28 November 2008

arise and shine~

for your light has dawned;
The Presence of the Lord has shone upon you!

Darkness shall cover the earth,
And thick clouds the peoples;

But upon you the Lord will shine,
And His Presence be seen over you.
And nations shall walk by your light,
Kings, by your shining radiance.

Raise your eyes and look about:
They have all gathered and come to you.

~Isaiah 60:1-3

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26 November 2008

turkey and wild rice soup
aka the best leftover turkey recipe ever in the whole world ever~

I love chicken noodle soup. Love it. But since Glen and Anna are celiac, egg noodles are out, and rice noodles just don't really cut it that great for soup. So I've been looking for a good alternative.
Wa la! Chicken (or Turkey) and Wild Rice Soup

Last week I wanted to experiment with a turkey breast in the crockpot just because (yes, this was the day I forgot to turn it on. Obviously, I remembered later ;o) I had a couple of different things I wanted to experiment with, namely making broth in the crockpot over night and finding a good chicken noodle soup alternate.
So this is what I did. After we cut some of the meat off and had it for dinner (I recommend roasting your turkey the traditional way, the crockpot turkey was nothing to talk about.) I put the carcass, still containing quite a bit of meat on it, back in the crockpot, covered it all the way to the top with water, added two quartered onions and a bunch of garlic, and let it cook on low all night. I probably would have thrown in some celery if I'd had some, and if I'd remembered, I may have thrown in some carrots.
The next morning, my house smelled awesome.
Later on, when I got around to it, I took the carcass out, picked off the rest of the meat, and strained the broth. Straining the broth was the one thing that had always kept me from making broth more regularly as I never really knew how to do it well. Some people use cheesecloth, but that always sounded difficult and potentially messy. So I set my largest colandar/strainer inside my largest bowl, and just poured all the broth in there. A few stray pieces of garlic went through, but no big deal. I then stuck the bowl in the frig, let the fat and misc other stuff the strainer didn't catch, congeal at the top. Later on, I skimmed off the congealed part, and then I had my broth. Full of flavor, vitamins, nutrients, super yummy, and not very difficult.
Onto my soup experiment. I had a couple of recipes I wanted to experiment with and create my own. The result was the best chicken (turkey) soup I've ever had, and by far the best I've ever made. My family ALL ate it, and asked for more. We fought over licking the pot. Almost.
So, since you asked and all, and a lot of you are going to end up with some leftover turkey over the next few days, I'm happy to share :o)

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup (or turkey or duck or whatever... ;o)


1T butter
1/2 cup chopped onion (I think I used an entire small onion, we like onion)
1/2 cup chopped celery (I didn't have any so I left it out)

1c. sliced carrots (I used baby carrots cut in half and probably used closer to 2c.)
1/2tsp dried basil
1/2tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper, garlic to taste
1 bay leaf

10c. broth (if you're using canned broth, use about 8c. chicken or turkey and 2c. veggie)
1/2 pound chopped chicken or turkey (I just threw in what looked right, Glen likes a lot of meat in it.)
1 1/2 cups egg noodles (I used wild rice instead since we can't do egg noodles. I used about 2 1/2c. *cooked* wild rice and added it in at the end.)


Sautee garlic, onion, celery, and carrots in butter. I just sautee in the same pan I'm making the soup in.

Add broth, chicken, sauteed veggies, spices, and salt/pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 20 minutes or so.

While simmering, cook wild rice. When the rice is done, add it to the soup.

Sorry the recipe is kind of all over the place, I had a base recipe that I went off of, and then tweaked it for us. The rice absorbs a lot of the liquid, so even though it seems like a lot, it wasn't excessive. If you want to do it without real broth, the recipe called for 8c. chicken broth and 2c. vegetable broth.

Anyway, it was really easy and so, so yummy. I think I'm more excited about having more of it than I actually am about the main meal tomorrow :o) And while it is excellent the first day, it is even better in the following days.

Let me know if you end up trying it and liking it. It is a 5 star, blue ribbon award winner in my book just because ALL of my kids ate it willingly. With smiles. AND asked for more. All of them! With no complaints. I also love it because I feel like it's super healthy being made with genuine stock :o) Plus...that means I'm not going to have to deal with the turkey mess until Friday...shh...

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24 November 2008

not me monday~

Confession time :o)

I don't know why, but I am loving the whole Not Me Monday thing. I actually have quite a bit less this week. I don't know if its because I have been busy taking care of a sick three year old, or if I've just been more responsible a better Mom or if my brain was possibly just working better, but regardless, the list is shorter.

So here goes...

No way did I discipline Anna for getting a little pre-teen "I'm way cooler than the rest of my family" attitude by telling her that for the rest of the week I would get to choose her clothes every day.

I did not forget to turn the crockpot on after putting all the food in.

I have not been keep a running of list of things to write for Not Me Monday. That would be embarassing.

I most certainly did not stay up until 1:45am listing things to sell on ebay. It was really good that I didn't do this, because the next morning, Haven woke up much earlier than usual and decided to pull one of his rare one nap only days.

And I am not currently ignoring the fact that Haven is running around with a bright red, super messy candy cane he found on the floor. Because, as you all know, I never let my kids have sugar. And food never gets dropped on my floor.

I did not decide spur of the moment that the nightstands from the boys' room should be moved to the girls' room. And in the process, I certainly surely didn not dump all their junk treasures all over the floor so I could move them quickly. And it's a really good thing I didn't run out of cleaning time and have to leave the boys' stuff all over the place until I could back to it on my next cleaning day, a full week later.

