Monday, June 28, 2010

Lessons from a kitten

We have two new kittens at our house. This brings the feline count to five. Yes, I know, I'm running the risk of becoming the crazy cat lady rather early in life, but cats are like potato chips--you can't have just ONE! Okay, maybe you can, but they end up being really neurotic "only children". Wanna see the new "babies"? Here they are: Allie (MY kitten) is the black calico, and the other one is Abbie, Kelsey's kitten.

Something I've noticed while watching these little balls of fluff interact with the world as they learn their new place in our household is that they have a tendency to bite off WAAAY more than they can chew when it comes to their relationships with the other (older and MUCH larger) cats, not to mention the 85-pound dog. What on earth makes these little gals think they can take on such a large animal, and why would they continue to stand their ground, spitting, hissing, and fighting mad, when the bigger critter threatens to flatten them? I can't count the times I've seen sights like this over the last two weeks (this is not either of our kitties, just an example):

Why? Well, they're a lot like humans, if you think about it. We do the same thing. We have the innate ability to find challenges that are just way too much for us to handle and we do everything in our power to "prove" that we can handle it. What's funny is that God is probably sitting up there watching us with a smirk on His face thinking the very same thing that I've thought several times watching my take-on-the-world kittens--"There is NO WAY you can handle that. Dealing with stuff so much bigger than yourself is MY job."

Fortunately for the kittens, we big, strong humans are here to pluck them out of their failed attempts at world domination. Unfortunately for us humans, though....we aren't often willing to step back and let God handle things that are just way out of our league.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Here we grow again!

Moms spend years praying for their children's future mates, and in the last six months, both of my older children have become engaged, so I've gotten to meet those people I've been praying for anonymously all these years! Yes, Kelsey is now engaged too. Derrick is a sweet young man (and quiet...which is a stark contrast to Kelsey's VERY outgoing and chatty nature!) who obeyed the Gospel and was baptized into Christ about a month and a half ago. He actually gave her a purity/promise ring when they began their relationship in a promise to her that they would remain pure.

I was skeptical, but here we are! The date's we've got 340 days to plan this thing!

Oh my. I think I'm going to be referencing frugal wedding planning "stuff" online like this quite a bit over the next few months!

Monday, June 21, 2010


I finally "bit the bullet" and called the dentist. The pain had gotten to be just too much to bear. And yes, just as I thought, the problem WAS caused by that ridiculous slip of the drill that my last dentist made all those years ago. Damage to my psyche, damage to my tooth, all in one fell swoop. Nice.

Today I have a huge, gaping hole in my mouth, thanks to a giant effort made by the dentist I was able to see last Friday on an emergency basis. I thought I was going to end up with a root canal, but instead, the "reward" for facing my fears was a double tooth extraction. The hole that drill slip made had never been repaired, so I was left with a cavity that went all the way through the tooth. The wisdom tooth that was wedging that back molar in had to go too, obviously, since it was turned completely sideways.

Funny, but I don't feel all that much stronger for facing my fears, because what I went through Friday did NOT alleviate any fears at all. It made new ones. Let's just say it took ten shots of novacaine, a drill, an awl, a hammer and chisel, and a LOT of banging on my jaw to get those two teeth out. Today, my pain meds (the only ones I can take) quit working...and I am not "better in 24 to 36 hours".

Pete is out of town till Friday.

I surrender. My weakness has been found. Dental work is my kryptonite.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook--a day late 6/8/2010

