May 31, 2010

Little Girl's Rooms

Mattie's room is always a disaster, with the exception of the first day after I have cleaned it up.  She has a ton of random little things that while they seem like junk, play very important roles in her every day imaginary play.  She LOVES to stuff bags and purses with all of this as she goes about her days.  But none of it seems to have a home, so it is all very hard to sort as she cleans up her room (which she's not good at anyway!).

After moving her bed and finding everything under it, this is what we had. 

I had an idea that seemed to make sense and it has worked out beautifully!
I got these shallow (6" deep) Sterilite containers so ALL of the random stuff can be easily seen.  They fit easily under her bed, so all we have to do is throw stuff in and hide them!  And we can add one more when we need to.

Then I posted on a message board and asked for any other ideas.  One mom suggested using a show hanger on the back door for the things that have lots of little pieces, but do well being seen.  This was perfect!!
Mattie came home from being at Grandmama's and said with great excitement, "My pockets!!  I have pockets!"  (Who would have thought pockets would be so exciting?  I should have known...)

Here's what we have now.  And amazingly enough, today is day three and it still looks pretty close to this!  I've seen her finding things and being excited about putting them away in the right spot.  I know the excitement won't last, but maybe the cleanliness will.

May 29, 2010

Moments of Joy 16

It's been a while!  But not because the moments of joy have been few.  Here are some sweet times of late:

Indulging the kids at Red Lobster for Robert's birthday.  We let them get whatever they wanted, regardless of their food sensitivities!  (Mattie had macaroni and cheese for her first time ever, Jacob had broiled shrimp and a salad and they both enjoyed a biscuit.  And yes.  We paid pretty dearly for indulging Mattie - bed wetting and severe crankiness for three days.)

A new hobby - digital scrap booking!

Getting in a good chore routine with the kids.  We've not really done that since we moved a year ago.

Using that same routine to begin our school day with Bible reading time in bedrooms - this means I get a turn too!

Expecting trouble, but watching Jacob do remarkably well with the first three days of long division!

Spending Mother's Day with my Mom!

Watching my kids' delight as they play on the neighbor's water slide for hours. and hours. and hours.

Two nights of uninterrupted sleep (meaning Mattie stayed in her bed all night long). Doesn't happen very often.

Seeing Jacob's utter joy as he came home to a newly rearranged bedroom!

A sore back.  But a good sore, because it came from planting flowers and vegetable seeds.

My first attempt at a vegetable garden going well!

A spontaneous trip to a home school conference with my older sister and aunt!

A younger sister, brother-in-law, mom and dad who are willing to watch my kids so I can go to said conference guilt free!

Answered prayers.

A science program that looks just perfect.  And a family with boys to do it with.

A husband who gives me feedback (when I beg for it!) that gives me clarity I've been lacking.

Watching Mattie tan as if she's Native American.  :)
I could so easily go on and on.  God is good no matter how many moments of joy I can list, but I believe it brings Him joy to ascribe all good things to Him!

May 26, 2010

Mattie's Ballet Recital

The little dancing girl had her ballet recital a couple of weeks ago.  It is at her recital I am always assured I have chosen the right dance studio.  The songs are sooooo worshipful, the costumes are modest and the dances are classy.  And Mattie is so happy with her teacher!

That's a lot of itty bitties in one little class, and I'm pretty sure they gave their teacher a run for her money!

Mattie, front and center in all her cuteness. 
This year was interesting for her.  At the beginning of her fourth semester in this level, three new little girls started in her class, so the level of everything totally changed.  I think she was pretty bored.  She is looking very forward to starting in a big girl class in the fall!

The beloved Miss Shanny

Th cranky, tired girl unwilling to smile for a picture.  If she only knew how well her lack of cooperation turned out!

Mattie and her big girl cousins, Hannah and Emily!

And the very serious ballerina.

