Sunday, January 31, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
We found out today that the homeschool kindergarten rule is, indeed, a stupid, stupid rule that will not go away. Our kindergartners in Florida will not be promoted to first grade unless they have completed an accredited, public school kindergarten program. They will repeat kindergarten whether they need to or not if, for some reason, we cannot provide a homeschool first grade education and must enroll them in school. The rule only applies to kindergarten. After that, students are evaluated for grade level placement.
If kindergarten were still the housekeeping, blocks, and reading centers that I remember, it would be so much more palatable. Unfortunately, kindergarten consists of a LOT of testing, deskwork, and basically the same stuff we did in first grade. Our son hates it. He can read, write, tell time, add numbers, count by 5's and 10's, tie his shoes, and so much more, but sit him in a classroom doing worksheets and deskwork all day and his yearning to learn gets squelched. I hate that I have to watch it happen day by day of this 180 day school year. It's painful.
We love his teacher. We love his school. I love the energy and enthusiasm of the staff. Unfortunately, it's a system that does not serve the kids who excel. I'm looking forward to guiding his education myself next year, nurturing his love of learning. It's going to be so good.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I am pretty sure this is harmless, just irritating, but how do I really know? This person has never called my home phone and probably doesn't even know who I am, but I am still bothered. I am even more concerned that it is still going on. What should I do? Do I change my phone number? Do I contact the police? What do you think?
Saturday, January 23, 2010
This one is from Homemade By Jill, and I am using it as an example to make my house. Mine is a bit different but I have looked at this house about 100 times to get inspiration or to decide how big something should be.
I have cut out all the sides and the roof! (4 orange sides and a brown roof) Orange is my Little King's favorite color.
I have finished the front side with the door and the mail box! The mail box opens so you can put a letter in it! I freezer paper stenciled the letters and numbers on (It was easier way for me to get a cleaner look)
I have cut out all the stuff for the back side and need to sew it on. I also still need to make the apples to hang on the tree and a few more leaves in a lighter green. The basket it going to be a pocket to hold the apples that can get picked off the tree!.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Fast forward to Christmas 2009...I was so grateful to have received only a small handful of gifts this year. I thought, "Oh, thank goodness, I only have to write four thank you notes!" Never mind the lovely dinners, cookie parties, and playdates surrounding Christmas...I just can't keep up with that level of handwritten appreciation anymore!
But now I have not only my own thank you notes to write, but the kids' thank you's as well! I took them to the dollar store and let them each pick their own pack of thank you cards, just to give them some ownership over the whole process. We made a chart for each kid with the gifts they received and the name of the giver, to be crossed off as the note is written. Our 6-year-old is painstakingly handwriting his own notes, and with his birthday just three days after Christmas, we let him combine both celebrations into one thank you note. He still isn't finished.
Last year, I made him draw a picture of each gift inside blank cards. When he finally finished all his artwork, I am so ashamed to admit that I completely lost his cards, his list of gifts and givers, and the envelopes (which I had already addressed). Those never got sent.
While KID 1 can just barely write his own thank you's this year, KID 2 can NOT, thank you very much. It is apparently my job to thank everyone for her gifts. I've tried having her "decorate" the cards herself in the past, but it becomes tedious for her and she finds something else to do before she's reached the second card.
I've heard of parents taking a picture of the kids with their gifts, but that just seems like extra work for me. Finding the gifts, taking the photo while berating the child in question to "smile like you really like your present!" and then actually having the photos printed and included in each appropriate envelope...I am SO not doing that.
How do you show friends and family appreciation for your kids' gifts? Any ideas for making the process a little easier?
Monday, January 18, 2010
~2 Corinthians 4:16
Ironically, I was going to post this last week, but I was too sick to get off of my couch, but better late than never. These are the vitamins I take everyday. They don't upset my stomach, don't cost a fortune, and don't taste too bad on the way down. I first bought them because of their high vitamin B levels, and I really do feel better when I take these on a regular basis. A few days ago, I was reading the box and realized that they also contain Ginseng, which has "naturally occurring ginsenosides and flavonoids, bioactive factors that play a role in well-being." No wonder I felt better.
Sadly, taking these vitamins everyday is about the only thing I make sure to do for myself every day (unless you count drinking coffee - which is full of antioxidants). Even on days when Alex is in school, I don't make time to exercise, fix myself a nice lunch, study my Bible or even rest! Are any of you successful at taking care of yourself? Do you have any tips for those of us who aren't? What do you do to renew yourself daily? I'd love to hear about it!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The thing is, is the hospital is only about 1/2 hour from my house...absolutely doable for me to visit and bring some food. I have been trying to keep up with the updates on her blog (I LOVE blogs), so when I read that they would be in town at the hospital for a surgery I sent her an e-mail letting her know that I would like to visit and bring some dinner, if that was OK. I thought that the surgery would not be until the next week so I have plenty of time of plan everything out. but I got an e-mail back saying that they would going to be here TOMORROW!
