Friday, August 31, 2012

Fifty-Two Weeks of New




See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
~Isaiah 43:19


God has been speaking a lot to me over the past six months about doing something new in my life.  I keep hearing over and over Isaiah 43:19- God is doing a new thing.  I've been thinking for a while about it, wondering what He could mean.  I've played around with an idea, spent time making up a list, and then discarded it as life got busy.  But the idea just keeps resurfacing, begging me to take it on.  I call it:

Fifty-Two Weeks of New  

Basically it is where try or do something new once a week every week for a year.  It can be something small--like trying a new food.  It can be something big--like going skydiving.  The point is that it doesn't matter so much what it is, just that it's something I've never done or tried before.

Why would I want to do something like this?

I've mentioned before how easy it is for me to get in a rut where I always do the same thing and don't want to step out and do something new.  But that it is essential for growth and maturity to continually step out of my comfort zone and do new things.

To say yes when I want to say no.  To sample that weird looking food even if I think it looks gross.  To jump off the cliff when I am comfortable standing on solid ground.  To challenge myself to do things that seem scary just to get over my fear.  I will be posting every Friday about what I've done each week that was new.

My first challenge is a bit of a doozy for me.  I signed my kids up for a co-op this year that requires the parent to either teach a class or assist with a class in order to get the fees waived.  I originally agreed to assist with teaching an art class.  Art-easy.  Give the kids some paint and paper and you're all set.  Assist-easy.  Someone else is in charge and I just help her.

But then I was asked by the co-op director if I would be willing to lead a class since there were a few key classes without a teacher.  I told her no.  I have never done a co-op before.  I wanted to get my feet wet before taking something that big on.

Over the next week, the idea to teach a class just kept festering in my brain.  Every day the thought just kept coming back--I should teach a class.  Every day I checked the blog to see if the classes had teachers yet to appease my mind.  No teachers.

The director then emailed me asking if I would assist with two classes.  I thought about it, prayed about it, and decided that I needed to take the plunge.  I emailed her back and offered to lead a class instead.

I immediately had buyers remorse.  I came up with a hundred reasons why I shouldn't lead a class.  And then I remembered that idea I had, the one where I did something new every week for a year.  I knew this was the perfect springboard for my challenge.  It was time to say yes when I wanted to say no.  To try something that I didn't want to try.  To jump when I wanted to stay.  To do something that terrified me to prove that I could do it.

I met with my assistant earlier this week to make up our lesson plans for the first five weeks.  I usually am really nervous when meeting strangers.  I always get stomach aches when I do something new that scares me--like teaching a class.  Yet I had no fear about the meeting.  My stomach was calm the entire day leading up to the meeting.  I felt at complete peace, confident that I was doing what God wanted me to do.  I left the meeting excited about the class and the fun things that we had planned.

One of my assignments was to find materials to make twelve swords out of for a unit on knights.  I had ordered bookcases that were delivered last night and when I opened the box, I found long pieces of thick styrofoam that were perfect for turning into swords.  I was so excited about it that my kids thought I was crazy.  I thanked God right then for sending me the materials I needed and took it as a sign of God's blessing on this endeavor.

It almost makes me look forward to the next fifty-one challenges I have in my future.  And no, none of them will involve eating bugs.  That's just gross.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

22 Pounds of Ground Beef...




This is my tip for the day.  When you find a great deal on something, buy lots.

I was looking through the circulars on Sunday and glanced at the one for Gordon Food Service.  They had ground beef on sale for $1.89!  The cheapest I've seen in a while in the stores is around $2.50, and that's for the clearance meat.  Of course I had to go and buy my own ten pound tube of it.  I came home and threw it in the fridge to be parceled into one pound quantities later.

Yesterday I did my normal grocery shopping and by habit checked the meat coolers for clearanced meat deals.  I saw packages of ground beef marked down to $2.04.  I thought about the ten pounds of meat I had in my fridge.  I hemmed and hawed.  And then I decided ten pounds just wasn't enough.  Whenever I find beef around $2.00 a pound, I have to stock up.  Besides, I had run completely out of ground beef and needed to restock.  My freezer may already be busting at the seams, I may have no idea how I am going to fit all that new meat in, but the price was rock bottom and I needed it, so I bought twelve more pounds.

I brought the meat home and got to work dividing it up into one pound quantities to be used later.  My freezer may be stuffed to capacity.  It may look like a lot of meat in one place.  But it saves the food budget a lot of money in the long run.  Twenty-two meals have been provided for at a rock bottom price.

My Hubby has been saved from having to eat ground turkey (not his favorite) for those times when I can't find ground beef for cheap.  This past spring when we ran out of our stock-up of beef, I just didn't serve beef for a while (probably a month) until Hubby one day asked me very kindly if I would please just spend the extra $1.50 a pound and buy some beef.  It hurt, but I bought it anyway.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paging Mommy

Our repurposed phones that are now our intercom system

When we first bought our house over five years ago, our office was in the basement where it is now.  While it's been over three years since we've had a basement office, the one thing both Hubby and I remember the most was always yelling back and forth through the house.  Hubby suggested we buy an intercom system to cut down on the yelling.  

I was researching intercom systems online and wasn't having a lot of luck at finding something well rated that wasn't outrageously expensive.  As I thought about it, I started wondering if our old phones would work despite us ditching our land line this past winter.  I pulled the phones out, charged them up, and then tested the intercom system out.  Sure enough, they worked.  

A free, reliable, did I mention free intercom system.

Then I had the bright idea to teach my kids how to use it so they would be able to answer when I call down to the basement when they're using the computers.  We practiced both calling the other phone and answering when the phone got paged.  The kids loved it.  A little too much.

Today I have spent maybe a half hour on the computer total.  In that half hour, I have been called no less than twenty times.  I have been called to tell me that they are done with breakfast, that they are done getting dressed, that Lizzy is playing on the piano too hard, that the toilet isn't flushing right, just to say hello, to tell me they love me, that they are done doing their chores, to tell me they are really done doing their chores now, that David is outside mowing the lawn, etc, etc, etc.  

Maybe an intercom system wasn't the brightest idea I've ever come up with after all.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Big Moving Project

After three days and a little blood, a lot of sweat, and thankfully no tears, the office is now in the basement and David's room is upstairs.  (If you missed Friday's blog, we had to move David out of the basement after the discovery of mold.  Not so good for his allergies and asthma.)  At one point in the middle of the project, I looked around my house and realized that almost every single room in my house was destroyed.  

