Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WFMW - Laundry schedule for families with children

An IRL friend of mine posted on Facebook that her son has worn the same pair of underwear for several days because he was out of clean underwear. Hey, if you have kids, you know what she's talking about. My kids have run out of clean underwear before I've gotten to their laundry, Heck, my husband has run out of clean socks or underwear before I've gotten to it. I've even gone on laundry strike because there is always so much to do and never enough time to do it all. To top it off, I know a family whose husband called her while she was out shopping and he asked her to pick up some new underwear because it would be faster than waiting for the laundry to be done.

When you add kids into the mix, it seems like laundry multiplies exponentially. Especially when you have girls or kids with sensory disorders who change clothes 20 times a day or simply because you are busy and just not home to do it. Hey, don't get me started on laundry doing itself - all you have to do is throw it in and move onto something else until it needs to go in the dryer. Throw it in and leave the house - let it run. In case you missed it, back in February my dryer motor caught on fire. If I hadn't been home, our house would have been destroyed. I don't run the dryer when I'm not home anymore.

So, I came up with a plan and tried it out. My girls have to wash their clothes on Tuesdays and Fridays. It's just long enough in between for them to accumulate enough to not be overwhelming (1-2 loads). They share a room and a hamper, so they have to work together, but I helped with suggesting who does what. Child B takes the clothes to the laundry room and puts them in the wash. (I'll share why in just a minute.) Child A or B takes them out of the washer (top-loader) and hands them to Child C so she can throw them in the dryer, which she loves. Then they all sort, fold, and put away their own clothes. They are nearly-5, nearly-8, and 10-1/2 - all very capable of the task assigned to them.

Then I get the washer and dryer on all other days to do anything else that needs to be done. If we are out all day on a Tuesday or Friday, there are enough other days to be flexible to give the girls the next day. I don't always keep up with getting the rest of everything folded or put away, but it's much better than having piles of laundry in some state of completion for all 5 of us.

This works for me in more than one way, it gets the laundry done, but it also helps incorporate therapy into Child B's routine. She has graduated from occupation therapy for sensory processing disorder. This is a good thing, but it doesn't mean her sensory disorder is gone. Simply put, we incorporate many therapeutic activities to meet her sensory needs into her daily life so she doesn't rely on formal therapy. Using her physical strength and as many muscle groups as possible is calming for her. It's hard, but calming in various ways. Some kids may have hyper-activity, anxiety, aggression, etc., so a physical activity is calming for their nervous system by using that energy productively. Pulling, pushing, or carrying the laundry basket to the utility room helps B. She can choose which one best suits her mood. It seems like a small task, but the benefits are great for her ability to get through the day without feeling agitated. After all, how would you feel if you felt like the tag from your shirt was rubbing all over your body? That's just an example of how these kids feel, though not exactly and not for all of them.

With this system there is no arguing over who is going to do what or who did it last time and whose turn it is.

Our laundry routine works for me. To read other tips, suggestions, find easy recipes, hop on over to We Are That Family and check out Works For Me Wednesday.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I blogged so much in November that I think I blogged myself out. Not really. But this month has been so busy, trying to get Christmas shopping done without the recipients catching on to what they may be receiving, baking turkeys to freeze for winter dinners, baking cookies for gifts... Pushing the girls to get their school work done so we can have a winter break. Time seems to go so quickly and some things just fall to the side sometimes. This time is was blogging.

But something happened today that I'm laughing about now. I wasn't a few hours ago. It was all I could do to hold back my tears. It wasn't awful, just one of those things that happens and I'd like to share it with you.

Have you ever gotten into an elevator and your kids all dive for the buttons at once? Has anyone ever accidently pushed the emergency alarm button? Yeah, I know how that is. We've gotten a system worked out now so each kid knows before we get in who is going to push the button. But I remember those days when my girls were still learning their numbers and would hit the wrong button. There is just something about that red button that draws their finger to it, isn't there? Yet, everyone outside the elevator must figure that it's just a kid pushing the button. After all, how many times have you gotten off an elevator and had somebody standing there attempting a rescue operation because the alarm went off? It's never happened that way for me. Nope. No one ever figures the alarm is going off because the elevator is stuck. Especially when there are children present.

Not even today.

When it was really stuck.

With my 3 girls and me in it.

We were at a library where my kids participate in a writing program taught by a couple of local children's authors. After their classes were over, we had a few errands that I had hoped to finish before the kids reached their threshhold of cooperation. Child C was disgruntled with Child B about something and some punching had started. It was definitely time to head out.

We got on the elevator, "1" was pushed to take us up from the lower level, and the doors closed. I took advantage of this private time in the elevator to remind the girls that hitting it not ever OK towards each other. Not ever. If I remember right, I went on about "What made you think it was OK this time?" and "Why would you hit her back when you know hitting is not OK?" Then I stopped. I realized that we should be getting off the elevator by now, why aren't we? We were not moving. "1" was still illuminated. So I pressed the door open button and nothing happened. I jumped up and down to see if I could make it move. Yeah, right, I know. But it was that or panic.

I pushed every button there was and nothing changed the situation. I rang the alarm bell. I rang it again. I held it in and let it ring. Nothing. What did I expect? Someone to yell at the elevator and ask if we were OK? Yes, I did expect that, but it didn't happen. My 4-year old, C, started to cry.

That's when it hit me, no one pays attention to the elevator alarm because kids push it all the time!

The pressure of tears was getting stronger and I knew if I lost it, I'd have 3 panicked kids. I realized I was starting to get hot, so I told everyone to take their coats off so we wouldn't overheat. As my coat dropped to the floor, I saw the little door. You know, the one with the emergency phone. I pulled it open and pushed the button. This is not something I've ever given much thought to and I just assumed it called the front desk. No, it calls 911. I told them where I was and that I was stuck in the elevator with my 3 children. I waited, but heard nothing. Not a confirmation, not an assurance that help was on the way. Nothing. I said, "Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?" Still nothing. I had no idea what was going to happen or how long we'd be there, but in my mind I was thinking, "The library is going to close and we will still be in the elevator." (The library wasn't scheduled to close for another 5 hours or so, but this is where my mind went.)

Then the door opened.

I remember saying to the girls, "We will never take the elevator here again. There are perfectly good stairs right over there!" Then I looked ahead of me and saw the ladies at the circulation desk just staring at me. As I choked back tears, I told them, "Yes, we were stuck in the elevator. The police are probably going to show up in a few minutes. Have a good day."

As we pulled out onto the main road, the first police car pulled in, so I circled the block and returned to find the fire chief and another police car. They took some information from me and we left again. It wasn't until I was almost home, half an hour later, that I started to wonder: How would one know that someone didn't just accidentally push the alarm button? What are the procedures in businesses for this? It just makes me wonder.

I wonder how my kids will react next time we have to get on an elevator. There was a time when B was afraid of revolving doors. But that's a post for another day.

Have you ever been stuck somewhere?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Counting my blessings: 30

Branch Of Wisdom

People who are bold in their faith in Jesus

Words simply cannot express how thankful I am to have experienced first hand the love of people who are eager to share Jesus' love. I'm not talking about people who will preach to you what they believe or why you should believe it too. I'm talking about people who will lovingly share what they believe, accept that you believe differently, but you can see the combined passion and sadness in their eyes - passion for what they know in their heart and sadness that you don't realize it yourself. The "you" I speak of is really me in high school.

I have several decades-long friendships with people who accepted me for who I was and didn't judge me for being different - and wanting to be different. Some of them may have shared Jesus with me here and there or asked me why I believed differently. I'm sure they all played a role in God's plan for me to know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. God works that way, orchestrating position and conversation to work on some one's heart. But there is one person in particular who was bold to share God's Word consistently and yet never express judgement on me. She told me a couple times that she was disappointed in decisions I had made and shared her different opinions, but she did so lovingly. She invited me to church sometimes, yet didn't preach to me. She shared the love of Jesus in her words and in her actions.

One day this friend gave me a cassette tape with a song on it. The song has played in my head for over 20 years. It told me how badly she wanted Jesus in my heart. Every birthday for years, the birthday card from her contained one simple scripture verse. Not the same verse every year. It was just enough for me to know that she wanted Jesus in my heart. She never gave up hope that one day I would ask Jesus into my heart. She didn't know that I did when I was much younger, I just didn't really know what that meant or what to do with it. It wouldn't be for several more years that I would realize how to let Jesus in and make Him Lord of my life. But I did over a decade ago. I am so thankful that my salvation and eternity were important to her. She blogs at Our Ordinary Life and the song she shared with me is this one:

I've met so many more people since then who are also bold in their faith and I have become bold as well. I pray that I am also loving in how I share it, for the way my friend shared it with me couldn't have been more loving. She has taught me so much over the years and she helped me realize the blessing of knowing people who are bold in their faith in Jesus.

