Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It has been a while...

I noticed that all of my posts were really me complaining about one thing or another. So, over the past few months, I've taken a break from a lot of things.

A lot has happened since then. The greatest thing is that we have decided to close Silver Maple School next year. Both of our children will be entering (or re-entering) the public school system. We didn't come to this decision lightly. Both John and I have prayed about this matter many times, and we feel as though we've received the answer to our prayer.

Now comes the wait game. Both children are enrolled, and we will be attempting to place them in a school of our choosing over the next few months. I have a strong feeling that God will open the right doors for us.

I've come to realize that every Christian is given a different path to walk. Ours, for a short time, was the path of homeschooling. Never during our time homeschooling did I feel like we were doing this for similar reasons that other homeschooling friends are doing it. Over the past year and a half, I have heard countless numbers of women talk about how they HS because of "_____" (fill in the blank). Although I would nod and smile politely, I could never said "oh, us, too!" because I knew it would be false.

Simply put, we chose to homeschool because we felt the calling at that time. We were in a bad situation with our daughter and the school she was in. God gave us a solution for the few years we needed it. Now, He's giving us a solution for the next few years.

I know that we will be facing much scrutiny from the homeschooling community when we let everyone know. It's almost as bad as when we told friends a few years ago that we were starting to homeschool. I suppose there are extremists on either side.

But, I have peace about this decision, and I am excited for my children and this next chapter of their lives. So, here's to our final semester of homeschooling. May it be the best it could ever be!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saved by butter

The Silver Maple School has been met with many challenges over the last few weeks. Attitudes and personalities have been on the front line of the battle field for many days. The casualties (Mom's frayed nerves) lay strewn across the countryside.

Today started with yet another bombing attack. Amidst all the smoke and shrapnel, an unknown ally came to the defense. His gallant name is Butter. Butter was able to help Attitude and Personality see past their differences, if for only a brief moment, and unite in a common goal. A cease fire occurred, and for one glorious moment, the Silver Maple battlefield rejoiced in Peace!

How, you ask, did this occur? A simple science experiment, of course!

Today, I decided to interrupt all other activities with a neat little experiment, making butter! It's simple enough, it just takes a lot of arm work. We used:

1 recycled peanut butter jar
1 container heavy cream

I filled the jar 3/4 way full with heavy cream, and added about a tablespoon of salt. Then, I put the lid on tightly and started shaking. The kids also took turns shaking the jar. We had to shake it for 20 minutes total.

It was a neat experiment. For the first 15 minutes, you really can't tell that anything is happening. Then the changes begin to happen. The children were excited, and they couldn't wait to try out our creation. It was during this brief moment that all the stress of the morning fell away, at least for now!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Humbling experience

Today started off rough already. Both kids have been intolerable. The sounds of bickering were filling all of the rooms in the house. And, of course, they had their mommy ear plugs in, so neither child heard my cautioning words.

This, if you can imagine, made me quite angry. I was irritated to the point that every minuscule thing aggravated me. I could tell it was going to be a l-o-n-g day.

I decided to brew a pot of decaf and nurse my "wounds" so to speak. After prepping the coffee maker, I stepped away for a few. When I returned to the kitchen, the entire floor was COVERED in coffee. The counters were soaked, the walls were splattered. In my haste, I forgot to put the coffee pot in place. Having an older coffee maker, that didn't stop anything from brewing!

OI! I wanted to get mad at someone, but it was my fault! Quickly, I felt all my rage melt away, and I just had to shake my head. My son saw the mess and lovingly stayed patient with me as I cleaned up the place. In fact, he found the mop quite fascinating. He never paid attention to me mopping before, and didn't understand how the coffee got out of the mop.

Now, I feel much better, oddly enough! I know God used my "oops" this morning to humble me a bit.

Now, let's see if I can get through the rest of the day without starting any fires.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Fiasco...

First, I'm very thankful that we had a special evening worship service at church tonight. Attending our Music Gala really lifted my spirits, and helped me calm down from the "incident" today.

If I had tried to blog out my feelings beforehand, I'd need a censorship button :)

I think the worst part of the whole situation, was knowing my daughter succumbed to the pressure of "impressing" her friend, and acted very poorly.

My daughter (9) and her friend were in her bedroom playing, when her friend came downstairs and whispered to my son (4) that my daughter wanted him to come upstairs to play. Now, my mommy radar was going off..but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt (slaps forehead).

About 45 seconds later, I hear him begin to yell, which suddenly became muffled...hmm. Going upstairs, I saw him sprawled out on the floor on his stomach, with my daughter on top of him, barking in his ear asking why he was in her room bothering her (?!).

