Thursday, December 31, 2015

Movie Review

The homeschool community was very excited to show Beyond the Mask in the theater here last spring. We had such a busy spring we didn't even attempt to attend the showing. I requested it from the library and finally had my turn last week. It was frustrating that I got it over the holidays. I squeezed in watching it one night after the Lambs went to bed.

After watching it, I think the Lambs would need to be a little older to enjoy this movie. I think the age to watch this would be high school. I didn't try to fit in the Lambs watching it before it was due and because it was in high demand I wasn't allowed to renew it.

The homeschool community had a right to be excited about this movie since two homeschool graduates made this movie. This all began with some cousins getting together and making home movies several years ago. Now they were ready to produce a big film.   It was impressive that one actor was John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings), one writer was Paul McCusker (Adventures in Odyssey), and Stephen Kendrick (Fireproof, War Room) helped with the directing. There were 750 special effects! People around the world worked and also volunteered to make this movie. I appreciated that it was PG rating.

This movie seemed to have it all-action, adventure, love, and historical setting. They did their research so it was historically accurate, but they played with events that really happened so that the characters in the movie were in those historical events. I personally thought some of the events in the movie were a little far fetched to be historically correct, but they could have happened. I am often frustrated with the historical accuracy of films. This one seemed to get it correct or at least show "what might have been".

I am also often frustrated with the theology in "Christian" movies. I was pleased that this movie seemed to get it right. Then I listened to the bonus features and as the producer talked about their motivation to make this movie they got it wrong.

I would recommend this movie to high school students, especially that they watch it thinking about what they know about that point in history and that they think of how the movie was made-looking at the special effects. There wouldn't be anything wrong with showing it to younger and older, but I don't think they would get as much out of it. And I would recommend that the family watches the bonus features together and talk about the theology together.

*Spoiler Alert: Quit reading here if you want to watch the movie!

A female character in the movie says, "Neither redemption or love can be earned. They are gifts granted freely from God."

The producer talks about this part of the movie in the bonus features. He quotes Titus 3:5. Then he says, "If we accept that (Titus 3:5), turn from trusting self and trust Him, God creates a new identify in Christ Jesus."

The producer also says, "We don't have to work hard to be good enough. Jesus has already done that for us. If we accept the redemption He offers we have hope for the future."

I believe the female character got it right, but the producer did not. We say in the meaning to the Apostles' Creed in the Small Catechism-

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

The producers statement goes beyond the female character's line and what the producer adds is not necessary. I know blogging about this is being really nit picky. That is the point. The Gospel is that Jesus did it all for us! We don't have to, nor are we able to, accept it ourselves.

One part of the movie that I appreciated was it gave a broad view of what was happening all over the world during Colonial Times in America. My high school history class seemed to just focus on what was happening in England and America. But we forget that dumping the tea in the Boston Harbor was much more involved than just those two countries. I thought the movie did a great job on this, especially because people were working on this movie all over the world when they made this movie. Because it was a group effort that view came across well.

You could tell that they did their homework and it showed that the historical accuracy was pretty good. Even the parts that didn't really happen, could have happened in the movie.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

First Days of Christmas

We didn't attend 2nd Christmas Eve service because Lamb 2 and 3 were grouchy and tired. The Lambs had a fit that they were missing church! After putting them to bed I sat by the fire with a cup of tea and read a book until Ram came home.

On Christmas Day we did attend church. Then we came home and had crepes and lingonberries for lunch. The Lambs received remote control cars. Ram's parents came late in the afternoon. We opened a couple of presents and then we ate Christmas dinner. Then we finished opening presents. Then we had pie. I hurried to send everyone upstairs so I could watch Call the Midwife. It was a delightful holiday special remembering barren women.

On Saturday the Lambs received stylus with Star Wars characters on them in their stocking to go with their new Boogie Boards they got from Grandpa and Grandma. Ram and his dad took the Lambs to the Star Wars movie. Ram's mom and I went shopping. We both got a couple of great After Christmas deals. We also went to Macys to get ties for the Lambs to go to Stonesetters in January. We were disappointed that the coupon that I had expired at 2pm and we were there at 3pm. I never would have gone close to the mall the day after Christmas if Ram's mom hadn't wanted to. It ended up being busy, but not terrible. We just took our time driving between stores. After the movie we all went to a BBQ restaurant.

Ram's parents joined us for church on Sunday. We came home and ate leftovers. We spent Sunday around the house. The stocking treat today was lemon coconut water.

Monday I went to the grocery store and thought I overspent my monthly budget but I came in $0.83 under budget. Plus I have a mail in rebate and I will get $3 more. I am quite proud of serving Paleo meals and buying stocking treats and still staying under budget. That afternoon Ram's mom had some shopping to do at the health food store (to take home with her) and I had a coupon. It was good to go see what they had and decide it is not worth a membership for us. I had planned on cooking supper, but everyone was a little stir crazy with the cold weather so we decided to get out and go to Sushi Boats. Lamb 2 "won" by eating 14 sushi plates.

Tuesday's stocking treat was Butterfingers that were on Christmas clearance. Ram's parents joined us to go to the Basque museum. We had been there once when we first moved here and spent a little more time there this time. Since we were downtown Boise we decided to go out to eat again to a fish restaurant. The Lambs loved their fish and chips. Then we came home and I made deviled eggs for a snack. For supper Ram and I made Broccoli Beef. It was so good we will definitely make that recipe again! Ram's parents called it an early evening because they are flying to a family wedding today. This was Ram and Ewe's 14th wedding anniversary, but we didn't do anything special.

I was surprised how quickly the few days with Ram's parents went. We hadn't planned on eating out so much, but that is what happened. We have lots of food and desserts leftover. I will try to freeze some and we will eat the rest this week. It is nice to not have to cook for a few more days of vacation.

This morning's stocking treat was $5 each with a note that we would go to the Lego store today. We had never been there before. I made clear that we were going to window shop and to possibly buy individual pieces by the cup. There wasn't a lot of selection left in the individual pieces so after a long time looking Lamb 1 asked if he could buy just one piece. The salesman asked what piece he was interested in and said if that was all he wanted, he could have it for free. We decided to come back in a couple of weeks and see if they had a better selection when it wasn't right after Christmas. Lamb 2 had a fit that he wasn't allowed to spend his own money. It ended up being a good lesson for all of the Lambs that  it is possible to window shop but not buy anything.

We are all fighting colds and sore throats here. No one is officially sick but everyone isn't feeling completely normal. I hope to catch up on laundry and paperwork at the end of the year. I also hope to send out Christmas cards and plan for school. On Saturday I am going to a scrapbook day with a friend, so I need to get organized for that. Ram is back to work visiting shut-ins this afternoon and tomorrow and writing a sermon for Sunday. The Lambs are enjoying their last few days of vacation before we are back to school and regular activities on Monday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Almost there

Ram's mom hosted us for Thanksgiving. She said that the day before we came she thought to herself one recipe down, 4 more to go, etc. until she made all the food. She prepared all the food before we got there so she could relax while we were there. She cooked everything from scratch so it would be Paleo so everyone in the family could eat it.

It is my turn to host Ram's parents for Christmas dinner. First I have thought one room down, 11 more to go, etc. until I cleaned the whole house. I didn't want to put up the Christmas tree until the living room was cleaned. (Full disclosure here: I deep cleaned the downstairs rooms and fast cleaned the upstairs rooms. I hope to deep clean upstairs after the holidays.) It took me the entire month of December to do all the cleaning. My house was very neglected in 2014 when Lamb 2 was in all his therapy and I think I finally got caught up.

Now it is my turn to make all the food from scratch and Paleo. I began with desserts. I chose 5 desserts because they are small and Ram's parents will be visiting us several days.  I have completed 4 of the desserts and will wait to make the 5th one until this weekend. The Paleo pecan bars were more complicated than I thought they were going to be, but I had a small sample and it was worth all the work! I am hoping to have one dessert each day they are here, but if Ram's dad hears about it he will probably request to sample all of them with Christmas dinner!

I did most of the grocery shopping on Saturday and the poor Lambs have had to ask before having fresh fruit and other snacks that are usually unlimited because they are for recipes. Today I went to a couple more stores and picked up the final ingredients for Christmas dinner. I still had money in my grocery budget and there were great items on clearance so I stocked up a little on a few more items.