I did not make a gluten free coffee cake for Glen Sunday morning and then in the middle of our movie that night ask him to please get me a snack because you know, "I made you that coffee cake this morning." :o)

I have definitely not been letting Noah drink chocolate milk by the gallon so that I can hide his medicine in it since it's way easier to do that than hold him down and deal with him spitting it out and gagging so hard he throws up. And I've not let his eye stay stuck shut for four days now because he doesn't want anyone to touch it.

...and I'm surely not looking at having to drag all the kids out in the rain today to take Noah back to the doctor again since I'm pretty sure the antibiotic they gave me isn't working....*sigh*.

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21 November 2008

help for growing families
zone cleaning

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help for growing families
what helps me feed my family during morning sickness~

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praying for noah estes~

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you a little about the new link in my sidebar titled Join Us in Praying for Noah.

Noah Estes is the son of a lady on our MOMYS digest. He has been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. Although I don't understand a lot about it, from what I understand, it is eventually terminal (save a healing from Our Healer.) I really wish I could explain it better.

As he is right at a year younger than my Noah, he and his family are especially close to my heart. I have been following their story for a very long time. His family is so sweet, and their faith and trust in the Father is nothing short of inspiring. I've been especially encouraged not only by their faith throughout Noah's disease process, but also in reading about Kate's (the mom) relationship with her oldest daughter. Just reading about their daily life, in the good times and bad, is such an encouragement to me.

For about the past week, Noah has steadily been getting sicker and sicker. He has been in and out of the hospital so many times, but he was admitted to the hospital again in an attempt to figure out what is causing this illness as he is very, very sick. Pretty much any illness is a huge deal for him and this time they are having a hard time figuring out what this is. He's going to be having surgery today and he is also possibly facing some procedures in the following days that are very risky for him.

Would you please join me in praying for him? If you click on the photo it will take you over to their blog where you can get the details. There is also a link over there that you can click on entitled Read This First, and from there you can either start at the first beginning, or you can scroll down to get a more updated version.

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19 November 2008

You know, there are just so many possible captions...

Choose your favorite:

"Aha! Finally...no one is looking!"

"I bribed Moriah to leave everything out."

"Mommy never sees ANYTHING when she's on the computer."

"Someone left out some toys for me to
play with get into."

"I'm needing a bath anyway."

"This finger paint sure is yummy!"

"Think I should grow a beard? I
think it looks nice!"

"I was making it for you....really!"

and my personal favorite...

"Mommy will be so proud. I can make my own lunch now!"

Parenting Tip #11

Never assume your five year old will clean up after herself.
Never. This is vitally important once your toddler learns how to climb into chairs.

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overheard at my house last night~

Caleb has been trying to gather supplies to make a volcano for the past few days. Tonight, he went to the basement to find something to put his creation on so that it wouldn't make a mess when it erupted :o)

He happened to find a very large piece of cardboard, one that Glen has just used as a dropcloth for something he was painting...

So he drags this cardboard upstairs, one side of it covered in paint, and promptly sets it down on the floor. A few minutes later, Glen is helping him with the volcano, and realizes that it's the cardboard he had just been using. Apparently, Caleb had just picked it up and neglected to notice the wet paint...

Glen: Caleb! Buddy, use your brain!

Ethan: Gee, Dad. He does use his brain. All the time. He just wasn't using very much of it right then.

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18 November 2008

help for growing families
one on one time & errands~

One of the favorite questions and criticisms often directed at large families is the question, "How do you give each child the attention he or she needs?" Valid question. A very valid question. One I don't mind answering if it's asked with a genuine spirit and not as a veiled criticism.

First of all, I think to some degree, on one level, "one on one" time is overrated. To some degree. I know of several Moms who had their first child several years before having more children, and even now, years later, that oldest child struggles with jealousy and the inability to entertain or otherwise occupy him or herself. We want to raise our children to be independent and self-motivated, not dependent on others to run their lives or provide entertainment. (I hesitated on even including this paragraph as I most definitely don't want anyone to think we don't value our relationship with our children as individuals. I only included it because one of the things I am most thankful for is that our children get along really well for the most part, are learning to be self motivated, and they are also able to entertain themselves. The Moms I mentioned above find it so, so frustrating when those siblings come along and their oldest child remains their neediest child. I have witnessed it firsthand many times, and honestly, it would drive me crazy! :o)

Another point to consider is that in a large family, the little ones are rarely, if ever, lacking attention. Now maybe it's not from Mom and Dad in the amount the first children might have had it, but even in smaller families a second and third child are going to miss out on that first child dynamic. Typically, large families enjoy one another, everyone always has a friend to play with, and I would think that as they grow older, they have built in friends (often of the same sex) to confide in, ones that carry the same values and beliefs :o) My experience, in my home and in observing the lives of my friends with large families, is that while there is often the typical sibling stuff among siblings the same age, the dynamics between the older ones and younger ones is vastly different. The little kids and babies are never lacking for attention, comforting arms, or someone willing to play. I wouldn't hesitate to say that I am confident my children get more "quality attention," whether it be from Mom, Dad, or siblings, than kids in a two or even three child family.

That said, it is vitally important, especially in light of keeping connected to our children's hearts, to make sure each one is getting his or her love tank filled. That they know we're available anytime to just listen or talk. And that if it's really, really important, we will stop what we're doing and make time for them. And this can be more challenging in a large family.

