Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

I had a great birthday! The day before, my friend votemom took me out to lunch with some other women who have February birthdays. It was so fun! They are ladies I don't get to visit with very often, so it was refreshing to spend time with them. On the day of my birthday, two of my boys helped me make my cake:

(the rewards of helping!)

Daughter G frosted it AND made our dinner that night (scrambled eggs) so I wouldn't have to cook. :-)

The hodge podge of candles adds up, I'll let you count! (this was me pre hair-cut by the way)

Opening presents from my parents....

Thanks mom and dad!! I love everything! The scarf from England is gorgeous and I especially love the chicken pitcher from Italy! (my parents recently returned from several weeks in Europe, so their gifts were quite international!)

The day after my birthday, some sweet sweet friends sent me and hubby to a wonderful restaurant for dinner and took our children to Chuck E Cheese!! Oh my goodness, they had SUCH a good time!

These are the sweet sweet friends. :-) Thank you so much Keri and Marie!! Fyi, I am standing down a step so that I'm not towering over them. Keri especially is somewhat vertically challenged. ;-) (Marie would want me to tell you that yes, she is pregnant, and Keri, sorry about the rose placement!).

They sent us to a fabulous fondue style restaurant where we had a 4 course meal. We started with a cheese fondue for dipping bread, chips, fruit and veggies. Then we each had a salad. Next came the meat course. We got to pick our meat tray and our fondue dipping sauce. And we ended with a chocolate fondue! We dipped and ate every single strawberry, banana, brownie, cheesecake and marshmallow piece, and then my husband scraped out the remaining chocolate from the fondue pan and ate that too!! It was such a delicious meal and such a thoughtful thing to do. We had a marvelous time. Thank you so much my sweet friends!

(this is my post hair cut pic, with my handsome hubby!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mother Daughter Date

My 11 year old daughter and I went out for lunch and shopping together last Saturday. It was such a special time! I always enjoy spending "alone" time with each of our children, but this was extra special. Thanks to some gift cards, we were able to shop for some things she needed and just enjoy our time together. She is so fun and easy to talk to. And she is really growing up ~ maturing in so many ways. It is a joy to watch her develop her own relationship with God, and see ways God is helping her through the minefield of puberty. We conversed easily about a variety of topics, some serious and some light. We had another great talk about modesty vs. style, and people noticing our character and personality vs. people noticing our bodies. She had some great thoughts to share! I am so in love with her, and so grateful God entrusted her to us nearly 12 years ago. I used to gaze at her beautiful newborn face and think I couldn't love her any more than I did at that moment, but I was wrong.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Huge Gift from God

God has blessed us once again, in a very big way.

If you are a regular blog reader, you may recall that my biggest financial fear after my husband got laid off was losing our house. Since we had no savings built up to fall back on, I could not see how we could possibly make our mortgage payments if my husband's unemployment lasted any length of time. It is our single biggest expense, as I'm sure it is for many of you. I carried the weight of that worry by myself as long as I could. I was reluctant to pray intently about it because what my heart wanted to hear God say was, "of course I will allow you to keep your house!" But I was was pretty sure He wouldn't say that. So I just didn't even want to go there. When I thought I was going to explode, I finally had a much needed heart to heart talk with God. I blogged about that afternoon here.

What I heard God say to me, after I'd finished venting to Him, was that He did NOT promise us the house. But He did promise me Himself. He promised to be with me no matter what. He promised never to leave me. He spoke His love over me in such a profound way, I truly left my bedroom a different person than when I entered. And by God's grace, since that day I have not been worried about how we were going to make our house payments. Curious? Yes. Trying to save every possible way on other things to help with that payment? Yes. But worried, no.

Since that time God has provided for us in amazing ways. The very day we had a specific need, such as grocery money or gas money, He met it. He has also moved people to give us things that were not needs, such as my cut and color last month, and the gift card that purchased our children's new winter boots and snowpants. Time and time again, He has shown His care for us in big and small ways.

