Friday, December 19, 2008

Husband meme

I don't often do memes, but this one I got from Julie really intrigued me! I love to talk about my hubby!


1. He’s sitting in front of the TV: what is on the screen? Sports or sci-fi stuff.

2. You’re out to eat. What kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Ranch

3. What is one food he doesn’t like? Any and all seafood. Seriously.  I've gotten him to go to Red Lobster once in 16 years! He will never go again.

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order? We haven't been in a bar for about 17 years, but he would order Sweet tea or Coke anywhere we go.

5. Where did he go to high school? Richwood High School, Richwood, WV

6. What size shoe does he wear? 11

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Electronic stuff and tools (that's seriously my answer too, Julie!)

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? Ham and cheese with Miracle Whip! Sadly, we are a divided househould.  I like mayonnaise. Sometimes, it's tough. :)

9. What would the Husband eat every day if he could? Anything that I cook homemade. He's the son of a farmer's wife and is used to meat and potatoes. Homemade biscuits too.

10. What is his favorite cereal? Honeynut Cheerios

11. What would he never wear? denim shorts

12. What is his favorite sports team? GO WVU!

13. Who is his best friend? Me!

14. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn’t do? Hmmm. I don't know. Like Mary Poppins, I am practically perfect in every way! :)

15. How many states has he lived in? 2 -- WV and GA

16. What is his heritage? German, I think. Webster County, WV for sure.  :)

17. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind? Yellow cake with chocolate icing. His favorite.

18. Did he play sports in high school? No, but he wishes he had. He played intramurals in college.

19. What could he spend hours doing? Watching TV. It's my hard working man's down time.

If anyone else joins in, let me know! Thanks, Julie, for the fun little meme!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Simplified laundry -- Works for Me Wednesday!

I have a small family (just my husband, me, and our son), but laundry still piles up around here like 20 people live in this house. And when my son plays baseball in the spring and fall --- well, laundry seems to take over.

Or it used to until I began a very simplified version of laundry duty.

I purchased three hampers. One for the bathroom we all use, one for mine and my husband's bedroom, and one for my son's room. These are just plastic hampers from Walmart that were maybe $8 each. I also have two laundry baskets.

My family is super casual. We're homeschoolers and my husband's office is casual, so we don't purchase many clothes that aren't just normal wash and wear. My husband has suits. I have certain things or dress pants that I don't want put in the washer, but 98% of our clothing is easily sorted into 2 categories. Everybody in my house knows my system and everyone (including my 11 year old son) knows how to use the washer and dryer. Well, my husband pretends not to know, but he really does know. ;)

Here's my simplified laundry division:

1) Towels, socks, underthings: These items are washed on hot and color bleach is always added to this load, along with detergent and softener.

2) Clothes: I don't sort by color. All of our clothes are washed on cold with detergent and softener and sometimes I add color bleach.

There is another couple of smaller categories. All my son's baseball stuff is washed together. I usually spray the stains with stain remover. It's all washed on cold, with detergent only. No softener in this load.

My dishtowels are washed separately in hot water with bleach. I am usually the one to wash this load.

When I have hampers overflowing, my son brings them all downstairs and I sort. I put all the towels, etc. in one hamper and all the clothes in another. We have a small basket that is the perfect size for what fits in my washer. So I can just fill that basket with whatever load I am washing and it's the perfect amount of items. I use that small basket for my son's benefit. I can tell him to wash a load of clothes or towels and he can fill that small basket up with the items and know that's just the right amount to put in the washer. He knows what temperature to use, how much detergent, softener, or bleach. Everything is washed on a normal setting. My towels, etc., are dried on regular setting. My clothes are dried on medium.

So 98% of my laundry is done in this way. It has made laundry so much easier and I have never had any trouble with the way laundry turns out. Just this past weekend, I was going to bed a bit early because I was tired. My son and husband were staying up to watch a movie and I remembered we had no clean towels for the next day. I was able to just ask my son to wash some towels and he took care of it. No problem.

One thing, though. I think it's a small thing. No one in the family likes to fold clothes except for me. Seriously, folding clothes is kind of therapeutic to me, so I fold everything. My son and husband put it all away. I don't like putting things away, so it works out great.

Simplified laundry -- it works for me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quick cupcakes

My son had a friend over to play last Friday and it turned into a sleepover. I didn't have any snacky fun stuff for my son and his friend to eat, so I quickly made up a batch of cupcakes using this yellow cake recipe from I used a store brought chocolate frosting that I had in my cabinet.

I've used the recipe for yellow cake several times. It is really delicious. The orange juice gives it a great flavor. There is a lot of sugar in the recipe, but, if you're eating cupcakes, you're not really counting calories, right? I've thought about cutting back on some sugar or using a sugar/Splenda combo, but I never have. My husband and son wouldn't like it too much if I changed the recipe because they love the taste of the cupcakes.

Besides the taste, what I love about the recipe is how quick and easy it is. I rarely buy store bought cake mixes, but I always have all-purpose flour, baking powder, and all the other ingredients for this cake in my cupboards. Grabbing the ingredients and mixing them up takes a matter of five minutes or so.

I was kind of lucky to have store bought frosting in the cabinet. I bought it to frost some vanilla cookies for Christmas that I hadn't made yet. I used to just make up a chocolate frosting with cocoa powder, but the taste was never quite right. The store bought frosting really tastes good on the cupcakes and makes the work that much easier. I've resolved to stock up on chocolate frosting from the store, because it's not that expensive and just makes the process faster.

This cake recipe is easy and simple and the flavor beats out any store-bought cake mix. With this recipe, I made 12 cupcakes and a 9 inch square cake. I made it on Friday and by Sunday night it was all gone!

Baked goods are not safe in this house!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A friendly letter to my Senator

Dear Saxby Chambliss,

Now that the election is FINALLY over and now that you have FINALLY been re-elected after the Dec. 2nd run-off election, I feel like I can tell you some things.

#1 - All the phone calls that I have been getting for the past four weeks from you, the Republican Party, and other Republican muckety mucks have been really annoying. Most have been recordings, but some have been real live people. I felt bad about hanging up on them. Truthfully, I just stopped answering the phone whenever my caller ID read VA or DC or GOP. I'm sorry about that, but I had to take a stand against it. We've been averaging a couple of calls a day from you guys. Of course, that strategy came back to bite me on Tuesday (the day of the run-off election) when I got a call from Sarah Palin. I didn't answer the call because I looked at the caller ID. So I missed her call. I did keep her message though. I just like to listen to it sometimes.

#2 - My mailbox has been over-run with tons of mailings from you too. I'm glad it's over now. Please don't even send me a Christmas card this year. We need some distance for a while.

#3 - I voted for you four years ago and I *would* have voted for you this past Tuesday, but I didn't vote. Now, don't get upset. It wasn't a passive-aggressive thing because of the phone calls and mailings. We had a stomach bug going around our house. Frankly, I didn't think it was a good idea to risk a trip in the car to my polling place. I'm sorry about that. But you had a decided victory, so let's just move on.

#4 - Okay. Don't get upset, but your last TV commercial with your family before the campaign was a little unsettling. Your lovely wife, Julianne, was with you. I love her name, by the way. If I had a little girl, I would definitely consider naming her Julianne. It's maybe the most beautiful name I have ever heard. But, I digress. Your ad with your cute little grandchildren...why do they call you Big Daddy? Is it a Southern thing? If so, that's fine and all, but sometimes I still hear their angelic voices saying "Vote for our Big Daddy." That's just creepy. Can they call you Grandpa or something in the next ad? Is that okay?

