Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sunday evening check-in a day early

So I normally report on the house cleaning situation on Sundays, but I decided to go for it tonight and take a bit of a break from the computer tomorrow (a bit, not complete break).

Things continue to go well.  Or steady, I should say.  I had a few overwhelming days this week, when I sort of wanted to throw in the towel.  But, but, the good news is, these cleaning tasks are becoming habits, so that I am now more likely to do the daily tasks than I am to not do them.  It is now much harder for me to not make the bed than to make it.  And the house is now consistently "straight" at the end of the day, so that Scott and I are able to crash, and I do mean crash, onto the couch once the kids are tucked in and drifting off to sleep.  It's like we can't get to that couch fast enough once we have both kissed and hugged Ada good night ;). 

So, now that these daily things--the beds made, the kitchen consistently clean through out the day, the laundry on track, and the house mostly decluttered, I am ready to add some more consistent big cleaning tasks, I think.  I am walking on egg shells a bit with this thing because I so want this to work.  I don't want to go back.  But, I think I am ready.  Up until now, I have been e-mailing my friends with my daily lists, and I sort of just look around the night before and pick the three most obvious things that need doing.  Well, this week I am going to add one, only one, weekly item.  I know that for most of you this is so not a big deal.  But it is for me.  And I am okay with that.  This is me facing this sin area in my life and trusting that God will enable me to be victorious.  So, anyway, I am announcing that Monday mornings are officially clean the bathroom mornings.  And I think I have to just jump right in.  Like once the kids are settled with their breakfast, and the beds are made, and the laundry going, I have to jump into cleaning the bathroom.  I know that's early, but I am a morning person.  I am not an afternoon person.  And if I just jump in right away, I don't lose energy thinking about it.  Plus, I go to spinning at 9:15 on Monday mornings, so I need to get going early so that we aren't waiting to officially start our day after spinning.  Luckily, I can count on my kids to wake up bright and early and get me going. 

So there you have it.

I am at a stage with the kids, when my days fill up so quickly.  Especially now that I have added a daily trip to the gym (except for Tuesdays, which is our in-the-classroom days).  And then tutoring in the afternoons.  I already feel like it's hard to fit it all in, and my kids are really young.  And we aren't involved in that much, on purpose.  But it already feels like a juggling act.  How does this work when the kids are older and they are involved in a (reasonable) number of activities?  These days I am really having to just put one step in front of the other rather than looking at the big picture, or I tend to get a little panicky.  And begin to say, "really God, are you sure you are calling our family to homeschool?"  "Are you sure we can't just live with the house in complete chaos?"  just kidding ;)  But you know what I am saying.

I just fight the overwhelmed feeling all the time.  But I am clinging to this verse in Proverbs, it is sort of my "theme" verse right now in this season of life,

steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.  Proverbs 21:5

Now, I know that this verse is talking about money, but I think that for now, in every aspect of my life, God is calling me to steady plodding

steadily reviewing letters and numbers with Ada and reviewing her CC
steadily keeping up with the tasks around my house
steadily disciplining my children over and over and over again
steadily sticking to the budget and building our savings little by little
steadily going to the gym even when I can't see it making a huge difference (mentally, I can see a huge difference; physically?  nothing!!)
steadily memorizing scripture a little tiny bit at a time

I am trusting that this "steady plodding" will bring prosperity in all of these areas.  And I am putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again.

And today, taking advantage of the beautiful weather, Scott cleaned out one of the cars and the kids played outside.  We ended the day with some time at a nearby park.  It felt so much like spring.  Our car was in desperate need of a good cleaning, so yay for marking something off the long list.  Thank you, Scott!!! 

p.s. Ada is wearing rain boots and lipstick--both items found in the process of cleaning out the car...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Really Great Deal

I had to pass this deal along to you.  There's nothing in it for me, it's just a great deal.  And I myself can not order these as I have put myself on a spending lockdown (does that even make sense?  you know what I am trying to say), and I am fighting temptation big time because I want these books.  It feels like I need these books.

