Friday, September 24, 2010

Too cute!

I got all of Twinkle’s hair into a ponytail!!  Absolutely insane! 


I love this girl!!!!!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ready to be Grossed Out?

I love new moms! Hey, I used to be one!! Now, I wouldn't exactly call myself a veteran- after all, my oldest is only eight, and I know I've yet to experience a lot of things- however, six kids into it, I would say that I'm pretty experienced with the baby-preschool ages!

New moms take joy in every new moment of their babies' lives. From the first coo to the first steps, every accomplishment is AMAZING! And it is every new mom's right (not really, but you know what I mean) to take personal credit for what their babies can do! First-time moms spend every available moment they have teaching, nurturing, and encouraging their little babes to do the next 'thing,' achieve the next milestone. I think this is why firstborns are stereotypically 'ahead' of the averages. Moms, by sheer determination to see their children achieve, who have nothing else vying for their attentions, gently 'push' their little ones along. When you have the second, third, fourth, etc., guess what happens?!? You have less time to spend with that newborn!! I think that's when you learn to relax, enjoy, and savor each moment. Don't get me wrong here- I'm at baby number six, and I still think every accomplishment is AMAZING! If you're a mom of more than one, and those milestones are no big deal, I think you've lost the wonder of what it is to be a mom. Find it again!!!

All this to say, there is one fault that nearly every new mom has. In fact, a lot of moms share this same fault (I It's the "I would never..." fault.

"I would never give my child candy for lunch."

"I would never lose my temper."

"I would never allow my child to leave the house wearing dress-up clothes."

And on and on they go...

I'm learning that the Bible gives clear instructions on raising children in the areas that have eternal importance. We are to raise them to know the Lord, to discipline the wayward child, to train them up in the way they should go (BTW, every child is different, so you must seek wisdom in this area), to provoke them to love and good works and not to anger...

Here are parenting issues NOT addressed in the Bible (aside from always doing what is best for your child- again, prayer is key in each of these areas):

Co-sleeping/family bed vs. cribs
Bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding- breastfeeding is best, of course, but still not a Biblical issue
Cloth vs. disposable diapers
Natural birth vs. hospital/medical interventions
The appropriate age to potty-train

And on and on they go...

Again, some of these choices are definitely preferred over the others, however there's no 'sin' involved in these issues. New mom's are notorious for the "I would never..." fault! Didn't we all have it all figured out when we had that first baby?! We read the books, the experts, and we knew what was, clearly, the only real choice!! But, guess what?! Life, and reality, happens! You find that what you thought was a big deal, really isn't. You find out that this battle isn't worth the effort. You find out that what worked for your genius firstborn, your second child couldn't care less about!

Here's my "I would never..." confession of the day:

"I would never sit a potty seat in front of the television in the living room!"

Seriously, that's gross!! I've always thought that was gross, and I still do!! However, the proof of my hypocrisy is right there...

I'm still not sure the twins are ready to potty train, but we're giving it a shot. They HATE the toilet and have screamed every time I've ever tried to put them on it. I bought these little potties several months ago ($4 at IKEA), and just brought them out today. Minion 1 (in orange) and Minion 2 (in brown) sat in the bathroom for while with the faucet running and full cups of water, but...nothing. However, since they were still willing to sit, I decided to try this out. Normally, the TV is not out in the living room, but we brought it out to watch a game last weekend, and it's still sitting there, so I've allowed the kids to watch more shows than usual.

The above blank and mindless stares are exactly why I don't like them to watch TV...

We'll see if my hypocrisy pays off!!

Christmas Gifts- Episode One

Yes, I’m thinking about Christmas already.  In fact, I went into Lowe’s two weeks ago and saw fake Christmas trees!  This year, I am endeavoring to go as homemade as possible.  Remember how a handmade shirt or scarf used to be a wonderful gift to receive?!  I don’t, but I’ve read about those days!  I confess that I’m a child of the Y2K generation, and I find it quite easy to overlook the simplicity of a homespun treasure.  However, with 8 people in the family now and limited funds (due to a refusal to use credit cards!), the handmade Christmas gift is making a comeback in this house!

Besides, I want my children to grow up treasuring those gifts into which someone put so much thought and effort.  I don’t want them to give any thought to a price tag, but to appreciate the uniqueness of their new playthings. 

Now, don’t get me wrong- if I open up a pair of diamond earrings Christmas morning, I’m not going to tell the hubby to take them back and make me a mixed tape!  I’m not that into homemade!!  Hee hee…  We will probably still buy things from the store for each other- just not much, not this year.

