Friday, April 30, 2010

Lunch and Lipstick

I have two things that are causing a little bit of stress here! (Well, really lots of things that cause stress, but these two items are things that I hope some of you can help me with!)

Lunch and Lipstick!

First: lunch
I am completely out of lunch menu ideas. The children (while they are very sweet, and they rarely complain about the food I serve them....actually I don't think they ever complain about our meals) and I are really, really tired of eating the same things for lunch every day. I don't want to appear ungrateful, because we are really thankful that we have food to eat! But, I need some suggestions to liven up our lunch menu! Currently we eat the following:

peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
turkey or ham sandwiches
tortillas with Ranch dressing and ham or turkey
chips and salsa with or without melted cheese

I serve all of these meals with chips, strawberries, and grapes. Every day. Every day.

Would you please share your lunch ideas? Since I am helping the children with their schoolwork, I am reluctant to take time away from that to prepare a more involved lunch. However, since we are desperately wanting some new lunches, I am willing to leave the schoolroom and spend some time in the kitchen!

Second: lipstick
I have worn the same shade/brand of lipstick for about 10 years. It is nothing special and definitely inexpensive, but I like it! The brand is Jane, and the shade is Kiss of Caramel. I originally bought it at Wal Mart, but our Wal Mart stopped carrying it about 3 or 4 years ago. Fortunately, the Wal Mart in a town about 3 hours away still sold it, and so a friend of mine would buy it for me and mail it to me! Then her Wal Mart stopped carrying it too. I googled it, and found it on They offer free shipping with orders over $25, so periodically I would order 11 tubes at a time (to get the free shipping!---the lipstick is $2.49 a tube.) Well, earlier this week I sat down to order my 11 tubes of lipstick, and guess what?! no longer carries Jane lipstick! I immediately googled it again, and I cannot find anywhere that sells it. It must be discontinued. I wear lipstick everyday, and I am not looking forward to spending $20 to find the perfect shade at Wal Mart! Has anybody seen Jane lipstick anywhere?

Off the subject.......Sam has begun to "write" notes. He scribbles on a piece of paper, rolls it up like a scroll, seals it with a sticker, and then delivers it. When we open it, he "reads" to us. He is just precious! Yesterday he "read" his note to Jimmy, and it said, "Thank you for taking me in your truck to buy a new tree. I had fun."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Notebook

Last Saturday at our Homeschool Support Group Mothers' Brunch, one of the speakers shared with us her idea of taking a notebook with you when you have your daily quiet time with the Lord. This notebook is not one for taking notes from your Bible or for prayer requests or things like that, but this notebook is to be used for writing down all of those interrupting thoughts......the things that pop into your head while you are trying to read God's Word or pray. Things like: I need to thaw some chicken for supper, call the dishwasher repairman, iron a shirt for a child, mail a bill, etc. If you write down the thought as soon as it pops into your head, you can get back to concentrating on your Bible and prayer time. What a super idea! The very next day I chose a notebook just for this very purpose. But I am using it for more than just during quiet time. I am taking that notebook with me wherever I go! I keep it close by, and whenever something pops into my head, I write it down! I already was in the habit of making lists, and writing things in my datebook or entering them into the calendar on my phone or computer, but sometimes I was not near any of those things when I would think of something I needed to keeping the notebook nearby helps me to record everything. I even have it handy while I am doing school with the children. I just wish I could write in it while I am running! Many thoughts pop into my head while running....I just try to remember them the best I can and write them in the notebook as soon as I am through.
I have actually made different lists on different pages.....errands to run, people to call, chores to do, emails to send or other computer tasks, etc.
I love my new notebook! My brain on paper!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Olivia!

Monday, April 19th, Olivia turned 15 years old! I cannot believe that she is 15! It seems just like yesterday that Jimmy and I were new parents.....Olivia arrived 5 weeks early, and I was not quite ready! Olivia has always been a precious child. She was an easy baby to take care of, and she has brought me nothing but joy and delight for 15 years. She has grown and matured into a godly young lady, and Jimmy and I couldn't be more proud of her.

