Thursday, October 7, 2010

I feel like such a grown up!

I am so excited today! I feel like I am an official grown up I just finished making... wait for it.... LASAGNA!!!!

I cannot wait for dinner!

We have swim team practice from 5:30 till 6:30, but it will only take 20-30 mins in the oven and then ready to eat. And during those 20 mins I will be sauteing up some yummy veggies to serve with it. Zucchini, Squash, Green beans, onions and garlic in butter MMmmmm I am SOOOO excited!  Can you tell? Can you see my eager fingers tapping on each other with the stupid grin on my face?

Tuesday night I made Fettucini Alfredo for dinner. I added mushrooms and left over parmesean garlic chicken and served it with roasted Asparagus.

See! I told you that I feel all grown up!

It has been a while since I cooked, and even then it was NOT fancy stuff. Just normal stuff. boring food.. that is all. But this week I had a friend call and ask for a recipe.... a recipe that took me like 30 mins to find... and of course, it was literally the LAST place I looked for it. So by the time I found it, my living room floor had recipes ALL OVER it! So I made lemon aid :-)

I sifted through every recipe that I had loose on the floor (not the books, that would be a job for another day) and got rid of the ones that I didnt think I would make (ingredients we dont like, too much work, there were six of the same thing... you get the idea) and then set up a menu plan for the week.

It was so cool! I didnt even know that I was doing it, but I prepared myself to go grocery shopping. I already knew what was for dinner, so I knew what I needed to have on hand for those recipes. And now, I have three more recipes that I know where to put... either get rid of because I will NOT be making it again, or in my binder to use next time. (Oh, I have a bunch of printed out recipes in page protectors that I keep in a binder. That way I dont have them all over the place loose (well, not those ones anyway) and I can take one page out when I need that recipe. the Page protector.... protects the page from all the mess that gets on recipes when I cook too)

Alright, I also want to talk about my new table and our trip to disneyland, but maybe if I just save it, I will have the gumption to post another day too :-) And next time will be with PICTURES!!! Yay! I love reading blogs with pictures.

Something sweet

This is a wonderful idea posted by the Flanders family. I hope to use this in a few more months :-)

Candy Kiss Chains

Our kids use these to count the days until Christmas. We make them right after Thanksgiving, then beginning December 1, we cut off one chocolate kiss per day until Christmas. To motivate the children to think of others, we tell them they cannot have the day’s kiss until they’ve done something sweet for somebody else — which may mean reading a picture book to the baby, making their sister’s bed, folding their brother’s laundry, raking a neighbor’s leaves, etc.
Supplies You Will Need to Complete This Craft:

  • 25 chocolate kisses
  • long piece of plastic wrap
  • yarn or ribbon in Christmas colors
  • scissors
  • gift tag for name (optional)

  Do It Yourself By Following These Simple Steps:
Cut a yard-long length of clear plastic wrap, and lay it flat on the table. Position 25 chocolate kisses along the edge of it, leaving a little space between each kiss. You may use more than 25 candies if you want to start counting early, fewer if you’re making the chain later in December.

Carefully roll the kisses into the wrap, forming a long tube. Young children may need help with this step, as the wrap is very clingy. Ideally, there should be at least a double layer of wrap around all the kisses in the chain.

Cut yarn or ribbon to uniform length, about 4″ long. This is easily done by wrapping it loosely around your hand twenty-six times, then cutting through the loops once.

Tie a piece of ribbon or yarn between each kiss. Tie it tightly, so that the kisses won’t fall out.You should have extra wrap left at one end, but do not cut it off yet.

Staple or tie a name tag at the top of the chain (especially important if you have more than one child making this project). The excess plastic wrap will help in attaching the tag. Then hang it on your bulliten board, and you’re ready to go. Remember to “do something sweet to get your treat!”

A hand made gift...

Another wonderful craft idea from the Flanders family. Hopefully my family will forget about this before they receive it :-)

Christmas Heart Ornaments

Rebekah and Rachel made these pretty little hearts for an ornament exchange this Christmas. Of course, their brothers wanted to help, so we ended up making several for our own Christmas tree, as well. I’ve never had a child yet who didn’t enjoy working with clay, and these are easy enough that even our four year old was able to make one without much help. The design may look dainty and delicate, but oven-baking makes these ornaments fairly durable.

Supplies You Will Need to Complete This Craft:

  • large package of Sculpey white clay
  • small packages of Sculpey clay in red and dark green
  • metalic paper clips
  • gold cord for hanging
  • wire cutters
  • aluminum foil or cookie sheet

Do It Yourself By Following These Simple Steps:
Roll a ping-pong sized ball of white clay into a long, uniform roll, approximately 3/8″ diameter.

Fashion it into the shape of a heart by slightly pinching the ends together to form top of heart, and pinching another point to form the bottom. To make it easier to transfer ornament to the oven, you may want to work on a piece of aluminum foil or a cookie sheet.

TCut a loop off a paper clip using wire cutters, and bend the ends up sharply (sort of like a wide “W” with the loop in the middle). Press this into the top of the heart and smooth clay back over the sides of the “W”.

Flatten the heart slightly by pressing all around the edges gently with your fingers.

Use the sharp end of a paper clip to make indentions all around the top surface. These “holes” need not go all the way through the clay, only about half-way down.

Cut a loop off a paper clip using wire cutters, and bend the ends up sharply (sort of like a wide “W” with the loop in the middle). Press this into the top of the heart and smooth clay back over the sides of the “W”.

Take a little bit of red clay and roll it into a snake-shape, slightly thicker in the center and pointed at the ends. Coil this into a rose, place it between the leaves and press it into the heart by using the pointed end of the paper clip to bore a small hole in the center of the flower. Bake according to package directions. Once it has cooled, thread a loop of gold cord through the paper clip eye and hang it on your Christmas tree.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A beautiful reminder

It's not so much what you say As the manner in which you say it;
It's not so much the language you use As the tone in which you convey it;
"Come here!" I sharply said, And the child cowered and wept.
"Come here," I said- He looked and smiled And straight to my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair And the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words may be soft as the summer air But the tone may break my heart;
For words come from the mind Grow by study and art-
But tone leaps from the inner self Revealing the state of the heart.
Whether you know it or not,
Whether you are mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love and hate, Envy, anger, are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words-
Keep it out of your voice.
Author Unknown

Saturday, June 12, 2010

There's NOTHING my God cannot do!!

