Saturday, June 30, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday



Well, folks, my habit for this week was to walk each day for half an hour. And the results? Not so much. Unfortunately, I only got in two good walks. And yet I will persevere. This was just a crazy busy week, as will next week be, but I'm going to keep trying. So that goal will continue this week.

And yet that doesn't let me off the hook for instituting a new habit for this week. This week the habit I've chosen is to start taking my vitamins on a daily basis. I'd like to take a calcium supplement and a B-complex vitamin at the minimum. I've heard B vitamins help with PMS type symptoms. This will make my poor husband very happy if it's true! If anyone else has any ideas for good supplements, please let me know.

So there you have it. This week's goals:

  • Take daily supplements
  • Walk 30 minutes a day

My Very First Meme

First of all, can anyone tell me where the word "meme" comes from? I'm just wondering because, for the life of me I can't figure it out! Anyways, Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer posted this fun meme where you answer 5 completely random questions. So here we go!


1. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hmm, well, I'd have to say sandwiches. You get your whole grains with the bread, your protein with your meats and you even get some veggies with the lettuce, onion and tomato. Plus I just like sandwiches. They are simple and yet versatile.

2. What's the most nerve-racking "close call" you've ever had?
When my daughter was about 10 months old, we flew out to Arizona for my brother's wedding. Our first night in the hotel, I put her on the floor while my husband got in the shower and I settled in. After about 15 minutes, I picked her up to nurse her on the bed. She rolled over and threw up - in neon blue! Apparently the housekeeping staff had missed several pills that a previous occupant had dropped on the floor, but my baby didn't miss them! We called poison control and had to rush her to the hospital where she was put into restraints and her stomach was pumped. It was horrendous as you can imagine.

3. Name five features your ultimate dream house would have.
Well, it would have to have a spacious front porch with a swing and rocking chairs. A master bedroom large enough for a sitting area so hubby and I can have someplace private where we can chat. A large rec room (with all the accoutrements - pool table, big screen tv, etc) so the kids can have all the neighborhood kids over to hang out. A hot tub in a private area of the back yard. Hmm, what else? Oh, a large pantry. I would just love to be able to take advantage of great bargains, but currently am limited in how much I can store. A huge pantry would be wonderful!

4. Who has been the most influential non-relative in your life?
My vote for this would be Christian author Elizabeth George. She has been such an inspiration to me over the last 5-7 years. She challenges women to be their best and not to settle for mediocre. My favorite saying of hers is, "Good, better, best; never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best." My friend, Laurie, will get a good laugh out of this. Once, her husband told her she wasn't being "very George-ian." Harrumph to him!

5. What one non-physical feature would you most like to change about yourself?
Wow, this is a hard one. I could list a bunch of physical things...Probably my lack of discipline. It shows it's ugly head in every area of my life - my housekeeping, homeschooling, my weight, my spiritual life. If I could learn to subjugate my desires to my will, that would be a wonderful thing.

And now you know 5 things about me that you didn't know before.

I need your help, my friends...

One week from now we will be in Knoxville, hopefully the first step on the path to moving there. In preparation for this move (because my hubby has promised me that this will be my last hurricane season) I've been reading up on selling a home. You know, things to remodel, things to re-do, ways to "stage" a home. (Speaking of which, I LOVE that show "Sell This House." I mean, when I have tv I love it.) Anyhoo, it's gotten me more anxious than ever to start working on our own home.

I know we have waaaaay too much stuff. That's the first thing they always say is to take out of the home as much as you can so the house looks bigger. But another thing they (the experts, that is) always recommend doing is painting the whole interior a neutral color..... (crickets chirping)....Um, do I really have to do that? I'm looking for answers here, people.

For those of you who haven't had the amazing opportunity to visit my little abode, let me just tell you that I like color. But I feel as though I restrained myself quite well when we decorated this house. I mean, when I bought this house, every single stinkin' wall (bathrooms, closets, laundry room, every wall in the house) was painted a bright yellow. I had to do something! My dining room (which isn't a separate room unto itself, but part of the entrance of the house and really just has one curved wall) is painted a deep red. But the other walls which adjoin it are very light, light beige so it's not overpowering. Our family room is painted kind of an olive green. It's a dark shade but the room has so much light it doesn't come across as a dark room. I think. Then there are the bedrooms. Mine is the same shade of light beige, but I let the kids each pick their own rooms - Daniel picked a fairly bright blue and Emily picked a pale green.

What do you think? Is having stronger colors a problem for you if you look at a home? Or are you able to see past that and visualize what you would do with the space?
Friday, June 29, 2007

Amazing Giveaways at 5 Minutes for Mom

July-4-button-160pix.jpg

5 Minutes for Mom is holding an all-out contest-a-rama for July 4th and there are some amazing prizes being offered. Swing by and leave a comment for each contest that interests you. 'Cuz free is good!
For those of you who haven't heard of Heather at Especially Heather right now click on this link and go read this amazing child of God's story. Diagnosed a few months ago with a large brain tumor, Heather has had surgery (which could have proved fatal or caused the loss of speech or motor function) to remove the tumor and is now undergoing radiation treatment.