Tomorrow the Lambs will put our Advent calendars away and they also have a few areas of the house to clean up their toys. I will tidy up and do a fast clean the bathrooms. I will make the sides to go with our ham too.

I am looking forward to going to 4 church services in the next 4 days. I am looking forward to several days of relaxing after working hard cleaning and baking. I am halfway done with Eternal Treasures and hope to finish. I am looking forward to playing card and board games with the Lambs. I have enjoyed reading Christmas cards we have received from friends and family. I plan to send New Year's cards this year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The things they say...

Lamb 2: Mama, may I have a licorice box for wrapping presents?

Ewe: I'm sorry, but I don't know what a licorice box is.

Lamb 2 came back in a few minutes with a liquor box!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Look what came today!

I was surprised there was Sunday delivery. I guess that happens this time of year! An envelope came from here:
 I received my complimentary copy of the book I contributed to:

I began reading it as soon as I opened it. It is so much fun to read sections from many friends. Many of the teachers I taught with at Zion in Fort Wayne contributed, including  Rev. Harrison (senior pastor while I was at Zion) wrote the forward and Rev. Brondos (headmaster while I was at Zion) has a section too. Other homeschool friends contributed too. I learned about the hymn and pelicans featured on the cover while I was teaching at Zion. In a small way I feel that this book summarizes my career teaching both at Zion and now teaching the Lambs at home.

I am featured in three different sections. I actually did not say the quote that was attributed to me on page 51. I figured out who said that and e-mailed Cheryl about it. This book is printed on demand so future copies should remove my name and attribute it to the correct person. I did say the section on page 65, that was my small contribution. I also wrote the long section on page 106, but Ram got the credit for that one!

This book is mainly written for homeschoolers or those considering homeschooling. It also has suggestions of what you can do with your children at home if they attend school.  It also has suggestions for how LCMS schools can work with homeschoolers. I highly recommend all LCMS to read this book to understand homeschooling more.

Cheryl and Rachel had a huge job organizing contributions from a lot of people all over the country. They did a fantastic job. The little bit of communicating I did for my small contribution was so much fun to work with Cheryl. When I wrote this we were taking Lamb 2 to lots of therapy and she was very encouraging about my homeschooling him. She reminded me then to keep reading quality literature to him and to keep going on this journey. Well, we have continued on this journey and he has had much improvement, but we have much more academic work to do with him yet. In the meantime we are reading quality literature to our Lambs!

You can order Eternal Treasures from Amazon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Church Advertising

Our church is located centrally in a growing city. In fact, it has grown 139% since 2000. We have visitors at our church almost every Sunday. Several times a year I hear comments like, "I had no idea there was an LCMS church on your busy street" or "I drive by that church every day on the way to work and I had no idea it was an LCMS church."

So our church decided to send out a mass mailing to the local neighborhoods reminding them that we are located in our city and telling them what time our Christmas services will be. I haven't seen the mailing yet, but I know it has a picture of the Holy Family.

With our church doing this, I have paid attention to the junk mail recently. We received 3 advertisements for local churches this week. One had a picture of reindeer antlers, one had a picture of a forest, and one had an angel. The one with a forest was an 8x11 size so cost the most to print.

Obviously the angel one was the best of what we received. But where is Christ part of Christmas at these churches?

We are praying that our mailing goes to some people that need a church that celebrates CHRISTmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Financial Decisions

Due to health care costs rising, we are going to have to pay a portion of our family's health insurance beginning in January. I must stress that we were given a choice and we chose to continue with our current insurance and pay a portion of it instead of switching insurance. We really appreciate that our insurance includes medical, dental, mental, vision, and more.  We are thankful that Ram's employer is still paying a much bigger percentage than we are.

But due to paying this next year, our finances are going to be tighter than they have been. I was glad that we had several months notice before this took effect. I began by trying to figure out a family budget including this. Since I did it several months ago, I have had time to get more exact numbers and make corrections.

We rearranged payments for our life insurance and stuff like that. We used to pay the boys life insurance quarterly and now we will pay each boy's once a year. I prefer this because instead of paying 3 bills each quarter, we will pay 1 bill each quarter and get a break 1 quarter. That will save on postage and checks too as this was one that was not withdrawn from our bank account. Some of our other payments are withdrawn but we chose to not make this one automatic.

We contacted our cell phone company and changed plans. We are saving a lot of money with our new plan plus we get unlimited talk and text now.

We told the church the amount we wanted to be deducted from Ram's paychecks for our HSA. We contacted our tax lady to get an idea of what our taxes will be next year. When all this was done, my budget turned out much better than I thought it was going to be. We will need to continue being frugal, but our new budget was not impossible.

I remember my mom often saying that you have to have money to save money. What she meant by this was if there is a good sale at the grocery store you need to have enough money to stock up on that item when it is on sale. If you don't have enough money to buy it while it is on sale, if it is an item that your family needs, then you'll have to buy it later when it is more expensive. I have thought of this advice often while I was shopping the past few months. Recently when there have been good sales I have stocked up a little more than I used to. I ordered 60 lbs of chicken from Zaycon because it was a good price. Even doing this, I have been under budget on my groceries the last few months.

When Ram got the car serviced they said the battery could make it longer, but he should start thinking about replacing it. He told them to replace it immediately because we have the money now and it would be one less thing to worry about next year. We have done other stuff like this recently.

When I realized our property taxes had a slight increase I added that amount to my December mortgage payment. I don't want to get behind in monthly mortgage payment amount. We did that a couple of years ago and it was awful!

We have done our homework and planned well for this. We are ready for January 15, the first paycheck when this takes effect!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December Declutter and Cleaning Update

I had plans to do a lot of cleaning in December while many of our extracurricular activities are on vacation. I did not get off to a good start due to being sick. I was determined to clean before getting out Christmas decorations. Here's what I accomplished recently:
*Went through all my December teaching files. I discovered some craft ideas to do with Sunday School. I threw a bunch out. I don't think I had ever gone through these files-there never seemed to be time to do that during the holidays.
*I organized all of our Christmas books. I put a few to give away and plan to read a few one more time before giving them away.
*I put the fall decorations away/organized/gave away some.
*I am half way through organizing our biographies in our library.
*I organized the homemade jam to give away as Christmas presents. I kept about a dozen jars for us and gifts to be given away later, but all the rest is marked with names of who it goes to.
*I organized all the piano music and piano books. The piano bench was stuffed full and it was all over the top of the piano and floor by the piano. I couldn't convince the Lambs to get rid of very much, but now it is out of the piano bench and organized.
* I cleaned up and did deep cleaning in these rooms:
     Dining area
     Living Room
What was needed most in these areas was to wash the walls-I really didn't expect a neutral color inside the house to be this hard to keep up with. The areas that were worst were by door handles, light switches, and the stair handrails. Several Magic Erasers were used!
*I began organizing our files on our computer. I often download free homeschool resources and they were in one huge folder just titled homeschool documents. I started the project to organize all that and ended up organizing all our documents. I am not finished, but I already love how much easier it is to see what we have.
*We have had a very gradual decorating the house for Christmas this year. As we decorate I am cleaning out each tub and getting the Christmas decorations organized. I have given away some and plan to give away more after using it one more Christmas.

Here are my plans for this week:
*Finish decorating for Christmas. Continue organizing tubs of Christmas decorations.
*Wrap and mail presents for far away family.
*Clean back entryway and kitchen.
*Plan menus for meals while family will be here.
*Finish any Christmas shopping and grocery shop for Christmas meals.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bad day followed by good days

The past several years the Lambs have written a wish list to Grandma and Grandpa of one big present they would like to receive for Christmas and again on their birthdays. This almost always is a big Lego set, but once Lamb 1 asked for a model train set. They spend several weeks deciding what their one request will be followed by a second choice in case what they ask for is out of stock. (That happened one year.) The Lambs always received their first or second choice. This meant that with 3 Lambs they usually got 6 big sets of Legos each year and several other smaller Lego sets. 

The past few months the Lambs have often asked to use the computer and I found they were often searching Amazon for their wish list. I realize that this is today's version of the Sears catalog that I used as a child, but I thought they were spending way too much time on this. Add in that their requests were getting bigger each year-no 11 year old needs a $200 Lego set!

We wrote a small Christmas wish list and took it to Ram's parents at Thanksgiving. I honestly planned to help them write to Grandpa and Grandma right after Thanksgiving with their one big request. But I got sick and it didn't get done. I thought about it and wondered if we should even ask them for a big present for Christmas. We talked to Ram's parents about it on Sunday. 

