Thursday, February 28, 2013

Working From Home

Recess-Trying to cross the room without using their feet

The Hubs has been working from home this week.  He's taking an online class for work training him to do something super complicated and important that has to do with computers.  (Read: contains big words that make my eyes glaze over when he attempts to describe it)  And that's all I can say about that.

What astounds me, and it really shouldn't, is just how disruptive it was on the first two days to have my husband home on a week day--even though he is sequestered in the basement office with the door shut having given all members of the family strict instructions that he cannot be interrupted because the class is skyped.  As much as I'm sure the other members of his class would love to listen to my child's latest story about the super strong ant that all the girls love and all the boy ants are jealous of, Hubby disagrees.

Apparently all the cool kids in my house decided that the thing to do was to act dumb when Daddy was around.  Because suddenly Joy could no longer add nor subtract.  Joy was doing her math at the kitchen table.  It was math that she's been doing all by herself for two weeks now with no problem.  But on Tuesday Daddy was also sitting at the table eating breakfast while she was doing her math.

Me: What is 8-0?
Joy: Um....4?
Me: You have 8.  You take nothing away.  How many do you have left?
Joy: 7?
Me: No.  Here is 8.  I take none of them away.  How many do you have?
Joy: I just can't think.
Me: Bangs head on table.

A little bit later I instructed the kids to write a story about what they think their lives will look like in twenty years.

Me: Lizzy, go write your story.
Lizzy: Just a minute.  I have to finish coloring my picture.
Me: This is not drawing time.  This is writing time.  Get to writing.
Lizzy: First I have to make a book for my story (this involves tying half a package of paper together with string despite the fact that her story will be no longer than half a page)
Me: Lizzy, stop making books.  Just write the story.
Lizzy: I need to find Madagascar on the map first.
Me: What does Madagascar have to do with anything?
Lizzy: I just like it.
Me: Bangs head on table.

Not to be outdone by his younger siblings, David had to get in on the "cool kid" action.

Me: David, do your math.
David: But I haven't had my yogurt yet.
Me: What have you been doing for the last half hour when you were supposed to be eating breakfast?
David: Playing.
Me: Fine.  Eat your yogurt and then get to your math.

Ten minutes later

Me: David, do your math.
David: Okay.
Me: David, stop singing.  It's hard to do math when you are singing.
David: Lots more singing and blabbering about nothing.

Hubby walks into the room to get something

Hubby: David, what are you working on?
David: Math.
Hubby: Really?  You can focus on math with all that singing and talking you're doing?
Me: Bangs head on table.

But then there was a shift as the kids got used to Daddy being around.  This morning I came out of my room after showering and getting ready to find Hubby sitting at the table explaining algebra to David.  During one of Hubby's breaks, I overheard him joking with the kids and having bear hug competitions.  (Daddy of course won all of those.)  The kids were laughing; Hubby was laughing.

Joy was reading aloud from her Bible reader to me when Hubby came into the kitchen to get coffee.  As she was reading, he started making joking comments that got her laughing and out of her pouty mood because she didn't want to read.

I was arrested by the moment when Hubby swung Joy up into his arms and tickled her.  Not by what was going on, but by the pure joy in Hubby's eyes.  It hit me that my previously stressed, overwhelmed, tired Hubby was happy, joking, and insinuating himself into our homeschooling by helping the kids with their work because he wanted to.

"Working from home really agrees with you.  You should quit your job and find one that lets you work from home."

I doubt he'll take my advice any time soon, but it has been a nice week having Hubby home.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Life In Twenty Years...A Writing Assignment

For this week's writing assignment, I asked my kids to write about what they thought their lives would be like in twenty years.  All I can say is that I learned a lot about their future dreams.  Mainly, that my job here is not done.  My favorite essay for sure is David's.

My favorite sentence: I don't have a wife because I don't take useless showers.  

I assure you that I do force him to shower on a regular basis despite his complaints.  As to his bathing habits in the future--one can only hope and pray his opinion changes.

Lizzy is my country girl.  Whenever we play the game of Life, she always wants to buy the log cabin for her house.  She wants a small house in the country with a farm.  But why it even occurred to her to write about the size of her future bed, I have no clue.  

One day when we were asking the kids what car they'd want when they grew up, Lizzy said she wanted a pink slug bug.  She then said she wanted to have five kids.  When we informed her that she wouldn't be able to fit her five kids into her tiny slug bug, she amended her family size to fit her car.  