I had part of a bed in my kitchen



Drawers, blankets and office chairs in my living room



Desks, a dresser, a mattress, and computer parts in the playroom


And total chaos in the office and David's bedroom.


I started to feel a little like this project was never going to get done.

Hubby stayed home from work on Monday because he was sick, so he was able to to help me with the biggest furniture, but I moved the bulk of it with a little help from David when I needed someone to help me push things up the stairs or direct things around the corner into his new bedroom.

It was a lot of work, but I am very happy with the results.  Our new office is almost twice the size of the old one.  Where we used to be all on top of each other in a tiny room with too many work stations, now we all have our own space with plenty of room to get around without tripping over things.  

Hubby's desk, the kids' desk and then my area

My area-Computer desk and sewing/office work desk

David's room is still a work in progress as his dresser is currently out of commission until we figure out what to do about the mold on it.  Plus I haven't switched the closets over yet, so his closet is full of school books, craft supplies, and guitars while the office closet is full of toys.  While David wishes he was still in the basement bedroom with a lock on his door to keep his sisters out, he is happy with his new room and knows that it's much better for his asthma.  

David has already broken in his new bedroom with the train tracks

And no, I have no plans to repaint the office to get rid of the car wall.  Maybe in a few years when I get back my energy after all that moving.

Now all we need is for the UPS man to deliver our switch so we can hook up all the computers to the internet.  Right now we are fighting over the one network cable and our one wifi-capable laptop (I stole the cable and hooked up my computer the second Hubby left for work this morning).  I admit, it is nice to be able to tell the kids that sorry, you can't play on the computer.  They aren't hooked up to the internet.  But since we need them for the start of school next week, that excuse won't last for long.

 

Friday, August 24, 2012

When Mold Gets You Down

"Mom, is it normal for my wooden race track to have hair on it?"

"What?"

"I pulled out my race track and it has hair on it.  Will you come look at it?"

"Sure."

I go downstairs to David's room to see what he's talking about and find this:

And yes, you are seeing right.  There really were little white bugs crawling in it.  Blah!

"Oh my goodness!  No!  That's not normal!"

I pulled out his dresser and found mold up the wall, on the carpet, on the bottom of his dresser.  I couldn't do anything about it because Joy's birthday party was starting in ten minutes, so I told him to stay out of his room, shut the door and walked away.  

Our poor, expensive, really sturdy dresser

After the party I spent an hour on the internet looking up the many different varieties of mold trying to identify what we were dealing with.  While I couldn't identify what mold it was, I was able to determine what it was not.  It definitely was not the bad black mold.  Wew!  

Regardless, I started feeling pretty down about it.  Now we needed to get my asthmatic, allergy-ridden child out of his basement bedroom and move him to the main floor office.  Awesome.  I know how much Hubby loves furniture moving projects especially when it involves moving all of the computers, the internet cables, the modem, etc.

We also had to deal with the mold.  Hubby called me from work to say hi and I told him what was going on. He talked to a coworker who knew about such things who told him what to do.  He came home from work and got busy.  He cut the affected carpet out, removed the carpet tack, removed the baseboard, cut out the bad drywall, emptied the dresser and flipped it upside down to dry out, and moved the dehumidifier into the room and shut the door.  We already have a good air purifier in the room so that was also running.  

Carpet, trim, and drywall removed

I had church that night and at first had a hard time getting into the worship.  All I could think about was my torn up basement, the mold that is in the walls (there is still some on the support beams behind the drywall), all that we are going to have to do to fix it.  Then I started thinking about my dishwasher that I tried to fix but is still not cleaning the dishes very well.  Which led to my thinking about my car with the leaking rear shocks so every bump in the road goes really bump, bump.  I was making myself depressed!

The mold on the support beams.  

Then I slapped myself upside the head and started to pray.  "You are the God of my mold problem. You are the God of my broken dishwasher.  You are the God of my broken car.  You are the God of the chipped paint on the walls of my house.  You are the God of the pile of laundry I have waiting for me at home."  And so on.  

I did one big problem dumping prayer and let it go so I could focus on God instead of my problems.  Nothing was solved while I was standing there praying.  My basement is still moldy, my dishwasher is still leaving my dishes crusty, my car is still bumping along, my walls are still full of nicks and dings, the laundry unfortunately did not wash itself while I was gone.  

But I felt better knowing that God is in control even though these areas in my life feel out of control.  I don't have to stress out over my problems.  I'm not walking through them alone.  God is right by my side the entire way.  



Next week you'll get to see the results of our bedroom/office swap.  I'm sure it will involve a whole lot of purging.  Yikes!





Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fun With Masking Tape

I saw a great idea on Pinterest to use masking tape to make car tracks on the carpet.  I tucked it away for another day.  On Monday the girls were bored and complaining that they didn't have anything to do.  I was digging through the tool drawer looking for something and came across a roll of blue masking tape.  I handed the roll over to Lizzy and sent the girls to the basement.

After a few minutes they came upstairs looking for boxes, string, and toilet paper tubes.  Hours later she came and told me that she was ready for me to take a picture.  Lizzy was specially proud of her idea to use the string to make power lines.

Lizzy and Joy's creation


 Lizzy even labeled a few of the areas so there wouldn't be any confusion about what each area was.

Tide Pool and the Beach

 Over the week, David has gotten into the fun, I had to buy another roll of masking tape, and the kids have spent almost every spare moment in the basement playing with the track.  It has morphed into this.



And a new area has been added.



I'm amazed at how much fun the kids are having with their tape tracks.  I thought it would be a hit for maybe an afternoon--I had no clue that it'd entertain them for days, maybe even weeks.  It also makes me happy to see the kids using the basement playroom again after months of it sitting neglected and beyond messy.  All my efforts to clean it up were worth it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Don't Get Comfortable

A cold front has gone through my house--
What happened after bedtime when we tried to have David and Lizzy
share a bedroom after Joy was born


I live in Michigan.  Here in Michigan we have something called the four seasons.  That means that we experience the full spectrum of winter, spring, summer, and fall.  We have hot summer days and snowy winters.  We have crisp fall days that just beg for apple cider and donuts, and beautiful spring days that scream "Picnic!"

