Saturday, December 15, 2012

$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

If you haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet, (you're probably in the majority ;)) here's a little help!

Enter here to win a $100 gift card to from Mama Chocolate.

Good luck!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Shared Dream

Since we took over my grandfather's care over two years ago my son has become very close to his Pappaw. Our little boy seems to know that somewhere in the heart of my seemingly unemotional Pappaw there is a need for a child's love; for little arms to give him a hug and a small voice to say, "I love you, Pappaw!" This is good, but it's also painful, because we know that Pappaw won't be with us long and our son's heart will be broken when it's time to say "good-bye".

When I take supper to Pappaw and clean up his house, my son begs to go in to see him. If I'm in a hurry and need to just pop in and out and he thinks he might not get to go inside, he melts. "But I want to see him and give him a hug!"

Tonight he had some extra time to visit with Pappaw while I worked in the kitchen. When I finished, I started to the bedroom but stopped before entering when I overheard their conversation.

"...And you want to go to heaven to see Mammaw, 'cuz she died." my son said, matter-of-factly. And he's right. Pappaw wants to go home. He's just waiting, and he'll tell you so! "I think she'll remember me when I get there. I'll tell her my name and she'll know I'm her grandson."

"Yeah, she'll know you." Pappaw said, with certainty.

How I wish I could have recorded what they said! Already I can barely remember it. But I do remember my Pappaw admonishing my son to live live for that he could see him in Heaven.

The conversation went on for a little while and I listened, almost reverently, peeking in at the two of them sitting on the bed: one, old, stooped and tired, and the other so young and full of life., lifetimes...apart and yet, they share one dream. Heaven.

I dream of that day, too, when we'll all be together, free of everything that hurt and disappointed us down here. It's the shared dream of all God's children, the hope that gives purpose to life on this reeling, sin-cursed, messed-up earth.

I don't know how much longer we'll have our Pappaw here with us but, no matter how much it will hurt when he leaves us, we'll have the comfort of knowing that he'll be waiting for us to join him. When we get there, I'm pretty sure my son won't have to remind Mammaw who he is. Pappaw will be there with her, and they'll  be waiting for us...together...for a big, group hug.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

End of "Just Another Day"

I tiptoe into their bedroom to hang up freshly ironed dresses, all ready for church in the morning, and pause to take a mental capture of those beautiful faces. Giggles are quieted for now; sisterly quarrels paused until the next major catastrophe. (As perceived by them. Because everything  is a major catastrophe.) So soon they'll be young ladies...all grown up and, hopefully, less dramatic. And I'll miss that. Maybe almost as much as I'll miss kissing those pink cheeks goodnight and being struck once again with that wonderful, heady sense that to them, I'm the best mom in the world, and they love me. Unconditionally. And, oh, how I love them! On the way out of the room I take one more peek. Two little girls, all snuggled up, the youngest with her cheek resting on the furry back of our tiny dog. (Another "we'll never...!" broken. Oh, well.) Not very long ago that little girl was terrified of that little dog. How she's changed--and grown. 

Into the room with John Deere tractors, John Deere prints, and John Deere decorations everywhere you look. This little kid is all boy. I am once again amazed at how angelic he looks lying there, mischievous blue eyes closed, sweet lips closed for just a little while, and busy, trouble-making little hands finally still. This child, who has driven me to distraction and caused me to rewrite my mental book on parenting over and over, who has brought joy, laughter, and little-girl screams of terror into our lives, is a mystery to me. One minute sweet as honey, and the next.... But I love him so much it hurts. He's got some big plans, this little man. So far, he's going to be a builder, a policeman, a fireman, and, most recently, an artist who lives at home with his mommy. I like that last one. I'm sure I won't like the idea when he's thirty. He's four now, but already losing the need to snuggle, and that's just another painful reminder that my little boy is growing up far too quickly. Tonight was different. He wanted me to hold him. Of course, I did. All too soon I won't be able to hold him anymore...and I don't even want to think about that. 

I'm ready to do a little more ironing when she comes into the kitchen, the tall, slender girl who used to be so tiny that preemie clothes nearly fell off her. Her wisdom and wit astonish me, but I'm still pleasantly surprised at times to see that little-girl need for her mommy deep in those eyes. I hope I'll always see it. She heads off to get ready for bed, I admonish her to hurry. I'm wasting my breath, I know. She's slow, and a dreamer. Like her mom. Pity. Everything takes her twice or three times as long as it should. And, just as I supposed, far too long has passed before she's finally ready to get a goodnight kiss and hug and turn in. I already feel sorry for the man who will spend half his life waiting for her, as her father has for me.  We're kindred spirits, she and I. I couldn't love her more, and yet I do every day. 