Outside my window... it is sunny, but I am shaded here in Pete's office by a huge crabapple tree. I never really understood the full value of mature trees till we moved into this house. We now have shade on almost every window of the house, protecting us from the hot Alabama sun. We don't yet have the intolerable summer heat yet, but it's fast approaching!
I am thinking... about Jon and the other soldiers and servicemembers in Afghanistan and Iraq who are now in the "outta sight, outta mind" camp; America has its irons in too many fires, I'm afraid. The health care debacle, the economy, recovering recession, educational failures, and now this huge oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico...our minds are not on the hundred-some-odd-thousand members of the armed forces that are continuing a mission that has been going on for so long that they sometimes forget why they're there. I'm afraid it's making far too many of the younger ones very disheartened and distrusting of our government--my son included. This is a recipe for disaster, I fear.
I am thankful for... God's provision. Yet again, He has provided a job that would protect Pete and in turn, our family, from financial insecurity. Pete turns in his letter of resignation today from the job he's been in since February; the Defense Department contract for that job is teetering on thin foundations, and it scared Pete to know that, for two weeks, he didn't really know if he was going to have a job come the first of June! Besides, he has become soooo bored sitting behind a computer all day doing ONE task over and over. I'm so thankful that he is now able to move on to the job that he's wanted to do for nearly ten years. God is indeed good!
From the learning rooms... Now that Kelsey is an official high school graduate and THAT stress has passed, I can focus more pointedly on the remaining students in our homeschool! While we're not truly "doing school" during the summer months, I am working on reading with Morgan and Jamie--Morgan couldn't really care less about reading, but Jamie is chomping at the bit trying to get her nose in those books! What I'd hoped for has started to materialize in that Morgan is beginning to SEE that Jamie's interest in learning has launched Jamie ahead of Morgan...that doesn't exactly sit well with big sis, so she's now listening far more intently to reading lessons, and as I'd figured, she's picking up on it pretty quick! In the actual "learning room", I'm getting things decorated how I like so it feels more like a "school" room instead of just an all-purpose catch-all room where school stuff is buried in among my scrapbook supplies!
From the kitchen... loaded baked potatoes tonight! I'm even thinking about stopping by Pig 'N Out for some BBQ pork to top them with. This is one of Morgan's favorite meals (aside from tacos, which we're having tomorrow night, complete with homemade flour tortillas--YUM!) and it's one that the rest of us never tire of having.
I am wearing... my jammies, still, as my denim capris tumble dry.
I am creating... a poster-border to go around the top of the walls in the school room, comprised of little mini-posters that I printed off of the internet (I'll have to do some backtracking to find the link; I can't remember for the life of me where I got them from!) that list Godly character traits and Bible verses to go along with them.
I am going... grocery shopping later on today, as well as to the post office to mail off another box for Jon. Silly boy was craving Flaming Hot Cheetos and wasabi peas! I guess it's not hot enough yet in Afghanistan! I also tossed in some Crimson Tide gear (a "flag" for him to drape over his bed and a big ole coffee/travel mug) for him to display proudly in his little corner of the tent to bug his Tennessee Vols fan neighbor!
I am reading... Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and Christianity or Humanism: Which Will You Choose? by Robert Waggoner. One encouraging, the other challenging and quite frightening. Have you ANY IDEA how greatly secular humanism has invaded the Church? It's shocking, I tell you.
I am hearing... all five little girls playing IN the box of wooden blocks that I dragged out of the schoolroom. Apparently, Shelby really loves knocking down towers of blocks; it's driving her sisters bonkers!
Around the house... we're just in "maintenance" mode now, plus getting some semi-haphazard gardening done here and there. Pete was FINALLY able to mow the grass over the weekend so it no longer looks like a wild African savannah.
One of my favorite things... hearing my older children defend the Gospel and New Testament Christianity. They've both still got their struggles (some WAY bigger than others), but the seeds are there and every now and then, a strong little shoot pokes its head through the mucky sand. It gives me hope that we didn't completely ruin them!
A few plans for the rest of the week... continuing to put the schoolroom together, putting some mulch around my new flower bed (and maybe some sort of border?), and pretty much nothing else other than just "being". It's nice to have this down-time for a little while, even if I am super-busy during the day, I am not swamped with deadlines all over the calendar!
Here is a picture thought I am sharing... from our trip to the Botanical Gardens when my parents were here for Kelsey's graduation...the butterfly house is one of our favorite spots, and I just love catching a beautiful monarch (or two!) perched on a flower. God is such an amazing artist!

