Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Rejoice

Never complain; only rejoice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Goodbye, Christmas. See You Next Year.

The Christmas holidays have come to an end. Looking back, this season has felt somewhat somber. My goal, starting out, was to focus my children's attention less on their own desires and more on the needs of others. I believe it worked. But my efforts in this area changed something in me, too. Beginning with our reading of The Little Match Girl on December 1st, something of the starry-eyed wonderment and magic of Christmas was torn away from me this year. For a couple weeks I almost felt depressed and could not seem to grasp a hold of even a fragment of the "Christmas Spirit." I kept asking myself how I could enjoy a holiday of warmth, cheer, good food, love, gifts given and received. . . when there were so many out there, some even in my own city, suffering emotional, physical, and spiritual need.

The "Chrismas Spirit" did find me, in good time, with Christmas trees, decorations, cookies, and music. . . But something was missing this year. We didn't bake as many cookies, sing as many carols, buy as many presents, or make as many crafts. Yes, something was missing, and I have not yet figured out if it was a pruning from the Master Gardener or negligence on the part of my tired mommy self. In years past, such slackness in our celebrating would have sent me into a tizzy. . .

. . .this year, while I've struggled with a small sense of regret over a few of our "losses," overall there is a feeling of having gained something greater for both myself and my family. We had, to my knowledge, the most peaceful family Christmas ever. I feel that we all (Jason, myself, and the two oldest kids) came together in recognizing the needs of others outside our blessed family. Extended family didn't factor in to our celebrations this year, but we were more than happy to open our home to others looking for someone to share the holiday with. I had to tighten up our Christmas budget to both please my husband and to allow the kids to give to those in need, but I found spectacular deals that still amaze me. And the two oldest lost a little bit of that Christmas magic that makes its way down the chimeny every year, but they were so excited about giving both gifts and time to others that they really didn't care at all.

Christmas may, very well, never be the same in our family again. Santa's magic is slowly fading, gifts are beginning to seem trite and boring, and even Christmas music is failing to capture real Christmas for me at times. But. . .

. . . Christmas may never be the same in our family again. The needs of others are staring at us in bold, itallic letters, we are sensing needs that are more important than another wrapped gift under the tree, and the whole meaning of Christmas is deepening for all of us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Little "Wrastlers"

The kids are down "wrastling" while Jason walks on the treadmill. Apparently they each have a special "wrastling" name:
  • Gordon: "Animal Mixer" because he can act like all kinds of animals.
  • Teeny: "Ponycorn" because she is half horse, half unicorn.
  • Bud-Jack: "Kick-slapper" because he kicks and slaps.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook - A New Year!

Daybook for January 4th, 2010. . .

Outside my window... Snow on the curbs and along the sides of the driveways and walkways and a few scattered flurries are toying with my emotions.

I am thinking... About way too much. Too many ideas, too little time. I need to take a deep breath and just be present in the moment.

I am thankful for... My little 1 1/2 year old, Mary, who keeps me up at night lately. She's worth more hours of sleep than I can count.

From the learning rooms... We started back today after two weeks off. It was a glorious two weeks, but I'm excited about trying a few new things this month.

From the kitchen... We had honey nut oatmeal and juice for breakfast, Mexican black beans on noodles with cheese and sour cream and sugared grapefruit for lunch, Crispy Macaroni and Cheese with carrot sticks and apple slices for dinner.

I am wearing... Comfy gray pants and a black 3/4th sleeve t-shirt and a dark gray cardigan. . . and socks.

I am creating... The library list for the last two weeks of January for homeschool.

I am going... To sew patches on Gordon's Cub Scout shirt/kercheif this afternoon.

I am reading... A Delusion of Satan by Frances Hill.

I am hoping... To be able to use my neglected sewing machine (I've only used it once, ever.).

I am hearing... Lots of humming -- computer, fan, tv downstairs. . .

Around the house... We are a post-holiday mess. Need I say more? Working on tidying up, organizing, and prettying the foyer this week.

One of my favorite things... Pencils. If only my darling children didn't loose them and my pencili sharpeners. I love being able to make mistakes and magically make them disappear.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Library at some point, a trip to the store. . . Friday night at Jason's boss's house with other co-workers for dinner.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Little Mary on her first snowy jaunt this past month.

