Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grocery list tip

We have a method in our house that we have used to help us stay more organized every since we first got married. When Ken and I got married we were attending a small Bible college and one of the professors there was probably the most organized person I have ever met and his wife (my piano and voice teacher) was pretty organized as well. They shared a tip with us that we have used ever since.

The tip is to keep a running shopping list going (we have it on the front of our fridge) and also buy two (at least) of every item that you use regularly and when you use one up and are ready to start on the last one then write that item down on your shopping list. This works great for things like ketchup, Mayonnaise and the like.

   This method is very helpful  (and it does help that I have a husband that remembers to do this very faithfully!) and we rarely run out of things - unless I am trying to go for months on end without shopping or something like that! :-)

  Having a running grocery list on the fridge is very helpful for having things already well planned out should I make a last minute decision to do my grocery shopping that day.

  I hope this works for you as well as it has for us!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A car trash bag {A bag tutorial for February}

 Do you like to keep a neat and tidy vehicle? We do (though unfortunately sometimes that isn't so obvious!) and something that has helped us in that is having trash bags for our vehicles. Ken bought the first fabric trash bag that we got and we were impressed with the way it worked and he was ready to get a 2nd one but I figured I could make one just fine instead (and save something like $8). I made that one years ago for our van and we have been using it ever since.

  Last month I was making birthday gifts and I thought this might be a practical gift to make for my brother that travels a lot (along with some snacks to take with him on his travels too).

   The way this bag works is that it has a fabric bag that has a top part gathered together with elastic (so it won't easily spill but you can easily put something in it) and then it has an open bottom (to easily remove the trash) that rolls up and secures closed with Velcro. It is made to be able to hang securely over the arm of the seat or around the headrest.

Supplies Needed:
  • A good sturdy fabric
  • Elastic
  • Thread
  • Velcro
  • Something stiff like boning. I used a couple of layers of plastic strapping (from around boxes), in the past I have used a plastic strips cut from a milk jug or ice cream pail.
  • Straps - Material sewn into straps would also work.
  • Thread

How to make it:
 Cut out a 20" x 20" piece of fabric. I also cut out a small little piece of fabric that I wrote "TRASH" on with a permanent marker and then sewed on as shown above as a label. That is optional.
 Next I turn over the top a couple of times and made a casing that my elastic could fit through.
 Then I folded it in half with the right sides together and sewed the "side" seam but I didn't go quite up to the top - I wanted to still be able to put my elastic through the casing. Next I hemmed the bottom of the "bag".
 I then prepared a couple of straps about 6 - 8 inches long each and put Velcro on the end of them so that they could attach together. I sewed them in place about two inches down from the top and about 6 inches apart from each other on the back side. (You can see the placing better on a picture near the bottom.)
 Next I turned it inside out and sewed on a strip of cloth about 2 inches down in to make a casing for the "boning" (in my case plastic strapping). I inserted that so as to make the bag be rigidly open.

 Then I inserted the elastic in the casing (I always put a safety pin on one end to help me pull it through. You want the elastic to be pulled tight enough that the opening is fairly small but still loose enough so you can put trash in fairly easily. Then sew the elastic together while you finish sewing the side seam.
 Next on the back sew one piece of Velcro as shown.
And on the front side sew the other pieces of Velcro on right at the bottom. Make sure to only sew the Velcro on one layer so that the bag is still open at the bottom. Next step is to roll the bottom up and Velcro it closed.

Now it is all done and ready to be put to use!

Please let me know if you have any questions and if so I will try to make things clearer.

 This bag can go through the wash when needed.

How do you deal with trash in your vehicle?

Being subject to our own husbands

 A thought that is rather taboo in our modern world but very much taught in the Bible is that as wives we are to be subject to our husbands.

  Obviously we have a choice here - either we can follow the ways of the world (with a high percentage of divorces and many other problems) or we can follow God's directions - the One who loves us more than any other and wants ONLY what is best for us.

 Here is what the Bible says on this topic:

 "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Colossians 3:18

"So that they (Older women) may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." Titus 2:4 & 5

"In the same, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior." 1 Peter 3:1 & 2

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22

 The meaning behind "Subject to" according to what I have researched would be: To rank under, to subject oneself, to obey.

