Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Man Preaches

To hear Toby preach on oaths from the Sermon on the Mount: go here, click on "Tools for Growth" and download the message "Hold to Your Word, Hold to the Gospel".
I may be biased (and I should be), but it's good.

Have you seen these?

Classical Kids CDs - an intro into classical music that is so fun! Each CD tells a story about the composer set to his own music. They can be expensive to buy as a set, but that's what birthdays and libraries are for! This link will take you to my favorite to date - Handel.

MilkShare - for those nursing mothers who have an abundant supply, you can now share your milk directly with a family who needs it. For the moms that are struggling with supply or other nursing issues and don't want formula, you can get the good stuff direct from another nursing mom.

The cough is moving around our house at the moment, which means the kids are getting the Vicks' Treatment: smear Vicks' Vapor Rub on the soles of their feet and cover with socks. Do this as they head to bed and I'm tellin' ya, they sleep much better. This doesn't seem to work for adults, I've found. For men, they seem to need the Man Cold Treatment. Women...well, we just take a Sudafed and get on with things, don't we?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Multitude Mondays

Like most people on the East Coast, Sunday was clean up day, following the visit we had from Irene. Though things didn't go as planned, we still have much to be thankful for...
  • a night and a day in Baltimore on Friday to celebrate our anniversary, complete with great food and an almost complete visit to the Walters. The wing I most wanted to see was closed, but we will just have to visit again!
  • my mom being able to look after the kids, even when it seemed like traffic wasn't going to let her through. She made it home safe, too.
  • No trees down or any structural damage to the house.
  • Though the basement flooded, it wasn't because the sump pump broke, but because it was working so hard that a joint popped. Quickly mended, the pump continues to work, as does all of our electricity.
  • Getting the last air dryer rental to dry out carpets.
  • Other than wet floors, nothing was damaged. Amazing. The only thing we'll have to throw out was some computer paper that got wet.
  • All the little branches in the yard that will make great kindling.
  • All the policemen patiently directing traffic with so many traffic lights out.
  • The loan of a dehumidifier, and the kind friend that brought it over to us.
  • The knowledge that He is sovereign, and He is good. I need not fear anything that ultimately comes under the control of a good and mighty God. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Twirly, Tiered Skirts

Such a fun thing to make. So easy and gratifying to make something useful out of so little fabric.

All done with scrap quilting cotton.
To make your own and validate the need for algebra, visit here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great books - for kids

I am a book snob

Okay, now we've got that out of the way...

As Abigail and Anna were entering the second and third grades, I began to find it very difficult to find good reading books for them. They were in this really weird place where the books that were at their age/grade level were just lame - cartoon characters with bright colors that were more pictures than plot, not to mention the questionable attitudes of the characters. On the flip side, the books that I wanted them to get into were a little too long and thus daunting, with enough difficult words that made it more work than pleasure.
Wandering through Barnes & Noble's kids' section, I had the impression that if you could pick up a pencil and string a sentence together, you could get a book deal. Not encouraging. So, with the help of Veritas Press and Sonlight Curriculum, I have found a selection of great books for my kids! Here are some:
Some we've read in previous years, some we are reading this year. All are a reasonable length, nothing really questionable in terms of attitudes or situations, all engaging stories that are well written.
It's hardly an exhaustive list, though - I'm sure I'm missing some gems. Please chip in with something I've forgotten/never heard of!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Multitude Mondays

I found this quote at the weekend, and everything in me simply resounded with "yes!":

"Five good children are an immense luxury, and to deny one's self other luxuries in order to raise them is not self-denial at all, but merely an intelligent choice of investment."
--Edward Sandford Martin, The Luxury of Children (1904)

My five children are a luxury - one that many will neither enjoy or understand. So, with that in mind...

the hands that wave goodbye * the lips that give messy kisses * the crooked-toothed smile * girls whispering in bed * when the big ones help the little ones * graham-cracker breath * ticklish legs * the white-blond hair * the badly-cut hair * a little voice sounding out words * a young voice reading the Word * many fingers making music on the piano * knowing that my house may be messy, but my harvest will be great * knowing we are each fearfully and wonderfully made * knowing that they are not a burden/a trial/a punishment, but a reward from a God who gives only good

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quick Tip - in the kitchen

Did you know that you can poach eggs in the microwave? Stick 'em in, one egg at a time, for about 30 seconds. You'll hear a pop around second 26 - that's just air releasing from under the egg, not the yolk exploding. If you like them a little more "done", open the microwave after 20 seconds or so, slide a spoon underneath to release any air, and pop it back in for another 10 seconds. If you want it really well done, you're on your own - I've never cooked them longer than 20 seconds, so I have no idea what might happen! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Covering up

I had never seen a nursing cover before Noah was born.

I learned to make them, for myself and others, when Eleanor was born. What a help! How nice to feed a fidgety baby with some modesty!
Now, they are available, for you, in the shop. You're welcome.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Moon Cup

DISCLAIMER - For the Ladies Only!
Not that I think that there are many men who actually read this blog, I wouldn't want any random male passing by to suffer from a case of "female overshare"! So if you are a guy, just pass on by, and we'll catch you again on a less gender-biased day. :)

Ladies, here it is - a Moon Cup.

I have been wanting to review this product for a while, but honestly there have been hold ups:
I've been pregnant;
I've been nursing, which postpones my monthly cycle;
and because of the two reasons above, I haven't really thought about it.

 But now, I've remembered.