It's good for me to resist all the self talk about what a great deal it is, etc. etc.

Anyway, on to the deal

10 wonderful children's books for 16.98 shaped.  Hardcover children's books.  I am drooling over the list of books.  What a great list to add to a child's library or stash away for Christmas/ birthday gifts.  Hmmm...back to resisting the conversation that is happening in my head...

But, you, you order them, and I will live vicariously through you.  It's a great deal!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Costco? Yes? No?

So, after getting some feedback from ya'll (some through e-mail, some through comments), I am concluding that we are going to increase the grocery budget, but for now I am only upping it 25.00 per week.  Which, of course, is 100.00 a month.

So...I am wondering if I should take that extra 100, and possibly join Costco.  I have been contemplating joining Costco forever, but I have always wondered how to work that in with the regular grocery budget.  With my newly increased budget, I could keep the weekly grocery store budget the same, but add a trip to Costco at the beginning of each month.  And I would go in with a set budget, so it would hopefully keep me from overspending. 

So, all you Costco (or Sam's Club) members, do you feel like your Costco purchases lower your weekly grocery purchases?  Is it worth the membership?  I got some feedback about this on facebook a while back, but I am revisiting the question.  I am just wondering if that extra 100 would stretch farther at Costco than if I just add 25 to the weekly trips.  Hmmm...decisions, decisions. 

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A cell phone miracle

First of all, thanks for all the cleaning and budget encouragement.  It helps so much to hear that I am not alone.  I hate feeling like I am the only person who does something.  It makes me feel so strange, and sort of hopeless.  So hearing that I am not the only one with a clutter problem is encouraging.  Thank you.

Second of all, the cell phone is officially working.  Woo-hoo, to say the least.  It was being really strange last night, so I put it back in the bag of rice for a second 24 hours, and it is acting just fine now.  Thank you, Lord!!!!! 

And on that "my cell phone is working" note, here are a few pictures to go with the previous posts.

Okay, what we have above is my house around lunch time.  My kitchen is clean, my beds are made, but the toys are out of control.  The thing is, I am sort of okay with the toys being out of control at this point in the day.  It usually means there is some serious playing going on, and that is a healthy thing for the little growing brains in this house.  Much better than spotless floors and mindless cartoons.  I am okay with a normal level of clutter.  The toys on the floor may not be normal, but that is our normal.

And this is the master bedroom, which opens into the play room.  The top picture is the scary clutter in the master.  Piles of clothes--some to put up and some to be given away.  And my sewing machine seems to be getting lost in the mess.  The bed is made, though, and my dresser somewhat decluttered.  And please notice in the middle of my mantle, a three-hole punch.  This is the kind of thing you find at my house.  Right in the middle of picture frames and vases, a three hole punch.  And it has probably been there for weeks.  I was talking to my mom one day about the mess, and she suggested that I pray that I would see the mess.  And that is the perfect prayer, really.  Scott and I, we don't see the three hole punch, and so it sits there for weeks on end.  And if at some point I needed a three hole punch, I would think I know I've seen it somewhere, but where?  These are the conversations I have in my head multiple times a day.  I am the opposite of organized in all areas of my life (though my budget is currently super organized), and this causes a bit of fear when I think of homeschooling.  I am the least qualified parent to do this!!

But watch this

 We are doing school, in our own way.  Diligent, but a bit scattered.  That's the kind of student I was--and teacher, for that matter.  Diligent but very scattered.  (Have I mentioned that bitty baby, named Clementine, is finally the favorite doll around here.  Ada sleeps with her every night, and Clementine does school with us everyday)

And this is the house a few hours later, around 3:30, right before we left for tutoring.  Still a few things here and there, but much, much better, don't you think? 

So, progress.   Much progress.

And a few photos of the kids at bed time, reading books.  John, who calls Ada "Uggle," and we have no idea why...100% believes that Ada can read any book that he hands her.  And Ada doesn't skip a beat; she just makes up a story and goes with it.  John loves it. 