So, this is what works for us, at least at this stage in the game with six kids ten and under, with one on the way.

For the last several years, I have been blessed to have an "errand day." My husband stays home with all the children except one (unless I have an infant, then he or she tags along.) I do ALL my errands on that day, and one of the children goes with me. I let them choose where we eat lunch (I have one that chooses McDonalds, every time, and another that chooses Red Lobster, thankfully, their lunch menu is fairly reasonable!) We spend the entire day together. Since we live about 45 minutes from town, by the time we do all the driving, lunch, and all the errands, it takes up most of the day. That gives them plenty of time to really settle in and be able to share anything that's on their heart. Mostly it's just fun, but especially with the older kids, I'm beginning to see that they really value that time when they can just talk.

This has been an excellent way to get in some good quality, one on one time. The kids each actually have their own "week." They get to sit at the end of the table for the week, they get to have nap/quiet time in the living room which is right by where I usually am, they get to go out with me for errand day, and they get to play a game with Glen and me one night after the rest of the kids are in bed. They all eagerly anticipate "their" week. And I look forward to getting to spend time with each one of my sweeties, when I can be focused on them (well, and trying to find the green beans, but you get the point.)

As my oldest daughter is getting older, I am realizing she needs to talk way more often than once every few weeks. For her, I have let her know, and continue to remind her, that anytime she needs to talk, to let me know, and I will make time for just us. It may not be immediate, but it will be as soon as possible. I believe that this is vital. And she has asked me enough times and seen my commitment to her to be able to trust me. I'm also realizing that when she is "off," something is going on, and the longer she's "off" the bigger it is. That's when I have to step back from the behaviour and situation and outright ask her what's bugging her. Sometimes it takes her a few days to open up, but she knows I care about what's going on with her, so she eventually does.

I realize that this plan wouldn't work for everyone. Maybe you have twice as many kids as I do and that would only give each child four turns a year. Maybe your schedule isn't set up in such a way as to allow you an entire day out while the rest of the kids stay home with your husband. In that case, if you chose to click on my link from Help For Growing Families because you saw my topic and you see a need or just have a desire to spend more one on one time with your kids, then I would encourage you to take your heart and your desire to the Father, the one who created your family just as He saw fit, that knows your children's hearts and needs better than even you do, that loves each one of them beyond your comprehension, and ask Him what His answer for your family is. I don't know how this will work as our children and family grows. Right now, I only have four that are in the rotation, as the youngest two are still too young to realize or even care that much. Maybe I'll combine olders and youngers so the older ones still feel freedom to open up, and the little ones are just out having a good time :o)

One last point is something I just recently heard. I really wish I could remember where, it may have been the new The Old Schoolhouse magazine, but I'm not sure. Either way, a Mom was asked about one and one, individual quality time with her many children, and her answer was so true. She said something to the effect of she has many "moments" with each of her children every day. One on one time doesn't have to be this big, planned out thing where each child needs focused attention for at least thirty minutes. I'll be doing the laundry and one of the kids will come in and hang out for a few minutes. I'll be preparing dinner, and one of them will hop up on the counter, talk for awhile, then run off. A few minutes later, another one will pop in. We spend time together cleaning the kitchen. During free time, I am usually found either reading a book or on my computer. Frequently (sometimes more frequently than I would like!) someone will come sit with me to show me their picture, or sing me a song they made up, or read me a story they wrote. When I take time to stop what I'm doing and really listen to them, that speaks volumes. The point of quality time is to convey love and let your kids know they are valued and they are important to you. My kids get this even though I don't devote an exclusive half hour to each one of them every day. I am home with them all the time. I go out for errand day once a week, and to church on Saturday night. I would venture to say my kids spend significantly more time with me than kids whose moms work full time, are in school all day, and at sports on the weekends. And since we homeschool, we are literally together all day long.

So if you have a lot of kids and are worried, or you are thinking about having more but this is a concern, I just want to encourage you that quality time is easily doable in a large family. I have no concerns about my kids feeling like they don't get enough of me. I've let them know I'm available whenever they need me, and our days are filled with "moments." So be encouraged! And maybe, what works for us, is something that would work for you or you could adapt to fit your family.

Hop over to Ship Full O' Pirates for more Help For Growing Families!

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17 November 2008

another not me monday & funny highlight of the week~

It was so guilt relieving fun participating in MckMama's Not Me Monday, that I did not spend the rest of the week thinking up things I could say this time around.

Here we go...

I did not beg ask my husband if we could please just go to Sonic after spending an hour in the kitchen, over "onioning" the fried rice, cooking new rice, and subsequently burning the sesame chicken and letting the stir fry veggies get horribly wilted.

He did not spend fifteen minutes cutting off all the burned pieces and somehow convincing the kids that it really was better that way.

He also did not eat the onion-y fried rice and wilted veggies just to make me feel better. And he did not manage to convince me that he actually liked it and really wanted me to save the leftovers for his lunch.

(Have I mentioned that he is not a super guy? *grin*)

This is not a picture of my kids super excited that I made fish for lunch. These are also not the same kids that groan when I make said fish for dinner. Because my kids are never inconsistent like that. (And this is not Moriah being grouchy because we're not also having macaroni. She is always flowers and sunshine. Always.)

I did not make fish for lunch two days in a row because I neglected to buy more turkey. It was also not because I thought fish sounded pretty yummy. Nor was it because I can't stand peanut butter and that was really the only alternative.