Mattie hates to have her hair up in any way.  She will wear it how I fix it if I insist, but she always prefers to have it left alone.  As we were getting ready for her dress rehearsal and I was putting her hair in a bun, she said quite disgustedly, "Ugh.  I would have thought about this whole ballet thing if I knew I had to put my hair up in a bundle."

May 25, 2010


So he turned eight six weeks ago.  Better late than never!

I just can't believe eight years have really passed since I became a mom!  

Jacob is definitely growing up in a lot of ways.  He is still a perfectionist who hates to let someone down.  He is very tenderhearted with people for whom he cares deeply.  He is, however, still ALL BOY.  By that I mean Jacob prefers to build forts and play all day, rather than do any sort of school.  He antagonizes his sister at every opportunity that avails itself.  He makes a gun or sword out of everything that touches his fingers, and proceeds to shoot anything in the general direction.  Jacob loves to build and create things, Hot Wheels tracks and Legos being the latest favorites.  He loves to read, but much more so if the book is non-fiction or involves fighting of any sort.  And he is spunky enough to actually run up to his daddy and pick a fight.

Here is a recent track he drew and used for a couple of weeks.  It's 8 feet long!

Here are some pictures of his birthday (spent with family) and party (we had with friends two weeks later).

Notice the grin upon opening the Hot Wheels gift.


He was so excited to have a pool party with all of his friends this year!

And I have to say, while he's a big eight year old, he still loves to sleep in his mommy and daddy's bed whenever he gets a chance.  He is still a snuggler at heart.

May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Robert!

Today Robert turns 35! 

I'm thankful for you, Robert!  I'm thankful for your loyalty, your hard work in being a good provider for us, the laughter you incite, the steadiness you have to offer, and the way you keep me on my toes.  You make life so much more fun!

Happy Birthday!!

May 20, 2010

Yes! Great Gluten-Free Bread!

After 2 years of trying, I finally have a recipe worth sharing!  I've done this three or four times now and it's worked every time.  Best of all, Mattie likes it!

3c warm water
3 eggs
1/4c oil
6T honey (or sugar)

3 1/2c brown rice flour
1/2c ground flax
1c tapioca flour
1t guar gum
2 1/2t salt
1t baking soda
1 packet yeast

Preheat oven to 150-170 and turn off.  Grease loaf pans.  (This recipe yields 3 4x8 loaves for me.)
Combine and whisk all wet ingredients.  In small bowl, combine and stir (whisk or fork) together all dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk together quickly, stopping as soon as well mixed.  Immediately pour into loaf pans.  (It will be the consistency of a quick bread batter.)  Allow to rise in warm oven until half again as large at most.  With pans still in oven, turn oven on to 350 (mine cooks at 325 on convection) for 30 minutes.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes before cooling the rest of the way on cooling racks.

*I have also baked only one loaf and have frozen the other two until the day I was ready to bake.  In that case I took the frozen batter (frozen in the loaf pan) and set it out to thaw and rise.  Bake just as above.  This batter thaws out enough that you could freeze it in any container and pour it into the loaf pan to finish rising and baking.

*I use guar gum because it is cheaper than xanthan and easier to get my hands on.  It is also corn free, so it's safer for use in our kitchen.  You could easily use xanthan instead.  I think it would be 2T of xanthan gum.

*When I use the dark flax seeds, it adds color to the bread.  Mattie likes that it "looks like Jacob's bread!" so I'll keep doing it this way.

*Even if it does rise well, it will rise some as it bakes and still be just as good.  Don't think it's a failure!

*This bread stays fresh at room temperature for 3 or 4 days.

May 19, 2010

How did you teach writing?

A doctor had eight children and his wife died tragically.  She had been homeschooling them, and he intended to continue.  He said he had the kids do these things each day while he was at work:
1) A math lesson
2) Reading out loud
3) Write something (any topic they chose, non-fiction or fiction)
When he came home, he corrected their math and talked through their story with them.  They corrected their grammar and writing issues appropriate for their age.
That's all he did.