And then there is the rest of the year...when all the seasons decide to blend together...all in one day.  I call those days whiplash days because the thermostat gets whiplash from going up and down too fast.  You know, those days where you start the morning in jeans and a sweater and end the day sunning on the beach. We seem to have a lot of those days when the seasons are starting to change.

This is what happens when mom isn't paying attention.  Lizzy covered in my lipstick.
Do you think it's her color???

Being a life long Michigander, I have become used to the wide shifts in temperature and handle it with grace.  My hubby loves to tell others just how acclimated I am to the changing weather:  "She is comfortable in a wide range of temperatures...between 65-75 degrees."

Wait, what?!  That's right.  I am a weather wimp.  I hate the super hot and I dislike the super cold.  But I especially despise the whiplash days.  This year we sort of skipped spring and went straight from winter to summer leaving my poor frozen blood little time to thin out and acclimate.  We had a lot of those cold mornings that turned into hot afternoons.  I may have even complained a few times about it.

But I've learned a few things about Michigan weather.  Just when you are starting to get used to it, the weather will change.  Just as you are starting to get used to those 95+ degree days, a cold front comes in and it's back in the 70s-80s.  Just as you are getting used to those 20 degree days, spring comes and it's 60 out.  The message one can take away from living in a land of the four seasons is:

Don't Get Comfortable

I have also seen this in my own life as I've grown in being a mother.  I absolutely hate it when I have been in the kitchen for an hour doing stuff, and when I finally finish and sit down on the couch, someone comes up to me and asks for a snack or a drink of water or something that requires me to get back up.  Hello?!??!?!  I am COMFORTABLE!  I do NOT want to get up and help you.

Or when I am in the middle of eating my breakfast and someone needs help finding the right clothes to wear for the day (generally Joy).  I am eating my breakfast and it will get cold if I get up right now.  I don't want to help you find the perfect dress, I want to sit here and eat my breakfast.

Or after a long day as I am sitting down with a good book and David asks to go on  a walk.  Do I look like I want to go on a walk?  I am sitting here reading a book after being on my feet since six this morning.

Look mom!  I painted myself instead of my rock! - Joy

Or when I am in the middle of making dinner and someone comes to show me the mess they made.  Can't they see that I am cooking here?  I am focused, I am multi-tasking trying to keep dinner from burning.  No, I can't drop everything to come and clean up your mess or dinner will be ruined.

Experience has taught me that the golden rule of Motherhood is:

Don't Get Comfortable

You will always be needed right now, you will always have to get up just as you sit down, you will always have another load a laundry to wash, another toy to pick up, a mess to clean up, a face to scrub, a dish to wash.

While Motherhood means your life is always changing and comfort is pretty much a thing of the past, the rewards are sweet.  A kiss.  A hug.  A smile.  A hand in yours.  A child in your lap.  A picture drawn just for you.  An I love you signed across a crowded room.





Monday, August 20, 2012

Life Beyond Picky Eaters

Joy has always loved pasta and just about any food

I was standing at the counter last night making chicken tacos for dinner, squished between my girls who were both standing on chairs so they could help me.  Joy was my runner which means she got everything I needed from the pantry.  Lizzy was my chopper, stirrer, and bouillon cube peeler.  They both took turns mashing the avocado to make guacamole.  

We sat around the table eating dinner, everyone had a second taco, everyone said it was good.  

Two years ago this would not have been the scene in my house.  David would have either refused to eat the chicken or would have sat there for an hour whining as he ate tiny bites until his two real bites of chicken were all gone.  Lizzy was hit or miss if she would eat it depending on her mood.  (Joy has always been an adventurous eater so she's exempt from this conversation)  Dinner is so much better these days.

David was a premie who spent a week on the ventilator and ten days being fed via a tube down his throat.  I can't say for sure this was the cause of his picky eating habits, but my research says it could have definitely contributed.  When we tried to transition him to solid food, he would gag and throw up any and all foods with any texture that wasn't completely smooth.  Cheerios?  Nope.  Chunky baby food?  Nope.  Rice?  Nope.  Bananas that didn't come out of a jar?  Nope.  

After six months of occupational therapy, he finally was able to eat a greater amount of texture, but his fate as a picky eater was pretty much sealed by that point.  Any meat that wasn't breaded and deep fried or came in a sausage casing was seen as suspect.  My sister-in-law didn't believe us that David would take his one bite of meat and put it in his cheek where it would stay for hours until we finally either made him swallow it or let him spit it out until she was over for dinner one night and witnessed it for herself.  

David fell asleep while eating

Slowly, slowly, over years, David started eating a larger variety of foods.  It almost always involved whining and crying, but he would eat his required two bites.  And then one day he ate a hamburger.  I almost fell out of my chair.  Another day he declared that he liked chicken on the bone.  I personally didn't at that point so I had always only ever used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but Hubby asked for chicken legs, so I made them.  Imagine my surprise when my entire family declared they loved them and now beg for them.  

One day David ate a taco with meat on it and gasp!  Asked for seconds!  One day he asked for something other than a sunbutter and jelly sandwich for lunch (can't eat peanut butter due to allergies).  He wanted to try ham and then salami (Yuck! But everyone else in the house likes it).  

Food?  Forget it.  Give me paper--Lizzy

For years the only fruit he would eat were grapes.  Then he started eating apples.  Two years ago we were in Northern Michigan during cherry season.  I bought cherries and we had a cherry spitting contest.  David was not about to sit there and not spit something over the balcony like the rest of us, so he ate his first cherry.  And then another one and another one until he decided he likes cherries.  Cutie orange season hit and he started eating oranges in large numbers.  

How did we get to this point?  Is there hope for other parents of picky eaters?  As a mom who has already walked through this fire, I have a few suggestions.

1. Do not make more than one meal.  I made this mistake for years.  If I served something my kids didn't like, I would make them something else.  This just taught them that they didn't have to learn to eat "grown up food" because if they whined enough, mom would make them a sandwich.  Now I do have a few exceptions to this rule even now--If I am serving fish, David always gets something else due to allergies.  On the very rare occasions that Hubby buys good cuts of steak, we eat steak and serve the kids something else since they have yet to develop a love for steak (Is it wrong to hope that doesn't happen for many, many years??).