This same friend is also participating in the Counting My Blessings series hosted by Branch of Wisdom. She inspired me to participate as well. Do you know your blessings? Would you like to share them or read the blessings of others? If so, stop by Branch of Wisdom.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Counting my blessings: 29

Branch Of Wisdom

Good Cleaning Products

Is it shallow that I consider good cleaning products a blessing? I hope not. I like to not be wasteful and some things, if they are not cleaned well, just shouldn't be used again. I think cleaning products are something we often take for granted, don't you?

I found a great cleaning product. Now, let me back up and be honest. I have no relationship at this time - or ever in my past - with the company that manufactures and distributes this product. I am in no way affiliated with this company. I gain nothing from sharing this experience with you - other than, perhaps, helping you discover a great cleaning product as well

Basic H2 from Shaklee is the best stain remover I have ever used. It is super concentrated, so 3 different products can be made from it - and they last A LONG time. It may cost more upfront, but it will be the only grease cleaner, glass cleaner, and all-purpose cleaner you need. I also use the grease cleaner (sometimes the all-purpose cleaner) as a stain fighter in our laundry. It removed a two-year old chocolate stain from a child's sweater. I don't have pictures of that.

However, I do have pictures of this:

That is my prom dress from my Senior Prom. I wore it again to a company dance in college and went to a bar after. I have no idea what spilled on the dress back in about 1992. I recently came across the dress and figured it was ruined. I hadn't had it cleaned and these stains have been there for 18 years!

Figuring that if the dress were ruined, I couldn't do any more damage to it by trying something. I pulled out my Basic H2 All-Purpose cleaner and sprayed it onto a paper towel. Then I dabbed at each spot. Here is what it looks like now:

Can you believe it? Here's another shot so the shadows are different:

Did I mention it's an all-natural "green" product? You can even use it to wash your vegetables. Non-toxic. Yes, it's a blessing to me to have such a product in my cabinet!

Be sure to stop by Branch of Wisdom for more Counting My Blessings.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Counting my blessings: 28

Branch Of Wisdom


(It's a scene from the game show Family Feud, hosted by Steve Harvey. Don't let the title throw you - it's clean.)

Isn't it amusing how quickly that answer came to him?

I laughed so hard I nearly choked on my dinner (hubby showed it to me on his phone.) I accused him of trying to kill me. But it was hilarious. I would have appreciated viewing it while not eating, but the laughter was great, really. I love laughing. There were a few years when I didn't laugh much at all, so it is a real blessing to laugh. I love that God gave us laughter. He didn't have to, you know. It's one of those things I didn't think much about until I just couldn't bring myself to laugh. And I missed it. I am so glad to have it back in my life and try to laugh daily.

I even completed a project in college about the effects of laughter on health and productivity in the workplace. I knew the effects of laughter just a few years before I lost that joy. Children laugh a lot during the day. There was a time when I knew the statistic of how many times children laugh in a day. My memory fails me and I cannot share that number with you right now. Just know that it's a lot. Adults experience a drastic decline in their frequency of laughter. Mine plummeted. When it came back, it felt so good. I love laughing.

Do you laugh every day?

Branch of Wisdom is hosting this meme. To participate or read others' blessings, hop on over.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Counting my blessings: 26

Branch Of Wisdom


We visit our library several times a week. It's not just for checking out books, you know. Although we do borrow a lot of books.

My local library not only has a great selection within their own bookshelves, but also has a relatively comprehensive inter library loan system. The selection of books, movies, magazines, music, software, audiobooks and audio devices, and much more is quite extensive. They have several computers available with internet access.

The library in my town also has several story time sessions each week for children of various ages. For those who are already fluent readers, there are other programs available such as drawing for the library's youth art magazine, mystery or science programs where kids have hands-on experience making goo, play dough, identifying fingerprints or encoding and decoding messages. They even have times set aside especially for tweens and teens, who feel the need to be unique and special during the ages they are. These times include book discussions or more advanced crafts. Fridays are "fun and games day" at my library and kids can "check out" a game or puzzle to play while in the youth department. When they are finished with that game, they can play another or turn it back in for their card.

I love the interpersonal skills of the librarians, as well. They show an interest in the kids, have open discussions with them about interests, and make book recommendations as well. The librarians in my public library are pleasant to be around and seem to enjoy their work.

I am thankful to have the service of our library available to me and my family and I am also thankful for all the various options available through my public library.

Don't forget to stop by Branch of Wisdom today!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Counting my blessings: 23

Branch Of Wisdom

Indoor Plumbing

Yes, it may seem obvious, but indoor plumbing is a blessing. Really. There are so many people in our world who still do not have indoor plumbing. When they wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, they have to go outside no matter how cold it is. Now, I don't know about you, but if I get cold, I have a hard time falling back to sleep. I cannot imagine having to bundle up to go out to relieve myself.

In fact, even though the temperature dropped in October and many people around me turned their furnaces on a month ago, we just turned ours on November 1. Until then, the temperature in our house ranged between 60-65. I woke up one night to go to the bathroom and it was cold! I was so thankful that I didn't have to venture outside.

What are you thankful for today? Have you stopped by Branch of Wisdom to share your blessings?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Counting my blessings: 20

Branch Of Wisdom


I am thankful for communication: the ability to communicate, be understood, understand others, and communicate with them.

With current technology, we have vast methods of communications. We can speak directly with someone, use the phone (with or without a cord, in our car, on the sidewalk, even in places we shouldn't), email, instant messaging, short or ongoing conversations on sites such as Facebook, face to face through a computer (Skype). You name it, we can probably do it. Pretty amazing, huh?

When we can't use speech or don't want to, we can use body language or sign language. We can write for communication. I am thankful for my blog and the blogs of others for communication.

Can you imagine not being able to communicate? Just wake up one day and not be able to communicate at all?

I know this is something I take for granted every day. I have been able to communicate for as long as I can remember and I just expect that tomorrow will be the same as today. But something as sudden as a stroke or car accident can change that in an instant. So I am thankful that I can communicate. That I can tell my family that I love them. I can laugh with them. I can say hello to a stranger. I can ask questions to a doctor or pharmacist. I can offer words of encouragement or receive words of support.

I've been enjoying reading other bloggers' words of thanksgiving. How about you? Have you stopped by Branch of Wisdom to read or participate?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Counting my blessings: 18

Branch Of Wisdom

My husband is home again

I'll just keep it simple when I say that my husband doesn't travel much for work. I am thankful that he has a job that enables him to stay local. In the last few months he has had to take a few short business trips, the most recent being this week. Today he came home. I am so glad he is home. I'm thankful he's home safely. I love when we spend the evenings together as a family, watching a movie, or sharing a family discussion, or playing a game, or even just sitting and reading together.

Don't forget to stop by Branch of Wisdom to read more blessings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Counting my blessings: 17

Branch Of Wisdom


For a long time I didn't have any hobbies. In my younger days I had some, but I gave them up as I got older and my interests changed. It took my quite a while to find anything that I enjoyed outside of work. Then it seemed that parenting was my whole life. It still is, for the most part.

However, now I do have a couple activities that I enjoy away from my family. And it's nice. Once a week I get together with some ladies across the street who knit. I only know the basics, but it's a good starting place. I've only been participating for a few weeks now and I plan to continue.

I started my other hobby about 6 years ago. A friend of mine opened my eyes to scrap booking. Honestly, I wish I had just stuck with photo albums because scrap booking takes so much time, but I do enjoy it. It's a time of reflection on my kids' lives, enjoying them without the aspects of parenting that aren't so fun. It's actually therapeutic for me because I am a pretty frazzled parent much of the time.

I am thankful for these times to get together with other women, many of them moms, not all of them at the same stage of life as myself. I am also thankful for the sense of accomplishment with these hobbies because there is so much in my life that is in a constant state of "in the works" or undone nearly immediately after being done.

Don't forget to stop by Branch of Wisdom to read more blessings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Counting my blessings: 16

Branch Of Wisdom


I am so thankful for K-Love Radio. K-Love is national and listener-supported, which means they are funded by their listeners and Christian sponsors. For me, that means no commercials and positive news.