Did you ever hear that song? I know it from Veggie Tales... I think Mr Lunt sings it :-) "My God is so BIG so STRONG and so MIGHTY... There's nothing my God cannot do!"

Well, that is what my heart is singing right now, with tears streaming down my face :-)

Let my back up a bit... I am sure that if you have been reading here for any length of time, you know that we have been trying to adopt children through the county of __________ ... this has taken much more time than we were expecting, and we have had our share of negative (and positive) thoughts that go along with any hitch in a get along :-)

That being said, and on a completely separate note, we have also been working on strengthening our family as it exists now.

-We have started homeschooling (pretty obvious with the homeschool blog huh? lol)
-Daddy has been reading the bible to us at dinner time and walking us through some wonderful discussions and time with the Lord.
-We have been doing a WONDERFUL curriculum that is centered around memorizing scripture.
-We are learning to be at HOME alot more... eating, schooling, baking, cleaning, gardening, etc...

And we have been reading alot of family focused authors... just for encouragement's sake I suppose, but it has had a really big influence on our thinking. We have realized that we have a world view that we did not choose... that we just kind of grew up with and never questioned... well, we are questioning it now. Reflecting on God's words more and peers words less... praying ALOT!

In all of this... reflective thinking, we came to the conclusion that we made a mistake when we decided to "have no more babies". Lots of prayer, and research led us to a doctor in Southern California who "un does" such mistakes as a ministry. His fee's are SUBSTANTIALLY more affordable than most other doctors because he does not pay himself for the procedure... HOWEVER, it is still alot of money to cover the costs, and it is all paid up front, no credit.
This is a HUGE blessing!!!! We have been saving for it for a few months now... on schedule for the September surgery date. AWESOME! THEN... we were blessed yet again. With a date change :-) Now the surgery is in July. Yay, but WOW... we are now no longer on schedule to have the money saved up in time... For about three weeks now we have been living out of the freezer and cupboards... making due with what we have, not spending money on ANYTHING that was not completely necessary. But as they do, unplanned things popped up here and there and we started to realize that there was no way we could make our deadline.

We started thinking about ways that we could raise money as well as save it... we have sold books out of our homeschooling stash, we have planned yard sales, we have collected recycling from relatives and friends, babysat for friends... you name it, and we have been trying it. But with little hope of reaching our goal.
Today the mail came and we had the usual junk mail, a package, and an unexpected letter from the county auditor regarding our property taxes. Those are NEVER good!!! The last time we got one it was an audit on last year's income taxes and we were billed upwards of $2000 OUCH!

THIS one was different though... This one contained a completely unexpected and unrequested refund application. Apparently our property taxes were assessed during a time when the value of the property was much higher than it is now and for some reason they have RE assessed the value and therefore adjusted the tax (which we paid back in December).... The difference? only the amount that we have been trying to save to pay for the surgery next month! :-D
I still cannot get over how loving our God is!!! He put this desire in our hearts, and He provided the means to achieve it. PRAISE to our God!!
So we have now come back to my song...
My God is so BIG,
so STRONG, and so MIGHTY,
there's nothing my God cannot do
Hey Hey!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! And Remember how much our God cares for you!!! -Christina

Psalm 127 ESV
"1 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain, 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalm 37:4
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart"

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Wise Mother Guards Her Time

Copied from here

She was busy running the women's ministry at church. She would rush home and get ready for her MOPS meeting and then later in the day she knew she would somehow try to fit in the desperately needed shopping trip to host the monthly bible study in her home. She also had to run Johnny to soccer practice and little Suzy to her ballet class. She had forgotten to make dinner again and hubby would be home soon not to mention she hadn't touched the growing pile of laundry for days. She was tired, overwhelmed, and burnt out.

With all these seemingly good activities, she felt a gnawing at her soul. She had not read to her children for months, and yesterday she had yelled at her husband because she felt burdened by all the housework that she had to do when she finally did make it home from being out. She sunk despairingly down into her chair and saw an unfinished sewing project laying in a basket nearby and wondered when she would ever have time to even think about when she could complete such a project. She knew something in her life was amiss---but didn't she have the life she had always dreamed of? Didn't she take on these commitments with good intentions to serving her Lord?

Women were designed to be helpmeets, it is within our intrinsic nature to want to be available whenever there is a need. But we often do not pray before we take on new commitments as we blindly nod and say yes to fill someone elses needs. We forget to seek wise counsel and ask our husband what he thinks. Before we know it we have schedules that are swamped with well-meaning duties and obligations that were never intended for us, distracting us from our first responsibilities---time with God, our husbands and our children.

We have forsaken what is good with what is BEST. The days can be filled with many temptations, all enticing our souls, minds and our hearts away what is God's best for us. I believe many of us unknowingly choose such busyness for our lives falsely assuming it is the norm, but what we really need is to just live more simply. Simplicity helps to restore peace and order.

Sometimes we need to pare away the unnecessary things in our lives. This might be saying no to outside activities or events. This might be stepping down from some ministry positions we have found ourselves in. This could be putting some of your favorite craft projects on hold to be able to do some real work around the home. This might also mean taking a long break from the internet if we find it always tugging at our hearts pulling us away from our first duties.

If we find ourselves unsure if this is taking place we should ask ourselves a few questions: Are our homes in order? Are we getting meals to our husbands on time? Is the training and education of our children being neglected? Are the clothes in good repair and washed? All of these things take time and they are important. The mandate in Titus 2 is to love our husbands, love our children, to be self controlled, pure, kind, keepers at home and submissive to our own husbands, so that the word of God may not blasphemed. When we are doing these things, we are doing the Lord's work that He commanded us to do. These things to do not have to perfect, no home with people living in it will ever be, but we need to try to do our best in doing what we can in our circumstances.

