Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas? Bring it on.

Pin It The Thanksgiving leftovers are all eaten and the thankfulness is all gone.  It's time for the season of greed, which creeps up closer and closer every year.  I really prefer some time between the thankfulness and the greed, but with stores enticing buyers with fabulous sales earlier and earlier every year, eventually Thanksgiving will be eclipsed altogether and we'll be left with nothing but the greed.  It's sad, isn't it? 

And don't think it doesn't affect me too.  I wavered all week last week about Black Friday shopping or not.  I love me a good bargain, and really I'm a dream for a store.  Not only do I love a good bargain, I've also got a fair amount of the impulse shopper in me, so while I'm on the good bargain high, I will certainly find thirty not so great bargains that I simply must have as well.  Hair beader?  Gotta have it.  23 different flavors of lip gloss which one nameless child will find and probably use as glue to stick artwork to the wall?  Definitely need it.

I think for the first time in my life, I am actually seeing this about myself and am REALLY trying to make a list, get what I need, and not be tempted.  Yesterday I went to one of my favorite stores with a very short list of things to buy.  Although it was tempting, I actually left with the things on my list and only the things on my list.  Success.  I do suspect it had a little bit to do with the three children with me and yucky weather and a growling stomach, but hey, whatever it takes, right?

I was serious when I said a week or so ago that I want it to be different this year.  We are debt free and I wish to remain that way.  We have a lot of stuff (which is getting pared down - Woot!!) and we really do not need to bring a lot more STUFF into this house.  The little one is now five and my plan today while the girls are doing their schoolwork and he is at school is to continue to sort through his toys and find new homes for the remaining baby and little boy toys that are hiding out in his dresser.

I am about 75% done with the Christmas shopping.  As always, there are several gifts that I am very excited to give this year.  I really do enjoy shopping and trying to find something special for the people I love.  I love knowing what my children want and finding it for them, and I love surprising them as well.  I love Christmas!

We are going to be reading a series of Advent or Jesse Tree devotions this year.  We did this several years ago and then kind of let if fall by the wayside the last few years.  I don't know why - we all loved it.  I love that it gives us a focus, to see the Lord's prophesy in motion, to take some quiet moments with the children to let them know that trees and presents are fun - and there's nothing wrong with them - but to see that there is more to the story.  So much more.  I want this to become a tradition for us, not just a "hey, let's do that devotion thing again this year!" but a deep desire to enjoy the season and to reflect on the deeper meanings.  If you are looking for that too with your family, here are two fabulous helps  - with devotions and plans and ornaments.  I don't know about you, but I'm BUSY this time of year.  We don't stop school, and December is always full of extra activities, so anything that makes planning easy on me is a good thing.

My blogging friend Maggie has this Advent devotional guide:  Celebrating the Season - An Advent Study

And then there is this one also, by Ann Voskamp:   A Jesus Advent Celebration

I'm sure there are hundreds more out there too, but these two are both fabulous.

So, Christmas?  Bring it on.  I'm ready.  Let's do it a little differently this year and REALLY celebrate Christmas. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Little "Not Me"?

Pin It Oh I need to tell y'all a few things that didn't happen over the last week!

First of all, it was not me that ate very lightly on Thanksgiving.  Because it appears that in the USA, we are thankful for gluttony as much as anything else right?  So, yeah, I ate lightly on Thanksgiving.  I really did.  I did not therefore, decide that each broken cookie must be consumed, by me, as quickly as possible.  And apparently?  Raspberry thumbprint cookies, the very best cookies on earth, do not travel well, so there were lots of broken ones.  And if I had eaten about 47 broken cookies, I would not call it a sacrifice and a pride issue rather than gluttony, because it is not me who would have an issue serving broken cookies.  To my parents.  So yeah, great that I took a tiny piece of turkey and then consumed 7897312 calories worth of broken cookies.  It was also not me who considered every cookie with a crumb broken off to be completely broken and unfit for consumption by anyone but me.  Just so you know, and I'm very glad that wasn't me.