My baby did not learn to climb onto the chair and onto the table. Please, not yet.

I did not have a "slumber party" at my sister Dyana's house with her and my Dad. (Weird story. I know. She just had surgery and was bored.) We did not stay up late eating pizza, cinnamon rolls, and watching movies. I also did not have to get up at five the next morning to come home. I also did not wake Haven up early so he would be ready for a nap super early. Not me, I am way more responsible than that.

I have not spent the last six months trying to convince my three year old that big boys wear underwear, only to spend ten minutes trying to convince him that it's okay for big boys to wear pull ups at night.

I did not throw away a pair of poopy underwear because it was just too gross to deal with.

My husband did not tell me that he was not going camping because it was going to be too cold and rainy, only to come home right when I need to leave and announce that he's decided to go anyway and can I please help him get ready.

I did not get stuck in traffic for an hour and a half since I left late.

I was not late to Christmas Village. I am always on time. Even when I'm stuck in Friday rush hour traffic in the rain.

I did not leave to go do errands on Saturday morning only to come back home after only one stop because I was just too tired and didn't feel well. That means I did not spend an hour and a half in the car and only 20 minutes at the store.

And it's a good thing that didn't happen, or I would have had to get out again later, and that would have been such a waste of time. And I never waste time.

I did not try and take a bath three times this week only to end up with three kids in the tub with me every time.

I did not attempt it again the following night and lock everyone out. I never lock my kids out. That would be mean, and I'm never mean.

This about sums up my week. The thing I am most proud of is that I actually didn't mind helping Glen get ready. It was only a quick overnight trip, so it only required one bag and a little food. I was so glad he was starting a new tradition with the boys and was bummed when he thought it would be too cold. Other than a few snide comments, and he knows me well enough to know I was just picking at him, I actually handled it pretty well. Thankfully. I had been offering to make him a roast or chili all week to take, but since he waited til the last minute he had to make do with hotdogs and cereal. Poor kids. They were really disappointed to have to grill hot dogs over the fire :o)

Funny Highlight of the Week:

Some of you that actually know us know that my husband was/is in a band with some great Christian guys. They've been close since Jr High, and I am really thankful for their friendship and influence in Glen's life. Those of you that know these guys well know they are some of the most hilarious guys you will ever meet. Get them alone and you can hardly breathe you're laughing so hard. And when Glen starts laughing hard, he does this wheezing thing...well, you just can't describe it. Just watching them get started laughing is better than any joke you could ever tell.

(edited later: not sure why I included all the stuff about the guys, I was trying to make a point that watching Glen laugh is a memorable experience. For those of you that go to church with us, if something really funny ever happens up front and you hear something that sounds like a cross between a hysterical laugh, and a wheezing, dying animal....that's Glen. I'll be hiding under the seat or frantically shushing him.)

So...this was our conversation on the way home from church Saturday night:

Glen (on the phone with his brother, Ben) : blah, blah, blah...I don't know, you'd have to ask Shyla...blah, blah, blah....Okay, bye.

Me (after about thirty seconds, knowing that he's just dying for me to ask him what he was saying about me because I can't stand to *not know* what's going on) : What was that?

Glen (slyly): Oh, nothing. (Looks at me out of the corner of his eye.)

Me: Oh, okay. (Sit patiently for fifteen or twenty seconds.) Fine! Then I guess I won't bother to share this last pack of M&Ms that I brought to the car. (Whips out tiny pack of M&Ms and starts laughing mischievously.) Ha ha ha!

Glen: That pack? That EMPTY one in your hand??!!! I ALREADY ATE IT!!!

By this time, I've realized the little pack is, indeed, gone. Glen is laughing and wheezing so hard I'm afraid he's going to run off the road, I'm laughing at Glen laughing and just how funny it was. Our kids are wondering what in the world is going on. We laughed HARD for at least a minute. It was great. I haven't laughed that hard in awhile. This is probably one of those things that just can't be described, it had to be experienced, but it was hilarious. It was so funny, in fact, that it will probably be one of those things we remember forever.

So, what was your funny highlight of the week, or what did you not do? Leave it in the comments, or even better, blog about it, and leave me a comment so I can read it! Come on people, confession time, surely I'm not the only one this stuff happens to?

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14 November 2008

a challenge to my oldest friend Heather~

I thought this would be fun to do, especially since one of the highlights of my childhood were the Bible Competitions my friend Heather and I would obsess over. I was somewhat surprised to actually get every question correct, but they were actually really easy. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that my parents put a high premium on Bible "knowledge," and going to a private Christian school through the seventh grade pretty much solidified my book knowledge. I just wish I had understood the concept of heart knowledge a little earlier :o)

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Take More Quizzes

A fun memory...

Growing up, our church would have these quarterly (?) Bible quizzes. Heather and I were the only girls that came regularly in our age range, and you know, being girls, we could pretty much blow the boys out of the water at that age. (Basically, we cared, they didn't.) So they always put us on separate teams. Always. Adding to the competitive spirit, we both went to private Christian schools, but our schools were each other's number one enemy um, rival. It was like the event of the quarter, these Bible quizzes were.

One of the quizzes that I remember was set up kind of like Family Feud. We had to stand in front of a buzzer/bell with hand behind our back, and when the question was asked, the first person to ring the bell got the first opportunity to answer. So I'm standing there (for the sake of a good story, we'll say it was against Heather, but actually, I think it might have been this boy Nicholas) and the teacher said something like, "On the night..." and me, in my eagerness rang the bell. Gulp. I had to answer. So I said, "Peter!" AND I WAS RIGHT! The question was, "On the night Jesus died, who denied him three times?" I also wish I could say that my answer won the game, but I think it actually just gave our team the opportunity to earn the points first or however Family Feud works.

