Friday, August 29, 2008

Enough... Time for Some Laughs

While we are all physically fine in the aftermath of our car accident, emotionally a couple of us are not doing so well yet. Night time is the hardest time. That's when my mind turns on full force and sleep has not been abundant these past few days.

On top of dealing with these emotions my heart has just hurt so deeply for sweet Marsha and her family. But while it is hard to do, sometimes we have to make a choice to laugh, to smile.

So in order to start healing and getting life back to normal, I thought I would share one thing that brings so much laughter to our family. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the show The Gilmore Girls. The witty writing makes us laugh so much and we now use several sayings from the show in our normal daily conversations!

Let me give this little disclaimer though... there are a few scenes we skip over if our kids are watching with us, and there are a few choice words that we do not approve of but we do have a TV Gaurdian that blocks out those words. Gilmore Girls is not exactly a conservative show nor are the main characters Christian, but it is very well written and has brought us much laughter, and that has been a very good medicine for us this week.

So without further ado, if you haven't had the priviledge of watching any Gilmore Girls episodes, sit back and get ready to laugh. Here are some of the funniest clips I could find on YouTube. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please Pray Again

We are going into our 7th year of homeschooling and for the last several years I have been friends with another homeschooling momma from Texas. Many of you may 'know' her.

Marsha is a wonderfully sweet, witty, beautiful mom who could always be found doting on her three little boys. Last night her 3 year old son, Christian (she refers to him as 'Dozer' on her blog) drowned in a pond.

Oh how my heart hurts for her and the rest of this family. After what we just went through it makes me hug mine all that much more because I know how close we came to planning funerals for our child(ren) as well. Please be in prayer for this family. I simply can not imagine the pain they're going through... thankfully.

Here are some links to a tribute to Christian, a news report, as well as Marsha's blog.

Cards or Correspondence can be mailed to:
David and Marsha Drews
c/o Rachel Harris
12830 N. Cypress Lane
Tomball, TX 77377

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God Has Saved Our Lives Once Again!

As I was driving to the boy's first football game tonight a man on a backhoe pulled out into the road in front of me. Although I swerved to miss him the bucket of his backhoe ripped down the side of our van, tearing off the side sliding door! Thank GOD nobody was sitting next to that door!

But Baby Girl and Reece Cup were sitting on that side, Baby Girl beside me in the passenger seat and Reece Cup in the very back seat. I can't believe no one was seriously hurt! Baby Girl had cuts all up her right arm and hand, but unbelievably NO glass in her arm at all! Just one cut was a bit deeper and they used steri-strips on it. Reece Cup had some glass in his clothes and one teeny tiny cut on his hand, but nothing else. Princess and Handsome were untouched.

I am very sore... chest, back, shoulder blades, etc., and I'm sure tomorrow morning will be unbearable, but I can't complain. All X-rays turned out fine. My heartrate was 124 beats per minute when I got to the hospital and my blood pressure was 141/104(or something very close to that) right before I was discharged, but all that is back down now. (Below is a picture of my worst visable injury. We can't figure out how I got this, but it hurts like the dickens.)

There are SO many ways this could have been a much more terrible outcome. Had I hit him straight on, had one of the kids been sitting next to that side door, had it also taken Baby Girl's door off, had glass still shattered like it used to years ago instead of breaking into chunk-like pieces, had the backhoe been out just a few inches farther, had someone been coming the other way... I shudder at these thoughts because any of them mean one or more of my babies would be in Heaven right now.

God is so wonderful and I praise Him and give Him ALL the glory and honor for once again saving the lives of my babies!

I have more, but I really need to go be with my babies right now. They're all pretty shook up, so please keep them in your prayers. I'll post more tomorrow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Creating My Own Price Book

In my on-going attempt to spend as little as possible at the grocery store I am considering taking Mrs. Momma's advice (thanks Heather!) and starting my own Price Book.