Last Friday at co-op I was sharing with another mom about how good God has been to us during this unemployment. I shared many of the specific instances God has provided something we really needed, exactly when we needed it. Then I told her, "I'm not really concerned about most of our monthly bills because we are finding (or being given) ways to pay for them. But I do wonder about our mortgage payment. It's just so big compared to all our other bills, and I'm not sure what God has in store for us regarding our house."

Do you see where this is going?

That evening, just before bed when I finally opened the day's mail, there was a note from a friend of ours that said "please use this for expenses during the next few months until you find a permanent job", and inside the folded note was a check for a very large amount. Very large. Enough to cover our mortgage payment for 3 months! At that point I felt completely undone and I very nearly hyperventilated. How? Why? Why would God choose to shower so much grace on US? Sobbing, I couldn't speak so I showed the check to my husband. When I found my voice I said, "I don't know what to say" and he said, "I think we should say thank you." So we knelt down and thanked the Lord for His incredible goodness to us. Completely undeserving. Unmerited favor. Grace.

It gets even better. In conversation with this friend we learned that her family has been praying for us every day, and one night last week God woke her up in the middle of the night, told her what He wanted her to do for us, told her the amount, and told her to send it NOW. I know this friend and she has a very generous spirit. She is experiencing much joy in knowing God is using her in our lives. But there is no denying that this gift was from God Himself.

I know that God is more than capable of providing for His children, and I have often had the joy of being the giver. I have even experienced being the recipient of His provision through others before. But I have never experienced such a shower of His financial provision as we are having right now. God didn't need to do this to prove His love for us. He already did that on Calvary. But for some reason He is choosing to reveal Himself in a powerful way through our current circumstances. Each time we are given a gift, it is as if God is speaking His love and care to our hearts. And all we can do is praise Him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Our Week in Review

I am starting off this version of Our Week in Review by showing a partial stack of the books Little Man and I read together this week. I so often describe what the other children are reading, and I don't give time to Little Man's "reading". So this was his "reading" this week. :-)

He also listened to some of the Civil War reading his older brothers and I did. We used these books for our history reading this past week, and learned about the early life of Abraham Lincoln, the early battles of the Civil War, what it would have been like to have been a child during the Civil War, and more about the Underground Railroad.

It was a fascinating week! My husband and I are currently previewing the movies Gettysburg, and Gods and Generals to see if/how much we can show the children. So every night this past week after the children have gone to bed, we have hunkered down with our history book and the tv, pausing frequently to discuss things or to run into the other room and look something up on the computer. We feel we are getting such an excellent education too!

On Monday, a local museum was offering free admission in honor of President's Day, so we decided to ditch the books and take a field trip! We met up with some friends from co-op and had a great time!

At the museum we were able to see THE actual chair that Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot. Not a replica, the actual one. The children were fascinated by this. You can still see dark colored stains on it from his blood.

We were able to eat our lunch while listening to an 1860's era band play period music.

Little Man was feelin' the music!!

Back at home, we found time for playdough.....

....and a matching game with homemade food cards.

After Little Man and I read Blueberries for Sal (one of my all-time favorite children's books) we dropped real blueberries into a tin pail to see if they would make the sound "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk". They sortof did!

My husband had a good first day at his new part-time job. It will be an interesting project because it's something he has never done before, but he doubts it will work into a full time job. It does not appear to be the work environment he is really hoping for, nor are they able to pay the compensation he needs. We will be grateful in the short term and continue praying for a permanent job that he loves.

I am feeling MUCH better since getting on antibiotics. We are all mostly healthy now. I am looking forward to putting all the sickness behind us!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eventful Day

Wednesday was an eventful day at our house. I woke up sick. Again. It's strep throat. Again. I called my Dr and basically pleaded for more antibiotics without having to come in and be seen and swabbed again (which would have cost over $100), and she was merciful and phoned in a prescription for me. Thank you Lord! When I am mildly sick we forge ahead and do school anyway, but yesterday I was too sick to supervise school so the children got the day off. They felt bad that I was sick but they were VERY happy to have an unexpected free day!

