Monday, July 30, 2012

No television, no problem!

What happens when a Summer of Seven Participant's family refuses to join in media week? 

Funny story really, but let me back up and start at the beginning.

This family hasn't had paid television services for almost two years.  That's right, we've had just the basic, local channels in only one room of our home.  We added Netflix sometime, but that was usually only watched once a day.  The television sets in the house are each more than 10 years old.  Remember the year of the digital conversion mandate?  That's been sometime more recent than our TVs were manufactured.  There was no analog/digital conversion box in our home.  So when our local television provider officially finished its change, three weeks ago, we were left with zero television.


No, truly I felt all giddy inside.  I kind of hate television.  I feel its a big ol' waste of time and distracts most of us from life.  And I am the first one to say how much I love it, but hate it.

And so, Netflix became our constant source of entertainment.  Hubs was watching something rather questionable with our youngest son, Spunk.  We agreed on the 3-strikes-your-out rule for the program.  He checked the rating, which was TV14, but honestly thought that "if it comes on regular TV, then how bad can it be?"  End result, Spunk saw too much, as in the rating was extremely underestimated and belongs on a smutty Pay-Per-View channel.  Netflix was canceled, and I was fuming.  Like breathing fire, throw the whole stinkin' TV set out the window, mad.  But I didn't.

I agreed to get television service back in our home.  See, Hubs thinks it unreasonable to not have television at all.  We've battled this for 2 years, and still, its a stormy cloud hanging over our home.  The man works hard, loves each of us, spends time with all of us, but when he wants a little TV, he should have it.  I understand.  The plan is to get service in 2 rooms, so that if he wants to watch something even remotely questionable, he can watch it in the bedroom.  We can still watch family programming together in the living room.  Compromise.  Happy Hubs.

But first, before those services were connected, guess what we got?  It just happens that we had ONE FULL WEEK WITHOUT TELEVISION!  So, it happened for us, even if not willingly.  God told us to slow down, and we said, "no."  But He aligned the planets, and it happened!

We had so much fun together too!  We had more moments to fish with the boys.  We took extra time to prepare dinner together, and spent more time at the dinner table.  We played games, even teaching the boys how to play Spades, (they're good too).  We sat on the porch and laughed with one another.  The boys rode the 4-wheeler, played in the rain, and shot bb guns.  I enjoyed not 1, but 2 novels.  I got our entire year's school planning almost completed.  Hubs cleaned out his shed and his closet.  We had playdates.  The distraction of television was completely gone, and we liked it, (not admitting it of course).  We were productive, happy people. 

But, I still had my laptop.  It was easier on me, than them I think.  I was still connected to media, somewhat.  I use the Internet for work and school, and yes, for Facebook and Pinterest fun.  As soon as the television was connected, my laptop went down.  Virused.  So, while I have it at the computer-fixy place, I'm tied to a 10-year old slow-poke, dinosaur-machine.  It means that I haven't bothered to blog.  I haven't bothered to cruise FB or Pinterest, or any of my favorite blogs.  I have only worked, returned important emails, and logged onto FB to check the important pages our family takes part in.  So, I've now seen how much the computer takes my time.  Time away from God, time away from my family, and time away our home and my job.

We have television, but don't seem to be watching it anymore than before.  We officially started school last week, which means no TV or Wii until late afternoon, if at all.  The kids didn't play Wii all week, they didn't even ask.  When they had friends come over at the end of the week, Spunk asked, "Hey, Momma, does our Wii still work?  Can we play it when our friends come over?"  Ha!  Yes, it works, but no, they didn't play it.  Playing in the sprinkler was so much fun they forgot about video games.  I'll get my laptop back, hopefully today.  I'm only so anxious to have it because it makes work so much easier.  I will not let it consume so much of my time, now that I've seen what a distraction the Internet can be.

I'm excited to read about everyone else's Media Weeks.  What did you learn during your media sabbatical?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Not myself

I've not been myself of late....thankfully.  You see, typically, myself would have plenty of opportunities to help others, but wouldn't.  I don't mean that if someone blatantly asked for help, that I would deny him, (well sometimes).   I'm talking about those times when I just know that someone needs something that I can give, tangible or not.  The destitute that I've passed on the street who hasn't asked for anything, could probably use anything I'm willing to hand over.  The friend who I know is going through tragic memories of loss, would most likely be encouraged to hear that I'm praying for her (or with her).  The family member that I desperately need to forgive, would perhaps feel a little more welcome if I'd show her some love, (if you are my family and are reading this, please don't question if its you....hypothetical here, mostly).

