Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I love making new year's resolutions.  Hopeless optimist?  You betcha.  One of my favorite lines in Anne of Green Gables is, "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"  Likewise, 2014 is a new year with no mistakes in it.  I will always make new year's resolutions--even if I'm not very good at keeping all of them.

Some that I have kept (more or less) over the last few years are:
  • Invite people over for dinner once every month or so
  • Read my Bible daily
  • Expand my recipe repertoire (this is still a work in progress)
  • Become a better pianist (getting there, but have not yet "arrived")
  • Lose fifteen pounds (well...I've lost twelve)

For 2014, I actually have seven resolutions.  Hmmm...they're goals, really.  And the reason I have so many is because there is simply a lot of room for improvement here.  

1. Be more generous with my money, possessions, time, and spirit (as opposed to a critical spirit).
 
2. Read the Bible chronologically, one chapter at a time, with a pen and notebook handy.  This will take about three years, I'm guessing, to read the entire Bible.  I've done The One Year Bible for three or four different years, and I've enjoyed it.  The editors chose a portion from the Old Testament, a portion from the New Testament, a psalm, and a couple of verses from Proverbs for each day's reading.  It adds up to about three chapters' worth of the Bible per sitting.  I'd like to slow down this year, and read more systematically.  Lately, I can't remember if what I read this morning was from Zechariah or Revelation (both prophetic books).  It doesn't take much to confuse me.  ; )  

3. Delegate more chores to my children.  They've had it pretty easy.  It's time.

4. Practice music daily--piano and/or violin and/or ukulele.  Even if all I can muster is 15 minutes, at least it's something.

5. Do cardio 3X per week and toning 3X per week (alternating days).  You know that exercise had to sneak in this list somewhere.

6. Be in bed by 11PM most nights.

7. Methodically purge unused, unloved possessions from our entire home.  I'm reading a book called The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.  It's been very motivating for me to want to live a more minimalist lifestyle.  We have so much and waste so much.  I've already given away about half of my clothes, and now there's so much space in my closet that I can make a little "woman cave" in there.  Okay, woman cave isn't the best term.  I think I'll call it a "mom nave"--a little sanctuary place for me to read, write, pray, play music, think in complete sentences...you get the idea.

And now, here is an opportunity for me to exercise Resolution #1.  Samuel (6yo) just said to me, "Mom, let me ask you a question.  What's more important...the computer or feeding your children?"  I'm going to be generous with my time now and get the boy a snack.

Happy new year!
 




 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two Kinds of Cold

It's a whoppin' 2°F today.  I don't care that we're almost out of milk.  I'm not going anywhere.

Half of us picked up a cold in Florida while on vacation.  Now that just doesn't seem right, does it?  First of all, we were on vacation--so...not fair.  Secondly, it was beautifully balmy weather!  I guess cold germs like warm weather too.

I have a lot to blog about regarding our vacation (we did the whole Disney thing), but that will come later.  I've got a bajillion things to do today.  In fact, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed since we got back home on Sunday morning.  Part of that is likely due to sleep deprivation.  We drove through the night on Saturday, so my internal clock has been broken.  Add to that a couple of coughing fits through the night (the kids--not me), and it makes me think I won't be fully rested until January something-or-other.  I couldn't get back to sleep after giving Lydia some medicine early this morning, but it was kind of a blessing.  I had a couple of hours to pray and plan, and give my overwhelming feelings to the Lord.  I'll be tired later, but at least I'm feeling less stressed now.

On a fun note, there's such great musical TV going on!  I just finished watching The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood as Maria.  (Dave recorded it for me since I was at worship team practice when it aired.)  Her singing is throatier than Julie Andrew's, and her acting wasn't the best, but I still loved it.  This was Lydia's first exposure to this musical (I know!  How could I have waited this long?!  She's nine already!), and she loved it, too.  She asked me, "Mom, how do you know all of the words to the songs?"

Oh, and The Sing-Off starts up again on Monday!  And get this...it's on three times next week!  So, I'd better get to work on "a few of my bajillion things" so I'll have time to watch it.  I haven't done any Christmas decorating yet.  We got home Sunday morning, and after a nap, my day was all about unpacking, laundry, and grocery shopping.  Then, a full week of school and activities.  Phew!  

Well, on to decking the halls!  I'll post pictures later.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Samuel's Refrigerator Track

Sam made this track with the alphabet magnets on our fridge yesterday.  He is SO cute, isn't he?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Two Miles!

Remember how on Sunday I ran 1.7 miles straight?  Well, this afternoon I did 2.0 miles!  To be honest, I'm not sure that I have ever in my entire life run two miles without stopping.  My pace was still 5mph (12 minute miles), but I ran for 24 minutes--another personal record--so I'm not disappointed.  At this point, I'm working on endurance more than speed anyway.

For most of the run I was in "the zone".  (I finally know what that is now!)  I was sort of singing along--in a gaspy sort of way--to the songs on my MP3 player.  The sun broke through the clouds behind me, casting everything in a golden light.  I watched leaves flutter freely to the ground.  A couple of birds soared over my head.  Most of the run was like that.