The radio in the kitchen is almost always on in the background. When we're in the van, we listen to K-Love, Christian kid's music, or audio books. I simply cannot count the number of times that my kids have heard a song on K-Love and asked me to turn it up. Songs that are not about drinking, drugs, sex, or violence. No, they don't focus on the pleasures of sin and make it sound desirable. The songs focus on God's love for us and our love for Him. They help us keep our focus on Him.

One day last year my oldest daughter turned on the laptop and she found K-Love on the computer. From the dining room, she exclaimed, "Mom, I have positive, encouraging K-Love on the computer!" She was so excited that she could listen while working on some of her school work. All 3 of my daughters ask to listen to K-Love. If they are going to listen to music, I can't ask for better music than worship music!

I stopped listening to pop/rock in the early 90s when a song had the lyrics, "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me." That was the breaking point for me. People can argue that lyrics don't mean anything, but for many people they actually do. The more someone hears something, the easier it becomes to believe it. I don't care what the rest of that song says, that one line was enough to turn me off. Since I've been listening to K-Love, I have gone back and listened to some of the music I used to like and I just don't like it much anymore. There may be a good beat and talented musicians, but the lyrics ruin the music for me. The music on K-Love is uplifting and keeps my focus on Jesus. However, if you don't love Jesus, I can understand why you may not favor K-Love.

Let me jump aside for a minute and share a short story with you. There was a time last year when I was having a really bad day. I was in the kitchen with tears streaming down my face. K-Love was on the radio and the phone rang. I don't know why I answered it (well, I do now, but didn't then) because who would want to answer the phone while crying? I was prepared for a sales call when I was greeted by my name with a question mark. Hesitantly, I confirmed it was me. On the other end of the line was a K-Love prayer partner just calling to thank me for my support and ask me if I had any prayer requests for which they could be praying. Wow. What timing could be better than that? I don't believe in coincidence.

God uses K-Love that way. There have been many times when a song comes on that speaks directly to me. A couple months after my third daughter was born, I had pain. It was an unspecific abdomen-side-going-straight-through-to-my-back pain on my right side. It was worse than labor. Really. I thought I was dying. It was taking my breath away. I didn't know if I was having a heart attack or appendicitis. I don't remember much of the ride to the emergency room other than "All Because of Jesus" by Fee was playing on K-Love. I remember feeling so distant, but recognizing the song and saying outloud, "Yes, it's all because of Jesus I'm alive." The timing of that song got me through the ride. There are countless other times that the timing of a song could only be explained by God's timing. (In case you're wondering, all turned out fine that night. Fluids helped - there may have been pain meds involved. I may have been dehydrated, but I also had kidney stones and soon after found out I have a hernia that is exacerbated by some food choices. Lots of water and being more cautious about what I eat resolved the problem rather quickly.)

If you don't have K-Love in your area, you don't have to miss out. If you want to give them a try you can listen online.

Tamara is hosting this Month of Thanksgiving. To read what others are thankful for, or to link up your own post of blessings, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Counting my blessings: 14

Branch Of Wisdom


I am thankful that God has provided a variety of animals to accompany us through life. All my life I have had at least one cat. Well, except for just over a year when I first moved to Chicago and again since February this year. For many years I had a dog or two when I was a kid. Even the dog that my dad insisted wasn't ours, but we fed him and he slept in our dog house; Wags was my dog, I think. Countless fish, a mouse, a gerbil, and a hamster have even been at home with us at some point or another. About a year and a half ago we adopted a bunny named Snoopy.

Presently, Snoopy is our only pet. She a is really neat pet, snoring loudly and ramming her cage door with her head when she wants out. She used to be able to knock the lock loose that way, but we changed the lock so she cannot escape. She's big, too. "Mini-lop" does not refer to the size of the rabbit, just the size of the ears. Just so you know. When she gets excited she hops and turns in mid air, kicking her feet up as if she were trying to fly. When she's petted, she flattens herself to the floor and just relaxes. She likes to have her ears scratched. Every now and then, if things aren't going her way, she'll thump and it feels like she's shaking the house. It's really funny to watch her and we enjoy sharing our lives with her. She's a great bunny, but she is not a lap-bunny.

I miss having a cat. That's an understatement. But it just isn't God's timing for us to have another one yet. We visited a local animal shelter today and enjoyed meeting the dogs, bunnies, birds, guinea pigs, and, of course, cats. I had my eye on one in particular that I had seen online, but once we met her, I don't think she is the right fit for our family. It breaks my heart. She is 9 years old and the sweetest cat. She's been there since June. Her previous owners gave her up because their baby was allergic. I really wanted to give her a home. She is calm and easy going and likes to be held and will purr so softly while being petted. An older cat tends to be more calm, which I prefer. Many people prefer a younger cat, but a nine year old cat still has 5-10 years of life to share. Unfortunately, she will not be sharing her life with us and I will be praying that God leads the right family right to her. She will be a blessing for someone, that I am sure. In the meantime, we are considering a different one that we met. We are not quite ready, but I am so thankful that when we are ready, God will provide the right cat for us.

For me, cats are relaxing. When I am tired of listening, a cat won't talk to me (meowing not included.) When I am needing to sit, a cat may sit with me, or it may not. Cats aren't too needy and like their space. Some cats like to play with cat toys, which will delight the kids. I enjoy thinking about the cats we've had, and I miss them terribly.

I don't feel like this has been a very well organized post, but it expressed my thoughts. If you've had pets, I'm sure you agree that they are a blessing. If you haven't had pets, it could be that you don't know what you are missing or that you are just blessed to be without a pet.

What kids of pets have you had?

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Counting my blessings: 13

Branch Of Wisdom

The difference between a deep breath and a shallow breath

Is it OK that what I am thankful for today is totally selfish? It's been one of those days. You know, the ones that you would like to just stay in bed under the warm covers, when you just want to tell everyone to leave you alone. Have you ever wanted to tell your kids that? Is that just me?

I always have a hard time when it's that time of the month. No, not that time. The beginning of the month, when I pay the bills. Years ago, we got on a monthly bill paying routine. Not as the bills come in as some families do, not twice a month to correspond with paychecks. Nope, the beginning of the month. See, we both used to work full-time and we got paid once a month. It's hard to get on that schedule because initially there are a few weeks with no pay (because the pay comes after the work.) It was so hard to get onto this schedule that I decided we'd just stay on it so we won't have to do this again if our pay schedule changes again.

What's the big deal, then, right? We're already on this schedule. It just takes so long to get everything organized and write all those checks*. And I actually balance my checkbook. About 2 hours of my undivided attention. If you're a mom, you know that time is almost impossible to come by. I try to have everything paid by the 5th. Today is the 5th. I couldn't get it done sooner because we have a Monday evening activity, Tuesday Hubby was working the election, and Wednesday Hubby has a night out. So, I did it last night. It was exhausting. And I didn't even get into the stress of praying that our budget stayed within the parameters of our income.

So, this morning I just wanted to stay in bed. And I took a deep breath. How many other jobs can you sneak off and enjoy some peace and quiet at lunch? Not this one. I wanted to quit. I wanted to send my kids home after school, except they were already home. I took a deep breath.

Several times today I took a deep breath. I've felt like I'm on the verge of a panic attack all day, so I keep taking deep breaths. It's helped. I learned about this when I took childbirth classes. Taking short, shallow breaths can actually reduce the intake of oxygen, thereby increasing the level of pain and inhibiting the ability to focus. Long, deep breaths, on the other hand, increase the flow of oxygen and reduce the level of pain. My middle daughter has been learning about various types of breathing to help her focus and reduce her stress.

So, today, I am thankful for the difference between a deep breath and a shallow breath because it helped get me through the day. And I am praying for a relaxing and refreshing weekend!

*For those of you who will question why I still write checks and balance a checkbook, let me explain that I am a former software developer and my husband is in the network security profession. We are all too aware of security breaches, computer glitches, and developer error (although most developers are too arrogant to admit to that one.) Additionally, I have heard stories from others about how banks would rather pay the fines for the loopholes in their systems rather than pay the cost to correct them. Additionally, when I balance my checkbook, I only have my own risk of error, not countless others involved. So, if you are comfortable with those risks, that is your choice. I will stick to mine. Thankyouverymuch.

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Counting my blessings: 12

Branch Of Wisdom

The joyful memory from a child.