I'm glad I've gotten all this off my chest. It makes me feel better. I'm glad you won the election. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. I know you'll do your best for our country. Tell your wife I love her name. Tell your grandkids they are precious. (I called my grandpa "Pop" and my other grandpa "Pepaw". I'm just saying.)

Oh, and could you ask Sarah Palin to call me again? Have her call from an Alaska number, so I know it's her, and I will answer the phone. I think she and I could be friends. I would love to visit Alaska. I could babysit her kids. I've never eaten moose before.

Okay. Bye.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I over-turkeyed

Our Thanksgiving involved only my small family of three. Still I cooked like 20 people were coming to my house. And I definitely made too much turkey.

My husband did the Thanksgiving shopping and I told him to get a relatively small turkey (under 10 pounds), since it would only be the three of us this year. I knew we'd end up with leftovers, but wanted the leftovers to be manageable.

Then we got low priced turkey fever.

My husband called from the store and said the turkeys were on sale for $.49 a pound! Wow! Then he said we could get an 18 pound turkey for just around $8! I said get it because more is always better! Right?

Wrong. I have had turkey for lunch and dinner for three days now. And I still have a lot of bird left. I'll be spending a lot of time on All Recipes looking for turkey recipes. And maybe I'll freeze some too.

Not such a bad problem to have, really.

I'm thankful for big ol' turkeys.

My new favorite song

I have S.O.D. No, it doesn't have anything to do with lawn care. It's Song Obsessive Disorder. It rears its ugly head whenever I hear a song that just completely speaks to me. I can't stop listening to that song and I annoy my family by playing it over and over and over and over.

Well, I guess I kinda made the point, huh?

One of my previous bouts of S.O.D. involved Let Go by Frou Frou. I love that song and the singer (Imogen Heap). If you watch the YouTube video I linked to for that song, ignore the video and just listen to the song. It's one of those DIY videos from somebody with scenes from a movie and I'm not a fan of whatever movie that is. The song, however, is great.

My S.O.D. relapse is thanks to some girl I've never even heard of before, but, man, can she sing! I heard snips of Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae on a movie and looked it up and quickly found it on YouTube. What a beautiful song!

If you come by my house, that's what you'll hear me listening to. Actually you won't hear it because my family's sick of it and I have to wear headphones.

S.O.D. is a lonely disease.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook -- Nov. 24th


This is my first time participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook!

For Today . . .

Outside my window . . . it is bleary and gray. Rain and cold.

I am thinking . . . that I can't wait until Thursday, with my husband home all day and a turkey in the oven and all the fixin's cooking.

From the learning rooms . . . no school this week, so I am trying to regroup on a couple of subjects I have let slide.

I am thankful for . . . the beginning of another holiday season that focuses on family and home.

From the kitchen . . . some dishes are awaiting me from lunch. I'm not cooking tonight, but I have plans for the rest of the week and Thursday --- Turkey Day!

I am wearing . . . my cozy yellow sweatshirt to keep the chill of this gray day at bay.

I am creating . . . some new lesson plans for the rest of the school year.

I am going . . . absolutely nowhere tonight.

I am reading . . . re-reading the Mitford series of books. For some reason they just put me in the holiday mood.

I am hoping . . . that husband comes home soon.

I am hearing . . . my son and his friend talking in the living room.

Around the house . . . we have one Christmas decoration up and the house is tidy so we can decorate more this weekend!

One of my favorite things . . . is a blazing fire and I'm hoping we get some firewood soon.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . finalize shopping and preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Work on some plans for next week's school work while we have a break this week.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing . . .

My son practicing guitar. He is getting better and better every day and I'm so proud of his determination to learn.

Menu Plan Monday -- Thanksgiving


Monday -- turkey burgers, veggies

Tuesday -- egg and sausage quiche

Wednesday -- turkey chili and cornbread

Thursday -- Thanksgiving Dinner {turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, rolls, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie}

Friday -- I'm assuming I'll have some leftovers for the rest of the weekend, but I might make turkey pot pie (with biscuits on top) to break the monotony.

Here are other great ideas for meals this week!

Monday, November 17, 2008

More on Aldi's shopping

You might have read about Shannon's experience with Aldi's. I've also been spending some time reading up on the Aldi Queen and her seasonal planning menus! Wow! Well, on Friday I went back to Aldi's to go grocery shopping. It was a different Aldi's store that I had never been to. The one we have gotten stuff from before is the one that is on my husband's way to/from work.

I was armed with a list, but since I wasn't sure what it would be like, it was mostly a list of meal ideas I had for the week and ingredients I needed. I normally do my grocery shopping at Publix. When I shop at Publix, I make a menu, then make my shopping list with the store layout in mind.

I made sure to have a box in my car and also took some plastic Publix bags and a quarter for the shopping cart.

My son thought having to "pay" for the cart was neat. I understand the idea that it keeps them from having to pay someone to gather carts, but I thought it was annoying.

First impressions: The store was small and looked like a warehouse. There was no ambience to speak of. It was very bright. There were not many people there. There were probably less than 15 cars in the parking lot. I was surprised because it was about 4:40 p.m. on a Friday. I never shop at that time at Publix because the place is packed.

Even though, there were not a lot of people shopping, it was a little crowded in the aisles. I guess it's because the store is small, so it just feels more crowded.

Maybe this is where I should tell you, I didn't like shopping at Aldi's. When I go to my Publix store, I know where everything is. There's a nice smell (especially around the holidays!). People are friendly (Aldi's employees were not friendly, not even to say hi or thanks when you check out). At Publix you feel like exploring the aisles, finding new products, trying new things. At Aldi's I was just trying to get ingredients I needed. There is no selection at all.

Would it be harsh to say it felt like I was shopping in Communist Russia?

Okay, I've never shopped in Communist Russia, but when there is only one type of canned pinto beans, it's a little shocking to me.

I've lived a pampered life.

Here's the thing, though. I spent $85.44 and I got a lot of food. I bought 4 pounds of ground beef, two pounds of frozen ground turkey, one pound of sausage. I got 2 lbs. of thin spaghetti, two jars of spaghetti sauce for $.99 a jar, and 4 cans of condensed tomato soup for $.49 a can. I bought 2 gallons of milk for under $5 and a box of frozen waffles for $1.15.

I got other things too. Cheap bread and hamburger buns, eggs for $1.19 a dozen. I got icing for vanilla cookies I will be making this week. Baking cocoa, chocolate chips, vegetable oil, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and a five pound bag of white sugar. The flour was $1.79. The sugar was $1.89. I haven't paid prices like that for a very long time.

I picked up 9 various canned goods, pickles, ketchup, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, orange juice, hash browns, sweet peppers, bottled water, oats, tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, tissues, disposable containers, and a fresh pineapple. My son has wanted a whole pineapple for a long time and I never bought one because of the price. The pineapple was $1.49. I got a 12 pack of chicken flavored Ramen noodles (my son likes it) and a box of instant mashed potatoes.

I think that's everything.

I was amazed at how little I spent and how far it will go.

So to sum it all up. I did not like shopping at Aldi's. I felt like I was shopping at a warehouse. The store had no personality. I missed my Publix!