Hop on over to Peggy's to join in the daybook fun!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Resolving - Week of January 3rd

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything
give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This week I will. . .
  • Focus on praising, praying to, and thanking God at all times and in every circumstance.
  • Begin a prayer and gratitude journal.
  • Thank or compliment Jason every day.
  • "Study" winter weather with my kids and learn to appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Work on cleaning, organizing and prettying up the foyer.
  • Begin reading A Delusion of Satan.
  • Make thankyou cards with the kids.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolving - A Page from My Journal

This year. . .

I want an intimate relationship with God, full of praise, prayer, and thanksgiving. I want to live my life so that everything I do is an offering to God. I want to demonstrate this mentality by putting others before myself and doing nothing with my own selfish desires and hopes in mind. I want to make 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Colossians 3:23, and Philippians 2:3-4 my life verses.

I want to take care of myself. I want to be as free of germs as possible. I want physical, emotional, and intellectual health. . . I want to eat healthy and rely less on chemicals. I want to exercise. I want to learn to control my emotions and yield them to God. I want to read, learn, and stretch my brain.

I want to be a more loving wife. I want to give myself completely to Jason. I want to touch him more, and be less reserved when it comes to physical intimacy. I want to just say, "Okay," and stop arguing, defending, challenging, and questioning.

I want to provide a more authentic, wholesome childhood for my children. I want to fill their bodies with good food, clean water, and fresh air. I want to fill their minds with living books, a love for God, and an understanding of others' ideas. I want t fill their hearts with love, peace, and joy. I want to fill their spirits with play, laughter, and even tears. I want, most importantly, to fill their souls with a connection with an intimate and personal God.

I want a clean, simple, beautiful home -- a home that speaks to comfort, peace, and simplicity. I want to clear out all but the essentials, and fill my home with only quality items. I want to get and keep the house clean. But, mostly, I want to declutter the emotions, noise, reactions. . .

Hello 2010 Menu --> Recipes to Follow

Breakfast Casserole with Orange Juice
Oatmeal with Apples
Oatmeal Muffins with Apples
Granola with Raisins or Craisins

Crispy Macaroni and Cheese with Carrot and Celery Sticks and Apple Slices
Rice and Beans with Steamed Carrots and Oranges or Grapefruit
Leftovers with Carrot and Celery Sticks and Apple Slices
Canned Soup with Biscuits and Apple Cider or Juice

Crock Pot Roast Beef with Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, and Mushrooms; Rolls and Apple Cider or Juice
Bean Soup, Biscuits, and Citrus Fruit Salad
Beef Pot Pie and Homemade Applesauce
Scalloped Potatoes with Winter Squash and Applesauce
Beef Stew with Rolls and Citrus Fruit Salad
Mushroom and Onion Pizza with Carrot and Celery Sticks and Apple Slices
Easy Swedish Turkey Meatballs with Red Potatoes and Steamed Carrots

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Trail Mix
Hot Cocoa (with Marshmallows)
Oranges and Grapefruit sprinkled with Honey

Chocolate Cake
Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Fudgy Brownie Pudding with Ice Cream
Rice Pudding with Berry Sauce

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The First Two Weeks of Advent, Sans Pictures

December 1:
*Gordon asked why The Little Match Girl had to be a sad book.

December 2:
*Gordon and Teeny chose to give some of our Christmas budget to go toward a well in a third world country. I think the picture of the little boy with the bloated belly in the World Vision Catalog really made a strong impression on Gordon. He tears up a bit every time we talk about the need for clean water in other countries.
*Painted Christmas cards for family and friends. Better get around to mailing those, huh?

December 3:
*Bud-Jack after reading and talking about Proverbs 15:1, "Those are harsh words!"

December 4:
*Failed yet tasty attempt at a chocolate icecream "yule log". Gordon called it "bark".

December 5:
*Wrote letters to Santa. Gordon asked for either a Creepy Crawler bug making kit or an outdoor survival kit (with an axe. . . um, no). Teeny asked for *another* 18" doll and more doll clothes. Bud-Jack asked for a mountain. When pressed for something a little more doable, he jabbered out something I really couldn't understand at all. Mary is asking for what "Santa" already got her: Little People (thankyou Craigslist).
*Made gingerbread men.

December 6:
*Woke to find bundles of gold-wrapped chocolate coins in our shoes. Happy St. Nicholas Day!

December 7:
*Began brainstorming "gifts that don't cost money."

December 8:
*Out to eat for a Logos fundraiser. Had fun seeing one of Jason's co-workers and her husband and daughter (our wonderful babysitter).