Heather, though I have never met her, has become a daily inspiration to me. She has walked this journey through cancer the way that I would hope I would - with complete and utter faith and yet completely honestly about the fear and sadness. She has nothing but praise to the Lord who has made her and knows her every thought, fear and hope. She has brought me to tears many times. Not only has she had to deal with cancer, but her youngest child was born with a very rare heart condition and was not expected to live to birth. Emma just recently celebrated her 6th birthday.

If you want to be truly blessed and humbled today, check it out.

I'd like an egg with my toast, please

Ok, I'm toasted. As in really mad. We have neighbors who moved in about a year ago. The previous woman who lived there was very quiet and when you did see her, she was friendly. These people...not so much. Well, that's not true. The husband is fairly friendly, the two little girls are ok, but the wife seems very unfriendly. Especially right now.

My kids, another little boy and her kids were out back playing together. As soon as the other little boy left, the older daughter told my children in a very haughty tone that her mother told her to tell my kids to "quit knocking over their tree and stop touching their cats." Ahem.

First of all, my kids haven't knocked over their tree. We've had a lot of storms and it's been very windy. And secondly, if you kept your dang cats in the house, and out of my yard and everyone else's, no one would have to pick them up to return them to your yard. Did I mention we are talking about 6 week old kittens?

And thirdly, let me tell you what kind of neighbors they have been:
1) When they first moved in, we had a picnic table out in the back, in the common area by the lake. Nothing fancy, but it was ours. The very first day they moved in, the drug it up into their yard where it has stayed to this day. We never said anything, out of wanting to have good relations with the neighbors and like I said, it wasn't anything too special, but still...it was ours.
2) We had a paddle boat(that was recently stolen) that one day I looked out and they are using it. Didn't ask or anything, just took it out for a spin around the lake. Again, my hubby decided to say nothing because he doesn't want to rock the boat.
3) The dad is a truck driver. As in semi-truck. And he brings his big rig home and parks it in the yard. This is what we and two other houses get to look at when it's there rather than the lake that we paid a premium to be on. And this is what we get to listen to (the low rumble of the engine) when he comes in and out or loads it). Imagine having a semi truck running for over an hour 60 feet from your bedroom window at 6:30 am.
4) He also uses a forklift in his back yard to load the truck - more noise.
5) They've stored all kinds of junk in the unfenced (and therefore in complete view) yard - piles of tile, old furniture and appliances.
6) They used to tie up their little dog to (our) picnic table and leave it there for hours on end. The poor dog had about 1-2 feet of leash to work with and whined the whole time they had it there. I finally wrote them a note about it. My daughter tells me they now keep it on a leash attached to a chair leg in the house.
7) Their daughters hit us up to come jump on the trampoline every time they see us outside. Even when our kids aren't around.
8) Their kids have been invited to my kids' birthday parties - no RSVP or anything, but they always show up anyways (sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine)
9)And now the cats. They have these little kittens that are all over everyone's yards that are cute now but are going to grow up to be pooping in everyone's yards and having more little kittens and making everyone miserable. They are in our yard all the time and my kids are afraid our dog will kill them. That's why they bring them back to their own yard. Such rotten kids, huh?

Sorry, I'm just a little upset about this right now and needed to rant a little. I know I should have grace and mercy, and I do, but I'm getting a little tired of living next to people who have no respect for others.
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two Down, Two to Go!

As some of you know, a few years ago my husband got the notion that he was going to be the Palestinian version of Donald Trump. The real estate mogul aspect, not the freaky hair aspect. Thank goodness! Anyways, over the course of a year, he purchased (with help of his brother and parents) 4 pre-construction properties - a townhouse and 3 single families, as well as two condo conversions. Plus we bought a new house to live in as our own home. I'd like to say that I was of the utmost support to Hubby, but unfortunately, I thought he had gone plum crazy. However, rationality came to bear and I realized that he had never once in all of our marriage led us astray and I came to accept our new positions in life as "Landlords" and "For-Sale-By-Owner King and Queen."

Two of the houses sold quite quickly after construction was complete and the condos and the townhouse have been rented out steadily for the most part. The final house was just completed a month or two ago and we are working on selling it now. But we are (insert happy dance here!) due to close on one of the condos sometime within the next week. And tonight we rented out the townhouse to a woman who seems lovely. While I would have rather sold it, it's better than having it sit empty with us stuck with the mortgage payments, right?