The last three blocks were the hardest.  I could see the end, but it felt so far away!
I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.

When I crossed my imaginary finish line, I think I would have done a little dance if I hadn't been so busy trying to keep my lunch down.

Note to self:  Never eat two big tacos for lunch on running days.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ten-and-a-Half

I did my weekly weigh-in this morning, and I was curious to see how my great (for me) run yesterday would reflect on the scale.  I was hoping to see 146, but it read 144.5!  I realize that some of that unexpected loss may be water weight, but I don't care.  I'm takin' it!  I'm up to 10.5 pounds lost now, and I've officially dropped to a size 8.  I tried on a pair of jeans that I bought at Goodwill to be my "goal jeans".  They're the same make and model of size 10's that I usually wear.  They slipped right up!

When (not if) I hit 140, I'll be down to what I was before I was pregnant with Emma.  I was 25 then.

If (not when) I hit 135, I would be at my wedding day weight.  That was 20 years ago next month.

Weird thing is, my wedding dress was a size 10.  Either sizes have changed (what used to be an 8 is now a 10), or I have more muscle mass for my size now than I used to.  I hope it's the latter.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Run Like the Wind

I'm not really a runner, but I want to be a runner.  Not sure why.  I think I've just always looked up to people who ran consistently.  It seems to me that it takes a lot of self-discipline, and I've always admired that quality in folks.

I also would really like to have runner's legs.  (I know.  I'm so deep.)

Disclaimer: These are not my legs.


In early summer I finally ran a mile straight without dying, and I was planning on running often throughout the summer with an August 5K in view.  Well, the 5K didn't fit with our camp schedule, and once that fell off my calendar, I lost my motivation.

When the kids started swimming lessons this fall, it was fairly easy for me to get a run in on the treadmill a couple of times a week while Lydia was in the pool.  So, that first five-week session I did two runs (walk/runs, really) and one day on the exercise bike (at home) per week.  This five-week session, Lydia's class got cancelled due to low enrollment.  None of the other class times worked with our schedule.  Therefore, I haven't had a decent workout in three weeks.

Enter today....
After cleaning out the mini-van for two hours (seriously), I decided to go for a walk before it got dark.  I was warm enough when I was vigorously vacuuming the van (nice alliteration, eh?), but once I got out on the trail, I was freezing.  It was 45 degrees, and there was a pretty chilly wind in my face.  But then, I ran like the wind.  I ran for 20 consecutive minutes.  Twenty.  And it wasn't even that hard.  Weird.  Looking back, I think I was simply trying to get warm.  My pace was pretty slow--5 mph--but I ran for about 1.7 miles, so that's a new record for me.  And I can only get faster from here.

Watch out runner's legs.  Here I come.  *wink*

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Emma's 16th Birthday

We don't do "friend parties" every year for our kids.  Frankly, it's a lot of work that results in organized chaos, and the kid gets a bunch of presents that they may or may not care about.  We've limited friend parties to ages 7, 10, 13, and 16.

For Emma's 16th birthday (a couple of weeks ago), I gave her the choice of a friend party OR...a weekend with me in Green Bay.  She chose me!  I felt really honored.

After dinner, we checked into our room at Fairfield Inn.  It was really nice, and the staff was so accommodating.  We got a discount on our room, so we were able to afford a king room with a couch.  Here's Emma enjoying said couch.

Light Blue Gatorade & Cheetos ~ Emma's Faves

We went for a dip in the pool and a soak in the hot tub after we got settled.  The pool wasn't very big--only four strokes across--but it felt good to be in the water.  (I need to start swimming laps again.)  The hot tub was...hot.

Squeaky Clean
  
We had some snacks and watched a few episodes of American Pickers.  All I can say is, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."  A few things they found were pretty neat, but I wouldn't pay what they were planning to ask for retail prices on even the neat stuff.

The hotel had a lovely, complimentary, hot breakfast.  Great coffee, too--even the decaf I had the night before was good.

Then...shopping.  We are not mall people.  I mean, I knew that about myself already, but I wanted for Emma to figure out how exhausting, overstimulating, and expensive malls are all on her own.  She did.  We had lunch at the food court and then wandered around in and out of various stores.  I did see something that tickled my fancy.  Well, really it just made me laugh.  Out loud.  I was crying.

The laughingstock of the dog and pumpkin communities.
  
With yet an hour left to kill before our evening activity, we were done.  We found a Culver's outside of the mall and ate some frozen custard while we chatted for a little while.  Quiet. Comfy. Delicious.

The finale of of our weekend was an evening at the Cup o' Joy--a Christian Music Venue in Green Bay.  They mostly have music groups and open mic nights, but they occasionally have comedians too.  We saw a guy named Daren Strebelow, a Christian comedian from Minnesota.  He used to work on Disney cruise lines.  Not quite Tim Hawkins, but still pretty funny, and a lot less expensive.