I've often thought of the things that I can do to help the helpless.  And I've prided myself on those thoughts.  Wow!  What more can I say?  I'm a loser, like most of the rest of the world.

I've FINALLY figured out that the cliche "its the thought that matters," is so completely untrue, at least in this case that is.  I'm not going into specific details of the times that I've recently noticed my change of heart, but I will tell you, there's change!  And there's big time change.  Not just in my thoughts, but in my actions.

After spending some time concentrating on those around me, anyone other than myself really, I've found what God wants me to be.  Well, I found MORE of what God wants from me.  I don't think that I'll have reached my full potential of who God designed me to be until I meet Him.  Anyway, for now, I see more.  My eyes are open, and I'm not ignoring those who need me.  I've learned that I don't need to search for someone to help.  God places them in my path.
The way we speak to one another, it matters, people.  When was the last time we were able to use our time machines to erase our hurtful words?   Our words can lift each other up or tear each other down.  I know this, but I haven't always reserved my tongue when necessary, (I know that you, my friendly reader, are completely shocked).

The way we ignore the homeless man outside of the grocery store, it matters.  Sure, he might not spend the cash we'd give him on what we want him to spend it on.  Does that matter?  Think hard here.  Does it matter in the big picture of life, and more importantly, the after-life of eternity?  Don't we know that The same Lord who judges us will judge him and his choice of spending?  Shouldn't we leave that part to Him?  Again, I know this as fact, but I still feel the need to judge accordingly, (again, I've surprised you).

The way that we easily hurt those we love the most, yep, it matters too.  Putting the spouse's needs before our own can be difficult, but oh how it can be so easy too.  It's our choice, really.  Purposefully swallowing the words, that we'd very much love to spew out in hastiness, can be soothing.  Or texting a random love note can really boost our day.  Loving with purpose!!  There's a concept, huh?

Aren't we to love one another?  Let's please remember that YES, we ARE to love each and every person we know.  Our friends and the friendless, alike, we are to love them equally. 

Personally, I don't exactly like having this change in my heart.  It was easier when I didn't see as clearly.  But I rest assured that God is giving me major opportunities to show His love. 

Changing the world begins with ourselves.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The First Day of School - Hooray!!

The books are in and the pencils are was our first day of school!!  Hooray! 
Public, Private, or Home, the first day of school is fun! 

We always take silly pictures on our first day!
That's my proud Spunk! 
And this is my happy Thoughtful.  He was really REALLY ready to get on with school.

The day began on time (squeal) with chocolate chip pancakes, as stolen from some bloggy-friends' family traditions.  So this one is new, and I think we'll keep it up for years to come.

3's for Thoughtful beginning 3rd Grade today, and 1's for Spunk starting 1st Grade!  (no more Kindy's in our home, sniff, sniff). 
We very quickly had our Bible Devotional time, where we discussed God's Great Creation, that is the universe and everything in it, (no small subject there), and why people might want to learn more about it.  Spunk decided that he definitely wants to travel to neighboring planets one day.  Thoughtful, not so much!  He's happy trusting that God made it, and we can learn about it from right here at home.

Normally, the boys would have about an hour to eat breakfast, make beds, etc., and P-L-A-Y!  They must get the wiggles out before we school.  However, today they were so excited to start learning, and I was happy to oblige!

So we began quickly.  The boys learned how to use their workbox systems.  They were really excited to tear into them!  I filled them with fun, school-ish things to work through. 

I snapped this when I caught both of them merrily working through those boxes.  Monday will be a little more challenging since we'll begin some real lessons.   Here's some of what they had today: 

Thoughtful: mapping, dictionary/vocabulary, building words with clay "once" vs. "one," reading, math flashcards in photo books, & piano practice. 

Spunk:  reading, sight word book & clay "away," place value practice with blocks, maze workbook, tangrams, and phonics charts practice.

We start every year MY FAVORITE TRADITION, shopping with Nana!  That happened the week before so today both kiddos made Nana a thank-you-card (she buys all of our school supplies, I know you're jealous, and No, you can't have her).

We always do some kind of candy schooling on our first day, and this year I chose M&M's for fun.
I saved this one for the last workbox!

Estimate how many M & M's are in the tube.  Then break down your estimation to guess how many of each color.  Then, sort and count the actual amount of each color.  Thoughtful had to add his all up for additional math practice.  You see that no matter how much Spunk practices, his 6's will always be backwards, I give up.

Then, graph your findings!  We found it interesting that both tubes of candy had more green, and less red, than any other colors. 

They both did a fantastic job estimating the amounts of each color!  I was amazed really, guessing this kind of thing is really not my thing, and my guesses were way off.  Proud Momma here!