At lunch time on Monday Ram and I broke the news to the Lambs. This year we were not going to ask for a big present from Grandma and Grandpa. Lamb 1 acted very grown up about it although he did try to negotiate to ask for a smaller Lego set. Lamb 2 tried to run away from home. Lamb 3 sat on a chair and wept.

When they finally calmed down we talked to them. We told them that getting a big Lego set was not the real meaning of Christmas. We reminded them of all the small items on their wish list this year that they really want. We reminded them that Grandma always gets presents that they don't even ask for and they will get plenty of presents this year. We told them they will still be able to ask for a big present for their birthdays. We talked about the theme of Lamb 1 and 2's basketball camp of "I am Third".  (God, others, self) We reminded them that they have tons of Legos and should play with the toys they already have.

After they were calmed down they got out the tubs of Legos. Since then they have played Legos every minute they weren't busy with school, piano, chores, or sleeping. The amazing part for me is that overall they have played really well together. They haven't played together this well in a long time. And no one has asked to use the computer other than using the metronome.

Honestly I think it was easier for Ram's parents to just order 3 Lego sets online than to get 2 or 3 small presents for all 5 of us. The reason why they called on Sunday was to make sure they understood a couple of items on our small wish list. But all 4 of us adults agreed the smaller wish list was going to be better for all us. I was surprised to see that it is already helpful to us before Christmas.

Some other things happened that made Monday a bad day for me. I'll spare you the details during this holiday season. But there was such a difference in the Lambs after Monday that it has made the next days good days.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Shopping this week

I spent all day yesterday shopping. I have one more present to buy and I have completed Christmas shopping this year. Here's where I went yesterday.
*I started at a Food Service Supply store to buy a couple more items to finish up our bazaar supply shopping. I should be done with this, but messed up our order so we still have some $ to spend. I am buying supplies for next year's bazaar.  I ended up not buying anything there as they didn't have what I wanted.
*Target advertised buy 2 $25 gift cards get 1 $5 Target gift card. The advertisement wasn't real clear which gift cards were included in that deal. I went to the customer service counter and asked. They couldn't figure it out either so they gave me the deal. I bought a few other items there too.
*Michaels to buy one item with my 50% off coupon.
*Kohls to use Kohls cash, Kohls $5 reward, coupons, and sales to get Ram a nice pair of boots for $20. This summer the whole sole fell off of his boots that he had since college. I figured it was time to buy him a new pair since he got almost 20 years out of the last pair!
*Costco to buy Christmas presents, groceries, and renew our membership this year. Ram usually shops at Costco for us so it was a treat for me to go by myself.
*Hobby Lobby to buy a gift for my secret sister at church with a 40% off coupon.
*Fred Meyer (like Meijer for my Midwest friends) to get the Friday freebie (Welch's juice).
Then I came home and took a little break while Ram ran a couple of errands. He took his boots back to Kohls and exchanged them for a larger size. He had told me what size to get but he hadn't bought shoes for so long that he didn't tell me the right size! Plus I thought he should have them a little large so he could wear heavy socks with them.
When Ram got home it was supper time and I hadn't made anything. We made the decision to go to Chik-Fil-A which ends up not being a cheap meal for our family, but everyone likes it. We don't eat out very often. We all went together to these places:
*Chik-Fil-A to get take out.
*Grocery store #1- The Lambs and Ram sat in the car and ate while I picked up a little produce.
*Grocery store #2-The Lambs and Ram sat in the car and finished eating while I picked up this week's specials.
*Walmart-We all went in here and bought a few items that we needed that I didn't find anywhere else during my shopping. I tried to buy the right items to get a free Shutterfly book from Healthy Essentials but I don't think I bought the right ones. So this week I'll have to take those back and start over on that project.

I spent a lot of money yesterday, but I stuck to my list. I really haven't spent very much of my December grocery budget yet due to stocking up when everything was on sale before Thanksgiving.
My one impulse buy was 94 cents at Walmart. I bought more incense cones for my smoker. This was myrrh scent. We were almost out of the first ones I bought a year ago that were frankincense scent. We burned one last night and one today. Ram said we could burn that continuously and he wouldn't complain. I believe we need to treat ourselves once and awhile. I was happy that both Ram and I enjoyed my cheap "splurge".

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Spending the Holidays with Family

I wrote this some time ago, but I am publishing it now as it fits this season.

The first Christmas after we were married we went to my in-laws. This was the last Christmas before my husband was an ordained pastor, which meant it was the last Christmas we could be away from home on Christmas Day.
I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday even though it was 13 years ago. I don’t have any brothers and my husband doesn’t have any sisters, so it was a learning experience for all of us for me to be the only female among the “kids” that were home that year.
I also remember going to the cemetery that Christmas. Ram and his younger brother shoveled a pathway in the snow so we could reach his older brother’s grave. We even set the camera to take a family photo at the cemetery. We had no idea then that the following Christmas Ram’s younger brother would also have a gravestone marking his place.  

I have a little advice to share that I have learned in my 14 years of marriage.
1.  Don’t take your family for granted. I have so many friends that can’t stand their MIL or some other family member. They dread family visits. I am blessed that I have so much in common with my MIL (such as we both had 3 sons). We just don’t know when our last Christmas will be with the family members that we spend this Christmas. Thank God for your family even if they drive you crazy some times.
2. Don’t leave on bad terms. Because of what I wrote in #1, if you have an argument or say something you shouldn’t have said when you are with family, please ask for forgiveness before you leave (or your family members leave). Looking back I wish I would have played a few more card games and spent a little more time with my geeky brother-in-law that only Christmas that we spent together.
3. Take care of necessary business now. We don’t know when our last Christmas will be. Are your children baptized? Have you written a Will? Do you have life insurance? Ram and I updated our Will last summer. If you can't do this business during this busy season, schedule time to do it in January. 
4.  If you are unable to spend holidays with your family, try to do traditions you can do long distance. Recently we have been unable to spend Christmas with anyone on my side of the family. We ship boxes with presents with items we think they would enjoy or they need. We talk on the phone with them. Some years we Skype with them. When we have been unable to spend Christmas with my in-laws, we had crepes and lingonberries at our house just like they had at their house. I know of families that celebrate Christmas in July when everyone is able to get home.
5. If you are grieving for a family member, do the holiday traditions that you want to do and remember that you don’t have to do the ones that are too difficult for you. Ram’s family still hangs 5 stockings on the fireplace.  I have purchased ornaments to remember our miscarried babies, but I just can’t remove them from the boxes and hang them on the tree yet.
6. Talk to your children about your family members that have gone to heaven before us. My children will never know these two uncles. Even though it often brings tears, we try to talk about them and share pictures and family stories with our children. They should know about these family members even though they never met them.
7. Attend church regularly. When you are at the communion rail you will be with your loved ones and the whole company of heaven.
8. Treasure the people you do spend holidays with. Whether you spend the holidays with a whole bunch of people, just your spouse, or a few friends, enjoy it. Try not to be so busy with cooking and dishes and decorations to spend time with those people. You won’t regret sitting and chatting with them while you are together!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Our Thanksgiving weekend

Before Thanksgiving my friend Joelle was sick. We were praying for her that she would get well and no one else in her family would get ill so she could enjoy Thanksgiving. I told her then that we were all healthy.

On Tuesday I started to get a runny nose. I thought it was from working with dusty books in my organization project. I took a box of tissues to church with me on Wednesday evening. Ram told me then that I was sick, it wasn't just working with books.

I was determined to not miss Thanksgiving so arose very early on Thursday to do everything I could do to get better. I took Airborne, used the neti pot, used essential oils, took a shower, and packed for our trip. We got off much later than I would have liked, but made it safely to Ram's parents. After listening to the weather we did take the shorter way to their house through the mountains. There were some foggy spots but thankfully not icy.

Ram's parents worked on dinner while we drove. My MIL made a completely Paleo meal that was delicious. After way too much food and not feeling well I crashed on the couch until bedtime. Ram's dad shared some Zicam with me and it really helped.

Friday and Saturday we didn't go anywhere, the Lambs watched a lot of TV. Lamb 2 and 3 played outside in the snow. We spent the next couple of days eating leftovers. It was wonderful since I was sick to not have to cook. Every day I felt a little better. Even though I was sick we love going to Ram's parents house and relaxing.