But I can't believe what I spent, or rather what I saved. There was no fear of wasting money on frivilous items, because there are no frivilous items to buy.

What I am hoping to do (perhaps after Thanksgiving) is go back to Publix, with my receipt from this Aldi's trip, and buy the same stuff. I'll buy Publix brands where I can (the Publix brands are always as good as the national brands) and I'll use what coupons I can too. Then I'll see if I'm actually saving money.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Aldi's is farther away. Publix is just a few miles away, but Aldi's is about four miles farther than that. Of course, my husband drives past Aldi's every day, so it's convenient for him.

If the shopping experiment works in Aldi's favor, maybe I can just give him a list once a week and have him do the grocery shopping.

Then I won't have to go into that store again!

Somehow I don't think that will happen, but a girl's gotta dream!

Menu Plan Monday!


This week I am cooking double portions of two meals, so we can have leftovers two nights this week. I have a lot to do around the house and don't want to cook every evening or be tempted to eat out!

Monday: Chicken noodles (I know it looks like I make this a lot, but the last couple of times I've planned it, I made something else. We actually haven't had it for almost three weeks!)

Tuesday: Burger beans (We called these calico beans when I was growing up. The recipe calls it Slow Cooker casserole or Sweet Chili.)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Spaghetti/garlic bread

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Sloppy Joes (We love these sloppy joes! I have made these about every week for the last 3 weeks! Easy, fast, and cheap!)

Sunday: Turkey meatloaf/mashed potatoes/veggies (I haven't decided on a recipe for Turkey meatloaf yet!)

Lunches will be leftovers. Breakfasts will be oatmeal, cereal, frozen waffles, or eggs)

Take a look at what everybody else is cooking this week!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Political talk, again

If you haven't read the article in the Wall Street Journal, please take some time to read it. It's titled The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace and I'm so glad somebody has had the guts to say that in print.

I really get annoyed when I hear people badmouthing George W. Bush. And, I'm sorry if you happen to be a liberal (although I can't imagine a liberal reading my blog), but liberals seem to be so two-faced about this issue.

Case in point: I have an acquaintance who said about George W. Bush after the 2004 election, "Well, he's not my president." Oh, really? Can you imagine what that same person would do if I said those words about Barack Obama?

I did not vote for Barack Obama. I thought about it. I wasn't always excited about the Republican choice. I might have thought about it more if someone besides Obama got the nomination, but I would have ended up voting Republican anyway.

That's just how I roll.

However, now that Barack Obama is going to be my president, I am going to support him. I am going to remember he is the president of my country and give him a chance. Am I going to agree with every decision he makes? Definitely not. But I didn't agree with every decision Bush made and I voted for him twice.

For the past 4 years, I have gotten so sick of the bashing Bush has taken from people who I wouldn't trust to mail a letter for me. I know liberals get sick of hearing us Republicans complaining about the liberal media. You have to be blind if you think it doesn't exist, however. I can't wait to see how comedians handle Obama in office. I wonder if they will take the potshots at him that they took at Bush.

Bush hasn't been right about everything, but guess what? No president has. He has been vilified in the press. He has been compared to Adolf Hitler! Adolf Hitler! Americans have seriously compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler! How insane is that?

I was disappointed in John McCain because he didn't stand up for George Bush more during the campaign. I didn't expect him to have Bush front and center at the Republican Convention, but I would have liked to see him talk more about the positive things Bush has done, instead of trying to act like every good thing that has happened in the past 8 years or so has been a result of his own efforts.

I wasn't surprised, but I was also disappointed in Obama's shots at Bush. Now that Obama is in the hotseat, we'll see how he likes it. Not that he'll get the same treatment from the press that Bush has got, but he will be held more accountable than he was during the election. Won't he? Hmmm.

The thing about the Bush bashing is it's a result of what the American citizens are doing. If Bush had higher ratings, both of those guys would have been quick to ride his coattails. That's what I hate about politics. It's disingenuous. And self-serving.

We as voting citizens don't have to join the ranks of unsavory politics. I hope Republicans can mind our manners while Obama is in the White House and maybe the next time a Republican president is elected the Democrats can apply what they have learned from us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why am I so cheap?

The truth is, I'm not cheap about most things. However, if there is a way to get around spending some cash on something, I'll do it.

For example, I buy A Beka materials used. But, you can't buy the consumable stuff like workbooks or tests used. So I buy the workbooks new from A Beka's website. I buy the test answer keys used, if I can find them. This year I had no luck with that, so I bought the math tests and test answer key new too. Truthfully, I could just buy the tests for math and work the problems myself to grade them, but that would take a long time, so I bought both new.

Language Arts is kind of different. I bought the answer key, but decided to save the extra $8 or so by just planning to type out all the tests myself. Now, I'm a fast typist, but it takes a good 20 minutes or so to type those tests up.

When it takes me longer to type the test than it takes my son to take the test. Well . . . something's just not right about that.

As I was typing Evan's exam today, I decided next year I will spring for the $8. Hey, even if it's $10, I'm gonna spend it.

Oh, man! I just looked at the website and the test book is $4.75!

That just makes me sad. What was I thinking?

I wonder if Santa will bring it to me for Christmas. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Free Resources for Homeschooling

I belong to a local Christian homeschoolers Yahoo group and today there was a link to a post about free homeschooling resources on the internet.

I've seen some of these sites before, but some are completely new to me. I've blogged before about some of the sites I regularly use in homeschooling. This is a great addition to the resources I currently have! What a great list!

In the comments of Kendra's post, someone mentions LibriVox too. I haven't used anything off that site yet, but am planning to use it in the next couple of weeks. I want Evan and I to read The Swiss Family Robinson and think that listening to it while we follow along in the book will be fun!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!


This week we actually got some groceries from Aldi's. We had been there before to get milk. A gallon of 2% milk is $2.34 and we usually spend a dollar more than that at Publix.

We decided to get a few other things at Aldi's besides milk. Along with 2 gallons of milk (the guys drink A LOT of milk!), we got 2 lbs. of ground beef, 2 lbs. of ground turkey, 2 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken, 2 loaves of bread, 1 pack of hamburger buns, a bag of sweet onions, and a 16 oz. package of shredded mild cheddar cheese. All of that was just over $36, which I thought was a pretty good deal.

Everything we bought was $1 to $2 cheaper than we would have paid at Publix. I especially was surprised with the hamburger buns. I got some Sara Lee hamburger buns from Publix a couple of weeks ago for $2.99. The Aldi hamburger buns were $.85!

So this week I am going to try to make it all week long without any grocery shopping. I tried it before and didn't make it. We'll see how I do this week.

Monday: Sweet and Tangy Sloppy Joes; vegetables

Tuesday: Chicken noodles; vegetables

Wednesday: Evan's baseball party at Beef O'Brady's

Thursday: Chicken fajitas

Friday: Leftovers or grilled cheese and soup

For breakfasts, we have oatmeal, cold cereal, and eggs to choose from. For lunches, we'll have sandwiches, soup, and leftovers.

I've stocked up on lots of items from sales over the past few weeks. I bought tons of frozen vegetables a couple of weeks ago when Publix was having a sale on them. I had an extra package of noodles for the chicken noodles from the last time I made them. When I went grocery shopping at Publix about two weeks ago, I got whole wheat tortillas, so I have those for the chicken fajitas. Still, I will be very impressed if I can make it all week on those few groceries I bought from Aldi's. Especially because I've already made 2 meals with the ground beef. About a month ago Publix had a buy one, get one free sale on Hamburger Helper. I had about six boxes in my cabinet!