After collapsing in bed for a little bit in the afternoon, I took our son L to the Dr to get his leg checked. He has had something called "molluscum contagiosum" for about a year now. They are little bumpy lesions on the skin which look like warts but are not warts. Well, one of them on his leg got infected and had turned into cellulitis. So he is on antibiotics now also. I am so thankful for modern medicine!

He and I stayed home from church last night, and as we were cuddled up on the couch together watching American Idol, a pizza commercial came on that showed a man with his mother and he said something like, "There's only one thing a man loves more than his mother....." and he goes on to talk about these delicious pizzas. L turned to me and said, "that's silly. There's nothing a man loves more than his mother except God." So sweet!!!!! That made me feel good. :-)

Then, the biggest news of all happened. My husband had a phone interview at 7:30pm which resulted in him being hired right over the phone! It is a part time job, and the pay is low, but it's in his field and it's a JOB. Yay!! It will not pay all our bills, but it's a start. We are very thankful! He started today so I keep thinking about him and praying for him and wondering how it's going. I can't wait til he comes home tonight and can tell me all about it. Rejoice with us! And please keep praying for "the" job!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Sons G and L (9 and 8) were doing some writing and G noticed that L had capitalized words that did not need to be capitalized.

G: "You don't need to capitalize those letters, don't you remember from grammar?"

L: "Well yeah, but that's grammar! What does that have to do with writing?"

G, incredulous: "Grammar goes with writing! What's the point of learning grammar if you don't use it?"

My thoughts exactly!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God is so good!!

Okay people. This is a true story. 100%.

My husband got paid for part of his free lance project last Friday. We were so grateful! The bank was closed yesterday for President's Day, so I deposited the check this morning and then paid some bills. I used up all but $250 of the paycheck, and that money is already earmarked for other expenses coming up. So I told my husband this afternoon that we could not use our debit card at all. Nada. Zilch. Not for anything. Then it dawned on us that we would need money for gas. I did take out a small amount of cash so I told him that we would just have to use some of the cash to pay for gas, but wondered outloud if that would be enough.

He went upstairs to continue working on looking for work, and I re-focused on schooling with the children. A couple hours later he brought in the mail. I was busy in the kitchen when suddenly he hands me a pretty pink Valentine's Day card, out of the envelope. I thought, "Wow - how nice - he got me a card! Better late than never!" (side note, in his defense, he usually gets me lovely cards and writes something really meaningful in them that makes me cry, but he was really sick last weekend).

I opened the card and out falls a $50 GAS CARD!!!!!!!

God knew exactly what we would need, when we would need it, and moved someone to bless us in this very specific way. Oh my word, isn't God good??! Again, it was anonymous, so I'm publicly thanking the LORD and sharing His incredible goodness with all of you! If the giver is by chance reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you!! You couldn't have known that we would be talking about gas money today, but even before we had a chance to pray in earnest together about this need, God met it through you.

And, as icing on the cake, there was also a $25 Target gift card in there too.

I. Feel. So. Loved.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Struggling with the Possibility of Moving

My husband and I discussed last week the possibility of him actively pursuing jobs out of state. We are apparently no closer to him being employed than we were 3 months ago (of course, nothing is impossible with God!) and I think we need to be prepared for the possibility of moving. I am trying to think positively about this. New place, new people, new experiences, hopefully lower cost of living, etc, etc, etc. All good things. But each of those things means saying goodbye to something here. And I am completely, absolutely, entirely, incredibly overwhelmed at the prospect of getting ready to move. Our house is not ready to sell. Nowhere close. Nothing major to be done, but lots and lots of small things that add up to money and tons of time. We also would have to majorly purge first. I don't even know where to start with that. And in order to have our home "show" ready, I'd have to put away so many things we use for homeschooling. Really, who wants to see a schoolroom when they walk into their prospective kitchen? But how do I homeschool without our schoolroom? WHERE do I put all our daily stuff??