The next day was Emma's actual birthday.  Instead of a cake, she just wanted some peanut butter cookies.

Yum....

This is Emma's special cat plate that I got in Door County
 a few years ago.  (I bet you're so jealous, Craig.)

Happy 16th birthday, Emma!  = )


 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hi, 21st Century. Sorry I'm late!

Lydia has swimming lessons on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.  She likes for me to stay in the building with her, so I run/walk on the treadmill in the little--and I mean little--weight room while she's in the pool.  My MP3 player was lost for all of summer, and I finally found it in the strangest place--the very basket where it belongs.  I swear I looked in there four different times.  Either it's so tiny that I missed it every stinkin' time, or...someone's messing with me.

Anyway, I've been taking ye olde CD player with me for my workouts.  I set it up on the magazine rack of the treadmill, and it's fine there for when I'm walking.  When I run, though, the music starts skipping like a flat rock on a smooth pond.  I end up holding it in my hand like a big doofus, and I can really only pump one arm while I run.  So, you can imagine how pleased I was to find that MP3 player.

In the past, Dave has uploaded songs and podcasts onto that baby for me, but I wanted to see if I could do it myself.  Last night...TA DA!!!  I ripped a CD onto my laptop and then uploaded the album onto my MP3 player all by myself.  AND, I did it all without getting frustrated and/or crying/yelling at my laptop!

Today, our worship pastor emailed to ask if I'd sing during the offering on Sunday (he'll be out of town).  Formerly, I'd need enough time to order an accompaniment track from Christianbook.com or someplace and have it mailed to me.  But today, with my new confidence in all things digital, I downloaded the album and then burned it onto a CD (my first time!) in about 15 minutes.  Again, no crying or yelling whatsoever.

What's next for this technology maven...?  My new skills have me feeling like this....


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Easy Being Green

Yesterday I cleaned at camp for about seven hours--in the rain.  Okay, so I was indoors for most of it, but I was cleaning four different buildings and had to carry my cleaning supplies from one place to another.  Since my tennis shoes were caked with wet sand and dirt, I ended up removing them as soon as I entered each cabin.  My feet were freezing, but at least I wasn't undoing my hard work--or adding to it.

Today's weather was a most welcome change.  It started out wet (leftovers from yesterday), but by the time church was out we had blue skies and temps in the mid-60's.  Nice.

Our neighbor's tree with a clear blue sky backdrop

Knowing we don't have too many more days like this before the cold sets in (I saw gobs of geese headed south yesterday),  I decided to make the most of today by actually walking to the grocery store.  We have this nice little local market about a half mile from our house.  Their regular prices are slightly high, but sale prices are great.  I shop the flyer.


42% ?  That's a new personal record!!!


I bought a grocery cart some time ago, but all I'd ever used it for before was library books.  (You know you're a homeschooler when...the biggest tote you own isn't large enough to use for returning your library items.)  Today, my grocery cart appropriately held groceries.  Dave calls it my "Granny Cart".


Walking + Reusable Shopping Bag + Cart = Green

Yeah...yeah.  There's one plastic bag in there, but we'll reuse it in a small trash can later.

The main reason I went for this walk was to get some exercise.  I've lost eight pounds in the last eight weeks, but I've got seven more to go.  Today would've been a perfect day for a run; however, I had too many chores left on my to-do list since camp gobbled up my Saturday.  I thought that walking to the store would kill two birds with one stone.  Isn't it ironic that my "healthy" walk brought back 36 cans of Mountain Dew?  (Just focus on the bananas and Clementines, if you will.)

Edited to add this disclaimer:
Normally I drive my mini-van two miles to Walmart and bring home at least a dozen plastic bags.  It was "Easy Being Green" today since the weather was so nice and I didn't have to buy a million things.

Friday, October 4, 2013

First Day of School

We've just finished Week Five of school, so this post is a bit tardy.  Nevertheless....

This is my first year teaching all four of my kids.  Our house isn't super-huge or anything, so I was trying to figure out where to put everyone so they wouldn't disturb each other too much.  Here's where they all ended up:


Emma (10th grade) studies in her room, which is just off of the dining room.  Except for French, she works independently.  We do a daily discussion time (Bible, history, literature, papers), but I'm not really teaching her as much as we are exploring together.  It's nice.  She'll do a research paper later this year, so I expect I might be guiding her a bit more through that process.
Bible ~ OT Survey (2nd half) by Craig MacDonald
Math ~ MUS Geometry
Science ~ Apologia Biology
History ~ Sonlight 200 (Church History--very interesting!)
English ~ Essentials in Writing (Grade 10); Sonlight 230 (Classic Literature); 
               IEW's Windows to the World; Vocabulary from Classical Roots 
French I ~ BJUP 
Health ~ Total Health

Jeffrey (8th grade--sort of) works at the dining room table.  (That's the door to Emma's room behind him.)  They share many of the same books since Jeffrey caught up to Emma pretty early on, so it makes sense for them to work near each other.  Plus, when I give them their French lesson, it's easy just to duck back in Emma's room--away from the noise and bustle of the younger two who are taking a break at that time.
History ~ My Father's World: Rome to the Reformation
                  (although we're doing a unit on Ancient Greece first)
English ~ Essentials in Writing (Grade 8); Progeny Press Study Guides;
                asst. literature to go along with history; Vocab from Classical Roots
Bible, Math, Science, French, and Health are the same as Emma's.

