credit card or finance account.
That's right, people, we've gone against the tide.
No plastic here for us. We don't view it as a necessary evil...just an evil.
We've had so many "emergencies" that would have required money.
And, yes, we've over drafted and gotten in medical debt before. But we always made it, by the grace of God. We did have family help at times. I know that not everyone has that. I know there are cases where you have to just do what you have to do, and I'm not condemning anyone for their plastic use. :-) I'm just thankful that God has led us on a path that didn't require it.
I'm SOOO thankful for being out of debt.
Prov 22:7b "... the borrower is servant to the lender."
I got sick of being the servant to the lender!!
And now we have decided to praise God!!!-- and reward our family for this monumental achievement. We just bought a playground!! (And I got a great deal, by the way!) I'm putting it together myself, so please pray for me.
The only other thing like this that I've attempted is building the shed, with October's help. My poor husband...don't give the man a hammer. His Dad came over one day and they tried to help. (sigh) October and I had to go back and redo all of their work. They thought that if the pieces didn't fit right, they could just MAKE them fit, and drill holes in different spots. Yeah. It doesn't work that way. We lost hours of work, but it was worth it to see him so intent on *trying* to help me. Heh heh.
Anyway, I'm excited. Today will be a good day. My New Year's Resolution was to
Be Intentional.
And I'm trying to stick by that. Now we have debt paid, money in savings, we'll buy a new mower, and hubby is looking for a new job.
(Wow, I went to tag this, and didn't realize that I've never used a money, debt, or financial tag before. Obviously I don't dwell much on it! Matt 6:27 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" )
I want to live my life constantly aware of the adundance that God provides for us!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Homemade Playdough

This morning we made Homemade Play Dough:

Double this for a large batch.

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1 cup water

1 T vegetable oil

3 T cream of tartar

Coloring, see below.
Mix all ingredients together in a pot and cook over medium heat while stirring constantly (use a wooden or metal spoon, because this gets rather stiff) until it makes a ball. This happens faster than you'd think. It only takes 4 to 5 minutes for a double batch.

Turn the ball out on the counter and knead it (careful, it's warm) for a minute or two. Use Food Coloring or tempera paint. Or, for a nice smell and bright color, knead in a small package of Kool-Aid.

Start with a small amount of color and mix, adding more until you have the shade you want.

I used paint this time.

Let cool before you hand it over to the kids. Enjoy!

Store in airtight container in refrigerator to make it last several weeks.

After school, I made corn bread for the beans, and made french bread. It's a miracle that the corn bread turned out as well as it did. When my back was turned, my helper (Trevor, of course!) dumped the WHOLE container of baking soda in!! Luckily, I saw it before he stirred, and I think I was able to get most of it out. I'll tell ya, it's an adventure to bake with a toddler! ;-)

Here are a couple of Titanic pictures, one of my family and the other is a "boarding pass."

Monday, February 18, 2008

no holiday for homeschool hostages

Well, well, wouldn't you know that after all of my frustration last week, God had a nice treat at the end of the weekly tunnel. The kids were PERFECT on the way to Branson. Oh, yes. We did not hear a whimper or bickering from anyone. Even the baby was happy or sleeping the entire way.

We started off with the Outlet stores. I love Carters clothing, and they have some fabulous clothes. I didn't buy anything this time, but I got some good ideas! Then we went to the Imax theater. My Dad treated us to a movie, to kill time before we could check into the hotel. We had planned to do the Branson Landing, but it was just too chilly!