I love our living room/dining room. It's the prettiest area of our home. My beautiful drapes were custom made for me by my friend Susan. My friend Sally picked out the paint color which I still LOVE. My husband refinished the hardwood floor himself. Three of my babies learned to walk in this room, behind a little push toy. Our Thomas track has been elaborately set up on this floor literally hundreds of times. We have had large family gatherings in this dining room every Thanksgiving for the last 8 years, and so many friends gathered around our table for birthday parties and tea parties and just plain old pizza fellowship. So many memories in this house. I love our house! My heart does not want to go.

My head knows all the right answers. And my heart will get there. But right now I'm sad at the thought of leaving, and just plain overwhelmed. Our Sunday School teachers said something yesterday that stood out to me for our situation right now, "prepare to go, but be willing to stay". I think that's what I need to do, but I hardly know where to start. Maybe start spending 30 minutes a day purging? That would be good for us, whether we end up staying or moving.

It is hard at times not to presume to know what's best, but the bottom line is that only God knows what is best for us. We are leaning into Him, and trusting Him to help us take the steps He wants us to take. Please pray especially for my husband as he strives to discern God's will amidst competing voices.

Lord, we are so grateful for You! Thank you that You love us and have a plan for our family. Please show us what the next step is. Speak your direction to my husband's heart and mind. Help me to be supportive of whatever that direction is, regardless of my changing emotions. We don't want to rush ahead of You and we don't want to lag behind. Help us to walk IN STEP. Thank you so much for your gentle, tender patience, and your faithfulness to us. We love you. Amen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Week in Review

Like most of our town, we had sickness being passed around among our family members this past week, and at least one person was not feeling well every single day. This weekend the last two hold-outs succumbed (my husband and our son G), so I hope it is on its way out now!

Despite the sickness we managed to get most of our schoolwork done. The boys and I did not get to cover the presidency of James Buchanan, but we did read about the Underground Railroad, the Pony Express, and the build up to the Civil War. Daughter G was able to read about Buchanan's presidency but then was sick on Thursday and unable to participate in her virtual co-op. On Monday she is going to be our guest lecturer and share with everyone else what she learned about President Buchanan. Then we are moving on to Abraham Lincoln.

In other news, Little Man and 6 year old C helped me bake peanut butter cookies this week. They LOVE to help in the kitchen!

Little Man using his very own "desk".

Believe it or not, G is actually smiling in this picture. Poor boy! :-(

After playing in the snow, C helped me make hot chocolate. He was the dispenser of the marshmallows, a job which he is really good at!

Checking out daddy's laptop.

Valentine's Day treat bags from the dollar store!

On Saturday we had a Valentine's Day feast and ate by candlelight. During the meal we each shared one or more things we love about each member of the family. It was especially meaningful to me because we had a bit of a rough week in the love-each-other-as-you-love-yourself department. What a blessing it was to hear each child say something they loved about each of their siblings. They came up with some amazing adjectives to describe things they appreciated. It ended up being a fun and delightful time together. How I cherish my husband and each of our children! I am so blessed to be my hubby's wife, and our children's mama.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Civil War

I have been wrestling with exactly how to present the civil war material, beginning next week, to all our children, but particularly our oldest who is at the "dialectic" level, or the level at which students begin to understand the why of information and make connections between people and events. The issue of a strong central government versus states' rights is still such an abstract concept, even for her. In the weeks leading up to this, as we have discussed various states being admitted to the Union as either slave or free, I have noticed that the children are grouping all the southern slave states as "bad" in their minds, and the northern free states as "good". We have talked about how some issues (like slavery) are plain bad, while other issues (such as states' rights) can be both good and bad. We have also talked about point of view, how sometimes two people just can't agree and neither is right or wrong, but their points of view are just different. But I'm not sure they're getting it. Most of them are probably too young. And the boys are just excited about the whole war aspect!