Lydia (3rd grade) works up in her room at her desk.  This is the cleanest her desk area has been in these five weeks, believe it or not.  I don't know how she works in all that clutter.  It drives me nuts!  I was the type of student who always needed to have her room clean before doing homework or studying.  Lydia is so much of a mini-me--except for this characteristic.
Bible ~ Awana; Answers for Kids (by Answers in Genesis)
Math ~ MUS Gamma
Logic ~ Building Thinking Skills (for gr. 2-3)
Science ~ Answers in Genesis Human Body with The Body Book (1st semester)
                Apologia Astronomy with Jr. Notebooking Journal (2nd semester)
History ~ MFW: Rome to the Reformation 
               (Again, we're doing a unit on Ancient Greece first.)
Lang. Arts ~ First Language Lessons & Writing with Ease (Susan Wise Bauer);
                    All About Spelling; Cursive handwriting (I make up my own sheets);
                    Readers and Read-Alouds from Sonlight lists
French ~ First Start French (We haven't gotten very far in this yet.)

And Samuel (K) does his seat work in my walk-in closet!  I teach Lydia and Samuel together for history and science.  We do that either on my bed or on the floor of their bedroom (they share a room).  They do Bible, math, and language arts separately, so I created this little study nook for Sam in my closet.  He loves having his own little desk, even though the ambience leaves much to be desired. 
Bible ~ Awana; Answers for Kids (Answers in Genesis)
Math ~ MUS Primer
Logic ~ Building Thinking Skills K
Science & History are with Lydia.  (Once we're done with the unit on Greece, 
                My Father's World will cover Bible, history, and some other things.)
Lang. Arts ~ Sonlight K; Get Ready...Get Set....Go for the Code;
                    A Reason for Handwriting K; All About Spelling (He sits in on 
                    Lydia's lesson--and likes it!  I wasn't planning on him doing spelling
                    this year yet.)

So, that's what we're up to!  Whew!  No wonder I'm tired!  = )





Saturday, September 28, 2013

Domino Days

Domino Days ~ When the things on my To Do List are lined up so closely to one another that if one starts to teeter, then they all fall down.  Like this...


...only this turns out WAY prettier than my fall-down days.

We've got four weeks of homeschooling in now (give or take), plus all of the kids' activities are in full swing: swimming, dance, youth group, Awana, music practice, science lab co-op.  Oh, and rehearsals for the musical have yet to start!  I may have signed us up for too many things this fall.  It's a good thing we homeschool, or we'd never be home.

Two of our five fall retreats have come and gone.  I have a little break from cleaning at camp right now, but the last three weekends in October are booked.  The groups aren't very big (fewer buildings to clean), but the tricky thing about back-to-back retreats is that I can't clean on the weekends since camp is in use.  I need to clean during the week.  On a school day.  *Sigh*  It's so easy to fall behind during retreat season.  Well, maybe we could do a little school on Saturdays?  The kids would love that. *wink*

Anyway, my goal for this weekend is to map out our next four weeks of school, plan three birthdays, and switch everyone's clothes over to fall/winter garb.  I'm not getting out the flannel sheets though...yet.    

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Snippets

"Isn't it weird how grapes get all wrinkly in the sun as they turn into raisins, but our skin gets all wrinkly when it's been in water for a long time?"   The musings of Jeffrey are quite...well...amusing.

I love how Dave plays Jumpstart with Samuel (5yo) online.  He's such a good dad.

Lydia's friend just got back from a week-long vacation.  We were hoping to have her come sleep over once before school starts next week, but Rylie is sick.  So, the girls are doing Google Hangout (it's like Skype) so they can spend the evening together.  Oh, also...Lydia is now a vegetarian--not vegan, though.  "I can't live without my dairy," she says.  "I'm from Wisconsin, you know."  Little Miss Drama.  If I could roll my eyes any harder at that girl, I think they'd fall out of my head.

Back here I mentioned that Emma is weaker than a year ago.  Since that post, though, Emma has had a change of heart towards exercising and physical therapy!  Yay!  We still have a ways to go, but she's definitely forming new habits--and of her own accord.  Turns out, I won't need to be as much of a nag as I'd thought!  I have a feeling that some of you have been praying about this, and for that, I thank you.