 Basically when we choose (and we do get to make this choice- we don't have to do what is right) to subject ourselves we our saying "Yes, I will let you be the leader in our home, I will choose to follow". This will be said more in our actions then in an actual declaration. 

  This is not always an easy choice and sometimes it may not seem that they want to lead but as much as possible we need to encourage them in leadership and step back so that they can have the opportunity.

  Having been raised in a Christian home with parents who tried to follow the Bible (including these verses) to the best of their ability has made it easier for me to follow them as well but it is still something I need to work at all the time. Satan would like to see us mess up in every way possible and this is an area that he has tempted many.

  Being subject to your husband does not mean that you don't discuss things or work on things together nor does it mean that you aren't a capable and competent adult - it simply means that ultimately your husband is the one that is in charge in the home.  When people work at a job they are often quite willing to put themselves under the authority of a boss - and it would quite likely be chaotic if there wasn't a boss - yet so many hate the idea of this in the home. Why? I think it is because of Satan's lies.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Loving being at home

Megan learning how to crochet a hotpad out of some strips she had cut from an old sweatshirt.
This kept her busy much of the afternoon and she loved it!
 Today we had one of those afternoons that reminded me of how much I love the lifestyle we have chosen to live. One that is bit more laid back than many, one where we all (except Ken who does go off to work) stay home most of the time, one where we can find much fulfillment and enjoyment in simple pleasures.

I thought it would be fun to share a few snapshots of this afternoon with you all.

The boys took advantage of this warm afternoon and headed out to place some baseball in the driveway.
 Jonathan also spent some time in the kitchen making no bake granola bars. He loves to make things like that!
I had fun playing and singing some songs from an old Cathedral book that I have.

 I also enjoyed getting to spend some time just reading. The subject matter of my book (UN Agenda 21) was not so enjoyable but something I am realizing is very important to be informed about. It is - and will continue to - affecting us and it is NOT good! Anyway, having time to read is fun and sometimes it is necessary as well even if it isn't "fun" reading.

 Mara spent part of her afternoon doing Spanish lessons and writing e-mails.

 We have been having some beautiful weather lately. Here are some pictures from yesterday afternoon as well - The kids made a couple of snowbears.

 I hope you are having a lovely end of February too!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Using up Zucchini

  Now a post about using up zucchini might seem a little strange in the month of February - but I have my reasons. Zucchini always seems pretty easy to come by in the summer (whether it be from our garden or from generous friends and family) and so since I hate to waste (or turn down free, good for you food) I try to use the zucchini as much as I can which includes grating it up and freezing it to use throughout the winter.

  Well, now is the time to use up that lovely frozen zucchini. In some of the years past the zucchini would get frozen and pulled out occasionally to use to make zucchini bread or something like that but then come summer I would discover many packages of zucchini still sitting in the freezer (which by the way I did use - I don't like to waste!). But I am working on getting better at using up the zucchini throughout the winter.

   Here are some of the ways I have been using it lately:
  • In our pancakes. Just add a bit (This morning I put in around 1 cup with the 4 cups of flour that I was using) to the batter and cook as usual. I don't generally think there is much need to adjust the recipe - just add the shredded zucchini.

  • Add it to your yeast bread that you make. It does leave little green flecks (since I shred it with the peeling still on it) but otherwise doesn't really change the flavor.
  • Add a bit to your hamburger when you brown it for tacos or for making a casserole.
  • Make Zucchini patties. Here is the recipe (along with other ideas for using zucchini). They remind me of onion rings and I think they are yummy!
  • Make zucchini muffins or bread. There are many recipes out there for this one.
  • Add a little bit to your scrambled eggs.
  • Add some to your meatloaf or meatballs.
  • Use it in cake - especially chocolate cake. It makes it moister and I love it! Our favorite recipe for that is in this post.
  • Include it in pies and crisps (for the most part it will blend in very nicely with the other fruit).
 Zucchini has Vitamin C, Vitamin K, riboflavin, Vitamin B-6, Folate, Potassium, magnesium and much more.  I doubt that the frozen stuff has as much as it does when it is fresh but since zucchini is so easy to come by (at least for us), it is quite good for you and does not have an offensive taste I think it is very worthwhile to freeze and eat.

   Maybe this post doesn't seem very useful to you right now because you may not have a bunch of frozen grated zucchini as I do - but I thought it would be good to bring it up now during the seed buying time as we get ready for planting. If you want to grow as much of your own food as you can I do heartily recommend adding zucchini - it is very easy to use and to store for later use and it is easy to grow and good for you. It is a winner in my book!