We always hit the library on the first day to choose supplement books to coordinate with our science and history.  Spunk is a very eager emergent reader.  Thoughtful, not so much.  There is zero pleasure in reading for him.  (insert frowny face here)  So, I let them each choose their own books for the week.

This year, we started another new tradition.  A first day fill-in-the blank worksheet for fun, followed by a self portrait page.  I hope to look at this next year on our first day. 

Look at their answers to #9 of our First Day worksheet! 

Um, Wow, boys!

Now, we've just returned home from lunch with Grandparents and the library.  We're moving on to a brand new spider unit.

We found this guy on our spider hunt.  So sorry for the blurry pic.

We identified him as a "phlocus," read a bit, and drew pictures.  This is Thoughtful's.

Have you had your first day of school yet?  How'd it go?  If not, what do you anticipate on your first day? 

First Day, Hooray!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Call of The Lord

I'm in the midst of SELF week.  Yep, as in get rid of it.  So more correctly I'm calling it ANTI-SELF week.  I'm sharing what God showed me today in my quiet time, you know, since I so openly shared about my recent lack of ....

This morning, I began reading in Jeremiah,

Jeremiah 1:4-10
4-Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5-"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet of nations."  6-Then I said "Alas, Lord God! Behold I do not know how to speak, Because I am youth." 7-But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am youth,' Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. 8-"Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you," declares the Lord. 9-Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10-"See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant."

THIS PASSAGE IS SHOUTING AT ME!!!  (Summer of Seven people, hear me well here)

The Lord knows us before He even formed us!  How much he must love each and every one of us!

BUT EVEN BETTER, He calls us before we're even born!  Read it again, I implore you. 

"...and before you were born I consecrated you..."

So, are we listening to God's call?  My excuse in the past has been, "but I can't," or "I don't know how."  I wanted to listen to Him, and I wanted to feed His people, but I let these excuses get in the way.  Not fully understanding, that God will prepare me along the way.

God will give me the tools of compassion, mercy, understanding, and love, always making a way to do His work, just as He gave Jeremiah His words.  Just as God told Jeremiah not to be afraid because He was on his side, I know that The Lord God is on my side too ---

as long as I'm willing to go out and do His work, His will, following His call.

Summer of Seveners, I think this is much more what Jen Hatmaker had in mind when going through her experiment of Seven.  I love the "media" week and "clothes" week, etc.  But what is the goal?  If its to be able to say "I wore the same clothes for seven days, go me,"  then I think we're missing the point.  What are we doing with the tools that are given to us with our discoveries?

I pray for clarity for all us through the remainder of our challenge-weeks.  I pray that we see what God wants to show us through it, and I pray that we hear Him loud and clear.  I pray that we act on what He's telling us to do.

What about you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Preparing the School Room

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

July is here!  Will someone please tell me where did May and June go?  Our summer break has been busier (and now longer) than I intended.  Good grief, right?  I still need some time off for laziness, fun, and of course my ever-loving planning.  The first part of my planning process is getting the school room ready.  Not that we always school in this space, it IS a place to put everything at the end of the day.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 ways this Momma prepares our school room:

construction paper, stamped subject, glue, laminator

Books First, I go through all of our books to figure out what we've read and what's left, and I take out what has already been read.  I have never understood the need to keep books.  Sure, we have a few favorites that we hang on to and read over and over again, and we keep the essential reference books.  I've recently discovered a great local book swap store.  I take used books there, pay a very small fee, and get a whole new stack of used books to stock our shelves with.  Next, I take my boys shopping for new books.  I like to let them pick SOME of their own readers.  I feel it helps to build their desires for reading, (this of course is all in my head for Thoughtful, the reluctant reader).  They become interested in different subjects when they get to browse on their own.  Last, I sort.  I've seen posts of other blogging mommas' libraries.  Oh dear, my hoard-free self gasps for air at the mere thought of keeping so many books.  But, to each her own!  This is certainly not me, so sorting is fairly quick and simple.  I start piling books together by subject first, to get a handle on what we can add to our upcoming unit studies.  Then, I separate by reading level.  Last, I choose which books I will read aloud for the year.

Momma space  Our school room is also a space for me to work at home, and it houses my scrapbooking, craft, and sewing stuff.  I must have an orderly space to function.  My desk is a place where I can keep scrapbooking supplies at the ready.  I also keep my household binders (another post to come), the boys' working portfolios, and my school planner.  Please note that I'm in planning mode so it currently looks a bit messy.  Rest assured that everything has a space to be tucked away in a fancy box or drawer.