2. Make eating fun.  I never imagined letting David spit pits over a balcony would get him to eat and love cherries.  This summer we went blueberry picking and David sampled the berries.  He still doesn't like them, but a few more years of berry picking will hopefully fix that.  Sometimes we have veggie eating contests to race to see who can eat their green beans or broccoli the fastest.  

3. Don't make a big deal out of it.  I used to stress over getting my kids to eat.  Every meal turned into a battle of wills.  It took me too long to learn that I was always going to lose because you really can't make someone eat.  These days I put a little of everything on my kids' plates and tell them they need to eat it.  If someone is putzing over their dinner, we just walk away from the table and said child sits there until they're done.  No discussion, no power struggle.  Nothing.  

4. Understand that there are foods that some people just hate.  I hate peas.  I hate brussel sprouts.  I despise quite a few foods.  So I just don't serve them.  Kids don't have that same luxury.  They can't just not cook things they don't like.  I try to be sensitive to this.  I know that David still gags on bananas so I'd never make him eat one.  I know that Joy will eat asparagus but only if I cut the tips off.  Joy only likes mushrooms if they aren't cooked.  Hubby doesn't like spaghetti sauce so I rarely (like once every three months) make something with red sauce.  And then sometimes I make things I hate because everyone else likes them--like peas.  Where did I go wrong???

5.  Keep exposing them to a variety of foods.  Just because someone doesn't like a food now doesn't mean they will always dislike it.  This summer I decided I was going to make myself like a larger variety of fruit.  I just kept eating strawberries, raspberries and blackberries until I started liking the taste of them.  I'm still not a big fan, but I can at least appreciate them (now if only someone would come up with a way to make them seedless so there isn't that crunchiness).  When I married Hubby, I was a rather picky eater myself.  Hubby kept cooking things that he liked (pretty much everything but red sauce) until I learned to like them as well.  I now eat mushrooms, onions, asparagus, sweet potatoes, curry, fish tacos, and whatever other creations Hubby comes up with.

6. Be patient.  Just keep exposing your kids to a variety of food, have them take a few bites of everything, and eventually their whining will turn into pouting which will turn into no reaction at all.  Maybe one day they will even like it and ask for it.  I know, hard to imagine when you're in the middle of it.

7. Bribery.  When all else fails, bribe them with dessert.  We put all of the kids' candy that they get from Christmas, Easter, Halloween, birthdays, parades, etc, into a bag on a high shelf.  They get 1-2 pieces most evenings for dessert if they eat their dinner.  Sometimes Hubby makes popcorn.  But these treats are only if they eat their dinner.  All we have to do is remind them that they won't get candy if they don't eat their dinner and that's enough to get them eating.

 
The transition from a very picky eater into a picky eater into a mildly picky eater is not a fast process.  It takes years of persistence.  But once you make it to the other side, life is so much easier.  There is hope.  David was seven before he transitioned.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

We Have a Winner!!




Thank you to all who entered the Lessons from the Beehive giveaway.  And the winner is...

Melinda

Melinda, you will be receiving an email with all the information you need to claim your free book.  Enjoy!


I Was Born To Be A Dancer

Joy dancing in the rain

"Ugh, I can't do it.  It's a good thing I was born to be a dancer, not a writer."

"I think you were born to be something else.  Like a mother."

"No, I was born to be a dancer."

"I think you were born to be a mother because you're kind and like kids."

"I was born to be a dancer."

"I don't think so."

"But I practice dancing all the time.  It must be that I was born to be a dancer."

"Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they will."


I overheard this very enlightening conversation between Joy and Lizzy.  If you were to ask Joy what her talent is, what she wants to be when she grows up, she will tell you that she is a dancer.  She will tell you to sit there and watch her dance.  If your eyes so much as wander away from her, she will grab your face and turn it back toward her instructing you to watch her.

Joy loves to dance.  She dances all the time.  She will dance in front of strangers, she will dance in church, in a restaurant, in a store.  She doesn't care.

But just because she loves dancing, desires to be a dancer, and practices all the time, it does not mean that she was born to be a dancer.  I won't even get into the hundreds of reasons (like the fact that she will probably be around six feet tall when all is said and done) why Joy will probably not end up being a dancer.  That's not my point.  What struck me during the conversation was Joy's final comment:

But I practice all the time.  It must be that I was born to be a dancer.

And Lizzy's final response:

Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they will.

I had a lot of dreams when I was a kid.  I wanted to be the first female president.  I wanted to be an astronaut.  I wanted to be an ice skater.  I wanted to be a forest ranger.  I wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be a missionary.  I wanted to have twelve kids.  I wanted to a whole lot of things.

It must be that I was born to be a presidenting, astronauting, ice skating, forest rangering, teaching, missionarying, mother of twelve kids.

I got a degree in public administration and worked for three years in a township office before deciding I wasn't cut out for the harshness of politics.  I get sick on roller coasters so I'd never last through astronaut training.  I took three rounds of skating lessons before realizing I was never going to be very good because I didn't like to fall.  I took a few crop and soil sciences classes in college before deciding being a forest ranger wasn't very conducive to where I wanted to live the rest of my life (the closest state park is forty-five minutes away).  I applied to the college of education and was accepted before I decided I did not want to be a teacher after all.  I went on five mission trips which I loved, but I don't think I could handle it full time for the rest of my life.  I had three kids before deciding twelve was pretty unrealistic for me (preeclampsia with David, post partum depression after all three kids, hyperemesis-severe all day sickness-lasting for my entire pregnancies with both Lizzy and Joy).

Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they will.

Instead of being president, I settled for village councilwoman.  Instead of being an astronaut, I bought a telescope and look at the stars with my kids.  Instead of being an ice skater, well, I plan to take my kids ice skating this winter.  Instead of being a forest ranger, I take my kids on hikes in the woods and teach them about nature.  Instead of being a school teacher, I am a homeschooling teacher.  Instead of being a missionary, I reach out to those around me.  Instead of having twelve kids, I have three who sometimes seem like twelve.

Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they will.

I don't regret the decisions I've made in my life for even one second.  I am exactly where I am meant to be doing what I was born to do even if it isn't what I thought I wanted to be when I was younger.

Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they will.

Sometimes they are better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Very Expensive Yet Frugal Day

We started the day with an oil change appointment.  I went in knowing it'd be around $45 because I get the all synthetic, seven month-seven thousand mile oil so I don't have to go in as often (it is nearly impossible trying to schedule an oil change around our school schedule, so less than twice a year works a lot better for me--plus it's cheaper in the long run).