I have, on occasion, written down the price of something at one store, say Kroger, if I was going to Wal-Mart next because I knew that if I found it more expensive at Wal-Mart that they would price-match Kroger's price (or whatever store it was cheaper at). So in a way I've done something like this before. It just never occurred to me to keep a running list on several items. I know it will take time, but with a family of six (and two of those six being growing boys with ever-increasing appetites) and continual price increases I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to be a good steward of what God blesses us with financially.

Do any of you have your own Price Book? Is it worth it? Does it help you save?

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Can I Cook?

How helpful is this site?! You type in what ingredients you have on hand and it will give you recipes you can fix! This is an answer to prayer for this mom who finds herself at a loss many times, staring into the cabinets hoping something will magically appear for dinner.

Trying Out the Grocery Game

Due to a recent change in our grocery budget I thought I would give The Grocery Game a try. I had heard of it before but wasn't interested in paying someone to help me save money. However, with the price of so many food items going up, along with the gas prices and wanting to reduce my trips to the grocery store, I decided to once again take a look at what the Grocery Game had to offer.

Here's how it works. You type in your zip code and it shows you a list of stores in your area that are covered by the Grocery Game. For instance, here in my town Kroger, Rite Aide, and CVS are the stores I have to choose from.

For $10 every 8 weeks, which only comes out to $5.00 a month (aren't you proud of my quick math skills?), you can choose one store from your area list and you will be able to access a weekly list showing the store's entire list of sale items, both advertised and UNadvertised, including close-out items. Included in the list are any coupons out that match up to the items on sale and the final price you will wind up paying for each item.

For $5.00 more you can choose two stores and again, for $5.00 more you can choose to have lists from all 3 stores. So you'll be paying either $5.00, $7.50, or $10.00 a month (billed every 8 weeks) to have access to your favorite store's weekly sales and what coupons go with each sale item, if any.

I was still a bit skeptical until I saw that I could try it out, one store, for a month for only $1.00. What did I have to lose? So, since I already use Crystal's site for CVS deals and I have yet to start figuring out how the Rite Aid deals work, I chose Kroger for my month's $1 trial.

I am now toward the end of my trial and I've still not made up my mind whether I'm going to continue my membership. I will admit, the lists are exhaustive and very easy to understand and follow. There are several items listed that I would never have known were on sale. But I have found that in trying to follow the list and get 'good deals' I actually bought more things that I don't normally buy and wound up spending more without actually having things I could put together for a meal, thus defeating the whole purpose.

Maybe I just haven't given it the time I need to. I have been pretty pre-occupied this past month. I'm in the process of getting my coupons organized and filed as well as putting together several menus I can choose from so maybe the list will come in more handy when I'm better organized. I'll probably give it another month and see how it goes. I'll keep you posted.

Anyone else found a way to make The Grocery Game work for your family?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Don't Worry, Our Kids Aren't Left Behind Either

Let me start this out by saying that I am NOT a fan of "No Child Left Behind". I think there are many, many things wrong with it. Good intentions, but bad way to go about helping our public schools, which do desperately need help.

At the same time, I'm not a homeschool fanatic. While I wholeheartedly believe it's best for our family, I know it's not for everyone and because of this, I want to see our public schools do the very best they can do. We have lots of little nieces and nephews in public school and I want the absolute very best for them. We totally and completely support them and encourage them just as we do our own kids.

We have some really great public school teachers around here who I believe truly love their students and do the very best job they can do. However, when they're not given the money they need nor paid what they deserve and when they are required to teach certain things and certain ways, well, then they are limited in the job that they can do.

All that said, we, as homeschoolers, are in the minority. In our family, our church, our town, and obviously in our country. And anytime you do something that is 'out of the norm' you're going to draw criticism and 'helpful' advise. I have some concerned acquaintances who, every time I see them, talk about how I should put my kids in school.