Mother, turn your heart towards home!!! If you have a straying heart that always wants to be out shopping and driving all over town, surfing the net, emotionally distracted and absent with the non-important, pray that the Lord will give you a heart to stay home, to be present, to love it and to faithfully learn how to manage it well. It is well known that the woman is the heart of the home------but if she is gone all the time, now the home is lonely and empty. The mother is the one who helps fulfill the vision of her husband and puts into action cultivating the culture, warmth, order and atmosphere of the home, something that is impossible to fulfill being physically or mentally absent. It is hard to look well to the ways of our home and those in it if we are distracted by other so called "good" commitments or pursuits that are not required of us. We must use our best energies toward giving our all to our loved ones, not just our leftovers. May the Lord give us all wisdom on what might need to be eliminated from our lives, or our childrens lives, to preserve the sanctity of our precious family time and to manage our homes well.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cloth Diapering

Ok, so I am not sure that I have mentioned it on here before, but I have been REALLY interested in Cloth Diapering for a really long time now... I even have been given permission by my sweet husband to go ahead and make the plunge. The problem is ... My youngest "baby" is 3 years old and prob will not be wearing diapers (of any sort) for very much longer.

Well... I have wrestled and wrestled with this for YEARS!!! Literally. I remember having the same thoughts two years ago when our littlest was 1 and we figured that he would be potty training soon... but... I am still buying disposable diapers... go figure!

Anyhow... I have little by little been buying one at a time and found a GREAT site called EcoBuns which is run by a wonderful woman who has "taught" me all kinds of diapering lingo  It is kind of a hard language to understand when you are a newbie.

Well... EcoBuns is sponsoring a give away on a blog this month. I am SO excited I thought I would share the info. Here is the link to Green Mama on a Budget.  I hope you will all enter, and if you win and dont know what to do with your prize, pass it on

Do you cloth? How did you get started? Do you have any tips to share? I would love to hear about your favorite diapers!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A wasted day? by Tamara Eaton

A wonderful reminder! Visit her here.

A Wasted Day?

by Tamara Eaton

Do you ever look back upon your day and think, "What did I really accomplish?" Every week I hear from frustrated mothers who feel they don't have enough hours in the day to do all that's needed. Most of them have young children and when someone asks them, "What did you do today?” they look back and have a hard time producing tangible evidence of a full day's work.

"Hmmm. I cleaned up the house some, but it's messy again. The dishes were done, but we used them again. I spent time cooking dinner, but we ate it in fifteen minutes. We homeschooled—children, tell your father what you learned today!"

Young children give their mom a blank look, then sidle up next to her and whisper, "What? Tell me again!"
We've all probably had days like this!

One of the busiest seasons of life is when all the children are young. On the other hand, when they are young, you can afford to be more relaxed about their homeschooling and cover the necessary work in just a few hours a week. You can spend more time working on attitudes, obedience, sibling relationships, teamwork, talking and learning about the Lord, enjoying hugs and stories, learning about nature and why things work the way they do, counting spoons and subtracting and dividing cookies—and of course, answering lots of questions.

Are you viewing taking care of all the children's needs, changing diapers, answering questions, wiping tears, teaching obedience, mopping up spilled milk, and such as "interruptions"? They're not. They are some of the MAIN occupations of a mom with young children.

So often during these years, our efforts seem to have no tangible results at the end of the day, but just because we can't always SEE what's been done, doesn't mean nothing has been accomplished. We are shaping young lives and allowing the Lord to shape ours in the process as we yield to Him each day. We are ministering to the Lord as we minister to our family.

We do need to be on guard against time-wasters—the telephone, television, too many outside activities, letting things go with the children and not taking time to train and correct them in a Christlike manner. (Otherwise, countless minutes are wasted by having to repeat ourselves every time we tell the children to do something.)

I no longer have very young children, but I'd like to share something I wrote years ago when I had a nursing baby, an active 2-year-old, and homeschooled four older children. (Don't think I can't remember what it was like in those days!)
I used to like everything perfectly planned and in order, but I have had to learn to relax. Six children and a "perfect" house just don't go together. I'll admit I still have days I'd like to have my own apartment just so I could have one place kept perfectly neat. I have to be flexible because with so many young children, things often are put on hold. We do have a good basic routine, which helps, but I have to allow time for interruptions. I also make lists and then don't get upset if I don't get everything done. A new day begins tomorrow!

I have to remind myself that even though it may seem like I didn't accomplish much some days, I'm actually doing the most important work in the world—helping to mold and shape precious human lives with the Lord's help. What an awesome responsibility! We can provide a secure, loving environment for them in the midst of all the chaos in the world. We can lead them to Jesus, teach them His ways, and help prepare them for the unique ministry that He has for each one of them.

Sometimes too, we must think of all the things that could have happened that day, but didn't. The children didn't throw a temper tantrum and talk back because we have been faithful to be consistent to train them in the ways of the Lord. (Not that they aren't still "in training" in some areas—we are, too!) They didn't experience rejection because we have demonstrated our unconditional love for them. They didn't grow hungry because we fed them peanut butter sandwiches and fruit. They were sheltered from many negative circumstances. They were safe in our care. They heard about Jesus from our lips and saw Him in our lives today; they joined in with singing songs to Him.

If the floor wasn’t mopped and the clothes are filling all eight baskets in the laundry room, what difference does it make? Eventually those things will get done, but in the meantime, our children have a mother who truly loves and cares for them, even during the less than glorious times.
Some days being a godly mother is all one can accomplish—and it is a BIG accomplishment. After all, I don't plan to take my baskets of laundry and the kitchen floor with me when Jesus returns. I do plan to take my family! There won't be any quizzes for my 9-year-old to make sure she knows her multiplication tables before she enters Heaven. We have to keep things in perspective. Academics are important, but there are other things more important. If we keep the right perspective, the Lord will bless our homeschooling, our mothering, and our family.
I wrote those words years ago, and I can now report that the nine-year-old became a teenager and knows her multiplication tables well!