December 9:
*Jason's friends from York Young Leaders over for cookies and coffee. Kids helped make Triple Chocolate Chip cookies.

December 10:
*Hit my mid-Advent slump. But enjoyed stroganoff and pierogies for dinner. Yum.

December 11:
*Brainstorming how to spread Christmas cheer.

December 12:
*Went to local Christmas tree farm to pick and cut down our own. It was cold; we made our choice fast.

*Shopping for eachother.
*Gordon finished up his "The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pirate Pig." To be illustrated today by Teeny and then scanned, and printed in photo books for the Grandparents.
*Wrote down my 2010 goals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

25 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs

After a week or two of cold wetness outside and hacking feverishness inside, my whole family was a little stir-crazy. If it hadn't been for this recent warm spell, we might well have lost our minds. I sat down a few nights ago and made myself a list of things that I think I can do to help myself and my family beat the usual winter blahs.
  1. Make praise and worship music be your background noise, broken up by bits of classical music, or whatever else your family likes. . . BUT. . .
  2. Carve out an hour of pure quiet time every day -- some time to get away from eachother, breathe, and listen to yourselves think.
  3. Spend more time on your beauty routine, especially in the area of moisturizing -- condition, lotion, pamper. . .
  4. Invest in a good computer game, deck of cards, or puzzle book. . . or just clip the crossword puzzle out of the paper every day.
  5. Read at least one chapter of a good book each day. And by book I mean something with a cover and pages made of paper, not an e-book.
  6. Memorize a good poem, passage of Scripture, or piece of literature.
  7. Do one creative thing each week.
  8. Spend some time talking with your spouse each evening after the kids go to bed. If he's not the talking type, then sit and enjoy a snack and TV show with him.
  9. Reserve one night every week for a "date". If you can't afford dinner and a sitter, then just do something special at home.
  10. Limit screen time, both for yourself and your kids. It may seem like the only thing to do some days, but too much TV or computer will only lead to headaches and bad attitudes.
  11. Read, aloud, at least 6 picture books or 3 chapters of a children's chapter book to your kids each day. There's your TV alternative.
  12. Take your kids out for at least a 30 minute walk at the warmest part of each day. If you have a heat wave, get the kids playing outside as much of the day as possible; you take a book out and enjoy the fresh air as you read your obligatory chapter.
  13. If the weather will just not permit a walk, do some pilates, yoga, or dancing with the kids inside for 30 minutes.
  14. Sit around and tell family stories whenever the kids get bored. See if they can tell any family stories on their own.
  15. Sit down and sing with the kids. Get out the Mother Goose and go over those good ole nursery rhymes. And, of course, sing Christmas songs from the end of Thanksgiving all the way through the first week of January.
  16. Read poetry -- all winter. Jot down each child's favorites, and then help them each put together their own anthology. Let them decorate each page using a variety of art forms -- collage, paint, pencil, rubbing. . .
  17. Help each child start their own scrapbook full of their favorite memories and pictures.
  18. Have each child start a nature notebook. Spend time each day observing, identifying, and sketching critters in the backyard.
  19. Put together a winter craft supplies bin, and don't be afraid to use it. Whenever you have some spare cash, head to the dollar store for supplies and coloring books.
  20. Bake something with the kids each week.
  21. Make every moment special. Whenever you turn on the TV, snuggle up together with a bowl of popcorn. When you have a snack, get all the kids to the table to chat over the goodies.
  22. Plan next year's garden! Google seed companies and order a catalogue from whoever will send you one for free. I find that those that offer heirloom seeds are especially fascinating and lend themselves well to dreams of lovely cottage gardens. Then get out some graph paper and plot away!
  23. Deep clean a new room of the house every two weeks. Stretch your tasks out over the two weeks so you don't feel overwhelmed. Then, you won't have to spring clean when the time comes!
  24. Have dinner guests over once every week or two. Get the kids excited and involved in helping with food preparations and setting the table.
  25. Write a hand written letter or note on paper to a friend or family member every week. Stick it in a paper envelope, put a postage stamp on it, put it in a mailbox and send it on its way.

Care to add to the list?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Advent 2009

Here are our plans for Advent this year!!!

I've based these plans primarily on what books we have here at home, with "Additional Reads" being books found at our local public library.

Every two days we will have a primary book selection, a lesson (or moral) and symbol, Scripture verses that teach the lesson (or moral), discussion questions and an activity or two, and some additional picture books to go with the lesson.