So that leaves us with just the other condo and the newest house. The condo has been rented to the same man since before we bought it and he'd probably happily stay as long as we let him. But we do plan on putting it on the market soon. And then there is still the house to sell. We've had some inquiries and a couple who would like to rent it, but we'd much rather sell. So we can have money. That's kind of a crucial part of the whole "let's move to Tennessee and buy a house for cash so we have no mortgage" plan. I think renting out the townhouse may have already put a little crimp in that plan, but we'll see how it all shakes out.

So, I'm off to my non-gold plated bathroom to brush my teeth and then to sleep in my non-luxurious bedroom with my not-1500 zillion thread count sheets. 'Cuz that's what we real estate moguls do, you know.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - Unkind Words


Well, on my first Works for Me Wednesday ever, I'd like to offer a discipline technique that has worked wonders with my kids. Whenever the little darlings commited "offenses of the tongue," which usually translates into saying mean things to each other, they get a taste of vinegar. For them this is worse than any other punishment.
My explanation to them of the punishment is that if yucky things come out of their mouth, then the punishment will be something yucky going into their mouth. It's a very good way to help them remember to keep their words sweet.
And that works for me!

8 Week Menu Plan

Ok, a day early, here is the 8 Week Menu Plan I have come up with. You'll notice that some of the dishes mentioned you may never have heard of. Those would probably be Arabic dishes. My husband is from the Middle East and I try hard to prepare foods for him every so often that remind him of his childhood.

Since I love to cook and hate to have the same thing very often (variety being the spice of life and all that!) there are very few repeats on the menu plan. What I've done is come up with the master list and also compiled 8 weeks worth of shopping lists that include everything needed for the meals of the week. Of course, I'd still need to add things for breakfast and lunch and general household needs, but it seems the bulk of my menu planning time is spent on dinners. I'm hoping that this can save me at least an hour a week and yet still provide my family with nutritious meals. One habit I'm working on is to begin preparing for dinner earlier in the day. I can't tell you how many times 5:30 has rolled around and I haven't even thought about dinner. So I'd like to start making a salad, or bread or some other part of dinner in the morning just to get myself committed to it.

The lists run from Tuesday to Monday, in order to fall in line with my grocery shopping day. Additionally, the general plan is: a crockpot meal on Tuesday (our busiest day), something quick on Wednesday (church in the evening), Fridays are either soup or salad or we host a church small group in our home (I like to experiment with new recipes for this), Saturdays are a casserole that we can reheat for lunch after church, Sundays are something quick and easy to allow for it to be an easy, restful day, and Mondays & Thursdays are just basic meals.

Without further ado, the menu plan:

Week One
Tuesday – Roast w/veggies
Wednesday – Lentils & Rice, Salad
Thursday – Baked Fish, Veggies, Rice Mix
Friday – Cobb Salad
Saturday – Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
Sunday – Shish Kebabs, Rice
Monday – Baked Chicken Breasts, Rice, Salad

Week Two
Tuesday – Beef Burgundy, Rice, Salad
Wednesday – New Recipe
Thursday –Shrimp Scampi, Pasta, Green Beans
Friday – Small Group
Saturday –Arabic Meatloaf
Sunday - Mezze (small dishes of hummous, tabouli, cheeses, pita bread, etc.)
Monday –Steak & Spinach Pinwheels, Salad, Rice

Week Three
Tuesday –Mexi-Chicken, Rice, Salad
Wednesday - Tostadas
Thursday – Pasta Primavera, Garlic Bread
Friday -Potato Lover’s Salad
Saturday –Stuffed Shells, Salad, Garlic Bread
Sunday – Sandwiches, Cole Slaw, Chips
Monday - Roast Sticky Chicken, Salad, Green Beans

Week Four
Tuesday – Baja Beef & Beans, Tex-Mex Rice
Wednesday – Chicken Stir Fry, Rice
Thursday – Zesty Mac & Cheese, Salad
Friday –Small Group
Saturday –Cauliflower Soup, Bread
Sunday –Pizza, Salad
Monday –Chicken Parmesan, Salad, Garlic Broccoli

Week Five
Tuesday –Shredded Beef Sandwiches, Cole Slaw
Wednesday – Tuna Casserole, Salad
Thursday –Salmon, Rice, Salad
Friday –Taco Salad
Saturday –Bezella, Rice
Sunday –Burgers, Chips, Potato Salad
Monday – Roast w/veggies

Week Six
Tuesday – Crockpot Chicken Breasts, Rice
Wednesday - Tacos
Thursday –Fried Fish, Steak Fries, Cole Slaw
Friday – Small Group
Saturday –Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, Salad
Sunday – Vegetable Stew
Monday – Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Week Seven
Tuesday – Chili, Cornbread
Wednesday –Chicken Dijon, Salad, Veggies
Thursday – Shepherd’s Pie, Salad
Friday –Blackened Chicken Salad
Saturday –Jambalaya, Rice
Sunday – Sandwiches, Cole Slaw, Chips
Monday –Mahlouba, Yogurt, Salad

Week Eight
Tuesday – Slow Cooker Ribs, Green Beans, Rice
Wednesday – White Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
Thursday – Chicken & Rice Casserole
Friday - Small Group
Saturday – Koosa Mahshi, Salad
Sunday – Grilled Chicken, Corn, Cole Slaw
Monday –Chicken Divan, Salad, Noodles

If anyone is interested in any recipes or a copy of the shopping lists, please feel free to ask!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Daily Cleaning Routines

Ok, here's the general order of how I've broken down the housekeeping tasks for our home. It's not set in stone, but it manages to make thing somewhat more manageable.