Okay, I feel better now that I am not bombarding the blog with words only.  And I am off to make my little list of what "housekeeping" needs to be done tomorrow. 

Good night!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning

First of all, my phone is dead.  I don't mean it needs charging dead, I mean Ada dropped it in a cup of water dead.  I left in a bag of rice overnight, after hearing this helps to dry it out, and it will turn on, but then it does crazy things, and it might as well be dead.  Sad, sad, sad.

Especially since that was still my only camera, and it looks like a chunk of the camera money will now be going towards a new phone.  Sad, sad, sad.

So no pictures with this blog post.

Moving on.

The cleaning is still going.  I can't believe I have stuck to it this long.  It's truly answered prayer.  It is becoming more and more normal for Scott to walk into a rather "picked up" house in the afternoons, and it is becoming more normal for Scott and I to sit down and relax after the kids are in bed because things are already "straight."  The entire family is forming new habits, and life is certainly less chaotic as a result.

As I mentioned last week, the 5:00 hour is the most chaotic, so this past week, I proactively required Ada to help me clean up toys around 4 ish, and then, when the house is relatively clean, I put a movie in for her and John to watch while I start dinner.  The movie vs. cartoons seems to be key.  Cartoons tend to become background noise at our house (which I hate), but the movie seems to keep their interest, and I am able to grab a little peace while I start dinner.  It makes for a much more peaceful setting for Scott to walk in on.  On Monday and Wednesday, I am actually out tutoring when Scott gets home from work (and the kids are at Jessica's house), so last week, I made a point to require Ada to help me clean up toys during John's nap, and I made a crockpot dinner, so we all walk in to a clean house and dinner ready to go.  Again, it makes for a peaceful evening.  (On that note, does anyone have any favorite crockpot recipes?  I am using the crockpot twice a week every week, and I tend to make the same stuff over and over).

Ada has also stopped asking who we are cleaning up for? As she has learned that we only clean up if someone is coming over.  I am slowly shifting her thinking to believe that we are cleaning up in order to maintain a more peaceful home not because visitors are coming.  (though I would still clean up more if visitors were coming). 

The laundry is no longer backed up.  I now automatically make the beds.  And the toys aren't nearly as out of control.

Don't get me wrong, there is still much to be overcome.  My laundry room is a bit of a disaster area, and I haven't even begun to tackle it.  It is our "catch-all" room in this house, and the thought of organizing it overwhelms say the least.  And as we speak, there are random piles of clothes in the master bedroom that I have been ignoring for weeks.  There is much to be done.

But I am celebrating the victories!!  Bad habits are being overcome.  Thank you, Lord!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Budget Update

Am I turning into a weekends only blogger?  I keep thinking I will find the time during the week, but with all this newfound cleaning I am doing, there's no time during the day and I crash at night once the kids are in bed.  If I stop my cleaning momentum, then it's hard to get going again, so I try (not always successfully) to stay away from the computer during the day unless it's during John's nap, when we have pre-determined "rest time." 

Plus, Scott and I have a bad habit of staring at the computer screen once the kids are in bed, and we end up hardly talking to each other all night.  So...this week we started watching American Idol together, because it lends itself to "active watching," you know, conversation and such.  And I am loving it.  We took a few years off from AI, and I am so glad to be back.  (we are tv people, and, honestly, I am okay with it.  We are tired at the end of the day, and I like doing something mindless).


I thought I would check in with a little budget update.  I am still super frustrated with the grocery shopping situation.  My next strategy is to declare two nights of the week, not sure which ones, "snack dinner" nights.  You know, eat leftovers, pb and j, stuff from the freezer, etc.  We tend to waste leftovers around here because I just don't like them, but that is wasteful of food and money, so I am going to suck it up or fix myself a peanut butter sandwich--one of the two.  Sunday nights already tend to be fend for yourself nights since we eat a bigger meal for Sunday lunch, so it will probably be two more nights on top of that.  I plan to be intentional about cooking at least one meal a week that is enough for two nights, so that we don't end up eating sandwiches three nights out of the week.  Eggs also tend to be our fall back on eat whatever nights, and I am always glad to get a couple of eggs in the kids--health benefits and all. 