This old scrappy handheld tote is for daily use.  I can carry it wherever we end up schooling, but its home is on my desk.  Be sure to give yourself a space that is off limits to your children.  It doesn't need to be right near the schooling area, but it needs to exist.

Work space  We've tried separate desks, but I felt like it was "school at home."  It just wasn't a good fit for us.  So, we sold the desks and bought a Craig's List gem.  A table pushed against the wall.  It works for us, as we're a small homeschooling family.  We can all sit together, and I am in the middle.  This makes it easy for me to help and teach each child.  The boys each have their own supply boxes on the table, and I keep whatever books, maps, etc. that we'll need for the day.  Our bulletin board holds a calendar and some helpful charts.  The idea here is to create a place where the children can focus on their lessons.  If the seat is too high, give them a step stool at their feet.  If they need to repeatedly see how to form their letters, post their little reminders next to them.  You could make a mini office to hold such reminders if you wanted. 

Supplies  My very gracious and awesome mother in law takes us school supply shopping every year.  She loves to do this for all of her grands, and insists that the quirky homeschoolers must have a list of their own.  So, I make each child a list, and we pick up Nana.  Opening and setting up new supplies is another advantageous way to get the boys excited for starting a new year.  Who doesn't love new school supplies?  So its out with the old, and in with the new.

Workboxes  Ooooooooh, aaaaaaaaahhh!  This one is new to me.  I've recently read Sue Patrick's Workbox System and have looked at others' systems through the blogosphere.  We are going with these handy Sterelite drawers, that sit 3 high, and measure roughly 13"X14."  I have three sets for each child to give them nine drawers to work through.  The idea is that each drawer contains one assignment and anything required to work on said assignment.  The kids can move independently through their daily work.  There will be an official workbox post eventually, but for now, just know that this is a step in our preparations.  (decorative #s still to be added)

Supplements My children, especially Thoughtful, learn best when they don't realize they're learning.  When its all school, they mentally check out and decide they don't like school.  So, I'm creating more time for supplemental learning.  Things like sorting nouns, verbs, & adjectives, or a place value game, perhaps using light boards to practice handwriting for my dysgraphic guy, money bingo or card games, are all ways to reinforce the curriculum that we're using.    After looking through the Tables of Contents in all of our curricula books, I'm able to make a list of skills that will need to be practiced.  Google, Pinterest, the local teacher store, and the dollar store will become my best friends when compiling supplemental teaching aids.  What can you add to your children's days which don't involve pencil and paper? 

Around the room The single most highly-functional item in our school room is our $12 whiteboard. We bought this 3 1/2' X 8' piece of wall board at Home Depot last year. It has a smooth, shiny finish and erasable markers work great with it. Next to it, I keep a basket of dry erase and wet erase markers with erasers.

We also have our Spelling corner for use with All About Spelling letter tiles.  A rug on the floor is the best place for Spunk to read.  He usually brings a pillow in too.  Games and art supplies are all housed in the closet. This year, we are using hanging pocket charts and adding a poster center to the wall, but I haven't quite figured that out yet.   

Physical Labor  Yeah, I know "labor" doesn't sound pretty, but its necessary.  I wouldn't want to sit in a small room surrounded with white walls, and neither do my children.  So, first, paint is needed.  We have neon green and gray walls, trimmed with a bright orange.  The colors aren't so loud as to cause a distraction, but they aren't dull either.  This goes for schooling around the kitchen table too, or wherever you are.  Make sure that the space makes you and your family happy.  After paint, comes a thorough cleaning.  Walls, baseboards, desks, tables, chairs, shelving, lights, floor, everything needs a good dusting and mopping.  Using a scented cleaner only adds to the exciting freshness of the new year.  And last, move the furniture around to create an efficient work space.  I wish that I had room for a big comfy couch in our school space.  I would put one right under the window!  But I'm stuck with what we have for now.  How can I make it new?  I'm considering painting some of the bookshelves.  I've moved everything around just so that it feels new.  Also, take this time to replace burnt light bulbs, dead batteries, and used up ink cartridges.

Curriculum So the curriculum has already been bought, but its scattered around the room. EEK! At this point, I can't think. I don't even know where to begin the planning process like this. Gathering EVERYTHING that I intend to use for the year is essential. Then, I separate it between Thoughtful, Spunk, and Group. Group subjects are Bible, Science, History, Read Alouds, Unit Studies, and any related hands-on activies. Which brings me to planning.