I'm a day late with my Daybook, but if you want to join in, go visit Peggy's site!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Binder-Based Coupon Organizer is done!

Ok, so I stayed up till WAAAAAY past my bedtime getting this done, but it's DONE, and I'm thrilled with how it turned out! I'm pleased to say I now have a way to tote around my menu plan, shopping list, and coupons all in the same binder--and I'm even more pleased to say that my "brain" is all in one place in my binder now! Yippee!!!

I've blogged about my Home Management Binder before, so I won't bore you with all the details again. Let's just say that this "little" project is an ongoing one, and my current binder is a full three years in the making...or rather, the re-making?

This binder-renovation is in my 'Mealtime Matters' section. I stuck with my menu plan from, and I did away with the printed-out shopping list in favor of just plain old notebook paper. Considering I do my shopping in three places (on base, at Walmart, and at Kroger) usually, with a printout I'd have to label each and every item individually by where I intended to purchase it, and that was just too much tedium for me; I ended up not even bothering with the binder list and made up my own. I like having the paper right next to my menu so as I'm writing out the week's menu, I can jot down my shopping list at the same time. For the record, the menu form is in a clear document protector and I use wet-erase markers to fill in the blanks. To the right of the notebook paper is my stay-up-all-night creation, my custom coupon organizer! I spent not a single dime on this project, as I used cardstock, contact paper, clear mailing tape, and yarn that I already had in my scrapbook stash.

I wanted the pockets holding the coupons to be sturdy, so they're covered in contact paper, and attached on the underside with clear mailing tape. The sides of the pockets (and the center of each pocket except the bottom one on the last page) are attached with yarn. I contemplated stitching with my sewing machine, but eh....too much to drag out. I just poked the needle through and tied. The "stitching" gives the pockets a little wiggle room; using staples or glue or something permanently stationary would have fixed the pockets in place without allowing them to expand a bit. I like it...whaddaya think?
WHEW! I'm glad THAT is done; now on to the next project!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Organizine my shopping--PLEASE!

I've been telling myself for far too long that I really NEED to get my grocery shopping organized, because let's face it...when you live a block from the store that you do the bulk of your shopping at, it's just all too tempting to rely on daily or many-times-a-week trips "just around the corner" to pick up what's needed *right then*. It did not help to live in Europe for three years, where it's common practice to do your grocery shopping DAILY--their teeny little fridges just don't hold a week's worth of food for a whole family of seven, eight, or we ended up losing our weekly grocery shopping trip--and the organization of having all the shopping done at ONCE and the meals planned out for the week. It stinks, and I'm just really tired of this bad habit.

Oh, and another thing....I got way out of the practice of clipping coupons, because we didn't have the wonderful Sunday paper with all those glorious coupons and sale flyers! THAT part of living overseas I really missed, I'll tell you that! My coupon book dwindled down to nothing...and it's time to right that particular wrong!

While I was in the commisary (one of the four trips) last week, I noticed a lady with a 3-ring binder balanced in the shopping cart and it made me do a double-take! She had coupons organized beautifully in her binder in playingl card display pages! OH MY!!! Pete laughed at me for a good five minutes because I just couldn't contain my newfound obsession; I truly had a "Be still, my heart" moment about a coupon organizer!

men...they just don't get it, do they?

I love my household organizer-binder. Really, I do. But I'm always keeping my eyes out for ways to make it serve me better--and I found it balanced on that shopping cart in the meat section of the commisary! I found it yet again when I did a search for what on earth those pages were (I had no idea they were playing card pages....DUH....I've only seen about two thousand of them between my husband and my son's respective baseball card obsessions) and how to go about getting my coupons organized! I found Mom's Build-It Yourself Coupon Organizer and now I'm bound and determined to get myself going with some more organized shopping trips! I'm off now to get started! Be back when I've got myself a plan, y'all!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is it really so shocking?