Attempting to be "good stewards" of their time, some mothers crowd many activities into each day. Therefore, they end up pressuring themselves in ways God never intended. We need time to train our children and enjoy them while giving ourselves time to rest and meditate upon God's Word and allowing Him to speak. We need time to act in response to circumstances of daily life instead of reacting to the swirling events that surround us. Doing all things without murmurings and disputings—that we might shine as lights, holding forth the word of life—so we can say with Paul, that we will not have laboured in vain. (Colossians 3)

If this has been a struggle for you recently, why not ask the Lord to give you His perspective, and allow Him to reveal any areas that need changing? He is so patient and longsuffering with us, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is always tempered with encouragement that we can repent, receive forgiveness and a clean slate. He delights in our dependence upon Him and freely bestows all the grace we need.

Don't allow a search for tangible accomplishments to distract you from the work the Lord is doing through you in your children's hearts. This ministry has eternal consequences and rewards, and you will truly reap "treasures in Heaven" if you're faithful.

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" --2 Corinthians 9:8

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." -- Matthew 25:40

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." --Matthew 6:20-21

Copyright © 1994-2000 Tamara Eaton, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
Copyright ©  2007 Eclectic Homeschool Association

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My very favorite Easter song of all time!

Are you a fan of Veggie Tales? Once upon a time I was a HUGE fan!!! I didn't even have kids yet and I just LOVED Veggie Tales... I remember being SO excited when I finally had a little girl so that I could explain away my ENORMOUS collection of Veggie Tales movies. Have I ever mentioned that I am a little be strange? Well, just in case you have missed it, I am a little bit strange... There, I have said it. I feel better now.

Ok back to the point of this post. We were given the opportunity to go and see a screening a a new Veggie Tales movie (like 5 or 6 years ago) and I was down right giddy! So we went and saw it... nothing spectacular... just a cartoon... and even a remake of an old story... but there was one scene that has NEVER left me!  So many years have gone by since I first watched this movie and each year we watch it together as a family at least once... And STILL, every time I see this scene, I get goose bumps and tears stream down my face.

If you have not yet seen Veggie Tales an Easter Carol, I encourage you to. It is a silly little move.. great for kids, not bad for refocusing the holiday, but if nothing else jumps out at you, watch Hope's Song!!! It really is THE BEST Easter song I have ever heard.

Ok, that is it for now... I just wanted to share. I remember being on Myspace for several years in a row and wanting to post the video on my blog there... I could not find it anywhere... I even emailed Big Idea and asked for permission to post it and explained how I believed it was a WONDERFUL explanation of the gospel story... They wrote me back and said that it was a copyright infringement and I could not post it... but I just found it on YouTube, so PLEASE enjoy it! I am So excited that it is made public now :-)

Have a blessed Easter all of you. And remember how wonderfully blessed we are to have a redeemer who lives!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vanilla Extract

I am so excited!!! I have been wanting to make home made vanilla extract for like a year now and just have not gotten around to it... until today I am THRILLED!!!  I am not even sure why it took me so long.. I guess because I could not find a price that I was willing to pay on alcohol. The other day I strolled into Smart and Final just because i had not been there in a LONG time, and as i was checking out I saw their liquor shelf... WooHoo!!! I got a bottle of Kentucky Walker fine whiskey for $6! Yay!  I have had the vanilla beans sitting in my house for quite some time now so I just got to it this morning... Oh I am excited to see what it comes out like Anyway... I figured that this was something that I could actually blog about without having to upload pictures and spend forever on making the technology do what I want it to do :-) So... There ya go... I hope to be back on here again soon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

That sweet man of mine

May I think the best of him in every circumstance,

May I laugh and sing and make our lives a dance.

May I build him up with the words I say,

May I give him reason to look forward to the day.

May I be quick to look over his mistakes,

And thank him for the efforts that he makes.

May he feel safe and know that I’m his biggest fan,

May I remember he is clay–he’s only just a man.

Let me love him the way I want to be,

Forgiving as Christ has forgiven me.

May I build my home by every word and deed,

And may love flourish from every planted seed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What does a stay at home mom do all day?

(Once again I am just stealing some one elses work, but I want to come back to it later and maybe you will too)   -Christina


What Does a Stay-at-Home Mom Do All Day?

Quite honestly, I don’t like the term “stay-at-home mom”.  It testifies to the fact that there are moms who don’t stay at home and I wish it didn’t have to be so.

But there’s an enormous gulf now between “have to work” and “want to work”.  The gulf was a complicated build, and now we can’t even remember the “norm”, when women stayed at home because, well, there was a household to run and  important lives who depended on her, and it didn’t matter that they couldn’t afford new socks–it was her job to darn them so they didn’t have to.

No, our generation doesn’t remember because they were told another story.  They were told that women were home because they *had* to be, (not because it best served their families) and that one little word touches a rebellious chord in us and we jump on the band wagon to “save women from oppression”.  We think “stay” is a derogatory word and though all good sense said that a healthy family needs someone devoted to nurturing it, we passed up the job.

That’s not really what the post is about, but I can never just start in the middle ;-)

So now women, some of whom are entertaining the thoughts of coming back home (more and more exhausted working women are getting tired of the “have-it-all” lie and realize home comes closer to anything that offers “all”), don’t know about the art and profession of making a home and are asking, “but what do I do?”

Which strikes a veteran SAHM as comical, because she knows that tasks and opportunities alike present themselves faster than she can ever keep up.

And because readership of this blog makes up a widely-varied audience, I thought it timely to go back-to-basics for a moment and visit the question, “What does a stay-at-home mom do all day?” That is, what does a woman wishing to follow a Proverbs 31 model do?