Tuesday night I worked on the first of the older boys’ Christmas presents.  I made super hero capes.  They love to dress up and put on ‘shows,’ and my fingers get tired from tying their blankets into knots!  So I thought they would love these:


Please ignore the wrinkles!


I only used what I had on hand: material I’ve had for years, ribbon I was given a while back, standard white thread, and scraps of fusible webbing I used for a craft 6 years ago!

A simple hem around the sides and bottom (I used a zig-zag stitch on everything for detail) and a wide hem at the top to string through some ribbon is all it took.  I added a strip of ribbon near the bottom for ‘decoration’ (I’m sure boys don’t like to use that word):


Finally, I added their initials so no one can mistake their ownership and/or super-identities.


Things to think about:

  • I just used what I had, but this fabric is going to be a wrinkled mess all the time!  Next time, I’ll consider buying a knit fabric that will look nicer.
  • I’m not sold on the zig-zag stitch, but it’s better than straight, and I’m just not a very skilled seamstress yet.
  • There are plenty of areas that just don’t look too great (see above disclaimer), but thankfully, the boys will never notice these, and I can pretend they’re not there…
  • I did sew the ribbon tie to the cape so it would not slide out, but I think a wider ribbon would have been better.  I’m also considering putting some velcro on the ends so they don’t have to bother tying them.

One (two?) down, how many more to go…?  I’ve got one idea for the Minions, and I’ve made a start on Sweetheart Girl’s, but I’ll wait to post until they’re done.  If you have favorite, easy project ideas, pass them along, please!!

Singing in the Rain (not really)

What kid doesn't love to play in the rain? Well, once they're a little older and not so timid about everything...Obviously, we don't get much rain here in Arizona, but when we do it's reason to celebrate!
McAwesome has always loved the gets him out of a shower later that night!

I'm not sure what this face means!

Minion 1 (in brown) jumped right out there, but Minion 2 (in gray) was a little hesitant at first. Of course, just a few minutes after he got out, the lightening started...figures!

Sweetheart Girl was just glad to have a reason to use her umbrella!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Science is Hot! and so are meteors

We are loving our science curriculum this year! Daddy-man is teaching this one, and Hero and McAwesome look forward to it every Tuesday and Friday! A couple of times we've had to skip it, and they've been very disappointed.

The text is written in a conversational style, and while I believe it is mainly geared toward 2nd-3rd grades and above, younger students (like my 1st grader McAwesome) can glean a lot from it as well. We also purchased the Student Notebooking Journal for each of them; it's chocked full of extra activities which help to reinforce the lessons. For example, on the Fun Facts page, they are to write/draw something they learned from the lesson. Hero wrote about all the planets, and McAwesome, who is a little young to form complete thoughts into sentences, drew a shooting star, which he learned is really a meteor burning through the atmosphere. It was interesting to see what they each picked up on from the same lesson. They worked on a matchbook activity earlier this week, and they hung the solar system in their bedroom on Monday.

We didn't have balloons, styrofoam balls, or the inclination to papier-mache, so they just used good ol' fashioned white cardstock! As their focus was on the planets, they did not make a sun, but the sun would be the stuffed animals net.

It's all very cute, but the cutest part was this:

This is McAwesome teaching the planets to the Minions! ADORABLE! All week, the twins have been bringing McAwesome the horse, saying, "McAwesome, come on! Planets!" Of course, their two year old voices make it even cuter!

So barring some unforeseen problem, we are already planning on continuing the Apologia Science series. It's easy to understand, yet very detailed and thorough. It requires very little pre-planning and is enjoyable to both student and teacher. Of course, science is a subject I always enjoyed, so it's easy for me to get excited about it!

I'm Grocery Gaming (Again)

I think most people have heard of The Grocery Game by now, but in case you haven't, it's a wonderful site that helps save you money on groceries. In a nutshell, the site tracks the stores sales (advertised and unadvertised), the Sunday coupons (as well as internet coupons), and tells you when and where to use those coupons to get the best deal. For example, this week Fry's had Danimals Smoothies (6 pack) on sale for $1.88. This Sunday's paper had a coupon for $1 off. Combine the coupon with the sale and I got a 6 pack of smoothie drinks, normally priced $3.29 for 88 cents. Wow! Even better, Daninos Yogurt was also on sale for $1.88, but my coupon was only for 55 cents off. Still an okay deal, but Fry's doubles all coupons up to $1 (so does Safeway), so my 55 cents savings just became $1. A 6 pack of Daninos Yogurt regularly priced $2.49, cost 88 cents again!