To celebrate her birthday, Olivia invited a few of her friends for a sleepover party....10 giggling girls who spent the entire time crocheting, laughing, and shrieking! I served them spaghetti, salad, and bread for supper. Olivia requested a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing, and she chose cookie dough ice cream to go along with it. What a combination!

all the girls gathered around the table

the birthday girl with her cake

I decorated the table with brightly colored yarn and a variety of crochet hooks. Just as I expected, as soon as the girls sat down, they grabbed the yarn, the hooks, and began to crochet! I am glad I got a picture of the table before they arrived!

I love these plates!

Monday we spent the day together as a family. We began the day with coffee and present opening! We gave Olivia a New King James study Bible, some colored pencils, the movie Chariots of Fire, a crochet book, and a Kindle. She was pleasantly surprised by her gifts. Olivia has always showed such excitement and appreciation when opening her gifts. She is fun to watch!

ready to open the gifts!

I made banana applesauce muffins for her birthday breakfast, and then Olivia enjoyed a leisurely day of reading and crocheting. Olivia wanted to eat her birthday lunch at Ichiban (a Japanese restaurant), and after such a big lunch, we decided to just eat cereal for supper! We watched Chariots of Fire after lunch, and then we all went to the city park so we could run.

It really was a nice day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Brunch

This morning our local homeschool support group held a Mothers' Brunch. Each lady brought a brunch food, and we enjoyed a delicious meal and fellowship, and then we were all encouraged by a few speakers. The ladies' topics were: Our Walk With God, Practicing Hospitality, Making Children's Birthdays Special, Menu Planning, and Disciplining Ourselves to Exercise. Each lady had so many wonderful ideas so share, and I came home encouraged to be a better homemaker.

I implemented the lessons learned about menu planning today! Yonea shared many great ideas....some I already had in practice, but some of her ideas were new to me.

Here are some of Yonea's tips.
1. Shop every two weeks.
2. Use a four column page to plan your menus for two weeks. The headings of the columns are: Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Your Schedule.
3. Fill out the Your Schedule column first. Make note of the days you will be out of the home and the times. That way you won't plan a meal that requires 1 hour of prep time on a day that you won't be home from some activity until 5:30 PM!
4. Make a list of the supper meals that your family likes to eat. Divide these into 3 categories--fast prep, budget friendly, time consuming. When you fill in the suppers on your planning sheet, you will have meals to choose from that fit your day.
5. Plan to serve the same type meals for breakfast and lunch each day. Yonea shared her plan...again the menus reflected the days that she needed to leave the home early for appointments, and days that needed a sack lunch (for co ops, etc.). She serves muffins on Mondays, cereal on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, eggs and toast on Thursdays, convenience foods (Pop Tarts, bars, etc.) on Fridays, a big breakfast on Saturdays, and pancakes, waffles or French Toast on Sundays. I looked at our daily schedule, and I made a breakfast and lunch plan for us as well. On the mornings that I run, I planned easy breakfasts like cereal and pop tarts, on the other mornings, I planned things that I need to cook. She suggested we make a similar meal schedule for lunch. Lunches are harder for me. I don't want to stop teaching school to fix lunch, and my girls don't want to stop their schoolwork either. I am planning pasta with sauce or Ranch dressing, leftovers, PBJ, quick pizzas made on bread, and tortilla roll-ups.
6. After you have made your list, shop in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator first. This prevents you from buying items you already have, and reminds you of what meals you have previously frozen that you can put on your menu.

I had gotten out of the habit of posting my weekly menu for my family to see. I have been just writing it in my personal planner. Today, I made my two week menu plan, and I taped both pages inside our pantry door.