Joy is my silly girl who is already stressing over the idea of having to move out.  "How will I move out?  Will I have to walk with all my stuff to my new house?  I know.  You can give me your van and buy a new car." 

A translation for those who can't read five-year-old chicken scratch:

I will live at the lake house.  I will work at the fish hatchery.   

But Joy's real desire is to marry a nice man--and she'll make him get a job while she stays home with the kids.  The fish hatchery is her fall back plan.

So there you have it.  The future dreams of my children.  All I can say is that at least it's better than Hubby's childhood aspiration of being a garbage man and my dream of being an Olympic gymnast.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making Big Decisions--To Farm Or Not To Farm

A girl can dream

Call it a moment of insanity.  A hiccup in my nice, normal life.  A whim.  A fancy.  But somehow I found myself filling out an application to become a micro farmer.  Yup, that's right.  I was reading through my email and came across a program that my local food bank is starting that gives people the land, tool usage, educational classes, training, and an outlet for sales with the goal of producing people who can make money farming.  

The target audience of the program is people with a farming background (not me), experience in making up a business plan (not me), refugees (not me), minorities (not me), immigrants (not me), and economically disadvantaged (not me).  

I filled out the application anyway figuring the worst that could happen is that they say no.  Or maybe the worst is that they could say yes!  

Today I talked to the program director about the program, about my experience (Does a backyard garden count as enough experience to prepare me for farming 1/8th of an acre--down from the 1/4 of an acre that I could have chosen had I been completely crazy?), my goals that the program would help me attain, and what hindrances I saw myself facing in turning myself into a "gentlewoman farmer."  

Despite my total lack of qualifications, the director offered me a spot in the program.  Granted, he had reservations.  While he left the ultimate decision up to me, he did suggest it might be better if I were to participate in the program this summer as a volunteer in the demonstration garden, attended the workshops, and learned a bit more about farming first before starting my own endeavor.  

So now I have until the end of the week to decide if this whole thing was a lark or if it's something that I really want to do.  Do I want to take my basic gardening knowledge and try my hand at turning it into a working farm that sells vegetables at farmers markets and to wholesalers and restaurants?  Do I want to put my time, hands, and significant effort into actually trying out farming to see if it's something I enjoy or if it's definitely not the thing for me?  

Or would it be better for me to wait and instead volunteer in the demonstration garden this year, attend the workshops and training, learn all I can and apply it to my home garden and then next year sign up for my own plot of land?  While Hubby has his opinion on what I should do, he left the ultimate choice up to me.  

I then asked myself--What was the appeal of the program that drew me to it in the first place?  Is it to become a gentlewoman farmer?  Do I want to make a supplementary income off my land?  Or am I more interested in the training and experience?  Would I need to farm my own plot on land twenty minutes from my house to get the full benefit?  Or would I be better served to more intensely garden my own backyard, building up my garden into something that's big enough to produce enough extra food that I could sell it at my local farmers market while volunteering and learning from more experienced gardeners and farmers?  

And when it was put in this way, I realized that the main draw of the program for me was the education it offered.  The workshops, hands on training, and expert advice on producing food for market.  I read a lot of books on gardening, farming, and selling at markets, but there's nothing quite like actual experience to make the lessons stick.  I could get the full benefit of the program as a volunteer without putting in the 12-24 hours of time a week on a plot of land that's not my own.

Part of this summer's expansion project

Suddenly, the decision was easy.  I will volunteer this year in the demonstration garden, attend all the workshops I can make, and spend the bulk of my time turning my backyard into a really big garden with future plans to expand it into a mini farm producing enough food to sell at market.  

Problem solved.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Half Birthdays

"Why do you celebrate half birthdays?" 

This is what my Grandma asked when  Joy told her how we were going to have lasagna and cookies for her half birthday party.  I rambled about how we had some party a few years ago that happened to coincide with a half birthday, so we just called it a half birthday party, and suddenly we had a tradition.

I honestly don't remember why or when we started celebrating half birthdays.  It just sort of happened.  I'm sure my ramblings were probably close to the truth.

But probably it was my subconscious self giving my children what I'd always wished my parents would have done for me.