Another day is marked off the calendar, time irreversibly passed. Everyone is resting up for tomorrow when we'll start it all over again. 

Blessed sameness. 

And I love that, too. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fun Friday: Random Things

Today, I'm supposed to share 10 random facts about myself. So, without further ado, here's the list:

1. I'd rather organize than clean. (Yes, I copied this from Jennifer. And I quit reading her list because I didn't want to be influenced further! It's uncanny how many things we seem to have in common.)
2. I don't like to dress up. When I lose 100 pounds, this might change. For now, I prefer denim skirts and shirts that hide a multitude of flab...if possible.
3. I rarely enjoy talking on the phone. I used to spend untold hours on the phone. My, how things have changed.
4. I'm scared of escalators. I will walk far out of my way to avoid one.
5. I have eaten alligator tail, squirrel legs, and frog legs, among other "exotic" foods. Tasted like chicken.
6. It's hard for me to sit still and do nothing. I have to be reading something, fidgeting with a phone, toying with my hair, etc. Horrible habit.
7. I went to college. For 6-8 hours.
8. I hide it well, maybe too well at times, but I am an extremely timid person.
9. I shot a gun once at Grandpa Brewster's house. I missed the target. Shame about Grandpa's neighbor's horse.....*
10.'t, well, that is to say..... Aw, ferget it. (gulp) Okay, here goes. For those of you who don't know, Idon'thaveadriver'slicensebecauseIchickenedoutandneverwentbackafterIfailedmyfirstdrivingtest. And now you know.

Now click over to Cherish the Call for more fun facts. :)

*Oh, and though I did miss the target, I didn't really shoot a horse. ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

How We Homeschool

I hesitate to even participate in the "How We Homeschool" thingy, because I feel like the least of the least among such able homeschool mothers as my fellow bloggers. :) But, here goes.

As of right now, our homeschool is extremely flexible and pretty much unstructured. My older children work on the basics, mostly independently, while I assist my younger daughter. We work on Bible, History, and some science together. I use a multilevel curriculum for these subjects, which I'll explain in a minute. In the meantime I try to keep my youngest child, a rambunctious boy, out of trouble as much as possible. To help with this I'm planning to put together a bin of "school-time-only" toys, puzzles, art supplies, etc, that he can work on during school. I've done something sort of similar to that but I haven't been very consistent with it. To be honest, he has spent far too much time watching something on the computer just so he'll be quiet and let the girls work. :( I know, I know. Shame on me. I'm working on it! I want to start working with him more as well. He's shown some promise and I think he'll pick up fairly quickly. 

Working away from home. Love flexibility!
I was clueless about homeschooling when our oldest child was ready for Kindergarten. I relied almost completely on the recommendations of a friend who was one year ahead of me on her homeschool journey. (I don"t know what I would have done, would do, without the help and support of other homeschool moms.) I was under the impression (and had been warned by someone) that I needed to stick to one line of curriculum. I have since found out that mixing and matching works just fine. I tried some completely different angles this year and they seem to have helped a lot. I've learned through trial and error what works for us, and I've learned that you cannot go by what works for other families. One mother I talked to thought that a certain curriculum was the best there was. It didn't work for us. At all. We're all different, and our children learn differently. Learning to be flexible and creative when choosing curriculum is important.

Just in case you're interested, here's a list of what we use:
For our multilevel subjects:
Mystery of History  Love this so far. It's multilevel with lists of activities/seatwork for different ages. It's very biblically-based.
Apologia Science.  My oldest daughter will start General Science soon, but will also work on Apologia Astronomy along with the younger ones, working in a higher-level notebook.
Who is God? series (Bible). This book works for all three of my children and I'm very pleased with it. 

For my 4th and 7th graders:
A Beka Reading. Mainly A Beka reading books, (I have some of them already and can find most of the others on their reading list at the library) as well as other books that I think will be good for them. My 7th grader is doing A Beka Literature as well.
For my K-1st grader:
She's still working on some of the A Beka Kindergarten Reading Program. She'll start on Rod & Staff 1st Grade Reading, Phonics, and Penmanship soon.