If this doesn't work, we might just have to face the facts and raise our grocery budget a bit.  I find myself stressed out every week because I go over budget every week.  If we just rework the budget a bit, it would take away some of the stress.  I am so curious to know what a typical grocery budget is for a family of four....anyone want to share?  (oh my word, I just used the word budget a lot).  I know people might not want to reveal that kind of information, but I would just love to know if I am being realistic with how much I want to spend each week.  It used to be totally possible to spend our set amount, but the kids are growing and they eat more food.  Plus, I buy lots of fruit each week because I try to make them snack on that between meals.  I make our meals out of whatever is on sale, so I try to be intentional about "real food" snacks in between--usually fruit, raw carrots (for Ada), nuts, or string cheese.  These things are always in the grocery cart, and I only buy the fruit that is on sale, but it adds up quickly.  It's not something I am willing to compromise on, though, unless I really have to.  I am hoping that declaring two nights of the week "leftover" nights will remedy the situation.

Thoughts?  Advice?  Words of wisdom? 

We also have a new budgeting strategy that we just heard from a friend, about actually having separate accounts for each category, so that the money automatically goes in the specific category at the beginning of the month.  Does that make sense?  Apparently this is easy to do with Bank of America, and it would make it easier to quickly see what is actually in the account if we go ahead and "pre-spend" the money from the beginning of the pay period.  We already do this on paper, obviously, (and on the computer screen), but I think it will be even more helpful for the money to actually be gone from the account.  (But right there and accessible when needed for each specific category).  I don't know if that explanation made sense at all, but we are excited to give it a go.

Any great budgeting tips that you want to pass along?  We are all for gaining wisdom from those who are also trying to stick to budget and be wise with their money!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One week down

Okay, it's Sunday night, and it has been one week of seeking to be obedient in my role as homemaker.  It's not easy, folks.  I don't like to clean ;)  On Wednesday night, I jotted down a few thoughts in an effort to reflect...

thoughts on Wednesday night--

I hate making Ada clean up.  It's so hard, and I have to remind myself that I have to do this.  That the hard work is so worth it.  If I love her, I will do this.

Keeping the house straight is hard work.  I am exhausted, and I don't want to go to bed b/c I want the down time.

I am seeing that what stops me is being overwhelmed by the mess.  I have to choose to obey and do the load of laundry even if it seems that one load of laundry is not even a drop in the bucket.  That is where the stepping out in faith comes, that eventually, if I am diligent, I will see a difference in the state of my home.

I am trying to reflect on victories b/c Scott says I don't celebrate small victories in life.  I was diligent today, and I do see a huge difference in the laundry.  After many threats and tears, Ada did clean up her toys.  And I see that a timer helps.  She needs the motivation (as do I when I am cleaning).  The house already looks less chaotic, and it's only been two days of this.  I find myself feeling scared that I am going to crash and burn again and wake up in a mess of a house. Which I probably will, so I think the main thing is to keep on keeping on even when I let the house get messy again.  It's part of the process.

So, that was halfway through the week.  Now it's Sunday night.  And here is what I am thinking at the end of this week...that it's never ending, and I hate that part.  I hate that there is never a real sense of accomplishment.  I guess the accomplishment comes in knowing that I sought to obey God in this role.  This is part of what he has called me to do, and when I respond in laziness or indifference it's disobedience.  (and when I say I sought to obey, please know that obedience comes from His working in me--it's not something I can do, except in faith that he will provide the grace to obey). 

I also realize that if I have a bad morning or afternoon or even entire day, I can't just give up.  I have to keep on keeping on.  Yuck.  It's not really that fun.  Especially the laundry.  Never ever ending.