My birthday is in December.  Less than two very short weeks before Christmas.  To this day you had better not buy me a "joint Birthday-Christmas present" without my expressly asking for it or I will not be happy.  I don't like getting birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper (okay, this one I let slide now that I'm a mom because my own presents are often wrapped in whatever paper I have on hand, even if it means giving my kids birthday presents wrapped in wedding paper.  It's paper, right?)

But mostly I hate getting a whole year's worth of presents in the space of two weeks.  And then nothing, nothing, the other fifty weeks of the year.  Boo.

I begged my parents to switch my birthday to June.  I jokingly told Hubby that I was changing my birthday to June even if it meant skipping my birthday one year so I had to wait eighteen months rather than six.

Yup.  I think this is the real reason why I celebrate my kids' half birthdays.  We don't do them up big; no fancy parties.  We just acknowledge it, make a special dinner with a special dessert, and try to do something during the day that's fun and out of the norm.

Browning the meat and wearing her favorite dress

Today Joy celebrated her half birthday.  She really wanted lasagna, something that I have only made three times ever-two of those times while helping my Grandma who really was the one making it.  Basically, lasagna is not something I have a lot of experience with.  But, I love my daughter, so I bought the noodles and ricotta cheese and pulled out Grandma's recipe which I very loosely followed.  (I used no boil noodles, ground turkey when I realized I was out of ground beef, added spinach, used canned pasta sauce, and didn't add eggs to the ricotta due to allergies.  Pretty much nothing like Grandma's lasagna other than it involving noodles, sauce, meat, cheese, and cooking it)

The finished product ready for the oven

I wasn't feeling so hot today (thank you, Hubby, for sharing your cooties), and making cookies was not something I wanted to tackle on top of making lasagna, so I bribed Joy with donuts for her birthday treat and got out of making cookies.

Joy had a great day, loved her special dinner and treat, and was all smiles the entire day.  We sang Happy Half Birthday To You, let her blow out a candle, and the day was a success.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Diagnosis: Brain Flu

Cooking the chicken for dinner

I was sitting on the couch last night reading a book when Joy came running into the living room, yelled "Snuggle!" and jumped onto my lap.  She squished my face between her hands, looked me straight in the eye, and gave me her most serious look.

"Mom.  I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you have brain flu.  You're very sick and you will keep on being sick for eight years."

"Oh no!"

"But don't worry, Mom.  I will take care of you.  I will take care of the house and do all the cooking."

"What foods do you know how to make by yourself?"

"I can get crackers and cereal and toasted bread and bagels.  I could make other things if you told me what to do.  You'll have to stay in bed all the time, but it's okay because I will bring you whatever food you want."

"Wow, Joy.  By the time I'm done being sick with brain flu, you will be 13."

"Is that old?"

"You'll be a teenager."

"Oh.  Maybe you'll just be sick for four years."

This morning, I was on the couch having my prayer time when Joy came stumbling into the room. Her eyes were still barely open, her hair mussed from sleep, creases on her cheek from her pillow.  She walked up to me, climbed onto my lap, put her hand up to my forehead and gave me her most serious verdict.

"I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, Mom, but you're still sick.  Now you're going to be sick for four years and a day.  But don't worry; I will take care of you."

Mommy, I want to learn how to wash dishes not in the dishwasher

I may not have brain flu--which is nice seeing as brain flu doesn't really exist (I know because I looked it up).  Hopefully I will never really be confined to bed for four years.  But I am convinced that if I ever did find myself on extended bedrest, Joy would be the one to pick up the slack around the house.

"Mom, I want to help you cook dinner.  Can I cut the chicken up myself?  I want to feel how slimy and rubbery it is."  Last night she cubed the raw chicken and sauteed it all by herself.

"Mom, I want to help you with chores.  Let me vacuum the living room," she said as she grabbed the vacuum out of my hand this morning and proceeded to vacuum the room.

"Mom, I can fold laundry, too.  I will fold the napkins."  She made a big tower of napkins and put them away without my even asking.

She is my shadow.  She is my helper.  She grabs responsibility out of my hands and insists she can do them even when I waffle because the task is messy (cutting up raw chicken), hard (my vacuum is heavy and bulky and hard to push), or seems to be above her ability level (peeling and chopping raw potatoes).

She ignores me when I say that I want to do something on my own (it really is easier to cook dinner without a helper), shoves her chair up to the stove, reaches for the cooking spoon, and stirs up the food in the fry pan on the stove.