May I pick on my husband for a moment?  In the rush to get up and get out the door Thanksgiving morning, several of us did not forget to eat.  He did not, therefore, stop along the way and buy a bag of cookies.  There weren't about eight dozen cookies already in the car, by the way.  Eight dozen homemade cookies, which everyone knows are MUCH better than chips ahoy.  :-P

I did not take four children (my three plus my niece) to Kohl's the day before Thanksgiving and then lecture them in the parking lot about asking for things.  And if I had, I certainly would not have dragged them through the store while I impulse shopped ... for myself.  Nope, not me.

And while we were out, we certainly did not go to the BIG grocery store the day before Thanksgiving to pick up a few things.  That would be just plain nuts because everyone knows that as crazy as Black Friday shopping is, the day before Thanksgiving grocery shopping is the exact same thing without the great deals.  No way would I voluntarily take four kids into that.  Glad that wasn't me.

It absolutely was not me that turned my daughter's Thanksgiving "let's go around the room and say what we're thankful for" into a math problem.  That would entirely suck the fun out of her activity and there is no way I would request that she compile the answers into a graph and figure up percentages.  Nope, not me.

And last one ... I am so glad that it wasn't me who sent texts to my daughter and niece to tell them to be quiet and go to sleep.  Because that would be just plain lazy, and I am never lazy.  (choke, gasp)  Glad that wasn't me!

What haven't you done this week?

Friday, November 26, 2010

1000 Gifts - 31 - 40

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holy experience

31.  For a really nice Thanksgiving spent with family.

32.  For silly girls who want to show off everything they have learned at dance this year. 

33.  For mashed potatoes.

34.  For cats who provide just the right amount of warmth and snuggling on cold days.

35.  For being able to find a great deal online for someone's "something they want" and being able to avoid Black Friday shopping altogether.

36.  For being able to eat well but not completely gorge myself yesterday.  ;)

37.  For green beans in the dishwasher, which really isn't the best place for them, but gave us quite a few giggles yesterday.

38.  For my niece, who spent the first part of the week with us.  The three girls all got along very well the entire time, and I am just thankful that my nieces (and nephews) enjoy coming to hang out with us.

39.  For raspberry thumbprint cookies.

40.  For the beginning of the Christmas season, and renewed focus on what it's really about, and for very high hopes for each one of us to experience the JOY of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankfulness A - Z

Pin It I am totally stealing this from my friend Shabby Shae!  What a cool idea!  I'm taking an easy week in every area of my life ... except the laundry, darn it, because the laundry just isn't going to do itself ... and blogging falls into the easy week category.  I'm glad for friends whose posts I can copy!  ;)

A -- for apple and sausage stuffing, which I will be having this week
B -- for my sweet boy who has made me LOVE being mom to a boy!
C -- for crisp, cool fall days.  I hope we have some again soon.
D -- for daughters who are sweet and kind and giggly.
E -- for eggs, which I have just about every morning for breakfast.
F -- for fabulous friends who have been such a blessing to me.
G -- for my grandparents, even though they are all gone now.  I am so thankful to have had them in my life.
H -- for a husband who realizes when my limit is reached and steps in.
I -- for in-laws who make me laugh and understand my husband a little better.
J -- for Jelly Belly jelly beans.
K -- for kids - kids of all ages!  There is a certain delight in every age, and somehow I can say every different stage has been my favorite.
L -- for lunches with friends.
M -- for mocha light frappuccinos from Starbucks.
N -- for nieces and nephews, who are a total joy to my life.
O -- for oreos, which I've had too many of lately.  Hm, maybe I'm NOT so thankful for them!
P -- for parents who love each other and love me.
Q -- for quiet Wednesday nights when I am completely alone for two hours.
R -- for rest!
S -- for really nice sheets.
T -- for taking the week off of school this week, and for being far enough along to do so guilt free!
U -- for unsweet tea with raspberry from Sonic.
V -- for vacations!  I love to plan vacations and relive the memories after.
W -- for warm baths on cold nights.  Again, if we ever had any cold nights.  ;)
X -- for eXtreme Bible study, Beth Moore-style, which is giving me an entirely new perspective on lots of things.
Y -- for You!  I feel like I've gotten to know you through both my blog and yours, and I love that!  (and yeah, I kind of stole Micah's answer here.)
Z -- for my zoom lens, which allows me to get good pics of my kids without them realizing it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

You Just Need to Listen to This!