My mind starting coming up with excuses on why I couldn't go... "I have something planned at 8 PM ... that might be tight to bring dinner and make it." "Since children under 5 can't go, I have to find a sitter for my little king... this is too short of notice..." "I don't really feel like going today" I know...I suck!
BUT I stopped and pulled myself together and said to myself (yes I talk to myself.... I know you do too so shut-up!) "When your friend is at the hospital because their BABY is having surgery YOU JUST GO! This is not about you - it is about them! Find a way!" And I did! And I was so happy that I could be a friendly face at the hospital, bring some yummy food and ice cream for dessert (everything is better with ice cream!). It was nice to visit with my friend and see her baby was doing fine after the surgery! I know a little about hospital life, my brother had 6 major heart surgeries growing up. It was always so nice when someone would come to the hospital and visit, even just for a little while. It was SUPER great if they brought food! : ) Even this little gesture was HUGE to us as a family while my brother was recovering.
I am not writing this to toot my horn and show you what a great person I am... actually the opposite. My true nature was to stay home and make an excuse, but with the guiding of the Holy Spirit I was able to be there for a friend. I know that God was speaking to me through my excuses. I had a choice to listen or ignore it. I choose to listen! It is so easy for me to get caught up in my 'busy" life and make excuses not to do things, but sometimes you just have to drop everything and JUST GO!
I believe that if I can do it, you can too!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Consider this my fabulous post for the week. I didn't intend to take a break, but have gotten so busy the past two weeks, I've completely forgotten to do my own articles.
Keep up the great work, ladies. I continue to thoroughly enjoy each and every article you post!
Love you all!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
We also found a good-sized portion of my Great-Great-Granmother's post card collection, and I can't wait to do something with those, too. There is one card that has a picture of a toddler riding an alligator, taken back in the day when they thought it was OK to do things like that. Once I figure out the perfect place for that one, it is leaving it's protective plastic sleeve and going on the wall for all to see!
So, do you have any non-fine art related ways to decorate your walls? I need some help, and I would love to hear them!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I really wanted to make one of these felt play houses (that fit over your card table) for his 2nd birthday:
This one is from Homemade By Jill I love it!
This one is from This and That so cute on the inside!
A very manly one from Sew Much Ado
A Very princess one from Ikat Bag
yep, a pretty good sketch of what I want to do... no sewing, or cutting yet!! And did I mention that I only have 4 weeks left to complete this project!?!? Time to get my butt in gear!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I was born in Alabama and I lived there for much of my early childhood. There's not a lot going for Alabama. There are no professional sports teams of any sort, poverty is rampant, unemployment is high, too many people smoke and/or are overweight, and the state has a sordid past relating to the civil rights movement. But I love Alabama. It's where my family is from and I have many happy memories of living there and then visiting my Nanny, my grandmother, my favorite person in the whole wide world, after we moved to Florida. I will admit that the state and the people can be backward, but some of the best people I've known have come from Alabama and I am proud of my heritage.
What does this have to do with football? Well, since there's not a lot going for Alabama, people who live there have to cling to what makes them great, and one of those things is college football. The University of Alabama has one of the most storied football programs in the country. One of the most prolific college football coaches, Bear Bryant, coached at Alabama and led them to six national championships. Amazingly, Bryant was one of the first college coaches to recruit and play black players. That's really saying something, considering where he coached and who was governor at the time (George Wallace). Alabama football gives the people of Alabama something to be proud of. When you add in the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn, which is really heated, football is a big deal in this particular state.
It's also a big deal in my household. It was in my home growing up - some of my earliest memories are of both my dad and mom yelling at the TV for some player to "Run!" or "Make a tackle!" I was raised to be an Alabama fan and to hate Auburn and Tennessee and Penn State and Notre Dame and to have a disdain for any team outside the SEC. My husband became a hard-core Alabama fan shortly after we married. I have enough Alabama t-shirts to wear one every day of the week (although I try not to do that) and I've read everything ever published about Bear Bryant. It's not just a hobby for me, it's an obsession.
This season has been magical. We are undefeated. We beat everyone in our conference, including Auburn and Tennessee, our biggest rivals, then we beat undefeated Florida to win the SEC championship. Honestly, though, it's been heartbreaking to be a Bama fan for a long time. We last won a National Championship in '93 and since then it's been a long line of failing coaches and NCAA rule violation scandals. Finally in 2007 we got a new coach, Nick Saban (called "Satan" by some of his naysayers), and it's been uphill ever since. Last season was promising, but we lost the SEC championship to Florida and then lost the Sugar Bowl to Utah. This season went much the same way, except we were able to pummel Florida to win the SEC and we got our first Heisman Trophy winner - Mark Ingram. Tonight we are playing Texas for the national championship. I will stay up as late as the game goes and I will probably cry actual tears if they lose. This is saying a lot, since I can't remember the last time I cried over anything.
