Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Schoolwork Gallery

I saw this idea on another site and thought it was an attractive and inexpensive way to display my children's schoolwork. Here's how I made them...

I needed three clipboards (one per child) and found these for about $1.50 each at Wal-Mart. I covered the hardware with masking tape.

I then spray painted the clipboards. I took this picture after a couple of coats in honor of my mother, who's told me a MILLION times that I should always, ALWAYS prime before I paint. Sure enough, I could almost hear slurping sounds as the boards drank that paint right up. For a second or two I actually thought of stopping and priming before going on, but who has time for that??? So I just sprayed and sprayed and sprayed...

When I removed the tape, I noticed that I had missed a few spots, but it wasn't a big deal because there will always be something covering most of the board anyway. I used clear Command hooks to mount the boards to my wall. Loving that self-portrait of my daughter in the center!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday's Seeds

These are the seeds that were planted in my heart on this day of worship:

"What if you could hand all your worries and problems to me and then go home and sleep, knowing that you didn't have to carry them anymore? That's what Jesus did for me, and He can do that for you too." (Thanks Mike!)

"I still remember the day you found me, the day I heard you call out my name. You said you loved me and would never leave me, and I've never been the same!" ("We Will Remember")

Godly sorrow leads to repentance and is GOOD for you. (Thanks, honey!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Timez Attack: AMAZING Free Math Game!

Multiplication Games
I found this game earlier this summer, and my son LOVED it! The graphics and music are similar to the ones on his DS, so they hold his attention. The game progresses through several "chapters" of the storyline, and the free version only takes you through so many of them. Progressing to higher levels requires purchasing a download or subscription. We haven't done that yet, but my son's excitement over math facts has me thinking I might! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Much thanks to Terri at Mom's Point of View and Kim at Get in Shape and Save for awarding me The Versatile Blogger Award! This is very exciting for me, as it is my first blog award! I am honored that they enjoy reading my posts, and I enjoy reading theirs as well.
The rules after accepting the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs.


7 Things About Me
  1. I was raised on a "mill hill." (Know what that is?)
  2. I've driven a racecar in a powderpuff race (and finished very badly).
  3. I married a seminary student who was a former crackhead. He's now a pastor!
  4. I finished my masters degree when I was 38 and pregnant with DD2. 
  5. My favorite book is the Bible, but I also love Anne of Green Gables.
  6. I enjoy singing and playing piano.
  7. I am enjoying getting older.

My picks for The Versatile Blogger award are...
  1. Answers from the Queen of Useless Information
  2. Big Universe Small World
  3. Busy Mom's Tips
  4. Domestic Imperfections
  5. Frugalapolis
  6. Grandma Bonnie's Closet
  7. Gumdrop Pass
  8. It's a Sun Kissed Life
  9. Life with Tootsabella and the Rose
  10. Life's Little Surprises
  11. Pattyville
  12. Pickle Jars and Pears
  13. Rambling with Grace
  14. Ramblings of an Empty Mind
  15. Sunla Designs

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thankful for my Sweet Tooth

I've had a sweet tooth as far back as I can recall. When I was little, I regularly asked my mama for the candy and gum at the checkout counter, but she rarely gave in. One time, I tucked a pack of Big Red under my shirt while she wasn't looking.

When we got in the car, I slipped a piece in my mouth. When the spicy aroma made it's way to my mama's nose, I knew I was in trouble! I felt so guilty and ashamed and promised to never steal again.  

Later, I noticed displays of Easter candy in the drug store. On a subsequent trip, I carried in an old purse my grandma had given me. It went in flat and came out FAT - full of easter candy. I felt so guilty! Again, I got caught, and I remember wondering why I had done the very thing I had promised not to do! It scared me to think that I couldn't control myself.

One Sunday, a few months later, I sat in a sanctuary attentively listening to the pastor talking about sin. He said something to the effect of: "If you have a sin problem, meaning that you sin, feel regret, sin again, feel regret...then you need a Savior! Jesus will wipe away your sins and help you resist the temptation to sin in the future."

At 8 years old, I thought, "I WANT THAT!" I sensed Jesus drawing me to Himself, and I practically ran to the altar! The song is so true: "Burdens are lifted at Calvary...Jesus will meet you there!" The weight of the guilt and the shame left me, and I have never been the same. Not perfect, but FORGIVEN and seeking Him :)

From that point on, I had, as the song says, "no guilt in life, no fear in death." I also received the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who lives in me. Imagine that...God is with me everywhere, all the time!

So, while my sweet tooth may have brought unwelcome pounds and cavities, I am forever thankful for it, because it was what led me to see my need for my Savior!