Not too many weeks ago I was shocked speechless by a completely unsolicited comment by a random walker-by in the post exchange food court, and this time...well, this comment is just really bothering me. Understand that I've heard "are they all yours?" probably two or three times a DAY when I've got all five of the little girls out in public, and I always answer that with a smile and "well they are all mine, but they're not ALL of mine, I've got two more!"; for the most part, I've only been met with a handful of quasi-negative comments. My girls (well, all of my kids, really, but the girls are the only ones left at home) are pretty well-behaved, and fairly polite in public, and as a result people's comments about the size of our brood are usually encouraging. So when I get a person who will literally stop in her tracks to be ugly toward us, it does catch me offguard.

The girls and I were just sitting there, minding our own business, waiting for Kelsey to get off of work, when an older-ish lady walked up to us and said to me, "Surely you're babysitting for someone, these CAN'T be all of your children!" I replied to her that no, I wasn't babysitting, and no, they weren't all of mine, that I had two more who weren't there, and as her jaw dropped, she just seemed to lose all of her decorum.

Yes, I have seven children.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I am crazy. But crazy works for me.
No, our oldest is a boy.


I couldn't speak. Well, maybe I could have, but it probably would not have been pretty. Or Christian. Something (thank you, Mamaw, for that training...) told me that this was not a woman who wanted to engage in a conversation, she simply wanted to cause a scene--hence the yelling, catching the attention of everyone in the food court. Besides, my girls were there, and I really did NOT want to give them the impression that shock-and-awe displays warranted further attention, so I simply turned my head and went back to tending to my daughters. The lady rambled on for a few more minutes to herself and to Kelsey, who had just walked up, about how she was the oldest of nine and that having that many siblings made her determined not to have ANY children, that she got her tubes tied before she even got married. Kelsey's reply, however....both shocked and thrilled me. The only thing my eldest daughter said in response to this woman's verbal assualt on her family was:

"Well, every one of these girls is a blessing to our family, so it's a wonderful thing we have seven kids in our home."

Is it any wonder I couldn't speak? Shock from every side.

You know what? With kids like mine, I consider myself VERY blessed. I don't regret for one moment having more than the standard two children. Our life with our chaotic little seven-ring-circus is WONDERFUL.

I was browsing through the pictures I just uploaded onto my computer, and it hit me....all these goofy pictures reflect a life that few people are blessed to have. The zaniness my girls bring to our life is like a brilliant orange and pink sunset...God could cause the sun to set without any flair at all, without any color and without bringing any attention to it...but He chose every so often to give us a reminder that He is a master artist. I'm ever so thankful that my life is colored with so many crazy children.

You don't like it? Tough. Who asked you, anyway?

To those of you who look on larger families with disdain, you have my pity. It's a shame your life isn't as brilliantly colored. You might be a tad happier and less likely to try to make everyone else feel miserable!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ooooh, a neat new site!

I'm so excited to pass on that the Raising Homemakers site is now up and running! I'm thrilled about this because I'm just becoming more passionate as the years go by about raising up our girls to be Godly homemakers and to fill the role God planned for them excellently, not just haphazardly. And hey, I'm still learning myself how to do this job more efficiently! I'm also thrilled that the idea of directing girls toward home instead of pointing them out into the workplace primarily as soon as they're out of the nest is making a fierce "comeback". I'm not considered a lazy, unsuccessful bump on a log anymore! Yay!

All silliness aside, if you're interested in training your girls for their God-given roles, this is an excellent resource for encouragement in that task. Go check things out--and look at all the wonderful things they're giving away to kick off the "grand opening"! Wowsers!

Summer School for Mom

I'm spending my summer doing some serious studying--for my OWN learning. My brain has been so swamped lately and on autopilot for far too long, I needed the time to refocus. And I am really enjoying it, I have to admit!