I am linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop hosted by The Prairie Homestead and New Life on a Homestead. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jesus always did what was pleasing to His Father

Mark 8:28 & 29 says:

"So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."

Now that is something to try to follow!

   Are we more concerned with pleasing ourselves or pleasing God? I hope that the answer is pleasing God. That is my goal - I certainly don't always follow it perfectly but I am trying to remember to just jump back up again when I fall and try again. I am very thankful for the Holy Spirit that I have living inside me to help me with this goal!

  Let's strive to please God!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dealing with paper clutter

Do you ever deal with paper clutter at your house? We do too. But we have some ways of dealing with it that work pretty good for us. Perhaps they will help you too.
  Paper clutter has many different ways of entering our homes, It might be mail (good or junk), magazines, church papers, newspapers, Children's school papers, artwork, instructions, patterns and on and on!
 Something that I think we have worked towards (and I think we are improving in) is to deal with the paper clutter right away. For instance, you bring the mail in the house, look through it and then what? Don't lay it down again and stack it somewhere so you have to go through it another day (at least not all of it!) but rather quickly through the junk mail (which is most of it) into the recycling and then figure out what should be done with the rest. If there is a magazine to be read later than put it directly in the magazine rack, if it is a bill that needs paid than we have a spot on Ken's desk for letters like that or any other letters that have to do with finances and such. They are kept neatly together until the day that he works on that. If it is a personal letter that you want to reply to then put it with your letter writing stuff. Those are some of the ways that we deal with mail that comes into our home.
  Children's papers - those can add up very quickly can't they?! We have to keep some school papers in case we would ever be check up on (in our homeschooling) and those I keep on our homeschooling shelf, but when it is not necessary I will quickly recycle them unless they are something that I don't want to forget in which case I then file them in a file for that child.
 With artwork we have a special wall on which to display it and then when that gets full we will sometimes send some away to relatives or use it for wrapping paper or something like that and some really good art I will file away.
 For things that you do need to keep it is a great idea to have a file cabinet that is well organized and easy to use. It will make filing easy and fun and will help you to keep your home much neater and more organized.

  Ken has file cabinets by his desk for our "important" papers and I have one in my craft room for my more fun stuff. By they way I found my file cabinet for free on the curb one day. They can at times be pretty easy to come by and they are certainly a great tool!

  Do you use a file cabinet? How do you deal with paper clutter?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dressing in a way that pleases your husband

Have you been working to strengthen your marriage lately? I hope so, and if not don't be afraid to join in today!

 Today's subject is one that I have been thinking a bit about lately. The topic that I thought I would talk about is concerning the way we dress. Are we dressing in a way that please our husband, in a way that he finds attractive?

 I'll admit I am not always that great at this. I think I can use some work in this area. I have certain styles that I like and Ken has his own ideas and not always do our ideas mesh very well. It isn't like it is this big deal but really isn't it more important to please my husband than to worry about looking just the way I like? I do think so - I plan on working on this area.

 My mom has been a good example to me in this area as I can remember quite a few times her mentioning that some outfit that she wore was one that Dad likes or a style that he likes. I think it really shows consideration to our husband when we dress in a way that they appreciate.

  Obviously - use common sense with this principle- your husband might enjoy seeing you scantily dressed but that should be saved for private times alone not for all to see!

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you show honor, love and respect to your husband through the way you dress? Could you improve in this area?

Learning from Life

Mara making tortillas for supper.
 One of the things that I love about homeschooling is being able to do more of our learning (we have more time as our kids are home rather than off to school many hours a day) just from life rather than from textbooks.  Though in our homeschooling we do still use some textbooks (Math, English, Spelling and Reading) and then we also have a lot of other books that we consider to be a part of our school day such as Geography, History, Government, Bible, Poetry, Literature, etc - sometimes textbooks and sometimes not - I always try to find well written books and I read these aloud to everybody together. We all love this way of learning! Those are the things I consider to be our "schoolwork" - they are initiated by me, sometimes with very happy reception and sometimes not so much. But that is not were the learning ends, not at all!