So many times I will have a fond memory and keep it to myself. I don't know why, but I just like to savor it. Or maybe I think that someone else won't share the same joy or that it will bring a hint of sadness. So I just keep it inside. You know, when a certain time of year comes along and a loved one who passed away comes to mind, or a specific place brings back a memory of being there together with someone. Sometimes I'll speak up and share that memory, but most of the time I just reminisce within my own mind.

But children. Oh, the honesty of a child. And they don't really think about what they are going to say before they say it - it just pops out of their mouths, doesn't it? My 7-year old often just says things without too much thought. If it pops into her head, it comes out her mouth.

And her sense of smell is so strong! Many scientists have tied the sense of smell to memory and Child B would add to their proof. Upon entering a store one day, she got a whiff of something. No one else was coming or going through the doors, no one to leave the hint of perfume behind. But it was the same kind of perfume my grandma used to wear. I noticed, but didn't say anything. It was B who spoke up with a deep inhale, "Mmmmmmm, Mom! That's the smell of Great-Grandma!" Then she went on to ask why there was the smell of Great-Grandma, to which I explained that sometimes God lets us smell her sometimes so we might think about her and remember her at times when we otherwise might not.

The smell of autumn also brings many memories of Great-Grandma. While we were walking through some trees that had been shedding leaves, B closed her eyes and said to me, "Mmmm. Mom, God is letting me smell the same smell of the last day we spent with Great-Grandma while she was still alive. I'm so glad God is giving me this smell today!" I am, too. And I'm glad she shares it with me and her sisters. Although I hadn't connected the smell of dried leaves, crushed and blowing in the wind, with my grandma, I do now. And today, while driving past the place where that memory solidified in my daughter's mind, I got that same smell. And I thought of my grandma. And I thought of that cold day that we spent together with her, my dad, my husband, and our three girls. What a great memory that is. If my daughter hadn't shared how that smell evokes her memory, I wouldn't associate dried leaves with my grandma and I would not have the appreciation of that memory. I am thankful for the joyful memory of a child!

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Counting my blessings: 11

Branch Of Wisdom

Being able to bless others.

Through participating in this blog meme, I find myself noticing various blessings throughout the day - trying to notice them. Asking myself, "Will this be the blessing about which I write today?" It was a little harder today to come up with something different. I have ideas in my mind that I would like to include, but then it was put before me, right in front of my very eyes.

Last night I received a text message from my neighbor. She was giving me a heads up to keep an eye on my kids because hers have strep throat. So far, we've been fortunate to not have strep throat. I'm hopeful that we won't this time either. However, they still have strep throat. That means crabby kids, parents who may not feel well or who might be exhausted from taking care of kids who feel crummy.

Yesterday I had a hankering for a baked chicken. I love baked chicken. I usually have a little over 1/2 a chicken to freeze or use within the next few days. I also usually make a crock pot full of broth from whatever isn't used for leftovers, which is what I did overnight.

Perfect timing. God's timing.

Today I made chicken noodle soup. A huge pot of chicken noodle soup. At close to dinner time, I took a pot of soup to my neighbors. Jesus has taught me to love my neighbor as myself and I know I like chicken noodle soup on a cooler day when I'm not feeling well. I am thankful for having opportunity to bless someone. We are supposed to share The Lord's blessings with others. I am thankful, too, that they accepted the blessing.

I thought it was neat that my friend, Annette at Our Ordinary Life, posted today about the blessing of others who help. It's great how God intertwines our lives and brings us together to be helpful and also to be in a position to be blessed by helpfulness.

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Observations from McDonald's

I spent a couple hours one-on-one with my almost-5-year old daughter, Child C. I can't believe she is almost 5! It was a fun and lovely time. Her giggle is contagious and I smiled so much my cheeks ache. Her facial expressions make me laugh from my belly. I love those moments.

What I don't love are some of the things that I observed in the play place at our local McDonald's. In sharing these observations, please understand that I am not judging anyone. I am intrigued and concerned. If you can shed light on any of these scenarios by commenting, please do. I'd love to have a better understanding or your opinion.

Observation #1: Men who sit alone or with a male friend in the play place area.
Not that I spent a lot of time in the play place area, but in the 10-1/2 years that I have been there a couple or few times a year, I don't think I have ever observed a woman sitting alone or in a group of women where none of them had a child with them. If I had, this would apply to them, too. Why do men sit in the play place seating area (eating or not) when there are several children playing, it's loud, and there are plenty of seats available in the other part of the restaurant? It's not as if this is a quieter place to sit, because it isn't. So, why?

Observation #2: People who talk on their cell phone in the play place area.
OK, if you have children who are playing, I understand that you wouldn't leave them unattended to take or make a call. But this isn't a quiet place to be on the phone, which means you have to speak louder and many people will hear your call - including children. Why wouldn't you keep it to, "Hey, I'm at Mickey D's with the kids, can I call you back when it's quieter?" This evening, this took place with someone who also fell into my Observation #1. Unfortunately, this man also was using profanity in about every third sentence. I did gently approach him (just as I would a child, because I was intimidated to confront him based on his language) and he agreed to be more careful with his language. But, should one really need to be approached about such a thing in a play place?

Observation #3: People who eat their food in the play place area, but then go sit in the other part of the restaurant when finished eating.
This just baffles me. Why would you choose to eat your food in a closed off room where kids may have been coughing and sneezing, running around all the tables and wiping their hands on all the chairs? Why would you want to eat where the kid music is blaring and the shrieking is so loud that you can't hear the music or understand the kids? If you don't have kids with you, I just don't understand this one. And see Observation #4 for why you might want to reconsider and sit at a table that is more likely be clean, because just because it looks clean, doesn't mean it is clean. By the way, Profanity Guy from Observation #2, fell into this observation as well. Of course, he wasn't on the phone once he left the play place.

Observation #4: Parents who don't supervise their children in the play place area.
Don't all parents look forward to the moment when they can turn their kids loose and let them be kids without having to watch every move they make? I know I do. I have a daughter with a lot of energy. She was so exhausting when she was a toddler and up until the age of 6 or so. I couldn't wait for a moment when someone else could watch her or when I didn't have to keep reeling her back in. So, I understand how when those play place doors close, some parents sort of shut their kids out of their minds. I've done that. But I always kept one eye open. Maybe because I'm paranoid that something will happen - someone will get hurt or someone will disappear. So, help me understand how a mom with an older boy (around 11-13) and a younger boy (2 or3) would not notice or care when the younger boy was pushing repeatedly on the emergency exit door. You know, the one with the alarm? What about when he started playing with the fire alarm on the wall by the door? If it hadn't been for my gasp, to which the mom still didn't turn around to see about what someone was gasping, I am sure he would've pulled that alarm and playtime would've been over for everyone until the fire department came to turn the alarm off. And finally, how do you not notice or care when your younger boy is climbing on several tables, crawling and walking around on the tables with his shoes on, and jumping from one table to the next? Isn't the play place sufficient to meet the climbing needs of a child? OK, maybe your child doesn't like confined spaces, but then perhaps he should wear a coat and be taken to a park. Maybe the older boy was supposed to be watching the younger one. I don't know. Maybe there is an explanation that I am overlooking, so please help me understand what may have been going on here other than the obvious assumptions.

Am I alone in "things that make you go hmmm" at McDonald's (and I'm not talking about the food)? What can you share?

Counting my blessings: 10

Branch Of Wisdom

One-on-one time with my daughter.

I have to admit that I noticed a lot of things today for which I am thankful; however, it wasn't until this evening that any of them penetrated through my pouting. Yes, I spent the day trying to figure out how I could make something work and I just didn't come up with a solution. You see, I wanted desperately to attend Dawn Meehan's Book Launch event. When I first saw the invitation, I knew it was on election night and Hubby would be working late for his seasonal part-time job. I would need to find a babysitter in order to go. Not only that, well even more, I really don't like to drive in the city. I like to stop at stop signs and slow down to stop when the light is yellow, not speed up through the intersection. If I had someone else to drive, I would've done more to secure a babysitter. So, I was pouting because I didn't have anyone to drive, which made me a tad bit upset with myself for being so uncomfortable driving downtown.