My reading leading up to next week has been very interesting to say the least, and it has sparked some lively discussion between my husband and I! Many view Abraham Lincoln as the Savior of the Union, while others make the point that slavery was on its way out anyway and Lincoln up and decided it should be illegal for states to have the right to secede and started an unnecessary war over it, thereby strengthening the power of the central government. There has been so much written about the Civil War from so many different points of view, I can only read a small percentage of what is available. But it's extremely fascinating and has forced me to think outside my traditional public school taught views of history. I am praying to do it justice in the next few weeks, as our family reads and talks about this painful period in the history of our nation. I am thankful we have such an excellent resource as Tapestry of Grace, which presents the point of view of both sides and leads us through questions and Scripture which help us understand this conflict!

For you homeschoolers out there who have already covered this time period, how have you handled this in your homeschool?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Update on my husband's job search

My husband had an interview on Monday with a contract company. We were given the impression that they had a specific job they wanted to recommend him for and were "test interviewing" him first to make sure he'd be a good candidate. The interview went well, but my husband was told that they did NOT have a specific job in mind for him and were just getting him in their database. That was a little disappointing, but we are clinging to the fact that God is in control and He has a plan. They did say he was a "good candidate", and that's always nice to hear! But we'd rather he be a "good employee".

My husband also heard back from a company he interviewed with last month and they do not have any suitable openings at this time.

He is pursuing another job possibility for a job he really wants, and we will see where that leads. Thank you for your prayers for our family. I won't lie ~ it's hard. But God is so faithful, and He is lovingly teaching and guiding us through this trial. The peace we have can only come from Him. He is good!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Challenge

Since we received the $500 grocery store gift card, I have been very excited to see if we could buy all our food, toiletries, and pullups for that amount this month. Really excited. I love a challenge! I am almost certain that we can do it, and my motivation is high to prove that fact to myself. Yesterday our daughter G and I went to the grocery store with a medium long list and the sale flyer. We spent about $60 on pullups and $168 on food. As we were shopping I was so thankful for the ways God has helped me to prepare for this, because there were just so many items I did not need to buy that a few months ago I would have thought were standard things for us.

If you are wondering how it might be possible to feed a family of 7 for $500 a month, keep in mind that I already bought all our milk for the month (it's in our freezer, remember?). I bake our bread so don't need to buy any. I am striving to cook more non-meat meals for my family, which means buying less meat. In fact, yesterday the only meat I bought were 3 whole chickens on sale for .79 cents a pound, and a few cans of canned chicken for my hubby's chicken salad sandwiches. I make our yogurt now so didn't have to buy any of that. I bought no crackers or chips. We snack now on hard boiled eggs, carrot sticks, slices of bread, or fruit. Better choices anyway! We bought 7 large bags of cold cereal, which will be doled out sparingly over the course of the month. The children know the drill now ~ no more cereal until March! :-)

I will be posting weekly menus, recipes, and updates on how we're doing with the food budget over on my food blog, so please visit there if you want to check on how I'm doing with my new challenge. In the meantime, I put a little ticker in the top right corner of my blog that will countdown the money on the giftcard as we use it throughout the month. My stated goal is to make it last for all of February, but my secret goal is to still have money on the card when March comes. I could not find a giftcard countdown ticker (goodness, I wonder why?) so had to re-purpose a debt reduction ticker. Don't let the little words "debt ticker" fool you ~ it's really our giftcard countdown!

And again, thank you, thank you, thank you to whomever blessed us with this giftcard and started me on this fun and exciting food budget challenge! You are helping me to see how much we can save every month if we eat like this all the time. What a thought!

Pinewood Derby! (aka, Shape-n-Race)

For decades, since long before my husband was a boy in Stockade, the Stockade program has organized the Pinewood Derby. Each boy designs his own race car, makes it with his dad or a Stockade leader, and then gathers together to race them. They have local races and regional races, and I'm assuming that regional winners go on to compete at the state level. For some reason, Stockade changed the name to "Shape and Race", but in our minds it will always be the Pinewood Derby. Yesterday was our first experience as a family with this time-honored tradition. Our 8 and 9 year old boys both competed. Oh my! Computerized scoring and everything.