Now, I am off to Kroger!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Encouraging Books For Mothers

Before I recommend a few books, I want to make a disclaimer. The only perfect book is the Bible, the Word of God. All other books are written by men, and men are imperfect. So when I recommend a book, please know that I compare all that I read with the Scriptures, and if I find an error in the book, I just ignore that teaching. In most books that I recommend, I find about 90% useful, and the rest I just disregard. Please use your own good judgement. This disclaimer applies to all of the books listed in my sidebar, as well as any books that I write about on this blog.

Anyway, today I want to share one of my favorite authors, and a few of her books. Teri Maxwell is a homeschooling mother of eight children, and her writings are so honest. Many times when I read something she has written, I will think to myself, "That is just what I think!" She and her family have a website,, where they sell all of their books and offer a variety of resources. The three books I want to share about today are Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit, Just Around the Corner Vol. 1, and Just Around the Corner Vol. 2. All three of these books address homeschooling, homemaking, and relationships with our husbands and children. Even if you are not a homeschooler, you could still glean much wisdom from Teri's writings. I read, and reread these three books over and over again.

I also recommend all of Teri's other books which teach about scheduling, planning and organizing your school, and chores. They are called Managers of Their Homes, Managers of Their Schools, and Managers of Their Chores.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not a School Day

Today was not a school day, not an academic school day....but a very productive life skills day.

Jimmy was off work today, so we made a long list of things to get done. I began my day by meeting my friend Lynn at 6:30 for a run. We ran a little over 5 miles, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rarely do I get to run somewhere besides our treadmill or at the city park track, so running in town was a treat. On my way home I ran a couple of errands, and brought home some fresh bagels for the family. Then the girls and I got to work. Jimmy and the boys had been working the whole time I was gone. Throughout the day the men changed oil in some of the lawn equipment, cleaned out our old Little Tikes dinosaur sandbox and filled it with new sand, mowed the grass and trimmed for about 4 hours, swept out and tidied the garage, and various other things too.

The girls and I are utilizing a new life skill around here...washing a lot of dirty dishes by hand.

My dishwasher broke last night. And it was full of a day's worth of dirty dishes. It was 9:00 PM when I realized that it would not start! Our repairman came this morning, diagnosed the problem as a broken electrical board, and ordered the new parts. No word on how long it will be before the parts arrive. So we are washing dishes. Lots of dishes!

While the boys were busy outside, the girls and I cleaned house. We scrubbed the bathrooms, dusted, vacuumed, and mopped. We also had to do quite a bit of straightening up, and the girls folded clothes for me and did some ironing.

After lunch, I took Leah to our homeschool kindergarten graduation practice. We have 19 graduates this year. They are all so cute! When Leah was through with her practice, she and I ran a couple of more errands to prepare for Olivia's upcoming birthday.

We had Bible study at church tonight, we watched the results of American Idol when we got home, and now it is bedtime! Tomorrow, we will be hitting the books again. We will read our last chapter of Across Five Aprils, and I am always sad for a good book to end!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April's Keepers Meeting

Last night we attended our Keepers At Home meeting. Our Keepers club meets once a month on Monday nights from 6:30-8:30. The younger girls do an activity that helps them to earn a Keepers pin, and the older girls (girls who are about 11 and older and have been participating in Keepers for several years, and have earned just about all of the pins) meet in a separate room and visit and work on some sort of craft or handwork. Of course, my girls crochet!

The younger girls were taught simple cake decorating last night. The mother leading the activity had baked little 3 inch cakes for the girls to decorate. She also had made the most delicious, fluffy icing. I asked her the secret to making it so white and so fluffy--I don't know the exact recipe, but it includes white Crisco, powdered sugar, water, clear vanilla and clear butter flavoring. It was the butter flavoring that made it taste so good!