Remember though...a list of what she “could” do is not the same as what she “should” do. Each woman is in a different season of life, some seasons allowing for greater opportunities than others.  Some are merely surviving with the basics during a busy season; others are finding time to flourish in their gifts and abilities.  But we could all study to be more efficient and become a better home-builders.
  • She studies to provide at least somewhat healthy, somewhat economical meals for her family.  This can be a time-consuming job, but there are books written solely on the art of cooking and the incredible ministry found in entertaining your family and friends through the hospitality of the kitchen.  Study it!  (Another word about the ministry of hospitality soon!)  Just in the area of health alone, America is experiencing an epidemic of illness, largely from consuming so much pre-packaged food, a choice usually necessary to maintain the over-booked lives we live.
  • If the Lord has given her children, she pours herself into their training, nurturing and developing.  Another full time job almost by itself.  If not, there are a myriad of “mothering” and ministering opportunities sorely in need of a servant-minded woman.
  • She helps her husband.  This varies widely from home to home.  But much like an administrative assistant, she can be a “crown to her husband” instead of forcing him to hire another woman for that role.  This is where “the heart of her husband safely trusts her” as she runs a household and “he has no lack of gain”.
  • She studies to keep her marriage happy.  The dearth of happy marriages–of marriages at all–is staggering.  Good marriages don’t just happen.  If they aren’t tended, they’ll wilt.
  • She studies to save money, to make her home a warm, inviting place, to treat minor illnesses, to repair things, to make things, to plant things, to be busy with her hands.  Books are written–there is no end to this art.
  • She engages in meaningful conversation with her children.  An often underrated, but vitally important job in their education–homeschooled or not.
  • She “reaches”.  (“She reaches her hand to the needy”. Proverbs 31)  Whether this be the meeting of a physical need for the poor, or a need of a fellow believer, needs abound.  Many needs could be met in the form of an encouraging card, phone call or visit.  It’s just a suggestion, but maybe Prozac has largely filled our lack of availability to hurting women.
  • She earns money.  Home industries are easier than ever to begin.  Saving money and making money are doable activities for the SAHM.
  • She mentors other moms.
  • She takes care of extended family members.  Nursing homes are new.
And I shall close for now, because I have lots of things to do today ;-)   Help me, each one of you, where you are, resurrect the art of homemaking.  We need homes…they’re actually pretty rare.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beware the Lotus!

(This is not my words, but it speaks to my heart! I thought I would share it here and hope that you find encouragement and strength in it. - Christina )

February 4, 2010 by Melissa  

Our history read aloud for the day was from William Russell’s Classic Myths to Read Aloud. We were following the journey of Ulysses and his men on their return home after ten years at war with the Trojans. In this reading, they had just landed on an unknown shore and met a peaceful people that fed them a strange fruit they’d never tasted–the fruit of the lotus, an intoxicating flowering plant on the island. “Whoever tastes of that fruit has no longer any desire to return home or to do anything at all, but to sit and dream happy dreams and forget the troubles of the world, and even forget his home and family.” As I read it, the words jumped from the pages straight into my heart.

The Holy Spirit penetrated my lotus-loving heart with those words to show me something amiss in my own life. I was eating the fruit of the lotus. My modern-day lotus kept me from the chores of my home. It made it easy to ignore the cares within my world and tune out my family, all while sitting and dreaming happy dreams. My personal lotus was the Internet.

I’m not writing to warn you of the perils of the Internet. I’m a fan (although one who must beware). This piercing reminder led me to examine my own life for things that wasted my time and energy. Things that turned my desires from God’s best to the world’s cheap imitations. For me, this is the Internet, but what about you? Is there a lotus in your life leading you astray? A ‘fruit’ whose sweetness pulls you away from the very home and family that should be the focus of your journey.

Often this is something that starts out in balance, but when it falls out of balance it pulls us in the wrong direction. Perhaps its the television, a hobby, a friendship, a computer game, Facebook, a great fiction book, a job, a message board or even a ministry. Any number of things, even good things, can lead us astray.

The Lord was showing me a pattern in my life where I was looking for escape on the Internet. Whether it was reading an inspiring blog (albeit a Christian one), researching homeschool curricula and ideas, or finding a great deal online, I was spending more time ’searching’ online than I was implementing the great things I found. I was Googling more ways to do my job of mom, homeschooler, wife, homemaker and money saver than I was praying to the Lord to show my His ways to do my job. The Internet is a great tool when kept in check, but the distortion of its place in my life led to its sweet tasting fruit zapping my desire for home and family, and ultimately the Lord.

It’s ironic that time wasters abound in our ever-efficient age. But it’s really a matter of the heart that allows us to slip under the power of something that will ultimately rob us of our time, energy and focus. I’ve found it’s easiest to get ‘lost in the lotus’ when I’m not steadfast in my vision of the Lord’s priorities for my life. After the Lord revealed this to my heart, I knew my vision was what needed to get back on track. Proverbs 29:18 says it best, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

So I made it a priority to set my alarm (instead of waking whenever) and spend time praying and reading my Bible BEFORE chaos awoke in my home. I made it a point to talk to God all day long about all my concerns, both big and small, instead of looking for answers outside of Him.

I also forced myself to get to work on the work of my home. Whether it’s the kitchen piled high with dishes or the discipline issues I see in my children, I stopped trying to ignore it and look past it (not like this was an effective technique anyway). The more attentive and intentional I was in my home and with my family the less I had need of escape.

I also knew that for a time, I needed to take a break from my Internet indulgence. I had to stop eating the lotus, if you will. Or as Hebrews 12:1b puts it “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” I needed to strip from my life that which was slowing me down and hindering my progress. No getting lost online before my day starts. No searching without purpose. No blog hopping for me.

So I pulled back until I felt the pull lessen. I can’t live life without the Internet, but I know I have to keep it in check. Accountability in this area can really help. Whatever your struggle, share it with someone who can help you stay on track and will encourage you along the way. Change up your routine and your habits. It takes time to break old habits and more time to start new ones, but these changes can help tremendously.

As a Christian, I know I have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my heart and my life, but it was funny (yet comforting) to me that the Lord used the tale of the mythical lotus-eaters to grab my attention. I think of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Even our Greek mythology read aloud.