I was one of three home schooling moms who were picking strawberries on Monday, another of whom is a veteran.  She has successfully home schooled 5 children, all of whom are very good writers, independent thinkers, and excellent public speakers.  So we asked her what she did for writing.  She told us that story and decided to follow the writing plan.

How easy is that?!  I've been looking for the right curriculum for Jacob for a long time.  I'd like it to integrate writing and grammar in one curriculum, but so far that has eluded me.  So I decided right when I heard my friend tell me this simple story to jump right on it!

Jacob has written few stories, poems, etc in his three years of schooling, I'm ashamed to say.  I just put it on the back burner until he matured more.  The ones he has written have been good enough to know he wasn't totally clueless, so I just let it go.  I had decided  already to start grammar this coming year and found a program I'm happy with, but the writing still remained to be figured out, though I have a few recommendations.

But now I have a plan, and a free and simple one at that!  (Why do we make things so hard on ourselves?)

Jacob wrote his first story today.  I'm going to have him write for a week or so before I start editing anything.  (Andrew Pudewa said the word "edit" evokes much less resistance than "correct," and it make a lot of sense!)

Here's what he had for starters:

Jacob  May 19 2010
Hot wheels     Hot wheels are super fast cars with very cool gadgets, some have spike tires!  Some have chainsaw blades.  Some can even drive on lava!  I think Hot Wheels are really cool.

I have to say, not like he's some awesome author, but I was excited to see a topic sentence (though punctuated incorrectly), three supporting statements and a conclusion!  Lol!!  :)  I liked just seeing what was on his mind!  I've also been trying really hard to find a passion or high interest in him (another result of the homeschooling conference), and I'm hoping this helps that surface.  So we'll do this for the rest of this week and we'll start editing next week.  I intend to let him write about anything... retelling a favorite story, a favorite toy, an original story, why he's angry about something, something we did the day before, etc.  I hope this goes well.

May 15, 2010

Luke 14 County Fair 2010!

I know I say this every year, but it was a huge success yet again!  It is clear how the Lord is working behind the scenes in ways we couldn't even begin to know.  Here's a small window into the night: 
The calm before the storm... 

The army of volunteers committing the evening to the Lord before the party begins!

A quick frame check for the take home photo spot.  This is my friend, Darlene, and I.  She and I do the disability ministry together at our church.  She tends to focus on Luke 14 while I focus more on the day to day ministry at church.  The Lord sticks us together to make a complete pair; I'm the left brain, she's the right!

The hayride is always a favorite!

And you can't have a County Fair without animals!

In my experience, most people with disabilities love to dance!  The nice part is that they're uninhibited by the pride that overtakes people like me and keeps me from dancing.  In all honestly, their general lack of inhibition is a true gift.   What I could learn from that!
 This guy in the black shirt needs to just be an honorary member of this group of children and young adults with Down Syndrome, The Sonshine Ambassadors.  While they are sharing their little bit of sonshine with us, he goes up and joins them in the middle of their performance... and they just keep right on going as if he belongs.
They sing this song every year called, "I am a Child of God."  I've seen it 3 or 4 times and I cry every time.  It's amazing.

Mattie's trying out the fishing before she gets carted off to childcare.  My kids sacrifice a lot of their mama's attention and a lot of their own time while I'm in meetings in the months leading up to Luke 14.  I include them as much as I can and try and let them join in the fun for at least a few minutes each year!  It won't be too long before they'll be able to work a booth or be a buddy.  They both have tender hearts toward those with disabilities, and Luke 14 and our other involvement with disability ministry are the reasons for that.

