October 26, 2009

This week's simple pleasures

We've had a good week around here.  Both kids had the flu, though Jacob's version was incredibly mild.  Mattie, however is stuck with bronchitis still.  This is how things typically go with these two!

Here are the sweet things I've enjoyed this week:

*Having Jacob help me out by reading to Mattie during her breathing treatments.  He asks comprehension questions and everything!
*Getting my van back from the shop with a beautiful new paint repair, wax and buff job!  No more scratches from the sheep or messed up front end form a recent fender bender! 
*Getting a GREAT deal on the extra work we had done while it was in the shop already.
*Driving a VW minivan for the week as a rental and knowing I love my Honda more!
*Watching Jacob's love for reading develop as he always wants to read "one more chapter before I turn out the light."
*Having lots of imaginary cowgirl princesses over to play with my princess.  :D  Mattie has had a very fun week!
*A good day to visit with friends from Joni and Friends camp!
*Being thankful we own a nebulizer (breathing machine) so we can conveniently do the best thing for bronchitis.
*Hand me down Gameboy Advances (thanks, cousins!!) to entertain Jacob while we wait for Robert in a boot store.
*Robert buying boots, then coming home and finding them online for $53 less!!  (Always a good thing to save on his work boots!)
*Hearing a sweet report about two someones I love very much having a good weekend together, hopefully the beginning of a new life. 
*Jacob asking to have jobs so he can make money to buy a blanket for kids in Asia who don't have one and planning what he's going to put in his shoeboxes this year!  (I love that he assumes we're going to do this!)

I have to say, there has been one sweet part of asking the Lord to show me the simple things in life that used to bring me joy.  I'm noticing and appreciating things about Jacob that used to get overlooked among the frustration with his boisterous personality.  And that is a priceless gift!

October 25, 2009

Christmas Gifts that Help Others

As I make my Christmas list this year I'm asking the Lord to help me be a good steward in my plans, be reasonable about what I write on the list for my kids, and seriously rethink the way I'm going to do things.

This is a really important post.  There are two ideas I wanted to share with you all as we all plan our lists of things to buy:

They have books for all ages, calendars, note cards with Joni's artwork, music, and a lot more.  All of the local Joni and Friends offices are self supported, meaning they have to raise their own support.  One way I can help them do that is to purchase some of their catalog items directly from a local office and they get a portion of the cost directly in their pocket.  (They are a dollar or two more than CBD, but it's worth it to me.)  I'm trying to make my list based on what they have to offer so I can support them this way.  I have my eye on several of the children's products!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  When you look online, please don't order directly from that link!  No harm in doing that, but if you did it that way, the California office will get that profit, and the Knoxville office could really use your help!  If you make a list of the items you'd like to order, call the Knoxville Office to place your order and you will be helping my local office and the missionary my Sunday School class has adopted!  (The number is at the bottom of the screen.  Tell them I told you about them!) 

Gospel for Asia is a ministry that trains and sends native missionaries to share the good news of Christ with those who have never heard.  Many of their gifts are funded by way of their Christmas Gift Catalog.  But it's a very different kind of catalog!  Instead of ordering an inanimate object that will arrive in your mailbox in a few days, you can order a goat or a pig for a needy family or missionary in Asia!  (The true meaning of a gift that keeps on giving!)
You could purchase a rickshaw for a man so he can support his family.
For five dollars you could buy a blanket for a child who has none.
For forty dollars you could purchase a winter clothing packet for a missionary who has a need.
For three dollars you can purchase a Bible.
For eleven dollars you can purchase a chicken.
The list goes on and on.
I must warn you, if you're like me, by the end of the catalog you'll be utterly finished with Christmas as we know it here in America.  So don't be offended if I send you a card that says I bought a goat in your name for a family who has a much greater need than anything we will ever know here in America.  And I sure won't be offended if that's what you do for me.  PLEASE go look at what you can do for a very small amount of money.  There is a short video there to watch or show your kids too.
If you choose to purchase a gift in another's honor, Gospel For Asia will even send a Christmas card explaining your gift directly to them or to you so you can personally send it!  As we're focusing our studies on chidlren's around the world and praying for all to know Jesus, this has been a neat way to give Jacob an opportunity to make a difference too.

Please join me in helping others this way this year!

October 22, 2009

Daytrana is a friend of mine.

Daytrana has revolutionized our school day.  Daytrana is this little 1 1/2" square patch we put on Jacob every day from morning until 2:00.  It's sometimes called the "ritalin patch" and is for ADHD, and boy, do I like it.

After struggling to focus for quite some time, Jacob is finally focusing really well!  We contemplated different medication options for a long time and finally decided it was time to do something.  He just. can't. focus.  To go brush his teeth, get dressed, eat his lunch, write the next word, look at what I'm doing, keep his hands off his sister, just. calm. down.