Soooo, we went into Spiderwick Chronicles with the kids. I'd say it was very entertaining (for adults). Very neat movie as far as special effects and imagination and storyline! Christianity Today says it's "Much more fantastical and far more handsome than the trailers reveal, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a thrilling adventure for children of all ages." It is awesome, but not appropriate for all ages. And, just so you know, it's another kids movie with a broken family. Do they make any more movies with a happily married couple and children? Must the dad or mom always be running off or dead? And the main character said several things that should have just been left out of the movie.
Still, I enjoyed most of it and I greatly appreciate my Dad treating us to it. The kids were great in there as well!! Wow. I felt my "competent mom" feeling returning a little bit... ;-)

Okay, so on to the Grand Country Inn waterpark hotel place. The kids LOVED that. The few pictures that I got just don't do it justice!! I didn't get pictures of the huge ropes, climbing areas, the big bucket that fills up and dumps all over everyone, water basketball, etc. My kids stayed mainly int he kiddy section, with spouting water and mini slides. They're chicken. And I like it that way. Of course Fred id all the "big kid stuff!" :-) We went around the lazy river a few times, too. The water was about 84 degrees, which was perfect for me! I've heard others complain that the water gets too cold, but that's just if you're in the big kid section, where it's constantly cycling.

Back at our room, we had a long night in store for us. My parents had an adjoining room, and Isabelle and Ethan stayed in there. In our room, Fred, Oliver, and I slept on the king-size bed, and Trevor slept on the fold-out couch.

We have a baby who is very used to his schedule. We usually put him in his crib and he goes right to sleep. The poor kid wasn't sure what to do with all of us around him. He woke up several times in the night fussing, which woke Trevor up. (sigh) We got *maybe* 4 hours of sleep. But that's okay. Lots of coffee and a hearty breakfast and we were in good shape again! The kids got up before 6am, as usual, so we had some time to kill before we got to the Titanic Museum which opened at 9am.

It was awesome! Unfortunately, they would not let me bring my camera in there, for copyright reasons. Dang!! So I got a few pictures of my folks, Fred and the kids outside of it. Brrr.... Inside was amazing. They give each person a boarding pass, with the name of an actual passenger. Then you keep up with who you are and what happened to you. I was Sarah Roth, one of the third class passengers that survived.

The artifacts were amazing. They had lots of hands-on things, too, like a tub of 28 degree water to stick your hand into, sloping ship decks to climb, a shovel to add coal to the fire (my kids got scared at the roar of the flame), and so forth. I could have spent another hour or two in there, reading everything, but my kids were a bit young yet to take it all in. The poor little homeschool hostages didn't exactly get Presidents Day off. They had to LEARN! Heh heh.

We went and ate lunch and then back to the pool after that. Very warm water and a nice big hot tub. tub.... I could just stay in one forever. I think Heaven must have hot tubs.

On the way home, the kids were perfect once again. In fact, they ALL slept the WHOLE way home. WOW.
And now I am tired and must go to bed. There's my update. I knew I'd have to do it tonight, or it wouldn't happen. And, yes, I realize that I still have not posted Valentine's pictures. Or done a host of other things that need to get done.
(The competent feeling is starting to fade...more on this whole thing later...)
But, hey, it was a FUN, happy good weekend. Very educational, and a nice break from household chores and being stuck inside with four little ones.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tired of pretending...

I'm tired. Tired of holding it all together. Sometimes I really feel like I am near my breaking point. I'd love to be one of those "perfect" homeschool moms. You know, the ones with the working schedule, nice and tidy house, daily experiments, and clean baby. But, no, I just can't do it. I've tried and tried and I just get totally stressed out, sleep-deprived, and start to lose my mind.

I have so many weaknesses and faults. How can I overcome all of this? How can I keep my focus and get my priorities straight? I'm always hesitant to post how I really feel, because I know that my sisters read this, my grandparents read this. I want to "save face" and look good. Doesn't everyone want to *seem* like they have it together? Ah, but it's just an act.

Some days I feel like I'm doing so well. We get our lessons done in a timely manner, do hands-on activities, the kids get along. They are often complimented in public, and then I think that I must be doing something right. But we come home and they scream at each other, occasionally hit each other, run down the hall naked, play in paint under the table, you name it. And then I'm wondering if I'm doing everything wrong. Surely I'm not just responsible for the "good stuff" ....and all the bad stuff comes from the immaturity of their age. Am I not responsible for both?