So to be able to answer this 'advise' with a strong defense when needed I try to stay informed of how our local schools are doing. It's not always enough, nor do we always have the time to give the whole spill about how we feel this is how God is leading our family, how well our kids are doing, how 'socialized' our kids really are, yadda, yadda, yadda. And to be honest, with some people none of that makes a hill of beans difference to them. All they know is that we are doing something very 'different' and 'weird' and that we are 'hurting' our children. Some even think we feel we are 'better' than other families who don't homeschool! Oh how this is SO not true and really hurts our hearts.

Anyway, last weekend our town's newspaper had an article on how our local schools scored in the 2008 Yearly Progress Report for NCLB. Again, I am not a fan of NCLB, but if that is what our schools are required to 'live by' and measure up to then it's pretty safe to assume that this is how our schools are run, trying to meet the goals and requirements set forth by NCLB, whether they agree with it or not. Right? I mean, what school can afford to lose any amount of money? And to lose it because your students aren't 'measuring up'? What real choice do public schools have other than to do whatever is necessary to meet these 'goals'?

I won't go into all the details, but the schools that our children would be required to go to didn't do so well, and this is several years in a row that they have not 'met their goals' so they are now under certain restrictions.

I'm so glad we don't have to worry about all the politics of education our children. We just teach 'em and have fun doing it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I've Learned More Than I Ever Thought Possible...

...about the Olympics!

I just wanted to give you an update on how our Olympic unit study is going. I can't believe how much we've covered in just a week of the study. Here is a list of things we have covered so far, not counting all the quotes/scriptures the kids have written for handwriting and all the words they have matched up to their definitions (all of which are straight from the unit study)...

Greece (Athens, ancient)
Ancient Olympics
Air Resistance
History of the Olympics (ancient and modern)
Countries and the medals they've won in different sports
Jim Thorpe
Ancient Olympic sports
Metric units
Jesse Owens
Wilma Rudolph
Olympic stamp
Pierre de Coubertin
Our bodies (exercise, nutrition, our heart, etc.)
Olympic motto
Equestrian events

I just can not tell you how wonderful this study is. It has saved me SO much time and work and I have learned nearly as much as the kids have! We will most definitely be using more of Amanda Bennett's unit studies.

Along with this study we are LOVING watching Michael Phelps win all those gold medals and being amazed at how awesome the Chinese are at gymnastics. We are really enjoying this year's Olympics! How about your family?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dividing Spaces

Our home only has three bedrooms, and for 6 people sometimes that gets a bit 'close', if you know what I mean.

So our girls share a room and our boys share a room. No problem for the boys, but when you're 12 and you have to share a room with your 6 year old sister, weeellll...

So we decided to work with what we have and came up with a plan. We have split the girl's room right down the middle and painted each of their halves how they wanted. You have no idea what a HUGE undertaking this was! It took me 5 days and I still really need to touch up the baseboards, but that will have to be a project for another day.

Anyway, we're not done yet. We're going to put up a retractable clothesline we found at Lowes and hang twin sheets or curtains down the middle of the room so each girl can have her own 'space'. We're going to change the curtains over the window and the closet, put things back up on the walls, and try to find some kind of desk/shelving type thing for Baby Girl.

These pictures are before anything was put away, so they look a bit messy, but I just wanted to show you how the walls turned out. The girls LOVE their new spaces! They each picked the design and colors they wanted and I must say, they did good!

I'll share more pictures in the weeks ahead as we get the other projects in the room done.

These are the 'Before' pictures, even though I took them after everything was off the walls and I had spackled all the holes. And no, there were't pale yellow-looking circles on the walls. Must be something funky with my camera.

Here are some 'during' pictures...

And here are the 'After' pictures (before all our projects are done and before everything is put back away...LOL). The first one looks a bit dark, but believe me, it's anything but dark!

And just what did these girls do while mom was slaving away working on their room? Why reading of course! Baby Girl is helping Princess read and sound out new words. She was so patient with her. Isn't it precious?