So it was time to see if we had any other options.  By 7 1/2 we saw a pretty clear difference between "boy" and "ADHD," and it didn't seem fair to him anymore to not try the medicines after exhausting all of our other options.  (We are limited with herbal supplements because of the corn allergy, he's already on all of the special diets, and we have implemented as much sensory and environmental things as we can.)

Jacob has a very sweet heart, he wants to do the right thing.  He wants to be pleasing.  He wants people to enjoy being around him.  And he knew some of that wasn't happening.  I had done all of the restructuring of our day that was possible, but there is a point where one must be able to focus to just do the next thing.

So, he started Daytrana about 6 weeks ago and it's been great for him!  We can now do about 3 or more hours of school in a row!  He can complete workbook tasks in a room where other activity is going on.  He can complete tasks on his own without me constantly reminding him.  He can play nicely with his sister without
having his hands on her or in her face.  He notices what is going on around him.  Mostly, he just seems calmer... and it's not because I don't remember correctly.  We get a reminder every night at about 5:30 when the medicine wears off!

I know many parents are afraid to try stimulant meds for a whole slew of reasons.  I was there too.  But I had a revalation one day:  If they didn't work, we could stop them!  Imagine that!  Once I realized it wasn't an all-or-nothing deal, I had an appointment the next day.  And I am so glad we went!

Without meds:
1~no more than 1 1/2 hours per day, had to be involved every minute
2~had to be reminded - literally - every minute to stay on task
3~sometimes needed several reminders before he actually picked up the pencil
4~struggled to complete any written task b/c of the focusing issue (so little of his school could be done that way)
5~I had to be leading everything so there was little independent thought involved
6~could not challenge him academically because we did the minimu we needed to do so we could get by
7~was regularly "getting in" people's faces and not noticing social cues
8~was frustrated at being corrected constantly (usually for antagonizing Mattie)

With Daytrana:
1-school up to 3 or more hours, much of it can be independent now
2~can work for ten minutes (or an hour sometimes!) without any intervention
3~usually one reminder now is sufficient
4~has done more written work in the past 6 weeks than in the previous 3 years combined, and it's been GOOD work!
5~can have a research assignment, find the right page, find the answer, and answer a question about a subject
6~is being challenged in many areas now and seems to be enjoying it!
7~plays appropriately with Mattie, isn't getting in her face all day or antagonizing
8~is happier all around because the constant correction is diminished remarkably

Jacob is happier, learning more, and growing by leaps and bounds... all because he can focus!  The really nice part is that he is still Jacob.  He's still happy, fun, loud, and full of energy, just in a different way.  He's definitely not overmedicated, something I was pretty afraid of.  We have had the negative side effect of him not being hungry, but he eats a smaller lunch just because he has to and makes up for the rest of it as the meds wear off in the evenings.  Overall, I feel really good about our decision.

October 21, 2009

Baby steps in the kitchen.

All of a sudden over the past few days I've gotten this very strange wave of energy to tackle some baking challenges I've had since we moved into this house.  I've not really gotten a handle on our kitchen (meaning baking/cooking consistently) and have been feeling guilty about it.  But blissfully, a new energy and motivation to conquer a few things has replaced the guilt!  That's always exciting, isn't it??

I've spent a couple of days researching quite a bit as to the whys of gluten free baking.  I just can't remember things if I don't understand why they work the way they do.  If I understand why, it sticks and I remember to choose the right starch the next time the opportunity arises.

And I've been researching some ways to really bake safely for all 4 of us... just ONE batch of muffins, ONE batch of cupcakes, ONE cookie recipe, etc.  (If I make a wheat one and a rice one, we inevitably run out of one first... then Mattie has yummy muffins left and Jacob doesn't, then Jacob gets pancakes and Mattie gets muffins... Why can't I have pancakes?... Just eat what I fixed for you!  But I want pancakes like Jacob!  But you said you wanted muffins.  But I didn't know we had pancakes!   Any mother out there hear me????)    You can appreciate why I'd like to make just one recipe.  Lol!  I can get myself all worked up just typing that out!  I need to take a deep breath and count to 10.