I also went in knowing that seven months ago the mechanic recommended a transmission flush and a power steering flush and was going to ask if I was ready to do either of them yet.  So I asked them today which was more important and opted for the transmission flush--all $180 of it.  But, it's cheaper than a new transmission when mine ceases up due to neglect.  

The kids LOVE going to the oil change place because they have a playroom, free popcorn, juice and water bottles.  Today there was the added bonus of the dealership mascot, Serg, the cutest sheltie dog.  They each got to feed him animal crackers after getting Serg to shake hands with them.  

This was my very expensive (though as frugal as I could get it) part of the day.

After leaving the dealership, we went to the mall where the girls got free haircuts at JC Penney.  When I first saw the advertisement about free haircuts, I dismissed it since I recently cut the girls' hair myself.  But then we were at the mall for something else last week and I thought I'd ask if they had any walk-in appointments available, and ended up scheduling appointments.  

The girls were thrilled.  They love getting their hair cut.  Joy went into it knowing she wanted it short, about shoulder length.  A haircut just like her friend Katie's hair.  Lizzy just wanted a few inches off to make it easier to brush her hair.  Throughout Joy's haircut, she sat there with a look of boredom on her face.  But when the stylist handed her the mirror and turned her around, Joy's face lit up with pure joy and declared that she looked very fashionable.  

Someone was not too thrilled about getting her picture taken

Lizzy spent her haircut laughing and smiling, the stylist having to remind her repeatedly to sit straight up so her hair wouldn't be crooked.  I admit that Lizzy's cut is bittersweet.  While I love it and think it's her best haircut to date, she no longer looks like a little girl.  She has a stylish, layered, more grown up look.  

After riding up and down the escalator a few times on our way out of the store, we went to Fazzolis to use the coupons for free kids meals that the kids earned through the library summer reading program.  We had pizza, spaghetti, and way too many bread sticks.  

Despite the big chunk of change I shelled out on my car, I feel pretty good about my morning.  Free haircuts, mostly free lunch (I did have to buy my own food), and my car is happy for another seven thousand miles.  


Mom, I can't pose for a picture, I'm too busy playing



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Couch to 5K-Time To Hit The Pavement


David at the finish line of the 5K he ran over the 4th of July


We had a cold snap here in Michigan.  We had a few days where the highs didn't get above 70 degrees.  Which meant I had to wear pants or freeze.  I put on my favorite pair of jeans, and while I could get them buttoned, they were a bit snugger than they were in the spring.  Oops.

While I would like to get depressed over the fact that I've gained weight this summer, that is hardly productive.  I decided to look at it as a blessing in disguise.

It's only the middle of August which means I have a good six weeks before I will need to start wearing my jeans again on a regular basis.  Six weeks to undo the damage I did thanks to too much ice cream and a very hot summer that kept me indoors.

There is a 5K race in my village in late October.  I have decided to train for it.  The last (and only) time I have run a 5K was a few weeks before I got married, over ten years ago.  I ran it in under 35 minutes, and that's about all I can say about that experience.

I have just under ten weeks to train.  Which is perfect considering the Couch to 5K training program takes ten weeks.  Monday morning I hit the pavement for day one of my training.  Tuesday was an off day, but I needed hamburger buns for dinner so the kids and I road our bikes to the grocery store rather than drive.  While a one mile bike ride isn't all that much exercise, it is a whole lot more difficult biking uphill while hauling your almost five year old on a tag-a-long bike who hasn't learned the finer arts of peddling consistently and sitting up straight versus wobbling all over the place.  By the time we got home I had worked up a sweat.  This morning I did day two of training.  It was easier than day one, but I definitely have a long way to go before I'll be ready to run a 5K.

So why am I sharing about this here?  Because every time I think about running again, I run maybe for a week and then quit because life gets in the way, or I'm tired, or sore, or it's cold, or too hot, or one of a million other excuses.  This time I want to be accountable.  Even if I have to walk the entire 3.1 miles and look like a fool in front of all the people who know me in this town, I am going to finish that race.  I already signed myself and David up for the race so there's no wheedling out of it or changing my mind.

My hope is that by putting this out there, I will feel pressured into completing the training so that I can actually run the entire 5K at a pace slightly faster than a snail.  Turtle speed would be even better.  I won't even pretend that I will be able to beat David's time.  Yes, it is slightly embarrassing that my almost nine year old son will be running circles around me.  But I won't focus on that.  Instead I will focus on setting and attaining my own personal goal because it will make me feel like I've accomplished something big.  And if my jeans fit a little looser come fall, all the better.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Taming the Beast

The Naughty Bin


Like most homes, mine has a tendency to become overrun with "stuff."  Big stuff, little stuff, important stuff, trash stuff, more and more and more stuff.  My goal for the month of August is to find better solutions to dealing with the stuff that clutters my home and my life.

Every day I walk through the hallway and there are random toys or articles of clothing strewn around (usually discarded socks or dress-up clothes).  I walk into the living room and find toys, pillows, blankets, and other random objects strewn around.  I glance in the girls' bedroom and see stuff on the floor, usually lots and lots of stuff.  I find forgotten toys on my computer desk, on the kitchen table and counter, on a chair, on the floor, on my bed.  It. drives. me. nuts.  

I am working on a solution.  Over the weekend I was tired of seeing the clutter in my living room so I got a bin and threw all the toys in it and labeled it the Naughty Bin where all neglected toys will be placed.  To earn back the toys, the offender has to do a chore.  Every Saturday any toy that has not been redeemed will be thrown away or donated.  David cleaned my sliding glass doors right away to earn back his beyblades and legos.  The girls just let their stuff sit there for a few days.  

The craft and school supplies closet


I bought a bunch of shoe box size plastic containers.  I organized the girls' stuff into them , labeled them, and put them on a new shelf in their room.  I made the rule that they may only have one bin out at a time.  I did the same to the craft/school supplies closet.  I put everything into containers and labeled them so there is no confusion about what goes where.  

Green for Joy, Blue for Lizzy

I made up a chore chart where each room in the house gets addressed once a week.  Plus regular daily chores.  Hubby and I agreed on an allowance that the kids will earn if they complete all their chores each week.  I printed up ledgers so they could record their earnings into three categories--Give, Save, Spend.  I am using a cashless system because I will never remember to get the right amount out of the bank each week.  