Even with the stocked up pantry, my spending for this week of groceries is drastically less than what I've paid in the past. It's not unusual for me to spend $120 or more on a week's worth of groceries. In the past, I've never really paid attention to sale items and I never stuck to a menu. I would have some vague idea of what I was going to fix, but let my impulses guide me when I got to the store. I think this week will seriously change the way I shop for food. I will probably spend more than $36 on food every week, but I'm going to try to stay under the $120 mark, now that I know it can be done.

For more great menu ideas, check out what everyone else is cooking!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Taking it easy

This weekend was to be drastically different. We had invited one of Evan's friends over to spend the night. We planned on picking him up, going out for lunch, and coming back home for a night of play and fun.

On Tuesday evening I started feeling sick. I would have thought it was the election results, but it was a sore throat and general tiredness. The general tiredness could be attributed to national politics, but the sore throat could not.

Wednesday, I felt worse. Thursday, worse than that. Thursday evening, the inevitable happened. My cold moved down into my chest, causing the wracking cough that seriously drains me.

I've always had what I considered a "weak" chest. I was hospitalized twice when I was kid with the croup. About 9 years ago, I had a two month bout with the worst bronchitis I'd ever had. That cough seemed to last the entire winter. Since then, every time I get a cold, it slowly makes its way into my chest and I have to deal with many days of the cough.

Today I am spending most of the day in bed, reading, watching TV, surfing the Internet. The sleepover is cancelled. My son is disappointed, but handling it.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be more energized. I may have no other choice. My husband woke up this morning with a sore throat.

So much for our fun weekend!

On days like today, I really wish I lived near my mommy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank you, Early Voters!

For the last week, I have driven past early voting sites and have seen the lines snaking around the buildings. I have watched people park their cars in overcrowded lots and walk great distances to stand in line. The eager voters patiently waited in line sometimes for a few hours to get their vote in early. I have looked at those lines. I have wanted to go ahead and vote, but I didn't.

This morning I didn't vote because I spent some time taking care of things around the house. This afternoon, instead of voting, I took my son and a friend roller skating. So at 5:30 when my husband got home, I still hadn't voted. We drove to our polling place together, expecting to stand in line for a while.

No line. No parking problems. We sailed in, cast our ballots, and sailed back out again. The whole process took about 10 minutes.

So, thanks to all of you Georgians who voted early! Your sacrifice is greatly appreciated!

In 2012, I promise to vote early and take one for the team.

At least I promise to think about it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


We've had a fantastic weekend. Trick or treating on Friday. My husband took our son and a friend all around the "spooky" neighborhood. My son was a vampire and he was so excited about it because it was the first time he had ever been something "scary."

Saturday we all slept in and later in the afternoon went to the roller skating rink. My son is having a birthday party (belated because of baseball schedule) at the skating rink in a couple of weeks and he wants to spend some time brushing up on his technique, so he can spend more time skating and less time on his bottom during his party. The skating rink also offers laser tag, so it will be a lot of fun.

With all the excitement of the weekend, I guess I was just on a positive high and I got us all out of bed this morning to go to church.

And now I'm kind of wishing I hadn't.

You wouldn't think going to church would be an unusual activity in a Christian's life, but it is out of the ordinary for us. We have shied away from "church life" for about a year now because of our experience at our previous church.

Lest you think that we are church hoppers, let me say that our previous church was the ONLY church we have ever attended as a family. My son was baptized there, as was my husband. If you had asked me when we started if I thought we'd end up leaving that church I would have said a big no. Several incidents and a few years later and it became more than apparent that it was not the church for us.

Our decision to leave was not taken well by the leaders of the church and they let us know in no uncertain terms that they did not agree with our decision. We have been basically shunned by our church family since then (except for 2 families we still talk to). My son lost his best friend. It was a bad experience and one that we do not want to repeat.

So, going back into a church situation is not very enticing to us. I'm trying to go into it with a different attitude, but it's really hard to leave the bitterness behind. Really hard.

We've visited some churches and that is a rough experience. Everyone is nice. People are welcoming, but you see that they want to hear your "story." They want to figure you out. They want to know what your deal is.

I don't want to tell them my deal. Right now I just want a place to worship and, frankly, sometimes I just want a place to go, so I can feel like I've worshipped and my corporate worship duty is done for the week. Believe me, I know I gotta work on my attitude about it.

Today we went back to a church we have visited a few times. It's non-denominational, which is appealing to us. It's relatively small. That's cool too. They have at least one other homeschooling family and I personally know 2 women there. One is Evan's former preschool teacher (and she's a homeschooling mom) another is a very nice lady I used to work with several years ago when I was a preschool teacher. I really like her too.

The problem is we've been burned. I don't want to get burned again. I'm seriously having to pray about opening myself up to people again. I don't feel ready, but I also feel like I can't put it off any longer.

So all these thoughts are racing through my head as we are at the church --- and I know that's a no win situation for any church member trying to "welcome" us. My husband, whose parents are/were believers, but were not churchgoers, is especially wary of the whole church situation these days. After service is over, some men start moving tables in from a fall festival they had yesterday and we are kind of stuck in the vestibule area and unable to run for the door. My son is off running around with a boy he always pals around with when we visit that church. All of this leaves my husband and I kind of like sitting ducks and people start to circle.

I'm not trying to be funny. That's really what it felt like.

One of the elders (this church doesn't have a full-time pastor, they have 4 elders) comes over and asks where we live, are we just visiting, are we looking for a home church. He's trying to coax our story out of us.

I tell him we are looking for a home church and as soon as the words are out of my mouth I try to wish them back in. Big surprise. It doesn't work.

Well, I know this guy is in a no win situation because of my wariness, but the next words out of his mouth really annoy me. I guess they've been getting some guests in. People are probably flocking to church because of the economic crisis/presidential elections, etc. But once he realized we were obviously "searching" for something he sarcastically says "Well, church does have all the answers."

Here's the reasons this bothers me:

People do come to church looking for answers. Is that a bad thing? I don't think I said anything to him before this about being a believer. What if I hadn't been a believer? This sarcastic comment would have really set me to thinking maybe there are no answers.

Churches are supposed to be a light to people, right? Why would a church leader be annoyed that people are trying to find the one light that might be shining through the darkness?

Another reason it bothers me is because I am a believer. I'm learning (and I admit this wasn't always the case) that church isn't the answer. It is a help, it does offer encouragement, but it is definitely not the answer.

I wasn't rude in my response to him. Gold star moment for me. I did point to the Bibles my husband was holding and say something about how we have the answers already.

My husband and I talked this evening about all of this. We are going to make this church our church home. We're not joining the church, but it will be the one we attend on a regular basis.

We are tired of looking for a church. We are tired of the hunt. We just want a place to go, that might help us in our growth. And, as much as I try to deny it, I do need the fellowship of Christian moms. I just do.

If this had been our only experience at that church, I wouldn't go back. But we've been before and there are more positives than negatives. One thing my old church experience definitely taught me is that you really can't put your faith in people. They're all human and they WILL let you down. I let people down too.

But I'm going to just put my faith in God on this one. He knows my heart about this and He has been unfailingly generous and patient with me. I am going to have to pray about opening myself up to people there. That's going to be hard.