Not that I expect them to be perfect. But, I expect that? Nah. I even laughed at the whole paint thing. And I don't mind them getting messy when they play. I would never want my kids to judge themselves according to their appearance or what they can accomplish... so why do I hold myself to those standards?

Sometimes I'm so petty. I want to look good and be productive ALL the time. I get very down on myself when my house is terribly messy (although I would never judge someone else based on that very thing!) or our school doesn't get done. I feel so inadequate. And I know that I am. I know that I need God's help. But like one of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey, says, it's hard to know HOW to get God's help. Do you audibly hear Him giving you advice? Do you feel Him actually restraining you when you head down the wrong path? Maybe I'm just not close enough in my relationship right now. :-( I'm beginning to feel so far away...

Does everyone sometimes feel like they're sinking? It's a passing feeling, thankfully. Tomorrow may start completely differently and I'll be a "competent" mom again. But today-- it just started all wrong and I handled it all wrong. Then, even as I considered this and decided to change, I began to act the same way again!! Grrrr.... I know that Satan will use anything he can against us, even our own families and good intentions. The kids began to bicker and I get frustrated. Hmph.

Anyway, I'll post VDay pics soon, of our homeschool party & Trev's FBC class party. Hope you all had a good one!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Beep, beep...beep, beep

Ethan helped me "speed-clean," which is what we do every day before Daddy gets home. The poor guy works a hard job and deserves to come home to a clean house, right? So, we were picking up train pieces, and tossing our flash cards in the buckets, etc. Ethan ran over and said, "Mommy, I'm cleaning so fast that I can feel my heart beeping!"

Sunday, February 10, 2008

When a 3-year old gets quiet...

...check on him quickly!!

Today we finished up our Valentine's boxes for the homeschool party that will be on Wednesday. I had left some of the paint up on the table after lunch. Just had too many things going on, and I didn't get around to putting it up right away. That was my first mistake.

I left the kids playing in the living room, and went to the nursery to nurse Oliver and put him down for his nap. Second mistake: Mr. T was unsupervised.

Apparently (this is Isabelle's version), Trevor accidentally knocked the paint down. Then he started running around and around the table. Izzy was drawing and not paying too much attention to her rascally little brother. What happened next is Trevor's version. He says he stepped on the paint and it went "all over." So at that point he just decided to play in it! I don't know if he assumed it was lotion or what. He does so love his lotion!

Anyway, within a minute (by the time big sister noticed) he had covered the floor, his clothes, my kitchen chairs, you name it!!

Sooooo, Trevor got two baths today and had to help Mommy do a lot of mopping. Learn from me, so you don't have to learn from your own mistakes!!

Actually, though, my grandma told me a story today of how she was super-pregnant with her fourth child, outside hanging clothes, when her 2nd-born poured honey all over the kitchen and then attempted to clean the mess with tons of tea towels. My, my! So it could've been worse for me today. At least this was washable tempera paint!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Operas and Pizza making, and everything in between

Busy, busy times and I've hardly had the chance to sit, much less post. Here is my update: Tuesday was "Super Tuesday." I hope you all went and voted!! I've heard several people say that they didn't particularly like anyone, so they would not vote. That makes NO SENSE. I'm sorry, but it doesn't. There WILL be a president, whether or not you want there to be. One of these people will lead our country. And no one has any right to gripe if they don't vote. ALWAYS VOTE. Be a voice. And be informed. Know what the candidates stand for. Don't just look at what they say, look at their track record.

I'm not going to go into who I support and why, but I do think everyone should participate and be informed. If it comes down to it, pick the lesser of two evils.