Pin It I just love this song.  Then I saw the video.  Wow. 

The beauty of sufficient grace!

Happy Monday, friends! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up

Pin It

I've decided to link up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers with the Friday Weekly Wrap Up. This is partly to encourage ME so that I can go back on the bad weeks and see that they're not ALL bad, and to keep me humble on the good weeks because there are definitely our share of not so good weeks around here!

Okay, so this is actually a two week wrap-up.  I intended to post this last week but scheduled it to post in 2011.  Go me.

The first of this two week period was actually not one of the good weeks. It started out bad. There was some stuff that wasn't done from the previous week, and my Type A personality doesn't do so well with blanks left unfilled. Also, our schedule is a little crazy right now. We have extra drama practices with our homeschool co-op on Monday afternoons, and dance on Thursday afternoons. Half of our curriculum is five days a week and half is four days a week, so we're already having a little bit of a timing problem. Oh, and I start to twitch a little if school is not done by about 2:30.

So, you can see how all of these factors working together did not start us off well for the week.

Oh - and something I've learned. If mama starts off on the wrong foot, within about an hour, everyone is joining me in the bad mood. Faaaaabulous.

All that said though, we did end up getting everything done this week. The oldest finished The Hiding Place and I think was blessed by it, as was I. She also finished Hittite Warrior this week, and although complained about it at first, ended up very much enjoying it. She breezed through her English as well. Math was a bit more of a struggle, but it was acceptable.

The middle one has had a tough week. Sometimes our personalities clash a little, and this was one of those weeks. She is so spirited and smart, but has a little of the drama in her. LOL She ended up making it through the week much better than it started though, so all is well.

We very much enjoyed week 12 in our Creation to Christ Heart of Dakota curriculum! Their paintings of the week:

We had some great reinforcement this week! Two topics we studied during history (the life of David and the divided kingdom of Israel) were topics upon which we've heard sermons recently. Both girls recognized it when we got to it. (Woohoo for paying attention in church!) It was great to have them telling me the story before I could read it to them!

The little one is learning so much! We were reading a book and he could point out nearly all of the letters and make most of the sounds. He is starting to put some sounds together now, and I am just so proud of him! He is LOVING his preschool, and I am so very glad of it.

This past week was really a great week all the way around, despite starting out with the middle one having a stomach virus.  We have decided to tweak the schedule a little, and for yesterday, it worked well.  It's not a significant tweaking, more of a rearranging really, but hey, if it works, it works!  AND, I was able to tentatively plan out the rest of 2010, and we will end up right where I want us to be.  AND, that means!  We are taking next week off!  ALL OF IT!!  Can I get a WOOHOO?  I honestly don't know who is more excited, the kids or me.  (It's me.  No doubt.)

I hope you have all had a fabulous week as well!

1000 Gifts - 21 - 30

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holy experience

21. For a fabulous day yesterday. Loved having lunch with the little one at preschool, had a surprisingly wonderful morning, the weather was beautiful. It was just one of those days where everything went well and everyone was happy.

22.  For our Heart of Dakota curriculum.  For the first time *ever* I am enjoying history.  Did you hear that?  I. Am. Enjoying. History.  Who knew that was even possible?

23.  Starbucks Peppermint Mocha.  Yum.

24.  Sometimes I am incredibly thankful for my Type A personality that insists on a two week menu.  It's nice to just look and see what we're supposed to have for dinner.

25.  For lazy cats who are warm and snuggly.

26.  For a docile dog, whose only real vice is chewing up her bed and occasional barking.

27.  For Chick Fil A, and friends to join me and the little one for lunch today.

28.  For Beth Moore, and the Bible study Breaking Free.  It really is making me look at things differently! 

29.  For Thanksgiving coming up, and for children who are being totally flexible with the plans, and don't really care what we eat as long as we can visit with family.

30.  For the grace to think about what really matters during this Christmas season.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Homeschool Village - Thanksgiving Interview

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This ought to be fun. The Homeschool Village would like us to interview our children this week to get their perspective on Thanksgiving. Two questions:
1. What do you like most about Thanksgiving?
2. How do you describe Thanksgiving?