We left on Saturday in time to make it back to the interstate before it was dark. We ate leftovers after unloading the car. We went to bed early.

Sunday I woke up coughing- the cold had now gone to my chest. I sounded terrible enough that I decided not to go to church. Lamb 1 and 3 stayed home with me and Lamb 2 went with Papa to church by himself. I missed a Voter's meeting too.

Sunday afternoon I had planned to do a little shopping and get on a few Black Friday weekend deals. There was no way I was able to do any of that.

Later that afternoon Ram and I did order a couple of items. We got a treat for the Lambs from Kohls. I used Giving Assistant, got free shipping, a coupon code from Kohls, and got Kohls rewards points plus Kohls cash to use this week to buy something that was already on sale. It ended up being a really good deal on something they will love.
Ram and I both had some unredeemed Barnes and Noble cards which I couldn't believe because Ram always uses bookstore gift cards immediately. We got 30% off of one book and free shipping and hopefully we used Giving Assistant correctly here too.
Last we ordered a few items from Amazon. We used Be Well gift cards to buy a gift for Ram's mom, get a book 30% off, buy one more book, and get free shipping.

After 2 nights with the humidifier I felt a lot better this morning even if I didn't sound like it. We did school. We all got chiropractor adjustments. I used a code for free prints for Shutterfly before it expired tonight. Lamb 1 had Cub Scouts tonight.

No one else besides me got sick although Ram has a sore throat today. I am hoping as a pastor during Advent he doesn't get this. This week I need to do final preparations to host a table at our Ladies Advent tea and also to lead crafts for Sunday School. Other than that I am going to rest and try to get healthy.

Ram's mom did Thanksgiving by herself except we brought store bought pies. It will be my turn to host Christmas. Ram's mom and I have were already brainstormed Christmas recipes. As soon as I'm healthy I'm going to start planning Christmas dinner!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Declutter Update 6

*I added all the 700s, 800s, and 900s to our library list and reshelved them in order. Ram and I both chose some to give away. The 900s are our largest section in our home library (a history major married a history minor). It is so good to have that all done and organized.
*I tried cleaning the shower door again using some ideas friends suggested. It still didn't remove all the soap scum. This is so frustrating to me, our house was brand new 4 years ago and this shouldn't be this difficult. I give up on that project.
*I reorganized the chest freezer. I had plans to clean out the fridge freezer and fridge on National Clean Out the Fridge Day, but that didn't happen. I restocked the freezer with several good deals recently and everything fit so cleaning it out can wait.
*I began new bags to organize the give away stuff. Ram needed to go get more liquor store boxes so organizing the give away books had to wait. We now have more boxes so I need to finish that project.
*The Lambs chose a few blankets to get rid of that they thought were babyish. I washed them and put them in the give away pile.
*I pulled all the Christmas stuff out because a lady at church asked to borrow my Advent wreath for an event. I pulled out what she would need for that and my Christmas china for setting my table for that event. I took all that to church. I organized our outside decorations so Ram can put them up after Thanksgiving. Then I put everything else back in the garage because it is way too early for me to decorate. It was good to be reminded again of what I have before the Christmas season. I hope to really downsize our Christmas bins after Christmas this year.
*I organized all my scarves. I didn't choose any to give away, but hopefully I will wear them a little more often now that I can easily see what I own.
*We went to an event where we needed to dress warmly so I pulled out all the Lambs hats and gloves. We were able to find what we needed for the event. We still need to declutter those, but they are all together waiting for that project.

We did school today but I am giving the Lambs the rest of the week off. It is just too difficult when the public school neighbors have Thanksgiving break. I plan to use the next couple of days to do some school planning and get a little more organized. It seems like I start off the year well and then after a couple of months the school room is a mess and my brain is also a disorganized mess of what goals I have for them. Hopefully next week I will feel more prepared to finish off this calendar year of homeschool.

The December calendar is looking very calm for us. Many events on our regular schedule are canceled in December. This year others have volunteered for church events so all I need to do is lead crafts for Sunday School for a couple of Sundays. Other than that I am not in charge of anything at church! I am hoping to get to some deep cleaning in my home after working on decluttering so much this fall. I would like to have the downstairs clean before we put up our tree. So that is my main goal for the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

When I was a sophomore in college...

I never imagined that I would have a conversation with my husband 20 years later about which version of Epic of Gilgamesh was worth keeping in our library. I also didn't imagine that having too many copies of Epic of Gilgamesh would be a problem.

BTW: My version stayed in our library! Thank you, Dr. Ferry!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Love Songs of Childhood

The Dead Babe

Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In agony I knelt and said:
"O God! what have I done,
Or in what wise offended Thee,
That Thou should'st take away from me
My little son?

Upon the thousand useless lives,
Upon the guilt that vaunting thrives,
Thy wrath were better spent!
Why should'st Thou take my little son-
Why should'st Thou vent Thy wrath upon
This innocent?

Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
Before mine eyes the vision spread
Of things that might have been: 
Licentious riot, cruel strife,
Forgotten prayers, a wasted life
Dark red with sin!

Then, with sweet music in the air,
I saw another vision there:
A Shepherd in whose keep 
A little lamb-my little child!
Of worldly wisdom undefiled,
Lay fast asleep!

Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In those two messages I read
A wisdom manifest;
And though my arms be childless now,
I am content-to Him I bow
Who knoweth best.

by Eugene Field

*I recently stumbled upon this poem in a book that my sister gave me 10 years ago. I am not posting it because of anything recent. It has been several months since my last miscarriage. It perfectly sums up the feelings I have had 11 times for my Lambs that are now with the Good Shepherd.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Today's Surprise

One of the reasons that we chose for Lamb 2 and 3 to not do Cub Scouts is because it is so expensive.* Dues are $225 per year. They can do fundraising to lower that amount or they can just pay the dues and not fundraise. Last year dues for those that fundraised were $100. That really was a bargain considering everything they do during the year.

This year they sold meat sticks and popcorn. Each boy sold to their own family and friends. They also got together several Friday nights and Saturdays this fall and sold outside of stores. Sometimes people gave them donations at the stores too.

We received a couple of e-mails this fall that fundraising was not going very well-pleading for Scouts to sell more before the fundraising ended. I was trying to figure out what we were going to do if the dues were $100 like last year or even higher. I was trying to figure out if we could afford it in our budget or if I needed to ask them for some financial help. I did have Lamb 1 attend every single fundraising opportunity there was this fall and he also sold a lot of meat sticks and a little popcorn to our family and friends. I figured if he had done all that then they would be more likely to help us if we couldn't afford the dues.

Today we were notified that the Pack had one of their best fundraising years ever! Each boy that participated in fundraising will only need to pay $40 dues. All those weekends selling were worth it. They sold A LOT of $1 meat sticks!

We can afford $40 dues. We told Lamb 1 how proud we are of him. We plan to buy a treat/prize to reward him since we saved paying Scouts so much money this year. I'm not sure what that is going to be yet, but he has all kinds of suggestions. He may also be rewarded by his Pack, but we'll have to wait until Wednesday for that.

The last two years during the fall we have been extremely busy. Most of that was Cub Scouts-both fundraising and other Scout activities. We are going to be so happy to have that family time on weekends back. Even the neighbor kids will be glad when Lamb 1 is done with Cub Scouts and available to play on weekends.

Lamb 2 will have a turn to pick an activity in February when Lamb 1 is done with Cub Scouts. I'm not sure what activity he will chose, but he has talked about gymnastics. I really don't think Lamb 2 or 3 would have wanted to put this much time into Cub Scouts. I think we will all be happier with a once a week activity or class.

*There are many other reasons why we chose to not allow Lamb 2 and 3 to do Cub Scouts. I won't go into all of them on my blog, but the main reason was the time involved. It split our family up for Lamb 1 to go with Ram every weekend fundraising and the other Lambs and I stayed home. Having the other Lambs join Cub Scouts too would have meant 3 different nights a week at den meetings and we were not willing to commit to being away from home that much. Plus it would have added more dues if all three would have been in Scouts. It was a great experience for Lamb 1 to be in Cub Scouts and I loved the activities like a hike that all the Lambs could do together. I'm glad that Lamb 1 was a Cub Scout but we learned from his experience that we don't want Lamb 2 and 3 to be Cub Scouts. Lamb 1 is also not going on to Boy Scouts, but that is for completely different reasons.