So the plan was that after the kids finished their lessons, the older two would accompany Hubby on some of his rounds. They really enjoy being a part of what he does and they are eager to learn about the election process. It hadn't yet been determined if they would go individually or together, but our oldest, A, would participate in closing down an election site. She has the procedures down to a T! Once we decided that they would go together for a little while, Child C eagerly asked me where I was going to take her: "Somewhere FUN, Mommy!" Sigh. I was hoping to lie down with her for a short nap. I had a chicken in the oven and she wants to go somewhere... Hubby suggested the play place at our local McDonald's. Yippee. {sarcasm intended.}

But what started out as something I was not enthusiastic to do turned into my moment(s) of thankfulness today. This has been a long way of saying, I am thankful for one-on-one time with my daughter. I forget how much I love the ages 3 and 4 and 5. She is almost 5 and started being a bit of a handful when she turned 3. She competes for my attention, which is when times are hard with her. But when it is just her and me, we have a great time. She makes me laugh so much. Her honesty is hilarious and she comes up with the funniest things to say or facial expressions to make. We spent close to 2 hours together and I enjoyed every minute of it. Had I gone to the event I had hoped to attend, I would've missed out on some great quality time and deep belly laughs and contagious giggles. I don't often have opportunity to spend a few hours with any of my girls individually and that needs to change because not only do they each deserve that one-on-one time with me, but I do to. That's when their individual personalities really shine through.

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Counting my blessings: 9

Branch Of Wisdom

Yes, this is Day 9. I did not blog on Days 7 and 8.

Rest. Today I am thankful for rest. I didn't blog over the weekend, which was contradictory to my plans. I did, however, have a dentist appointment, sorting the kids' clothes (2/3 done!), cooking, dishes and laundry. You know, the usual. Most of it was on Saturday. I was so thankful to not have to add one more thing to do.

Friday evening, I was blessed to be able to go across the street to my neighbor's birthday party. It was a casual get together, which provided a nice opportunity to relax and have some time that didn't involve children talking my ear off and trying to talk over one another or fight for my attention.

When I don't get enough rest, my entire family feels it. Rest is rejuvenating and helps me be able to tackle the next task, chore, meal, argument, even the next joyous occasion. If I am not well rested, I do not even want to enjoy something. Some times I am so tired that my eyes fall shut as soon as my knees bend and my bottom takes a seat. Even God rested! And He knew the importance of rest by telling us to rest: "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD....'" Exodus 16:23

Sunday was also restful, except for when my kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement while waiting until time to trick-or-treat. They were limited on how many houses from which they were able to receive candy, but they visited many more houses than that to collect food for a local food pantry. This was how God led us when I was struggling with how to give up recognizing Halloween at all. We could use this day when people expect us to come knocking anyway to collect food for those who don't have enough. It's a way to turn a day considered to be unGodly into a day of good, to bless others. This just may turn into an annual tradition in our house. I am thankful for God's voice and for His suggestion. (This may get a post of its own outside of this series, because I am that excited about it!

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Counting my blessings: 6

Branch Of Wisdom

Simplicity. The more stuff, things to do, things to keep track of, etc., the more distracted I am and not only do I not feel blessed, but I forget to look for the blessings. When there isn't a lot going on, when I purge and reduce the stuff in my life, when I have time to focus, time to spend with my girls and my husband without pressure to do anything, clean anything, or put anything away I realize the blessings more and I appreciate them more. I have way too much stuff and it has become a burden to me. So all this "stuff" that I have will, prayerfully, become a blessing for others as I work on purging it out of my life.

I am working to simplify what we do and how much we do. It's so easy to over-schedule and do too much running around. I am simplifying and it is a blessing!

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Counting my blessings: 5

Branch Of Wisdom

Today I will keep my blessings simple in only listing one. I know there are so many more that this one, but I don't want to detract from the real blessing that this one is for me and my family.

I am thankful for my neighbor. I have wonderful neighbors all around me. Ones with children with whom my girls play. For them I am thankful, too. But this neighbor especially is a blessing to me. Her name is Rosalie.

Rosalie is 92 years old. She turned 80 the year we moved into the house. Around 2005, we put up a fence, separating her yard from ours and I was sad. It was only because my youngest-at-the-time would bolt for the street and we were concerned for her safety. We decided a privacy fence would be best so that those driving by wouldn't see our girls playing in the yard, because I'm paranoid like that. Rosalie understood.

In order to not totally cut ourselves off from Rosalie when we are in the yard, we decided to have that side of the fence be different. It's only about 3 feet tall in the back (that part was already there when we moved in), so we chose to make it 6feet in the front and curving around the side, but only 4 feet on the rest of that side between us. The plan was to use lattice for the other 2 feet, so we could still see and talk through it. That has yet to happen.

I love when we are in the yard and Rosalie is outside. We both come to the fence and visit. The kids are old enough to climb over that 4-foot barrier and Rosalie doesn't mind. She says to let them climb and play in her yard, they're kids. She doesn't mind the shrieking and running and chasing. They're kids. They need to do that. She is so understanding. Every now and then as we are getting ready to go somewhere, Child B or C will disappear. They've gone to say hello to Rosalie. The other day we ran into Roslie in the library and she hurried over to give my girls a hug. It totally made their day. You should see the smiles on their faces when they are around Rosalie. They love her and I love Rosalie.

Rosalie is a blessing to me. Knowing her, hearing her stories of growing up on a farm, how she was able to attend college, of her nursing career, of who lived in my house over the years and their lives, and stories about her son and grandchildren. I could listen to her for hours. She is so down to earth and funny if you listen carefully.

I am thankful for Rosalie.

To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Counting my blessings: 4

Branch Of Wisdom

So many things are taken for granted. Things I do every day. Things I expect. It's the unusual that easily gets my attention and causes me to pause and be thankful. Today, I am diving into some of those things I take for granted and including just a few situational things for which I am thankful.

We had massive winds yesterday and today in the Chicagoland area. I am thankful for the wind and also thankful that we did not sustain any serious damage to my family our home.

I am thankful to have internet access. I didn't realize how thankful until it went out so many times today.

I am thankful to have my sight.

I am thankful to be able to taste and smell.

I am thankful to be able to hear my children (even when they are slamming doors, as they are right now.)

I am thankful to have feeling and feelings. I love to touch the faces of my daughters. Their soft skin, silky hair, and their strength when they give bear hugs.

I am thankful that I can read and comprehend and that my children can as well.

I am thankful that my memory is good. It's not the best, nor is it as good as it used to be, but I remember (most of) the important things. I do not have one of those amazing "can remember everything" memories, for which I am also thankful. I think it would be more of a burden than a blessing.

And, lastly for today, I am thankful that the world is full of unique individuals. Can you imagine if we were all the same? I'd rather not.

To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Counting my blessings: 3

Branch Of Wisdom

I received a comment on yesterday's "Counting my blessings" post that, in summary, mentioned that she hopes I get out of my rut soon. I just want to clarify that I am not currently in a rut. Unfortunately, I know ruts well. When I said that sometimes I don't want to hear about others' blessings or have a hard time coming up with my own, I was being honest. Sometimes that's true. Not lately, but I know myself well enough to know that I do feel that way sometimes. Usually in February. Honestly, I have yet to find those ruts a blessing, although I hope that by being able to relate to others, I can be a blessing to others when they are in a rut.

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4

Because I know ruts well, I am trying to write my blessing and thankfulness purposefully so that when I am in a rut, I can review these and be reminded of my blessings.

Today I am thankful for the innocence of childhood. Yesterday we saw a play based on a children's picture book. My 10-year old, fifth grade daughter smiled from ear to ear the whole time. She was excited when the beach balls came out and bounced around in the audience and she eagerly participated in the activities that included the audience. She thoroughly enjoyed it and shared in the excitement of her younger sister.

* I am also thankful for the beauty of autumn and the fun of carving pumpkins.

* I am thankful that God gave us a delightful snack inside pumpkins - the seeds!

* I am thankful that my oven has been working just fine since the time a couple weeks ago when it didn't.

* I am thankful to wind, even when strong. It carries seeds far away to surprise someone in their garden.

* I am thankful for the women in my Bible study and for the opportunity to participate in Bible study (and the childcare provisions that are available) and the freedom to worship God and speak freely about Jesus in our country.

* I am thankful that my kids don't drive me crazy *all the time*

* I am thankful for the outlet of blogging and reading blogs!

To read what others are thankful for today, visit Branch of Wisdom.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Counting my blessings: 2

Branch Of Wisdom

Sometimes it's hard to come up with non-obvious things for which to be thankful and sometimes it's hard to hear or read someone else being thankful. When times are really hard for me (emotionally, physically, financially... you name it, I've been there at one point or another. Haven't you?) I don't always like to hear how things are going well for someone else. I want someone to be miserable with me, someone to validate how I'm feeling, and someone to understand or relate to it. But I know that's not a thankful attitude. I know that God speaks truth and He tells me in Philippians 4:8:

"whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Think positively, if you will.