She tells me it's okay if her hands get messy, that she can just wash them if they get covered in bread goo from helping me mix, kneed, and shape the bread dough for baking.

Slowly, Joy is becoming efficient in the kitchen to the point that she's more useful than a hindrance.  Slowly, Joy is becoming efficient at doing chores that actually help me and don't require my redoing.

She's only five.  Her half birthday is on Monday (just ask her, she already has her party all planned--lasagna for dinner and cookies for dessert).  But she has a goal that she is determined to meet.  She wants to be a chef and a mother.

So she insists I teach her everything I know about cooking.  She insists on learning everything she can about running a home.  She cried this morning when I told her that I only do the grocery shopping on Mondays when she's at co-op because she really wants to go shopping with me so she can learn how.

The kids helping with dinner party prep-David peeling potatoes,
Joy washing and chopping them,
Lizzy slicing tomatoes and shredding lettuce

I'm starting to learn that my job as her mother is to step back and let her try her hand at the tasks she wants to tackle.  I may think that cutting up raw chicken is a task beyond her ability, and yet Joy successfully diced the chicken up just fine last night.  I may think that something is easier to do myself, but it really is helpful to have Joy stand at the stove and stir the food around to keep it from burning while I tend to other dinner prep.

One day I will be thankful that I stepped back and let Joy try her hand at all the things she insisted on trying.  She will be able to cook dinner all by herself.  She will be able to clean the house without oversight.  She will be able to run this household while I sit back and let her.

Yup, I can dig this plan.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"We Love Mommy" Party

The Little Mastermind who may have been snitching frosting
off the cake.  No idea where she learned to do that.

A few weeks ago Joy came to me and asked if she could call Grandma.  She had a very important thing to discuss with Grandma; she wanted to go over to Grandma's to have Grandma help her with something, but she couldn't tell me about it.  O-kay.  I gave her the phone and she went into her room and shut the door for privacy.  Grandma was busy that day but arranged another time for Joy to come over.

Joy eventually went over to Grandmas and hatched her plan.  Joy is not the best at keeping secrets so I gathered from her information slips that she wanted to plan a party.  But she needed Grandma to do all the work, provide the money, and do the driving for the necessary errand running.

Last week my mom called and invited us over for a Valentines Day tea party.  Being the smart gal I am, I figured this was Joy's party.  Grandma came over and picked Joy up the morning of the tea party to run errands.  Joy was beyond excited.  Lizzy helped her write up her shopping list which my mom gave me afterwards:

Joy got all dressed up, put her list into her purse, and was all set to go when Grandma got there to take her shopping.

I arrived to the tea about five minutes early.  "Mom!  You can't be here yet!  We're not ready.  Go down stairs."  Why thank you for the warm welcome, dear Joy.  Snort.  I went down stairs and waited for the party to begin.

Joy finally let me come upstairs and I found my mom, Grandma, mother-in-law, brother, sister-in-law, Hubby and the kids all around the table which was set with Mom's best china.  My chair had two balloons tied to it that said "I love you."  A bouquet of fake flowers, a Princess headband, and a card were also at my seat.

It wasn't my birthday.  It wasn't Mother's Day.  It wasn't even Valentine's Day yet.  Joy planned a "We Love Mommy" Party.

She is such a sweety pie.  I felt so honored that my little five-year-old would go to all this effort to plan a party just because she loves me.  That she roped Grandma into helping her and Grandma actually did it--she made a bunny cake just like she used to for my birthday when I was a kid (she called me her Bunny Face, hence the bunny cake).  She took the girls to the store to buy decorations and lunch food items.  And I was honored that the rest of my family would actually come over on a week day because of Joy's idea.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Hate Change...Even If It Does Present Me With New Opportunities

We love books!

Something tragic happened last week.  I found out that my closest library branch was closing for remodeling for TWO MONTHS!!!  Say what???  Don't they know that we are library lovers?  That we take up an entire shelf of their hold shelf because I request so many books?  That we come in once, sometimes twice, a week, every week?  That I had to get David his own library card because I was always maxing out my own card that allows me to have 50 books at a time?  That we've checked out over 1300 books just in the past year?

What am I going to do?!?!?!

Deep breath.  Breathe in, breathe out.