The Basic Weekly Plan:
~Monday~ Guest Room, Emily’s Room, Laundry Room
~Tuesday~ Grocery Shopping, Guest Bathroom, Errands Day
~Wednesday~ Kitchen, Family Room, Desk Day
~Thursday~ Main Bedroom & Bathroom
~Friday~ Foyer, Daniel’s Room, Weekly Yard Blessing
~Saturday~ Weekly Home Blessing, Home Project (1 hour)

Lori's Weekly Home Blessing
1. Dust 2. Sweep (main living areas and bedrooms, including under furniture) 3. Mop (main living areas and bathrooms) 4. Clean Mirrors 5. Change sheets 6. Clean glass doors

Lori's Weekly Yard Blessing
1. General tidy up (front and back yards) 2. Mow lawns (front and back yards, alternate weeks)3. Sweep paths (front and back yards) 4. Pull weeds (15 mins) 5. Cobweb Patrol (front and back porch) 6. Wipe down outdoor furniture 7. Refill bird feeder

These plans are keeping the home somewhat in order. Order in the home is something very important to my dear husband. Unlike me, he just can't relax unless everything is in its place. It's been something that I've had to learn over the course of time how important this is to him and to our marriage. Honoring him in this way is part of how I show him I love him.
Monday, June 25, 2007

Routines

One of my homeschool heroines, Charlotte Mason, once said, "Habit is ten natures." She believed, as I am starting to understand, that once you have a habit ingrained in your life that habit is stronger than your own natural tendencies. Unfortunately, my natural tendencies are rather, um, slothful, you might say. I'd much rather read a book than mop the floors. So in an effort to develop the habits necessary to making my home a true respite for my family, I have taken a cue from the FlyLady and set up for myself some basic routines to serve as checkpoints along my day.

Today I'd like to share with you the ideas I have for my daily routines, just basic tasks to have accomplished by a given time throughout the day.


Lori's Morning Routine (Done by 9 am)
· Run washing machine
· Make beds
· Get kids' breakfast & chores started
· Take vitamins/have breakfast
· Check the day's calendar
· Dress to shoes
· Morning walk with kids

Lori's Mid-Morning Routine (Done by 12 pm)
· Dinner? (Defrost meat, make salad or other side dish)
· Reboot laundry
· Kitchen Patrol
· Hotspots
· Focus Cleaning tasks (more on this tomorrow)

Lori’s Evening Routine (Done by 8 pm)
· Clear away dinner dishes
· Load and run dishwasher
· Kitchen clean-up
· General straightening up
· Quick sweep of kitchen floor
· Prepare clothes for tomorrow for myself and hubby
· Load washing machine
· Check tomorrow's calendar

Tomorrow, I'll share with you the day-to-day cleaning routine. And taking a tip from Lizzie I've come up with an 8-week menu plan and created shopping lists for each week that should save me untold hours of menu planning. I'll share that with you on Wednesday.
Saturday, June 23, 2007

S.M.A.R.T. Habit Saturday


Ok, I found a wonderful website called "The Lazy Organizer" and decided that SMART Habit Saturday is something that falls right in line with some of the habits I'm working on for my 101 in 1001 list. So I'm going to start keeping myself accountable by updating each Saturday on some of them. I'll start with one and add a new one each week. S.M.A.R.T., by the way, stands for Saving Money, Associations, Resources and Time - all of which I could stand to save!


So my chosen habit to focus on this week is walking for 30 minutes a day. I'll let you know next Saturday how it goes and what the next habit will be.

The Blahs

Well, I seem to have hit some kind of a bump in the road. I just have had a major case of the blahs this week. I haven't felt well for one thing, plus it is so dang hot here it makes you just want to stay inside in your a/c and hide. But I had so many things on my "things I'd like to get done" list that just sat there all week, begging for attention. Instead, I spent whatever time wasn't taken up in homeschooling or taking my kids out for some summer fun either reading or sleeping. On the upside, I read "To Kill a Mockingbird." What a beautiful book! I had never read it before, but was really touched by it. My favorite character was that of Boo Radley, who remains hidden in his home for much of his life, but is evidently drawn to the outside world, leaving small gifts in a hole in a tree for the neighbor children and even serving as protector of them when necessary. This week, I felt like Boo. Like I would love to just stay here in my home and never leave. But that's not practical for a mom in the 21st century, is it?