So, this month I am taking an active step in counting my blessings. Here is my list for today.

* I am thankful for the warmth of the sun.

*I am thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling.

*I am thankful for the smiles of my children and their contagious laughter. It sure beats their arguing!

*I am thankful we are able to eat balanced meals and that we (mostly) do.

*I am thankful my husband has a job.

*I am thankful my husband looks forward to coming home in the evenings.

*I am thankful that my husband and I complement each other very well.

*I am thankful that God's Word always puts me back on track when I'm in a rut. (I am not currently in a rut, but resolve to read through my blessings when I am!)

To read what others are thankful for today, visit Branch of Wisdom

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Counting my blessings: 1

Branch Of Wisdom

I recently posted on Facebook about a conversation I had with my girls. What I didn't include was the background leading up to it, so here goes. I had coupons for buy one get one free candy bars. I don't usually buy candy bars. Well, OK, I don't usually buy candy bars that anyone but me knows about. This time I decided I'd let the girls each pick one out and I'd have one as well. They had behaved so well during a play (which is a challenge for my 4-year old) and at the grocery store (which is a challenge for them all) and the candy car was their reward. Once in the van, I told them they could each eat half of their candy bar. One of the girls wasn't satisfied with that. Of course she didn't express her dissatisfaction until after she had eaten the first half or she would've lost that piece altogether. Rather than the lecture I usually give about being thankful, I simply asked, ""What blessings would *you* count right now?" B (who was not the one grumbling) came up with the first: "I'm blessed that I don't live in an orphanage!" She also came up with the second: "I'm also blessed that I don't work in a factory because kids can really get hurt in factories!" (I guess the movie Samantha has really had an impact on her.)

Today, I am thankful for the rain, which brought out some beautiful colors in the trees.

I am thankful for my family being in good health and that we all have complete use of our bodies

I am thankful for an unseasonably warm day that we spent in Chicago.

I am thankful that my girls have an understanding of the reward of saving money for something meaningful to them.

I am thankful my girls and husband and I all had a good day today!

I am thankful for spending the evening with my brother, who came from out of state, and my dad. We enjoyed a nice dinner together for my dad's birthday.

I am thankful to spend time together with my dad for his birthday (seems redundant, but I am also thankful my dad had another birthday for me to spend with him.)

And lastly (because I have to end somewhere), I am thankful that my hiccups finally went away.

I am thankful to participate in Tamara's A Month of Thanksgiving, to remind me to count my blessings every day, even when I don't post them publicly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bedtime routine gone awry

It was bedtime for the girls, so we sent them to change into their pajamas and brush their teeth. A lot of giggling and squealing came from that end of the house, but it's not unusual, so we didn't think twice about it. Then Children A and B came to say that C had thrown everything off the top bunk. That's where A sleeps. She has a lot of stuffed animals and blankets up there, so adult intervention was required at this point. And neither A nor B were in their pajamas.

The. floor. was. a. mess.

Oh my goodness, it was a mess.

I just said that she sleeps with a lot of stuffed animals and blankets, right? Well, that is not all she sleeps with. Here is partial list, simply because I cannot remember everything we picked up:
* At least 8 stuffed animals
* 4+ blankets
* 3 journals
* several books she's reading
* 4+ pair of pajamas
* a couple outfits that should have been in the dirty laundry
* a bag of cough drops
* a bowl of beads, bookmarks, and origami
* a bag of cotton balls
* 8 pencils, sharpened
* a baggie of Goldfish crackers
* a baggie of Cheez-its snack crackers
* a piece of cheesy-garlic bread wrapped in a napkin from dinner last night

I simply cannot say how surprised I am at how much stuff she had up there, shocked that I didn't know about it all, and disgusted at some of it. Yuck. Yet I am laughing hysterically at the same time. She shares the room with her sisters and, for the most part, does it willingly, which is great because she doesn't have a choice. But her bed is her space.

Although the kids were reprimanded for not doing what they were told to do (the two older ones came to tell us what happened after it happened, not while it was happening), I'm glad all of that was sorted.

Not everything went back up there, I might add.

Do your kids have a favorite lovey or food they like to sleep with?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Working on 2nd grade math

I've sort of been at a loss for words lately when it comes to writing. Homeschooling is going well this year and we've been off to a great start, which is rather unusual for us. Most of the time (so far), the kids are cooperative and attentive and I can see the wheels turning in their heads while they are learning - both during structured learning and in unstructured learning (cooking, baking, playing, cleaning.)

For instance, one particular day, Child B was having repeated anxiety attacks. I'm not kidding; she has them. It's heart-breaking and frustrating to help a 7-year old through anxiety attacks. She had 4 this particular day. One involved her portable CD player and headphones. She was so focused on it that she just couldn't focus on anything else, but she and I worked together to get her work done so she could have a break. During her break we worked on some of her therapy activities involving gross motor skills. I was hoping it would pull her out of her anxiety. Then she really wanted some computer time, but there was laundry to be folded. Her sisters were ready to help fold, so we got started. After I pulled the laundry basket off the couch and we all sat on the floor, I noticed something on the arm of the couch. It was her CD player. If she had gone off to use the computer or play outside, she would not have found her CD player. Always learning. This lesson was about when we do what we are supposed to, things usually go well for us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord. For this is right.
Honor your father and mother,
which is the first commandment with a promise
that things will go well for you
and you will enjoy your life on earth.
Ephesians 6:1-3

Some days learning comes easier than others. Child A struggled with learning to read and didn't actually enjoy reading until 4th grade. She also didn't like to write because her hand would get tired. Child B taught herself to write and pretty well taught herself to read - twice. That's a story for another time. But this year, 2nd-grade math is a real challenge for her. It's the borrowing and carrying thing that is hard (ahem, I know, re-grouping, for all the classroom teachers. But you knew what I was talking about.) And some of the math facts - like 9s. She'll be trekking right along and have 7 or 8 math problems right and then all of a sudden, every answer is 10. Not really, but that's what she writes. So I erase them, usually yell a bit re-explain what she needs to be doing, then she zips right through them. But when it comes to adding and subtracting 9, she has a hard time. Not adding 9 to 1-10, but to 68 or 74 or 46, y'know. She can do it on her fingers, but it takes her a long time and she will often become distracted by what one of her sisters is doing. So, I tried to give her a short-cut. When you have to add 9, just add 10 then subtract 1.

So, this is how that went. "You have 54 cookies (she likes to use cookies as an example) and I give you 9 more. How many do you have? 54 plus 10, then subtract 1." Using her fingers, she started counting, "Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven..." up to 64. Then she stopped. I prompted her, "Now subtract 1." "From what?" Sigh. This is going to be a long day! (And this is why we use math blocks and rods and cubes and such now.)

Today, while working on math at the dining room table, Child B was standing up. We've been working on proper posture while writing, but one of the nice things about homeschooling is that education doesn't have to take place in any particular place or method. So, I asked her the obvious, "You'd rather stand than sit?" Her reply was a straight-faced, totally serious, not looking up from her work, "I'd rather be a peacock!"

It's these moments that I am so thankful to not miss. Now if I can just find some things to keep Child C out of trouble while I spend so much time with Child B. Does anyone have a 4-year-old-size cage I could borrow?

Disclaimer: I would not really put my child in a cage. I have to say this because someone, somewhere will take it seriously and I'm not serious. I'm joking. Get it? And if you're a parent, you're right there with me. Of course, this doesn't have anything to do with the time that Child C said that her sisters locked her in the bunny's cage. I have no idea when that was, but it just might be true. It's a large cage. Bigger than a 4-year old might need. And it's in the family room. So, you see, I didn't even need to ask for a cage because I already have one. I was just being funny and making light of the fact that she has been quite a handful lately. A really (mostly) sweet, cute handful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things kids say and hear: 3

Monkey Bread

While sampling monkey bread at Trader Joe's, I asked my 4-year old if she would like to try a piece. If you're not familiar with monkey bread, it's fingerfuls of dough that have been dredged in butter, sugar, and cinnamon, then dumped into a pan and baked. It's not healthy at all, but oh-so tasty! (and sticky.) Here is a recipe from Pioneer Woman, if you'd like to try it. It's easy and kids love to help make it and eat it. Well, some kids don't.