She showed the girls how to tint the icing different colors, and then how to use different tips for different decorating purposes. Before adding decorations, the girls iced their cakes with the white icing. She instructed them to let the cakes "sit" for about 10 minutes to let the white icing set. Then she passed out Viva brand paper towels for the girl to cover their cakes with and smooth the icing out. I learned so much!

Our instructor taught the girls a few simple decorating tricks, but my favorite was making dots. She used a small circle cookie cutter or the open end of a tip to barely mark the outline of the dots on the cake. Then the girls used a #3 tip to pipe colored icing into the circle. They then used a small spatula to smooth each circle out.

Leah, busy working on her cake

making the dots

posing with Avery

the finished product!

When we arrived home, Leah carefully cut her cake into 7 pieces and shared with the whole family.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Children's Mansion 5K

Saturday morning our family ran the 3rd annual Children's Mansion 5K. This race improves every year. The course was certified and utilized chip timing. This is the first race that all 5 of us have run in a long time. Everyone did very well for the first 5K of the season! Clay did his personal best....he took 40 seconds off his previous best 5K time. Way to go Clay! He won 1st place in the males 14 and under. Olivia won 1st place in her age division and so did Jimmy! (And just so you did I! My friend Dorothy ran with me--she really helps me push myself. She is in my age group, and she crossed the finish line before me, but she won 1st place female masters) Julie won 2nd place overall female. Our own cross country coach won 1st place overall female! Several other Spartans (our homeschool cross country team) participated, and everyone had a great time.

fast Clay approaching the finish line

Clay and Carson

Coach Heather and Julie
Two fast girls!

Jimmy and Me

Season with Jared and Sam
Season kept all the little children while the rest of us ran.
Thanks Season!

Julie, Clay, and Olivia

Jimmy with our girls and some Spartans

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Our Easter

The Saturday before Easter we hosted an Easter Egg hunt. I hid 575 eggs for the 50 or so children to find. Olivia, Julie, and some of their friends thought they were too old to hunt for eggs this year, so I told them they did not have to! But, would they please run out in the yard around the barn and each pick up 10 eggs.....during the actual egg hunt.....just to help me out with the cleaning up.....they happily helped! Since I hid the eggs a couple of hours before the hunt, and since it was around 80 degrees, the chocolate inside the eggs was melted!

Almost ready to hunt the eggs

looking everywhere for eggs

Sam, looking for an egg.
I almost forgot about Sam! He was asleep when our guests arrived. I was just about to say, "GO" for the egg hung to begin when I remembered him! My sister-in-law, Jenny, went inside and woke him up so he could find eggs too!

Cousins--Grace and Leah

The children had been begging us all week to take the winter cover off the pool. As soon as our egg hunt was over, we opened up the pool. Yes, the water is freezing! And yes, Clay does not mind the water temperature.

The children in their new Easter frocks!
I thought the yellow and blue was so pretty!

The Easter bunny came to our house and left each child a basket of candy and a book. Sam ate so much candy on Sunday that by bedtime he was sick!

After our morning church service we invited Jimmy's cousin, Season and her husband, Ryan over to enjoy our lunch with us.

After our evening church service, Jimmy and three other men from church went for a run. A long run. Jimmy ended up running almost 13 miles, and the other men a little less, because when he finished, Jimmy went in his car and picked them up one by one as he came to them. While he was out running for 2 hours, Jimmy missed the excitement at home. We came home from church to no electricity! It apparently had been off since 6 PM, and we got home around 7:45. Our power was restored a little before 10PM. As I told the children, this was not in my plan! Our house looked was a usual for a Sunday evening after I rest on Sunday afternoons and the whole house falls apart. Normally on Sunday nights after we eat our Sunday Night Cereal Supper, we spend 30-45 minutes tidying up the entire house. But with no power, and it was dark!, the kids thought we would be skipping this fun event! After I realized that we may not have power until morning, I gathered all the candles I could find, put headlights on the children, and we all got to work! We cleaned the house anyway! Just as we were getting ready for bed the power came back on. Yay!