So today I took the kids to the health food store when we were out picking up a prescription of compounded ibuprofen for Jacob.  (They are both still nursing the flu, so we're trying to stay away from people but are pretty sick of being house bound.)  Anyway, I got the ingredients I needed and came home to be productive.  Here's what I made successfully today:

Almond Milk in my SoyaJoy soy milk maker.  The kids actually both asked for glasses of it plain and drank it!
Strawberry banana creamy smoothies with the almond milk.
Thickened up extra smoothie and froze it to have "ice cream" for dessert!
Wheat free flour mix that is safe for all four of us (meaning free of wheat, egg, dairy, and corn).
Yummy banana muffins with that mix!
Mattie's bread, tweaked a bit with some of what I learned and it's great!  She hugged me and jumped up and down when she knew I was making her bread! :)

They loved everything I made.  I know that sounds weird to say that, but there are MANY, many times I have stood on my head to adapt a recipe, it has turned out really well, and they complain about it (because they are so used to eating the same old kid-friendly things, which isn't their fault).  So, I often lose my steam before I even find a recipe.

But tonight Mattie thanked Jesus for "our new almond milk that's like Grampa Harvey drinks and our yummy smoothie ice cream."

And Jacob and I even engaged in a conversation in which he showed sympathy!!

Jacob, after tasting the almond milk: Um, I think it's yummy.
Me: Okay.  (Thinking, better than many responses I get from him about new things!)  I'd like it if I can make it so it's really yummy for you.  Maybe I can figure that out.
Jacob: I know you try hard and it's hard for us to like things and be thankful for them.
Me:  I know you want to have new things like everyone else can eat, and I'm doing the best I can for you.  But when you ask for new things, I try and then you complain about things because they're different than you're used to, it makes me not want to try anymore. 
Jacob:  Yeah.  I can understand how you feel frustrated about it.  I would feel that way too.

I just thought that was a sweet way to end our day.  :)

Baby steps in the kitchen.

October 20, 2009

"When I grow up"

Mattie: "You know, Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a mommy."
Me: "Why do you want to be a mommy? What so fun about it?"
Mattie: "Because when you're a mommy you get to drive places, make your own food, run errands, cook cool things and all that!"

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October 18, 2009

A Tour of Our "New" House

Many of you prayed us through the sale of our old house and the transition into this new house.  I finally got pictures taken!  I was waiting because each time I take some, I'd do something more to get the room ready.  So I'd wait.  Then I had to wait until the room was clean, and you know how long that can take!  But alas, I have some photos for you to view.  There is no photo of the front of the house as that is a blogging security no-no.  Sorry.  You'll have to come visit me to know what it looks like outside!

I'll start with the non-exciting areas.  :)  The bottom half of the house:

Our school room... really messy and totally in shambles, but that's my project for the next day or two.  I took this picture a long time ago.  Now it looks worse!  (I got it set up and we used it well for a week, then I had to rearrange stuff for the window installers.  I've not recovered.)

Yes, a totally uninteresting picture of our storage room, but some readers are family and care about things like storage rooms!  (For those of you who are visual, the storage room is the right half of the bottom level.  The red room below is the other half.)

Here's our basement/den/playroom.  I took this one on a really messy day too and never bothered to redo it.  The computer isn't down there anymore, thankfully.  And there are two windows we uncovered above the couch too.
The kids play down here often!  I was afraid it would feel too far away and removed, but they seem to enjoy it.  We can hear each other to and from there really well, so that may be why it doesn't feel so far away.  On the other hand, they are "far away" enough to give my ears a break when I need it!

Here is our patio/backyard area.  We had to do quite a bit of work on the patio for starters, but it was worth it.  We spend a LOT of time back here!

And below the patio is our backyard.  Our property goes back to the pine trees you can see in both photos.

The bedrooms:
It has been really fun to decorate these bedrooms in a way that expresses each of the kids personalities.  They shared a room in our other house and it was on the market for so long that I didn't want to put money into decorating anything.  I love the way these have turned out!

Mattie doesn't have a box spring or a headboard, so I bought bed risers to raise her bed to normal height and those wall stickers to draw your eyes to the head of her bed and give it the feel of a normal looking bed.  These flowers and butterflies are just right for her!

This dresser and nightstand were mine (and my older sister's and brother's) when we were growing up!  They have seen quite a few coats of paint, but they still hold clothes.

I had to look for several months for a quilt that Jacob loved.  He loves bright color, but is getting too old for all the little boy quilts that are out there.  And I'm mean and wouldn't decorate his bedroom in a character.  But I knew as soon as I saw this that he'd love it, and I was right!  I got it as a queen quilt/ 2 shams/ decorative pillow/ dust-ruffle.  And cutting off one side of the unused dust ruffle set me up to make the easiest valance I've ever done!  :)

This bed is a loft that my dad made for me when I was 15.  I was glad Jacob wanted to use it!
His stuff is awfully messy and I need to get him some cloth bins for organization in there.  He's kind of in a strange toy transition, so he's not playing with a lot of the stuff he was right before we moved.  And he's wanting to be in charge of what he saves and pitches.  I'm trying to let him, but all the clutter drives me iNsANe!  At least with the bed facing this direction, I can't really see it, aside from the train boxes we need to move downstairs.  :)

We didn't have too many arrangement option in this room because of the pieces of furniture that we have, so we ended up putting stuff in front of both windows.  I tried to use the double curtains to set the bed apart a bit and I think it turned out all right.  My dresser to the right is covering up the other window.  At least we don't need a shade!  It's not my favorite, and we could take my mirror off the dresser, but I like it.  So for now, that's how it will stay.