Melissa Morgner is a happy wife of 16 years to her college sweetheart and mother to six loud, but lovable children ranging in age from twelve to one. After eight years of homeschooling and sampling way too much curriculum, she takes an eclectic approach in their little schoolroom, choosing resources that best suit the children and the teacher. Her busy household puts her gifts of juggling and winging it to the test each day. She steals moments here and there to write on her blog, Day In Day Out, about the lessons she’s learning from the Lord in the routine but privileged tasks of mothering and homeschooling.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A day in the life.... (routines)

Ok, Suzanne over at Joyful Chaos, just did a blog about her day “how I do what I do”. I LOVE those posts! They are so helpful for me to read about how another mama does it. I ALWAYS wish I could be a fly on the wall in someone elses home! She asked for other mama's days too, so, in response to her post, I am writing one of my own (I figure If I am going to write it all down for her, I may as well put it in a place where I can look back on it a few years)

Here it goes:
I do not have a schedule, never have, hope to some day, but that is still a work in progress.  But we do have a few “routines” that we try to implement, so I guess I will just start there 
My Hubby gets up at 5 and mulls around the house until 6 when he leaves for work (me snoring away) My littlens usually wake up between 6:15 and 7, but are NOT allowed to wake me up (Yes, I really am that bad) They go and play in the toy room in the back of the house until I come in and get them. It is far enough from the sleeping rooms, that they can have a good ole time without disturbing the peace. (little people and Duplo blocks are thoroughly enjoyed by all)

I usually roll out of bed between 7 and 8 and give them some sort of morning snack (fruit, crackers, popcorn, sandwiches)(still in the toy room) and make a pot of coffee. While it brews, I usually start the laundry and maybe tidy up the kitchen. Once the pot is ready, it is computer time… email, facebook, and the occasional blog. This usually takes about an hour. 

After I have been completely selfish and am done with my coffee and “puter” time, I go in and “release the hounds” (Of course I mean… invite my sweet kids to come and enjoy the day with me) This is when we “do school”.

Lets see… today we are doing money… the first day of the month (I didn’t pay them for their chores last month at all) so … read *Math lesson* All of their moneys are laid out on the table at their seats and their banks and wallets are there too.  Steven (4) is working on coin identification and getting a jump on values. Rebekah (6) is working on coin value and introductory addition. Heather (8) is working on addition, and percentages mostly, but sometimes multiplication and division find their way into our lesson. Jeremiah (3yo) is counting the amount of coins and putting them in the slots that I tell him to. (fine motor skills) 

One subject is done, so we move on to breakfast (late because they have already snacked in the toy room) usually eggs or toast with peanut butter… sometimes both, and if I am feeling especially care free, we will indulge in a bowl of cereal every once in a while.

Now we work on chores. Since we use money as a math lesson, we need to give them a reason to be receiving it… they have age appropriate chores that they are responsible for. ..

Jeremiah(3)- Sorts laundry into piles of who they belong to. Later in the day he will set the table for dinner, and he gets to put all of his folded laundry away in the right drawers.

Steven (4)- puts away the dishes out of the dish washer, folds his laundry and puts it away in the right drawers, and cleans one of the bathrooms (sweep, scrub toilet, wipe down counter, wipe down outside of toilet and empty trash can.)

Rebekah (6)- keeps table wiped down and clean, folds and puts away her laundry, cleans the other bathroom, and vacuums the living room floor.

Heather (8)- moves laundry from the washer to the dryer and starts it, folds and puts away her laundry, sweeps dining room floor, and washes the dishes. (She is also kind of my go to girl when something needs to be done that does not have a person assigned to it)

Once chores are done, we do something fun… PE  My kids have decided that they really like doing exercises with me in front of the tv… we have two exercise videos (Both biggest looser) and we rotate through them… Yoga is a workout for all involved, cardio is just hard for me 
Then it is showers and dressed for the day.  Usually while the kids are busy (either with chores or showers) I will tidy up in the kitchen and start getting lunch laid out…. Normally pretty light, like fruit or sandwiches and salad… it is ready for them when they are done showering. 

Lunch time!  This usually falls somewhere around noon… sometimes before, sometimes after… it just kindof depends on how the day has gone.

Then… if the littles can handle it, they get to stay up for “school”. This is the one subject that we do everyday. It is called Disciple Curriculum. It incorporates reading, writing, summarizing, scripture memorization, drawing parallels in similarly themed stories, theology, and apologetics.  It usually takes between 30 and 45 mins. 

Then naps. Every once in a while Heather will get to stay up, but most of the time they are all down until the youngest wakes up or two hours has passed whichever comes first. This is my time… I can clean, read, sleep, prepare dinner, bake, write letters, practice a new craft (I am going to pull my sweing machine out one of these days and work on my "fix this please mommy" basket) whatever I want (kindof). 

When they wake up, they make sure that their chores are still done (some of them are several times a day kind of chores) and we start on dinner plans… sometimes they help, sometimes they get to go outside to play, sometimes it is time for Heather to read stories to her siblings… but it is pretty unstructured till daddy gets home. 

When daddy gets home (if I am really good, we have dinner ready to put on the table) we finish up making dinner and sit down together. Dinner is always followed by daddy reading from the bible. Sometimes just a few verses, sometimes a lot.. It just depends on how much conversation comes from it… if the passage is easy to understand, we get further, if it is more difficult (or the kids are not paying much attention) we don’t get very far… we have been in Romans for …. Oh, probably around 3 months, and we have gotten midway through chapter 3. We always review what we talked about last, and we always end up using the dictionary. (Yeah, more school)  

Then those with after dinner chores get to work while daddy builds a fire and we go from there… sometimes a movie, sometimes reading, sometimes free play in the toy room, sometimes baking together…. It varies by the night. 

Bedtime stories is pretty consistent… around 7-7:30 the kids get ready for bed… showers if they have not already had them, teeth brushed, hair brushed and come in the living room to hear a story. Either daddy reads (the current story is Lord of the Rings) or mommy reads (the current story is Little House) and then we exchange kisses and hugs, prayers and then to bed. 

Now … this is not always the way it happens… there are days that we don’t even see home because of errands in town. And there are days when we scrap the whole thing, watch movies or just battle with temper tantrums (sometimes mine, sometimes theirs). There are days that are spent going on walks with the dog to the library and days when we get much more done… but this is a rough outline of what a day in our home looks like. 