All in all, it was a good day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Yard Work

The week before last was our Spring Break. Jimmy always takes off the last week in March, and we usually take a short trip and then do our annual spring yard work. Before and after our trip to Nashville, we spent most of our time outside. Jimmy hauled three or four (I can't remember) dump truck loads of mulch, and after trimming all of our bushes and monkey grass, we put all of that mulch in our flower beds, around the kids' playground, and in various other places. The girls took a short break from shoveling mulch to clean our back porch. We washed the windows, knocked down spider webs, and I bleached all of our outside and pool toys and goggles. The porch looked so nice for a few it is covered in a thick layer of pollen!

Jimmy helped Olivia and Julie put in a small garden during this week too. They each have one side of the garden, and I hope it yields the perfect amount.....just enough to eat each day, no more, no less. I am not ready to can vegetables for the winter. Maybe next year!

Here are some highlights from all of our hard work.

Julie and Leah cleaning the grill

Olivia washing windows

Clay shoveling mulch into the wheelbarrow....Sam playing in the dump truck.
As you can imagine, Sam was absolutely black from head to toe each day we put out mulch!

playing in the empty dump truck

Olivia tilling up the garden

Sam working hard with his shovel

working hard preparing the garden

Julie's turn with the tiller

Everybody helping put out the plants

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Trip to Nashville

We spent most of our Spring Break working in our yard, but we did break away for a two day trip to Nashville. We left early Tuesday morning, and our first stop was at Loretta Lynn's Country Kitchen for lunch. The restaurant was decorated with photos and posters of Loretta, and the background music was her songs. The kids were amused that I knew the words to many of them!

This bull was outside Loretta Lynn's restaurant....not sure why!

When we arrived in Nashville, our first stop was the Ryman Auditorium. This is where the Grand Ole Opry was originally located, and since we had tickets for the Grand Ole Opry show that night, we thought it would be interesting to tour the original site.

inside the auditorium

As we walked into the auditorium, Sam asked me, "Is this church?" Well, we learned during a short informative video about the history of the Ryman that it was originally built to be used as a church building. Sam was right!

at the side of the backstage area

Center stage!

Julie, Sam, and Clay enjoying the tour

Sam and Leah with their collection of "maps". They both collected brochures, cards, and maps throughout our trip. Leah kept hers in the little purse that Julie crocheted for her.

After leaving the Ryman, we checked into our hotel and rested for a little bit. Next we went to the Opry Mills mall food court for a quick supper before the show.

Jimmy, Me, and Sam
Every time we eat at the Opry Mills Mall food court, we sit at one of these tables that have a "grass" tabletop. When Olivia, Julie, and Clay were younger, they thought these tables were so neat!

The Grand Ole Opry! I had really been looking forward to this! I am really the only country music fan in our family, but I knew that everyone would enjoy the show. Jimmy had never heard of any of the current stars of the show, but I knew all of them and the songs they sang (except for a couple of new songs that they sang for us!). The new stars that entertained us were Jason Michael Carroll, Eric Church, Randy Houser, and Daryll Worley. Sam fell asleep in my lap just as the show was beginning, but I still had a grand time. Jimmy and the kids were amused again that I knew so many of the lyrics! It was a great show!

waiting while Daddy picked up our tickets

waiting for the show to begin

The next morning we toured Belle Meade, which is an old horse plantation. The original plantation was over 5000 acres, but the mansion and the grounds cover 30 acres today. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed seeing the beautiful home and all of the various buildings.

Olivia outside of Belle Meade Plantation

Leah and Sam were in a picture posing mood. They would run a few steps, and then say, "Take my picture!"

The next three pictures were taken inside and outside of the carriage house.

Leah, Sam, and Clay all thought this little man was so funny!

Here is Leah checking to make sure all of her "maps" were still there.

being silly

Sam inside a fireplace!

One picture, all five children!