Answers from the middle one:
1. I like the food. I'm generally a big fan of food so that's important to me. I also like family and spending time with my cousins.

2. It was a time when Pilgrims came on the Cauliflower into America. (Yes she REALLY said cauliflower. I think I need to have a discussion with her teacher. Oh ... wait. Never mind.) They met the Indians and had a meal together. At our house, we usually go to either Grammy's or Nana and Granddaddy's house. We spend time with our family and it's really fun. There is always a BIG turkey.

From the little one:
1. Turkey! And also cookies.

2. It's about food and people. The ship is called Mayflower. (Great. Mrs. Russell is a much better teacher than I am. The five year old knows the name of the ship. The nine year old has it confused with a vegetable she won't eat. LOL!)

And from the oldest:
1. Hanging out with family. Well, that and the food.

2. Thanksgiving is a festive time of year that makes the house smell very good.

(I am really surprised that neither of the older two mentioned having the week off school. I think that might be one of the very best parts for me!)

What do YOUR children say? Link up at The Homeschool Village!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All I Want For Christmas ...

Pin It Conversation that took place in my house a few days ago:

Husband: Hey Mel? What do you want for Christmas?

Me: I think I'd like a goat. Maybe a couple of chickens too.

Husband: O_o

another conversation that took place in my house a few days ago:

Me: Kids, we have too many toys. We need to scale back. When you are incapable of cleaning your rooms because there is too much stuff for the space, that says to me that we need to a) get rid of a few things and b) not bring so much stuff into the house. So, I want you to really think about what you want for Christmas this year. Please don't give me a list with every toy you see advertised on it, because you will be sorely disappointed come Christmas morning.

Girls: O_o
Boy: Watch me jump off the furniture! (sometimes the little one has some focus issues!)

Me: Just think ... if we do a smaller Christmas, we could use some of what we would have spent to buy a goat and chickens and REALLY help a family in need. You have so much stuff, and these people do not even have sufficient food to eat!

Girls: O_o (asking each others in concerned whispers "is she serious?")

Okay, so a little artistic license was used in these conversations, although the "You are not the boss of Christmas!" was shouted at me last night by a certain five year old.

I think the Lord placed the World Vision catalog in my hand within five minutes of me discovering that the girls COULD NOT clean their room because they had more stuff than space for a reason though. I got to thinking. What if we took $100 out of our Christmas budget and gave it away? To World Vision for a goat and two chickens, or to a friend's adoption fund, or to my friends raising orphans in Kenya, or to the Salvation Army, or to a family that needs shoes and coats for their kids, or maybe a Christmas dinner, or toys to put under their tree? Would that $100 really be missed by our family? In light of the difference it could make in the life of another family?

My poor children do not get it yet. They've led pretty sheltered lives and are pretty much used to having what they want. I wouldn't necessarily call them spoiled brats, but we haven't done a fabulous job teaching them gratitude, and teaching them how very much they have, because we haven't made an effort to live with gratitude and to live like we are aware of how very much we have. I know how hard it is when you're bombarded with advertisements everywhere that show you just how much more STUFF is out there and how you need it ALL! I'm right there with them. I saw an ad last night for a coffee maker I decided that I really need. It caused an immediate dislike for the coffee maker I have, which works fine, which I seriously use about ten times a year. So yeah, I'm a rational adult who KNOWS that I'm richer than a significant portion of the world just by having sufficient (ahem, MORE than sufficient) food and clean water and a warm bed to sleep in. I know it's hard for kids who don't know that.

I really am serious though. We are going to scale back our own Christmas this year, following the "something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read" principle, and the excess that I would have spent I want to use to bless others. Hopefully the rest of my family will see it as a blessing as well.

May I challenge you to give this Christmas away, as well?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And the winner is ...

Pin It The winner of the $35 gift certificate to CSN Stores is ...

Congratulations Jo!  I'll be contacting you shortly!

(and ... giggle ... to those of you who did NOT offer to rake my pine needles, you'll be happy to know that we did it on Saturday.  Then it was windy all day Sunday, yesterday, and today, and you can't even tell anymore that it was done.  SIGH.  I'm consoling myself by saying that it would have been a pine needle blanket if we hadn't gotten ten trash bags full raked up this weekend!)