So in good fun, I challenge you, Heather, to take the quiz. I'm pretty sure we'll tie, but if I happen to win, you can take me out for dessert. You know, in all that free time we both have :o)

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just what were they thinking?

Let's play What Were They Thinking
(although we all know it's just a sneaky way for me to post some more pictures that I don't want to forget...)

I don't know what he's thinking now,
but I can imagine a few things he might thinking when he sees this a few years from now :o)

When I grow up, I'm going to be just like Dad.

What do you mean two more hours until lunch?

Let's see what Mom's nose tastes like.

(Check out Ethan's expression.)
Who are these crazy people?


I have no idea. All I know is that it involved five little people convincing their oldest sister that she would make an excellent karate instructor. I don't really think this looks much like karate, though :o)

Does she have a date that I don't know about?

You mean we have to go back down the mountain?
Are you sure there's not a hotel around here somewhere? Maybe behind the waterfall?
An elevator? Anything???

Visions of sugar plums, maybe?

One day when I'm bigger I'm gonna show 'em.

I risked life and limb for a waterfall? That's it?
I thought there were going to be cookies.

Step one, give them that "I'm The Cutest Boy Ever and You're My Favorite Person In The Whole World"
smile every time they look your way. Step two, every time they pick you up, snuggle your head against their chest and look at them with your puppy dog eyes. Step three, when they're not looking, take over the world.
If that doesn't work, you can at least bribe them for cookies.

On a totally different topic...

I am so excited! Tonight is Christmas Village. It's a craft thing that I've gone to with my Mom, my Coocal, and my sisters every year since I was born. We have never missed a year. Now we take Anna and Moriah and this will be our first year with Dyana's new baby, Addyson. Dyana is such a trooper. She just had pretty major surgery last week, but tradition calls. Afterwards, we'll all drag ourselves hop in the car and head over to the Cheesecake Factory...because you know....that's just what we do. The boys are all bummed because it's really just going to be too cold and rainy for them to go camping. So I think they're going to hunker down with some coke and popcorn and watch Star Wars.

And stay tuned (stay tuned? should I say stay blogged? stay subscribed?) for something I am really, really excited about!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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10 November 2008

help for growing families
homeschool planning~

My Plan (ha ha) is to keep this short and sweet. As my Help for Growing Families topic has to do with homeschool planning, it, ahem, only applies to growing families that homeschool. Obviously. Just wanted to clear that up in case there was any confusion.

I've mentioned before how baby number six really derailed me. My life was going along, nice and predictable, and wham! My whole world was thrown up in the air and the dust is really just now settling. Right in time for baby number seven :o) And it wasn't Haven. He was/is an excellent napper, has a calm personality, and is generally a laid back little guy.

I think there were many things that contributed to the whirlwind that came along with the birth of sweet Haven, but one that I have finally identified was that my older kids' schoolwork was requiring more time, effort, and planning. Kindergarten, first, second, third grade, not such a big deal, I could kind of fly by the seat of my pants, but as my olders were getting older (you know you have a big(ish) family when you have olders, youngers, littles, big kids, little kids, first half, second half, etc.!), I was beginning to need to spend more time explaining, teaching, grading, planning, and identifying and dealing with weaker areas. Whereas I used to sit down on a weekend night, go over the prior weeks' work and plan the following week's work, (and it had worked beautifully up until this point,) it was no longer working. At all. I can claim exhaustion, busy-ness, poorly used time, etc. but regardless of the reason, it just wasn't happening. There were too many days when I had a whole line of kids clamoring around me asking me what they had to do today. Not to mention the preschooler, toddler, and baby that were just, well, clamoring.

Anyway, (why can't I ever keep things short!!) for quite a while I had planned on switching to year round schooling as it was just a better fit for our family. I'm the kind of homeschooling Mom that thinks outside play, especially creative play with siblings, has tremendous "educational" value, so on those beautiful spring and fall days and warm winter days when the kids long to be outside, I love for them to be able to go out. Not to mention that southern summers are too hot for much of anything, so it makes a great time for school. I don't know about you, but my kids get b.o.r.e.d. without structure to their days and something to do. We had loosely switched to schooling year round, but the planning thing was still getting to me. I needed a solution. One that worked.

So I came up with a plan. One that so far has been working out really well. It frees up a lot of time for me and works out great with a year round schedule.

My kids each have a school planner where I write out all their daily assignments. We've done this for awhile. (This would actually be my first tip.) That way they can look at each day and see clearly what is expected of them for that day. They mark off each thing as they complete it. No question about if they're done or not.

So I used to sit down, grade work, and write out "lesson plans" weekly. That's what wasn't working out so great anymore. There needed to be more daily oversight. Who wants kids adding improperly for an entire week before it's caught? Not such a good plan.

So this is the new plan. The one that works. I plan out six weeks at a time. And I go over work daily. Or at least every other day. That way, every day's asssignments consists of correcting the previous day's work, plus the new day's work. This allows me to see on a consistent basis what topics need more review and which concepts they are getting. That in turn allows me to tailor their daily assignments to better reflect their needs.

