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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Books I've Read: September 2015

I started out the month on a roll from last month, reading a book fairly quickly and then starting more.  And then for some reason, I didn't pick up another book right away after this one, and I fell into a non-reading rut.  Hopefully I can change that next month!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  This was my introduction to Moriarty's books, and, as with Rainbow Rowell last month, this wasn't my first choice, but it was what the library had available, so I went with it.  This was a fast read.  It was an interesting concept for a story: a woman falls at the gym and hits her head, and the last ten years of her life vanish from her memory, including her three kids and the reason she's getting a divorce.

So.  I liked this book, for the most part.  I think Alice with the memory loss was a lot more likable than it sounds like regular Alice turned out to be, although her character growth as a result is pretty much the point of the story, so I get it.  The parts about the kids testing their limits with a mom who doesn't remember the rules made me laugh, because that's totally what kids would do.  Of course we stay up late and eat treats before bed and jump on the couch!

I didn't like Gina.  Maybe it's because the character only shows up in memories and flashbacks, and you don't actually get to experience her at all "in person" (if that makes sense), but she just didn't seem like a fully formed character, and what we did find out about her wasn't exactly the greatest either.

Overall, I liked the book, and I want to read more by Liane Moriarty.

Total books read this month: 1. Total books read this year: 14.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Weekly Goals: September 27-October 3

This little buddy of mine turned 6 this week!  

Last Week's Goals:

  • Post something on the blog.  Done! I had lots to work with this week, what with a birthday and all...
  • Start reading Women of the Word.  Does reading the first couple pages count?
  • Make a blue Lego ninja cake for Jonah. Done!

This Week's Goals:

  • Get everything packed for our trip to pastors' conference, without forgetting anything important!  We're not doing school while we're gone, but there's still a lot of stuff to remember when traveling with babies. Plus, I'm bringing along a few crockpot meals to help keep costs down.
  • KonMari something! I've been doing little bits of decluttering when I get the chance, but I really need to pick a category and work on it.
  • Read something! I should have a few naptimes' worth of reading time while we're in the hotel.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Extra Fun Homeschool Activities for Jonah's Birthday

Even though it was Jonah's birthday on Wednesday, we still had school.  But instead of all of our normal things, we did some extra fun activities.
We did a Dinosaur Dig!  We've been learning a bit about archaeology in history, and this week was Letter D for letter of the week.  So I printed off and laminated the dinosaur silhouettes in this post, and made the clay recipe linked there as well.  I should have made my clay dinosaurs thicker, because they kind of broke into more pieces than the three to four I had cut them into.  It was still a fun activity for the boys though!

We played Kitchen. I got the idea from this list of A-Z Sensory Play Ideas, and we did this for the first time last year for our Letter K letter of the week.  Ever since, Jonah asks to do this all the time.  I usually say no, because I don't want to use up all of my food supplies, but every now and then I let the boys go crazy, and it usually ends up that they "cook" for 40 minutes or so.

These are obviously not everyday activities, because they took extra prep work and made extra messes, but every once in awhile, it's fun to have a day like that.

Jonah's Blue Lego Ninja Birthday Cake

I like to let my kids request what they want their birthday cakes to look like, and then I try to make it happen.  It doesn't always work out, but they seem to enjoy it anyways, and I like the challenge.

I was proud because this year I actually got the colors to turn out right!  That does not always happen.  In case you do not have young boys in your house, this is Jay the Lego Ninja:
I think I got pretty close.

Also, here's a tip for you.  When making round cakes, first spray the cake pan with nonstick spray and line with wax paper.  Use a sharp knife to cut around the edges, so that the wax paper is only on the bottom.  Pour batter in and cook as normal.  After cooling 10-20 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the cake, flip it out, and peel the wax paper off.  Comes out clean every time!  My mom taught me that one...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jesus Was My Age

Earlier this month, I turned 29.  It's not a milestone birthday by any means, but it's another year gone by on the calendar.  I was reading this post about the book of Luke, and one line really caught my eye:

"At 30 years old, at just the right time, it was time for them to begin their ministries."

And for some reason, this is the first time that I realized that Jesus and John the Baptist were about how old I am currently when they did all those things we read about in the Bible.

I guess I've always thought of Jesus as some grown up doing miracles, teaching other adults, being very much older than me.  But now, I'm that age.  If I lived in Bible times, Jesus would be one of my cohorts, my contemporaries.