Phoebe (our cat) keeps bringing us gifts.  We locked the cat door last night since we were sick of her leaving dead things on the porch (it's enclosed).  So, on the front steps today, there was a dead mouse.  Off to the side...a dead chipmunk.  All over both...some kind of carnivorous bees!  I couldn't even pick up the stiffs for fear of being stung, and the mail carrier was coming!  She was so brave though.  She climbed right up our steps to get the out-going mail.  (I was on the grass, getting ready to spray the carcasses.)  "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor blood-sucking bees stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."  ~ Herodotus, slightly altered

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guess What?

Guess which musical our homeschool group is performing this year!

Go ahead...guess!  

There's only one minute left in my brain....



It's Anne of Green Gables!  The musical!

Some of you already know this, but I played Anne in our college production of AoGG (the play, not the musical).  You can imagine how excited I am to be involved in this story again!  

There are actually several versions of AoGG, the musical.  (Who knew?!)  Our director has whittled it down to four different scripts.  The director, the assistant director, and I will meet next week to try to make our final selection.  (I'm the vocal director, so Cheryl wants my opinion on the score for each script.)  

I've spent a good portion of the day reading scripts and listening to songs.  While I was reading, I laughed out loud in many spots--especially as I remembered Sue's Mrs. Blewitt and Jodi's Mrs. Lynde from our college days.  I also cried when Matthew died.  My dad was a quiet guy, much like Matthew Cuthbert.  Made me miss him.  He was so proud of me for being in that play.  When I came home for summer break, Dad organized a "showing" of the video at my home church .  I was a little embarrassed, but I loved him for it.   

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tornado!

Last night the sirens went off at about 7:30PM.  Funnel clouds were sighted a few miles from us, but I'm not sure if they actually touched down.  Still, we had wind speeds of 60-70 mph.   And, sadly, a woman died in her car a few miles north of us.  A tree fell and crushed her.

The part of town featured in this video clip is less than three blocks from our house:
http://www.fox11online.com/weather/tour-of-neighborhood-storm-damage-in-shawano

We didn't have any damage to our property--just a few small branches littering the yard--but our next-door-neighbor lost part of his fence, his flagpole, and almost his motorcycle.

This HUGE tree limb came crashing down last night.

It tore away from the tree at a hollow spot.

This is how it looks this morning, after some clean-up.

The flag pole is horizontal--right above the garbage can.
(The garbage can had been righted by a neighbor already.)

Amazingly, the tree branches fell around the motorcycle.  

Not a scratch on it!

Since the tree branches were covering half of the street in front of Chuck's house, the guys from the city came to clear the road.  It was almost 10PM by that time, so Lydia and Samuel got out of bed to watch from the upstairs window.  The chainsaws were roaring, the truck was beeping and flashing, and the skid-steer loader was shoving the cut branches out of the way.  (I wish I'd had my video camera for that.)  So, the kiddos got to bed kind of late, but they wouldn't have been able to fall asleep with all of that racket anyway.  Needless to say, it was an eventful night!

This morning, Dave helped Chuck cut up the rest of the tree limb and haul it to the dump.  I'm not sure how many trips they made.  The went around and collected some other limbs and branches from our neighbors, too.

How much wood could a (wood) Chuck chuck?


Dave and Chuck chucked a LOT of wood!

Meanwhile, Lydia and Samuel made the best of it!

The kids are in front of our house.
Chuck's house is that way >>>.






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homeschool Schedule


Okay, so I'll be working on our homeschool schedule over the next few days.  I'm doing it in pencil, of course, because there's always so much I need to tweak.  But if I go into this year without a plan, it's going to be complete mayhem.

I spend some time in prayer before I start--not that I expect God to say "Do swimming lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays, not Tuesdays and Thursdays."  I do ask for wisdom, though, and the ability to process upcoming details (including Dave's schedule) so that I can minimize surprises.  In the past, I've been too ambitious in our schedule, much to the dismay of my children--or myself!  I'm going to be more careful to make this year challenging, yet doable.  I'll build in more flex time at the beginning of the year, too, until we get into the swing of things.

Sometimes, I need to delete something on the schedule. Or I think to myself, "Hmmm...we never did get around to that, did we?"  Then, guilt sets in.  I was recently reminded of how the Apostle Paul meant to visit Rome on his way to Spain.  As far as we know, Paul never got to Spain.  He did get to Rome, but not in the way he expected.  Likewise, we may never get to Spain, but the Lord will bring us to Rome in His own way.  I just hope our homeschool journey doesn't include a shipwreck.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our Growing Family

2001
I can barely remember life with only two children.

2002
In this picture (above), Jeffrey is about 28 months old, and Emma is double that.  He's almost caught up to her in height.  
Except for the Nuk in his mouth, you might think he and Emma are twins.

2003
I think Dave is taking this picture, which explains why he's not in it.

2004
I'm pregnant with Lydia in this one.

2005
Here's Lydia!  She's about six months old in this shot.  She was so chubby!

2006
Dave officiated our friends' wedding.  We clean up pretty good!

2007 Summer
This was taken about three months before Samuel was born.  
Jeffrey and Lydia could grow Kool-Aid mustaches like rock stars!  
Camp's theme was "Growing in the Son"--a farm theme.  (I love this one.)