So. I guess we found a church.


Pardon the sarcasm. I learned it today at church.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It came today!

The Story of the World: Volume I came in the mail today! We dumped all of our other school activities to engross ourselves in this book!

We already love it. Evan and I have never delved into ancient history before, so we're already enthralled. The last time I read about this time period was when I took my history classes in college.

I am kind of wishing I had bought the activity book to go with it. I was so sure I could come up with some ideas on my own, but now I'm wavering. I might check out Ebay to see if I can find it cheaper.

This book is going to make history our favorite subject this year!

Menu Plan Monday (Birthday Week!)


My son's birthday is tomorrow. He asked his dad to bake his cake this year (what's up with that?). My husband has made this Southwest Georgia Pound Cake several times and Evan really likes it, so that's what he's chosen for his birthday cake. To make up for it and to remind my son that I am the best cook in the house, I have offered to give him a week's worth of his favorite dinners.

This is really no big sacrifice, because he's not a picky eater and his favorite dinners are our favorites too. I am trying to make it seem like a big sacrifice on my part, however. Hee hee.

Here is our meal plan for Birthday Week:


Steak sandwiches --- recipe from The Pioneer Woman, except I only salt and pepper the steak. I don't add the sauces. It's become my son's hands down favorite meal.


Barbecued meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, salad --- my down to earth mother-in-law's meatball recipe.


Meatloaf, veggies, fried potatoes


Hamburgers, veggies


Leftovers --- there will be many to choose from and by Friday I will be all cooked out!

My son is quite the carnivore. He does like chicken, but he's mostly a red meat kind of guy --- just like the husband.

Check out what everybody else is cooking this week!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I made Sweet and Tangy Sloppy Joes last night for dinner. It is the best sloppy joe recipe I have ever used and it was my first time making sloppy joes with ground turkey.

I got nothing but raves from this dinner, which totally made my night. Sad, but true!

Thanks, Chocolate Fingerprints! Keep up the good work!

Internet homeschooling helps

I'm going to be honest here. My local library stinks. I know it's not for lack of trying, but I really think it could be better. What are they doing with all my tax money? Using it for our public safety? Well, I guess that is more important.

But trying to homeschool without a good library is difficult. I have to search out books that I want several weeks in advance of when I need them. I have to check to see if that book is in our library system somewhere and then ask the librarians at my little, dinky library to request it from them, so that we can use it, thankyouverymuch.

Well, that's a lot of complaining, but truthfully the Internet makes all that searching easier. What did homeschoolers ever do without the internet?

I'm going to share a few ways in which my friendly little Internet connection has been a big ol' help.

I use ABeka for Language Arts. I bought the student's workbook new, but I bought the teacher's workbook (with the answers!) and the lesson plan book used at a local homeschool store.

This week my son was learning about pronouns in the subjective and objective case. I had the teacher's information right in front of me, but it didn't explain the cases very well. I could tell my son wasn't getting it and I was at a loss, so I turned to my good friend, the Internet.

I have several sites I pull from in times of trouble, but the Scott Foresman Reading site is my hands down favorite for Language Arts. I just clicked on the fifth grade material and found what I needed and printed out the magic pages. The next day, Evan and I went over the material and the light bulb went off! I was so impressed! With Evan and with Foresman!

I love ABeka and have used it in some form for every homeschool year. For some reason, though, this particular lesson wasn't cutting it. It was nice to have something else to turn to for reinforcements.

Typing (or keyboarding) is something that I try to focus on. I think handwriting is very important and focus on it too, but, let's face it, kids are going to use computers more and more. I love the BBC Schools Dance Mat Typing. Evan practices with it frequently. My goal is to have him do that at least once a week. Sometimes we meet that goal, sometimes we don't. Regardless of our dedication, it is a very helpful learning tool.

The BBC Schools site has some neat stuff too. I've pulled things from history off this site. Last year we learned about children in England during World War II. Evan loves reading and learning about World War II. That was a lot of fun for him.

We started school in early August, so we were learning about the Olympics (and watching the Summer Olympics!). I used that to talk about Ancient Greece and let Evan explore information about Olympia, and other Grecian places. He enjoyed exploring these areas of the BBC schools site.

This year I plan to do a unit study on Ben Franklin using this site. A couple of years ago, we learned a little about him and read some of his Poor Richard's Almanack online. This year I'd like to go a bit further, hopefully using the almanack to talk about journalism, writing newspaper reports, etc. It's a subject near and dear to my heart because my degree is in journalism and I wrote for a few publications pre-baby. I thought it would be fun for Evan too, with him possibly making up his own little newspaper as a project.

All of that is still in the works, but today I purchased Story of the World, Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer to help us with history. I didn't purchase any type of history curriculum at the beginning of the school year, because we kind of prefer to go our own way with all of that. It's possibly Evan's favorite subject. I'm very excited about this purchase. I didn't purchase the activity book. I'm hoping I can come up with some things on my own. We've never tackled ancient history (with the exception of the Olympics study), so this will all be new to us! So even using the Internet for online shopping is a lot of fun!

Book Adventure is a website we just started using this year. When Evan was in public school one of the things I disliked greatly was the Accelerated Reading program. I actually believed it turned Evan off reading for a while. For those not familiar with AR, children are required to earn a certain amount of points by reading books and then testing on those books. Evan's class was told they could be held back in second grade if they didn't reach their goal, which was a lie.

It's funny to me, because I disliked AR so much, that I really have enjoyed the Book Adventure website. We haven't done anything with the prizes they have available on the site, and I don't think we will, but Evan really enjoys the little quizzes they have for the books he has read. I like using the booklists to get ideas for books for him to read. Then I have to scour my library system's website to find them!

Another thing I love about the Internet is the access to classic radio shows. We have Sirius radio in our van and often listen to the Radio Classics channel. When we're home I often play something from this list. We love Fibber McGee and Molly and really enjoy listening to the old programs. There are plenty of other shows to choose from. We've listened to lots of them together and haven't found a clunker in the bunch. Fibber and Molly is my personal favorite, though! Dad and Evan like that show, but also love The Lone Ranger. There are other free OTR sites, but this is the one I visit most often.

The internet gives us access that really helps our homeschool. I could list a ton of other sites that I have used in the past or have bookmarked to use in the future. The ones I've talked about are the ones I have been using most this year.

What I'd love to have is a good website for science ideas. I have several science textbooks, but I need some hands on science activities. I've looked at a few places, but nothing has really stood out. Anyone have some ideas?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicken and noodles

Tammy asked about my recipe for chicken and noodles. I'm so thrilled someone actually wants to know! Bless your heart, Tammy!

It's such a simple recipe, but it really is delicious. My husband grew up eating these and used to make them. I just started making them, but my last pot was superbly delicious.

It's my mother-in-law's invention. She is notorious for never having a recipe. She's also the queen of simple, but absolutely delicious food. As a farmer's wife with 7 children, she has tons of cooking experience.

Here are the ingredients:

No Yolks Egg noodles
chicken broth
onion, optional

I like to use breast meat on the bone. I salt and pepper the chicken and cook it in my crockpot and after it's all tender and wonderful, I shred it, making sure to get it nice and bone free! I keep about two cups of chicken stock to cook my noodles in.

I cook the noodles with the chicken stock, some water, and usually one can of chicken broth. I can't be specific about the amounts, but remember you won't be draining the noodles. We don't like the chicken and noodles real soupy. It's best if you have enough liquid remaining to keep them moist, but not soupy.