Instead we went to the movies and saw Nanny McPhee, which was a much better movie than I thought it would be. Then on Thursday we went to the zoo with some friends. While it was hotter than I would have liked, we did have some fun watching chimpanzees turn somersaults all around their exhibit, seeing a baby joey in its mama kangaroo's pouch, and watching a young giant eland (? never heard of it before! imagine a big huge gazelle-y type thing) leap and try to encourage the older fellows to join in his games, without much luck, unfortunately.

So hopefully next week I'll be back to being my more, ahem, vivacious self. For the remainder of this week, oh, say, the next 36 hours or so, I'm just going to chill at home. And maybe leave some little presents in a tree for my neighbors to find and wonder about.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In which my life is like a "Seinfeld" episode

For those of you who have said my blog is "introspective" this is for you. If there are any men reading, you may want to stop here.

Well, it's that time of the month. So I open up my box of Tampax (told you, men! There's still time to stop!) and find that they have changed. And I hate the new version. Really hate it. So I have been considering what to do about that - switch brands, write to the company, etc. Today I stopped by Target to get some Odor Eaters for my son who is becoming a man and has all the smells that go along with that. While I was there I spotted it...The old variety of Tampax! And on sale to boot!! So I grabbed up every single stinkin' box of the jumbo size (which was really 4, but it sounds much more dramatic to say "every single stinkin' box," don'cha think?). And I'm going back later to get more. Which brings us to the title of this lovely little post which shares too much information. Remember the "Seinfeld" in which Elaine's preferred method of birth control, The Sponge, was discontinued and she bought out the entire city's stock? And then using them was hard because it was one less and she could never get them again. That's what I feel like. Who knew one could feel so attached to a feminine hygiene product?

I promise to be back to my introspective self in my next post.

Help for the Hopelessly Disorganized

I have what I call "my book" that has made a huge difference in my life. Now, I am not one of those people who were born organized. I generally have scraps of paper everywhere with dates, phone numbers, important messages, etc. And I had now way of putting all into a cohesive system until I came up with my home organizing binder. Now, I can't truly claim brilliance here - there are systems like this all over the place. FlyLady recommends a "Control Journal" but that sounds too..."controlling" to me. And my binder is actually a recycled and reworked version of the "Keepers at Home Organizer" which I purchased at a homeschool convention. I just tweaked it and made it work for my purposes. So what's in it, you ask?

In my 2 inch binder, I have many good and wondrous things. Come take a look. I have my sections divided by think plastic clear, but multi-colored dividers. That way I can see through to the first page of each section, but the sections all have their own color. First up is a zippered pouch. In here I keep pens, stamps, envelopes, scissors - things that I might need that otherwise might never be found in a home with two, um, creative (?) children. That way I always have them when I need them. Next up is a printed 2007 calendar (http://www.donnayoung.org/) that I have noted birthdays and anniversaries on. Then, from the same website, I have printed out monthly calendars for the entire year. I just discard them as I finish up each month.

Flipping to the next section, Schedules has our daily homeschool schedules and a cleaning schedule for the home. After this is the next section To-Do/Goals. This is my most used section. First I have a thin spiral-notebook. As I prepare for each new week, I write the week's menu down and underneath that my "to-do's" for the week, transferring whatever is undone from last week to this week. On the back of the previous page (which would have last week's menus on it) I write my shopping list so it can be discarded once the shopping is completed. That way I just open up to the first page of that notebook and at a glance can see what I've planned for dinner and what else needs to be done for that week. Behind the notebook I have a Bible reading chart and my "101 in 1001" list for easy review.

Next up is a Homemaking section with a copy of "The Grand Plan," a 12 week plan for organizing and sprucing up your home. I also have in this section a very detailed cleaning plan, a chart of everyone's sizes, a travel preparation chart (what to pack and do beforehand type thing). Behind this is a Contact section with necessary phone numbers and addresses. Then comes an Encouragement section where I keep encouraging articles on being a godly wife and mother. Finally, the last section is devoted to papers and information on the homeschool support group which we belong to and I serve as Secretary. I keep things to do (bills to pay, forms to mail in, etc) in the front pocket of the notebook, and things to file in the back pocket.

I know for some of you this may seem totally basic and for others it may seem neurotic. But it has truly helped me avoid those times when Hubby will say, "Did you take care of this?" and I would never even remember what he was talking about. Now I can look right in one central place and get all the info I need!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Couldn't I Just Have Brought a Chicken?

You know, I truly appreciate modern conveniences - refrigerators, cars, A/C and all that. But sometimes the old ways were truly better. I've just spent the last hour and a half on the phone with both my health insurance company, a physician's billing office and the hospital's billing office. I'm a little fed up. I've been put on hold enough, been talked to as if I'm both a liar and an idiot, had to call two of the places repeatedly and we still aren't settled up.