Planning a/k/a my absolute favorite part of the new school year.  Just the thought of planning makes my heart go pitter pat.  I'm a dork, what can I say?  Planning for a planner, Type A, organizing-junky sounds quite simple, right? You would be wrong if your answer was "yes." See, I've recently learned that I can not plan every minute of every lesson, for every day.  Doing so is setting myself up for failure.  It will never go down as planned, and when it doesn't, I feel defeated.  We're homeschoolers, for crying out loud! Flexibility is our friend!!! So, I do plan, carefully, but I have to learn to save room for change. There are going to be times when the stomach bug hits the family, or there are just too many pretty days in a row to bother with that pesky schooling, or Momma just needs a break.  There will be a later post specific to planning but I wanted you to see how its the last step in my top 10! 

Please tell me how you prepare you schooling environment.  I look forward to reading your comments!

I'm linked up to Many Little Blessings and her Top Ten Tuesday.  Please go look around!  I'm sure you'll get more ideas for your school space here.

also here Not Back to School Blog Hop

Monday, July 16, 2012

Miscellany Monday

Today's post is linked up at Miscellany Monday, at lowercase letters:

This is my opportunity to write randomly:

1.  My birthday was last week, Thoughtful brought me this scrumptiously delicious platter of blueberry pancakes, covered in syrup and a tall glass of almost ice-cold sweet tea.  Isn't that what every Momma wants? 

2.  How did he make blueberry pancakes?  Ah!  My next point, make ahead freezer meals.  Oh yes!  I'm getting ready to make a bunch of freezer meals to pop in the oven on those crazy days.  This keep us out of the drive thru, and my kitchen stays clean.  Sometimes there is just no time to worry with dishes and pans.  When I make pancakes, I make a ton!  Butter them, cool them on a wire rack, wrap up individually in plastic wrap, and fill gallon sized freezer bags.  Take them out 1 at a time, and microwave for about a minute. 
Easy Peasy!

3.  My boys (and man) pick me out a new pink bike for my birthday ----Yay!  I have wanted a bike for while, thinking how fun it would be to ride so carefree with our boys.  I haven't ridden bikes since I was 15 or so.  I was much lighter then, and my rear was much narrower - bikes hurt.  So I'm on the lookout for a comfy seat.

4.  Thoughtful is growing up.  I know, Mommas are supposed to raise them up, and he's only 8, blah blah blah.  Its really hitting me that my baby isn't a baby.  He's been such a great helper.  His attitude about most things has vastly improved over the last several months (we'd been butting heads a bit).  He loves Spunk so much, and loves to help him.  Spunk's bike chain keeps falling off.  Here's Thoughtful, working his little mechanic-like fingers on Spunk's chain.

5.  I am planning planning planning our school year.  More to come on that!

6.  Our local homeschool convention seemed smaller this year.  I think I'm going to budget to travel to the nearest "large" convention next year.

7.  I'm looking into digital scrapbooking.  I really like Heritage Keepers ??  I think that's what its called.  Anywho, I can't get past the paying monthly for it.  Any other options that are worth looking into?

8.  A family date with friends to cook s'mores last night was somewhat rained out.  But we made them anyways, in the oven.  They came out great!  Dark chocolate is the way to go, and the graham crackers were all toasty too - something you miss when fire-roasting marshmallows.

9.  Last, the boys have been watching this little guy - ewww, right?  I thought so too, until I realized that they're really learning here.  It has spurred an interest, and Thoughtful has asked if we can begin a spider study.

Hope you enjoy!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Sevener Still Here!

Yep!  I'm still here!  Although, I must confess, that my heart for Seven has been on the backburner this week.  God has been nudging me ever so relentlessly, and I've been ignoring Him.

A week ago, I spoke with a man who helps the local homeless.  I mean the real homeless.  We're in a suburban / agricultural county with a relatively low percentage of homeless people in the population.  But they're out there, in tents or on sidewalks, and I know this.  The thoughts of helping them somehow, but not knowing where to start has been annoying, depressing, frustrating......

And this week, no matter what "week" it was, I failed.  I failed to follow God's call to help them, to feed them, to clothe them.  I failed to pray for them, other than my meek thoughts for them.  Here's the true account of my Seven week:

I somewhat successfully made it through possessions, and the plan was to do clothes next.  I didn't.  Plain and simple.  I thought all week long about why.  Early on, I thought perhaps I could've switched it up to make it food week?  I didn't.

During this week, I had a birthday, complete with gift cards to buy new clothes with, and my favorite birthday dinner of pigs-in-a-blanket and mac-n-cheese (I'm not a fancy gal), followed by my first taste of pink-lemonade cake...yum.  My kids brought me breakfast in bed.  So, I ate extra junk food, and brought home more clothes.