I am tired of stumbling over toys all day long.  I am tired of looking at mess.  I am tired of cleaning a room only to come back half an hour later to find the room trashed all over again.  

If these steps don't solve the problem, I will resort to my Dad's method that he used when I was a kid.  When asked whose stuff was all over the den, all three of us kids said "Not mine."  So Dad opened up the sliding glass door and started chucking it all out into the front yard saying that if the stuff doesn't belong to anyone in our house, then out it goes.  Three screaming kids quickly ran outside and collected the stuff to put away.  


The Naughty Bin this morning--library books and a ball

So far it seems to be working.  Yesterday Lizzy asked me if she could clean the bathroom sink so she could get her toys out of the Naughty Bin.  Joy asked what she could do-I had her empty the bathroom trash cans.  And now all I have to do is threaten to put things in the Naughty Bin and suddenly the toys are all picked up and put away.  Ahhhhh.....toy free bliss.


Update:  Within an hour of posting this and taking the above picture of just two things in the bin, I collected ten random toys, a book, and six pairs of shoes that were on the mudroom floor instead of on the shelf where they belong.  When Lizzy went to go outside, she realized she had no shoes and went looking for them in the Naughty Bin.  A lot of things got dusted in my house this morning as all three kids had to earn back their shoes:)  The best part is that I didn't get annoyed by the things that I had to pick up.  In fact I felt nothing but glee over the fact that I was going to get three more chores done this morning once the kids realized where their toys and shoes went.  This was one of my more brilliant ideas.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lessons From the Beehive Giveaway



I was excited to receive the opportunity to review a copy of the ebook Lessons from the Beehive by Carol J. Alexander over at Lessons from the Homestead.  I've read her other three ebooks--Lessons from the Hen House, Lessons from the Seed Catalog and Lessons from the Tree House and gleaned quite a few great ideas to include in my home school curriculum.


First off, no.  We do not raise bees.  At least not purposely.  We do have a lot of flowers that attract bees to the point that my flower garden is always buzzing.  But we don't have enough land to raise bees at this point.

Thankfully for people like me, Lessons from the Beehive is not a book about raising bees.  It is a book that gives ideas for learning about bees from observing bees.  It includes over fifty lessons in math, language, science, art and home economics.  There are also a ton of additional resources listed for further study.

The first thing we did was request a recommended book, The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci, from the library.  I gave it to David to read in the car on our way home from the library.  Over the course of the next week, he rattled off facts he'd learned about honeybees.  Mom, did you know that a honeybee has two stomachs-one to store nectar to make honey and one to digest food?  Mom, did you know that the queen bee lays up to fifteen hundred eggs a day?  Mom, did you know that honey is 80% water?  Mom, did you know that the bees eat the honey over the winter for their food source?

Bees we saw at the nature center while on vacation last week

The next thing we did was a little science--the lesson said to research what kinds of flowers to plant in your yard to attract honeybees.  Instead of this, I asked the kids to go observe which of our flowers seem to attract the most bees.  Our black-eyes susans, purple coneflowers, and purple hyssop are the biggest attracters, but the oregano in the vegetable garden is also a top contender.

For geography, we marked a map using the scale and compass to show a two mile radius around our house--showing the area that a bee will travel from its hive.  We then drove around the marked area to observe any possible sources of pollen and nectar for the bees.  We are surrounded by farm land and a tree farm, so we knew those were top sources.  There are a lot of meadows and overgrown farm fields that were also likely sources.  Plus the many flower gardens we passed on our journey.

Bees hard at work

For math I had David work out a few story problems.  If a queen lays fifteen hundred eggs a day and lives for four years, how many eggs would she lay in her lifetime?  If a honey bee beets its wings 11,500 times a minute, how many times would she beet them in an hour?  A day?  David worked them all out--the more challenging the better.

For art we drew pictures of the flowers in our garden with bees pollinating them.  I also had the kids draw pictures of bees and label all the parts of a bee.  This was Lizzy's favorite part because she's my little artist.


Lizzy's picture

 For home economics, we made biscuits using honey instead of sugar and slathered honey all over them.  They were tasty.  We also made bread and pizza crust again substituting honey for sugar.  My children all agreed they preferred using honey over sugar.

Joy's picture

The final thing we did to round out our bee study was to take a field trip to a local bee farm.  The kids were fascinated by it.  They got to try on beekeeper suits, see an abandoned bee hive up close, visit an active bee hive (though we didn't get too close to it), and tour the honey packaging facility.  We even purchased a jar of delicious honey.


David's picture

We had a lot of fun working our way through Lessons from a Beehive and I am sure that my children will remember what they've learned a lot better because of it.

Want to win your own copy? 

You have up to three chances to win by doing the following:

1. "Like" Lessons from the Homestead on Facebook
2. "Like" Ladybug Farms on Facebook
3. Check out Lessons from the Homestead and tell me which one of her lesson books you would choose if you won (there are four of them)

Leave a separate comment for each to earn your three entries.

The contest ends August 17 at 8am Eastern Standard Time and the winner will be announced here and contacted by email.  Good luck!

Friday, August 10, 2012

How To Plan Your Homeschool Year

Mom, are you really sure about this?


I have heard this question a lot the last few weeks:  Am I ready for school?  The short answer?  Yes.  The long answer?  Eeek!!!!

While everything is bought and sitting on my bookshelf looking shiny and new, I'm not sure if I will ever truly be ready for school .  In light of this, I thought I'd share how I go about planning for the homeschool year.


Step 1. Scour every curriculum website known to man, read through every curriculum catalog that finds its way into the mail box cover to cover even if it's for something that you won't need until your kids are in high school when your oldest is only going into fourth grade, pay diligent attention to others' curriculum choices while visiting various online homeschool forums, question all of the people you know in real life who homeschool on what they are doing, and then repeat.

Step 2. Make a choice after months of prayer and research.

Step 3. Change your mind after learning about another great curriculum.

Step 4. Go back to the original curriculum choice.

Step 5. Ask Hubby his opinion when hitting an impasse between two choices.

Step 6. Go with the other one.

Step 7. Buy the curriculum quickly before you change your mind again.

Step 8. Receive your boxes of curriculum, ooh and aah over them, then put them on the bookshelf for the fall.