I did this several years ago, but ended up stopping, partially because we didn't have the money to stockpile (buy things you don't need now, but the price is great so you get them for later), and largely because I got lazy when we moved. But I just started again this week.

As weeks go by, I will have accumulated more coupons, but this week I could only shop with this Sunday's coupons. Too bad because I missed a lot of good deals!

The Grocery Game color codes items: Green is for items that are actually FREE! You'll find that you get a good supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. all for free. Blue is for STOCKPILING items. These are items that are such a good deal with coupons (think rock bottom prices) that you should purchase as much as you can. I did this this week with cereal (name brands were cheaper than generic), yogurt, and soup. Remember, I don't have a lot of coupons yet, and I missed a lot! Finally, black items are things that are on sale, but they're not at their best, so you should only buy them IF YOU NEED THEM.

Okay, now the have the cost of the Sunday paper. The Grocery Game uses the Arizona Republic (for AZ, of course) which costs $2. If you can afford it, buy more than one paper to get more coupons, remembering that stockpiling is the way to save. If you live in Tucson like me, you can get the Daily Star, but it will be missing coupons. I learned this the hard way when I did this a few years ago. I'd get all excited to find a free item, only to discover that I didn't get that coupon. Grrr...

The Grocery Game charges $10 every 8 weeks for one store list, and $5 extra for every store after that. That's $1.25 a week. I promise you will save more than $3.25 a week to offset these costs (plus there's a FREE four week trial offer)! For example, I went to Safeway and purchased items that totaled to $114.74 at regular store price. Using only my Safeway Club Card, the total was $71.28. I had $24 in coupon savings, so I paid only $48.60 after tax. I should state that I did buy quite a few things that were on sale because I needed them, but I did not have a coupon. At Fry's my total was $134.83, and using my Fry's VIP Card brought the total down to $87.67. After coupons, I paid $62.66. At Fry's I bought a LOT that was on sale without a coupon.

Now, here's the skinny. does this for free, however I found it to not be as thorough and a bit harder to follow. Still, it's free. costs $14 a month (ouch), but it is the mecca of coupon sites! It gives you every store, every coupon, tracks your savings, washes your dishes, and gasses up the car for you...almost. It also runs deals with the newspaper that gets you waaaay discounted prices. I believe for the Republic, after you pay for the first copy, each additional copy is only 50 cents.

So if you're interested in starting couponing, weigh your options first. Decide what's worth it to you. I prefer The Grocery Game as a happy, reasonable (for me) compromise.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chili Champion

Yesterday at church we had our 3rd Annual Soulwinning Kickoff/Chili Cookoff. It was a great Sunday with good attendance, especially from the Spanish ministry. The Spanish ministry is growing by leaps and bounds! The need is so great in our area- there are no fundamental Spanish works, and the two Southern Baptist Spanish works have recently shut down. Thank God for leading my husband and Pastor Eli to begin a Spanish work at our church!

Several new people signed up for soulwinning training, and we're excited to see more people involved in the Lord's work! The Soulwinning Kickoff is the main event, of course, but as a 'hook' (that sounds worse than it is!), we also have a Chili Cookoff. You know us Baptists have to bring food for everything!! We had 17 chilis entered this year (wow), and the winner of the coveted Golden Ladle.......... ......................drumroll, please................................


He's soooooo humble about it, too! Okay, if you believed that, you don't know Hero very well. He really did make his own chili. All I did was lay out the ingredients, help him drain the beef, and stir the bottom of the pot. He even added 2 secret ingredients.....dare I tell?.....okay, I've been given permission to spill the chili beans (get it?).....brown sugar and cinnamon.

See the cute chili peppers on the apron? The apron will be passed on to next year's winner (assuming Hero doesn't win again- he's sure he will), but he will keep the ladle. The previous two winners have worn their ladles with pride! No, really, they've worn them as ties!!

Now that I've realized I have a gifted culinary artist in the house, I may never cook again....I'm sooooo disappointed. And if you believed that, you don't know me very well!

Good job, Hero!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Brother's Love

Things Hero(7) can do for the baby:

  • Get her in and out of the crib: Let down the side and lift her with ease
  • Carry her: One arm under her bottom, one arm around her back, held close to his body
  • Sing to her: Jesus Loves Me, Zaccheus, Living By Faith, all sung in a sweet, albeit off-key, voice
  • Read to her: reads color/shape/animal books, asks her to repeat after him
  • Play with her: Pat-a-cake, peekaboo, shaking toys until she's interested
  • Give her a bottle: Prop up her head, make sure bottle doesn't clog
  • Feed her snacks: Go to the cupboard, find appropriate snacks in their place
  • Love her: A baby couldn't ask to be loved more by a big brother!