One day I'd like to have a set of quilts for the season changes.  (One advantage of neutral paint!)  I'd love to have a flowery one for Spring, a beachy one for Summer, a log-cabin-feel(I'd even take trout and animals) for fall and a cozy, snowflake one for winter.  I know it would be a total luxury, but it would be a luxury that would bring me joy every time I walked into my room.  For now, it's white because that's what we bought for staging at the old house.

This is our main family bath that is upstairs with the bedrooms.  At this point it is stripped of all personality (and blue and pink paisley wallpaper with a large cornice board).   It was pretty before, but not us and too busy.  Now it's just boring, but we're getting there.

The Main Level:
This area is certainly where we spend most of our time.

Here's the kitchen.  I just made the valances this week and love the splash of color they add to the otherwise neutral room.  While I was in NJ for 10 days in September, Robert repaired the walls in here and painted it for me!  What a blessing to come home and have that messy project taken care of!
I just added that little sitting area by the big window this week and have enjoyed it already.  It may be weird to have a rocker in one's kitchen, but that big window is one of my favorite spots in the house.  It looks out over the backyard where the kids play and allows me to enjoy the openness and sunshine!  And that rocker is my favorite chair.  I fully intend to enjoy that area quite often.

I love the white cabinets here.  They are painted wood.

From here you can see the openness of the kitchen/living room area. 

This room isn't my favorite as it is North facing and gets very little sunshine.  I LOVE my sunshine!  And I've learned I need it more than I ever knew.  But as the leaves are falling, the trees are clearing out and I'm getting direct sunshine in the windows!  I am one happy camper this week.  :)  This has been a gift to me.

Two before and afters:
Just two areas we've redone recently that I wanted to share so you can appreciate them!

This is the bathroom on the main level the way the previous owners had it decorated.  It had a leaking faucet, the vanity was not fastened to the wall, and the toilet was cracked really bad.  Three hundred dollars and a lot of our own (mostly Robert's) labor, we have this:

I love it!  Didn't Robert do a great job?!

We started out with our computer in the basement.  That's where the tv is and I thought it would be nice to have ti down there.  I ended up hating it!  It was very hard to get down there because the kids were outside so much, or when Robert was home in the evenings I hated to be holed up in the basement.  So we moved it up to the kitchen.

Then we had this.  Ugh is right.  I didn't mess that up just for the picture; that's what it normally looked like and I couldn't stand it.  I was using random pieces from all over the house to get the shelving and drawer space that I needed and it was horrible.  For the room where we spent most of our time, something had to be done!

This is what we have now!  I need to do some serious gathering of cords behind the computer, but this is so much better to me!
I have learned that I am an out-of-sight, out-of-mind person.  And that can get pretty dangerous when it comes to being a home manager.So I gave up trying to remember what I had put out of sight and tried to make it look appealing in plain sight. 

I bought the bookshelf (etagere, actually... learned a new word) for $43 including shipping/tax and the computer desk for $29!  So they are white, match my kitchen cabinets on the other side of the kitchen, and are organized!

~The white board has our calendar and my to do list right on it.  No more slips of paper or sticky notes stacked on my computer desk!  :)
~The magazines files on the shelf hold financial items that need to be paid or called on, things to read when I have time (never), and extra computer paper/notepads. 
~The basket to the right of the magazine files has revolutionized my life.  You know what it's full of??  Art/coloring supplies that now have a portable HOME!  It's one basket (with handles) that has markers, colored pencils, crayons, scissors/glue, and regular pencils and erasers all in ONE spot!  This is so exciting to me, you cannot even imagine.  Since the supplies are all in buckets of some sort, there is no lid that needs to be returned which exponentially increases the chances of said items being returned to their rightful homes!
~The top two or three shelves will be used for some small knick knacks or seasonal things.  Right now it just has a bit of everything as I'm trying to find what I have in boxes.
However it has worked out, I love this area now and don't mind it being in my kitchen at all.

Welcome to Our Home!  
I hope you enjoyed your tour!!

This Week's Simple Pleasures...

Robert picking the chicken meat off the bones for me.

Listening to Jacob laugh himself to tears watching Funniest Home Videos.