Apparently, she didn't request his presence, and the friend took it upon herself to invite him up, thinking it would be funny (my daughter was ignoring the friend momentarily). Once he was upstairs, everything fell apart, and dd decided to "strut her stuff" and show off.

Being the 3rd and youngest child in a family, I have been the recipient of many cruel gags in my life. It's not something I tolerate well. I was very disappointed and angry at the two girls. I was more angry at my daughter though, because she knows better than to act that way towards her brother...We had a long talk with all of them, and I still haven't finished with her yet. I think we will need to work together this week on some issues.

I know the ordeal wasn't much, really, in the long run. But, my child is more mature than that! Our family tries to emphasize a close-knit, loving relationship. Not "my brother/sister is a punching bag, watch this!"


Today just reminded me that we're "not quite there yet" with our progress.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Running out of August!

Wow, the month is almost gone! I feel like it passed by in a blur. Soon enough, Girl Scouts will begin, then sewing classes, and soccer and softball games will start on the weekends. Someone will have to remind me mid-October what "free time" means!!

I've been awfully tired the past couple of days. I think it is mental fatigue. I've been doing a lot of scheduling and that always drains me. I'm looking forward to some renewal soon. My homeschooling group will be having our first Ladies Night Out & then a Bible study within the next couple of weeks. That will surely help!!

I'm juggling the idea of year round schooling. Maybe an adaptation of 9 weeks on 4 weeks off. Dunno quite how I'll do that, since Kierstyn must be in TX during the summer. That MAY be her 4 weeks off...again, I must adapt, because there are a few other times when we will need to take time off from school. We'll see. Maybe it will be 9 weeks on, 2 weeks off, 9 weeks on, 4 weeks off...etc. Nothing is finalized.

On a different note, next week marks Labor Day weekend, which means..duh duh duh...HOME IMPROVEMENT TIME....again. This year we are replacing the roof over our back deck, replacing the back door in the sun room, and replacing the floor in the sun room, kitchen, wash room, foyer, and downstairs bathroom. Lots to do! Maybe we'll be finished by 2012 :)

That's about it for now. Next week, things get tricky around here. I'm not sure how all that is going to go.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well, my last post ended abruptly, because, well, that's how I felt at the moment.

God's faithfulness never fails, though. The VERY next day, I received a wonderful email that addressed exactly what I was struggling with in my previous post. I love the Lord's timing!!!!!

The number one thing the letter talked about was making sure your dreams are in line with God's dreams for you. Too often, we get caught up in the noise of the world, and we can't hear the soft melody of God's plan. My goal is to stop trying to keep up with the noise, and instead choose contentment in the sweet melody that God has for me.

On another note, I found a blog that I'm rather enjoying...

I need to get my links page fixed up. I've been lazy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Choosing Contentment

It's unsettling how quickly we can become dissatisfied with life. It can happen even when you are rooted firmly where you are. Contentment quickly washes away.

I know I'm where I need to be in life. I know that God has charged me with a great responsibility in raising my children. Yet, as I see many of my peers pursuing the lifestyle of their previous choosing, I find myself wishing that I could, I would, I had.

What a dangerous place this is! Without realizing, I ham turning to God and saying "Thanks for this gift, but really, can I have the receipt?" Who knows better what is right for me? Certainly not me. But all too easily I forget.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Fired Dryer...part 2

I've just washed/dried our 6th load of laundry without my dryer. The only adjustment I've made is adding fabric softener to my wash. That has helped with the stiff feeling from line dried clothing. I've also found that it works much better doing one load of laundry per day. This may seem a little tedious, but I have found that I actually like it better. I don't end up with an enormous load of folded clothes to deal with. Typically, I wash a load of laundry around 7am, and have it hanging up by 8am. The next morning, I usually fold the clothes while the next load is washing. It's a pretty simple process!

So, all in all, we're going to continue our adventures in a dryer-less world :) Stay tuned for more updates as the seasons change!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thoughts on home...

As we begin our second year of home education, I've had a chance to think about my role in life. It is much different than I had imagined. I've always imagined myself as a self-sufficient person that would be very successful professionally. I wouldn't be dependent on anyone, least of all a man! That's what I was always taught.

Fast forward 30 years or so, and here I sit :). I have left the work force, and well, I'm completely dependent on a man to provide income for my family!

So many women in today's society would frown on this. So often today, we (women) think we must leave the house and enter the work force to be fulfilled or "find our identity". I was that woman for a long time. Initially, I joined the work force because I had to. Simply put, I was the income provider for my family. But, as my life progressed, I became the secondary income provider. I still yearned the freedom that being a professional gave me, so I continued working. I could feel my heart strings being pulled by God to come home with my children, but I had to look after my needs, my desires. As a result, I put God on mute for a few years.