The Chick Fil A cow came this year!  This picture is pretty remarkable, actually.  We had a guy dress up as Peter during VBS and Morgan (in the middle) totally flipped out.  I think I should be offended that she'll pose with the cow and can't be in the same room as "Peter."  I guess she likes his costume better.  :)

I told you about Robert last year.  He walks in and asks for a "pretty buddy" to host him for the night.  :)  At this moment he was grabbing girls to take a picture with him.  My sister in law happened to step too close and got caught!

We take a photo of each guest with their buddy and get it printed for them to take home each night.  The fun part about this one is that the buddy (the guy on the right) is a Carson-Newman football player.  If I understand it right, the first time he came, he came under suggestion from his coach.  He wasn't quite sure what to do, but ended up having a good time.  Three years later, he's one of our most confident and fun buddies!


I don't have a photo of the sweetest story of the night, but I have to tell you.  
We collect things for a Country Store and let each guest go in and choose several things to take home.  We collect books, toys, accessories, tshirts, trinkets, etc.  
In the meantime, an older man had just moved in to a new group home.  He wasn't wanting to get up and get out of bed to come to Luke 14 with his cohorts, and the staff couldn't figure out why.  They finally got out of him that his shoes were hurting his feet.  He said he needed new shoes and couldn't go to Luke 14 in shoes that hurt his feet.  They told him they'd work on new shoes for him the next day, but they encouraged him to get up and finally got him in the van, albeit begrudgingly from what I heard.  
He took his trip to the Country Store and ended up finding a pair of shoes.  Some local business man had donated some shoes that we honestly weren't sure what to do with!  We decided to stick them in the store and see what happened. Now we know exactly why we had these.  They were the exact size for his hurting feet.  God knew just the size of those two needy feet that would shop in our Country Store, and He made sure we had just what we needed.

May 04, 2010

So Long Insecurity: Week 5

You probably thought I decided not to finish this journey! Basically, I just got overwhelmed with life, and anything non-essential went by the wayside, reading included.  But I was determined to FInIsH this book and blogging about it.  I finished it all in a couple of days, but I wanted to come finish my answers here.  I'm sure digging into the book for answers will require more engagement than reading alone.

God has used this book in magnificent ways!  I am finding myself being able to take thoughts captive (especially ones that would have led me to jealousy in the past) and recognize them for the foolishness that they are.  This leads to such freedom!  There is less (not no) stress, anxiety, wondering about others' thoughts about me, and a beautiful lack of mistrust. There is rest and peace in my brain!  And oh! how welcome it is!

Here is the assignment for Chapter 9, as written by Beth:
Here are your very simple assignments this week:
1. Do (don’t just read but actually do) Chapter Nine. In your comment to this post, simply reflect back on your time with God and share anything specific that you received from it.

2. Go to last Saturday’s post (3/6/10) and look at all the verses in the comment section. You will find a wellspring! Pick five Scriptures that speak most powerfully to you right now – five that you feel like you need the most – and write them on the inside of the back cover of the book. (This should be a lot less intimidating than what I asked you to write inside the front cover at the beginning of our journey!)

This one isn't one that leads itself to much writing material!  I did read the prayer in Chapter nine, though I found it challenging to "do" something that hasn't been laid on my heart.  I'm not one to pray something (commit to doing it) unless I'm really there, if that makes sense.

And as far as the scriptures, I confess, I did not read all 1000 comments!  Though, I think I'm weird about this too.  I think scripture might move other people in a different way than it does me.  I don't tend to fall on a scripture and think, "Oh, wow.  That is what I needed today."  Not saying it has never happened, but it doesn't seem to happen much for me.  I usually have those "aha" moments during my quiet time or during a time when I'm in the middle of searching him out.  I guess I have to be more focused or something.  I don't know!  And she says choose the ones that I "feel like I need the most."  I have to say, there is such freedom in the journey for me thus far, that I'm past the "needing them the most" stage.  I'm just rejoicing at the liberty and joy He has brought as a replacement for the insecurity and jealousy I started with.

But I wanted to include this assignment for anyone who might come back later and look for all of them.  :)