Our local homeschool convention was this weekend.  I spent all of my budgeted money on curriculum, and I still need want to take my boys shopping for extra readers.  Spending = fail.

I've not had a single quiet time this week.  BIGGEST FAIL.

I have friends, sweet friends, one I know rather well who has quite the testimony for Jesus, and the BIGGEST heart ever, I tell ya, and another who I went to high school with many moons ago.  We had fun times together back then, but lost touch after school.  We've recently connected on FB, she's a Sevener as well, and local here still.  Both of these ladies have been poking me, whether they realize it or not.  "Donna, what are we going to do to help these people?"  "Listen to what I discovered about myself during this Seven week."  I have put it all on hold, and for what?  Cake and clothes?  Well, not entirely.  More realistically, for life.  This worldly, American, social life.  For little ol' selfish me!

Here's what I've learned about myself this week.  First, no matter how much praying I do for the hungry, if I don't ready myself to receive God's voice, I'll never hear Him.  Second, if I don't hear Him, I'll never do His will.  I'll not be His hands and feet.  I'll never find the way to feed and clothe these people.  Third, I must not get caught up in myself.  I think this is my biggest problem.  I''ve been in a constant, what-I-want-right-now mode.

The good news?  After this depressing post, you probably didn't expect any at this point did you?  But its here, the silver lining, if you will.  The good news is that I know this about myself.  I know what God expects of me, and I realize that the expectation is a WHOLE LOT more than what I've been giving Him. 

So, I'm calling this next week my SELF week.  Everyday, I'll work on some way to reduce my thoughts and desires of myself by actively helping others.  Selfless acts are not my strong point, OBVIOUSLY you now know this.  It will be difficult for me, but I'll update posts as the week unfolds. 

Life happens all around us, but its up to us not to get caught up in what doesn't matter.  We are to focus on The Lord, at all times, no matter what season we're in.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Still Possessed?

Am I still hung up on my stuff?  Meaning I'm still possessed?  Ugh!  Remember, I don't keep stuff.  I'm constantly getting rid of stuff.

The deal I made with myself:
  • Get rid of 7 things a day for a week
  • Crap doesn't count
  • Clothes, bags, shoes, belts, and other accessories don't count (I still have bags of clothes to donate, things I cleaned out immediately after reading Seven)
  • Work my way through the house to get to 7 different categories.

Here's the run down of my Possessions Week:

Day 1, ON FIRE EXCITED to donate my stuff!  I started in the kitchen and gathered 20-something items.  Casserole dishes, serving pieces, a hand held cooler, and more.  It felt good, and I almost jumped into the next day's stuff.

Day 2, um, I still haven't collected Day 2's stuff, which means that I also haven't collected Days 3-7.  TOTAL FAIL!  What is wrong with me?  OK, here it is, I realize that although I don't have a lot of things to donate, people need this stuff more than this house needs it.  So, I'm doing it all in one shot.  I'm an all or nothing girl anyway, so I should've expected this.  So, I've changed my rules:  Now, donate 7 items from 7 different categories:

  • kitchen
  • toiletries
  • household cleaners (laundry detergent, etc)
  • DVDs
  • non perishable food items
  • meals

This means that I will be busy today, on Day 7.

What have I learned?  I have learned that I take much for granted.  People around the world, and as it turns out, right here in my hometown, don't have the luxury of picking and choosing what they want to keep.  They must keep it all.  They don't have anything valueless.  The stuff they have is practical, to cook with and whatnot.  I am blessed beyond measure, as they say.  I will not bring anything into this house without first going through this checklist:  (1)  Do we need it?  (2)  Will we use it?  (3)  What can I donate to make room for it?  This is sound advice to give myself.  But realistically, I will fail at this too.  Eventually, I will bring home bags of stuff without a thought as to others in need.  Lord, help me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal, July 7, 2012

Yippee!  My first HSMJ post!

OK, so we aren't currently schooling, but I definitely have school on the brain, (even if my kiddos don't)!

In my life this week:  I've been sorting A LOT of thoughts to blog about sometime soon.  Thoughtful was at Winshape day camp everyday.  I highly recommend this camp if it is coming to your community.  My shy guy was way out of his comfort zone, and you know what?  He loved it!  He learned a lot about The Lord, and how to apply what he learned to his life, NOW!  This left me entertaining Spunk most days.  I've been working a lot too.