I don't know why this is so weird to me.  It's one of those taken-for-granted facts of the Bible that I never really applied to myself before, never fully thought about before, and now it's a little strange to me to think of Him that way.

What extraordinary ordinary Biblical truths have you found lately?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How Pancakes Reminded Me About Being Frugal

It was the day before our big twice-monthly shopping trip, and I was supposed to make pancakes for dinner.  Our usual gluten-free pancake recipe calls for 3 cups of oats.  I started measuring, and got to about 1 and 2/3 cups before I ran out.  In the past, I would have run to the store quickly for that one ingredient.  But I knew there had to be something else I could use.
So I grabbed the Rice Krispies off the shelf, measured out the missing amount, and mixed the whole thing up with my immersion blender.  It looked fairly close to normal, so I kept going.
The Rice Krispie pancakes did not flip well at all.  They definitely weren't pretty to look at.  They actually tasted fine, although Jonah didn't appreciate that the banana flavor came out more than usual.
But they taught me that we almost always have something we can use to make do.  I need to remember this more often.  To look at what we have before I go look for something new.  To see what I can substitute to save money and a trip to the store (and not just for food necessarily).

We're trying to pay off debt, mostly school loans.  And it's slow going.  But these little things do help, slowly but surely, to add up to bigger things.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Homeschooling Is A Little Like Having Another Baby...

For me, homeschooling is a little bit like having a new baby in the house.  There are all sorts of adjustments.  Routines that used to work have to be shifted to accommodate this new thing.  Everyone gets a little bit less one-on-one time because something else has taken that spot.  I stay up late at night thinking sometimes, wondering if I'm doing the right thing, or if I'm going to completely mess this one up.  I feel both completely awesome and utterly inept in the span of twenty minutes.
As with each baby addition, I look back fondly on how much time I had before.  It doesn't matter that just two months ago, I felt like I had no time whatsoever, that I was super busy, and that I was always behind on something.  Now I look back at that person and laugh.  I just added in 15-20 more hours of stuff each week!

Past me had it so easy.

I had that same mentality after each kid.  I notice this especially on Saturdays.  Saturdays have become my get-things-done days.  I do most of my cleaning, a lot of my food prep, and whatever else I can knock out in all those hours between waking up and going to bed.  (Lest you think I ignore my kids, they get plenty of extra books read to them, and extra time to play outside because they're not doing schoolwork).

We've adjusted pretty well.  Somehow, everything that truly needs to get done still happens.  While there's not a ton of time for extras right now, I am enjoying the things that I do get to do.  And I certainly feel accomplished when I prep six freezer meals (plus a few other things) in two hours.  Sort of like a few months after having a baby, when things start to settle into a new normal...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Weekly Goals: September 20-26

These two have such unique personalities! I love seeing that shine through.  This was after we made Pharaoh's crook for our history project, to go along with our crowns.  Matthew destroyed his shortly afterwards, and Jonah got his taken away for throwing it.  Life with boys...

Last Week's Goals:

  • Figure out Periscope.  Done!  I like it, but...I'm never "on" at the same time as the bloggers I follow, so I have to listen to the replays, which is fine, except my phone glitches out half the time and doesn't play.  And also, have you ever tried to listen to anything with four kids running around?  Probably why I don't listen to podcasts either...It's a fun app, but I think it's not quite going to work in this season of life.
  • Start reading Women of the Word.  Life got in the way of reading this week, as it does sometimes.
  • Make applesauce!  Done!  I ended up getting four batches out of the big pile of apples I picked.  It turned out a bit on the tart side, but still pretty tasty.  There may be enough good ones on the trees for one or two more batches, or I might end up getting some more at a farmer's market sometime soon.  We love applesauce!
This Week's Goals:
  • Post something on here besides the next Weekly Goals post.  I told you it might get quieter on here now that school has started, and I was right, but I would still like to get something posted occasionally.
  • Start reading Women of the Word.
  • Make a blue Lego ninja birthday cake for Jonah.  Yep.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Homeschool Update

Now that we're a few weeks into school, I thought I would update with how things are going.  We eased into things, starting out with just over 2 hours a day, with plenty of activities, but also getting into the structure of "we do school at the table in the other room, we do these things every day" and so on, and the boys have gotten used to that really quickly.    