Thank you so much to CSN Stores for allowing me to do this giveaway! 

A Few Things I've Learned

Pin It Just thought I'd pass a little wisdom along. Because I like to give back like that.

1. This is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever:

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Your family would arise and call you blessed if you made this today.

2. If you happen to use bread flour rather than all purpose flour to make these cookies, they will end up tasting a whole lot like play-doh with chocolate chips.

3. Children will not even notice the play-doh flavor of the cookies and will eat them up just as if they were the normal yummiest cookies ever that you usually make.

4. Eventually the heavenly smell will overtake the play-doh taste and you will find yourself eating the cookies as well.

5. It's a good idea to check the label on the cereal before feeding it to your child who is allergic to oats. In case you're wondering, Lucky Charms are made of oats. Learned that the hard way.

6. #5 was just a random fact that was rolling around in my head and I thought I would pass it along to you. This would not at all be because I was saving my daughter from the cereal by eating it for a snack as I type.

So go make some cookies. Stay away from the bread flour though.

Recipe came from www.allrecipes.com, right here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rest (part 2)

Pin It Oh my friends, the Lord is working this out for me!!

As I mentioned in this post, I went to Bible study last week with some questions. Most of them were not only addressed, but clearly answered in the video. (Beth Moore Breaking Free.) One thing I was still mulling over though: She had said that freedom relies on our obedience to God. My question was what exactly IS obedience to God?

I know you're probably thinking "um, Melanie? This is Christianity 101!" Well, maybe. Probably even. I've been a Christian for a long time though, and just couldn't put my finger on exactly WHAT obedience looks like. It HAS to be more than just filling in my checklist of things Christians are supposed to do and thinking I'm good. I desperately want more than "do this, don't do that" because trust me, I can do that with no heart involvement at all.

I think I get so bogged down in the do's and don'ts and can do it without heart involvement at all, because ... let's face it ... sometimes it seems easier. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's painful to get down to the nitty-gritty. Laziness kicks in, or the thought that it would be tough to get through this hurt, better to just whip out a band-aid and hold up my checklist.

However, because I *KNOW* that He wants more for me than that, let's add a whole list of do's and don'ts because even if my heart isn't always in it, I'm still a good person. You can look at my checklist and see that. Right?


But God.

The question was answered:

To live victoriously, ever day we must learn to pour out our hearts to God, confess sin daily, acknowledge every hollow place, and invite Him to fill us fully! Then we need to continue to fan the flame of His love by reading Scripture, listening to edifying music, and praying often. We also need to avoid things that obviously quench His Spirit. Beloved, when you make a daily practice of inviting His love to fill your hollow places and make sure you are not hindering the process, God will begin to satisfy you more than a double cheeseburger!
From Breaking Free by Beth Moore

That's it. I have felt Him tell me that I've been making it way more complicated than it is. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. All of those other things that have weighed me down? I've piled them up there myself. That's not to say that they're bad things, they're not at all. It's just so freeing to realize the pressures I put on myself are just that - pressure I put on myself. God hasn't put that pressure on me. He just wants me to love Him, receive love from Him, and be obedient to Him.

Free indeed. Still a work in progress, still mulling it all over, but FREE.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Linky Linky Linky

Pin It Assumptions by Lysa TerKeurst -- I really just loved this!

Are You There, Wendy? from (in)courage by Wendy Willard. Can. Relate.

Restless also from (in)courage by Especially Heather. Wow. This is exactly where the Lord is working on me this week.

Esteem Yourself, Raise Hers from We Are That Family. Every mom of daughters needs to read this.

Guard Your Kids from Holiday Greed - from Courtney from Women Living Well (guest post at The Homeschool Village) Oh, how this resonated with me! The "Give This Christmas Away" theme has been rolling around in my head since the Toys R Us and World Vision Christmas catalogs arrived on the same day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

1000 Gifts - 21 - 30

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holy experience

This has been a pretty tough week. There have been some fabulous blessings along the way though, and for that, I am so thankful.