Things Awesome McAwesome(6) can do for the baby:

  • Get her in and out of the crib: Nearly break the side of the crib while crying in frustration about not being able to get it down. As soon as mom comes to help, the side suddenly goes down. "Oh, that was easy!" he says.
  • Carry her: Wrap arms around her from behind, mom waits for her to slide through, she braces herself to fall through
  • Sing to her: Jesus Loves Me, etc. in his best monster voice, 'helps' her do the motions, mom bites her tongue to keep from telling him (again!) to be gentle
  • Read to her: Tosses Hardy Boys, Johnny Tremain, etc. towards her
  • Play with her: Shoot Nerf darts at her ("But, Mom, it wasn't her face, just her back and bottom!"), steamroll her legs
  • Give her a bottle: Force her down, stick the bottle in her mouth, walk away
  • Feed her snacks: Go to the pantry, stare at the snacks for several minutes, cry that he can't find them, put them on the counter, forget to give them to her
  • Love her: A baby couldn't ask to be loved more by a big brother!

*All of the above are true events. They are not fabricated or exaggerated. No babies were permanently harmed in the making of this post.*

What Is and Isn't Working

Well, it's been a while since I've posted anything new. Not because there's been nothing to report, but because we're still trying to figure out how the whole schoolwork, housework, family fun thing is going to balance out. And by the time I've finished the day, I either have felt too tired to put words to my thoughts, or I've felt like I can't possibly care about one more thing!

We took Labor Day off and went down to my parents' house, and while we certainly could have done some schoolwork this morning when we got home, I decided I just wasn't ready. It's really not a big deal because we're already 'ahead' by a couple weeks. So if you'll forgive my forthcoming ramblings, I'm going to line out what is and isn't working for us so far:

What IS working:
  • Morning Preparations and Chores: Sweetheart Girl still needs some encouragement, but the older boys have it all down to a science. It's so refreshing to be able to skip the "get dressed," "brush your teeth," "clear the table," etc. mantra that was previously the norm.
  • Awesome McAwesome’s video teacher for Language Arts: Not having to prepare every lesson for every subject has been a lifesaver for me. While he is watching a lesson, I can prepare his Arithmetic lesson, read with Hero, teach Sweetheart Girl her blends, or spend time with Minion 1 and Minion 2 in Tot School. (I didn't forget Twinkle- she's usually sleeping at this time.)
  • Minion 1’s and Minion 2’s Tot School: Still have to post more on this, but basically I'm collecting manipulatives and 'learning' toys for them to occupy themselves when I'm busy. I also try to spend at least 15 solid minutes with each in purposeful learning. Minion 1 is getting pretty good with his colors- Minion 2’s not too interested in much thinking! Obviously, I'm going to have a different learning type there, but we'll get it figured out! BTW, Tot School toys are special, and only come out at school time.
  • Science: Apologia's Astronomy is wonderful! The boys are really taking to it. Plus, there are so many activities, we're having a hard time doing them all (I know we don't have to, but they look fun!). Daddy-man is teaching this class, so it gives me time to focus on something else. Oh, who am I kidding?! I like to listen in, too!
What ISN'T working:
  • An early starting time: While I love getting it all done early, I am just not a 'get up and go' person. I've tried, and some days are better than others, but as a whole, I'm finding I would rather take a little more time in the mornings to get myself ready (nevermind the diaper changes, clothes, and hair for the young ones!). We've tried doing school in the afternoon during the littles' naptime, but I also think that's too late for us, so...still working on that.
  • Hero’s SOS Math: Okay, it's not so much that the curriculum is bad, but it's way too easy for Hero so we need to get something else. He will learn new things in his current level, but not enough that he couldn't learn it in the built-in 'review' weeks of the next level. Unfortunately, buying what I want isn't an option right now, so I need to decide if I need to just come up with my own math lessons in the meantime.
  • Sweetheart Girl: Everything about her during school time isn't working!! She's ready for more than I had prepared for her, and she is not happy with not being able to do more! The Pre-K (or K4) stuff is just too easy, so while I didn't want to start K5 early, I may go ahead and do so 'unofficially.'
  • History: Again, what we have is fine, but next year I will look for something that we can all do together. I'm on the hunt...
There may be more added to the lists as the year continues. After all, we are only a month in and have a long way to go! Maybe some of these will switch lists! I guess we'll see.