I began using the Moon Cup probably in 2005, when I began selling cloth diapers through the Lollipop company. Along with cloth diapers, they offered reusable menstrual cloths and this weird, rubbery thing. I could get on board with the cloth pads, but I wasn't sure about the cup. I mean, there is a pretty serious "ick" factor working here. But I figured if I am supposed to sell it, I should at least try it. If I hate it, I could at least suggest the women save their money.
As it happens, I never made that suggestion, nor have I ever regretted switching. In fact, I think one of the only things working against the moon cup and others like it (like the Keeper, Lunette and the DivaCup) is the "ick" factor. Once you get over that, though, there's no looking back.
Why should you try to get over it, though? Here are some reasons:
  1. It's cheaper. Lots. In fact, the Moon Cup website does a cost break down. Seriously, that's money I could do something with!
  2. It's pretty convenient. You never run out and if you keep it in your bag when your cycle is approaching, you are never caught out. And if you kids pull it out of your bag in a public place, you can be almost guaranteed that no one will know what it is!
  3. No toxic shock concerns. Since toxic shock syndrome is linked with the cotton fibers in tampons, this has none of those risks. Mine is made from silicone (though the Keeper is latex), which doesn't wear out (not anytime soon), smell or stain.
So, there it is. It may sound weird or a little gross, but really for moms, we live with weird and gross things every day. At least this thing is working for you. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Belated Multitudes

My cup has been so full of blessings that my cup has run over, which is why they are a few days late!
  • Noah's turned 5!
  • 14 years married!
  • a day at Six Flags Great Adventure
  • weather that kept away the crowds but didn't shut down the rides
  • wonderful time with grandparents
  • a safe trip home, in spite of some serious rain
  • moms who want to teach their girls life skills in a God-honoring way
  • girls who want to learn!
  • tomatoes finally turning red
  • kids catching a katydid
  • the overflowing toilet that didn't leak into the room below (which has happened before!) 
  • the evening's peace and quiet in which to listen to Sunday's message
  • the faithfulness of God, which is wholly unlike my own

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Top Tips for the New (School) Year

Well, most homeschoolers are getting ready to get back to the books here soon (if they haven’t already). Many will already have everything they need for the upcoming year, but some will still be undecided about a certain curriculum or tool they have yet to purchase. It seems that in homeschooling circles, personal review and word of mouth advertising is a big deal, and so (keeping in mind that my children are entering grades 4, 3 and K) I am honoured to share with you my top 5 recommendations and failures of the past school year (in no particular order) :

5. The Well Planned Day planner. It’s pretty, it’s helpful, it doesn’t have a load of stuff you’ll never use, it’s got monthly articles that are just great and it helps keep up to 4 kids planned at a time. For older students who are keeping track of their own work a little more, they also have student planners for middle school and high school. It’s my second or third year using it, and I’ve got no intention to change.

4. My girls used Learning Language Arts Through Literature last year (the red and yellow books). We did not get on with these. The girls like them fine, but they just didn’t seem to have much teeth to them. The program was trying to do a lot of things – copywork, spelling, grammar, reading, handwriting, etc – it seemed to be skimming the surface of lots and not doing anything particularly well. To that end, one of my kids managed to get through the year learning less than half of her spelling words, words that she was getting right at the end of the week, but there was no staying power.

3. The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I cannot count how many people I have recommended this to, but if I had a nickel…Abi used it, Anna used it and now Noah is using it to learn to read. It’s excellent – methodical, clear, uncluttered. You know what to do and what to expect your child to do. It has helped to produce two strong readers in this house already, and Noah is quickly on his way to joining them. And you can’t beat the price – you can even find it in the library (like we did).

2. We purchased the Institute for Excellence in Writing last year, though we didn’t really get into using it until this spring. Oh. My. Goodness. It is extensive, and a little overwhelming, but totally worth it. Abigail is still only in the beginning phases of it, but it’s basically a system for learning how to read critically, process and report back what a student has read. It will serve in reports, note taking and eventually creative writing (that’s pretty far away for us still – Abi’s only now coming to grips with the fact that she is not allergic to her pencil). There is a lot of information and if you’re like me, you can get totally distracted and seriously jump the gun, so if you get it – and you should – read the suggested lesson plans. I didn’t at first, and wasted months by frustrating myself and my child. Once I sat down and looked it all through (which didn’t take that long), it was all a lot more sensible and easy to manage.

1. Know yourself. Don’t try to be what you are not. If you’re relaxed, then be relaxed – you don’t need to schedule every second because someone else swears by their method. If you’re a planner, plan wisely and don’t fret that the other family in your co-op just built a scale model of their town in their spare time while you’re struggling to get the math work corrected. But also know your weaknesses and be prepared to glean wisdom from others and think outside the box a little. This can be difficult – in our hearts, I think we all want to be self-sufficient and just “make it work”, but it is a wonderful exercise in humility to admit to and ask for suggestions and guidance. So by all means, ask a friend, then ask your husband – and submit it all to the Lord. It is His children we are training and for His glory that we are training them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guess who has a new Etsy shop?

That would be me! Yay! You can visit it's humble beginnings here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Multitude Mondays - a new habit

It's been a while in the thinking - since I read One Thousand Gifts, I'd been wanting to start my own list (what better way to chart my own thankfulness to the Giver of all gifts?). Months went by, of course, before I began. So, it's short, so far, but I'm looking forward to seeing how my recognition of and thankfulness for the gifts grow:
  • piano lessons
  • a piano teacher that is also a friend
  • the freedom to homeschool
  • unlimited library books
  • children who love books
  • clean clothes to put away
  • Noah rides a bike!
  • weird and wonderful wildlife on my own patch of earth
  • the smell of ripe tomatoes
  • sweetly playing kids
And so it begins...!