Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm A Winner!

yes sir by golly, i usually don't get to say that but this time my dear friends...i am. you see, about a week ago i received an e-mail out of the blue from someone at an advertising agency in chicago who said, "congratulations, you won our online contest." yes, i do enter contests online sometimes. no, i never win. and yes, i am very suspicious of everything by nature. especially good things that happen to me but that's a psychological issue that i don't really want to go into for the general populous of the world wide web. hmm, anyway, where was i? oh yes, so i was rather suspicious about this e-mail and immediately shot back an e-mail that told this person that it was really cool if i did win, but was this for real...and if supposedly so...what did she need from me to claim the prize. i was half expecting to either not get a reply back or a request for my social security number and bank account. she e-mailed me back the next day and said all she needed was my mailing address. after carefully looking over the e-mail, googling the ad agency and checking out their address (i am from illinois so i knew their address was a real address) i sent her my mailing address. and wonder of wonders, miracle of prize arrived today. and now, for the unveiling of the prize. (drumroll please) you, my friends, are reading the blog of the winner of florida orange juice for a year. no applause please. you might be saying, "wow, with all that story i was sure it was cash." no, it is not, but for our family, oj is as good as solid gold. you see, i believe we are addicted. all of us, except the two year old who doesn't drink juice. we have had to lay down a strict 'orange juice is only for breakfast' rule around here. that is how much we consume. and well, i think orange juice costs approximately as much as solid gold. that is why we only buy ours at the local discount grocery. and when they don't have any in stock, it is a dark day. but oh no, no more. now (for at least this year) we can go into any store of our choosing...pull out one of our coupons...and say, pardon me my dear man, can you give me one of those luscious, name brand, not past the expiration date jugs of orange juice? and make it quick sire, because we are parched. oh yes, it is a good day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Simply Speaking

i have been doing alot of thinking since we moved into this new house. it's been almost a month now, it's hard to believe. the fact that this house is brand spankin' new has caused me to have to plan for myself how we can best use this house for our family. yes, you can always plan that but i'm the type that would see the old hooks in the wall or the indents on the floor from the previous owners furniture and say "hey, that means this should go here and this is used for this." if somebody else has tried it and done it, i usually go with it. this house has none of that. it was a blank slate. nobody had decided where extra hooks needed to be in the bathroom, or planned out the basement, etc, etc, etc. so it has caused me to grow, and to plan. dreaming? yeah, i can do that. i'm a big dreamer in my head. do i usually do what i dream? rarely. i hardly ever even tell anybody else about these dreams. it's not that i'm lazy. ok, sometimes i am, but not usually. i just don't all...and am rather haphazard when it comes down to it. it drives me crazy. yes, i know, if you fail to plan you plan to fail. check and check. i got it. i just have some sort of deficiency. i can make lists out the wazoo, wherever that is located, but making those lists into a workable plan is just not a God given characteristic of mine. so anyway, i have begun to make a plan. it's not full. it's not completely executed, but it's a small step. i have decided we will best use this home God gave us by living simply. and now everybody is saying, "you built this up that much for one gigantic, 'well duh moment?'" um yes, i did. and frankly, the impetus of all of this was one little furry rodent. you see. we had not lived here a week when we found that our cat had killed a mouse and left it in the living room over night and around the same time i also found a nibble out of our loaf of bread in the pantry. we had mice at our old house and i had a pretty violent track record with them. i won't go into it all but let's just say you can kill about anything with a 64 oz. bottle of juice and some muscle. anywho, when the mouse discovery was made we went to cosco the next day and got the largest box of plastic food containers you ever did see. when we were packing stuff away in them later that night i got particularly bothered about trying to store boxed cakes mixes and the like. then the thought occurred to me, we don't need these things. if there is one thing mama taught me to do, it is bake. i don't take much credit for my cooking but i do believe my baking is quite good. so, i have decided our life will be easier without convenience. wow, the oxymoron. i will be gradually, and as quickly as i can...(anybody want a cake from a box mix?)...moving to strictly staples baking. i'm rather excited. the same goes for anything else i can find in there that i think i can make with my own little hands. this epiphany even includes bbq sauce my friends. i've got ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar so i'm set. i don't have it together enough to rule out store bought bread, but i am going to try my hand at making cheese.
in accord with this little step of mine i am also starting an online forum called "simple pursuits." there will be sections for 'cooking, grocery shopping and meal planning,' 'sewing, refashioning and mending,' and 'gardening' just to name a few. i'll post more details here in the near future when it is up and running.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Praise God!