21. for M D Anderson Cancer center, where I spent a good part of the day last Friday with my mom. Stressful indeed, but we did eek out a few giggles too. Poor ... um, was it Marshall? I'm sorry that you were the source of the giggles, but grateful that you were able to distract our minds a little.

22. for something close to resolution in a situation with a friend.

23. for my Bible study, Breaking Free. I went in Sunday night with questions that were directly and specifically answered through the video. Not only that - the one specific question that she did not answer, but left me to mull over this week was addressed again in yesterday's homework. (To that end - Rest, part 2 will be appearing next week, as I process my thoughts.)

24. for girls who took me seriously when I "gently" suggested that they clean their room. (You know, gently with veins popping out all over my forehead.)

25. for friends who call and say "hey, can I come grab your son and take him to McDonald's with us?"

26. for husbands who take a load of six loud girls ages 9 - 12 to choir.

27. for a quiet house for a couple of hours, just long enough for me to refresh and feel renewed.

28. for a mistake I made on Thursday, which allowed me an hour of uninterrupted time with one of my kids.

29. for sticky chicken.

30. for Tums because my stomach didn't love the sticky chicken quite as much as my mouth did.

(Yes, I'm aware that the button and most people do the gratitude day on Monday. I might switch mine at some point, but for now it just works better to do it on Friday.) :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Homeschool Village - Thankfulness

Pin It I'm finally getting around to getting my post written! Go me. LOL

This week, The Homeschool Village would like us to dedicate our post to a blogger for whom we're thankful.

Seriously, if I did that, it would be a long, long, LONG, L.O.N.G. post. I am thankful to a ton of bloggers!

To my local blogging friends, I love to read your blogs! It's funny to me that I see you in person, some of you several times a week, and yet I find out a lot of what's going on in your lives via your blogs. Maybe it's because when I'm reading your blogs, I am focused on YOU and not thinking about what I'm going to say next, or (let's be completely honest here) I'm not trying to figure out how to turn the conversation back to me.

(Yes, I know. I really do. I'm working on my listening skills.)

(There is a certain freedom in blogging though. I find that I start typing and all sorts of stuff comes out. That's the real reason I usually write up my posts in advance. Sometimes I read the stuff I wrote later and think "OVERSHARE ALERT!!" LOL I'm betting that a lot of you have found out more about me via my blog than I've told you personally.)

To my long distance blogging friends, you have also blessed me. There are tons of times when your blogs are words fitly spoken to me. When I'm having one of those days, you know the ones, I can find blogs to make me laugh, or make me cry, or speak mercy to me, or give me a push in the right direction. I've had pity parties stopped and giggles started, or tears of repentance, or felt an arm of encouragement around my shoulders.

And not bloggers, but to my Christian Moms Forum buddies ... can't do a shoutout to long distance mamas without sending you guys a big huge cyber hug! I am so thankful for all of y'all! Again with the laughing and crying, the hugs, the kicks in the pants.

I am so thankful that the Lord put me in this circle. Both with my local friends and my long distance friends. I love you all, and thank you all for being such an encouragement to me.

(and btw ... don't forget to look down one post and enter the CSN Stores $35 gift certificate giveaway!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Giveaway!! $35 GC to CSN Stores!

Pin It Are you getting ready for Christmas? Let me help you out! I am giving away a $35 gift certificate to CSN stores!

CSN Stores is comprised of over 200 stores, and they sell EVERYTHING!! Seriously --

From Children's Backpacks:

to Toys:

to Shoes:

to Cookware:

And well, you get the idea. If you're looking for it, CSN Stores probably has it. (Oh, woohoo, I just noticed they even have Christmas decorations!)

AND, you can win a $35 gift card for anything in any of their stores!

How do you win?
Just leave a comment! If you want to tell me what you would spend it on, fabulous. If you want to tell me the name of the last book you read, equally fabulous. If you want to tell me that you'd love to come over and rake up my pine needles for me, that would be superbly awesome. ;)

If you'd like an extra entry, post about this to your blog and leave me a comment with the link.

Be sure to include an email address with your comments so I'll know where to have your gift card sent.

That's it! This giveaway will be open from today, November 10, until midnight Monday, November 15. I will post the winner on Tuesday, November 16.