Places we're going:  I took Spunk to play with friends and swim, Plaster Palace, Dairy Queen, The Library, where we read books right there on the floor and didn't check out any, bowling, and window shopping.  We discovered that Target is starting to put out school supplies (giddy me right here).  Last night, I got out alone, ALONE PEOPLE, and had coffee with a friend.  This weekend, we'll go clothes shopping for the boys.
Spunk painting his second cowboy at Plaster Palace.
People we're seeing:  On The Fourth, we visited my Momma and Daddy.  My brother and sister-in-law, and the cutest baby niece ever were there.  We got to give her a belated birthday gift which she played with until they left.  Love her!!

My favorite thing this week:  Thoughtful getting home from camp everyday.  Being gone from 7:30-6 everyday is a lot for this Momma heart.  We simply aren't used to it.  He wasn't either.  Everyday, I was so excited for him to get home.

Oh, and the Peanut Butter Blast at Dairy Queen - yeah that's right up there with seeing Thoughtful.

What's working for us:  Um, not schooling!  Ha!  Letting the boys read whenever they want and whatever they want has proven successful.  Thoughtful isn't even reading a book this week.  He's been reading a National Geographic for Kids magazine, thank you Mother in law!

What's not working for us:  Our school room is in disarray.  I have stuff everywhere.  I'm trying to see what is going to work well for us this year and get that set up this weekend.

Things I'm working on:  The school room, chore charts, cash budgeting, and my planner.  Also, hopefully a little ministry in my future.  Praying on that one.

I'm readingInterrupted, by Jen Hatmaker (a nonfiction life changer here -don't say I didn't warn you).  And A Lineage of Grace, by Francine Rivers (its a group of 5 novellas).

I'm cooking:  anything in my crockpot - it is my best friend.  I'm getting ready for another big cooking day with make-ahead meals galore, and possibly a frozen casserole swap with friends.

I'm praying for:  God to show me who it is that He wants me to help.  He's lit a little bit a fire in me and its growing out of control.  More on this to come, I'm sure, but for now I'm praying. 

And a friend and sister-in-Christ, who is fighting breast cancer.  She's had a double mastectomy and had a port put in today for future chemotherapy treatments.  During this surgery, her lung was punctured.  Your prayers are very welcome here.

A quote to share:  It's scripture that is currently speaking to me:  Leviticus 19:18b, "...but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord."

I'm linking up to  .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Praying you all have a wonderful Fourth of July! 

We will take a moment to not only remember our freedoms, large or small, but also, how we got them and how we keep them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Child Training Bible Kit

My friends, this is the Child Training Bible Kit.  I recently saw this product and absolutely fell in love with it.  The concept is simple:  Find the subject that you need to cover with your child on the front page, and turn to the flags marked within the Bible.  These flags will direct you to the Scriptures regarding that subject matter.  Read it together, talk about it, pray about it.  I LOVE IT!!!

Here's what came in my kit.

(a subject card, three scripture reference cards, and instructions)

Here are the supplies that I needed to complete the project.
(Sharpie brand highlighters in red, pink, yellow, green, aqua, blue, and purple; also, Post-It brand sticky flags in the same colors; double-sided tape, and a Bible which will hold the subject card)

And here's how it works.  If your child is repeatedly lying and you can't seem to get through to her, you open the front cover of the Bible to reveal the index card.

Find lying which is the purple box along the right side, (notice that each color is shown only one time along the top, side, and bottom).  Now, flip to the purple flags sticking out of the right side, there are seven of them.  All seven flags will direct you to a verse, highlighted in purple, about lying.

But wait....there's more!  The genius creator of the kit has included a set of helpful prayer cards.  So now you can locate Lying on the appropriate prayer card which has questions to ask your child such as, "What kinds of words did Jesus speak? (John 14:6a),"  and a prayer, "Lord please keep my child 's tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit (1 Peter 3:10)."

And look at all those colors!  My organizational crazy-self is just giddy!

You can order yours at , and even get discounted rates with bulk orders.

Top Ten Tuesday - Free Summer Fun

This week, Thoughtful is at day camp hosted by our church. Although I know that he's having a blast, as evidenced by his unusual non-stop-talking on the way home and weary, ready-for-bed-at 8:00, but this unfortunately leaves Spunk a little bit bored. OK, a lot bored.

So, these are my top ten Free Summer Fun things to do, for my temporarily only-child.  They are simple ideas but worth having listed when the "I'm bored" cry strikes your home!