A few notes--I always start with the kitchen.  If the kitchen is messy, life feels impossible.  If the kitchen is clean (I mean, really clean), anything else seems possible.  So, I always start and end there.  I also have started making the beds as soon as I wake up.  I mean, still sort of sleep walking and making the beds at the same time.  Before I even have time to think through much, I get the beds made, the laundry going, and the kitchen straight (assuming it was pretty much straight the night before).  If I can get those daily necessities out of the way without thinking through it, I can put my energy towards other stuff that needs to be done. 

I pile all clean and folded clothes on Ada's bed, and I wait until evening to put them away.  That way I am not walking to the same spots over and over.  It seems to be working, and the whole family participates in putting the clothes away.  John usually participates by unfolding already folded clothes--so frustrating. 

It is still a battle to get Ada to put her toys away, and I am struggling to enforce the rules.  Help me, Lord. 

Also, my worst moment is 4:00ish.  I am so tired that time of day, and if I look around the house and it is a mess, I feel so discouraged.  At that particular hour.  So, in retrospect, I should probably do a quick house "pick up," at 3ish.  I think it would help the evening hours.

Finally, two friends from church are also striving to keep their houses cleaner, so we are holding each other accountable.  Each morning we email with a couple of tasks for the day, and we report back at the end of the day.  That has been the most helpful of all.  I am not the type to have a set chore for everyday (who knows, maybe I will get so good at this, I will become that person), but it helps to start the day by thinking through the day's most important tasks--is the bathroom overdue for a cleaning?  when was the last time I vacuumed?  Is the kids' room out of control?  I try to make the number of tasks doable, and then I have a tangible goal (these tasks are beyond the daily kitchen, laundry, beds, clutter). 

I think the biggest victory at the end of this week is that the laundry is in much better shape.  For weeks now, Scott complained about never having undershirts clean, and I think I have remedied that.  So, that's a start. 

Let week two begin.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Other "theme" of This Year

So I am posting this photo of John because I can't do another post with no pictures.  I also posted it on facebook today, so maybe you are seeing it twice?

I complain about this little guy a lot, but, I love him so much I can't stand it.  He is the most cuddly thing I have ever seen.  If I would let him, he would sit in my lap with his blankie all day long.  All night long.  Yes, he is in a bad mood A LOT.  A really, really bad mood.  But at this age, Ada never wanted to sit in my lap.  But my John-John loves to cuddle with me.

But these pictures have nothing to do with this blog post.

As I already mentioned, I am trusting the Lord to help me get control of my home.  That seems overwhelming and impossible, but I am trusting Him to form the habits in me.  To redeem my mess, literally ;)

We are also trusting the Lord, this year, to get us out of debt.  Which seems much more doable than the messiness thing.  We are in this tiny, costs next-to-nothing rental house, and we finally have the opportunity to do this thing.  So, in an effort to focus on that with "gazelle intensity," as Dave Ramsey says, I will most likely be blogging about that process.  It's a way to reflect on God answering prayers that we have been praying for years. 

On that note, is anyone else having trouble saving money at the grocery store?  I mean, you die hard couponers, are you finding that the deals aren't what they used to be?  In fact, the past two weeks I have shopped at Wal-Mart with no coupons because I didn't have enough coupons to justify going to Publix.  Yikes.  I don't like giving up Publix for Wal-Mart.  So, I am refocusing my efforts.  I am going back to square one, and I am determined to get things back on track coupon-wise.  And, I am refocusing my efforts on making do with what we already have in the pantry as much as possible, even if it makes for a boring dinner.  I am cutting waaaaay back on the fast food, though we are allowing ourselves to "grab lunch" on Sundays because I have not mastered the art of having Sunday dinner waiting on us when we get home from church.  I hope that just comes with age, maybe?  Do ya'll have a good plan for Sunday lunch?  Something that is working well?  Did you grow up eating a big Sunday lunch, or is it no big deal to just eat pb and j and call it a day?  Anyway, for now, we are allowing that to be our time to eat outside of the house.  We are not big spenders--no joke, right ;)--but I do waste a lot of money on a diet coke here, a hamburger there, and I want to get rid of those "holes" in the budget.  We are sticking to the budget no matter what, and it's exciting because we can see ourselves reaching these big goals in the not so far ahead future, Lord willing (not to mention that one of those goals is a family beach trip in late summer/early fall).