Step 9. Now that it is March, finish up the current school year.

Step 10. Now that it is July, pull all the new books out to look through.  Realize you have made no provisions for covering writing and spelling.

Step 11. Go back and repeat steps 1-8.

Step 12. Now that it is August, it's time to get serious about planning for the school year.  Pull out all the school books and actually read the first few chapters to know what you are doing.  Pull out the computer software and install the programs on the computer so they're ready to go.

Step 13. Endure a week of your four year old begging to be able to do school on the computer, too.  Give in and buy her an online subscription to Explode the Code reading program.

Step 14. Make up a schedule to fit all that curriculum into a five day school week.

Step 15. Now that all of that is finished, pray that you haven't forgotten anything, that all the subjects are covered, and that all of the choices you made will actually work for your kids.

Step 16. Take the next three weeks off to recover before starting the school year.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Root Bound

Chives this spring


I'm not a very good gardener.  I've surpassed a black thumb over the years and am somewhere between brown and olive green, but it's definitely not a green thumb yet.  Every year Hubby tells me no more garden and every fall I say that I'm not doing a garden again.  Yet, the spring finds me outside preparing the soil, buying seeds and plants, and expanding my garden.  Every year I learn something new that improves my garden.

This year's success was transplantation.  The first year of our marriage, Hubby planted chives in a large pot.  In the fall he put it away in the garage, brought it back out in the spring, and every year they came back.  Ten years later the chives are still growing strong.  In the same pot.

This summer I noticed that the chives were starting to die in the direct sun so I tried putting them in a shadier spot.  That didn't really help.  So then I thought maybe they had just outgrown their pot and were root bound.  My mom has chives right in the ground and they looked much better than mine did.  So I did something risky that made Hubby cross with me because he thought I was going to kill them.  I transplanted them.  I didn't even break them up because the roots were so entangled. I just took the whole mess of chives out of the pot and put it in the ground.

They didn't do much for a long time.  I kept watering them praying they'd come back.  We really like our chives on our potatoes.  I didn't want Hubby to be right.  When I left for vacation the chives were just starting to green up a bit, but nothing spectacular.

When I came home, they were all green.  They look like lush grass just begging to be walked on.  They are happy little chives, very thankful for having a new space to spread out their roots and to take in more water and nutrients.  They are thriving in their new home.

Happy chives in their new home


I took a risk transplanting my chives.  They might have died from transplant shock.  They have been in that pot for ten years.  They were comfortable there.  But they were bound by the pot they were in.  They had no more room to grow, no ability to take in more water or nutrients.  Their roots were all bound up in such a way that they were starting to kill themselves.

I lead a pretty comfortable life.  I like things the way they are and have been known to resist change a time or two.  When I am asked to do something new, I've been known to go into it kicking and screaming convinced that it's not worth the risk.  That I might die (okay, not literally die but that it will make me unhappy or uncomfortable or look foolish).


But if I don't take risks and try something new, I will never grow beyond what I am today.  I will always be bound by this little box that I am comfortable in until I get root bound and start to slowly kill myself.  And that is why I try to regularly do new things to keep that from happening.



I learned how to touch worms and bait hooks and have taken my kids fishing three times by myself already this summer.  I learned how to stay home alone when Hubby is gone overnight rather than running to Grandma's house.  I pulled my kids out of school and am teaching them myself.  I ran for village trustee four years ago and will finish my term in November.

These changes haven't always been easy, but when God asks us to transplant ourselves, we need to say yes if we want to continue to grow.  




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Simplicity In The Kitchen

A long time ago I came across a website that featured from-scratch cooking recipes.  Considering my distinct lack of kitchen skills back in those days, I ate the website up (no pun intended).  I wrote down a ton of recipes and started making them.  Thus began my from-scratch cooking journey.

My from-scratch cooking was further stretched out of necessity to include from-scratch baking when David was diagnosed with allergies to eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.  Suddenly almost all boxed mixes and baked products were off limits.  I had to learn how to make egg-free cake, chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, bread, muffins, etc.  I was later forced to cut out dairy when Joy was diagnosed with a milk allergy which she thankfully outgrew before she was three.

I was making my favorite recipe yesterday, yellow rice (thought I amend the recipe and use white basmati rice and none of the pepper ingredients), and got to thinking about all the things I regularly make for my family from scratch.  How I rarely buy prepackaged, premade things.  Boxed rice?  No way.  Pastayuckaroni?  Not in this house.  The only regular concession I make when it comes to prepackaged food is macaroni and cheese.  I don't make that from scratch and my kids thank me.  David was served homemade mac-n-cheese at camp last week.  I asked if he liked it and he said no, that mine is a lot better (thank you Kraft for making me look good).

I took the kids to the lake house back in February and my mom and mom-in-law came, too.  My mom brought a boxed Chicken Piccata dinner.  I really liked it and wanted to make it myself, so I looked up the recipe on my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes.com, and found the recipe which I amended to not include eggs due to David's allergy.

I learned how to make seasoning mixes from scratch so I no longer have to buy taco seasoning mixes or stir fry seasoning mixes.  These I learned from Hubby.  I used to have him season a lot of our meals after I finished cooking them until he started forcing me to stand there and watch him so I could learn how to do it for myself.  Now I rarely have to ask him for seasoning help unless I just can't get something right.

I learned about the ingenious method of cooking dry beans in the crock pot and now I make all our beans that way.  I even went so far as to buy a 25 pound bag of dry red beans last month through a co-op because we like them so much better than the canned variety.

I admit that there are a few things I still buy regularly that are premade--meatballs (but they are egg free which I haven't mastered on my own yet), chicken strips, and tater tots.  But for the most part you will find only single ingredients in my home.  I even conquered making hamburgers from scratch this summer instead of buying them preformed or making Hubby do it (my first attempt was last summer and I believe the words "hockey puck" might have been mentioned).  The last time I made them Hubby said I have finally perfected getting them to the right thickness so they cook right.

Now I love it when I find a great cookbook that includes recipes made from scratch.  My absolute favorite cookbook is Family Feasts For $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn.  Good recipes, all from scratch, and mostly all food I would actually eat.  I also found another good cookbook Make Your Own Groceries by Daphne Metaxas Hartwig that is full of great ideas but unfortunately is out of print (I bought it used a long time ago).