Now it is your turn! What does your schedule look like?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making siblings friends

This was a great article by Kelly over at Generation Cedar. 
A reader writes with an excellent question concerning helping our children get along:
“I was hoping you could do a posting on how to encourage little children to get along together. I have three boys, and another one coming, and there are days when I feel like a referee all day!…How do mothers cultivate patience with younger siblings and the desire to be with and teach and enjoy younger siblings, when baby brother is always “messing things up” for big brothers?? And how much do we “protect” big brothers from baby’s interruption?(ie put up baby gate to keep baby separate).
There are some basic premises I think need to be established before even talking about sibling relationships.  We hold two truths regarding sibling strife:

Sibling strife is natural; sibling strife is not acceptable.

Natural meaning, it happens.  We all gravitate toward selfishness if we are left to “do what comes natural” and that breeds strife.  There isn’t a family exempt.  We expect it in our children.  But it’s “not acceptable” meaning “what comes natural” is not our measure of behavior.  The Word of God contains our standard.  What we expect will happen is not what we allow.

Here’s the trick:  there’s a wide and often harrowing gap between where we are and where we want to be.  As I’ve said many times before, “Motherhood is not for the faint of heart”.  If you answer the call to mother the children God has given you, there’s no way around rolling up your sleeves and getting ready to get dirty.

Here’s our starting point:
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Phillipians 2:3
Contained in this verse is the essence of “loving your neighbor as yourself”.  This verse (and there are others) should be a common, household mantra.  It is so important that in training our children to get along we point to the reason:  Because God said so. If it’s just because “y’all are driving me crazy” (yes, I say this sometimes) or because we want other people to admire our parenting skills or any other reason, we have missed it.

We also have to remember the two dynamics working together:  we trust God to do a work in the hearts while we work on cultivating habits to meet the work.

And cultivating habits is a continuous work.  It helps me not to get discouraged when I remember that training children is an ongoing process.  We can’t address an issue and expect to solve it and move on.  Over time, yes, we expect growth.  But the cultivating is daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, while we prune, weed and fertilize the soil.

In esteeming others we expect acts of selflessness, kindness in tones, self-control and flexibility, and a general striving for peace.  Get it settled–this is life work.

Especially where there are little ones, consideration must be given to them and the older siblings involved in disputes.  This can get very hazy as we try to figure out the right way to deal with conflict.  The little ones need to learn that the world does not, in fact, revolve around them, and the older ones need to learn to set the example of “esteeming others better”, which involves more patience toward a younger sibling.

Enforce.  If younger ones are too young to comprehend lessons in sharing, etc., is has to be physically enforced.  Very young children do understand  ”no” and “wait” and should not be allowed to take things from others or destroy what others are doing, etc.  A negative command accompanied by a distraction may be all that’s in order.  Discipline in cases of obvious disobedience.

Teach the tools.  Even as early as around the age of 1, it’s important to give them appropriate responses and tools.  For example, if they want the toy that an older sibling has, I might say to them, “No, you must wait.  Ask (sibling’s name) “When you get done may I have it?” And then instruct the older one to help by agreeing to give the coveted toy in a reasonable time.  Though it’s more time-consuming, the earlier a child can learn patience and sharing, the better.

Employ the older children.  I talk often to my older ones about the importance of helping me teach the younger ones by example.  Helping them see that they can be an example of what God asks adds to their feeling valuable in the family.  I remind my older ones often of how they are either a good example or bad example to their younger siblings.

Remove the object. Instead of constantly refereeing every encounter, which can be exhausting, a better way to teach them to handle their own conflicts is to remove the object of strife, no questions asked.  Once they learn the results of strife or coming to Mom with every problem, they’ll naturally try to solve things and even be more willing to yield in order to avoid losing a desired item.

Don’t allow crying over toys.  We deal a lot with this with a 2, 3 and 5 year old.  Children learn early that crying gets mom’s attention and often gets them what they want.  It’s tempting, isn’t it, just to do whatever will make it stop?  I’ve tried to pay attention closely and never give a child what he wants if he’s crying or whining for it.  I simply tell him that since he’s crying he doesn’t get it at all right now.  “Come back later when you’re cheerful and ask me and I might be able to help you.”

Make them answer. Get into the habit of asking, “Are you loving your sister right now?”…”Is that the way you want to be treated?”…”Is that how God says we should treat each other?”…”Are you putting others first?” It’s that reminder of why we expect the behavior we do.

Work. I find it positively effective to react to strife by handing out jobs.  Not only is it a negative consequence that they’ll try to avoid in the future, but it removes the source (self) and puts them in serving mode.  Tailoring the work can be even more effective.  Having one child make another’s bed, etc., or having them work together.

Keep them close. One lady writes about “staking tomatoes”, comparing it to training children.  She suggests that it’s difficult to catch and therefore “bend” children in the right direction unless you are physically near them to see and hear what is going on.  This can be challenging, especially if you have several children.  But I think it’s very helpful if you detect a specific problem with a child or two, to keep them close in a “boot camp” type of training for a week or so.

With older ones…in extreme cases, we have eliminated all contacts with  other friends or social activites and claimed “no friends until you’re friends”.  It’s just that important.  A friend of mine also made her oldest boy and girl stand beside each other at every social event (church, etc.) until they agreed to be friends.

Duct tape. As a last resort, if you have two squabbling continually, you could duct tape their arms together.  It’s so bizarre, especially if you do it very calmly, that it completely disorients their thoughts and they totally forget about the strife.  They find it absolutely hilarious by the time they see you’re serious.  I’m only barely joking.  I think I may have done this once.