Please be aware - CSN Stores ship to US and Canada only, and there may be international shipping charges to Canadian addresses.

So ... GO. Pick out what you like and get entered! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things I Need to Teach My Kids

Pin It Not an exhaustive list, but here are a few things I need to focus on teaching my children:

Which side of notebook paper to write on (like - which page is the front and which is the back.) And, speaking of notebook paper, when you are writing on it, start and stop at the red line.

That if you continually put your trash NEXT to the trash can rather than IN the trash can, it will make me LOSE MY MIND. This same principle applies to the laundry basket. It takes less than a second to open the lid, as opposed to putting stuff on top of the lid.

That if I walk by your room and can't see the floor, it's probably not a good idea to ask me to take you to Starbucks. Or Target. Or Rue 21. And it's definitely not a good idea to ask if a friend can come over.

Toilet paper roll installation. It really is easier than you think.

That if you decide not to do your schoolwork, it will not just go away. It will reappear. If you take advantage of your dad and convince him that your work is done when it's not, I will find out. This will not end well for you.

That if I say no to something, I mean it. Plus, I am very smart. If you try to skirt the rules by going to a friend's house, I will find out. This will also not end well for you.

Temper tantrums? Not a good idea. Rolling your eyes at me? Bad idea. Rolling them at me in excess of seven times in a day? Again, not gonna end well for you. Proceed with caution.

Having a door to your bedroom is a privilege. This privilege will go away if that door is slammed.

If I step on a small toy, if that toy costs less than $5, it goes in the trash. If that toy costs more than $5, it will be given away.

Putting clean, folded clothes on top of your dresser or on top of your bed, or on top of a toybox, or on the floor next to any of these things does not constitute putting your clothes away. And the corollary principle - if I find clothes on top of the hamper still folded, because it was easier to have them rewashed than to put them away, I will be angry.

When you scrape your plate after dinner, you need to make sure it goes into the trash rather than on the floor next to the trash. If it lands on the floor, you will be cleaning it up, plus whatever else happens to be next to the trash rather than in it.

(hm ... sounds like maybe we need to have a lesson or two on prepositions! This is *IN* this is *OUT*!)

But most of all, even when I want to pinch your little heads off and it's been a bad day for everyone, I do love you. ;)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rest (part 1)

Pin It This is not a typical Monday post for me. This is not a typical post for anyone I don't think. You know those "processing thoughts as I type" kind of posts? That. I have a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head and I kind of want to journal them as I'm processing them. So here ya go ...

I'm doing a Beth Moore Bible study right now, Breaking Free. I'm only about halfway through, but I'm really wanting it to stick, so I'm trying to really focus on it and figure out exactly what I need to learn from it, and changes I need to make in my life.

This week, one of the things she hit on in the homework was that there are blessings that come from obedience to God. That sounds great, and even makes sense, but what exactly does obedience to God mean? I've been a Christian for a long, long time, so I know what "spiritual disciplines" are, but I'm at a place in my life where I long for *relationship* and I'm struggling a bit with *religion*. I'm pretty good at filling in my checklist and holding it up like a report card to show that I'm doing well. Great, but what is the point if my heart isn't in it? I KNOW the Lord can speak to me even if I'm half heartedly reading my Bible, but I want more than that. I really want to WANT TO, if that makes sense; not just for my checklist, but for my heart.

Okay, so those are the thoughts that were rolling around in my mind as I went into Bible study.

We got started, and she immediately took us to Matthew 11:28-30.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I don't know if these verses do to you what they do to me. For me, every time I read them, there is a sigh of relief and a feeling of a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. The whole theme of this lesson was rest. You may have noticed that I am a person who puts a lot of pressure on myself, and likely on those around me as well. It's difficult to rest because there's always something that needs to be done. One phrase Beth Moore said has just kind of screamed at me: the captivity of activity. Oh yes. That is where my struggle is.

There is more to this, but this is enough for now. I'll add to it later this week, after I've done a little more processing. I just wanted you to start the week as I am, with a sigh of relief and a weight lifted off of your shoulders.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Friday, November 5, 2010

1000 Gifts - 11-20

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holy experience

11. Having a fun family day on Tuesday, when we went to the Renaissance Festival.

12. The gorgeous flowers Jim gave me on Monday to celebrate our 14th anniversary (which was actually Tuesday, but we were gone all day on Tuesday.)