All three girls are doing Math U See. So far I love this program!

I supplement (or will supplement) with:
Science DVDs Moody Bible Institute has an excellent set called The Moody Science Classics Series. (You can see previews of the DVDs at Moody's site. We actually bought them through Vision Forum during a sale event. Incidentally, I'm a Vision Forum affiliate. If you'd like to order anything from them, please feel free to use the link here on my blog! ;))

Besides the Basics:
The girls are taking art and violin lessons from a wonderfully generous and incredibly talented young lady who attends our church. I'm so thankful for her! As far as P.E., um, they play outside or run like wild things through the house. :) We don't do anything structured with that. I probably should, I know.

In my dream-school, I'd also have them learn Latin. Sigh....

Note: I always try to buy our curriculum as cheaply as I can. I'm especially thrilled when I can find nice, used curriculum online for a fraction of the cost of the new stuff!

And that's how it goes at our house. There's a LOT of room for improvement, but I'm thankful for how God has helped us this far!

You can check out the other "How We Homeschool" post here

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our Daughter's Baptism

Today at Cherish the Call I shared a little about my daughter's baptism. I am so proud of my girl, and so thankful for her tender spirit and her love for God. I pray that she will always be as sweet and as submissive to His will as she is now, and I pray that God will lead her father and me as we endeavor to do our best to make it easy for her and for our other children to walk in His ways!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Post at Cherish the Call

Today at Cherish the Call, I write about something that is almost as fun for me really fun! =) Homeschool Conventions! Come on over and share your tips for attending these conventions, and let me know what you like about them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's a Party!

*~Happy Birthday!~*

Today is the birthday of Jennifer Self, the author/owner of Cherish The Call, and we're celebrating with a blog party! If you haven't visited over there yet today, you're missing out. Jennifer and the other gals have lots of fun stuff cooked up...there are even some prizes, I hear! So c'mon and celebrate with us.

I hope you aren't too full of party snacks, because it's time to play some games! Well...not literally. But I do have some fun birthday party games to share with you.

1. Crazy Cans Game
I found this idea at Two Shades of Pink. The painting and sewing may be a little time-consuming, but it's just too cute and it would be a great game for little ones. If you can't find the i-pod nano socks, you'll have to get creative. I'm wondering if the tops of some colorful socks would work...maybe?

2. Fruit Basket
Did you ever play Fruit Basket when you were a child? It's loads of fun! There are instructions here if you don't remember how to play it. The one major difference is that we always put chairs in a circle and the players had to move to different chairs when their group was called. Otherwise, these instructions are pretty much the same.

3. Relay Games
Relay games are always fun! Here are a few variations: (the first two are links)

a. Classic Egg and Spoon Relay. Fun...and messy. Definitely an outside game.

b. Grab Bag.  This relay would be more fun to watch than to play,
 I'm thinkin'. ;) It'd be funny for kids, but hysterical for adults!

c. The Food Relay This game would be more appropriate for teens and adults than for smaller children, and you'll need to find out about any food allergies before starting the game.

Get two large paper bags and fill them with sandwich bags containing small amounts of food items such as:

Nice Items:
apple slices

slices of bread
pickle spear
powdered donuts

 Not-so-Nice Items:
plastic spoonful of peanut butter (try to eat that in a hurry!)
     one piece of Sour Head candy
    fruit tape (soooo funny!)
   onion (just a teeny bit)

The players form two lines. The first players race to the table, pull out a baggie, eat whatever it contains, and run to the back of the line. The relay continues until one team has finished. 

The fun part about this game is that you can tweak it and do anything you'd like to with only being nice, if you wish. :)

4. Clothespin Buzzword
Follow this link and scroll down the page just a little bit to find instructions for this game. It's suitable for birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, etc. You can choose any appropriate "buzzword", but make it something that is likely to be said a lot! :)

And, of course, there are always the old favorites: Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, Hot Potato, Bobbing for Apples....

Follow these links for more fun party games for adults and children: & . 

Don't forget to visit Cherish the Call throughout the day so you don't miss anything! :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dinner With My Valentines

We had a fun Valentine's Day! I wrote a little about our Valentine's Day tradition at Cherish The Call yesterday. Here are some photos of my favorite little valentines, working hard on dinner. :)

Having fun together! I have no idea why that boy is holding his nose. 
Spooning the pizza sauce onto the English muffins. 

