Sunday, December 31, 2006

As '06 Ends....

Happy Last Day of '06! Tonight we will be having a big family sleepover at my sister-in-law's house & will be celebrating Christmas as well with hubby's side of the family. {As if my house wasn't already overflowing with new stuff.....I feel some major decluttering coming on.} In the spirit of the New Year, I have been doing a lot of planning. Didn't I previously say that I was spending a lot of time planning? For the last few months I have been working on "Goals for My Girls {and Future Children}". I just jot down ideas as they come to me of what an excellent adult should look like. I highly recommend this! I am putting the finished list in my homekeeping journal. I am also breaking that down into smaller goals for each child in '07. My two-year old only has one goal listed for '07 so far: OBEDIENCE *smirk*. Here is what I have come up, although this list is not yet complete & in no particular order:

Goals for my Girls (and future children)

  • Grounded in God’s Word
  • To “count it all joy”
  • Salvation!
  • Well-versed in domesticity
  • Organized
  • Godly relationships
  • Right priorities
  • Prepare for marriage & have a clear vision of roles
  • Recognize, encourage & develop unique gifts
  • Self-disciplined
  • Strong & loving sibling bond
  • Christian worldview
  • Nurtured creativity
  • View children as blessings
  • Know how to be a great friend
  • Compassionate
  • Others’ interests before their own
  • Genuine concern for lost people
  • Awareness of love languages & how to love different types of people
  • Well-educated in academic
I think it is a good idea to think long-term when it comes to parenting and also to write your goals down as a reference. Has anyone else done this? If you don't know precisely what you're aiming for, how will you know if you've hit the target?! Interestingly enough, as I was typing out these goals today, I found myself introspecting as to whether or not I am successful in each of these areas. *eyes glaze over....deep in thought*

The other addition to my homekeeping journal is the recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent:

Liquid Laundry Detergent
3 Pints Water
1/3 Bar Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap, Grated
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
4 Quarts + 1 Pint Boiling/Hot Water
optional: 15 drops Lavender Essential Oil (or whatever EO you prefer)
optional: 10 drops Tea Tree Oil

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Add another 2 quarts boiling hot water and 1 additional quart plus 1 pint hot water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

The cost savings on making your own detergent is just ridiculous. Several places I have read online estimate the cost to be about $.01 per load or about $.50 to $.75 per gallon. I am almost at the end of my first batch {which didn't completely gel up by the way, but still is completely usable}. I think next time I will add some essential oils for fragrance. This detergent gets your clothes perfectly clean! We recently had a poopy mishap {literally} and it cleaned the inside of the pooped-up footie pajamas wonderfully. Here is a link to some FAQ's of homemade detergent.
A simple google of homemade laundry detergent will also yield you plenty of results.

If you don't already have a homekeeping journal, I highly recommend it. Great place to keep everything together: calendars, bill-paying stuff, recipes to try, goals, etc. Could be your New Year's Resolution!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Crafty People

I *love* crafty people. I am a crafty person & I love other people who get excited about the same crafty things I do. Like starting a new counted cross-stitch project or a bag full of new scrapbook goodies or perfectly lined up rows of holiday cookies. I love opening up my box of cross-stitching floss and seeing the rainbows of colored thread lined up like little soldiers {numerically of course}. I love taking butter & sugar & flour and a few other things, throwing it all into my Kitchenaid, and then poof! Twenty minutes later I have some awesome cookies. I love painting stuff. Seems like I don't know a lot of super-crafty people in real life. Either that or you've been holding out on me. If you're ever feeling a spike of creativity or want to develop your creative side, give me a call so we can get together & make something. Know what I'm going to be doing while I chill over the holidays? {Well besides planning the next 5-6 months of homeschooling, big UGH.} Reading craft blogs! I need some inspiration & really want to do more crafty things. The only problem is that it seems like I have to weed through quite a few crafty blogs until I find one that really fits me. If you have any crafty blogs I should check out, please send 'em along. I've been reading Diary of a Rather Crafty Girl for a short bit now & am crazy about these little onesie cookies. I want to get pregnant & have a baby shower for myself just so I can make these uber-cute cookies. {Well, that's a whole 'nother topic though, eh?} I came across Kiddley & it seems so fresh & cute all at the same time. So many fun great things to do with the kids. I especially like the Christmas idea jar & the gumdrop wreath. I am SO making one of those wreaths next year for Christmastime. Speaking of Christmas, I will be posting soon about my idea for Christmas in July.....