If you have a son that is in Cub Scouts and your Pack dues are not as expensive as ours, count it as a blessing. But it just didn't work for our family for where we live. I think what the boys learn at Cub Scouts is priceless, but we were not willing to invest that much time in Cub Scouts-especially in fundraising. We noticed that many of the boys involved were either only children, only boy in their family, or big age difference in their siblings. That would make a big difference if there were no other male siblings close in age like we have.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Declutter Update 5

I haven't posted about my decluttering projects for awhile. I did break for getting ready for the bazaar, but here is what is completed since the last update.
*We cleaned out the minivan and vacuumed it on the one year anniversary. It was really bad after being in the car so much during cross country season.
*I went through all my empty canning jars and organized them. I kept all the jam size and a few quart and pint size, but got rid of all the rest. I may regret that when I want to do canning and crafts, but for now I love all the extra space in my pantry! I really only use the jam size so it was ridiculous to have so many. I took them to our bazaar and they didn't even make it out to the sale, the lady that priced everything bought them for her daughter.
*I've been working on making recipes that use ingredients in my pantry. I made cranberry lemonade, chamomile lemonade, and Chex Mix. The Lambs loved all the "fresh" lemonade. It used cranberries from my freezer, chamomile tea, and fresh lemons that were on sale.
*I brought home some cookie cutters from my mom so I organized all that and got rid of the duplicates.
*The Lambs went through some of their dress up clothes/costumes and organized that.
*The Lambs went through their backpacks and bags and organized that.
*I organized the top shelf in the coat closet. This was mainly rewards for the Lambs. I organized their rewards and took out the prizes that were too babyish and I knew they would never pick them. I added all those to our Trunk or Treat. Our car was very popular with those prizes. I got rid of all those small prizes at Trunk or Treat. The kids loving picking a small toy instead of just more candy.
*I spent a day organizing our guest room. I still have some boxes to go through that I brought home from my parents, but the room isn't a complete disaster any more. Now I am ready to go through that one box at a time.
*I can't even tell you how much stuff I took to the bazaar, but it was a lot. I took a pair of lamps, a serving tray set, about 6 dozen canning jars, and bags and bags of misc. items and a few boxes of books. I was so happy that almost everything sold and helped the church make some money off of my junk treasures.
*All of the crafts that I took to the bazaar sold so I didn't have any to bring home and store here.
*Ram's parents came to celebrate my birthday and we gave some scrap wood to his dad and got it out of our garage.
*Ram had a set of two very large suitcases from when he studied in England. Since we have been married I don't know if we ever used them. We found the keys and donated them. They are too large to fly with today and too large to take in and out of hotels if you go anywhere by car. They took up a lot of space in the garage and I'm so glad they are gone.
*We took a few other items to donate when we took the suitcases. One was steps from when I did step aerobics at home. I only had a VHS for step aerobics so it was time for that to go.
*Ram took 3 1/2 boxes of books to the used bookstore and they wanted almost everything. We got $80 credit there.
*Lamb 3 decided to sell his Mickey Mouse scooter and buy a regular scooter. I took along a few other items to try to sell at the used kids store. Altogether we got almost $20 and I gave that to Lamb 3 towards his next scooter. He hasn't gone shopping for a new scooter yet. I was glad to get another large toy out of the garage-until it gets replaced with a new scooter.
*I began typing up the 700s in our library. I didn't realize how large this section is until I started typing them! When I am done typing up the list, I will reshelve them. I think I will find duplicates or books we no longer want while I am reshelving. This section contains books on art, music, games, and comic books.

A week after the bazaar I am very pleased with how much stuff we got out of our house and garage in the last month. It went to various places (thrift shop, used kids store for credit, used bookstore for credit, church bazaar, Ram's parents, and some was just trash or recycling). The important thing is that we got it out of our house and currently everything has been delivered where it was supposed to go. It doesn't seem like much progress until all that has been delivered and is no longer in the spot we set aside for give away stuff. It is not enough for me to decide to donate it, when it is finally out of the house is when I realize our progress.

My projects for the next week include:
*Finish organizing the 700 books.
*Try some of the ideas I was given for cleaning my glass shower doors and hopefully be successful this time.
*My freezer was cleaned out when the garage fridge died, but now I need to organize all the freezer stuff. I don't even know which freezer (inside house or garage) everything is in, much less Ram or the Lambs know. Everything fits, but it needs to be organized.
*Begin new bags/boxes to donate stuff as we go through it. We have a complete new start on this as everything is donated now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Whirlwind Weekend

Thursday our PE class went rollerskating. I will post about that in another post.

Thursday evening Ram and I went out on a date. Lamb 3 won tickets for a pre-showing of the Peanuts movie, but it was in the 21+ section so Ram and I used those tickets. We did not like the Peanuts movie. Afterwards we went out to dinner at a restaurant where we had a coupon. I will post more about the movie and dinner in another post.

Friday we got the Lambs out of bed to go to the library book sale. The fall sale is not my favorite as they sell by the book instead of by the bag. I was impressed that we got out of there by spending less than $10. We did find a couple of good treasures.

Friday afternoon Ram had his annual checkup and met our new doctor. She is from Fort Wayne, IN and she has three boys. Everyone in our family has completed all their annual doctor visits this year. Ram and Ewe just have a little to report for the Be Well program this year. It is good to have all that completed.

Friday afternoon we set up for the church bazaar. Saturday was our church bazaar. One lady made chocolate cupcakes and they sang happy birthday to me. She gave the Lambs  and me a cupcake and put the rest of her cupcakes for sale.

The bazaar was a success and we did better than previous years. We were at a point of wondering if it was worth all the work so it was good it was a success. The financial success is good too.

What did I contribute this year? The youth sold fancy coffee and homemade bread. Lamb 1 is now in youth group so that meant I needed to make some bread. All 4 mini cranberry bread sold, 2 big loaves of paleo banana bread sold, 1 out of 2 bread maker whole wheat bread sold, and none of my paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins sold. I didn't mind that the muffins didn't sell and brought them home for us. There were several youth involved and each made $22 (they divide the profits with whomever works a fundraising event).

The LWML makes and sells crafts. Last year I made tooth fairy pillows and Christmas ornaments with a Peanuts characters on them and none of my crafts sold. I took the same items that didn't sell last year and all of them sold this year! I also took a dozen jars of jam and 9 of those sold.

The LWML also runs a chocolate corner that sells homemade chocolate. All of my buckeyes sold. I also made a couple of items for this section that did not sell well and the ladies ended up giving them away to whomever bought something. I'll blog more about those items in another post.

I was the most pleased with the garage sale section also run by the LWML. I brought so much stuff over there. In the last month it seemed like every day I gave Ram a box or bag to take to church when he went to work. Those items were from all over my house-wherever I have worked on decluttering. My silver serving tray sold and also my lamps. The canning jars didn't even make it out to the sale, the lady that priced everything bought them. I had so many items marked 50 cents or a dollar and almost all of that sold. I estimate they made $70 on my garage sale stuff-all those little items added up. I love that some clutter is out of my house and it helped our LWML too. We were surprised that so much stuff sold. There were tons of books for sale and there were many left over, but many did sell. There wasn't a whole lot left over besides books. Someone from church will deliver the rest to donate this week.

We had several people to help clean up and we left church an hour after the bazaar sale ended.  We have never cleaned up that fast. I bought the leftover chicken noodle soup which my Lambs love so I didn't need to cook that night.

Sunday my Lambs were about the only kids there for Sunday School. I told the teachers to cancel class and not just teach my boys. I was in a hurry to get home and feed the Lambs before Ram's parents arrived. They ended up not arriving until late afternoon and we would have had plenty of time. I received nice birthday presents. We went out to dinner at a restaurant that gives free kids meals on Sundays. This is probably the last time for that because Lamb 1 will be 12 in March.

Monday I canceled school to try to get caught up after the bazaar. Ram's parents brought  dinner from Costco. I was scheduled to pick up chicken that evening. Ram did the pick up, we ate dinner, I delivered my friend Joelle's portion, and then Ram went to a church meeting. Our time with Ram's parents was short this time, but we were able to celebrate my birthday with them. I finished preparing 40 lbs of chicken last night. I still have 20 lbs left to do today. I cut it in small pieces so it is ready for recipes. That takes a long time but it worth it to be ready for recipes.