Finally, my husband and I realized what shape our family was in, and we came to the agreement that I needed to come home. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Coming home was the scariest thing I have ever done. Why?....
  1. I am a liberated woman! What about my "identity"? Won't it get lost at home with the kids all the time?
  2. What about our lifestyle? Can we live on half of our income?
  3. What do I tell people I know? How do I support our decision to those that disagree?
These were forces I had to face all at once. When we announced our decision to family members, we were told that we were "making a terrible mistake at a HORRIBLE time, didn't we see the state of the economy? We needed two incomes over one now more than EVER!!!".

We have found that through FAITH, we are sustained. There have been a few financial crises that we have faced since my departure from the workforce, and each one of them have been handled through answered prayer. There was even a time when we anonymously received a gift card in the mail for groceries!

Well, what about Ms. Liberated Woman? This is what I have to say to her:
The bravest, most challenging, most fulfilling thing a mother could ever do is to take care of her family! There is no accomplishment made in an office building that can come anywhere near the gratification waiting for you at home with your children! We have the (brief) opportunity to build up these children into mighty men and women for God's glory!

I know from personal experience that sometimes we have to work. But, when it isn't a necessity, when it has become an escape for you to "find yourself" outside of your family, I want to ask you: What are you hoping to find? And...once you find it, what will it cost you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Massive Update

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. I need to make a better effort of updating this blog!

One of the most recent things I've decided to do is to fire my dryer. Now, that doesn't mean I've quit doing laundry. Our house would be overrun by mounds of dirty clothes in a matter of days if I did that! No, what it means is that I'm not using my dryer anymore! I found this great article taking about line drying your clothes. Now, I've wanted to do this for a while, but my husband has been completely against it b/c of pollen issues. My son has asthma, and my husband has a terrible time with pollen season. Peppering our clothes with the wonderful powder would not be good for either of them. So...I've struggled with not being able to line dry our clothes.

Then, I found this great website! that talks about how ANYONE living ANYWHERE can fire their dryer. I never thought of line drying in the house before! So, I'm on day 2 (load 2) of line drying. I'm using our bonus room & I have a ladder set up in the back. I hang most of the clothes on hangers and put them on the ladder. So far, so good. It takes a while...but I can be patient :)

I've also been tinkering with canning food. This is also something that anyone can do! There is a little set up cost. You need to buy a pressure canner (mine was $62) and you need jars, lids, etc. But, the cost is quickly balanced out after a few rounds of canning. So far, I've canned:
- peach preserves
- canned peaches
- sweet pickles
- dill pickles
- vegetable beef soup
- chicken noodle soup
- potato soup

Next up will be pinto beans. I'm trying to eliminate eating store bought soup. It's packed full of sodium and other various preservatives that I'd rather not ingest. ...AND canning is surprisingly a gratifying activity.

Our school year has also kicked off at our house, so we have books and science things everywhere! We'll be doing monthly unit studies on different countries this year -- something I can't wait to do. This will be the first set of unit studies that I have personally put together (instead of finding a pre-made one online). I'm a little nervous, but very excited!!!

I'll update on how the studies go as we start them (September).

Well, that's all I have time for right now. Until next time....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Marriage Retreat

John and I just returned from a wonderful Marriage Retreat. We had a wonderful time, and grew closer to God (and one another through Christ!) Ric and Cindy Cadle lead the sessions (they are great!)

(view from 3rd floor)

One item discussed that stuck with me was the fact that we cannot fulfill all of our spouse's needs. We...cannot! Only Christ Jesus can fulfill all of our needs! Think about that carefully. So many times, I have beat myself up because I couldn't fulfill every single need of my husband. I wasted so much energy focusing on something that I'm not supposed to do! Simply put, we aren't supposed to be our spouse's number one supporter in their life. (We come in a close second!) Our Lord and Savior should always be number one!

Additionally, I learned that although my life may be "good" right now (including my marriage), God can always make it great. IF I let Him! That's something we must ask ourselves: Do we want our life to be "good" or "Great!"? Do you want to settle?

I hadn't thought about it that way. I realize now that when I choose worldly desires over a Christ-centered decision (spending more time doing recreational things than studying God's word for example) I'm denying myself the opportunity to experience something great.

John and I have already decided that we're definitely going to the marriage retreat next year (Ridgecrest, NC). I strongly urge married couples to find a marriage retreat to attend. Once you've experienced one, you'll never be the same!