I bit the bullet and chose a new branch to start visiting for the next two, horrible months.  It's no where near my house.  No where near anywhere that I normally go.  But it's my only option for now.  Wednesday we went to the new branch for the first time.

"Mom, they have the same books as our library!"
"They have new movies.  Can we get one?"  (No, we gave up TV for Lent, sorry.)
"This library is cool.  I like the fun kid book area."

Apparently my children are much quicker to adapt to this tragedy than I am.  Though, my one concession is that this new library does have some different books than my normal library, so it was sort of fun to have new books to look through.  Worth driving to the middle of nowhere?  Worth the extra long drive?  Not really.  But we are going to turn lemons into lemonade and make do for the next two months.

Maybe I'll drive when we deliver meals after all

This morning I went to my Meals on Wheels orientation (it was cancelled last week due to our one and only snow storm so far this winter).  I learned all about how to deliver meals and how to handle some of the situations I might find myself in--if they ask you to fix their leaking roof, say "I will let the Meals on Wheels people know and they will help you."  Do NOT get up on their roof.  If the kitchen shorted you a meal, call the office and let them know, do NOT go to McDonalds and pick them up a Big Mac.  If you knock on the door and they don't answer, call the office and they will call the house.  If you see them through the window on the ground just laying there, call 911.  Gotcha.

I go on a drive along in two weeks and then I'll officially start delivering meals twice a month for now, possibly more often if I find it's a good fit for my family.  My kids were very sweet when I told them about it today at lunch.  "We will be delivery meals to people who are older and have a hard time cooking for themselves."  Lizzy, my quick, compassionate child picked up on the implications right away.  "Oh, you mean like Aunt ____?  Are we going to bring her meals?"  My aunt has been disabled for years and does have a hard time preparing food for herself.  This service would be wonderful for her...if she ate anything other than all natural/organic meats, fruits and vegetables.  "Well, Aunt ____ could use the program, but she doesn't really eat that sort of food."  Apparently not satisfied, she came back with, "Well, can't we cook her something she will eat and bring it to her?"  Yes, we could.  I'll have to ask about that.

A few other highlights of our 52 Weeks of New week:

My "We Love Mommy" party (more on this next week)

Walking on a frozen pond

David getting glasses (which he loves and can't stop commenting on--I can see!  Sorry, kid.  Your mom is oblivious)

Taking family pictures

Visiting my BIL and SIL at their house.  Cute house, awesome property that has me salivating for my own ten acres of prime farming land.

Another good week.  Mission complete.

Week 25 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?
Week 22--I Didn't Scream
Week 23--The Reluctant Servant
Week 24--Snow Day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Ladybug Farms Style

I staggered into the bathroom this morning and flipped on the light.  I must not have been paying attention because it still took me a few minutes to look in the mirror where this was there.

Well, the middle part was.  I added all the little hearts for Hubby's amusement.  Usually we just leave each other messages in the steamed up mirror, so a soapy message was kinda cool.

Hubby and I agreed that we wouldn't do presents this year-pretty much like we decide every year.  Imagine my surprise when I came out into the kitchen to make Hubby's coffee and found this.

Flowers for his "girls"

Roses for Mommy and little roses for Lizzy and Joy.  And a lonely little note for David which made me laugh.

 Of course I had to add my additions.  They may not be "pretty," but at least you can eat them.  I am going to have to show an absurd amount of will power to stay away from Lizzy's mint M&Ms.  She shares her momma's love of chocolate and mint.

We may not do it up super big around here, but it's enough of a message that says I Love You and You are important to me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Perfect Day For a Walk in the Woods

I went outside this morning to mail a letter.  I at once knew that today was the perfect day for a walk in the woods.  The sun was shining, the air was crisp, not freezing.  And we had nothing else to do now that we're TV/Computer free/Computer lite.

First, we stopped off at the eye doctor to pick up David's new glasses.  "Mom, it's like putting on 3D glasses.  I can see now."  or "Mom, it's like I'm wearing binoculars.  I can see the leaves on the trees."  I'm just sorry it took us this long to realize he needed glasses.  I thought they wouldn't make a big difference, his prescription is only a light one for near sightedness.  I figured he'd just wear them to see things far away, but apparently he likes the view because he's been wearing them all afternoon.

Modeling his new specs

Then we went to the park.  The park I chose has a pond that I knew was frozen over because I'd seen a picture posted from Sunday of my friend ice fishing on it.  We have been trying for years to make it to a frozen pond, lake, bay, whatever.  Just something frozen solid enough that the kids could see it and walk on it.  Today was the day.