If you want to add some chopped onion, you can add it as you are boiling the noodles. I forgot to add it last time and it came out just fine.

After the noodles are cooked, I add the chicken and put butter in and stir it around, so it gets all melted and lovely. You could skip the butter too. You could, but I can't. I think there would be a mutiny on my hands. I add 3/4 of a stick of butter. When my husband fixes it, he puts in the whole stick.

Then I salt and pepper to taste. It always tastes better the second day. And since I have a small family of three, we always have leftovers for at least one more meal.

Embarrassingly simple, but it really is fantastic!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan (is it already) Monday!?!


The weekend is over and I feel so unprepared! Emotionally, anyway.

My cupboards, however, are full!

Lots of simple meals this week because I did absolutely no housework this weekend and I have a lot of catch up to do. Plus the usual baseball games/practices, guitar lesson, schoolwork, interacting with family...


Hot dogs with homemade chili




Chicken and noodles (made it last week and it was requested again --- so soon!)


Leftover chicken and noodles (it makes a HUGE pot!)


Hamburger Helper something
roasted veggies

Simple and easy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Christians and politics

I always forget how ugly election years can get. Now I remember why every four years I get a really bad headache.

I have a friend who hasn't spoken to me about politics for years, because she knows I voted for George Bush in the last election. When he got re-elected she told me she didn't know how she was going to make it for the next four years.

I remember thinking how strange it was that a woman with a husband and three kids would look at the next four years as some kind of trial she has to endure because of who was in control of the White House.

Then another election year comes and it looks like "my candidate" seriously might lose and for a few weeks I have thought the same thoughts. How am I going to handle having Barack Obama as president for four --- or possibly more --- years?

This post is my attempt to slap some sense into myself.

You can really drive yourself crazy listening to all this political talk. I would classify myself as a Republican and, like a good little Republican, I get the majority of my national news from Fox News. But I also like to see what others are saying. (Yeah, yeah, I know Fox is "fair and balanced" but who are we kidding?) I'll watch some news from CNN and have even watched Bill Maher. I guess it's really Bill Maher that triggered many of the ideas that will come out in this post.

Boy, he seriously doesn't like Christians. I think it was on his show that I first heard someone say (and I'm sorry I can't be more specific about the source) that Jesus was a community organizer, in reference I'm sure to Obama's service as a community organizer.

I was offended about it for a few minutes and then it made me sad. Anyone who knows the Bible knows that Jesus was not a community organizer, as I understand the meaning of the phrase. His sole purpose was to glorify God and He had no interest in politics. Remember that the disciples were disappointed because they expected the Messiah to restore the Jews to power on earth. They didn't understand His purpose.

With all of this election craziness, I wonder if some of us Christians are kind of missing the point too.

Listening to Bill Maher was kind of an education to me. I think it's good to hear someone say horrible things about your beliefs because it can really help you think more clearly and act more purposefully in your beliefs.

As I said before, after hearing Bill Maher rail against Christians, I was more sad than angry because I saw the big picture, which is Bill Maher doesn't know Christ. I think that's what we forget sometimes. These people, who we only see as political opponents, are lost in the worst possible sense of the word. And what are we doing to bring them the message of the Gospel by waving our Bibles at them like maniacs and shoving Sarah Palin down their throats?

**I know it sounds like I'm saying only non-Christians would vote for Obama. I don't believe that. My friend, who I talked about at the beginning of the post, is both a Christian and a Democrat. The phrase "these people" is specifically referring to people who don't like Christians and see conservative Christians as controlling the Republican party. If I was less clumsy as a writer, I could word that better.**

A couple of years ago, the leaders of the church we used to go to urged us to boycott Wal-mart. It was a pretty extensive campaign. I remember getting the email from the Christian political action group. I thought it was strange and I honestly couldn't figure out the reasoning behind it, no matter how many times I read the email.

My husband and I participated in it for a while, but we had two dogs and a cat at the time and, frankly, pet food and cat litter is so much cheaper at Wal-mart. So, we went back to Wal-mart and I think most Christians followed shortly after. I don't think the "boycott" had an effect at all on the low price super giant.

I wonder what effect it had on homosexuals. I wonder if they think that Christians hate them so much they don't want them to have access to low prices. And I wonder if, as Christians, that is the kind of message we want going out to people who don't know Christ.

(I'm also reminded of a youth minister I spoke to once about a Christian bookstore I like to go to. He told me that newly opened bookstore wouldn't stay in business long because they were open on Sundays and Christians wouldn't shop at a Christian book store that was open on Sundays. This gave me pause because we had this conversation in a crowded restaurant after Sunday morning service.)

Frankly, I'm afraid that a lot of this stuff makes us look stupid. It also makes us look like we don't read the Bible. Either way our witness to unbelievers is shot.

Bill Maher said another thing that I can't stop thinking about. He mentioned that you can't get elected as president in this country without claiming to be a Christian.

I don't want my president to fake salvation, because salvation is something that non-Christians need. If they believe that fake Christianity can win them my vote, they might believe that faking it can also get them to heaven.

Honestly, I don't know exactly where I am going with this post. I am thankful that I can vote in the election, and I'll use the vote as best I can. I don't, however, think that Christ was real concerned about personal liberties. When you read about Paul, and all the other persecuted Christians in the New Testament, you never hear him talk to anybody about his right to speak publicly about Christ. Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember him saying "You can't lock me up! I have a right to speak my beliefs!" He took those opportunities to speak about Christ, not to rail for his personal freedom.

So ends my ramblings on an early Sunday morning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday Week #2

Okay. Last week did not work out that great, because we didn't stick to the menu every night. We did eat most of our meals at home, however, which was kind of the point.

This week I'm only planning dinner and breakfast/lunch will be whatever is in the house. That works, right?


Eating out


Chicken and noodles


Chicken fajitas




chicken and pasta

There was a really good sale on chicken this week. Can you tell?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm participating in Menu Plan Monday for the first time this week!

While going over the family budget this weekend, I was faced with the proof that my family eats out way too much! I won't say how much we spent on eating out just in the past month, but it is an embarrassing amount. So I'm trying to change that by being better about planning meals and shopping more frugally.

Here is my first attempt at a weekly meal plan:


Breakfast - cereal or oatmeal, toast, and fruit
Lunch - sandwiches, soup, and veggies with dip
Dinner - Chili casserole, veggies


Breakfast - Biscuits, oatmeal or cereal, and fruit
Lunch - sandwiches, soup, and veggies with dip
Dinner - Leftover chili casserole (ballgame night, so leftovers will be easiest)


Breakfast - Pancakes and fruit or leftover biscuits
Lunch - sandwiches, soup, and veggies with dip (I'm sensing a theme here)
Dinner - Homemade cheese pizza

Breakfast - eggs and leftover biscuits or pancakes
Lunch - Leftover pizza (Husband will eat out)
Dinner - Pasta bake, veggies, and garlic bread


Breakfast - Whatever is left in the house
Lunch - Whatever we can forage to eat
Dinner - bean burritos

Okay, I'm only doing a five day menu, because this is my first shot at this and because I have some things I need to use up before they go bad. I'm not planning on shopping this week. I'll see how it goes. My cabinets are stocked full of pasta and pasta sauce, dried beans, canned goods, instant oatmeal, tuna, plenty of canned soup, ingredients to make homemade tomato soup, really just a lot of stuff that I need to use up before I go shopping again. I also have a lot of frozen veggies in the freezer and some frozen fish filets. My husband will not eat fish, but my son and I eat it sometimes for lunch. I also have plenty of flour and yeast, so if I run out of bread I can make some instead of buying it at the store. I'm going to see how far what I already have will take us this week.