The problem started a few weeks ago on a Saturday night when I had a very sharp, splittling pain in the back of my head. Now, I get headaches frequently, but never anything like this so I went to our local urgent care just to be safe. When I got there I realized that my insurance card wasn't in my wallet, but the registration clerk assured me that he looked me up and it would be all taken care of. So after waiting for almost 2 hours, I then saw the doctor who (and I am not making this up!) accused me of being depressed. He couldn't find anything wrong with me after about spending 1 minute with me, said my blood pressure was fine and to go home. I got frustrated with being dismissed like this and he honestly said to me, "Why are you upset? Are you sad like this all the time? What's wrong with your life?"

All this of course got me more upset. Finally he left and a nurse comes in and tells me, "We need to recheck your blood pressure as it read very high when you checked in." Um, excuse me? The doctor just said it was fine. He hadn't even looked at it! The chart said my blood pressure was 147/100! And he didn't even catch it! She re-took it and it was actually 115/80 so apparently the previous machine wasn't working well. She gave me some good advice for helping with the pain and I finally left.

Then Saturday I get a bill for the doctor's services for $220. And yesterday another for $233 the urgent care bill. The registration man had never input my insurance info. So we've been trying to get that straightened out and I am sitting here thinking about "Little House on the Prairie." I'd rather give my doctor some eggs, or a chicken or, heck, even a cow, than deal with insurance people.

But if it was this doctor again, the eggs he'd get would be rotten.

I love my kids

Now, I know that yesterday I said they were driving me crazy. And that's true. But today they reminded me what wonderful kids they really are. I woke up with a sore throat and a fever and headache. These kids just took over and ran the house and took such good care of me. They did the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, did schoolwork on their own, sent me to bed and brought me medicine and would have cooked dinner if they had thought to get something out to defrost. They even followed through on my instructions to organize their dresser drawers and re-fold everything!

They were so quiet and good all day. I'm so grateful to have children who are thoughtful and attentive, if not all the time, at least when it counts.
Monday, June 18, 2007

Back to school

Argghhhh! My kids are driving me absolutely crazy! We haven't been "doing school" since we finished our annual testing in mid-May and now I have cut off their lifeline to the outside world (tv) and, horrors of horrors!, am restricting their access to other electronics to two hours a day. You know, this is the kind of thing that lands parents in jail, I hear.

But the end result of all this is that my kids are bored silly and fighting constantly. I was going to put off resuming schoolwork until we come back from Tennessee, but I just can't stand it any more. So starting tomorrow I think we'll do school 3 days a week and 2 days a week take off to do fun stuff. This week we'll be taking advantage of the free summer movies and see Nanny McPhee and on Thursday I think we're going to the zoo. We haven't been there in ages.

Plus we just received Emily's new math curriculum on Friday and I can't wait to get her using it. Pretty sad when that's a highlight of my life, huh, people? But can you believe Emily is going to be doing Pre-Algebra? It's just hard for me to fathom. I mean, just yesterday we were counting beans on the counter for math. Sigh...Well, at least she won't have to repeat Algebra 1 three times like one of her parents who shall remain nameless. I mean, the other parent is an engineer for goodness sake! In fact, at this very moment I have triangles and squares masking taped all over my living room floor so that Daddy could teach the kids about area and Pythagoraen theory. Um, have I mentioned that Daniel is just going into 5th grade and is still working on memorizing his times tables? But he's gonna have geometry and algebra down pat! Which reminds me of the time when Daniel was a baby and hubby came home with a poster for me to put up above his changing table for Daniel to look at. People, it was the Periodic Table of the Elements! No lie! He's not a big believer in the whole step-by-step concept, can you tell?

But I digress. Tomorrow we leave the land of free time and get back to more structure in our lives. I probably won't have them do all the subjects, as I do want to continue our morning walks and afternoon swimming, plus I have some "life skills" stuff I want to work on for this summer. Maybe we'll talk about that tomorrow.
Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hi. My name is Lori and I have a mental disease.

Ok, nothing like schizophrenia or anything like that. But if you've ever watched me load the dishwasher, you will notice that I am severely OCD about it. When my mom is here visiting, she doesn't even try to help with the dishes anymore. When my mother in law is visiting, I stand by anxiously watching as she does the dishes (she insists - trust me, I'd be much happier if she would just go sit down!). Then the moment she leaves the kitchen, I correct her obviously thoughtless placement of dirty dishes into the ever powerful dishwasher. I mean, c'mon people, there's a right way and a wrong way to load the dishwasher!

The glasses go along the outsides of the top shelf, alternating glass and plastic ones, if possible. If not, then we alternate tall glasses with shorter glasses so the tall ones don't bang up against each other. And the plates? Oh, the plates must go facing from the left to the right along the back. Bowls and pans can go wherever there's room. Obviously they aren't as picky.