A huge portion of my summer reading and learning has to do with our homeschooling journey, that is officially re-starting (even though the younger girls have been "enrolled" in home education since birth) with Morgan and Jamie entering first grade this Fall. I've come to realize that kindergarten skills are just so vague that it's almost hard to determine when they've officially "started", so I'm just going to stick with first grade as being our "start" point for recordkeeping purposes. Shoot, Danica and Shelby are even learning some kindergarten skills, and there is NO way I'm going to bother with keeping records for a 3-year-old and a 22-month-old. a tad off-topic there for a moment, now didn't I?

ANYway....if you've read my blog for a while, you know that I've been struggling with the gaps in my older children's education--namely, their spiritual and moral education. Pete and I have always thought we were doing things "right", keeping things more spiritually focused than they would have been had the kids been in standard schools....but lo and behold, the same problems arose for us that hit our public-schooled peers head-on in their own parenting journey. You know what? I've come to realize, it's not just the "school" part of it that was the problem (although I admit we were WAY too laxidaisical and didn't require nearly as much dedication to excellence as we should have), it's far more than that. One of my reading assignments to myself this summer has already been completed--R.C. Sproul, Jr.'s book When You Rise Up. Let's just say my eyelids are still sore from being flung wide open, shall we? That little book, even though I do disagree with the author on certain points (I don't believe in the authority of extrabiblical....well, anything--if it's not found in God's Word, I'm not interested in placing it as an authority or equal with Biblical doctrine), has truly rocked my quiet little boat, and I'm still trying to get my bearings! WOW. I'll say this--if you want to be challenged, it's an excellent book to blow up the borders of your comfort zone, that's for sure!

Along with reading some other books, I have fully engulfed myself in products from The Old Schoolhouse. I first saw their magazine at a bookstore at one of the bases in Germany and I fell in LOVE. However, it had always been so hard for me to keep up with subscriptions while moving all over the world, so I placated myself with the occasional bookstore find. Now, though...well, now I know we're going to be planted firmly right where we are for what I hope and pray will be a good, long time, and now I don't have the slightest issue with purchasing subscriptions to our favorite periodicals! TOS has a deal going where you can get a two-year sub, a cute little tote bag, plus a whole boatload of free e-materials (my puter desktop is just crammed full now!) for $39, which is a GREAT deal...and yup, I took 'em up on that little offer! I downloaded all of the e-books and have just immersed myself in digital reading these last few weeks! Oooh, and I love my little tote bag--it's so cute! Okay, I know, I'm silly when it comes to tote bags. I'm a bag-a-holic, and somehow if a tote bag is included in the deal, I just can't resist! But ya know, with five little ones around, I've always got a reason to have a tote bag packed for something.

Wow, am I scatterbrained today, or what? Oh well. If you want to sample a couple of TOS's freebies (they have TONS! Just go peruse their site and look for the beach ball!), I'll share some links that I've been enjoying as of late. These are both digital downloads--the Homeschool 101 download is great for newbie homeschoolers as well as vets in need of a little refreshing. There's also a wonderful resource that I'm just loving--a product review in a digi-mag format--the Guide to Examining Curriculum. Aside from Cathy Duffy's book on curriculum, this has been my favorite go-to resource! TOS reviews bundles and bundles of homeschool products every year, and finding those reviews in one place is just fabulous!

Now I've gone and turned into a commercial, haven't I? Well, sorry, but when I find something I'm just in love with, I want to share! While I'm at it, go check out their 2010 Homeschool Planner. This is, bar none, the most wonderful planner I've EVER found...and Pete can attest to the fact that I've purchased just way too many planners. It's a PDF download, and the fill-in fields are writable, so it's fully customizable. Big plus--there are over six HUNDRED pages of forms and resource articles to'll take you all year to go through it, and honestly, I couldn't think of a form I'd use that wasn't on this thing! Okay, in all fairness...I still love my and she's got many resources and forms on her site that TOS's planner doesn't have, but between the two, I'm set for YEARS!

I'm gonna go now....I have a ton more reading to do! tell....what are YOU reading this summer?
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