Today we were back to a regular schedule of practice piano, homeschool, and piano lessons. I am so glad the bazaar is done this year and was a success. After the chicken is finished I will take it easy this week before resuming my cleaning and decluttering next week.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Living frugally in our house

We decided that after 4 years living here we would have the furnace checked and any maintenance done before winter instead of during winter. When we first moved in we had the furnace checked and we haven't done anything since then except change the filters.

A couple of interesting examples of living frugally happened at this furnace checkup. We asked if he could look at the A/C while he was already out here and prevent a spring checkup bill. I knew that it was too cold to run the A/C but figured since we didn't have any problems this summer he could at least look at it and see if there was anything major that he would notice. Since we have never had a spring or fall checkup, the A/C unit was really dirty and there was really no way to avoid a spring checkup if we want our system to run efficiently. At least he tried to take a look at it. I will admit that we run our A/C a lot more days than we run our furnace so it should have a spring checkup too.

Second, I mentioned that the day he came to check out the furnace was the first day we turned on our heat. He said his house is much older so not insulated as well as ours so he has needed to have his furnace on for the past few weeks. The day that I turned the heat on was honestly the first day that our house temperature was lower than I would have set the thermostat. We were fine with sweaters and blankets until then. I will also admit that it is never hot in our house during the winter, we set our thermostat much lower than the average family.

Third, while he was out he took a quick look at our water heater. He mentioned that our water heater was set low and we could easily turn it up from where we have it without being worried of burning the children with hot water. He said most people have theirs set higher than we do. If the temperature ranges were very low, low, high, and very high- he was suggesting that we move from low to high. But we have experimented with the temperature from where it was set when we moved in and where it is set seems to be perfect for us. If we lived where it was colder we would set it higher. But being set to low seems to be perfect for us and saves us money too.

Fourth, he told us that our furnace is the EXACT right size for our house and the builder planned that well. If we had any more square footage the furnace would not be big enough. If we had any less square footage the furnace would waste energy.

All this added up to tell me that even though we get disgusted with how easily things break here and we have done more repairs than we expected, it was a good financial decision to buy a brand new house. The furnace man confirmed all that for me. I'll continue to wait to turn on the heat until we really need to, set my thermostat low, and keep the water heater set low to save even more. Every little bit saved helps the budget!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Family Update

I turned the heat on this morning. Lamb 1 is the one that is always hot and he came in the middle of the night saying he was cold. Unless we have a warm day the heat is probably on at our house for the season now. We'll start using the fireplace too.

My bazaar projects are going well. I completed the two craft projects; one took all afternoon on Monday. My baking is about half way done. I've made cranberry bread, paleo banana bread, am halfway through buckeyes (need to dip in chocolate), and one loaf of bread maker whole wheat bread. We have taken so much to the garage sale portion of the bazaar. I love getting stuff cleaned out of my house! I'll try to post pictures of my projects soon.

Due to the fridge breaking I have done so much laundry. We used a lot of rags over several days to clean it all up. Due to the baking I have done so many dishes. I am trying to keep up with housework before Ram's parents come to celebrate my birthday.

Ram and I had a terrible time finding a babysitter, but we finally did so we can go on a date tomorrow night. All the boys are hunting or working and all the girls are busy with school activities. I am already looking forward to a few more years ahead when we don't need babysitters any more. Lamb 1 could stay home alone, but not babysit his brothers yet. Our last date was in January so it is time. (I'm not counting our errands as part of our vacation as a date even though we did go out to lunch then while my parents watched the Lambs.)

The repairman came and fixed our fridge yesterday. Because we had bought the used fridge from them he gave us a big discount on the repair. If we have to buy any more appliances we will definitely go back to them. I am hoping that we are set on appliances now! It was so much cheaper to repair than buy a new used fridge. Ram and I both watched him repair and I think we could do the repair ourselves if this ever happens again. I haven't transferred everything back to the fridge yet, but I have plenty of time to complete all that before the chicken arrives on Monday. Ram cleaned the inside of the fridge out while I was voting yesterday so I didn't even have to clean it!

Lamb 1 and 2 practiced spooky songs for piano last week. This week they both started practicing Christmas songs. Lamb 1 has spent a lot of his free time practicing from the hymnal. Our piano definitely gets a workout daily even without Lamb 3 beginning lessons yet.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Unexpected To Do List on All Saints Day

Last night our church hosted a Trunk or Treat so we were at church for several hours. When we got home Ram and I decided to splurge and get pizzas after our busy week. The Lambs got to bed late but I wasn't too worried because of the time change and we don't have church until 10am.

About 2am I heard the sound that every mother recognizes and hates to hear. Lamb 3 threw up 3 times on the way to the bathroom. It rates up there as the nastiest I have ever had to clean up due to the pizza and lots of candy. Twice was in their bedroom and once was in the hallway. I quickly wiped it up and put rags over the top of it-there was no way I could scrub that with 3 Lambs trying to sleep. (Ram slept through all of it!) I cleaned up the sink and Lamb 3 and sent him back to bed. It took me awhile to get back to sleep and I mentally made a to do list:
1. Notes for Ram for announcements at church since I couldn't be there.
2. Decided Lamb 2 would need to stay home with me because I wasn't positive that Lamb 2 would have a Sunday School teacher and I wouldn't be there to sub.
3. Knew I would need to completely scrub down their bathroom and also clean the carpet.
4. Was very disappointed to miss church on All Saints Day.
5. Decided to get started baking for the bazaar on Saturday after the necessary cleaning.

In reality my to do list grew and grew and grew today.
1. Lamb 2 got up way early due to the time change and I wasn't ready to deal with all his questions. He was very frustrated that he had to miss church and didn't understand why. I wouldn't allow him to watch TV and he didn't know what to do while his brothers were still sleeping.
2. Lamb 1 had changed his own alarm clock and he accidentally set it two hours back instead of one. So when I told him it was time to get up he refused to get up. When I finally got him up, I had to answer all the questions again since he hadn't heard my answers for Lamb 2.
3. Lamb 3 should have slept in after the night before but he was up at regular time to get ready for church. He was grouchy because I put him on a diet of applesauce, banana, saltines, and ginger ale until I knew he was okay. I still wouldn't allow TV so both Lamb 2 and 3 were upset.
4. Finally Ram and Lamb 1 left for church and Lamb 2 and 3 started playing a game together. I started by cleaning off the kitchen table which had messes of candy and dishes on it. We were all gone the past 4 nights so it was a mess.
5. Then I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher because we had no clean glasses.
6. Then I cleaned the Lamb bathroom.
7. Throughout the whole day I did a lot of laundry and I kept running out of clean rags.
8. Then I decided to clean out the pantry. A few weeks ago I bought some oatmeal on sale and it has been sitting on my counter because there wasn't room in the pantry for it. I threw out a bunch of expired stuff and got everything to fit in the pantry.
9. After lunch the Lambs cleaned up their bedroom, put away their clean clothes, and Lamb 3 changed all his bedding.
10. I cleaned those carpet spots.
11. I have two crafty projects to complete for the bazaar on Saturday. I completed one this afternoon. I haven't even started the second one.
12. A few days ago I began cleaning the downstairs bathroom and decided to finish that project today. I cleaned the toilet and Ram replaced the toilet seat. When I was in the middle of cleaning the bathroom Ram came and told me that our garage refrigerator was leaking all over the garage floor. Our garage fridge has been dying, but I still had blueberries, cranberries and stuff like that in the freezer out there. The fridge out there was full of nuts and flour and stuff like that-if I had more freezer room most of it would go in the freezer but I don't have that much freezer room. I was gradually using up stuff in the freezer and was hoping it could make it until after Christmas when we would go down to just the inside fridge.
13. We took everything out of the fridge and freezer. We removed all the magnets from the front of the fridge. Ram cleaned up the water as best as he could. I was thankful we cleaned out the garage last weekend or cleaning up the water would have been a bigger project.
14. I cleaned out my chest freezer (in my kitchen) and put everything from the garage freezer in it. I cleaned out the refrigerator and fit most of what was in the garage fridge in it.
15. Cleaning out the pantry and the fridge and the freezer made a lot of trash and a lot of dishes. Ram took out the trash several times today and we both did several loads of dishes today.
16. I supervised Lamb 2 practicing piano and helped him with his theory work.
17. I finally got back to finishing cleaning the downstairs bathroom.
18. I am scheduled to get 60 lbs of chicken next Monday. We have to go fridge/freezer shopping tomorrow.
19. I didn't start any baking today, but I know what ingredients I still need after cleaning out the pantry and the fridge.