From-scratch cooking started out as a lark to see if I could do it, was expanded by necessity, and now it is something I prefer to both save money and because I like knowing what ingredients I am putting into my family's bodies.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When Life Throws You Bad News



I took David to the allergist for what I thought was a routine checkup so that we could get the refill we needed on his Singulair asthma/allergy medication.  David has asthma, airborne allergies and food allergies.  I went to the appointment expecting the doctor to agree to take David off the Singulair because he's been on it for over six years and he rarely has an asthma attack (maybe six times a year and almost always in the spring and fall).

The doctor had just agreed that we could do that after the fall allergy season and then switch David to a nasal spray for peek allergy times.  But first he wanted David to do the lung function test just to be sure that his lungs were really doing okay.  He failed the test.  He has airway restriction.  So rather than leaving the appointment with less medicine, we ended up leaving with more.  We now have a peek airflow meter which David needs to use twice a day and graph his results, a daily inhaler, and instructions to start using his nasal allergy medicine.  Oh, and an asthma action plan.  We've never had one of those before.

This was not the news I was hoping for.  This was not the news David was hoping for.  In fact, he was pretty upset about it.  He was already feeling down about his food allergies after spending a week at summer camp surrounded by kids who could eat all the food while he had to have special food that I sent with him whenever they were serving something he couldn't have.  He made several comments that almost broke my mommy heart.

"I have the weakest lungs in the family."

"I could be a great runner if I didn't have asthma."

"I wish I didn't have so many allergies so I could eat whatever I wanted."

I encouraged him with the fact that he just ran a 5K with no problems (He did use his inhaler before the race as a preventative measure).  He can do whatever he wants to do, he just may need to use his inhaler.  He can eat almost everything, just not eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and mangoes.  Some people have it way worse and can't eat wheat or milk.  Those would be way worse.

But inside, my heart was hurting.  I was upset myself by the whole situation.  It's hard to know that your child has these things wrong with him that you can't fix.  He is almost nine years old.  There's very little chance that he is going to outgrow his food allergies.  Statistically, it would have happened by age five or not at all.  He hopefully will outgrow his asthma as he gets older, but there's no guarantee.  He may find that his life choices are inhibited by his asthma.  He is extremely physical and loves sports a lot.  He has the genetics to be tall (he's already 4 foot 9 inches).  He is already fast.  He has the potential to go far in sports if he wanted to.  But would his lungs hold him back?  I don't know.

I was praying about my discouragement last night and God gave me the image of Him holding David in the palm of His hand.  He reminded me that He is in control of David, that He loves David more than I do.  He has a plan for David's life that includes all of his various allergies and asthma.

I can give into the desire to rail against the injustice of it all.  I can feel guilty that it's my fault for getting preeclampsia during my pregnancy with David which resulted in him being born six weeks early and having to go on oxygen because his lungs weren't fully developed.  I can blame myself for his allergies because they run in my side of the family.

Or I can keep the image in my mind of David, bodily imperfections and all, resting in the palm of Jesus' hand, safe and protected and very loved.

Monday, August 6, 2012

While the Men are Away...

The girls play!

Hubby and David spent last week at our church summer camp.  Hubby went as the music director (he's the guy who plays the silly camp songs and acts goofy) and David went for his first year as a camper.  Of course I wasn't about to spend the week doing nothing, so I made plans.



Lizzy, Joy and I went to the lake house with my sister and her family.  We fit in a lot of fun in our week and the best part?  It was all free.  Monday we went to the Sleepy Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum because my nephew wanted to see boats.  While we discovered that it wasn't actually a boat museum after all, we did see two boats and were there just in time for a shipwreck rescue reenactment in which the kids all participated and loved.  All the kids opted to be part of the shipwrecked group versus the rescue crew.  Later Lizzy said that they picked the right group because the rescue crew had to do all the work.

Posing in front of the boat that can be moved on train tracks

The shipwrecked crew waiting to be rescued

The canon that will shoot out the rope that will rescue the shipwrecked crew

Raggedy Ann being rescued

Lizzy and Joy helping to rescue Andy

The rescue crew doing CPR on Andy

Tuesday we went blackberry picking.  They were giant and delicious and we all ended up with blue fingers and stained clothes.  I should say that Lizzy and I went berry picking while Joy spent her time eating as many berries as she could find.

Lizzy eating a blackberry and picking another one at the same time

The fruits of our labor
Later that evening my brother-in-law and I took the kids fishing.  We didn't even get a nibble, the kids spent the whole time whining, and my BIL and I just rolled our eyes at each other before rounding everyone up and going home for some ice cream.

Look mom, a swan!

Joy playing with her fishing pole instead of actually fishing

Wednesday we went to the beach.  The waves were around three feet high and we all had a ton of fun jumping over them.  The kids did not want to come back to the shore when my sister and I decided we'd had enough of the water.  But we bribed them with sand toys.

Throwing rocks into the lake

My inlaws came up Wednesday night so we had to have a campfire--Grandpa makes the best campfires.  We tried a new s'mores invention that Hubby told me about--we used the fudge striped shortbread cookies and coconut marshmallows.  While they weren't nearly as delicious as I thought they'd be, they were still tasty.

A little bird watching out the window at the lake house

Thursday we took the kids to a small nature center at a garden nursery.  I took the girls there a year ago and they have begged to go back ever since.  They got to feed and pet ducks, feed a chicken, watch goldfish swim in flower pot, pet bunnies, and catch monarch butterflies on their fingers.

Joy playing with the goldfish

Petting the duck--he was really friendly

Joy trying to eat the lizard

After that my sister's family and I split up.  While they went to a lego exhibit at a museum, I took the girls to the fish hatchery.  We lucked out and got there just in time to see the automatic feeders feed the fish.  The kids love to watch the fish get fed because they jump all over the place as soon as the food hits the water.  

Lizzy checking out the model fish

Watching the fish being fed

Friday we went home.  I called up my grandma to let her know that we were back and she was a saint and invited us out for pizza for dinner.  Of course I did not turn her down!

 
The girls playing on the drive home

Saturday we went to camp for the parent program and to pick up David and Hubby, thus ending our girls' week.  It's debatable who had the best time though I am inclined to think that it was David.  When asked if he was looking forward to going to camp next year, David replied: I don't know if I should go to camp next year because camp is so much fun that it makes the rest of my life seem boring.