But the real thing that causes me to believe that I'm just a wee bit nutsy about this is the silverware. My, how the silverware taunts me. Because we all know about nesting. Nesting is when two spoons (or forks or whatever) rest up against each other so that the backside of one and the frontside of the other DON'T GET CLEAN! Therefore, the silverware must go into the basket very thoughtfully. So we start at one end (my basket has 4 compartments in a row) and work our way up and down the basket, putting in one stinkin' item at a time! First we put in all the large, tall things. Then we move on to knives, then forks. Spoons come last because a) they take up more room and b) they are more likely to nest. This way I can control (think I have control issues?) the little bugger's tendency to snuggle up together.

The other day after finishing up the dishes and cleaning the counters, I found a butter knife that had somehow hidden itself behind the crockpot. And I stood there, completely frustrated and perplexed because (drumroll please)...I couldn't remember where in the basket I had placed the last item! So the whole balance of the basket would be thrown off!! Ya'll, you can't imagine how hard it was for me to put that knife in, knowing it wasn't going to be in the right place.

Like I said. Mental disease.
Friday, June 15, 2007

Unexpected Blessing

Since we have now been without tv for a smidge over two weeks I am noticing some new things. The most shocking to me is that I actually like quiet. I am one of those people who has something on for noise all the time. The tv is usually on, just for background noise. Or the radio is spitting out tunes. In the car we always have the radio or cd going. Quiet has always somewhat unnerved me. And yet, I long for it.

The other night, the family was all in bed and I was up quietly doing some household chores before turning in myself. As I washed dishes, I thought about putting on a nice quiet cd. But then it struck me - I was truly enjoying the quietness of the house. Somehow it brought a peace to my heart and a simple contentment to me.


My people shall abide in a peaceful habitation ,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
Isaiah 32:18

And this verse so reflects the desire I have for my home. I want a peaceful habitation, a secure dwelling, and a quiet resting place for my family. In all the tumult of the world, home should be a place that our families long for - a safe harbor from the world. I've known this for years, of course, but somehow never connected it to just the simple quietness that comes from shutting out the noise, confusion and hostility of today's world.
Of course, the quietness of our souls doesn't just come from turning off the tv or the stereo. It comes from allowing those actions to lead us to being still before the God of the universe, who so longs to have communion with us. Just to be in His presence. That's what I have decided to focus on.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11
Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Best Kids Bible Ever


One of our pastors brought this new children's Bible to my attention since I run the church bookstore. He wanted to order it for his son (and unborn son!). Then our youth pastor asked to have one for his unborn son. Then he ordered 6 more - to give to high schoolers!! What children's Bible could possibly interest a high schooler, you ask?


The Jesus Storybook Bible! This amazingly beautiful book relates the Scriptures in a way I have never seen before. Each and every story comes full circle back to Christ, even in the Old Testament. For example, in the story of Noah and the first rainbow, she notes that the rainbow is shaped like a bow pointing toward the sky. This is because one day a Redeemer would come and God's judgement would no longer be pointed to the earth, but be directed away from the earth onto Christ. Of course, it's put so much more wonderfully than that, but that's the gist.


It doesn't just teach about Bible characters and the moralistic stories we often associate with them (Noah - be persistent; Joseph - accept God's will; Joshua - be brave). Those are all well and good, but The Jesus Storybook Bible shows the redemptive history of the Scriptures and shows how, throughout history, God has had a plan and has been revealing it all along.
It's a must-have if you have small children and a great thing to have for all Christians to understand how God worked throughout the Scriptures leading up to the coming of Christ.

Our Homeschool Adventures

I am so excited about what we are doing for our homeschool this year. Once again we are using Sonlight (this is our 3rd year with them). The two previous years we have studied American History. This year though we are learning about the Eastern Hemisphere. It is fascinating, I have to say. I have learned things I never knew. So far we have covered China, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Antartica, and the Pacific Islands (I may be forgetting some places we've studied). Upcoming still is Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, the Middle East, and Africa.

The thing I LOVE about Sonlight is the way that it teaches about cultures. It doesn't rely on dry textbooks. It uses beautiful, living literature to communicate a culture to a child. Truthfully, how much do you remember from textbooks? Once the test was over, I know most of that information left my head. But great books...I can still remember things very clearly that I read as a child and young adult.

I also love the way that Sonlight is so balanced in its presentation. It doesn't present America as a perfect country and all others as backward. It acknowledges that Western ways do have their faults. I firmly believe that when John 3:16 says, "And God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever might believe in Him will have eternal life" that the entire world is meant there. Not just people like us. We have learned about Bhuddists, Hindus, animists, pagans and the like. I think it's healthy that my children learn that ours is not the only viewpoint in the world. We've examined the faults of different religions and I'm amazed at my kids' insight into how sad it is that no other system of religion offers true salvation or hope.