Getting all of my curtains made (on my great sewing machine) and hung!

Snuggling Mattie to sleep at 10AM one of the days she had the flu.

Reading the original Jungle Book with Jacob. We are both loving it!

Thoroughly enjoying Jacob again as he's been back to his happy self this week after several weeks of food reactions. Boy, did I miss him!

Enjoying DIRECT sunshine in my windows as the leaves are falling off the trees!

A GREAT night at the pumpkin patch/corn maze with my Sunday School class and their families. That group has totally turned into my "small group." I love every one of those parents.

Making a few picture collages to hang in a couple of rooms... making the home feel like it's ours!

Getting all of our wallpaper torn off in the stairwell and downstairs entry.

Fully understanding Jacob's utter satisfaction and joy at having curtains hung and pictures on his bedroom wall. :) It's definitely a way to make him feel loved.

Getting awakened by Jacob at 5:15 AM so he could tell me there's a misprint in Encyclopedia Brown.

Having the best week I've had in a looooooong time.

The sweetest of all... hearing Robert say he thinks he felt "normal" a couple of days this week.

Robert and I found her like this today. You know she's sick when she falls asleep in the middle of the day... twice.

October 16, 2009

I LOVE my Janome!

This was my birthday present from my mom and dad and I. Love. It.

I learned to sew on my mom's Bernina, which unbeknownst to me, spoiled me a bit. Then I inherited my gramma's Singer which was tolerable at best. But I also inherited her serger, so I survived the sewing machine when I had to have it and used the serger as much as possible. And while I really enjoy sewing, having a strong dislike for my sewing machine made me avoid it like the plague.

Thankfully, my gramma's sewing machine recently bit the dust. I'm only saying thankfully because that meant I could request or buy a new one guilt free! :) I needed it quickly, because I had a nephew on the way who needed this blanket and some burp rags!

So I (shamelessly) asked my mom if an offer from last November was still open. Being a (much more skilled) seamstress herself, she and my dad were happy to indulge me! I had this one ordered by that afternoon. I had never heard of Janome, but found out they are actually made by Bernina!

I have to say, it is a great machine. It is heavy enough to not bounce all over the table, stitches tightly, has quite a few decorative stitches, has a bobbin that works!, is easy to work with and was a great price. I've made several curtains, a set of burp rags and a blanket in the two months since I got it and I have not one complaint.

Having 2 completed curtain projects behind me without a hitch definitely fulfills the simple pleasure category for the week!

Thanks, Mom and Dad!!

October 14, 2009

Are those Christian novels bad for my marriage?

I encountered an interesting line of thinking this weekend as I sat and read a magazine. The collection of articles was about pornography, its destructive results and addictive nature. Among the ten pages of articles, there was one small little box with a question of this nature:

Are the romance novels I'm reading causing me to be dissatisfied with my husband?

That's quite a question! I just kept going back to it through the next day or two. I am only interested in Christian novels. (I'm always afraid of secular ones because I don't want to encounter some wordy scene I don't need to be visualizing.) And generally, the novels I read show people out to be real people, many times there is a broken relationship that gets healed. Many times there is stubbornness, pride, anger and other sin on both sides. But they all seem to have one thing in common... everyone always ends up living happily ever after! And it seems to end up that way in just a matter of hours (the time it takes to read the book).

The men are almost always handsome (can't remember one of them where the guy is overweight with a pot belly), well-mannered (don't hear tooting at the dinner table in those books!), leaders (can't remember one of them where the guy is a wimp), romantics (at least by the end of the book), communicators (again, by the end of the book), and I could go on. I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about! So am I setting Robert up for failure? Is this in principle any different than presenting my eyes with visual pictures of things I should not desire? Would I be okay with Robert entertaining himself with things that cause him to wish I was someone I'm not?

Quite often a book I'm reading will evoke an emotional response... sadness, joy, hunger, repentance, and um, sometimes, er, dissatisfaction. (Really?!) Do I read these books and unconsciously create a standard to which Robert cannot possibly compare??

Lust seems to have more than several definitions, but all of the Biblical websites define it with some form of self-absorbed sinful desire. Is that what arises in me when I read a novel about a handsome, well-mannered, romantic cowboy? Certianly not any sensual desire, but an emotional desire can be every bit as damaging. Especially if I was at odds with Robert. I could very easily read a well-written Christian novel, imagine myself as the female subject of the story and end up quite irritated when I snap back to reality!


I have to say, I love, loVe, LOVE! to bury my nose in a book late into the night and enjoy the silence. :) It is one of my favorite things to do. But if the book I'm reading envokes sin in my heart, then for me, it is wrong. Clearly it is an issues of taking every thought captive, whether it's a novel, a non-fiction marriage book, chick flick, or envying a friend's relationship with her man.