If you sense your need for a Savior, read more about Him at Jesus 2020.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From Laundry Room to Baby's Bath

After emptying the laundry detergent bottle, I was curious to see if anyone had found an afterlife for one. An online search produced this: a better water pourer (from my personal dictionary) for bathtime! As you can see, my little one doesn't care for water in her face, so she takes several precautions, such as moving as far away from the water source as possible and covering her face with a washcloth. This gadget was a great addition to our bathtime because it made a wider flow than a cup, and the handle was easier to manage than a pitcher.

What uses have you found for empty laundry detergent bottles? 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Banana Pudding: Can't believe I made this!

You're looking at an icon of southern cooking...Banana Pudding! Many southern women can make this dish blindfolded with one hand tied behind their backs. But this southern girl needs a good bit of help in the kitchen! My grandma is a great cook, but her version of a recipe is, "Well, you take about this much flour, and a little bit of buttermilk..." That just didn't help me!

The only way I was able to pull this off was to keep my nose in Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook. Southern Plate is actually the website for which the cookbook was named. Christy has a vast collection of recipes for the southern food I love, translated into real recipes AND step-by-step pictures :) The recipes are accompanied by captivating tales that are sure to elicit a tear, a sigh, or a LOL. Go on over there and see if you don't agree. 

What about you? What resources have helped you become a better cook, homemaker, etc.?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fashion Friday (...who am I kidding)

On a good day, my shoes match each other. On a great day, they actually match my clothes. I am NOT fashion-oriented. Though I desire to be, I'm simply not able to match styles, colors, etc. My Daddy said I even had difficulty matching socks when I was younger. Is there any hope? Well, yes, indeed there is!

Allow me to introduce you to Missus Smarty Pants, a website written by a woman who knows, really knows fashion. She offers, by subscription, services to help women understand and embrace their body shape and coloring. Understanding what colors and styles look good on you results in happy and efficient shopping trips!

Each week, she sends an email to me with pictures of pieces that would look good on my body type, all from a particular store. The stores vary from Target to Talbots and almost everywhere in between. So every size, shape, and budget can be accommodated! But the best part is that she actually puts together an outfit or two from the pieces recommended that week. PRAISE THE LORD! Finally, I have some help! While I am not often able to just get online and order my stylish combination, I do print and save it until I do go shopping.

For the past two years, my subscription to Missus Smarty Pants has paid for itself by saving me time. Knowing which colors or styles suit me helps me go through racks of clothes confidently and quickly and prevents me from spending tome trying on things that were doomed from the start!

Now, just one thing: If you're a "Delightful D" shape, like I am, and you subscribe, do let me know. We'll need to do a little planning, so we don't meet each other in the same outfit :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sanity-Saving Discipline - Part 3

In case you're just joining us, Part 1 of this series covered House Rules, Part 2 covered the Daily Consequence Chart, and both can be found on this blog. Today is the fun part...well, at least the only part that involves any fun for the kiddos: the 5 STARS CHART!

As my children grew, I started to see that they had developed a belief that a normal day was one spent playing and that work was an annoying distraction. They saw it as perfectly normal to watch me WORK while they PLAYED. I felt genuine conviction that they needed to reverse their thinking: Work is normal, play is optional.

After reading the book by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, called The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, I became intrigued by chore packs. These are name badge holders that contain personalized chore cards (sounds really simple, but it isn't, and the kit from titus2.com provides everything you need to get started). Each child attaches the chore pack to their clothes and performs the tasks independently and in order. I ordered the kit and created the simplest of chore packs for each child. One day I hope to implement the full program, but, in the meantime, I've found an alternative method that's working for us.

One day, after we'd arrived home from school and work, I interrupted their sprint to their toys and asked them to do a chore. Of course this request was met with a bit of resistance, but I told them, "Work is normal and good! Once you do some work, you'll earn some play time!" Unconvinced, they begrudgingly set off to do their task. When they returned to report their accomplishments, I put a star sticker on a sheet of paper beside their names. I told them that they would receive 30 minutes playtime after completing 5 chores.

After using the 5 STARS chart (click here for ours) for over a year, I've found that it works really well, most of the time. Sometimes the tasks come from the chore packs. At other times, it's whatever seems most urgent at that  moment. Sometimes I have to help them along by setting a timer, and if the task isn't finished in that time, they get no star and are sent to another task. If they earn a writing consequence from the Daily Consequence Chart, I note that on the 5 Stars Chart, in the column labeled "Plus," to indicate that they have to write that verse or House Rule before they get their free time. I don't interrupt their chore time to have them write. 

I can imagine that reading about the House Rules, the Daily Consequence Chart, and the 5 Stars Chart is overwhelming. It was a bit overwhelming just to describe it! I would encourage you to give them a try, though. They have made a huge difference in the stress level of our family, and I hope they bless you too!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sanity-Saving Discipline - Part 2

In the first post in this series, I explained our family's House Rules and provided a link to them. Now let me share how we use our Daily Consequence Chart (not-so-affectionately known as "The Chart" in our house).