What is really nice about this plan is that every seventh week, we get a week off school, allowing me to catch up on house stuff, errands, and to plan the next six week's worth of school. We also get more time off at Christmas, about a month off in the summer, and there's plenty of time to take I don't feel like doing school today days "sick" days or whatever you want to call them. It's also nice when I can get my aunt to come over and I can go out, sit down at Panera or somewhere and drink hot tea while spreading out all my stuff and doing my planning in peace.

So that would be my tip for growing families that homeschool. I'm not really sure how this will look as my kids get older and their work becomes really challenging, but maybe by then someone with older kids will have written a Help For Growing Families post for Growing Families that Homeschool Little Kids and Really Old Kids. :o)

And just so as not to add to that everyone else is a perfect homeschooler except me lie that I'm convinced every homeschool Mom believes, if you read my previous post, you would know that this time I procrastinated all week long and let the kids watch tv and then I feverishly planned everything out on Sunday, while scarfing down ridiculous amounts of candy. While bribing paying my kids to clean the house. Just so we're clear here that plans are just, you know...plans. I don't want to be one of those homeschooling Moms that is an unattainable picture of perfection :o)

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not me monday~

I stumbled upon another meme that looked like it would be fun to participate in (here is me grinning sheepishly.) Seeing as how blogging allows me to present my life exactly how I want you to see it, and not necessarily what it's really like around here, I've kind of been making an effort in every day life to let people know that my home and my mothering is not a model of perfection. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. So anyway, I thought it might be kind of fun to participate ;o) It's hosted by MckMama at My Charming Kids, who is kind of a kindred spirit as she just had her fourth baby in five years of marriage. Her newest baby, Stellan, was completely and miraculously healed of a serious heart condition. It's worth your time to go over there and browse around. She has a great personality, it's lots of fun to read her blog.


This week it did not take us four nights to get through the new Indiana Jones movie because I kept falling asleep. Not me...

I did not keep falling asleep because I stayed out at my friend's house after book club until 1am knowing that I could nap the next day because my fabulous sister was taking and picking up my kids from school. I would never be so irresponsible.

I did not go to five stores after a homeschool moms group on Thursday night looking to replace a Signing Time video that occupies Haven for ridiculous amounts of time so I can get things done teaches Haven a valuable skill that he just happens to love. Oh no, not me.

I did not sneak in a massage and a manicure (and not tell anyone) on Wednesday when my aunt was keeping my kids so I could "run errands" and get pregnancy blood work done. I'm not sneaky like that.

I did not make my bed for the first time in a month because my family was coming over for birthdays. You guys know my house is spotlessly clean all the time. I'm Wonder Woman, remember?

I did not eat an entire bag of sour lifesaver gummies and then some peanut m & ms yesterday while planning the next six weeks of school. There were raw veggies in that bag. Promise.

I did not lie there pretending to be asleep when Haven woke up during the night this week. Moms never do things like that.

I didn't go all week without a shower because I was just too busy, and I did not wash my hair in the sink where it might clog up the disposal. Not me.

I didn't convince my husband to go out to dinner and dessert Friday night so I wouldn't have to cook so we could visit with my Dad who we hadn't seen in a few months.

I did not go to sleep without brushing my teeth twice this week because I was just so tired.

I did not skip the women's expo at church because I was afraid I would hurt my friends' feelings if I didn't buy their stuff. (Sorry guys, I kind of have issues with stuff like this. *sigh*)

I did not finish the chocolate birthday cake during breakfast last week when no one was looking. Not me, I wonder where it went?

I did not throw all the questionable sippy cups in the sink for Anna and Caleb to deal with when they clean up. Not me. I don't do things like that. That would be mean, and I'm never mean.

I do not give Haven a handful of mini m&ms after dinner most nights so that I can have a few more minutes before he gets down and starts running around everywhere.

I'm not sitting here eating peanut m&ms because I never put them away last night.

I'm not sitting here wasting time when I should be doing something productive. Oh no, my house is totally clean, dinner is in the crockpot, and my children are outside harvesting fresh vegetables from our fall garden. Really.

I didn't let the kids watch tv all week since I was exhausted from camping, the time change, and staying out too late two nights.

I didn't take the whole week off from school for "school planning week" and then wait until Sunday to do all of it. Not me. I am. on. top. of. things...don't ya know?

I am not still on my chips dipped in pickle juice kick. Not me.

I do not drink 3qts of tea a day.

I do not put so much lemon in my water that it's unsweetened lemonade and looks like dirty water.

I did not blow my nose on the bottom edge of my shirt during the night because I forgot to get out new kleenex. That would have been gross. I got up, retrieved a a new box, and did things properly. Promise.

I did not get into a borderline catty email fight with a woman who refuses to let me try her "miracle vitamins" unless I listen to her hour long mlm speech. Not me.

I did not sort, fold, and put all the girl clothes in drawers this week, a full five and a half months before the baby is due. That was not me. I'm not obsessive like that.

I did not pay my children a combined total of $20 yesterday to do all the deep cleaning jobs. Didn't you know my full name is Shyla June Cleaver?

I've not already had hot tea, lemon water, two pieces of toast, a bowl of chicken soup, and a ridiculous amount of m&ms already this morning. And I am not getting ready to eat a turkey sandwich with chips dipped in pickle juice. I don't get weird pregnancy cravings

.I am not sitting here ignoring the fact that my children have all disappeared and it's technically school time. Oh no, I never do things like that.

And I am not sitting here extraordinarily happy that my sister is not going to California so she can take my kids to and from school tomorrow. I'm really sad for her, even though she gets to fly for free and just went to France. Poor girl.