2007 Winter
I think Sam is about nine (?) weeks old here.  I lost the pregnancy weight quickly this time because I went lap swimming a few times a week.  Then, stupid Daylight Savings Time switched back and messed up our feeding schedule, so I ended up letting my swim pass expire.  DST is a pet peeve of mine, but that could be an entirely different blog post.  Grrrrrrr....

2008
We had a pirate theme at camp this summer, hence the ship's wheel.  This is the first summer that Emma had her own wheels (motorized scooter).  
It was also her first year of MDA camp.

2009
My Mom has joined us for this picture.  She comes to one of our family camp weeks every summer.  She also volunteers as camp nurse each year for a youth week.  You can count on her yummy camp-made cinnamon rolls while she's here!  I don't know what we'd do without her.  

2010
"Girls on this side, boys on that side."
It's funny how Sam is a little carbon copy of Jeffrey, 
while the girls couldn't be more different--inside and out.

2011
We took 70 shots to get this picture for our prayer card.  *rolls eyes*

2012
It only took about 45 shots this year.

2013
This photo was taken about nine months after the 2012 picture.  
Look how much Jeffrey has grown in such short time!  (Compare his height to mine.)  That explains all of those weeks of sleeping in!


My thoughts as I look through these pictures:
  • Dave really likes the tan polo shirt with the navy camp logo.  He's wearing it in four photos.
  • No make-up with my all of my hair pulled back is not the best look for me--especially when I'm pregnant.
  • I am truly blessed!  What a wonderful family the Lord has given me!
  • Time is fleeting.  I would love to go back and relive some of those days when the kids were little.  So, I resolve to enjoy Today while it's here!  Time marches on, and ten years from now I may do another post like this, wishing I could come back to 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"What I Did for Summer Vacation"

Summer isn't quite over, but the busy-ness of a new school year is rapidly descending.  I think we'll start homeschooling on September 2nd or 3rd, but I might wait one more week.  Our women's retreat is from the 6th-8th, and I end up cleaning quite a bit for that.  It's still not going to pass a white glove test (it is camp, after all), but I clean more deeply for women's retreat than anything else.  It usually takes me about 20 hours.  I was able to deep clean four of the cabins a couple of weeks ago though, so those will only need a "regular" cleaning.  That will help.  In any case, we might not start school until Sept. 9th.  Or maybe we'll just do half-days during my super-duper cleaning week.

Re-reading that paragraph makes me thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling.  (And yes, I do realize that if all of the kids were in school, I'd have more time to clean.  But that's not the point.)

Okay, so here's what I did this summer:

Decluttered ~ I'm still working on this--and will be for the rest of my life, it seems--but I was able to pare down and sell a bunch of things on our town's classifieds page on Facebook.  I probably made about $120.  It was putzy, though.  I also went through all of my homeschool curriculum.  There were lots of things that I knew we wouldn't use anymore.  It was all good stuff--just not the best fit for our family.  And since Sam is starting kindergarten, I sold several of the pre-school things.  So far, I'm up to $325 on Amazon (minus shipping costs).  Over the last couple of days, I reorganized the Secret Room.  It looks very much like the photos in the link, but with a few more bins.  The basement still needs a lot of work.  I'll take some before and after pic's.  It's going to be dramatic, since it's such a disastrophe down there.

Deleted ~  I deleted my Facebook account.  That was a big deal for me, which is why I keep bringing it up, I guess.  (Sorry.)

Taught ~ We did a few weeks of school over the summer, but not quite as much as I'd planned.  Story of my life.

Played! ~  Living at a summer Bible camp is still a lot of fun, even though all I can mostly see is the work that needs to be done.  Lydia and Samuel help to remind me that life isn't all about work, though.  We had many, many fun times together down at the lake.  I also enjoy watching the campers enjoy camp.  And the Family Camps are always a treat for me.

Ran ~ Okay, I only ran a handful of times, but I got up to running a mile straight without dying walking.  For me, that's an accomplishment.

How was your summer?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Camp is done.  Aaaaaahhhhhh....

Well, the "everyday" camp season is over.  We still have retreats through the end of October.  Since our next retreat isn't until September 6th, our family has a nice breather.  We moved back to our house in town on Saturday evening, and I've been trying to get reorganized around here.  The laundry baskets are empty; the cupboards & fridge are full, but I've still got books to put away.  I had brought boxes of books to camp because we tried to do some homeschooling during the four youth weeks of camp.  It was more challenging than I thought it'd be.  We only get so many warm weeks here in WI, so we probably got more P.E. done than anything else (i.e. swimming, outdoor games, canoeing).  It's hard doing bookwork when the temps are in the upper-70's and it's gorgeous outside--especially when you're on a lake with a nice, sandy beach.  Yep, we're suffering for Jesus.