The only thing I can really see needing at the store this week is milk. My husband and son are both big milk drinkers and they won't be happy if we run out. My husband drives by Aldi on his way to/from work, so I'll probably have him drop by to get the milk that is $2.59 a gallon.

Not shopping this week will really help our budget. Gas prices are back up again because of the hurricane (was it Ike?). Anyway we had no weather complications, but there has been a bit of a gas shortage in the Atlanta area since the hurricane. On the way to the ball field, for instance, I drive by roughly six gas stations. For the past two weeks most of those stations have been out of gas and when they do get gas, the lines to buy are stretched out into the road and they run out of gas very quickly. My husband had to fill up and found a station with gas earlier this week, but had to wait in line over 20 minutes to get gas!

Well, excuse that tangent, but what I was trying to say is the price of gas is up again and the price of food is still up and seems to be getting higher. My recent shopping trip last Thursday was $81.20. Here's what I got, in case you are interested:

1/4 lb. Provolone cheese $1.97
1/2 lb. roast beef 5.50
1/2 lb. tavern ham 4.54
2 pkgs. of Eat Smart fresh broccoli and carrots 5.00
wheat bread 2.87 (for one loaf of bread! can you believe it?)
1/2 lb. fresh green beans .82
4 pk. cottage cheese 2.99
ketchup 2.79
2% milk 3.59
chili beans .89
chili beans .89
bananas 1.32
kidney beans .89
kidney beans .89
pure vanilla extract 8.49 (gulp!)
chocolate syrup 1.99
4 pk. tomato soup 3.00
Simply Orange orange juice 3.79 (that's expensive!)
French's mustard 1.59
baked beans 1.39
baked beans 1.39
American sliced cheese 4.99
bag of red delicious apples 3.99
ranch dressing 3.63
ground chuck 2.44
ground chuck 2.84
strawberry milk (single serving for me!) 1.67
chocolate milk (single serving for E!) 1.67
Krispy Kreme donut holes cup (for E, no really!) 1.79

I made a huge pot of chili on Friday. I figured up the cost of the huge pot of chili was $10.34. It's a very simple chili, not spicy at all because my guys do not like spicy foods. That chili has been used for 2 dinners so far and I will use the rest to make chili casserole Monday night. I'm just going to put the chili in a casserole dish and mix up some cornbread and add cheddar cheese to it, spread that mixture on top of the chili and bake it until the cornbread is done. I'm making up the recipe, but I'm sure it will taste good.

I think one of my money waster problems is that I am very brand loyal. That's going to be hard for me to give up. Take the pure vanilla extract, for example. I buy McCormick's. The store brand was about a dollar cheaper, but I still bought McCormick's. I thought about buying the store brand. I have actually bought the store brand before and it was fine, but still I bought McCormick's. That's a problem, I think.

Also, I ALWAYS shop at Publix. I could probably get better prices somewhere else. I think I might have heard of a low price superstore called Wal-mart. Yeah, it rings a bell. Still, I shop almost exclusively at Publix.

There are ways to justify shopping at Publix. While I am brand loyal, there are some Publix brand items I have become loyal to. That's cheaper. Plus Walmart is not always on my way, but I pass Publix three times on week on my way to/from the ballfield. Saving gas, right?

I do buy things like dog food, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning stuff from Walmart. I guess I could do the food thing there too. I don't think I could buy fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or fresh meat from Walmart, though. The fruit and veggies at my Walmart never look very appealing and I got some tough hamburger from there once and have never forgotten the experience.

I'll work on it.

So, there's my plan for the week. I'll report back about how it all goes.

HT: Blooming Where We're Planted

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thank God for fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year! I am so glad it's here again!

We've had a busy few weeks with school work and baseball. Plus E is still taking guitar lessons, which keeps him busy with practice about 45 minutes every day.

Math really has me scratching my head lately. That's kind of bad, I know, when 5th grade math is throwing you for a loop, but we're learning something my husband and I were never taught. Casting out 9's to check arithmetic, multiplication, and division.

I looked at this method and studied it in the curriculum and had my husband look it over and explain it to me. Ha ha. Both my husband and I were a little perplexed by the whole thing. We had never heard of this method and were struggling with the reasoning behind it and the usefulness of it. My husband (Mr. Cool, Calm, and Collected) said to just teach the method to my son and get on with life. We could do as much or as little of it as I was wanted.

Wouldn't you know that I introduced the concept to E and he LOVES using casting out 9's as a way to check his work?!? It is easier than doing the work again or (in the case of division) multiplying the divisor and quotient to come up with the dividend. And, after some research, it does seem to be a pretty popular method. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Did I just call myself an old dog?

Anyway, we conquered that challenge. Today we did some extensive study about fall and the seasons in general. I got some help with that from I have been a member of that site before, but let my subscription run out. You don't have to have a subscription to the site, but paying the fee does gain you access to items you can't use without the membership. I might have to budget in an extra $20 to join again.

I'm doing much better with lesson plans this year. Although I use ABeka curriculum for Math, Language Arts, Spelling, and Penmanship, when dealing with Social Studies and Science, we tend to go with our interests or seasonal studies. The lesson planning has really helped keep me on track so far this year. It takes some extra prep work on my part, but I use some time on Sunday evenings to plan out two weeks at a time.

I also keep a few sheets stapled to the inside of my lesson plan folder with ideas for things I want to do in the future. For instance, in late October I plan to spend some time discussing the upcoming presidential election. We are also going to do a unit study on Ben Franklin (my son's research paper might also focus on Mr. Franklin). I have been looking up websites for research and books that are available at our library. My son has been watching Liberty's Kids, so we're looking forward to delving into more about that time period and Ben Franklin, specifically.

I'm also hoping to read A Christmas Carol this year. We watch many renditions of that movie every year at Christmas and I would really like to read it as a family for once. We'll see how that goes for my husband and son, who are more visually inclined!

So the beginning of another fall! I'm looking forward to all the good things coming up!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We've already ditched school!

I homeschool my 10 year old son. Our county started school on Aug. 4th. I know. I know. Too early!

Well, I normally don't start our school that early, but last year was a rough year for us. My father-in-law was ill for several months and passed away in December. The travel really threw us off schedule and, honestly, the last thing you care about when that happens is getting all your school days in.

We did get them in, but it was throwing more stress on an already stressful time. So, this year we started our lessons on Aug. 4, much earlier than I originally planned. The idea being it would give us more opportunities to miss school if we needed to.

Today we needed to ditch school. We've had many dreary days of rain (thanks to remnants of Tropical Storm Fay) and today it was only partly cloudy with a mere 10 percent chance of rain. Reason to celebrate!

We dumped the books and headed for a state park that is very close to us and I spent some time this afternoon watching my son swim in the lake. It was really what we needed and a good start for Labor Day weekend. We'll do school tomorrow and take Monday off too!

Then we'll put our noses to the grindstone again, I promise.

School has been going remarkably well this year. Granted it has only just begun, but we've had some very productive days. E's guitar lessons have been going really well too. His guitar teacher says he is doing great! And I've gotten no arguments about practice! Fantastic!