Are you sure the ice is strong enough to hold us???

"It's like ice skating!"  Yes, it is.  "This is the coolest thing ever!"  It is pretty cool.  We skated around for a while, enjoying the sun and the ice.

The hesitancy didn't last long

Then I declared it time to take a walk in the woods.  I was assailed by complaining.  "We don't want to go for a walk.  We just want to play on the playground."  But I was insistent because today was a day for walking in the woods.

After the first few minutes all of the kids got into it.  We heard birds, we saw squirrels, we found nests, hollowed out trees.  I saw a really old tree and asked if the kids could reach around it.  It took all three of them to surround the entire tree.  Then the kids were all trying to find trees that they could reach their arms around.  We found a few that one hand could span.

We sat on a bench and spent a few minutes just listening to the sounds of nature, looking up at the tops of the trees and watching them dance in the breeze.

No more "We don't want to go on a walk."  Suddenly the kids were all declaring today one of the best winter days ever.  And they all asked if we could come back next week.

The spinny thing of sickness

We played on the playground and tried our hardest to make ourselves sick on the merry-go-round and the spinny thing.  I was the only one who was successful.  That spinny thing and my stomach do not agree.  It only took a few spins around and I was feeling ill.

Trying out the hole in the tree

I was right.  Today was the perfect day for a walk in the woods.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Picture Day!

This year when Hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday and for Christmas (only nine days apart), the only thing I asked for was a family photo session with my sister-in-law, Bri, who has a photo studio, The Picture People Company.



I was all prepared to schedule my own photo session if Hubby fell down on the job of gifting me with my wish.  But he realized I was serious, that I want a GOOD family picture to hang on my wall next to our BAD family picture that is three years old.  As a gift on our tenth wedding anniversary, my mom made copies of our family photo shoot pictures and framed them in a collage frame.  The whole collection of pictures are so bad, that combined they are hilarious.  Not the picture I'd hoped to put on my wall, but I guess it is a testament to who my family really is.

Saturday we drove the hour to my BIL and SIL's house where we had our photo session out in the snow.  We had fun, we got pictures that I will gladly put on my wall because they look good, not because they're funny, and I am happy.

A sampling of the pictures that we took:

My Family

Yes, The Colorful Boots Were Necessary--Just Keeping It Real

Me and the Love of my Life

Sibling Love

Ewwww!!!!  Girly Kisses!!!

This Means War!!!

Friday, February 8, 2013


It finally snowed overnight.  A real snow.  Definition: A real snow is one where you don't feel like a wimp using a snow blower.  It's awesome.  I promised the kids a snow day from school when we got the first real snow of the season.  Today's the day.

First, I snow blowed all the snow onto one side of the driveway.  Second, I got out the shovel and started piling the snow up to make a fort.  Third, I left the kids to their fun and came inside to the peace and quiet.  Oh bliss.  I love it when it snows.  It's not exactly "new" new, but we did make the first snow fort and snow man of the season, so I decided it counts.

Joy buried in the snow, the guilty one who did it,
and the innocent one who is making a snowman family

Last night my family fulfilled our IOU Christmas present to take my Grandpa-in-Law out for dinner.  We see Grandpa all the time at family events, but this was one of the few rare moments when we had Grandpa alone.  We started asking him questions and got him talking about his life.  We've had several conversations around the dinner table about life before cars, about farming, and other "old days" topics.  It was awesome to hear all about how Grandpa grew up on a farm, how he drove a tractor when he was nine, that they didn't have a car but used a horse and buggy to get around.  We learned about how he got into flying airplanes--David was especially impressed that Grandpa flew open cockpit airplanes like the one in the Snoopy comics and did stunt flying.  We learned about how Grandpa's Grandpa was a pioneer and moved from Indiana to Kansas by wagon.  And then moved back again.  Yes, David.  People have walked all the way from one side of the country to the other with the help of a covered wagon.  (A question he asked me last week while studying a map of the U.S.)  It was really nice to have that time with Grandpa and to learn about his life; our history.