This will likely be my most challenging year of homeschooling, regarding demands on my time.  I've got a kindergartener, a 3rd grader, an 8th grader, and a high school sophomore.  Since Samuel (K) can't read yet, I'll need to be hands-on with him for most of his--albeit short--school day.  Emma (10th) works independently on many things, but she's got a heavy literature year ahead of her (she wants to be a writer), so it would be ideal if I could read her books in order to discuss them with her.  She'll also be writing lots of papers and stories--which I will have to grade.  Those are more involved than simply checking a multiple-choice test.  It'll all work out.  I just need a plan.

Part of my plan involves identifying time-wasters and getting rid of them--or at least diminishing them.  Facebook was definitely a time-waster for me.  I assume that my timeline is completely gone now.  I deleted my account on July 28th.  Facebook sent me an email saying that they would keep it at a "deactivated" status for two weeks before deleting it completely, in case I changed my mind.  I didn't.  I miss FB some, but not as much as I'd thought I would.  I mean, I miss the people, of course, and I do feel a little out of the loop, but I don't regret my decision at all.

Other time-wasters...?  Does cooking count?  *wink*

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sleepover

Samuel (5yo) is sleeping over in the Lodge tonight with Grandma.  My Mom is the nurse this week at camp, and she's staying in Room 2.  Lydia (8yo) slept over there last night.

I got to thinking, and one of my very first camp memories is from Room 2 in the Lodge.  It was July, 1976, and I was a few days shy of five years old.  My Mom was volunteering as the nurse that week, too.  I remember waking up in that room in the middle of the night.  My younger brother and I were sleeping on one double bed, while my Mom slept on the other one.  She was very pregnant with my sister.

"Mom...where are we?"

"We're at camp, honey.  Go back to sleep."

"Oh...okay."

The End.

It's weird the things we remember.  Anyway, Samuel thought it was pretty neat that I had slept in that very same room when I was five years old.

Friday, July 26, 2013

So Long, Facebook

Whew!  It's done.  I've copied and pasted four years' worth of status updates to my computer.  (It's over 35 pages altogether!)  Now, I didn't copy everything from those four years, but based on the number of pages, you might think I did.  That just goes to show how extensively I used Facebook--or rather, how much Facebook had a hold on me.  But I'm grateful, in a way, because I don't think I would have such a great record of the past four years had I not been on Facebook.  That fact tempts me to stay.  However, it won't take any longer to add things to a Word document than it would be to post them on Facebook.  Actually, it'll be faster.  I won't be waiting for acknowledgments from dozens of friends.  Clearly, it won't be as fun, but it'll be better for my family in the long run.  And think how much more you'll all look forward to receiving our family Christmas letter!

Even though it took me forever to go through all of those posts, it was so much fun.  At two o'clock in the morning, I would find myself laughing silently until tears came.  My kids make the funniest connections!  It was a joyful walk down Memory Lane.  I also marveled at how God answered prayers through all of that time, and was reminded to count my blessings more than once. When camp is over, I'll go through those 35 pages and put some of my very favorite things in a post for you.

I still need to go through pictures in which people have tagged me.  I know of some that I'll want to save to my computer.  After that... it's, "Buh-bye."  So, if you're not on our Christmas letter list yet, and would like to be, let me know.  And if you'd like to keep in touch more than that, just check back here once or twice a week...or month.  Whatever you like.  I'll be here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Funny Boy

My youngest has been pretty amusing lately.

Friday night, a camper had asked him, "So Sam, how's life?"

"It's a long story."  Long story?  He wasn't having a glum day.  He must've taken that question literally.  How is your life?  I guess that sharing one's oral autobiography--even for a life of just five-and-a-half years--would take a while!  What a goof.
_____________________________________________________________

Yesterday morning, the kids and I were in the mini-van for a short trip to town.  While listening to our local Christian music station, these lyrics played: "I'm not the man I used to be."  Samuel asked, "Did he just sing 'I'm not a man, but I used to be'?"

I laughed so hard.  I had tears in my eyes. I could hardly catch my breath. 

We all know that commas save lives:

Let's eat Grandma!    vs.   Let's eat, Grandma!

Along similar lines, little words can make a big difference.  Pay attention to your articles and coordinating conjunctions, folks!
_____________________________________________________________

Then, last night at tuck-in time,  Sam was explaining to me how he liked old people, but not their skin. 

"Why not?"  I asked.

"Because it's rough and wrinkly."

"Ohhhh...well, that's why I use a lot of sunscreen on you, and your siblings, and me.  That way, our skin can stay soft and smooth for as long as possible."

"Let me check."  Sam stroked my cheek with the palm of his hand.  "Pretty good!  Nice job, Mom."

Watch out, ladies.  He's a charmer!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Number My Days

15,342...since I was born (including today).

Yesterday was my birthday, and the last few July 17ths have found me more pensive than ready to party.

In the past, I attributed that to being weary of having my birthday during the middle of our busy camp season.  I can rarely celebrate my birthday with my camp director hubby.  Honestly though, I don't mind waiting for the weekend.  And he does a good job of remembering--despite the fact that he's super busy.  (He bought a ukulele for me this year!  Fun!)  Besides, having 100 people sing the birthday song to me at breakfast is a cheerful start to the day.