So, that will be another blog "theme" in the coming months.

And, by the way, I will be back in a couple of days to discuss the successes and failures of this first week of operation get the house in order.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Trying to Figure This Out

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time at all, then it is no secret that my house tends to be a big, giant mess all of the time.  All of the time.  Do I like the mess?  I hate it.  It drives me crazy.  It makes me want to crawl in the bed and not come out.  I hate it.  The thing is, in fourth grade, my desk was messy.  A disaster.  In highschool, my locker was a nightmare, and my notebook was crazy.  I just put whatever was due on top, and the rest was chaos.  College was the same way.  My point?  I am a messy person.  It's something in my personality, my make up, my brain.

I don't mean that I shouldn't change this (or pray that God would change me, I should say), I just mean, this isn't a new, I have two kids kind of thing.  It's a, I am a messy, chaotic person, but I want to create a peaceful environment for my family, and, even, myself.  And the thing is, when I am down or depressed or in a particularly melancholy state of mind, the mess gets much, much worse.  Crazy bad.  I'm just being honest here.  Which is a vicious cycle because the mess makes me feel more depressed.

Lately, I have been reading and thinking through and praying about the root of this issue.  God created beauty out of chaos, and I think that chaos and mess doesn't reflect Him.  Plus, I strongly believe, that as a woman I am called to create a home for my family, and I want it to be a peaceful home, not a chaotic one. Again, I am not talking about the natural chaos that comes from having two kids.  I am talking about something that begins in the core of who I am.  In my sin nature, I think.

But, I feel a bit defeated when it comes to this issue.  I just can't figure it out.  I don't know how to make sense of my mess.  I have read blogs and books and prayed and prayed and prayed some more.  Then decided it's just who I am, and thrown in the towel, and then felt convicted that God came to redeem things like this.  Even silly things like mess.  And chaos.

I want to begin to trust God in this.  I want to begin to trust that he can change me and redeem this thing in me.  I am sorting through some thoughts about how I always view my personality, my disposition as a bad thing.  A negative thing, and that is contrary to what the bible says.  God created me with this personality on purpose, and I have to trust that he is busy redeeming this personality.  This crazy, melancholy, up and down personality that includes the tendency to live in mess and chaos.

One aspect of me is that I reflect and learn and understand best by verbalizing my thought process--particularly in writing.  It's what makes me talk the ears off of my friends and family, and write way too many details on this blog.  It's the only way I know how to process.  So, this is how I am going to step out in faith with the cleaning thing.  I don't think that tomorrow I am going to wake up and have an organized home if I use the right check list or implement the right program.  I think it's going to be a ongoing redemption process.  But, I do think there is an element of faith where we just step out in obedience, trusting God to provide the grace necessary to obey.  I want to change.  I really, really, really want a peaceful home.  Especially if I am going to homeschool.  I know, instinctively, that I will not be successful with homeschooling if I can't get this under control.  Again, not the normal, stay-at-home mom chaos.  This is a different kind.

I believe because I am begging him and trusting him for this, that God is going to free me from this this year.  I just think that he is.  There have been other things in my life that I couldn't figure out--food and body image stuff, control issues--that I couldn't find a way out of.  And I look back now and God walked me through all of that to freedom.  He did.  And if someone asked me how He did it, I can honestly say, "I don't know.  It was just Him doing this thing in me."  I have a peace that He is doing that now with this.  The mess and chaos.  I think it will be a long, slow, stop and start process, but I want to reflect on it here because I want a record of it.

So...I am going to try, Lord willing;), to blog about this once a week.  Maybe on a Sunday?  As I reflect on what is working and on what is absolutely not working at all.