Just for clarification, I'm not saying I'm all of a sudden giving up novels that involve any sense of romance! I think I'd have to stop reading all together. But that one little box in the magazine has given me quite a wake up call! I don't know how often this is an issue for me, quite honestly. I'm committing to ask the Lord to make me aware if this is an area of struggle for me.

I know I do not desire to have any other man as my husband! And frankly, Robert looks pretty darn good in jeans, cowboy boots and his John Deere hat! He's not a romantic, but he's steady. He's not a communicator, but he's in trouble a lot less than I am! Are we going to resolve all of our issues and live happily ever after by 2:00 AM, the time in which I could read another book? No. But's he's REAL, he's HERE, and he's MINE. :)

Worth thinking about. I'm just sayin'.

Reading Resource

This won't be of any interest to many of you, but it will to others! I'm always looking for books for Jacob to read that are at the right level. I don't want him totally wasting time on books that are way below his level, but I don't want him frustrated either. I've had this link for a while but have been using it a lot more lately.

I use it to find a book on the right level. I also like to find books by author. Especially when Jacob and I have enjoyed a book together, and I'd like to find some easier ones by the same author for him to read independently. It helps me request good books I'd never know about otherwise!

Leveled Book List

Hope it helps someone!

October 11, 2009

Some More Simple Pleasures

We've had a good few days around here as I've been asking the Lord to help me see the little things I used to enjoy. A couple of hard days too, but I'm going to skip that this time!

Some sweet things I've enjoyed:

*watching Robert and Jacob enjoy coloring together each night! :)
*sharing in Jacob's absolute delight as he saw his new quilt on his bed for the first time! He absolutely LOVES it!
*watching Mattie dancing on some railroad ties in the backyard since she "had her skirt on." I guess that's important to a dancer!
*lots of conversations with people about Joni and Friends camp after the video I shared.
*having our new windows open all week and my house smelling fresh!
*doing Mattie's "school" with her. She's extremely enthusiastic about learning to write her 2s and 3s.
*having colder days that require heavier clothes fulfilling a sensory need of mine, I think!
*getting my kitchen office area almost totally organized and therefore feeling organized myself!
*a great lunch today with lots of laughing and lots of sweet friends, all gifts of our "disability ministry."
*Mattie writing her name independently for the first time. She was so proud!
*three clean bathrooms. It had been waaaaaay too long for one of them!
*putting some fall decorations out.
*some desperately needed reconnecting time with Robert.
*watching Jacob delve into his first independent chapter book and conquering it in little more than an hour!

A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Third Grade!

It is really hard to believe that Jacob and I are starting our fourth year of homeschooling together! Well, we started our year in early August, but you all know I'm a bit behind on blogging! I have a lot of fun things I was going to put up, but felt like our school year needed its own introduction so I've waited. Just a little OCD coming out, I suppose. We started heading in a different direction this year, as I felt like we needed to spend some time learning about the world beyond the United States. We have done some of this already, but just small snippets, and I really wanted to do some more in depth study of each continent. Not just the land of each continent, but learning with a goal of understanding how much we really have here in America and how much people really don't have in other areas of the world, including Jesus. It just so happened as I was going down all sorts of planning rabbit trails (trying to figure out what to do) that Candace wanted to do some around the world stuff too, and she told me about Serendipity. It's a blog that has some book lists/plans to get me started. So it has enabled us to do some literature based travels around the world without starting totally from scratch! Here's what we're doing for this year...

Geography and Culture Studies: A Child's Geography is our spine book for the geography and culture studies. It's a good book, but a little bit too wordy for Jacob's attention span. Even so, we've enjoyed learning a LOT of new information together! It's written in the style of Hillyer's A Child's History of the World, so I hear. While it is creatively written, it is still a textbook, and that really isn't the way Jacob learns best. So I use it as our spine and add in library books with more pictures on his level to explain and bring to life the concept we're learning. Some books we use for reference for each continent: ~Material World ~Children Just Like Me ~Kingfisher My First Picture Atlas (I got this at TJMaxx and LOVE it!) ~Dover Traditional Houses Around the World coloring book (Jacob really enjoys coloring these Dover books.) ~Passport and flag stickers (We add the flag sticker for each country we encounter in our reading just for fun! Each of the kids has their own.) Missionary study: We're learning about a missionary or two for each continent. My goal is to find a chapter book for each missionary as it gives us good things to read together. Plus, I enjoy learning these things too! Notebooking: We're doing our own form of notebooking, I guess, as well. As a review at the end of an area, I write up some questions asking about the details I most want Jacob to remember. If it's an answer he'll have to look for, I provide the page number of the Geography book where he'll find the answer. Then he completes it and reviews what we learned. This has been his first experience with this kind of learning and he's doing a really great job! We're dividing our notebook into continents and put all of the questions, animals, maps and other things in that one section.