Day 1 With the Olympic Unit Study

Have I said just how glad I am that I bought that Olympic Unit Study? Sigh... it has just made my life so much easier and anything that does that gets two thumbs up in my book.

After our first day with it I have realized one thing. With having one older and three younger students I'm going to have to shorten it up and make it a bit easier on them, and me. With one just beginning to write, one perfectionist who has to have every letter perfectly formed and every word perfectly spelled, one who just tries to fly through and get done as quickly as possible, and one needing my laptop to do a bit more in-depth reading... it's only Day 1 and I was already growing aggitated!

"Mommy, how do you make that letter again?"
"Mom, how is that word spelled?" (erase, erase, erase)
"How can you be done already? Why do you have to draw over and over your lines a thousand times and then draw all over the rest of your paper? Son, please don't make your papers look so sloppy."
"Mommy, is this right?"
"Mom, I need to look this up."
"Mom, is this a good J?"
"Just a minute, I'm using the laptop to help the younger ones."
"Mom, does the letter g go under the line?"

That's not what I want for me or my kiddos, so I'm going to be making one slight change. I will simply type up simplified questions (relating to the same info from the study) for them instead of having them write out the question and answer given in the study. It will drastically reduce their writting and therefore drastically reduce my frustration.

But other than this one change, things went well today. We started about 9:00, took a break at 10:00 for a snack and to go outside for a few minutes, then came back in and finished around noon. Obviously as we add in other subjects we won't be able to spend this much time on a unit study, but I'll just adjust it to fit in our day and have fun learning right along with my kiddos!

Our First Day of The New School Year

We started our new school year today! We now officially have a 7th grader, a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, and a 1st grader! This is what they saw as they came out from their bedrooms this morning (names changed to protect the innocent...LOL). And speaking of which, isn't that dry erase board just the greatest? I got it at a yard sale this summer for a whopping $5.00!

Anyway, each year I buy the kids new binders to put their school work in and new school boxes to stash all their pencils, erasers, and whatever else they need each day. With Baby Girl being in 7th grade now I thought she might not want me to do this for her like I do for the littler kids, but when I asked her she looked almost hurt and said, "Nooooo mommy! You HAVE to do it. It's tradition". Oh she does my momma heart good.

So this is the kids waiting, rather impatiently, for me to let them see what I got them this year. It's just little stuff...pencils, erasers, funky paper clips (we use these as bookmarks in all their school books), and whatever else 'fun' stuff I could find for them, but you'd think it was Christmas if you could see how excited they were!

Just to give you an idea of what each of them got, here are some close ups. (The boys got an extra 'toy' because I had a hard time finding them stuff, like pencils and such, this year. The girls were simple and had more, thus the extra much-desired gift for each boy). I usually spend about $10-$12 per kid each year on this 'tradition', much cheaper than if they all went to public school!

Well Now, Don't I Feel Special!

Do you remember me telling you about ordering Amanda Bennett's Olympic unit study? Well, how special do I feel... Mrs. Bennett herself left me a comment!

Now THAT'S great customer service!

Friday, August 1, 2008

So, Did I Yard Sale This Weekend?

Does this picture give you a hint?

Ugh! I just simply couldn't do it. Too many things to do, not enough time to get them all done. So, my mom and I will be having our yard sale next weekend. Hopefully by then I'll be ready.

Do you like having or going to yard sales? I LOVE going to them, and I LOVE the money I make when I have them. But oh how I hate getting ready for one. And next weekend, it's supposed to be in the low 90's! Have I ever told you that I don't do being hot and sweaty real well? Oh I hate it. Think that could be one reason I have a hard time losing weight? LOL!

I think I'll try to sell as much on-line as I can before next weekend. Anyone interested in board games (we have three huge stacks of them), misc. curriculum, or kid's clothes?

In case you need to do some decluttering and would like to make a couple hundred dollars (or more, possibly less), here is a really good site to help you have a successful yard sale.