So, Tuesday night I took Isabelle to her first operetta, Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan. At the end, I didn't get my camera out in time to get many good pictures. Oh, well. Maybe next time!! I'm not sure who loved it more! It was very entertaining. I can't believe how talented some people are. Wow. It ended around 9:30pm, so Isabelle was pretty zonked. Still, it was well worth it. I'm so grateful for our homeschool group for organizing it, and for the Arts center to allow us to sit in FREE for the dress rehearsal.

On Wednesday we watched Suzanne's oldest daughter while the baby had surgery. Kensie is such a sweet, mellow little girl. It was fun for Isabelle to have another child do school and crafts with us all day. We worked on card-making and Valentine's boxes for the party next week.

On Thursday, we dropped Trevor off at his church class and then headed off to our Eureka Pizza field trip from 9-11am. There were 40 homeschoolers that participated on Wednesday and another 40 of us on Thursday. I'm sure many more would have gone, too, if there was more space available. (In case you didn't know, my county has more homeschoolers than any other county in the state, which is awesome!!)

The field trip was well-organized. The kids each donned a big blue apron, and washed their hands multiple times before beginning their pizzas. Yes, each child got to make his/her own pizza! They loved it!! Towards the end of the pizza-making, I went out to the lobby area to sit and nurse the baby. The manager came out and asked if I would like for him to make me a pizza. So nice!! So I got my own supreme pizza, too.

Jerri and her girls followed us back to our house to eat the pizzas. Yum, yum. Food always tastes better when you make it yourself! (I'm sure you'd agree, my gourmet sister, Amy .)Then Suzanne's girls came over to go to the homeschool yearbook photo op with us. They even photographed Trevor. Of course, he enjoyed making lots of goofball faces! That kid is such a ham!!

After pictures, we watched Jerri's girls while she went shopping, and then I headed out to the library. I think I finally sat down around 7:30pm last night. Whew.

Today(or yesterday,now) Fred only worked until 10am, so I got to take a much-needed nap. Oliver is snotty and woke up several times last night. Poor baby. So far he's been our best sleeper. I put him in his crib every 3 hours and he goes right to sleep. Rarely cries. I love it. I wish we'd done sleep-scheduling with all of our babies. But that's just me. You've gotta do what works for you. Again, when I say what I do I'm not implying that everyone else should also do it that way! ;-)

Tomorrow is the Lowe's workshop. If you have a Lowe's around you, I would encourage you to try one of these workshops!! They are fantastic. In fact, I need to have the kids make a thank you note for it. We also have a Valentine's dinner tomorrow night. We rarely get to go anywhere alone together...and rarer still to eat out alone!

And, don't worry, I'm still planning to do the surveys I was tagged in by Shelley and Simply Stork. I'm also still gonna write a post about the accuracy and God-inspired Word of God. So many things to read, so many things to write, so little time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Izzy is on a roll

I pointed out to Isabelle that she had neglected to pick things up off the floor before she began to sweep. She looked at me and replied, "Mommy, I have my own steps to accomplish this, okay?" Heh heh. How can I argue with an 8-year old that asks in such a way?

In her writing notebook, she titled one section "Imaginashin." Pretty cute!

When we parked at Wal-Mart, Isabelle said, "Mommy, remember that you parked on Row 8." I thanked her and told her that there are so many things I appreciate about her. She answered, "yes, except for my occasional rudeness, but I'm working on that." Ha ha!!

Well, off to our first opera together. I'll let you know how it goes! :-)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

snow days!

It started to snow on Wednesday night. Gorgeous!

My three "big kids"

Miss Isabelle stayed outside just long enough for pictures. She gets cold very easily...just like me. The snow is pretty, but I'm already aching for the 90 degree summer weather!

Ethan takes off his gloves to "feel the snow."

Mr. T enjoys anything that he can stomp around in.

Wonderful hubby and baby Oliver

Building the snowbabe...

View from our backyard:

Fred played in the snow with the kids for a long time. See that snowball in the air that Ethan threw at his daddy? Don't feel bad for Fred, though. He was shoveling the snow on top of the kids!!