ok, i know the title sounds like something absolutely terrific and shocking happened to me. but it didn't. sure, our van doesn't have heat or defrost, shakes uncontrollably over 40 miles an hour and won't even go over 55 miles per hour...and our other vehicle is now spilling forth coolant and overheating. so, that leaves me to drive the ice box on wheels (what i commonly call the van) or stay at home. well, i did brave it to go to the grocery store today, since we had three slices of bread left, but that's it. but God is good. nonetheless. He's here, and even though my stomach may be in knots and my mind reeling, He's here. i sing in a band called "sound doctrine." tonight we played a youth night at our church. the speaker was fantastic and we had a good time praising the Lord, as per usual. it was a time that was fun and more importantly, blessed. it blessed my soul. it renewed and revived me. things will be fine. we may miss some events and be a little inconvenienced but He is here, He is God and He is in control. and that my good...very good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hey, We Got A New Shower Curtain!

yes, we go from the "deep" theological musings of my mind to, hey there, look at my bathroom. mmmhmmm. yes sir, that is some quality. but really. i looked hither and yon and yon and hither for a shower curtain that i liked and well, i simply couldn't find it. i just didn't want vinyl or frilly and it seems that is what they are making these days. so, if you want plastic with a map of the world or rodeo clowns or lavender with more lace than a bridesmaid's dress from 1979, then it is your time to shop. did you know they even sell shower curtains that look exactly like curtains. they have a valance at the top, they part in the middle and they even have matching tie backs. i personally don't want the opening to my shower viewed as a window...complete with matching treatments, so i think i'll pass. i did however find this simple little number online from target.i think it was just what i was looking for. it also served the tightwad side of me too. you see, there is a running joke between myself and my husband. when i go into a store to look for a specific thing and i come out with nothing, he comments, "not cheap enough yet?" that's exactly right. unless it is necessary to sustain life (and sometimes that is negotiable and interchangeable with another product that is cheap enough) they better be almost paying me to take it out of the store, or it ain't going home with me. take for example a vacuum and some towels i purchased the other day. by the time i took advantage of some sales and used a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase, i came out paying less than i would have originally for just the vacuum. it was a very happy moment for me friends. i kept remarking to my husband all day, "wow, wasn't that cool what we paid for the vacuum and the towels?" so, back to the shower curtain. it included the matching shower rings with it and there was free shipping. plus, it was delivered right to my door so i could stay in my sock monkey slippers and put it up. let's file all of this under useless info and call it a day. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

To Chew On...

this is what i need to chew on today? how about you?

"our peace must not depend on human beings:
Christ: my child, if to satisfy yourself and to seek the society of any person you place all your contentment in that person, you will become entangled and lose your peace. on the other hand, if you have recourse only to Me, the living and everlasting Truth, you will not be overwhelmed if friends forsake you or you lose them by death.
whoever they may be, your friends must be loved for My sake, no matter how good they appear to you, or how dear they are to you in this life. no friendship can be profitable or lasting in this life, nor is it a true and pure love which does not have its source in Me.
your affection toward those you love should be so mortified that you would be willing to be without friends at all. to that degree by which you withdraw from all earthly consolation, such will be your approach to God, and so much higher do you ascend to God, as you lower yourself and become despicable in your own estimation.
.....the more you look toward creatures, the dimmer becomes the sight of the Creator.

-taken from The Image of Christ, book 3 chapter 42"

oh, how easy it is to let our day be ruled by "i can't believe that she said this to me" and "why would they ever do that?" it's ridiculous. of course the answer is, because whoever she or he or they is...they sin too. "they" aren't infallible, "she" doesn't have all the answers and "he" has bad days just like the rest of us. we let our day be ruled by something that is said by another person just as fallen and with just as may problems as we have. and we get so bent out of shape by it. it can color our every move, word and thought. we let it take over us and use it as an excuse for us to harm others with our words and behaviors. Christ never told us it was ok to be rude because we were bothered by somebody else, but we use it as license. it's rather difficult not to. we all know that. it takes a mind centered on heaven at all times to look beyond what is physical, what we can see, hear and touch, what really seems to be in the now. it's how we are made. we want to feel it, hear it and touch it and judge everything by just that. and we want to immediately react. but we can't. we have to keep focused on what we can't always see, hear or touch. the very thing that seems so intangible must be made tangible within our hearts. i'll pray for you this lent...please pray for me too.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

well, we don't celebrate usually, so imagine my surprise when my husband came home with this for me.
i didn't know whether to feel so happy he did it or so bad that i did nothing in return. i had the kids make him cards but that was it.