When they do it right…

This is big.  The biggest thing, in my opinion.  Look hard for the right behavior. And then go crazy.  Make a big deal about it.  And instead of saying, “I’m so glad you’re finally being nice!” instead say, “THIS IS IT!  Did you just hear yourself?   You just loved others more than yourself.  That is exactly what the Bible says to do and you did it!” (Very animated, of course.)  “I am so proud of you and I’m proud of the woman/man of God you’re becoming.  See what it feels like to make peace?”
Reward the peacemakers.  And keep at the task of building loving relationships.  This is a magnanimous work.  To build a home full of love and deference where siblings treat each other as friends is no small thing.  It’s also no easy thing.  The relationships built in your home will under gird every other relationship in their lives.  It will affect what kind of spouse they become, employee, neighbor, friend, and ultimately to teach a child to esteem others better than himself will bring him the only true contentment.

One of my favorite speeches:

“You know what?  I love you guys so much.  Too much to allow you to tear each other down and disobey the Lord in your relationships.  I’ll do whatever it takes to help you show each other love.  It’s not enough to say it.”

It’s worth the work.  “Let your light so shine before men’…the light of love being cultivated in a home where He reigns supreme and we don’t accept any standard but His.
I would only add a handful of ideas to her list.
I read once that if you schedule your day, you can schedule in a block of time that is JUST little one and big brother/sister... 15 mins to an hour depending on how well they have learned this skill... this is bonding time. Big brother/sister gets to play a special game, read a special story, go on a walk, etc... this is something that only happens when big brother/sister has "their" time with little one. It becomes a treasured time. A memory building time where big brother/sister gets to "own" the responsibility of helping the little one grow up. You cannot measure the joy on the face of big brother/sister when little one comes out and says "look what bubu taught me!!"

Also, I would remind you (and myself) that the bible truly is a two edged sword! It can defeat many a debate or squabble in our children, but if we do not pick it up, we do not know how best to use it when the time of battle has arrived. That being said, scripture memory and daily reading of the word are SO VALUABLE!!! It is wonderfully amazing how God equips you with just the right tools :-)  (a story that applies, a verse about honoring your father and mother, a proverb, a promise... ) What  a blessing to be able to say that God is the one making the rules and we (children and parents alike) are just to obey. AND THEN SHOW IT TO OUR CHILDREN!!!

Oh... another phrase that has been used in our house (it really changes the perspective) is "That is my baby girl that you are treating badly... I cannot let you treat her that way. You are being a bully that I have to protect her from."

It is strange to watch the faces of the "mean" sibling when the perspective changes from "my annoying little sister" to "someones precious little girl" (also works from dads mouth eg"That is my bride you are speaking to!")

Being in the same room really does make a HUGE difference! Being right there to hear everything that is said.
And something we started really early on... "I dont speak whine" "We don't listen to tattle tailing" (that one is sometimes hard, but if kid comes to me and starts the sentence with sibs name, they are immediately cut off and reminded that tattling is not allowed) (they have gotten creative that way :-) but mostly as soon as they realize that they are tattling, they are told to go work it out) and "What are the rules in our house? Obey, Have a good attitude, and treat others like you want to be treated" (Every offense that we have encountered falls under at least one of those)

Ok, that is it for now...  I should be posting again soon, so, until then :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Babies don't keep...

Song for a Fifth Child.

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

(no I am not preggers... not yet anyway) :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I just figured something out...

So, I have forever been really hard on myself for the way I homeschool (or ... don't). But not enough to send my children back to the big building down the road. Today I was enlightened while talking to my daughter. 

My 3rd grader has been trying to get in the habit of writing letters. Or rather, I have been trying to get her in the habit of writing letters :-) And I did not really know why until today. She FINALLY wrote to her pen pal Peter (his mommy's blog can be found here) and wanted to mail it off. But as I was looking over it, I asked her if I could keep it for a day and she could mail it tomorrow. I want to make a copy of it. Of course she asked why.

SSSSOOOOOOOO we got to have a discussion...

"I want to make a copy of it so that I can have record of your progress." Which did not make any sense to her (and not a whole lot to me either now that I come to think about it) So I started backtracking ... trying to figure out why I want to have a copy of the letter for myself... "Well, baby, you have improved so much in your penmanship and composition over the last year. I love how good you have gotten at it, but I want to see where you have come from. You give all you letters away and I don't get to compare." Now she felt very proud, but still did not understand why I want to be able to compare...

It was then that I realized (and explained) why I want her to write letters....

I HATED school!!! I hated the meaningless work... the papers that I spent so much time on, just getting thrown away... the busywork.

That explains why I do not assign it to my "students". I would so much rather them learn from things that they will use later on in life...

I told my little girl what the skills were that she was working on in her letter. (Penmanship, Composition, Comprehension, and time lines) and the different ways that I would have to teach her those concepts if it was not in the form of a letter... (copywork, Essays, summaries, and well, time lines)  How much time those assignments would take... how much "grading"... how many tears... I do not want to do that! I do not want her to do that!  I would so much rather have her WANT to write a letter to her friend. :-)

That is when it occurred to me... That is why my "school" does not look like so many others. We do not do very much sit down and busy work... we just go through life and learn as we go.

We bake alot... We have allowances and budgets... we read from the bible every night at dinner and talk through the passages (currently Romans... we have made it half way into the 3rd chapter and have been working on if for like 2 months) We have a Websters 1828 dictionary that we go to when we need clairification (all day long) We spend time with people and imagine ourselves in their shoes. There is probably more that we do in the way of learning, but I do not keep very good track of it because it is just the way we live... it is not... school.

I guess you could say that we just work on the skills that we want our children to have when they are outside of our house, and soak as much "learning" as possible from that.

Baking - following directions, math, problem solving, improvisation
Allowances - work ethic, team work, home economics, responsibility, accountability, math, justice
Budgeting - money value, division, percentages, tithing, responsible spending, the value of saving, giving
Bible reading - reading, vocabulary, research, listening, letting the other kids have input, theology, apologetics, root words, world view
Dictionary - research, vocabulary, tenses, word roots, suffixes, prefixes
People - empathy, treating others like we would want to be treated, how to behave in public, how to be gracious (so many people do not behave the way my children have been taught is right... the question of "fair" has come up ALOT)

Anyway... All said and done, she gave me permission to make a copy of her letter :-)

Well, that was my insight for the day :-)