For example, today, when I was frustrated beyond frustrated with all of the toys that were covering my floor, and I wanted to throw every single one of them away, the idea came to me--if at the end of the day, Ada has toys that are still left on the floor (since I have patiently and not-so-patiently asked her multiple times to pick them up), they will be going in a box to be stored in the shed in the backyard.  She will only get the toys back when she is able to prove that she can clean up after herself.  Which might sound hypocritical, since I am struggling with cleaning up after my own self.  But I am honest with her, and I tell her that we are praying that God would help me with this, and we are learning this together.  Because one of my main convictions about my mess lately is that I am the one who has to teach Ada (and John) how to keep an orderly home.  They will be roommates and spouses one day, and on this day they are roommates to me and to Scott and to each other, and we are all responsible for this mess, and Scott and I are the ones who have to hold them responsible.  Anyway, my plan worked.  When she and John were finally tucked in for the night, the living area of our house was straight.  There weren't toys everywhere.  Things were peaceful, and I was able to just sit down on the couch instead of dragging my exhausted body around to clean up Ada's toys.  Even little John, with me holding his hand, had to pick up all of his "choo-choos," which he liked doing.  I am not naive enough to think that I will be consistent with this every night, but I would like to be.  I hope to be.  And on this night, it's a success.  And I am praising God for that!

So, as usual, I apologize for the wordiness.  I am forever too wordy, but there it is.  Some of what God is working on in me right now, and I want to step forward in faith that He is, in fact, working on me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to School

Since there is a "little" football game currently being played, and my husband's eyes are glued to the television (and I am choosing to ignore the fact that once again Alabama is playing for a national title--gross), I decided to do a quick blog post.

Today was the official get back to school day at the Moore house.  And with that, came the official beginning of The Writing Road to Reading.  I was a bit nervous about it because it's a very involved process, but the research behind her method is fascinating, and I am eager to see if it works for Ada.  Basically, as Ada learns to write, she learns to read.  It's all integrated into one.  I'll tell you more about it as I figure it out myself.  We are learning as we go. 
 I thought Ada did really well for her first day.  The goal is for the child to learn from the beginning how to write correctly on wide-ruled notebook paper, with a normal-sized pencil.  As you can see, Ada had trouble remembering to stay on the "base line," and her letters would begin to droop.  But with a little reminder, she got back on track ;)  I also emphasized making the letters small--only to the midpoint--and in response to that, her letters got a little small at times as well.  She was really excited about writing like a "big girl," though, and after each letter, she would do a little fist pump thing while saying, "oh yeah!"  Apparently she learned the phrase from the movie Despicable Me.  It really cracks me up when she says it.
Ada's pink bear joined us at the table, and after I reviewed the sounds that each letter makes (ex.  she is learning that the letter A says, a (at), a (lake), and ah (father).  After repeating it to me, she would turn to her bear and teach the bear.  I decided to go with it because I thought it would reinforce what she was learning.  Ada had to help the bear write his letters ;)

Once we moved on to reviewing her memory work from last semester, Ada's baby needed a little rocking.  The following picture is very blurry, but I loved it because she looks just like a new mom holding the baby for the first time.  I love it.  (or maybe holding a baby sister?  Ada nightly prays for a baby sister.  When she asks me for one, I tell her to go to God about that ;) )

As every mom knows, multi-tasking is an essential aspect of motherhood--Ada reviews her bible verse and rocks that baby.  That's a great way to get bible study in with a new baby, right? ;)

So, I feel encouraged by how today went.  I am glad to have last semester under our belt, with a better understanding of what needs to get done each day and what I can let go.  Plus, my schedule is much more open, so I have the time to focus on school.  I'm excited.

In other news, I did, in fact, join L.A. Fitness, and I am so thankful and excited to be able to do it.  I love spinningI loved it in highschool, I loved it in college, and now, in this season of life, I am loving it again.  It is the best thing for my brain (not to mention my physical health).  And, praise the Lord, Ada and John really like the kids club at the gym, so that makes it easy for me to leave them while I work out.  Spinning is the one form of exercise that I don't, at all, have to talk myself into doing.  I just love it.  Makes me think I need a bicycle.  I wonder if would have the same effect.  Which, now that I think about it, I think the class is now called cycle.  I might be aging myself when I call it spinning.  Hmmm...  Anyway, I am just very thankful that God allowed all of the details to fall into place for me to be able to do this.  It's no small thing in my book. 