I am praising God because:
1. Lamb 3 was fine after that one time. No one else was sick.
2. We were able to do all our activities last week and should be able to do all our activities this week except for missing church this morning.
3. Sunday is my day of the week to clean the Lamb bathroom. I would have been cleaning it today any way, just disinfected a little more than a normal weekly cleaning. I did laugh at myself that I was so happy this happened the night before my normal cleaning day!
4. The garage fridge died a week before I got the chicken and two weeks before the grocery store has a sale that I always stock up at. I could fit almost everything in my fridge and freezer inside my house. This would have been a huge problem and also cost us a lot of money if it would have happened in a few weeks instead of today.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Produce Report

Monday night Ram and I were afraid it was going to freeze so we went out with flashlights and picked eggplants, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Everything we picked was small but worth picking. We made a good decision because it was right at 32 degrees that night. I just couldn't believe our first freeze was so late in the year.

Recently our raspberry bushes have had a lot of raspberries. It was strange to be having fresh raspberries at the end of October.

Ram's parents have two apple trees that went crazy this year. We enjoyed several apples from them.

The neighbors gave us several white potatoes from a local farmer about a month ago. We don't eat many white potatoes and last year we didn't make it through them before they went bad. This year I left them on the counter to remind myself to use them and we finished all of them last week.

Our PE co-op had to cancel twice this fall- once for rain and once for bad air quality. It was cool but not cold today. The Lambs still wore short sleeves and shorts today. I layered but took off some of the layers during PE. Beginning next week PE Co-op will be inside so we have several months before worrying about the weather for PE.

Because of bad air quality we used the A/C much longer than I would have liked to this month. We couldn't open windows during those bad air days. I'm determined to wait until November to turn on the heat since we used the A/C so long. A local friend was surprised I haven't turned the heat on. I can handle putting on extra sweaters or blankets instead of turning on heat.

We are still not good at gardening here, but this year with the long growing season we did better than any other year we have lived here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Lamb 2 and 3 are doing spelling together this year. Lamb 2 has caught on quite quickly, Lamb 3 is taking a little longer. Usually I do spelling with them together and then later in the day do the same lesson with Lamb 3 again by himself. This has worked well and so far they are staying at the same level by doing it this way.

After they are finished I check over their spelling list that they wrote. One of today's words was "some". Our recent family read aloud was Charlotte's Web.

As I looked over Lamb 2's spelling book here is part of what he wrote.


some pig


He didn't say anything while he wrote his words, I just found this surprise when I looked over what they wrote today!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Children Today Part 2

If you haven't read my post from a few days ago that was part 1, please read that first.

8. Chores-
"Boys and girls, if they are to be prepared for their own family life later, need to be familiar with the details of family routines. By the time they are 12 they should be putting up their own lunches, doing simple cooking, planning and carrying out projects like cleaning their own rooms. Children who live on farms have an advantage over city children. They may have first-hand experience in work by means of which millions of people earn their living. They care for stock, or even raise them, learn to use and repair machinery, and help get meals for threshers. The city boy's job of washing the family car, and his sister's practice in helping to serve at church suppers are examples of the less frequent work opportunities coming to urban children."    Your Child from 6 to 12 Children's Bureau Publication Number 324

I struggle with giving my Lambs appropriate chores. The Lambs are assigned to each clean their bathroom two days a week. They pitch in to help with dishes, assist to make meals, clean their bedroom and playroom, put their clothes away, help Ram with yard work, and chores like that. But besides their bathroom they don't have assigned chores. It usually turns out that on Ram's day off we all help to get lots done inside and outside our house.

My challenge is trying to find the happy medium between them doing chores that provide experiences that help them become self-reliant and useful and finding the time to supervise them doing most chores. Sometimes it is easier to just do the chores myself, but I know they need to learn how to do these chores and not have me do everything for them. I want them to learn how to contribute to our family and be useful to our family. We don't have pets or a large garden for them to help with.

I do try to have a good attitude about work. Sometimes I will make them a list of chores they need to complete and when they are finished with that list they are allowed to play the rest of the day. Sometimes I let them pick music to listen to while they do chores. Sometimes I work with them to all work together on a chore.

9. Learning to read and write-
This book strongly encouraged reading to and talking to children a lot, but leaving the rest of schooling to their teachers when they go to school. It encouraged parents not to worry if their children don't learn how to read in first grade and reminded parents that some children take much longer to learn to read.

Society doesn't allow parents to give children time to go at their own pace for academics any more. Some children really are ready to learn to read at age 6 and others aren't ready until age 10. Parents are expected to hire a tutor for their child if they can't keep up with academics for their age level. I think it would be good if we remember each child will go at their own pace.

10. Musical experience-
This book strongly encouraged listening to and discussing good music. Although it recommended piano lessons it reminded parents to not give their children so many scheduled activities that they don't have free time. I think many Americans today have shifted their focus on children's extracurricular activities away from music to sports.

11. Child illness-
The end of this book had a whole list of common childhood illnesses and how parents could help their children when they were ill. I praise God that most of the common illnesses in 1950 are now rare. Medical advances have also taught us how to better care for children with the childhood illnesses that are still common.

It was interesting to read this publication and see what the experts 65 years ago told parents about raising children.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Declutter Update 4

I made lots of progress this week in all kinds of areas of my house.
*We received a silver plated serving dish for our wedding, but we never used it, not even once. I had Ram assemble it and I polished the silver. It went in the bazaar pile.
*I cleaned our master bathroom shower once again. I finally got the shower floor clean. I am very frustrated because I can not get the shower doors completely clean. My cleaning lady in MN used WD-40 and I also tried dryer sheets because it was recommended on the Internet. Everything I try helps some, but nothing removes all the soap scum and hard water marks. Any other suggestions?
*The Lambs cleaned up their playroom and game closet. There is more to do there.
*I organized all the give away stuff again after making deliveries a few weeks ago. Ram delivered the donate pile.
*I got all my homemade crafts and homemade jam organized and labeled ready for the bazaar.
*I washed the slip covers on our sofa in our library and put them back on.
*I organized the 600s in our library. This section was on one bookshelf in our master bedroom. Before organizing it the books didn't all fit on the shelves. After organizing everything fits with about 1/2 a shelf empty. This section had a large give away pile-we are done with pregnancy/birth/nursing books.
*I organized my purses and bags (backpacks/duffel bags). I filled a paper grocery bag with give away from this project.
*We filled our van and all 5 of us went and delivered all the stuff for the church bazaar. Now I have more room to get more ready for the bazaar.
*Ram and I worked in the garage for a couple of hours. We got a bunch of trash ready  and organized some areas of the garage. We brought a couple of boxes in to go through. Ram got all our old phones together and got rid of all of them except the last landline ones we used. There are still several boxes that haven't been gone through since we moved here, but we are dealing with one project at a time. Everything we did made the garage look a whole lot better.
*I organized all the Thomas the Train bins. My boys don't play with it any more, but I do want to keep it for when we have company with children. It was in a couple of overflowing bins, now the lids fit on both bins.
*I emptied some canning jars with applesauce and cherries that I canned when we first moved here. It got pushed to the back of the pantry and I forgot they were there. We would have eaten the applesauce if I would have remembered it was there. Now I have more canning jars for more canning.
*I made Lamb 1 clean out his candy stash-he really doesn't need Easter candy or Halloween candy from last year!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Children Today

When I was teaching first and second grade, my grandma gave me a book titled, Your Child from 6 to 12. This was a pamphlet written in 1950 by the US Department of Health, Eduction, and Welfare. I decided to skim through this before putting it in recycling. I had a few thoughts after reading this that I want to blog about.

1. Houses and where we live-
Our house is much larger than houses that families lived in the 50s, but we live in the city. My boys have their own bathroom and I have a separate master bathroom. I don't want to give up my bathroom, but there isn't the necessary sharing of living space that families used to have. The opportunity for physical activity is also cut down by where we live. That physical energy must be let out by children and sometimes that means getting in trouble for being too loud or wild considering we have neighbors close by. Recently a neighbor boy got a little wild and broke the fence connecting our yard to a different neighbor's yard. If we lived in the country there wouldn't even be a fence for our boys to need to be careful not to break. We wouldn't have to abide by HOA rules.