13. Giving myself permission to take a very easy week as far as school goes. We decided to do our Heart of Dakota curriculum and nothing else this week, and it's been nice!

14. The UTI has left the building.

15. My copy of Toy Story 3 should be here tomorrow.

16. The fall/winter clothes have been pulled out and sorted for the middle child. Hers are always the hardest because she grows slowly, so we have to try on stuff from last year, plus there are always hand-me-downs from big sister.

17. Aforementioned hand-me-downs from big sister cuts my shopping by 1/3.

18. Passing the homeschool mantle to my dear husband for tomorrow while I go out of town - ALONE - overnight.

19. Pulling three pairs of jeans out of the "someday" bin and discovering that someday is today because they fit!

20. All of the halloween candy is now out of my house! (Nope, not saying where it went, but at least it's no longer here to tempt me.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Field Trip Report! Renaissance Festival

Pin It We had such a fabulous time at the Renaissance Festival!

We got there just in time to see some jousting. My little one was almost upset watching it. "It's very cool mama, but is he dead?" I think there was much relief when he got up!

Renaissance Festival MUST. Turkey leg! Woohoo!

They learned how to play the stick game. I'm sure it has a real name, but I don't know what it is.

Very cool matching socks. Or maybe not so much on the matching.

Now please pound the snot out of your sister. REALLY? Look at the total delight in both of their faces! He won one round, she won the other.

LOVE the expression on his face in the big huge swing!

End of the day family portrait. I'm going to try to take Christmas card pics soon, but if I can't get something that I really like, this pic may be coming to a Christmas card near you!

We really did have such a good time! We watched the blacksmith, the glass blower (FASCINATING!) and the candle maker, plus saw the birds of prey expedition and did a few more rides. We met friends there, then caught up with some other friends, and then spent the evening with friends. The weather started out so rainy and awful but it ended up a very cool, pleasant day. Fabulous field trip!

The Homeschool Village - Online Communities

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This week at The Homeschool Village, they'd like us to share why we're thankful for online communities.

Oh, easy! I love my online communities! I have been so blessed through getting to know people online. When we lived in Bryan, TX, just after getting married, I had NO friends. I was a stay at home wife with no friends. Very lonely place to be! I joined a couple of yahoogroups and had some contact with the outside world through them. Then some of those groups spun off into smaller groups and I was able to really get to know some of the ladies. I've only met a few of them in real life, but I am so thankful for these women, and count them as true friends.

Now I'm a member of a few other online communities, and they are just such a blessing to me! The best thing about online groups is that there is always someone there. Having a crisis? Someone will be online to pray with you. Need encouragement? Someone will have been there and done that and lived to tell about it. Just need to giggle? We can certainly do that too!

I do love my "in real life" friends, and I am incredibly thankful to God for these ladies who are walking through life beside me, but I am also incredibly thankful for my online friends, and the communities that have grown these friendships. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Things

Pin It Two things you should know about me if you happen to be driving a car in which I'm a passenger at night:

1. My depth perception, which isn't fabulous during the day, completely leaves at night. So, if there are brake lights in front of me, I probably can't correctly judge the distance, and will freak out if I don't feel like you are applying your own brake in sufficient time. This freak out may or may not include a panic attack on my part. It also may or may not include me causing a panic attack on your part.

2. I have bovineophobia. I also have it's closely related cousin, deerophobia. I had actually recovered from a serious case of deerophobia after an unfortunate situation when I was in college, but contracting bovineophobia has caused the deerophobia to relapse. Badly. I suspect that I may have bigdogophobia and raccoonophobia as well.

These two conditions, when combined, make for a less than pleasant traveling companion on dark roads at night.

My new life motto? It is what it is.

If you happen to be the driver, either come prepared with xanax (for ME, not you because if you're planning to drive after taking xanax, we might need to add a number 3 up above), or just know that you're driving around with a basket case for a passenger, and extend me some grace.

(And thanks to my dear husband for not rolling his eyes too many times at me last night as we drove home from a super fun day! Field trip report and pictures to share later!)