  • Jumpy Sprinkler This isn't my term, it belongs to Spunk. We have a small round, very cheap, sprinkler that we've hung on the trampoline. "Its like a shower outside!" It is one of his favorite things to do.
  • Spy Tape Using yarn and a little masking tape, turn your laundry room, or hallway, or closet, whatever, into a spy zone. Spunk loves to create the play area just as much as he loves to weave his little body in between the "lasers." He's imaginative so it works for him. He also dies a horrible grueling death if he hits just one "laser."
  • Scavenger Hunt The key to a successful scavenger hunt is to make it interesting! I have my kids find things that are of interest to them. They could care less about "something blue." They looooooove to look for "a blue bird feather" or "a complete, unbroken acorn." Also, I keep the list at 10 items to find, and let them earn an extra fun thing to do when finished (bake cookies with Momma).
  • Earn a little cash OK, so this one will cost you, but totally worth it. My children don't get a regular allowance. (We've tried it, and I haven't liked it the outcome. That's another future post.) People take great pride in their work, and children are no exception to this theory. Give him/her a job to do that is normally reserved for the grownups to handle. For example, let your child wash the car for $3. It won't be the best wash you've ever had, but he will work hard, and his little chest will swell with pride when you praise his efforts. It will keep him busy, and it IS fun to earn some extra cash for the kitty.
  • Make something extraordinary Making play dough is a favorite. Yes, we've done it before, but it isn't everyday. It isn't even every year, which makes it extraordinary in my boys' eyes. What else can you make? Think messy here. Marshmallow shooters, sidewalk chalk, giant bubbles, and super balls are fun too. Using the search feature on Pinterest will help ;) (pinaholic here)
  • Thoughtful with a marble course made last month.
  • Make a marble course Find odds and ends from your recycle bin and hot glue them to a piece of poster board. Drop marbles into the top, and watch them go. We spent 2 hours on ours. It was very Momma-intensive, but we had fun. The kids loved doing this. When they get tired of it a few days later, they can pull the stuff off and rearrange it.

    Move - together Get out and move! My children are great at running around outside. They enjoy said running even more when I get out there to play too. Water gun fights with Momma are against the rules right?  Silly string war?  Or water-balloon fights?  Whatever you have them do, join in the fun.
  • Act- Again, this is for my creative and artsy child. Just as we learn choreography with our VBS songs, its fun to make them up on our own. Choose a favorite song and give it some action. You could do the same with his favorite story book or make up a story of your own.  Use craft sticks to add a puppet show to your story. The ideas are almost never-ending.
  • Be a secret helper/giver Have your child make a card with some sweet encouraging words.  You anonymously leave it in your neighbor's mailbox.  Or ding-dong-ditch them, leaving the card and a plate of goodies at the door.  Secretly take their trash cans in or their newspapers to the front door.  Whatever you think of, keeping the secret is half the fun!
  • Photography Give them free reign with a camera.  It doesn't have to be your top of the line, fancy-pants camera.  It can be a $2 disposable (my kids ask for them frequently, the weirdos they are).  Encourage them to take pictures of a wide variety of things.  Then, have the photos printed and give them a $1 album from your local dollar store.  Let them arrange the photos on their own, writing captions, etc.
Do you have any free/cheap summer fun activities to share?  I'd love to read them! 
Today, I'm linking up to Top Ten Tuesday, where you can find more Top Ten Lists:
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Ah!  Something I do on a fairly regular basis is purge the junk from the house.  I am not a "keeper."  I do have a junk drawer in the kitchen, but I sort through it at least once a week.  The kids and I go through their toyboxes every few months to sort out the broken pieces.   We don't keep a ton on knick-knacks around.  I call them dust collectors. 

 I don't like clutter, at all!

So, I thought that I had a pretty good handle on keeping out the stuff.  But then again, the addict never knows she's an addict.

It seems the American way of measuring oneself is by the accumulation of stuff.  The more money we make, the more stuff we can have.  And not just any ol' stuff, but bigger and better, right?

Enter Seven.  This book is changing my life.  More on Seven and its author here.

So, I am participating in The Summer of Seven with Katrina Ryder and friends at the Poorganic Life.  Today marks the beginning.  I will remove seven possessions from this house of mine, everyday, for seven days. 

Seven is the perfect number right?

So, you might say, "that's rubbish, Donna.  That's not hard at all."  (Do people actually use the word rubbish?)

To which I interrupt you with, "Oh contrare!"  Remember?  I don't keep stuff lying around here.  We don't have a lot of extras.  I'm going to purge seven real items around my home everyday.  Things that others might have a need for.  I'm beginning in my kitchen, and working my away around the house.

I've been in contact with some local friends and groups who are helping the jobless and the homeless.  I want to be a part of that, so they are getting my stuff, rather than Goodwill or Salvation Army.  I want to see the impact made!  And, in the end, I hope to be a little more full of heart and less in worldly desires.

This is a bloghop.