So, that's us.  How's is 2012 starting off for you? 

And, any other "spinners" out there?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick Christmas Recap

I know that Christmas has come and gone.  Long gone.  New Year's has come and gone, even, so I have to get these pictures up before too much time has passed.

It was another Christmas with just the camera phone to record the day, but that should be remedied in the next few weeks.  We'll see...

It was an especially fun Christmas this year because it was Ada's first year to get overwhelmingly excited.  I am thrilled to be moving into these years, and I assume we will be there for a while, since we are still a couple of years away from John really getting it, and I assume they stay in that excited stage for a few years at least.  The point?  It's fun.  It's really fun.

We let Ada and John open two presents on Christmas Eve before leaving for the Christmas Eve service--a pair of Christmas pajamas and some foam soap (which is basically shaving cream).  The foam soap was A HIT.  In fact, Ada has asked multiple times if she can get more foam soap for Christmas next year.  And by the way, I got zero pictures of Ada and John dressed for the Christmas Eve service.  Bummer.

Like last year, I spent the Christmas Eve service in the lobby of the church because John is just not capable of sitting still and quiet for that amount of time.  Unless Dora is on the television.  In that case, he will sit forever.  However, it was still good to see everyone and fellowship just a bit.  (There was a gathering of moms of toddlers in the lobby).  And we even enjoyed a nice dinner out.  John rarely cooperates if we try to eat out, but I prayed that things would go well on this one night, and they did.  Thank you, Lord!!!  We just ate at Chili's--nothing fancy--but a treat, nonetheless. 

And Christmas morning, Ada and John were thrilled with their presents--for Ada the big hit was her new princess bike, which she has been obsessed with ever since.  And John's favorite is his race track.  They really seemed happy with all of their gifts, which you just never know, do you?

Okay, a few pictures. 

 Christmas Day, riding the bike around the house.  At one point she announced that she had to use the bathroom, and she proceeded to climb onto the bike and ride it into our tiny bathroom.  And, by the way, I also forgot to take any pictures of the kids before church on Christmas Day.  I was not on top of the picture taking this year!!
 John and his two favorite gifts--the racing ramp and a huge thing of wooden blocks (found at a local children's consignment shop for 7.00!!!!).  The racing ramp is a cheap version of fisher price, and it's cheaply made.  I will be replacing it with the real deal for his birthday.  You live, you learn.

After her bike, I think Ada's favorite gift is a disney princess porcelain tea set.  She loves it and plays doll tea party constantly.  Mostly on our front porch.  She also panics if John even gets near it.  She runs through the house screaming, "MOM!!!  John is on the front porch!!!!  My tea set is on the front porch!!!!  He's going to break it!!!!"
 And a few more from Christmas morning.  Makeup is always a hit in Ada's book!! 

And Ada and her bike weighted down with all of her Christmas gifts.  By the way, don't you just love the paneling in my kitchen ;)

As of yesterday, all of my Christmas decor was down and packed away, and it is time to get back to the norm.  Which I always welcome after the weeks of holiday hoopla.  I love the Christmas season, but I also love the normalcy and routine of January. 

On the horizon? 

possibly joining the gym for the first time since college--a good deal combined with my tutoring money combined with my need to find ways to increase my energy and manage my anxiety=me joining the gym.  I am really, really excited about this.  

John's second birthday.  I can't believe he will be two.

A simplified schedule so that I can focus, focus, focus on homeschooling Ada this semester.  Our goals, letter sounds using a new curriculum--The Writing Road to Reading, for math--we are simply focusing on counting to 100 and other things that naturally come up throughout the day; I will do more "official" math next year, and our memory work for CC. 

And now I can rest easy feeling that I have properly recorded Christmas 2011.