So as we continue studying the world, I'll let you know what new things we learn.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gratitude

You know, my husband is a wonderful man. And yet, there are times when I would rather eat dirt than be married to him. We are both strong-willed individuals and there are clashes. And I think of how much easier my life would be if I hadn't married him.

And then I think of Jan.

Jan is one of my best friends. Sadly, she was widowed in October after her husband's brave and short fight with colon cancer. She now faces life with her two teenage daughters and adult son (and daughter-in-law and granddaughter) without the help and support of her husband. And their marriage wasn't perfect. There were many days when she was so mad at John she could spit nails. And yet, as he lay dying in the hospital she told me that she couldn't remember any of the bad times.

Today, Jan needed oral surgery. And John couldn't be there for her. Not to drive her to the doctor's office. Not to listen to the nurse give post-op instructions. Not to drive her groggy self home. Not to help get her pain meds or to help her kids get to a meeting they needed to go to.

I helped her with all that. And I say that not to congratulate myself on my good works, but to say that the entire time I was thinking how much I rely on my husband to get through my daily life. Even though sometimes I can't stand him, he is still the best gift God has ever given to me. And I am so thankful for him.

Even when he bosses me around.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Simplicity

I mentioned in my previous post my desire to simplify my life. This became a goal of mine when my husband gave me a piece of art with the single word "Simplify" on it. It struck a chord deep within me. Now, I know that many people have much more stressful lives than I. I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children. We have a lovely home. And I have many good and treasured friends. But somehow our life just seemed to be running on a treadmill. Wake up. Do chores. Do schoolwork. Do more chores. Run errands. Go to activities. Fix dinner. Watch tv. Go to bed. Repeat. Day. After. Day.

It's all so mundane. I want a richer life than that for our family. I want our family to have time together. Memories. I don't want to have to spend my days constantly organizing and re-organizing all the "stuff" that can fill a home. I don't want us to spend our time sitting glassy-eyed in front of the tv, living vicariously through others. I want to us live those adventures ourselves.

How do we go about that? Well, here are my initial plans:

1) We've temporarily cut tv out of our lives. We had our satellite service suspended for about 2 months while we learn to find other things to do with our time. Swimming, reading, walks together, picnics, games, shooting hoops...Anything that will build relationship between us and make us a stronger family.

2) I am ruthlessly going through the house to find things we can part with. I've been eliminating old paperwork and scanning what I still need so I can re-claim all that drawer space. Paperwork is the bane of my existence right now. And do I really need two colanders and three wisks? Well, my mother-in-law seems to think so, but since she only comes every two years, I'm going to chance parting with them and let her re-buy them the next time she comes if she wants to.

3) And here's the biggie: we have to move to a less expensive place. We live in South Florida - paradise by many people's standards, I know. We have lots of sun and sand. But we also have lots of property taxes, lots of hurricane and flood insurance and lots of pressure to "keep up with the Jones's." It's a very materialistic place. We just can't afford to live here and get ahead. Or even stay even. So, in about 3 weeks we are heading off to the mountains of Tennessee to determine if that's the place for us. I am praying that hubby loves it there and that he can find a job. But if all goes according to plan, we could sell our property here and have enough to buy a house cash there. No mortgage. That would be a huge blessing for us. On top of that, the cost of living is about 20% cheaper there.

So that's my plan. Relocate, reduce and...well, I can't think of an "R" word for eliminating tv, but you get the point.

Why a blog?

For some time now, I've been thoroughly enjoying other ladies' blogs - blogs about families, blogs about simplicity, blogs about Christianity - you name it. While I don't claim to be a master of any of these areas, I do have thoughts and ideas that I would like to put down somewhere. A kind of therapy, you might say.

Let me introduce you to my family so you can see where I'm coming from. I've been married for 14 years to a wonderful, godly man who works hard so that I can stay home and homeschool our two beautiful children. Is our relationship perfect? Far from it! But it is based on the knowledge that God put us together in a truly miraculous way. But that's a story for another post. Our oldest child is Emily. She's 12 and a true blessing. Kind and helpful, she loves childen and loves to be creative. Our youngest child is Daniel, who's 10. He is a source of much joy and laughter in our home. He loves the Lord and loves to make people laugh.

And me? My name is Lori and my age shall remain a secret! (There are certain things a lady doesn't reveal, you know! You won't be learning my weight either!!) Like I've said, I am a homeschooling mom of two. We've always homeschooled - in fact, we decided while we were engaged that we would homeschool our children. I also run the bookstore at our church, serve in our local homeschooling support group, and spend a lot of time running my kids here and there. We are busy, perhaps too busy, but striving to slow down and find more time for each other. My biggest dream right now is to simplify our life so that we can focus more on God and more clearly hear His voice.

I hope you come visit again.

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