Adding the cheese....

And a little more cheese....

Everybody working together = chaotic fun!

Mr. D tried some pepperoni and discovered that, by itself, it's too spicy!

I used kitchen scissors to shape the pepperoni into hearts. Now the little pizzas are all greasy, cheesy, yummy, and ready for the oven. Healthy--no. Yummy--yes.

Flowers from Daddy, pretty candles, keepsake stemware, paper plates, and  salad dressing, aka dip, right in the bottle.  They didn't mind one bit. It was like a fairy tale to them. :) Oh...and Daddy escorted each child, (even Mr. D) to the table. But he refused to allow me to post his photo. Sigh....

We're doing a swell job teaching etiquette!
No homemade dessert this time...but the cake/cupcakes Daddy picked up suited  the kiddos just fine. :)

My sweethearts.

Our little family celebration didn't cost much, but it sure was nice, and wonderful memories were made. That's what counts. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

How We Do Our Laundry

In case you haven't picked up on it I'll just blurt it out: our lives are far from normal right now! (Whatever normal is.) I won't even try to explain. Just trust me. :)

Today, I'm supposed to tell you how we do laundry. Well, okay. It's humbling, but I will.

My husband, bless his heart, hauls the laundry to the former parsonage across the street and washes and dries it over there because we don't have a washing machine or working dryer in the house in which we're staying right now. It's very sweet of him to do this for me. Isn't he wonderful!? There are reasons for this. I'm not just being lazy. :) Still, I appreciate his help more than he knows! Anyway, when it's all washed and dried he hauls it back home and the girls and I put it away.

And that's how we do laundry. For now.

I do want to share two things related to doing laundry that I would never want to go without (not counting my hubby):

Shout stain remover. This stuff is A.Ma.Zing. Really. It's worth every penny.

Don't you just love the name? :) This laundry sorter isn't pretty, but it sure is a time-saver. I wouldn't want any other hamper! So simple even the little ones know how to use it. Towels/washcloths in this one...lights in that one...and darks in that one. Voila! Laundry all sorted. 'Sides, these bags are easier for my hubby to lug across the street than a bulky laundry basket. ;)

('s a totally random reminder. Don't forget to clean your dryer vent no less than once per year to avoid causing a fire.)

And that's that. 

How 'bout heading on over to Cherish the Call to see how Jennifer tackles laundry? 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Being Thankful

For the happiness I see on my children's faces when their daddy comes home from work or school. 

For the delightful sound of my son giggling in his sleep. 

For rain. 

For boo-boos made better by mommy's kisses. 

For my husband's arm around me in church. 

For new friends and sweet fellowship. 

For a letter from someone special. 

For a surprise package from wonderful friends. 

For laughter that hurts. 

For visits with an elderly grandfather whom I love more every day. 

For tears. 

For difficulties that remind me to rely on God and not myself.

For grace. 

For all these "little" things, I'm thankful. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

How We Schedule Our Days

Schedule? Did I hear someone say "schedule"? Ah! What a wonderful word.....

I like to think of myself as an organized person. I adore lists. I make 'em all the time. For everything. Somehow, even if I never accomplish half of the items on that list I feel better just for making it. :) I even made a schedule. A really great schedule, planning out my day to a T and leaving a little room for the unexpected things that pop up in a normal day.

One of these days I'll start following that schedule.

In the meantime, we're following the "do the next thing" We get up, eat breakfast, get ready for the day, do some school work, eat lunch, do some more school work, eat dinner, clean up, and so on and so forth. No set time for anything...just doing the next thing. It works, but it's not what I want. And that was before our little winter break. Our company just left two days ago, so we're not back to even that much of a "schedule"! (Bows head in shame....) As you know, I homeschool our children, and right now we're rather behind. I've got the "January Panic"!

My husband, at the ripe ol' age of 34, started college classes last week. (I'm so proud of him!) With his classes and homework we are forced to get back to a regular schedule, which will be good for all of us. It will probably be a combination of my dream schedule and the "do the next thing" routine. I don't want to be too rigid, because I know I'd tend to get a knot in my tummy if we didn't stick to the clock, and then I'd stress all of us out. I'll let you know how it works out.... :)

Now you can go see how these ladies schedule their days. (And they really do! :))
Jennifer @ Cherish the Call
Joanna @ The LaVans