So...am I lamenting growing older?  Being in my 40's?  Not directly.  I'm settling in to this decade fairly nicely.  I don't look like I'm in my 40's--so others tell me.  I don't feel like I'm in my 40's--for the most part.  Yet, I have the wisdom of being in my 40's (insert hysterical laughter here _______).

I figured it out last night.  Every year on my birthday, I can't help but reflect on the past 12 months.  While I'm thankful for my innumerable blessings (faith, family, friends, everything we need and lots of things we want), I'm always dissatisfied with some parts of my life which have remained unchanged.  Let me tell you what I mean.

~ I still haven't written that book.
~ This is the third summer of painting the porch.  I'll never finish!
~ Those ten pounds are still found (as opposed to "lost").
~ "E" is weaker than a year ago.  I need to work with her more on PT--even
       if I'm a nag!
~ So many good books, so little time.
~ Clutter, clutter everywhere (but not a kitchen sink).
~ The kids' chore schedule?  It worked well--for a month.
~ I'm still in the same place in my piano lesson books.

A lack of self-discipline. That's it!  That's what's been causing my melancholy feelings these last few birthdays.  Everything in that list reflects this personal flaw.  I can't seem to get on top of things.  Either I allow myself to get distracted, or I'm just plain lazy.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."  ~ Albert Einstein


I need to make some changes.  One of my biggest distractions--no, addictions--is Facebook.  I go on there "just for a minute" to check my notifications, and it easily turns into an hour, on a daily basis.  Yeah.  I'm pathetic.  I've tried different things to try to gain mastery over FB, but none of them have worked, and it's (*gulp*) time to go cold turkey.  Believe me, I've left this option as a last resort.  I've felt convicted about this for some time.  A couple of months ago, I started copying & pasting my status updates in preparation for deleting my account.  Not all of them.  Just the funny ones and the milestones.  It's taking me forever.  My kids are consistently hilarious!  Plus, I put everything on FB.  Well, most everything.

That brings me to the next point.  I know some of you will truly miss my updates.  If so, I'll be keeping track of the funny things the kids say, and I'll write them into our annual Christmas letter.  If you don't already receive that, send me your address, and I'll make sure you get it.  (I still have about a year's worth of status updates to copy, so you can let me know in a private message on FB.  It'll be about a week before I actually delete my account.)

One of the things I'd like to do with my extra hour each day is blog once per week.  I think I promised that some time ago.  (Yet another thing I could add to the list above.)  So, you could bookmark my blog, or simply make a mental note of my blog's name.  I'm sure I'll have some funny or interesting things to put here.

Now, please don't think that I'm trying to convince you that you should get off of FB.  This is a personal decision that I have prayed over for several months.  Facebook is a snare for me, but I know many people who use it well and with moderation.  I'm not blaming FB, either.  I love it for how it connects family and friends all over the world.  It's been a blessing to keep up with the people I love in all sorts of places.  However, too many times it's been at the neglect of those who live right under my nose.  With FB as my "default mode", I also haven't been investing time in the things I would really rather be doing (writing, music practice, reading, exercising) if I stopped long enough to think about it.

Of course, Facebook isn't my only distraction or snare, but it's the most obvious one.  It's the simplest, though not necessarily the easiest, to eliminate.  I know that I'll miss it, but I'm confident it's the right thing for me to do.  So, pray for me, friends.  This week, I'll be finishing up copying & pasting things I don't want to forget, but after that...well...that'll be tough.

I'll leave you with a verse that has been rolling around in my head quite a bit lately.  I may have 15,342 days left, and I'd like to invest them wisely.

"So, teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Even a Broken Clock...

I'm lucky enough to have one of those front-loader washing machines.  I really like it.  It saves time, water, and wear and tear on our clothes.  There has been one thing irking me, though.  Whenever I load clothes into it, the door always closes on me.  We re-balance the machine, but the floor isn't completely level (basement), so it's not a long-term solution.










Grrrrr...so annoying!  (I know...First World problem.)

Finally, I had a genius idea!  Well, genius for me.

Velcro.




See?  Now it stays wide open until I'm ready to close the door myself.  YAY!

I'm not going to tell you how many years we've owned the machine before I had my "Eureka!" moment.  Suffice it to say: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sisters

My girls don't always get along.  Scratch that.  They don't often get along.  That's hard on a mom.  I'm not sure if it's the age difference (seven years), or that they have completely different temperaments, a combination, or something of which I have no understanding.

The younger one is desperate for the older's attention--in any form possible, good or bad.  The older one is desperate for privacy.  What's a mother to do?

"Make us share a room," says the younger.  The older doth protest too much, methinks!

I pray.  Often.  And I am, at times, tempted to make them share a room.

Once in a great while, there is a glimmer of hope.  The younger wrote this today:

Click to Enlarge

And she colored a picture on the back:

I think we are getting there.

Pray for us.

Thank you.