So, I offered a piece to each my 3 girls, with the older two happily sampling. Child C, however, looked at me with wide eyes and insisted she did not want to try it, which surprised me. So I asked her, “Do you know what monkey bread is?”
Her: “Yep.”
Me: "You do? What is it?"
Her, in a shy squeaky voice: "Uh-uh."
Me: “Is it made of monkey toes?”
Her, giggling: “Nope.”
Me: “Is it made of monkey eyes?”
Her, giggling more: “Nope”
Me: “Well then, what is it made of?”

I guess I wouldn't eat it either, if I thought it was made from cat!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: Starting up again

This is my first Weekly Wrap-Up, hosted by Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. I've been reading hers and Cheryl's (Adventures of a Somewhat Crunchy Mama) for quite some time and always think how I'd really like to participate, but don't necessarily want to show everyone just how forgetful I am. After all, in order to give a highlight of our week, I'd have to remember what we did during the week, right? Gosh, I'll give it a go and maybe even participate now and then. So, thanks for hangin' in there with me and seeing how we spent our week...

We spent Labor Day weekend at my in-law's, about 5 hours away. We wouldn't head home until Tuesday, so Monday was spent at my sister-in-law's house. She has a huge garden and a very giving heart. My husband is so very blessed to have such a loving and accepting family and I am blessed to be a part of it. So, on Monday, we picked green and wax beans and a few eggplants. I sorted through 2 tables of tomatoes, filling our cooler with 5 layers of tomatoes to bring home. Stephanie also gave us some squash, as well as some already canned goodies like pickles, jams, and salsa. Yum. She is amazing. Can you believe she works outside of her home and tends to this garden, picking and canning and freezing?

Tuesday we headed home. We didn't get on the road until about noon, so with 2 stops along the way for little bladders to empty and a brief scanning of available fruit at Fruit Acres in Coloma, MI, we made it home a little before dinner. I'm going to back up a minute and talk about Fruit Acres. I haven't been to their u-pick farm, but have stopped by their roadside stand a number of times. Depending on season and availability, they have a nice variety of apples, large selection of peaches, and plums. I always glance at the vegetables, but this time I didn't spend too much time because the van was already bursting with goodness from Stephanie. My family absolutely loves the various jams (blueberry, cherry, and jalapeno) from Fruit Acres. And did I mention they have boxes of fruit for sampling? My girls got to try an apple, pear, and plum. After selecting some delicious honey-crisp apples, sweet plums, and cherry & blueberry jams, we were back on the road. That was our last stop.

We made it home, unpacked, and got hubby packed and ready to head to Toronto for work on Wednesday morning. I wasn't really ready to see him go and be on my own with the girls for the rest of the week. I had planned on us starting school this week and look at all this produce in my kitchen!

Wednesday morning I woke up praying for the girls to be good and for God to be gracious to me and help the next few days be easy. Don't get me wrong. I love my girls. But they can be a handful. They are sweet to each other one minute and ripping each other's skin off the next. Well, not really. OK, sometimes they have. But that's what I'm talking about. And sometimes I just need a few minutes of quiet and I have girls, so that never happens. Are you following me here? Let's just say that God is so good to me. He knows exactly what I need and what I can and cannot handle with Him.

The girls woke up and wanted to help take the ends off the wax beans. They also wanted to get started on some school work. Admittedly, I wasn't ready for a full day of school and had planned to ease into it, so I excitedly gave them a verse to write (because if I show enthusiasm, they are more likely to want to do it), Child A in cursive (yes, despite some schools ditching cursive, I teach my girls a complete education, including cursive) and Child B in print. What was Child C doing during this time? I'm not quite sure, but it involved a couple Slinkies, emptying her purse all over the floor, and leaving a trail of clothes from one end of the house to the other. When they went out to play, I blanched the wax beans and froze them in dinner-size portions.

Thursday would be a close repeat of Wednesday, but more. The kids all worked together to take the ends off the green beans, then they wrote a new verse. While A and B were working on math and language, C was repeating scripture and stretching and exercising to Praise Moves. What a wonderful morning! I started blanching the green beans and some tomatoes. Twelve cups of tomatoes in the freezer, a whole pot in the fridge for spaghetti sauce to be canned... And 60% still to be canned or frozen on Friday or over the weekend.

Friday we went to the kickoff for one of our homeschool groups. It's a fun day that involves a park, picnic, and bounce house. We started reading from The Book of Virtues and getting ready for hubby to come home in the evening. Nothing special, but excitement brewed just because we aren't used to him being gone for days.

In the upcoming weeks we will have a little adjusting to do as we start our full schedule. We are doing things much differently this year than we have in the past, with more group reading and learning rather than each girl working independently and one-on-one with me. I can only do so much, y'know. So I think this will be better. Monday evening used to include gymnastics, which we aren't doing for the first time in 9 years. I can't believe it, but with finances being tight, something else had to be given up. And Awana will be starting up in a week. So, lots of changes, hopefully lots of fun, and lots more time in prayer for all of us.

This concludes my weekly wrap-up. I doubt future ones will be as long, but this week wasn't just about homeschooling. Hop on over to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how others wrapped up their week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Walmart Chronicles part 2

I'm a coupon-clipper. In fact, recently, I have become one of those mega coupon-clippers. Yesterday, I bought toothpaste and two 8-packs of Aquapods for 25-cents each. (I don't normally buy Aquapods, but we often drink what we bring with us when we play at the park. It helps to have something I can keep in the van all the time. And for 25-cents for 8 bottles of water, I wasn't about to walk on by! Did you get that, 3-cents per bottle!) If the stores near me offered double-coupons, I'd be getting paid to grocery shop!

But that was all just to tell you how much I love my coupons and how much I use them. One day I was at Walmart buying paper towels with a coupon. The cashier scanned the coupon and nothing happened. She scanned it again and again and again. It just wouldn't scan. I guess, if it won't scan, it's not accepted. I personally think that's laziness and poor service. The manufacturer will still reimburse for it as long as it is completely in tact, and it was. But this particular cashier wouldn't do anything. She looked at me like I was supposed to come up with a solution, so I told her if she wouldn't take my coupon, I didn't want the paper towels. And I want my coupon back! I did tell her that she could enter the code on the coupon and it would still work, but she said she could only scan coupons. So, intending to write a letter, I asked for her name because her name tag was turned around backwards. She told me her name and that she was a customer service manager and not politely, I might add. Did I tell her she could use some additional customer service training? Yep, sure did. Did I ever write that letter? Not this time.

But I remembered who she was. Not that it mattered much, but I avoided her lane. I don't think it was personal; I had never even met her until that day. I just think she was lazy and not wanting to do anything out of her way.

One day I was buying canned cat food. My old man cat who passed away earlier this year at the nice age of 18-1/2 had to be hand fed for quite some time, so I bought his favorite: Nine Lives Super Super, in a combo pack that was shrink-wrapped. When I got it home, I went to open the shrink-wrap and one of the cans exploded. Yuck. It was still all contained in the shrink-wrap, so I just put it back in the bag, tied it shut, and hung it on the front door knob for next time I went to Walmart. Yes, I was going to take it back. I honestly can't tell you how long it was there. Not days, maybe a couple weeks... I couldn't smell it, but the bag seemed to inflate a bit. I was not about to open that bag, but it was still going back to the store.

Finally the day came that I was taking it back whether I had another reason to go or not. Child A and I hopped in the van and went to Walmart. I said I couldn't smell it in the house, right? Well, I had to open all the windows in the van and we still gagged all the way there. Fortunately, Walmart is only a few miles away.

When we walked into Walmart, I expected people to clear the way to avoid the contents of the bag. I wouldn't have been surprised if they had called the haz-mat suits. But no one seemed to notice. We were about the 27th person in the customer service line when someone told us that we could go over to Register #1 to be helped. Sounded great to me, until I got halfway there and saw who was opening up that lane. It was her. The same customer service manager (CSM) that refused my coupon. I looked back at the service line to take my place back and saw that my spot was gone and there were now about 40 people in line. Great. Oh well, here goes. This is the conversation that ensued:

Me: "In this bag is a 4-pack of cat food that exploded. I'd like to return it. Here is my receipt. I wouldn't open the bag, if I were you."
CSM: "Why would you like to return it?"
Me: "Uh, because it exploded when I tried to take it out of the shrink-wrap. I'm not going to feed it to my cat."
She's opening the bag.
Me: "I really don't think you want to open the bag."
She just looked at me and opened the bag.
I actually backed up two steps and pulled Child A back with me. I thought the CSM was going to lose her lunch! And the look on her face!!!
Then she says, "What am I supposed to do with this?"
What, I have to tell her how to do her job?
I just looked at her. So she repeated herself.
Me: "Give me a refund?"
CSM (gagging): "Well, how am I supposed to scan it?"
Me: "I don't know. What do you think?"
CSM: "Well, I need to scan it."
She's really stuck on this scanning thing, isn't she? Why does the customer have to come up with suggestions for the customer service manager?
I let her stew about it for a minute or so, during which time she gagged a few more times. {giggle}
Finally, I offered to go get another off the shelf and we'd just exchange it - she could scan the good one for both transactions. And she was OK with that.