And as a result, I'm not going to have to convince their teachers that I, not my sister, is really my children's mother because since the whole bedrest thing happened she has taken and picked them up from school every week. Not me. I'm the involved parent.

What did you not do?

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09 November 2008

over the river and through the woods
great smoky mountains national park
2008 october

I finally managed to confiscate Glen's camera so I could retrieve the pictures of our trip this past weekend.

We went to East Tennessee, and stayed just outside Gatlinburg. We've always stayed in State Parks before, but this time we chose a Jellystone Campground. They advertised kids' activities (craft time, flat football, hayride, etc.) and it looked like a nice spot. Their website is upfront about them being Christian owned, so we thought it would be nice to support a Christian family-owned place. During craft time Satruday morning, Glen asked
the mom of the bunch what had brought them to Tennessee (she had told us her husband had formerly been a chief of police somewhere in California.) Her answer was that God brought them, so that was kind of cool. It is owned by her and her husband, and her two sons and daughter in law help run the campground. While it was nice, we happened upon some beautiful state parks nearby with river front spots, so I think we'll probably go that route next time. We had expected the entire area to be crowded due to the fall colors and beautiful weather, but were pleasantly surprised that there were only maybe four other families at the campground, and not too many people in the actual park area. I guess not many people go camping Halloween weekend.

As I mentioned earlier, camping in a pop up doesn't seem like *real* camping to me. We've camped plenty of times in a tent with little ones, but I will admit, it was very nice having a camper. We've never gone more than two nights before, and this time we went for three. It would have been so much harder if we had taken the tent. Although mid day warmed up nicely, the mornings, evenings, and of course nights were chilly (nights were close to freezing, not so good for Haven, Mr. I Like My Bed and If You Don't Give It To Me Right Now I'll Make Your Life Miserable.) There is a little nook where the table area is, and if we removed the table and layered blankets down between the seating area, it was remarkably like a pack n play. It took him a few minutes to accept it as his bed, but after that snuggled down and slept great. Anna,
Caleb, and Moriah slept on one of the beds, Glen, Noah, and I slept on another, Haven got the table area, and Ethan claimed the sofa pull out bed. I remarked to Glen that we could easily get at least three more kids in it comfortably ;o) It was quite warm and cozy, and I've kind of missed everyone snuggled up all together. And Ethan did not fall out of the bed the first night. Oh no, not Ethan.

Our Camping Trip in Photos
because I know you guys can't get enough of my adorable children :o)

Haven in his bed area before we made it into his bed,
he didn't sleep on top of the stove ;o)

Our two littlest guys in pjs with cold noses.

Our stout warriors preparing to brave the *easy* hike

Parenting Tip #11

When officials lable hiking easy, moderate, or strenuous,
they are not accounting for families with multiple preschoolers, pregnancy, or double strollers.

Boys will be boys...

Taking a little break on the way up. See my tummy?
That's *all* baby...Really, I promise ;o)

Success! Was it worth it? Who knew two miles could be SO FAR??!!

Yes, we took a tv and had movie night.
Mom and Dad can only roast so many marshmallows in the cold before alternative arrangements become necessary.
It was either bedtime at 7pm or movie night. I know, I know, the hardships of "camping."

All in all, it was a very nice trip. The time change threw us off quite a bit, especially already being an hour ahead of our normal time, but it was still very nice. This coming Friday is Christmas Village, a tradition the girls in our family have been keeping since I was a baby, so Glen is thinking about taking the boys out somewhere close by. Personally, I think he's just still wanting to play with his new toy.

Although I feel as if I've caved, I doubt we'll ever go back to the tent. The conveniences of shower, toilet, beds, heating and air, sink, microwave, toaster, and stove are just too...convenient. Anyone want to buy a really nice, big, two room tent?

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05 November 2008

journal: october 2008

Because I know you've all been holding your breath...

October found me off bedrest, thank you, Lord! For the first couple of weeks I was only supposed to do "light activities" which is extremely hard to define, especially when you're taking care of and homeschooling six children. Gee whiz.

"How important *is* this dirty diaper? Hmmm, no one is around, which means I'll have to lift Haven, is it worth it?"

"Do I let the trash overflow, or go ahead and lift it out? It's too heavy for Caleb to lift out of the can, and Glen won't be home for six hours. Fruit flies...hmmmm."

"I'm thinking a bath at 8:30am and naptime at 9 definitely falls into the light activities category."

"Dinner? Definitely *not* a light activity."

"Mopping? Are you serious? At least the sticky floors slow the kids down."

All joking aside, I am so thankful that everything turned out fine. It was a very intense six weeks, though.

Midway through the light activities phase, I was having some pretty noticeable cramping, which I really thought was probably an irritable uterus due to being pregnant for over half my adult life, but thought I probably should have checked out. (Plus I wanted to get another peek to see if "she" had grown any boys parts.) I went in, my assumption was correct, their first girl assessment was correct (yay!), and I was released to normal activity since the hemorrhage was completely gone! Glen promptly planned the camping trip.

I have got to do better with writing down what I do every day. I used to keep up with this so well, but since I switched my calendar, grocery list, meal planning, etc. to my palm program instead of a paper planner, my daily event journaling has gone down the drain. I think I'm going to pick up a little planner so I can keep up with this better. I don't hardly remember anything except highlights.