Fall baseball season has started (the practices anyway, games start next weekend). E's team looks really good and I hope they have a great season. I'm ready to cheer them on!

We're approaching my favorite time of year --- fall! I'm so excited about the wonderful things ahead for us!

And I see a few more days of ditching school in our future. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My dream came true

My son was two years old when he first expressed an interest in the guitar. He also expressed an interest in using the cat's litter box as his own personal toilet, but I overlooked that desire and focused on the guitar.

I think most parents have some unrealized childhood dream that we all torture our children with. I've made no secret with my son about the fact that I am a piano lesson dropout. I took lessons for maybe a month when I was probably 12 or so and gave it up. It was interfering with --- well, absolutely nothing in my life, but I gave it up anyway.

Years later when I was 17, I tried the piano again. I think I lasted through 3 lessons before giving it up. I have no idea why I was so quick to give up playing a musical instrument. Maybe the fact that we didn't have a piano at home was a hurdle, but I probably could have somehow worked through it. No matter, I gave it up and still regret it. Yes. Still.

So my two-year-old Baby Boy latched onto a toy guitar and I saw it as a sign of his future Slash-ness. I wasn't just pulling it out of my hat, people. My brother is a guitar legend and my dad plays the guitar also. So, I have some experience in the arena. I could see something there. Some gift, some calling, some slight interest masked as a lump of coal that I could drag out and polish into a pretty, shiny diamond.

I put it off as long as I could, but when Baby Boy was 7 I signed him up to take guitar lessons. I bought a used junior acoustic guitar from my sister for $50. My nephew --- who is 6 years older than my son --- had quickly lost interest in his guitar lessons. I took no heed of my sister's hard earned life lesson, however, and instead paid Long Haired Guitar Guy $17.50 a week for 30 minutes of his expertise so my son could someday make his musical dream come true.

Two lessons in Long Haired Guitar Guy told me Baby Boy was having some trouble with the acoustic guitar and the electric would probably help him get the hang of it. So $125 later (give or take) and with a new electric guitar, guitar case, and amplifier, I felt like we were really on our way.

So began what I like to call the "Great Guitar Debacle" of early 2005. Baby Boy took lessons every week (give or take a missed lesson for various reasons) from January until July. Here is a sample of my life back then:

Me: Have you practiced guitar?
Him: No.
Me: You need to practice guitar.
Him: Can I do it later?
Me: You have to practice an hour every day.
Him: An hour's a really long time.
Me: Don't you want to learn to play guitar?
Him: Yes.
Me: Then you need to practice.
Him: Can I do it later?

I won't bore you with the rest. It usually involved sentences about money, commitment, money, stick-to-it-tive-ness, money. You get the picture.

In July of that year we said goodbye to Long Haired Guitar Guy. Frankly, it was a relief. No more badgering my 7 year old to practice his guitar. No more frustration that no guitar progress was being made. No more pouring my money into a guy's pocket so he can live out his rock star fantasy by holding out and not getting a real job. We were done. I mourned the loss and went on with my life. Mostly.

Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, months turned to years, as they tend to do. The electric guitar was brought out now and then. Some interest was shown in it for an hour or so and, I admit it, my heart would start to soar and my hope would start to build. Then baseball season would start, or other passions would take over (horse riding lessons, Xbox) and the electric guitar would be placed in the back of the closet once again. An outcast, out of favor, out of luck. The acoustic had really lost favor and --- in a fit of hopelessness --- I sold it at a yard sale last fall for $15. That was a low point.

Who would have thought that hope would return in the most unlikely form? Believe it or not Xbox actually contributed a positive to family life.

Baby Boy got his Xbox for Christmas last year. Around February, he dipped into his savings and bought Rock Band. The whole family has really loved playing that game. We even have our own band with me on guitar, my son on drums, and my husband contributing his unique vocal stylings. My son enjoys the Rock Band drums, but he mostly likes playing guitar.

Well, the video game guitar rekindled his interest in playing the guitar for real. He started trying to teach himself how to play the guitar, picking it up now and then. I waited a couple of months, not willing to be dragged through the ups and downs of the music world again. Finally, though, this week we met Long Haired Guitar Guy #2 and Baby Boy had his first lesson.

It went really well. We both like the second version of LHGG and Baby Boy seems very willing to practice, without my constant nagging.

For example, after his guitar lesson, my son came home, tuned his guitar, and promptly went to work on learning a song LHGG #2 had given him. It's a song from The White Stripes. I have never been a fan, but with every passing hour their sound is growing on me. Click this to listen to what my week has sounded like.

So, my son has been playing the guitar a lot. Going over his scales, practicing the songs, it's been totally different than our last experience with the guitar. I even said some words I never thought I would utter when I told him, "Okay, you need to take a break from the guitar for a few hours." Am I never satisfied? ;)

I've told him how proud I am that he is willing to work so hard for something he wants. I made sure he is the one wanting it this time around. He says he does.

But he knows how much I want him to succeed at this. He knows I think this knowledge will add something positive to his life and he knows that I'm happy he's taking it back up again. So when he was putting his guitar away a couple of days ago, he told me "I'm glad your dream finally came true." Meaning my dream for him to want to learn to play the guitar.

I have to admit it's pretty awesome and in ways I do feel like my dream has come true. I might even try my hand at the piano again.

Or maybe I'll just learn to play the drums on Rock Band.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tulips in the sunlight

The picture at the top of my blog was taken by my son in March of this year. I think it's pretty impressive for a 10 year old. I love the way the sun comes in through the living room curtains and makes them look like wisps of lace. I love the way the tulips look, just beginning to open, with the best of their glory yet to be seen.

That little pot of tulips was a simple gift from my husband and son for my 37th birthday this year. Simple, small, and given with so much love to me from the men who make my life so very wonderful.

I'm a simple girl (and I firmly believe even 37 year old women can call themselves girls, if they feel like it). I don't have incredibly expensive tastes. I don't enjoy doing things like going on luxurious trips or having my husband buy me expensive jewelry. I have a simple life. I am a mom, a wife, and a homeschooler. My simple days are busy with housework, schoolwork (during the school year), and taking care of the needs of my family.

Sometimes my life can get buried deep into piles of laundry. My days can be overcome by dirty dishes overflowing in the sink. Sometimes I can't see anything past the dirt of the infamous Georgia clay that makes up our yard and our local ball field. Sometimes I can turn my life into a drudgery. Most people can, if they stop and think about it a certain way.

But all I have to do is look past the laundry and think about the activities that dirtied those clothes. Swimming and fishing in the river. My son playing outside with friends. Getting caught in the rain while walking the dog.

The piled up dirty dishes remind me of long breakfasts on weekend mornings of pancakes and bacon, with lots of laughter and anticipated plans for the day. Chocolate chip cookies cooling on racks and then piled high on plates with cold glasses of milk as a surprise for my husband and son.

Red dirt is annoying piled up in my carpet, but it's inevitable after a hard day of baseball practice or a game played in the evening and ending in the shouts of victory by a dugout full of sweaty 10 year old boys who fought hard and won.

And just like the tulips in the sunlight my life hasn't completely opened yet. I still have wonderful things to look forward to, future glories yet to see.

So my blog is simply about my life. It's nothing amazing or incredible, but sometimes it really is. Sometimes they're just flowers in a pot, but sometimes they're tulips in the sunlight.