Our slightly less than amazing pop and mentos experiment

Wednesday during Hubby's lunch break, we did a little homeschool experiment.  Hubby told the kids about how you can put mentos into a bottle of diet cola and it will explode like a volcano.  We couldn't just hear that information and not try it.  I bought mentos and pop at the grocery store and brought it home.  I admit, I was expecting something a bit...bigger.  But Hubby says our results were less than extraordinary because the pop had been chilling in our cold garage all night.  Next week I'm going to buy another bottle of pop and try the experiment with warm pop to see if it makes an even bigger explosion.

Earlier this week Hubby and I went out for our weekly lunch date.  Usually Hubby lets me pick the restaurant because I am pickier than him when it comes to...just about everything.  But this time when I picked him up from work, I decided I would let Hubby decide.  He picked Buffalo Wild Wings.  Oh.

See, I don't do spicy food.  I have this skin condition called rosacea.  Every time I eat anything with any sort of spice in it, my face flares up beat red.  It's rather embarrassing.  If that wasn't enough to deter me from eating spicy food, my tongue goes into cardiac arrest whenever it encounters even mildly spicy food.  I've tried to heat my food up, but ya.  It's not my thing.  Sorry, Hubby.

"Do they have anything other than spicy wings?"  

"Ya.  It has a full American food menu."  

Okay, not as scary as I thought it'd be.  I ordered a nice chicken wrap where you could pick whatever seasoning or sauce you wanted on it.  

"I'll take it with seasonings," I tell the waitress.

"What kind of seasonings?" 

"Oh.  There's a choice?  Just plain."

"Plain?  You don't want anything on it?"


Hubby slunk down in his seat in disgust.  

It was good.  I liked it.  Bland chicken and all.  Hubby tried to get me to eat one of his hot wings, but when I saw the tears running down his face, I smartly declined.  Thanks but no thanks.  Not even for my 52 Weeks of New challenge would I taste his hot wings of death.

Week 24 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?
Week 22--I Didn't Scream

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reading Through the Bible in a Year

I received the book A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year by Diane Stortz today and read through the first part that describes the book and how to use it, plus the first ten weeks of the yearly plan.  Not wanting to spoil the whole surprise of the book, I stopped there and will read each week as I come to it.

I've wanted to read through the whole Bible for a long time.  Even though I love to read, the Bible is a really big book.  I've read all of the books at one time or another, but the whole Bible in one big shot?  Nope.  It just seems so daunting.  But Stortz has broken it down in an easily manageable way--3 chapters a day, 15-20 minutes of reading a day.

This book is not just a plan on how to read through the Bible, she also gives a summary each week of what the chapters are saying.  Basic background information that makes the reading easier to connect with.  The whole book makes the Bible more understandable and makes connections between books and events in such a way that the history of the Bible makes more sense to us non Bible scholars.

If you are looking to read through the Bible and want a guide to help you along the way, this is a great resource.  I plan to start reading through the Bible in a year starting today.

**Thank you Bethany House Publishers for giving me a copy of this book to review.  All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.**

Barefoot Church

After reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, I decided to read some of her husband's work.  I picked up Barefoot Church: Serving The Least In A Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker.  Jen made several references to the church that she and her husband helped plant in Austin, Texas after leaving the megachurch that her husband had been pastoring.  I wanted to know more about this new church that was focused on service.

Three chapters into the book, I'd typed up so many awesome quotes that I decided it'd be more efficient to actually buy the book since I'd quoted practically everything.  I decided to mostly just read the rest of the book only writing down the most inspiring quotes.

The gist of the book--to step out of our nice comfortable church buildings and be the good news to the least of these.  The least being anyone who is hurting, poor in money, poor in spirit, poor in health, widowed, orphaned, imprisoned, etc.  Our job isn't the beat them over the head with the gospel, but to simply serve them.

At my prayer group meetings, we have heard many talks and words on stepping through the door to do mission.  That God is opening the door to mission, to get moving.  While I love the idea of doing mission and fully support it, I keep walking away wondering...what am I supposed to actually do?

Hatmaker sums my thoughts up exactly:

The Spirit is moving. When we act, the Spirit moves in us. So how should we act? What should we do? I recall being told to go out and be a “light.” I'd leave church all excited and feeling like, “Alright, here we go, be a light...uh...bright and shining...uh...what does that really mean?” It's the same thing with serving. We tell people to serve. Or maybe we're the ones told to serve, and we may even really want to, but our willpower is small, almost as small as our insight on where to start.  