I remember Haven had a horrible diaper rash. I finally figured out he just needed good old zinc oxide, but this took me a good four days of trying other more natural methods. Sometimes I think I just need to stick with what works. We were finally able to go to church again, which was great. I was am tired all the time, and a 9 am naptime has pretty much become the norm. This is always the norm when I'm pregnant. The big kids are allowed to have quiet time, so they don't really care when it happens, and the little kids get up early enough that they are ready for a nap at 9, so it works for us. Glen sold a couple of trailers, and a bobcat, so we used some of that money to buy a pop up camper. Going to get it was an event, and it was one of those God things. The entire day worked out perfectly, literally to the minute, and they were a fun Christian couple with four kids who hit it off fabulously with our kids. We stayed at their house just visiting until after 10pm. They said they had been praying for it to end up with the perfect family, and after camping in it for four days, I have to say it *is* perfect for us. I'm going to write about camping later, though. We were finally able to get back into our weekly routine of the kids taking turns with me to do errands. This usually gives us almost an entire day together, one on one, and we all missed it. Glen and I were also able to have a date night, which was free thanks to a gift card from our sweet neighbors to a very nice Mexican place, and a Cheerios rebate gift card to the movies. I was also able to have a night out to dinner and dessert with my sisters. Our "pet" skunk finally met its end. It was becoming too close for comfort, too bold, and we realized it had a mate. We most definitely did not want baby skunks. Just a helpful hint: shooting a skunk *does* stink. It's a good thing it was right before we left for camping. The smell was gone when we returned.

I'm not feeling sick anymore at all, which is great. This really confirmed to me it was probably a girl as with my boys I stay pretty sick until 16 or 17 weeks, so when I hit 12 this time and I felt better pretty much overnight, I realized it probably *is* a girl as I didn't feel sick nearly as long with my girls. I don't think this is how it is for everyone, it's just how it's been for me. I am still tired, more like exhausted, and my body is pretty much just sore all the time, and I have a lot of cramping and braxton hicks which is pretty normal for a seventh pregnancy. I've also started to feel the baby move on occassion which is always sweet. My stomach literally popped out overnight (this is how it always happens for me) a week and a half ago. I go from not really looking pregnant at all, wearing normal clothes, to being obviously pregnant (as in people have no qualms about mentioning it) and wearing maternity clothes. It's always nice to actually *look* pregnant and not just fluffy :o)

Haven finally cheered up a little. He is such a sweetie and a cuddler, and always has been, but he is also very serious (has been since birth) and could be borderline grumpy. I think he went through some kind of transition in physical and cognitive development which caused him to be in one of those frustrated with life stages babies seem to go through. He's pretty much come through it, though, which makes life easier. He also got in four teeth. My kids get teeth in masse, and Haven has had a particularly hard time with them.

October and November are always the invasion of the ladybugs. Once the weather turns cooler, on the warmer days (which we have a lot of here), the ladybugs come out. Cute, you say? Uh uh. No way. One ladybug, maybe. Hundreds...gross. Nasty. Awful. Thankfully, we only get them in two locations of our house, some people get them all over. They stink. Bad.

The last weekend of the month found us with a problem we encounter every year. The great birthday pile up. Anna's birthday always falls during our vacation week, and then when we return it's time for school to start. Then the end of September is Moriah and Glen's birthdays. For some reason, every year, life is such that their parties get put off. Last year, we didn't celebrate them until like February. This year we finally got around to it in October. I'm embarassed to admit it, but we hadn't yet had Noah's family party either. So we celebrated Noah, my grandmother, my sister Dyana, my sister Kristen, Anna, Glen, and Moriah's birthdays. And this was just my side of the family. Talk about cake and presents! Sheesh. Anna had a gluten free cookie cake, Moriah had a chocolate regular cake, and Noah had a gluten free white cake. So I spent the morning baking, Glen and the kids spent the morning cleaning :o) Yes, even the birthday kids had to help. Gee, if I'd let them off the hook I would have lost half my cleaning crew, people. In all seriousness, if having so many kids has taught me anything, one of my biggest lessons has been letting go of my perfectionism. I have a long way to go, but I have been slapped upside the head with the reality that I really can't do it all. At least not all in the same week anyway :o)

Have I mentioned Moriah's not so much a girly girl? She is the best skateboarder in our house, hands down! She had been wanting a skateboard of her own with pads for months.

My clean living room. I couldn't resist, it's been so long. If you imagine me over there on the couch with my laptop or pile of school books and a pile of toys all over the floor you would have a more accurate picture of real life. :o)

Moriah does have a sweet spot for dogs, though, and had been wanting a pet doctor kit for awhile. That's my sister Dyana and her new baby, Addyson, peeking over her shoulder.

With a grin like that I'm surprised he doesn't get everything he wants. It's a good thing he's number five!

If he ever figures out just how cute he is, we're all in trouble. That's my sister Kristen (aka our Nanny) in the corner and her friend, Ives.

Anna's a little more subdued. All she wanted were gift cards and money. The other night she and Kristen had a sleepover and Kristen took her shopping the next day. We'll also have a girls' night out with my sisters, my aunt, Anna, and myself as one of Anna's birthday gifts. My sisters and I regularly go out together, so Anna looks forward every year to getting to go out with us.

Moriah's skateboarding dog cake.

Noah's Mickey Mouse & Pluto cake. Anna drew the Pluto, didn't she do a great job?

Anna's cookie cake.

Our beautiful October view.

Two of my guys. Aren't they handsome? I am so in love.

Happy October!

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"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November