Here they are sanding their cars.

We quickly learned that the wheels you happen to get in your car kit are the biggest indicator of success, even more than car design. It so happens that our son L had great wheels! He won first place for his age division!! Way to go L!

Our son G won 4th place in his age division. Way to go G!!

It was very fun, and they have already begun designing cars for next year's race. :-)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Our Week in Review

Some of the books we used in school last week. We covered events of the one term presidency of Franklin Pierce. Pierce was not a visionary, and he was a rather short sighted president. His support for certain policies probably hastened the start of the civil war. This coming week we will learn about events during the presidency of James Buchanan, and after that, Abraham Lincoln! We will spend about 3 weeks on the civil war, which we are all looking forward to.

The 3 middle boys working on their Zachary Taylor president pages.

I LOVE this picture! I love it because there was a time when I thought this boy would never learn to read. His reading has truly blossomed this year and he is reading often for pleasure. Seeing him read brings me so much joy!

I love this picture too ~ collaboration among siblings is always a beautiful thing.

And I love this picture too! It shows our son G with the very first unabridged classic that he read on his own from cover to cover! Swiss Family Robinson - all 250 pages! He is an excellent reader, but a slow reader. He has taught me this year that slow does not equal struggling. Since I am an excellent reader AND a fast reader, I have always assumed those go together. Not so. He slowly plowed through this book, the original version I might add ~ with old British English, enjoying every page! I was so proud of him when he finished!

My strep is gone, I am feeling healthy and energetic once again. Little Man was sick the early part of the week however, and now son C has it. High fever, lethargy, sore throat. He stayed home from co-op yesterday, spending the morning at home with daddy. In other exciting news, it has warmed up here quite a bit and we are out of the deep freeze! At least for now. The ice dam on our roof melted off today, and I actually saw some brown, soggy grass! First grass I've seen since last year. :-)

Spring IS coming!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Amazing Praise!

Rejoice with us!

Someone sent us a grocery store gift card in the mail anonymously so I don't know who to thank. In the absence of thanking someone specifically, we want to tell others so you can rejoice with us! There was no amount stamped or written on the card, so I went online to check how much was on it and I was stunned to find out there is


We are anticipating the first payment soon from my husband's small freelance project, so I was thinking that I'd be able to take a small amount of grocery money from that, but now I have $500 of grocery money to spend throughout the month and that can go for all the other bills! Thank you Lord!!

Truly, we are undeserving of this incredible gift. It is grace, pure and simple. We are humbled, shocked, and very very grateful. And now I am all geeked to see if I can do a month's worth of groceries on $500. Like the little blue engine that could, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Small Victory!

We made it to February without buying any more cold cereal! The children were skeptical, and some were not happy that we'd have to eat more oatmeal and waffles and scrambled eggs instead, but we did it! Here it is the 4th of February and we still have a couple bags of cold cereal left. Yay! Just had to share. :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thankful for our Home

Recently I had occasion to be in a large, beautiful, un-cluttered home. It was a lovely experience! There was plenty of space, high ceilings, beautiful paint colors, lovely furniture, and no papers or schoolbooks cluttering the kitchen counters and table. Not a one! Visually it was a feast. The homeowner was a gracious hostess, freely opening her home and sharing from her plenty. I experienced fleeting thoughts of "if only...." but quickly set them aside and was able to enjoy my time there without comparing. While there, we had fun talking about room arrangements and I picked my hostess's brain about different ways I could arrange our family room. Our family room has always stymied me a bit, because there is really only one place for the couch and I like a little change now and then. :-)

She came up with a great plan and I came home all excited to try it. Wisely, I realized that I would have to broach this subject very carefully with my husband, because at the very least it involved moving the tv, with the possibility of moving it from the family room altogether. I knew this would probably be met with some resistance. So I decided to wait and ponder the plan some more, and pray, and make sure it was something I TRULY wanted before mentioning it to my man.