This book tells the reader why we need to serve the widows, the orphans, the poor, the hungry, the needy, the lost.  Because God said so.

Learn to do right; seek justice. 
 Defend the oppressed. 
 Take up the cause of the fatherless; 
plead the case of the widow
 ~Isaiah 1:17

Hatmaker goes on to say: God couldn't have made this clearer. Throughout Scripture, he reminds Israel that his greatest indictment is their neglect of the poor and oppressed. And it's not just worship that's impacted. While Isaiah reminds us that serving the poor validates our worship (Is. 1) and fasting (Is. 58), James reminds us that it gives evidence of our faith (Jms 4), and Jesus reminds us that it is somehow linked to our eternity (Matt 25).

Service isn't just a really good idea.  It's not just a nice thing to do.  God demands it.  Of each of us.  Of me. How did I miss that?  


I've generally been pretty willing to serve within my prayer group, but rarely have I stepped outside the safe building and served.  Let alone made mission work my main focus.  That's messy.  Scary.  Maybe even dangerous.  

And yet, there it is.  God's command.  Do it anyway.  

For a while I didn't know where to start.  Mission work.  Right.  What mission work?  Even knowing that I'd like to serve, opportunities to do mission work haven't exactly been jumping up and down in front of me.  So I had to find something on my own.  I felt God leading me to do Meals on Wheels.  Tomorrow I go to the Meals on Wheels orientation so I can start serving the elderly.  I see this mostly as a launching pad.  A thing to do to get my feet wet before moving on to do something else.  Something harder and scarier.  

The past three weeks I have been doing an extended fast praying, among other things, that God would open my eyes to see the world as He sees it.  Well, God has broken my heart, but it's all been over far away places--refugees, children in poorer countries in need of sponsors, countries in need of safe drinking water, human trafficking.  All these things are over there.  I can't go over there.  I want to do more than give money--I want to give time and get involved in something bigger than me that shows mercy and fights for justice for people who live in my own city.

So during Lent, as part of my screen time fast, I will also be praying specifically for God to show me what local mission He is calling me to beyond Meals on Wheels.  That He would open my eyes to see where I can serve right here.  Something that I can do even with three little munchkins tagging along.  

If you want to be inspired to get off your couch, to step outside of your church doors, to do as Jesus commanded and serve others, read this book.  After God has finished convicting you, seek out a place where you can serve.  And then come back and share what God has led you to do.  It will both inspire us/me to action and will give us/me ideas of ways we can serve.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mom's Boredom Busters

In honor of our Lenten decision to cut out (cut back on) screen time in my house, I am compiling a list of things that the kids can do instead of watching TV or playing computer games.  This is what I affectionately call:

Mom's Boredom Busters

1. Make paper airplanes and test them in the plane launcher.  See which style of plane flies the best.

2. Build something out of Legos, the bigger and more complicated (read: takes a long time) the better

3. Build something out of Keva planks, preferably something large and complicated (see #2)

4. Make a card for someone, possibly one for everyone you know

5. Paint-suncatchers, pictures, rocks, sticks, yourself, just not my furniture

6. Play with plasma cars/roller skates/scooters in basement

7. Play outside-sledding at Grandmas, in the woods, shoveling the driveway

8. Read a book-Yes, the whole thing

9. Play-doh

10. Do a puzzle

11. Play a game-Let your little sister win occasionally

12. Climb the walls-I'm still not sure if it was a good or bad idea to show Lizzy how I used to climb the walls when I was a kid.

13. Write a story-Is that too much like school?

14. Play the Toy Game-as the name implies, this is when they play with toys and make up stories

15. Help mom cook dinner-sometimes this involves free samples

16. Snuggle with mom-which usually turns into a tickle fight

17. Research, design, and then execute making a pinewood derby car-we are starting to have a large collection of these in our house

18. Watch the birds at the bird feeder-even when you're supposed to be doing math

19. Practice your "death" scene-This is one of Joy's favorite things to do

20. Have a nerf gun war-just don't hit mom or your gun will go in time out

21. Go to Grandma's house and do chores-because chores done somewhere else are much more fun than chores down at home

22. Make random things out of paper

23. Play hot lava-you have to walk around the room without your feet touching the ground using the furniture

24. Follow mom around saying "I'm bored.  I'm bored.  I'm bored." (Which leads to #25)

25. Do a chore (see #24)