2. Family Size-
The average family size is smaller than the 50s. We are blessed with several children in our neighborhood for our boys to play with. But there is a big difference between playing with neighborhood children and having siblings to always play with. I am thankful that each of my boys has two brothers to play with and wish that my boys also had sisters. With a smaller family each Lamb gets more individual attention from Ram and Ewe than if we had a larger family. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes I think it would be better for them to have to figure more out on their own and have siblings help each other more.

3. Inventions-
We don't have to do as much physical activity at our households as they did in the 50s thanks to washing machines and dishwashers and lawn mowers and more household servants. Even if I give the Lambs chores they are drastically different than chores that my parents did.

4. Amusements-
The average family doesn't stay home together in their free time any more. The one exception is that we rarely go to the movie theater, when we watch a movie together it is usually at home. But the other activities that we do as a family aren't usually at home, we go to a park or pay to go to a baseball game etc. Gone are the old fashioned family sing alongs. We don't expect our children to find their own activities to play together in their free time. They have so many toys (in our house, it is Legos) that they don't even play with all of them.

5. Moving-
I have been shocked in my brand new neighborhood how often the neighbors move. There  seems to always be a house for sale on our street. Much of this is because of job transfers and some is because they really couldn't afford the house they bought. But some is just they move on to a bigger house or better neighborhood because they want to. This makes it difficult for children to form relationships in their neighborhood. And Ram and I don't have any adult friends in our neighborhood other than knowing their names.

6. Going to camp-
This pamphlet highly recommended sending your child to camp away from home as a necessary skill as they grow up. I must admit that none of my Lambs have ever spent the night away from home. Today many children attend day camp but few go away for a week. This is on our list to send them to a Lutheran Camp soon, but hasn't happened yet.

7. Play-
Lamb 1 has been frustrated playing with neighborhood friends recently. It is rare that our family and a neighborhood family are both home long enough to really play a whole game that he wants to play like a football game. And when they do have a long time to play the other kids don't want to just play one game for a long time, they want to do several activities. They don't have the focus to keep at one game. I feel sorry for Lamb 1, but know there is really nothing we can do about this. And we give them bikes and scooters and so many toys that they don't come up with their own games to play for an afternoon.

I have more to blog about this so this is to be continued...

Monday, October 19, 2015

The door knob problem

Before our house warranty ran out, we needed the builder to come out and replace a few door knobs in our house. After the warranty ran out Ram has replaced a few door knobs in our house. We are disgusted with how cheap and easily broken things are at our brand NEW house.

There is a door between our garage and our house. Last week it got jammed again and it took some work to get it open. Ewe seemed to have more luck getting it unjammed than Ram did. We planned to replace the door knob soon. We finally got the Lambs trained to not let the door slam shut, to leave it open about an inch. This was no easy task to teach them this as they go in and out of this door several times a day. One day Lamb 1 came inside and left it open an inch. Ram came in after him and totally forgot about the door and it slammed shut. Neither Ewe or Ram could get it to open. Ram removed most of the door knob and it was still jammed shut. After both of us worked on it doing everything we could think of, we decided we needed a handyman.

The next few days were a pain, we had to go out our front door and open the garage door each time we had to go some place or we needed something out of the garage refrigerator. I'm not used to carrying a house key with me and I was so afraid that we were going to get locked out of our house. I was afraid that after playing outside the Lambs would forget to close the garage door and it would be open all night.

All of our friends from church that could have helped us are really busy this time of year at their work and they are hunting every weekend. So we went to social media asking for advice of a handyman that would take such a small job. Once we could get it unjammed, Ram could replace the door knob.

The first response was from someone that tried to tell us how to fix it. His response was that the door needed to be open to remove that part. That was exactly what the problem was, we couldn't open it.

The second response was a guy that lived near by that offered to come fix it for us. He did come the next day and fixed it with a little tinkering. We found out he was an unemployed neuroscientist that moved here for his wife's job. He knew how to fix the door because similar things have happened at his house. It only took him a few minutes and he had the door knob off. Ram offered to pay him because he took the time to come over. He refused payment.

Then I offered him some homemade jam. He said his wife would be upset if he refused that. I gave him his choices and he chose blueberry. I haven't even labeled my jam yet this year, but I knew which ones were blueberry.

I just had to laugh that this neuroscientist comes and fixes our door and we pay him with unlabeled jam. But God provided someone to fix a real problem at our house. We were so thankful when Ram could complete the repair and going out to the garage isn't a problem any more!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Declutter Progress Update #3

We continue to work on projects here. Here is what we accomplished this week.
*Began working on the church library-more to do on that. The room that we used to have the church library in was needed as a preschool classroom. So the books that we wanted to keep were moved to another room and need to be organized.
*I was looking for a book in Ram's office at church and decided to bring a few books home. I would love to have him bring one shelf worth of books home at a time to catalog them until we get his entire library cataloged. He inherited many books from the previous pastor and from my dad. I would guess there are more duplicates in there some where. So that project is now added to the to do list.
*I took some electronic waste on the correct day of the month. Ram had loaded it in the car and we went through drive through on the way to piano lessons. The man wasn't sure what I was giving him-I told him it contained batteries that I wasn't allowed to put in the regular trash. My stuff looked small compared to the car ahead of me, but I got rid of a few items!
*After I completed my mending pile about a month ago, Ram added several pastor shirts to the pile and the Lambs added a few more items. I completely finished my mending pile this time!
*The Lambs removed all their built Lego creations from the windowsill in the playroom and they are reorganizing the whole area-houses on one level with a garage below the houses. Once I told them what I wanted them to do they completely did this project on their own. I can't imagine them doing this by themselves a few years ago.
*The Lambs have 8 storage cubbies underneath their train table. Each cubby contains different toys-one for blocks, one for music instruments, etc. We are almost done cleaning out all of those cubbies. Only a little went into the give away pile but a lot went into the trash (broken toys). It is good to get that all organized so as we clean up other areas of the house when they find toys they can put them away in the correct cubby. Cleaning these cubbies out was a big project and we are glad to have it completed.
*Ram replaced the door knob between our garage and the house. That adventure deserves a whole blog post.
*Ram dropped off an outdoor Christmas decoration at the thrift store. I figured this was the time to donate something like that instead of waiting until after Christmas. It was a big box and good to get out of the garage.
*I also want to add that Ram and I have communicated a lot about all this decluttering. While we haven't begun all the projects, we both have projects in mind and we're starting to prioritize those projects into an order that we would like them completed. We realize that we have way too much stuff and we are both trying to make headway in as many areas of our house, garage, and his church office as possible. Because Ram is busy with church work this usually means I am in charge of the decluttering, but he is helpful to  take out the trash and recycling often and load stuff in the car to give away. He also motivates the Lambs to get to work on their projects. He doesn't mind taking a load to the thrift shop or to try to resell. And when I'm running errands or chauffeuring the Lambs he keeps up with the dishes and cooking. But I really need to talk about some of this-Should we give this away yet? Where should I donate this? Sometimes it takes both of us to come up with an answer. Because we are working together we are accomplishing more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 15

This photo is from one of my miscarriages. I have about 5 other photos just like it, some with more syringes, some with less.

The doctors I have seen in both MN and ID have all told me that I'm doing everything right and everything that they know is possible. I have taken prenatal vitamins every day since my wedding day. I have taken baby aspirin daily since I found out I have Factor II. Once I know I'm pregnant I begin twice a day heparin injections and also progesterone supplements. I continue all this until they are absolutely certain that I'm having another miscarriage, even though I often know it's a miscarriage weeks before I stop this routine.

Sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it . The doctor told me back in 2011 that the chances of me having another baby were very very low even if I did everything they know to do. Heparin and progesterone cost a lot of money and recently insurance is paying for less than they did before. Remembering injections twice a day is difficult.

Then I remember that I'm doing this for one of my Lambs. I want to do everything possible to give my child a chance. That makes it all worth it. That makes me continue this whole routine each time I get a positive pregnancy test.

I long for the day that I will meet my other 11 Lambs. October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Not every pregnancy has a happy ending. Not every birth has a happy ending. Not every newborn has a happy ending. So I keep all those parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and siblings who have lost babies in my prayers today.

“Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,

And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”

LSB 364:3