  Much of our learning happens in just regular life. It is often initiated by the kids or the kids see something I am learning about and want to join me or it might just kind of happen as a family activity. Ken and I love to encourage this method of learning as when you thoroughly enjoy the method I think that often the lesson sticks a little better.

  Here are a few of the ways that our kids have lately been learning from life:

  • They have been learning to get much better at cooking and baking and doing quite a bit of math in the process. I did initiate my getting 2 nights a week off from cooking (which I am really enjoying!) as the boys are cooking on Saturday evenings and the girls do it on Sunday evening. Also Jonathan has really been enjoying baking quite regularly I think mostly to fuel his sweet tooth with plenty of cookies but I do also think that he simply enjoys it. He likes to double or triple his batches so that gives him so good practice in adding fractions. Mara volunteered to cook breakfast one morning a week so she gets some additional practice there. Knowing how to cook is a great skill for later in life and also helps them learn other things as well.
  • When I was cleaning my office last month Mara came and volunteered to help when I was going through my files to she learned about the filing system.
  •  Megan and Aaron had fun helping me plant seeds last month. Science lessons naturally.
  • At church we are getting ready for a rally that will be next month. The kids are all in skits that they practice every Sunday afternoon. This is giving them great practice in public speaking - how to speak loudly and clearly and with expression.
  •  When we had the opportunity we went to a History museum for fun. It was a great family outing but we also learned a ton! (pictures above and below are from that day.)
  •  Today when I got done teaching piano lessons to some other homeschool boys (one boy at a time while the other plays with my kids) the kids came out of the bedroom and told me that they were having fun playing target practice with the Nerf guns and the map (USA) was their target. What a great way to drill in your head where states are and the names. I guess Texas was easy to hit but Rhode Island was the fun challenge.
  • Ken gave the kids a clock that wasn't working to see if they could fix it. I found a video on how a watch works which we watched together and then I also let them take apart some old watches that I had kept around. They didn't get anything fixed but I think they learned a lot more about how a clock works. Maybe someday they will figure out how to fix them.
Here is the very old but very neat video that we watched that is about watches.

  • I was researching stuff about parasites (yuck!) and so the kids ended up getting in on some of the learning too. I think it is important for everybody in the family to share what they are learning about so that everybody can benefit. This can be done very naturally through mealtime discussions (though when the topic is something like parasites that can be a little gross) where whatever the topic is discussed in a fun way and the kids don't even realize that they are learning.
  • Lately for some of our school day reading we have been going through an Usborne book about machines. Jonathan has been quite fascinated and in his "non school" hours he has been seeing how he can recreate the things he is learning about with his Legos and technics. It has been fun to watch him learn how to use gears and actually make things that can work.
  • The other day I wanted to watch Ben Carson's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast and I ended up with 3 of the kids (not Jonathan as he was sick and sleeping) watching it with me just because they wanted too. It is a great speech and one to learn from. We ended up with some good discussions from it as well.
Here it is:

  • The kids have also been making snow forts. Play like that is great for them for learning how to build and about things like how thick something needs to be to be strong, etc.
  • On Monday because it was presidents day we had fun going over Presidential trivia at supper.
Those are some of the FUN ways we have been learning lately. How about you, do you enjoy noticing how your children go off and learn all on their own with no prompting from you. Do you encourage learning from life opportunities?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stumbling on Open Ground by Ken Mansfield {A review}

 This book is about Ken Mansfield and his wife Connie.  Earlier in his life Ken was the US Manager for the Beatles but this book is set later on in life after becoming a follower of Jesus (though he does still refer often to his "Rock and Roll/ Beatles background). In this book the main topic is concerning his two times of facing cancer one incurable kind that did go dormant and another one over a decade later that caused him incredible pain as he went through Chemo and Radiation to get rid of it. The focus of this book is dealing with those cancers and growing in his relationship with God.