Hannah will usually play independently in the same room, or work at the smaller kids table that's next to the homeschool table.  She colors, plays with blocks, plays with play doh, or does her own "work" of putting stickers on papers.  We do our daily morning stuff when Elizabeth takes her morning nap, which has worked out awesomely!  If she does wake up, it's usually not until we've moved on from worksheets and lessons to reading aloud, and she can join in with the rest of the kids for that.
Our daily schedule includes rest time for all of the kids after lunch.  The girls sleep, but the boys are just required to lay in their beds quietly for an hour or so.  Then they come down, and we do our afternoon school.  Because the girls are sleeping, this is a great time to get into more of the hands on projects and experiments.  

One thing that has taken some getting used to is that we're still only doing school stuff for 3 hours or so a day.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  When you add in lunch/recess/play time that they would have in a public school, it's about right, but because our schedule is condensed and I don't think of their free play time as school, it's still a bit hard for me to wrap my head around sometimes.
I have to pat myself on the back a little bit for finally understanding that I function best with a detailed plan.  If I were to just wing things, we wouldn't get to all the fun projects and activities we do.  It wouldn't happen.  So I spend my Sunday afternoons making my detailed plan for the week (based off of the basic plans I did for each subject before school started).  I find the projects and activities to go with Matthew's letter of the week and math concept.  I find things Jonah can do to supplement his phonics.  And I print out all my worksheets and things I need.

Last year, after we got off track, I didn't go back to planning.  I know better this year.  And I'm glad, because it means the kids get to do fun stuff like build huts for animals or dig for artifacts in the sandbox, paint pictures and play games.  They're still learning, but this is the kind of stuff they can spend hours on.
So school is going really well so far.  I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to handle it and that it would be too much work.  And it's hard sometimes.  I'm not always motivated to do school in the morning after a bad night's sleep when there are too many other things on my to do list that didn't get done.  But it's so worth it.  Jonah's starting to be able to sound out words.  Matthew is really creative with his art projects.  And I love seeing them enjoying school.

I've been posting pictures several times a week (like the ones in this post) on Instagram, my current favorite form of social media.  I use the hashtag #dedeynelutheranacademy for all my school pictures on there.  If you want to keep up with the DeDeyne kids, head on over there!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Weekly Goals: September 13-19

Me and Elizabeth enjoying some outside time while the rest of the kids played.

Last Week's Goals:

  • Figure out a treat to make for my birthday.  Done! I made a gluten free chocolate chip cheesecake, and it was delicious!
  • Get the kids to draw pictures and order photo prints to send to several relatives.  They drew the pictures, but I haven't ordered photos yet.  Hopefully I'll be able to do that soon though!
  • Enjoy my birthday! I did! It was a perfectly normal day.  Everything that could go well went well.

This Week's Goals:
  • Figure out Periscope.  This is a new app that a lot of the bloggers I follow have been talking about, so my goal is to figure out how it works and see if it's something I like.
  • Read (or at least start reading) Women of the Word, which I won from Holy Hen House last week!  I've had troubles finding a good way to get into my own personal Bible studies, and reading the description of this book sounded like it might be a good fit to help me dig deeper.
  • Make applesauce! We picked apples off of our backyard tree, and although a bunch of them were partially eaten by birds and bugs, there were still a bunch that look like they'll be good.  

My husband spoiled me with appliances this birthday.  We got a chest freezer, which we've been going back and forth on for awhile, and he picked one up on Friday.  I also got an immersion blender to replace my broken one, and a new basic coffeemaker so I can make hot coffee again, because we realized part of why we're going through so much milk is my daily iced coffee.  Ha!  It's still a good treat, but with the colder temperatures coming (yay!) I'm in the mood for hot coffee again anyways.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Weekly Goals: September 6-12

One of my favorite things about inherited furniture is moments like this.  When I was a baby, I used to hang out under this dining room table, and now my babies have all done it too.  So cute!

Last Week's Goals:

  • Continue with my chores looping system and see if it works.  The irony of my finding this now that school has started is that I think it would work awesome for when we're not doing school.  But I'm pretty busy on weekdays now, so most of my cleaning gets done on Saturdays.  I still like the idea, but not for right now.
  • Read What Alice Forgot.  I'm about halfway through.
  • Menu plan the first part of September, and grocery shop on Wednesday.  Done!  I'm taking a bit of a break from blogging menu plans, because the posts take awhile to set up, and I don't have the time for it right now.
  • Take first day of school pictures.  Done! I busted out the actual camera instead of the phone too.
Matthew, age 4, Pre-K; Hannah, age 2, Mom's Helper; Jonah, age 5, Kindergarten.