As I was pondering I thought of several downsides to this new arrangement. It would be visually appealing (in theory at least!) but not completely practical for the way we LIVE. It would cut the family room in half, sortof, not leaving the children much open space to play. It would involve the stretching of extension cords across many spaces where no outlets exist. Ideally it would involve the purchasing of new furniture, which is certainly not going to happen any time soon! It would also involve moving our large IKEA bookcase out of the room, the one we store virtually all of our daily school books and picture books in. I realized that it won't work. At least not yet. It's not compatible with the way we use our home.

We truly LIVE in our home. At any given time there are toys, throw blankets, books, and socks strewn about the floor (what is it with boys ripping off their socks wherever they happen to be?), schoolbooks on the table, piles of things for me to correct stacked on the kitchen island counter, dirty dishes in one side of the sink and clean ones drying in the other side, a bowl of something yummy being mixed up on the counter, laundry sitting on the couch waiting to be folded...... you get the idea. We have 7 people in our family who are all, at this time, in our house 24/7. If you have several children yourself and are not a homeschooler, imagine all of their school books, reference materials, library books, supplies for projects, notebooks, and school supplies making a home in your kitchen. Then add the teacher's desk. That is us!

Would I change it? Not at all. I love our life! I love being home with my children all day every day. I love learning with them, and seeing the light bulbs go on in their heads when they "get it". I love reading together, snuggling on the couch together, comforting the sick ones and watching the healthy ones entertain. I do not love the mess, but I realized that the mess is part and parcel of our chosen lifestyle. If I had the lovely manicured home that never got messed up, that would mean my life was different, and I don't want my life to be different. I love it the way it is!

So for now, the lovely room arrangement will have to wait. The ease with which my family uses our space is more important than any satisfaction I may receive from the new look. There is a time and a season for everything, and this is not the time or season for a beautifully put together interior.

Meditating on Philippians 4 recently, these words struck a chord with me:

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." ~ Philippians 4:11-13

How I thank God for His gift of contentment! Since things have been boiled down to the bare necessities for me, I realize once again how little I truly need to be happy. By God's grace I can say with Paul, I am learning to be content whatever the circumstances. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Another Highlight from the Weekend

In addition to the fabulous writer's conference that I was blessed to attend, another highlight of the weekend was getting to meet an on-line friend face to face! We have shared our hearts with one another for six years through an on-line group we are both a part of, so it was a real joy to finally meet in person. She is just like I have imagined her, and we chatted and laughed (even shed a few tears) like old friends. I thank God for the blessing of friendship!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

IEW Writer's Conference

My friend Sally and I had a wonderful time at the IEW writer's conference! And for my fellow IEW users, to prove that I actually met Mr. Pudewa himself, here is a pic of us together! I was actually a tad giddy about having my picture taken with him, can you tell? He is an excellent speaker; engaging, inspiring, and funny. And he has an amazing vocabulary! Listening to him speak was like music to my ears and food for my soul.

IEW stands for Institute for Excellence in Writing. They produce the writing curriculum and the poetry memorization curriculum we use in our homeschool. I love their approach to writing, because they incorporate the teaching of both structure and style. They teach 9 different models that cover every type of writing that could be required of our students, and they also teach stylistic techniques that make the writing more interesting to read. I have used IEW for nearly two years now, but hearing Andrew Pudewa teach it himself has given me much more confidence in utilizing it fully in our homeschool. I can't wait to implement what I've learned!

The seminar energized me greatly for the rest of the school year, and helped to remind me why we do the things we do, as well as giving me food for thought about NOT doing some things which may be unnecessary. I came home much encouraged!

Unfortunately, I also came home sick. I am pretty sure it's strep throat, though I'm hoping not. If I am not significantly better by morning I will go get a rapid strep culture. Tomorrow will be school lite, naps, and playing catch up from 2 days away. Lord willing, I can dig in to school again in earnest on Tuesday.