Here are some of my takes on the book:
  • The "storyline" was a little bit interestingly done with just bits and pieces about his life and more focus on what he talked to God about. He also did a fair amount of jumping back to memories. At the beginning of each chapter his wife Connie had a little section which was more about their actual physical life but those left a lot of details unsaid so it felt like you didn't actually learn much about their life. However that left the focus on his relationship with God and I can appreciate that. It just didn't flow the way I expected it too.
  • I learned more about Cancer and how it can work and made me feel more sympathetic to those that have had to go through it and hopefully those that I come across that are going through it. (And I do hope to skip going through it myself but sometimes wonder if that will come to pass considering how many people in my family have had to face it.)
  • It made me realize once again how very unique everybody is. God made us all our own person with our own needs and desires. As Ken was going through these really tough times he tried to keep the news of it to only a few supportive people. He didn't not want many people knowing about it, asking about it or trying to help as he just wanted peace and quiet. That was not how my Dad was and I know that isn't how I would be but I can imagine some friends of mine that might also prefer it that way. We sure are all made differently.
  • The book was a good reminder of how just because we are seeking God doesn't mean that we won't go through tough times. It was also a reminder of how God is always there for us - even in those tough times!
This is my favorite quote from the book:

  "If I believed He (God) was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, why would I choose any other route than the one he laid out for me? After spending time in His Word, the journey became clearly defined. The question was, do I travel with faith or fear as my companion?" (page 74)

 I doubt this is a book that everybody would enjoy, but I thought it was interesting and I could see it being helpful for people that are going through struggles (especially something like cancer).

Disclaimer: Booksneeze provided me with a free copy of this book for purposes of reviewing. All thoughts shared are my own.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Praying with complete faith in God

Praying is something that I have done or been exposed to every since I was an infant. Prayer is normal to me and I totally believe in the Supreme power of the One that I pray to yet sometimes I pray with simply a "I hope" sort of attitude.  This wasn't the way that Jesus taught us to pray. Let's read in Mark 11, starting in verse 12:

    "On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" And His disciples were listening. (Mark 11:12-14)

The next day....

  "As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, "Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered." And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mark 11:20-24)

  Jesus knew fully what God was able to do and He prayed with that faith.

We can also learn a lot about the mighty God we serve and  be more aware of what He will do. Then hopefully we will learn to pray to Him with complete faith.

Lord increase my faith!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

An essential tool for an organized life

Well I mentioned that I was going to share one little step at a time how to get more organized and what works for me. I fear that this post might be considered a bit simplistic but I think it is an essential tool and so I didn't want to leave it out.
  Probably my top tool for staying organized at all has been my calendar. We have one main calendar (and I do think it is very important that you have one main family calendar - if you start writing things down on all sorts of different calendars/ planners you will either have a lot of work of transferring things or you will start to miss things) which hangs on the wall in between our kitchen and dining room - right above the (main) phone. 
 The calendar is a great place to keep track of many things. Here are some of the things that are written on our calendar:

  • Appointments. If Mara has an orthodontist appt. or anything of that nature it needs to go on this calendar (unless it is Ken's appt.- he keeps track of many of his things on his computer - though if it will change the schedule that he normally has at home it is still good to have it here!). If it doesn't get written down here it is very likely it will be forgotten unless it is already a routine.
  • Company coming! Whether it is just for lunch or if they are staying for a week I try to write it down so that I don't double schedule.
  • Things that I need to keep track of like when I started seeds (planted them inside) or when the cleanse I am on will be over, etc.
  • Any trips that we have planned.
  • Any weddings that I am doing flowers for - I need to know quickly when someone calls so that I don't do any double booking.
  • Any new music students that are just starting. I don't write their lessons down every week - just at first until it gets to be a routine. I do however mark down any time that they have told me they will not be at lessons. I also keep track of what date they are paid through (they pay in advance) on my calendar.
  • Important birthdays. (Though I will admit of late this hasn't always been kept up - I do have another place I have this information stored and I don't always feel like transferring it to the calendar every year.)
  • I also will sometimes use little symbols to keep track of things of interest to me. Currently we are trying to stay home more and drive less and so each time we do drive somewhere I draw a little tire on that day. I have also been keeping track (just for interest sake) how much milk we have been buying this year. Since we buy that at the gas station near our house (it is cheaper than the grocery store) we don't just buy it on our grocery shopping trips so it was easy to lost track.
  • In extra area I write down if I am teaching a kids class at church that month or if I am in charge of bringing the pastries before church.

What I don't use it for:
  • A place to write my menu. It would get way to crowded.
  • A place to keep a journal. Again there just isn't space.
 That is how I use our calendar and I find it rather indispensable. Do you have a way to keep track of the things going on in your life? How do you use your calendar?