we made cookies...
and in case you wonder...this is what it looks like when you give a two year old a container of sprinkles.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Green Acres Is The Place To Be...

ok, we don't actually live on a farm, but there are plenty of them around us. i love the quiet and the view from our bedroom window. but the fact we have left the city really sunk in this morning when i woke at 5 am to see our street being plowed and salted by one of these.
i started laughing so hard that i had to wake up my husband. in his stupor of sleep he didn't seem to think it was quite as hilarious as i. oh well.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why We Homeschool

lately i have been getting what seems like raked over the coals for our choice to homeschool. the strange part is, that it is coming from rather unexpected places. the usual used to be from the complete stranger that wondered why our oldest was in the grocery store in the middle of the day instead of the classroom or from the relative who thought we were doing some irreparable damage to our children. it's been so unexpected that all i can do is wonder why, strengthen my resolve and pray for those who do it. so, this leads me to write, partially for myself and partially for the two or three and a half people who read this here blog, why we homeschool.

yes, you read that right. i said, "why we homeschool." it is not i who solely homeschools. our family homeschools. this is why we do it. it makes us the family we are. it is hard sometimes. sure. anything that is worth it usually is. and sometimes i sit down, make plans to send the kids to boarding schools and jet off to a really warm deserted island. oh yes i do. but then, a warm little person snuggles up on my lap and let's me play with their hair, or i overhear an adorable little boy telling his sister that he thinks she is the prettiest girl he has ever seen, or i find three little people curled up under one blanket on the couch with their oldest sister reading them a book. and then i am grounded and i know this is the definition of family i choose to adhere to. the one that keeps us together as much as possible. that makes us function as a complete, five piece unit whenever we can.

do i think my children are getting a better education than they could be getting in a brick and mortar school? in some ways, yes. in some ways, no. do i think they are getting some things that they would not be getting in a traditional school? in some ways, yes. in some ways, no. it doesn't matter though. are they getting a good education? yes, a great one. are they being afforded wonderful opportunities to learn, explore and shape the world around them? yes, definitely. but all of this put aside, are they learning to live and love in the first community God gave them? yes, our family. i am a firm believer that they will not be able to live and love properly in the great big world if they are not taught and allowed to practice that within our four walls and (for now) five people. this is not an educational choice for us. this is a family choice. homeschooling is not how we choose to is how we choose to live.

i do not write this to put down those who choose other ways. the choices that others make on how to school their children are precisely that, their choices. i write this to say, this is why we do what we do. it's something i have said 'til i'm blue in the face to those who still espouse their "homeschooling is definitely missing something" rhetoric. is it missing something, probably. it's missing my children being absent from my home for at least one third of the day. it's missing fancy labs and state of the art computers. it's missing school buses and bells and milk money. but that is the choice we have made. it doesn't have to be the choice that anybody else has is ours...for our family.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras Y'All!

today is mardi gras, oh yes it is, and i'm feeling a little down. we lived in the south for one year, in new orleans to be precise. our oldest daughter was born down there. now mind you i didn't really take to the south but i did enjoy certain parts of it: the food, the music and mardi gras. well, not all of it, just the fun for the entire family parts. and so, we usually have a big ol' party and celebrate it up with fried chicken (although we don't have a local popeyes anymore), red beans and rice and of course a king cake. this year we are just too newly moved to pull it off. it won't even be a full week we have owned the house until this evening. so, i bring to you my favorite king cake recipe that i have been using every year. check it out here. and then bring me over a slice. it can even be the one with the plastic baby, because i'll be back hosting a big 'ol shindig next year.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Finally Home!

we're here...

...and so are the boxes. oh, but i will triumph and have the use of my garage, mark my word!