Our chart is an adaptation of a nicely laminated If/Then Chart I purchased from Titus2.com a couple of years ago. For our family, several changes were necessary, and you can click here to see what we use.

On our chart, HR stands for House Rule, so it is referring to the our family's House Rules sheet. Each child has their own vinyl folder that holds everything they need to complete consequences that require writing. It actually has a page protector front and back, so I have a copy of "the chart" in the front pocket and a copy of the House Rules in the back pocket for easy reference.

This is by far the best discipline tool that I have ever used. It aligns specific misbehaviors to scripture, states clear consequences, and provides a space to place the child's initial under the day of the week. Here's how I use it:

1. I run a copy (I run it on the reverse side also, making one sheet last two weeks).
2. I post it on the refrigerator.
3. As a misbehavior occurs, I tell the offender to meet me at the chart. There, I remind them of the scripture that applies and mark their initial beside it, under the appropriate day of the week.
3. I administer the first consequence.
4. For each recurring offense, I mark the chart and move to the next consequence.

Sometimes extenuating factors (being sick, tired, hungry, angry, etc.) lead to a rash of bad behavior. During those times, it's be best to put the chart aside and regroup. Still, I can hardly describe how much this tool has benefitted both me and my children in dealing with poor behavior!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sanity-Saving Discipline: Part 1

In my early years of elementary school, I dreaded giving my report card to my mother. It wasn't because my grades were bad. In fact, they were usually very good. No, my concern was a single line in the "Behavior Comments" section: Controls unnecessary talking. Unfortunately, it was almost always marked N (Needs Improvement) or the dreaded U ( UNSATISFACTORY).

Years down the road, after many conferences in which my mother was "informed" of my talking problem, she resolved herself to the idea that it might actually be a positive trait...a leadership trait! She still expected me to try to control it, but her new perspective certainly blessed me on report card days. As might be expected, I too have been blessed with children who display "leadership traits."

As moms, one of our primary goals is to see our children mature into self-controlled, respectful and responsible adults, yet we are not always aware of the best ways by which to accomplish that goal. To that end,  I spent a great deal of time looking for information and resources that would work for our family. I'd like to share with you the system that we've developed as a compilation of what I found in my search. We've been using it for the past couple of years, and I have observed marked improvements in my children's self-discipline, respect and sense of responsibility. Our "discipline stool" is supported by three "legs:"

1. House Rules
2. The Daily Consequence Chart
3. 5 Stars

The premise behind the concept of House Rules is that you need a standard by which to judge behaviors, providing consistency for the child and preventing arguments about what is allowed and what is not. 

Basically, it's a short list of rules that you believe to be essential. After days of copying from those available on the internet, pasting, rewording, shortening, expanding, etc., I formed our family's House Rules. You're welcome to click here to load a document format, but the following image will probably serve you just as well, as you'll probably rewrite your own. Please pardon the plain language used to describe unsavory behaviors...flatulate is not yet in my children's vocabulary ;)

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Generous Mailbox

Sometimes my mailbox surprises me with little containers of baby wipes, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and other things. Though the childlike excitement I experience upon discovering those little goodies is fun, that's not the only reason I request free samples. They also...
1. allow you to sample a product before you purchase it (obviously)
2. often are accompanied by high value coupons
3. are the perfect size with which to stuff stockings
4. are the perfect size to keep in your purse or desk drawer
5. might be something that could be placed in your church's care packages or Operation Christmas Child box

To simplify ordering, I've bookmarked a few favorite sources for free samples in a "Daily Freebies" folder in my Favorites tab. I am ULTRA conservative about which sites I even entertain as being reputable. My litmus test is as follows...
1. If I've never heard of the organization/company/site, FORGET IT!
2. Even if I've heard of them, if they do not have a close tie to the organization which manufactures the product (ex. carries the line in its stores), FORGET IT!
3. I always keep an eye on the address bar to make certain I haven't been derailed and taken to a strange website without my knowing it.

To protect myself further, I have a separate email account that I use with "strangers." This is the email I use if I'm the least bit worried that they'll contact me more than I care to be contacted ;) That way they're not clogging up my main email account.

So which ones do I visit? Glad to share! (Click to visit the site)

Occasionally, these sites run a little dry and repeat offers. If I've already taken advantage of an offer, I feel morally bound to refrain from re-requesting (I know, that's one right out of my own personal dictionary). Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."   Greed is sin, and we can't expect to prosper by sinning. Also, it would serve us well to remember the intent behind the companies' generosity: to let each potential customer sample it and then, hopefully, continue to purchase it and spread the word.

I hope you enjoy requesting and receiving samples. Let me know if your mailbox suddenly becomes generous!