Also after the year is over we recycle our calendar by making them into envelopes which are much more exciting than plain white envelopes. A good servant just keeps on serving!
If you want more ideas visit my post on 11 Uses for old calendars.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Write Love Notes

 Something that has been part of our relationship since the very beginning has been notes to each other. I guess we both kind of like to write and it was a fun and frugal way to show our affection for each other.

  When we were dating we would sometimes put them on each others cars at work or slip them here or there so that they would be found later. We have continued to do that now and then throughout our marriage but I have to admit that it has nearly fallen by the wayside. It might be partly that we are better expressing things verbally now (I think that might be true) but mostly I think we have just gotten busy and don't take the time to do it.

   This is a trend that I would like to revive. And not just on Valentines day either (as we do always give each other cards then - Ken is great to remember every occasion like that) but throughout the year. It is even more fun to get I think when you totally aren't expecting it.

  They don't have to be long - Just a simple "I love you and can't wait to spend time with you this evening" or something to that nature would be appreciated or you can tell them something you appreciate about them.

   Lydia, another blogger is doing a special Valentine's Day project where she has been leaving a special note to great her husband each day as he comes home (Feb 1-14) about something she appreciates about him. I think that is pretty fun and I would guess he has really enjoyed it.

  Do you ever give notes to your husband? Have you used that as a way to encourage him?

May your marriages grow stronger each day and Happy Valentines Day to all!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentines and Poetry

Megan's flowers to give to the girls.
 This past Thursday was our monthly homeschool get-together (We have around 15 families that get together now) and the theme for the month was poetry with a valentine exchange thrown in for good measure.

  This year since we have more kids we decided that we would divide the kids up into groups for the exchange so that the number wasn't overwhelming. We ended up having the girls in one group and the boys in the other.

  We always do homemade for this sort of thing (for a few reasons - 1. It allows us to do something creative 2. We can use something we have on hand rather than buying anything - being frugal  and 3. We can possibly give something that is more exciting than we would if we would buy something economically.)
 For Megan this year since all of her recipients would be girls we decided it would be fun to make flower bracelets and pins. For the bracelets we had saved the inside from a bunch of floral tape that I had used (in my flower business) and when we cut the circle and then wrap it with something soft it makes a very good bracelet. We wrapped them with odd bits of ribbon and fabric that we had in our stash. Then we made flowers out of fabric scraps and beads and glued them on. We didn't have enough bracelets for everybody so we made some into pins for the older girls.
 Above Megan is displaying several of the bracelets. They were fun to make and the little girls that got them seemed to enjoy them too.
 Mara and Aaron decided to make cookies for their valentines.
 Then we took some of the plastic that comes around the flowers that I get, carefully washed it, cut it into rectangles and then sewed it into little bags. I thought they turned out rather cute. On the top of the bag we folded over some card stock with "Happy Valentines Day!" and "From" stamped on it and then stapled it in place.
  Jonathan wasn't quite sure what to do for his valentines as he didn't want anything associated with hearts or things of that nature. He decided that maybe he should carve something but when you are making 24 of them - what would he do?

  He decided on little cars and trucks. He did have a plan for drilling holes and attaching wheels that would really work with axles in them but ran out of time so I suggested gluing on  buttons. They don't quite work as well (though they do slide pretty nicely) but they do look cute anyway.
  We printed out some cards that say "Racing Your way to say: Happy Valentines Day" and then he drew roads on them and taped on the cars (Actually he didn't use tape - we are busy using up old political stickers for projects like this!).

   Another part of our day was the kids reading or reciting poems. That ended up being pretty fun. There was such a fun variety of poetry shared and such different ways of sharing it. Mara did "The Touch of the Master's Hand", Jonathan did "The Turkey Shot out of the Oven" and Aaron did "The Optimist"  which goes like this:
"The optimist fell ten stories,
and at each window bar,
He shouted to the folks inside:
"Doing all right so far!"
Author unknown
We thought that one was rather clever. Megan ended up not doing one as she wasn't feeling very good that day. The other kids brought a neat selection too - some of them had even written their own.
 After reading/reciting poetry we had all the kids write poetry. One of the ladies in our group had come up with a lot of really neat ideas for pretty simple poetry and so we had different tables that the kids could go to where the adults would help them in writing a poem. It ended up being pretty fun. I plan on sharing all those ideas some day soon along with some others ways that we have incorporated poetry into our lives (That doesn't come naturally to me as poetry isn't really my thing). Anyway - that post will be long and so I will save it for another day.
Magnetic poetry was one of the options for the kids so Aaron (with a little help from me and with struggles on the part of us both by not being able to find all the words that we wanted) "wrote" the one above.