But I sure enjoyed watching her gag a few times after I had warned her.

But, really, she couldn't have come up with the idea to go get one off the shelf?

Disclaimer: I really do love Walmart. I know not everyone does, but I do. I get some great deals at Walmart, save a lot of money, and can find so many useful things there. My only problem at my local Walmart has been with customer service managers who really should receive some additional training if they are going to carry a title with "customer service" anything in it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Walmart Chronicles part 1

A little over a year ago, I gave a high-level summary about something that happened at Walmart about a year before that. It was on my other blog, which is rarely updated, and it really didn't do the story justice. So here is the unabridged version.

I was taking my 3 children to Walmart for various groceries and prescriptions. They were A-7, B-5, and C-2. I know, what was I thinking??? While, Children A & B were holding on to the cart with one hand, like they were supposed to, Child C was having a freak-out attack that 2-year olds are known to have. She was sitting in the child seat in the cart screaming that she was falling backwards. (She wasn't falling backwards!) This was relatively new and had been going on for a couple weeks for no apparent reason. Although it may make sense to you, it really did not make sense to me at the time. At some point she was moved from the child seat to the big basket. (Yes, I know that's not recommended, but I am an attentive mom and she was sitting and I always had my hands on the cart. thankyouverymuch.)

When we arrived at the pharmacy, there a line and and we waited behind 2 or 3 people. My kids asked me a hundred and four questions about products designed to prevent pregnancy that were right there next to us. The line gradually progressed forward and we found ourselves next in line. After paying for my prescription, Child C stood up in the basket, and I, being the attentive mom, turned my back on Child B (I should know better!) for about 20 seconds to sit Child C back down. I turned back around to Child B who was holding something out to me. She said, "Mom, help, I can't get these back on." They were black pieces of plastic and I had no idea what those things were, so I asked her. She said they were "here," and showed me the cash register on the counter.

She took apart part of the cash register! In about 20 seconds, while I had my back turned, she just did something and the pieces came off in her hand! The cashier had already moved on from me to the next person in line and had gone to retrieve their prescription. No one saw how B did it. When the cashier returned, I handed her the pieces and told her she'd probably need them and I was sorry I didn't know how to put them back on. She asked what they were and I showed her they were part of the cash register. Her face lost color. She set them aside and tried to ring up the customer, but the cash register wouldn't work without those pieces.

The cashier called someone else to help put the pieces back together. He fumbled with it a little, seemed half amused and half annoyed when he turned to her and asked her, "How did you do this?", to which she replied, "I didn't do it!." Have you ever wanted to just disappear? Yep, me too. I quickly turned the cart around and we walked very quickly right out of there!

A year and a half later, I had another amusing moment at Walmart. To be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vacation - part 4

This is the last in the series of our vacation to Oklahoma and my 20-year high school reunion. Finally. I know it's taken a lot longer than I had planned, so thanks for hanging on with me and being patient. If you missed the first 3 parts, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.

Monday morning we brought our trip to an end. It was time to start our drive home because Hubby had to return to work on Wednesday and Child A had a softball game Tuesday evening. We were hoping to have her at the field in time for practice at 5:00PM. Ambitious, I know...

My dear friends were so generous to welcome us into their home for our entire stay. (Thank you, again!!!) Their boys were a joy to be around and the living faith of their family was very refreshing. I kept saying while we were there that their influence was very calming. My friend is a real inspiration in so many ways. If you'd like to be inspired, she blogs at Our Ordinary Life. Since we had to say good-bye on Monday morning, I read her blog frequently. It helps me feel close to her again.

When we departed, we knew that we'd have to make to St. Louis in order to not be rushed on Tuesday. Illinois highways are under perpetual construction. We have 2 seasons in IL: winter and construction. So, off we drove. One required stop for us at Braum's in Joplin, MO. It's tradition. We stopped there when Child A was 11 months old for her first lick of ice cream and again when Child B was 11 months old for the same. This was Child C's first trip to Oklahoma and she has already experienced the bliss of ice cream, but tradition is tradition, so we stopped for a treat. It was quick and then back on the road.

(Public note to Joplin, MO: Please don't let stores refer to themselves as "toy stores" on their signage unless they actually sell toys. It's not right to confuse children and put parents in awkward positions of having to explain why we can't stop there. At least we were in a hurry and could just use that without lying.)

Our next planned stop would be Cuba, MO for dinner. Who can plan bathroom and gas station stops? So, we were just on a mission to get to Cuba around dinner time and then head on to St. Louis for some shut eye. In Cuba, we stopped at a delicious BBQ joint, Missouri Hick BBQ, which was recommended by the folks at the Route 66 Outpost on our way down. There were various degrees of BBQ sauce, the portions were generous, and we all were very satisfied after. We didn't stop, there, however. Dessert, various cobblers, were also available. We chose 2 to split between the 5 of us: peach and cherry. Oooh, yummy!

Each of the kids made frequent trips to the bathroom and this was why:

They were fascinated by the faucet. Isn't it cute? If there is one thing my kids notice, it's detail!

After dinner, we played around a bit outside. There were those headless people that you pose behind and get funny pictures. Everyone had to have a turn with each one. Here's one of them:
I was driving when we left and it was dusk. I don't like to drive at dusk. I have a condition in one of my eyes that causes a glare in certain lighting conditions and dusk is one of them. But I wasn't really uncomfortable until we were driving on a stretch with woods just to the right of us on Route 66 going back to I-44. For a moment I had a flash of a vision of a deer darting out in front of me. It wasn't real and I didn't react because I knew it was just a feeling. I was gripping the steering wheel and I just prayed. Fear like that is not from God and I put Him back in control. I prayed for protection and for Him to move that fear out of me. I took a deep breath, relaxed my grip, and had peace. Within a minute, a deer came out of the woods; I slammed on the brakes and was down to 5 miles an hour as we passed it. It had stopped or else I would have also, but with deer you just never know if they will keep on running or even jump right into the side of your car. Amazing how God answers prayer, isn't it?
"You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you."
Proverbs 32:7-8

The rest of the night was uneventful, as we arrived in St. Louis and checked into a hotel. We checked out just before mid-morning and hit the road again. Driving past the arch brought about conversations of our trip down and we enjoyed talking about what we might do or see differently next time.

As we drove into Illinois, there were traffic jams as we expected and soon the clouds started getting darker and we drove through some rain here and there. Right around 2:00 PM, we were about an hour and half away from home. Hubby was driving and I looked off to the left, through his window. Now look carefully at what I saw:
Can you see it? I spent 13 years of my childhood living in Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. I grew up taking shelter a lot. But there was no place to take shelter this time. (Of course, my main goal was really just to get a good, clear picture of this baby!) I probably have 5 pictures of trees when I was trying to get this.

It dissipated rather quickly, so there was no cause for alarm. Not until about 3 more miles up the road, traffic came to a complete stop, the sky turned gray-green, it was pouring, and we were stopped on a bridge over railroad tracks. All I could think about was, "What if another one spawns and we don't see where it is? What if we don't know it's there?" Hubby asked if I minded if he spend $2.99 on a storm-watcher app for his work-provided iPhone. Nope, sure don't mind a bit, honey! Then it cleared up and we were on our way again. Yep, just like that.

We arrived home around 4:00, just in time for the storm to arrive and A's game to be rained out. She only missed one while we were gone because the others were also rained out. She was disappointed about this one, but got over it quickly as we all settled in to being home.

It was truly a lovely trip. We were blessed to see so many family - my brothers, sister-in-law, nephew, aunt, and grandmother. We were blessed to stay with God-loving friends and spend time with Aunt Winna, all of whom really keep their focus on Christ. We were blessed with safety, despite a few quirks with our van and a couple of deer sightings (I don't think I ever mentioned the one after the reunion, around 1:30 in the morning.) We were blessed with a lot of joy and laughter and fellowship. I couldn't have asked for a better trip.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of it. Thank you, Lord, for orchestrating it.