This Week's Goals:
  • Figure out a treat to make for my birthday on Friday. Maybe cake, maybe not...
  • Get the kids to draw pictures and order photo prints to send to several relatives.  This has been on my list for awhile now.  I managed to send updated kid pictures to their godparents who hadn't seen them recently, but not to some other family members yet.
  • Enjoy my birthday!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Iron Craft Challenge #17: F

I'm late with this post, and I almost didn't have anything to show for this week's challenge, but then I realized that I did do a project that fits with the letter F: fixing the sleeves on my new pajamas.

I've been working my way into the KonMari method of organizing, and one of the things that I liked was the idea of getting actual pajamas.  I had one winter set, but I picked up a summer set a couple weeks ago.  It's pretty and pink, and Hannah says "Mom jams", which sounds like she's saying "My jam", and it's adorable. 
But the sleeves were too tight.  I have a bit of the flappy arm thing going on, and I needed to give my arms some breathing room.  So I cut along the seam, and hemmed the remaining bits at an angle.  The sleeves fit now, and I can sleep comfortably.  It's the little things...

On Abortion and Grace

There has been a lot in the media lately about the Planned Parenthood videos.  I have jumbled thoughts and feelings, and part of me wants to share and talk, and part of me wants to keep it to myself.  I've stuck with that part because I don't quite know what to say.  I don't have my own thoughts completely figured out yet.

At the core of things, I fully believe that abortion is wrong.  I believe life starts at conception, and therefore abortion is murdering an innocent life.  I don't think body parts should be for sale, especially when the person for sale (or the person responsible for that baby) has no say in things.  These are pretty black and white issues for me.

But after that, things get muddy.

A few weeks ago, I also read this article about the likely cause of addiction being a lack of belonging and human connection.  I've also fairly recently read abortion testimonies from a few bloggers (here and here), who talked about their experiences with having an abortion before later realizing that was a sin and coming to Jesus.

And these things got me thinking.  What if?  What if my simple foolishnesses of high school drinking had led to other things?  It didn't.  It could have.  What if I had gotten pregnant at a time when all I had ever been taught was that pre-marital sex was wrong, and the consequences would be disappointing those I loved, which was at the time the worst thing I could do?

I don't know what I would have done.  Would I have been brave, carried a child, and given that child up for adoption?  I like to think so.  But I also know my selfish heart, and my fears of failure, and I wonder what I would have done.

And this brings me back to the article about addiction.  What if what we need to do to heal society of this descent into sin upon sin is to focus less on the sin, and more on the Savior?  I'm not saying we give everyone the "hey, it's okay" and ignore the sins that have been committed.  But instead of focusing on being pious and better than everyone else, instead of sometimes focusing so much on making sure everyone knows that what we believe is the right thing to the point of exclusivity, what if we meet people where they're at?

It's hard to describe.  How do you create an inviting atmosphere, one where people feel safe and allowed to be vulnerable and like they belong and that it's okay to not be perfect because Jesus was, but still show people their sins and their need for a Savior?  I think if any of us ever figures that out, we might just end up with a mega church, because it would be a place people would run to.

So these are my thoughts.  They're incomplete, but they've been floating around in my head for the past month, and I needed to write them out to work through some of it.  Someone tell me I'm not the only one who's not in the black and white here...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Ideal Day

If you were to have the perfect day, what would it look like?  Mine would go a little something like this:

Sleep until I wake up.  If I slept well, this will be shortly after 6:00.  I'm okay with that.  

Move.  Family walk, yoga, something to get me moving and make me feel like I've accomplished something.

Breakfast, at least mostly prepared the day before.  Even though I'm up and moving, I'm not completely coherent at this point in the day.

Get something accomplished.  Morning is when I think best.  

Read to my little people.

Have an easy to prepare but still good for us lunch.

Enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and a book while the little people rest.

Get something else accomplished.  I'm a list-checker-offer.  

Have dinner, complete our evening routine, send the kids off to bed.

Spend some quality time with my honey.

Go to bed, satisfied with the day.

Is this realistic?  Usually parts of it are, although it's rare for it all to happen in the same day.  But thinking of my ideal day, I've realized that there are ways I can work towards this happening more often.

For instance, just while typing this up, I had a light bulb moment about breakfast.  I don't like having to do a lot of work for a healthy breakfast, at least not at 7:00am.  If I've made something the day before, it's a lot easier to get up, go for a walk, and come back to eat, than to spend the next half hour cooking.

My goal, then, is to look for ways to make it easier for every day to be like my ideal day.  What about you?