I probably have only succeeded in making myself sound like a lunatic and confirmed for those of you who don't like football that you've made the right choice. That's okay because I'm not trying to convert anyone. But football is one of my favorite things and I'm just so thrilled that for me, it's still going on. For many people, their seasons ended at the end of November or with a disappointing loss in a no-name bowl game. But I get to cheer my team on with hundreds of thousands of other fans across the country. It's been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
...to pay for our house this year, or at least make a huge dent in the mortgage. We have no other debts, so the only way to make room in our budget for bigger and better things is to banish the mortgage payment. Yes, we did just buy the house in July, but I'm already tired of this monthly drain on our resources.
We don't live that extravagantly now, so making cuts is going to be severe. I am designating one night a week as "Beans and Rice Night." It's much healthier than other options, and it's much less expensive, too. We will also have a soup night. Other than that, I'm going to really menu plan this year, and stick to the plan. No more emergency runs to McDonald's when I forget to defrost the chicken, either.
Trips to the mall or Target? Fewer and farther between, and I'm not going without a list. I've already managed to escape my post-Christmas spending frenzy in the clearance aisles, so this may not be as hard as I thought! I'm not buying anything without asking the question, "Is this [piece of junk I won't use a week from now] really a fair exchange for financial freedom?"
Now the big one: I'm leaving my big purse at home. I carry it so that I can fit my cash envelopes, coupon files, and gift card files with me in case of a shopportunity. Guess what? I tend to shop when those things are with me. No more. I don't leave the house without a plan, and the plan will include the cash I'm going to spend as well as anything else I need for that trip. No more side trips to the Dollar Tree. No more meandering through the garden center at Walmart "just to see what they have." No more spending money on silly or unnecessary things.
So, we're cutting to the quick here, and hopefully we will see a happy return. It is a little extreme, but as Dave Ramsey says, "live like no one else so that later you can live (and give) like no one else." Do you have any extreme frugal tips? Let's hear them!
Monday, January 4, 2010
~ Luke 14:28
My friend Lindsay, and fellow Motley Mom, let me borrow a few of her Dave Ramsey books before I left Florida. Her family follows Dave's plan to be debt free, and I was so excited to learn more. Dave gives readers baby steps to become debt free, and I am so drawn to him because he is a Christian.
One of the first things I learned from Lindsay and Dave is to pay cash for everything excluding monthly bills. Before, I always used my check card for any and every purchase: McDonald's sausage and egg McMuffin - $2.58, Starbucks tall decaf peppermint mocha - $3.85, GNO at movies - $8.75. Ironically, I was also always afraid to check my bank balance online. I dreaded writing down all of the deductions and I lived in constant fear that an expenditure was forgotten. Spending like this also enabled me to be blissfully unaware of how much we actually spent each month at Starbucks, the grocery store and even on gas.
I do have to spend some time each month budgeting how our money left after paying bills should be spent, but I am so thankful to have money left after paying bills! Grocery shopping has been the biggest challenge for me. I budget $50 per week, which is a challenge alone. Paying cash forces me to keep a total of how much is in my cart, and I forces me to make some tough decisions like, "Do I really want to spend $4.00 on 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts or would I rather get 4 pounds of split breasts for $4.00?"
Paying with cash is a great way to start tracking your spending. I use an envelope like this, filled with smaller envelopes.
My categories are: fun and farmers market, babysitter, hair care, toiletries, clothing, Walgreen's, prescriptions, co-pays, gas and oil, repairs and tires, groceries, cleaning, entertainment, Starbucks and restaurants. I am planning to add an emergencies envelope to have a few extra dollars for things forgotten or unplanned, like school fundraisers.
Like most new years, I am hoping this year will bring our family more prosperity, but this year, I actually have a plan to make that happen. What money saving goals or tips do you have for the new year?
Saturday, January 2, 2010
A couple weeks ago I went to the doctor because my knee had been bothering me for a while. It hurt to bend it, straighten it, pretty much do anything with it. I thought that I had better get it checked out, because it could be a tumor! The doctor examined me, and said, "it is arthritis."
WHAT?!?! I am not old enough to have arthritis! (I mean I am only 31!) I'd almost rather it be a tumor (Ok- not really!) It did not help that I also found 3 gray hairs that same week (You wont find them now... I pulled those suckers out and I am getting my hair dyed stat!)
So, I am creating my own Murtough list... the things that I am officially too old for!
1.) Staying up all night for a New Year's Party. I volunteer with the Jr. High group at my church, and they had an all-nighter for New Year's Eve. I told the youth pastor that I could help, but only until 1 AM... that is already WAY WAY past my bed time! He understood!
2.) Drinking caffeine after noon. I used to be able to down a can of dew and take a nap... not any more! I am totally hyped up and ready to scrub the floors with a tooth bursh! Not to mention that I keep my hubby up by talking a mile a minute.
3.) Sitting on my knees for longer than 10 seconds. See above!
4.) Going to a really loud concert. I find myself saying, "WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO LOUD. . .I HAVE A HEADACHE!"
5.) Playing any sort of physical game, and not paying for it the next day! I played dodge ball on a Wednesday night with the youth group, and the next day I had a hard time getting out of bed.
So, what is on your Murtough list?