 I would love to hear your ideas for fun homemade valentines (maybe we can use them next year) or thoughts on poetry!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Avoiding Cabin Fever

  We are in the midst of a snowstorm right now - nearly a foot has fallen today (on top of the 10 or so inches that we already had) and it is still falling. We are pretty excited!
 Above is the view of our deck taken through the sliding glass window in our dining room (and the snow is thicker now than when I took the picture.
  We also are dealing with sickness in the house. Jonathan is the one on the couch today (running a fever and feeling rather miserable). Sickness has unfortunately rather been the story of 2013 for us so far. Everybody has been under the weather at some point and some more than once (Megan is up to 3 times now).  I am just very thankful that all our little bouts with sickness (some norovirus, some fever/cold) none of them have been very long lived. In a day or two they are gone. I do admit that sickness does leave me feeling a little puzzled as to how better I should try to care for my family's health. We try to live a healthy lifestyle but still deal with sickness. Or well, I think we can sometimes grow spiritually in those times.

 Anyway with the various circumstances we have been facing I suppose that it could be considered a near perfect recipe for Cabin Fever but thankfully we have been avoiding that one.

  I thought I would share some ideas on how we have been avoiding Cabin Fever.

My Radishes
  • Embrace the season! Decide to enjoy the uniqueness and fun of winter (whether you like to cozy up inside reading, doing crafts and sipping herbal tea or if you like to go sledding, skiing or skating). So much of how we feel is based upon our attitude. If you decide to enjoy each season as they come life is much happier! And Cabin Fever isn't quite so easy to catch.
  • Try growing some plants inside. We decided to see if we could grow some of our garden plants inside this winter. I am not sure what the success will end up being but we have some cute little tomato and pepper plants (If things go well maybe we could have fruit about May?) and some scraggly looking lettuce and radishes - I had hoped to harvest them in a month of so but I don't know if that is going to work or not. Anyway it is pretty fun to plant and have things grow in the winter!
Little Tomato plants (they will need to be thinned).
  •  Get some of those indoor projects done. I have been having fun doing a lot of organizing, decluttering, finishing up projects and mending. It is very satisfying to finish things up and have everything clean and neat. Winter is the perfect time to do it because I don't have a million and one things that I want to get done outside right now.
Some newly mended jeans - sometimes I think I won't ever catch up with this job!
  • Take advantage of the winter weather and go sledding or even just walk outside and enjoy the beauty. If you dress warmly it can be very enjoyable and it does really help to get rid of Cabin Fever!

  •  Go traveling through books. We love travel but we can't always be gallivanting off somewhere or another. So instead we read books about others places. I have made that as part of our school day but you can also just do it for fun! We are currently reading about all the different countries in Central America (Costa Rica this week) and we are enjoying the pictures of lush greenery (and snakes!!?) and learning about life down there.

  • Along with your "traveling" you can also try some cooking of foods that they eat in the place that you are reading about. We recently had an El Salvadorian meal. I thought it was pretty good - my family wasn't quite so sure but anyway it was a change of pace and it was interesting. We made Pupusas, a spicy cabbage salad and Horchata (a rice drink) as well as eating pineapple.
  •  Make some music! We try to have some music making about every day. Music is great for driving any blues away.

  •  I think Megan might recommend dressing up. Her outfits have often been pretty interesting and fancy lately and I think that helps her view on life. Personally I have been trying to go through all my clothes and making myself wear them so that I don't keep around things that I really don't care for. Last week my family said that I had a rather interesting (the polite way to say "Strange!") outfit as well.
  • Be creative. Whatever creative outlet that you like: Scrapbooking, card making, sewing, carving, etc. - have fun being creative! 
  • Read the Pollyanna books! I have been reading them out loud lately and I think they would be the perfect book to read if you are fighting the blues. Such a good reminder to look for the best in things!
  • Be thankful. We are to give thanks in all circumstances (even ice storms, snow storms, weather that is bitterly cold) and when we start to give thanks it sure helps us to feel better too!
Do you have any tips for avoiding Cabin Fever?

 We are enjoying our winter - I hope you are too!


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