Animal Study: I've learned that school is just boring without some form of animal study! Sometimes we're learning which animals live on the continent, and sometimes we're learning more in depth about some specific animals. We're using ZooBooks as much as we can for this. (Thanks, Mom!)

Math: Jacob started Teaching Textbooks 4 in July, and it has been a very welcome addition to our homeschooling routine! He is generally quite happy about doing his Math lesson and learning quite well with the program. It does a better job of teaching new concepts than I was doing. It also provides the perfect amount of review for Jacob. (In our old program, I was crossing out half the assignment because it was way too much busywork for him.) It actually seems a bit easy for what would be considered a 4th grade curriculum, but I guess it doesn't matter what it's called as long as he learns what he needs to before he graduates. And maybe I just thought it should have been harder.

Language Arts: We're still very slowly working through Queen's Language Lessons for the Very Young for a general introduction to grammar. It's not slow because it's hard. It's slow because I often forget about it! At this point, it's way too easy for him! I've kind of taken the better late than early road with grammar/language arts and it's worked just fine for us. Jacob will not ever need a spelling program (thankfully!) and has quite a varied vocabulary without any curriculum thus far. And I'm not very excited about a boring grammar book as I see him developing writing skills just fine on his own. I'll add something eventually, but we're doing okay for now. I did finally get a handwriting book for him, just because I thought if he wants to learn cursive soon, he probably needs to be making his letters in the right direction before we move on. We're doing Handwriting Without Tears. Co-op: There were 3 other things I wanted to do with Jacob, but I was afraid I wouldn't stick with them if I did them on my own. And Candace had the same struggle so we started our own little coop - the perfect answer for my fear-of-coop-commitment self! We're getting together once a week to do three things: Latin, Science and Music/Piano.

Latin: I've known for awhile I wanted to do Latin with Jacob as he and I both enjoy knowing the why behind something. But I knew I probably wouldn't stick with it on my own. We're into week 9 of Prima Latina and doing great! We (yes, we) have learned about 50 words/phrases and almost 2 prayers. He is really enjoying this and applies it to words and conversations every day! It's also giving us a great introduction to grammar that's complimenting our other language arts stuff. Mattie is enjoying learning some too! :) Science Experiments: I do the science portion of our coop. We're doing experiments and learning general science concepts. The kids seem to really enjoy this, and we've done some cool experiments so far! Because this is an area that requires more planning from me, it's really good that I have the accountability to get it done. It would be very easy to push it off "just one more day" it if it was just Jacob.

Music: This is Candace's portion. She does some piano and composer study with the older three kids and some fun stuff with all of them together. Jacob seems to be enjoying learning to play the piano, and it gives me the accountability to stick with it. So that's pretty much what we're doing for now!! It seemed to me like we needed to step it up a bit for third grade, and we've done just that. Jacob was a little shell-shocked at first, but he's adjusted well. He seems to be more challenged than he's been in the past, and while he doesn't always love that, it's good for him. So now I can write some posts that show some of our fun school things individually. Being anal really screws things up some times!

October 05, 2009

Random weekend thoughts

We've had quite a hard weekend as Jacob has been having a (behavioral and physical) food reaction, the likes of which we've not seen in quite some time! And as always, he ate the offending food three times before it occurred to me that's what it was. Hopefully today we'll see some improvement! He seems to be better, though not back to his happy self yet.

But in trying to focus on joy we've had some sweet things around here this weekend as well...

We went on a bike ride in the beautiful fall weather. Mattie rode her own bike for the first time with us, so she felt like quite a big girl (and was quite tired)!

I finally found a quilt for Jacob's bed that he's really excited about! He loves bright colors and has seen how much fun we've had decorating Mattie's room while his walls are still bare (though bright red), but I knew the second I saw this one that he'd love it! And I'll be able to make the valance from the dust ruffle I won't need, so it won't cost me any more than it would have had I bought it all separately. And we'll hang on the walls the train pictures we had in his other room. It's been hard to find bright colors in something that still looks boyish, but I think this one is perfect!

We've been sleeping with the window open in our room lately, and last night we got to sleep to the sound of the rain outside. I've enjoyed the crickets too. It's like camping but in the comfort of my own cozy bed!

We had a great Sunday School class yesterday! Two little boys we hadn't seen in awhile came back and it was great to see them. (They have behavior challenges, and that's always my favorite kind of special need so it's extra fun for me.) And I let Jacob stay with me instead of going to his own class, and he was a great helper! He was a leader in the ways I needed him to be, and it gave us a positive opportunity in the midst of the struggles.


I do feel like there is a heaviness here that won't seem to lift, especially through the hardship of Jacob's reaction this weekend. I feel like I'm trying to be cheerful, joyful, and lighthearted, but it's taking so much work. It's like I'm fighting against this glass ceiling or something. Pray for us, that the Lord will reign here instead of any other presence!

October 04, 2009

A Random Moment of Sweetness

He's a good big brother.

October 03, 2009

My Birthday

I've been wanting to go to a paint-you-own-pottery place for a girls night out for some time now. So when my sil asked what I wanted to do for my birthday that was my first thought!

Here's the stuff everyone else painted while we were there. Aren't they beautiful?! (Not to steal anyone's thunder, but three of these were done with stamps-lest you think my best friends ought to be professional artists!)

There is a colonial American tradition in which hosts would serve a meal to guest of honor on a red plate. I heard about this on my friend Leslie's blog several months ago and have wanted one since then! There are many places one can buy their own plate (just google "red plate"), but I wanted to paint mine.
I have to say for those of you who will appreciate this, I did not measure for my polka dots, God just gave me a little gift and let them end up evenly spaced. He knows things like that are ridiculously important to me, because He's the one who made me that way!

I love the idea of the plate alone, but Leslie told me about another idea I'm going to do with mine. I'm going to get a small journal and write in it each time we use the plate. I'll take a picture to accompany it and have a memory of our special times we have through the years... a lost tooth, special accomplishment, hard worker, birthday, driver's license (ACK!), etc. So if you join us for dinner some night, you just might get the You Are Special plate for your accomplishment!

Painting is one of my all-time favorite things to do. I used to do it a lot in my free time... then we got Mattie. I'm hoping to get back to this place more often, and maybe soon I can even get back to painting at my own craft table. I can relax just thinking about it!

October 02, 2009

Simple Pleasures

This used to be something I'd say often. I'd say it when I was commenting on something sweet, simple, or trivial that brought me small amounts of joy. All of these things added up were actually the reason I named my blog Finding Joy on the Journey. But I've found over the past year I haven't been finding much joy. Not only haven't I been writing here about joy, I haven't been noticing joy in every day things. This used to be a trademark of mine! I'd smile about something trivial (like the rich blue sky on a summer day) and say, "It's those simple pleasures..." while those around me raised eyebrows at my celebration of the ordinary.

But it's been a really long time since that's happened. I feel like my joy has been squashed by too many painful, challenging things in life: illness, hurts, sins, depression, significant life changes, death, heartache, busy-ness, exhaustion, to-do lists, survival... to name just a few.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
Psalm 126:5

Not sure what came first... the heartache or the loss of perspective. Did I allow the negativity to take first place because I focused on it instead of the simple pleasures around me? I really don't know, but I do know that I need to change it.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.
Psalm 51:12

I need more of those "breath of fresh air" moments in my days. I need to laugh at the goodness of my children, smile at the wildflowers and thank God for the finches.

For You, O LORD, have made me glad
by what You have done,

I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
Psalm 92:4

I need to smell the autumn breeze and give my children underdogs. I need to sit down and be excited about the simplicity of my favorite throw blanket and slippers. I need the joy of the simple things as much as I need breath.

A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

And I want to voice it when I see the simple pleasures so those around me might see them too.

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
Psalm 33:1

So hopefully you'll see some changes around here. I don't want to give myself something to do just to do it, but hopefully you'll see the fruit of my heart change. I'm asking the Lord to bring His joy back to my heart through the simple things He does around me every day, and I'm asking for it to be overflowing and unquenchable. I'm asking Him to do that just because He loves me that much.

Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:18

I'm on TV!

Remember last year after Joni and Friends camp when I told you about the film crew that followed me? (It was Labor Day weekend, 2008.) Well, they finished up the tv episode and I got a copy of it this week. It was so fun to watch!

I have to say I definitely want you to go watch it. Because it's so hard to explain 5 days of fun, joy, excitement, exhaustion, victory, bonding, friendship..."little slice of heaven" in just a few paragraphs and now I have 28 minutes of live explanation! It's just such a great picture of how worthwhile it is to go to a Family Retreat, for volunteers and people affected by disability!

So please go watch it and show your friends! If you are not affected by disability, there is definitely a way you can serve at a family retreat, no matter who you are. If you are affected by disability in some way, you can attend this life changing event! There are family retreats all over the country from June to September, so there should be one available that you can get to. Please consider it! It will change your life for the better, I guarantee it.

Here is a direct link to the episode if you're interested!

(Here are my first and second posts with pics from the week this was filmed.)