Here is a craft I recently did for a friend's son's school Christmas party. The deal was that I just needed to write each child's name on the ornament {I was thinking like 20 minutes TOPS for this} in the hand-writing style the PTO lady chose {yes, I did submit a writing sample}! PTO lady picked out the ornaments {totally wrong type for this project}, so I ended up having to painstakingly hand-paint each one:

I did a counted cross-stitch last year of a sleigh filled with gifts amidst snow falling & found it in my stash this year {sorry, too lazy to take a picture}. I just finished up some back-stitching on it & it looks so cute! I also started a new counted Christmas cross-stitch. It's a pattern from Mary Englebreit of a really cool embellished reindeer. I'll probably try & do most of it this winter or maybe set it aside to finish up next year. I really like counted cross-stitch {although I can get kinda perfectionistic about it & will take out a WHOLE lot of stitches if I made a tiny mistake}.

Here is a picture of the girls I took for my holiday cards. I ended up altering the picture & added a holiday border and message at the bottom using Photoshop. Wal-mart cut-off the outside border though, which is shame on me since I should've known better. Anyways, I think it makes for a cute photo {although Sienna does have food in her mouth *shocker*}:

And for my final crafty share, here is our finished Birthday Cake for Jesus. We started this holiday tradition about 2 years ago. I did the baking and the frosting, while Tatiana did all the decorating. We take this cake to our extended family celebration on Christmas Eve and the entire family sings Happy Birthday to Jesus with the little ones blowing out the candles:

Hope your Christmas was a merry & bright Birthday celebration!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


In regards to the last post, I would like to apologize to the "teacher" who I may have inadvertently slandered. Although I believed I was being subtle, apparently not enough so. Even though I have the right to say whatever it is I want to say as #1: this is my blog & if you don't agree you can start your own {nice going Erin!} and #2: the first amendment, I am also distinctly aware that I need to operate under God's laws as well. I do not want to be a gossiper {which I struggle a lot with}, but do feel a need to expose/defend the truth. Some people may feel that I was questioning the teacher's intentions, which I didn't mean to do, only to say that I felt misinformed. Actually, I was misinformed whether it was by the teacher or by my own misunderstanding. So, I am sorry if anyone's feelings were hurt/feathers were ruffled/undies were in a grundie. Actually makes me feel kinda important that someone would even care about what I have to say! Also, I am sorry that I broke a rule {you know who you are}!

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{group hug}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

I still think we should all go hang out over at Erin's blog though. Keep the posts comin' girl!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Happy Discovery

During a{how shall I put it nicely?}...."discussion" about education with a group of ladies, a Christian public school teacher was sharing all the merits/pros of public schooling, while indicating drawbacks to homeschooling. One of her good points I thought {among many ridiculous ones} was that homeschoolers would not have access to special services, like speech therapy for example, provided in a public school. "What will you do if one of your children has special needs? You will not have access to those services provided in a public school." Several other young moms nodded in agreement. This point actually continued to bother me...... forward to today. I discovered that this public school teacher is WRONG! I am actually so relieved and kind of disappointed that she so adamantly shared her information without bothering to see if it was even true. {Insert frown here.} From HSDLA's article regarding this issue:

"The determination of whether a home education arrangement constitutes private school placement must be made on the basis of state law. Thus, if home education constitutes enrollment in a private school under state law, then the requirements of Regs. 300.403 and 300.452 apply when deciding whether to provide special education or related services to a child with disabilities who is being educated at home."

The above report makes it crystal clear that if the state recognizes a home education program as a private school in that state, then those home-educated students are eligible for the services.

Here is the full article if you are interested. I'm sure this would vary by state on the basis of state law. Here is another blurb from a separate article:
As a parent of a child with special needs, you can receive special services from your school district at no further cost -- you have already paid for them with your taxes. This includes speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiologists' and social workers' services. These are all covered by Public Law 94-142.

Hopefully this information may help someone who had the same concerns I did or who has been MISinformed as I have!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Memories

I have been reading this book, The 25 Days of Christmas: Family Readings, Scriptures, and Activities for the Advent Season, on and off since the beginning of the month. Great stories, songs, and ideas for turning your family's hearts toward Jesus during Christmastime. I think it also makes a great personal devotional and am going to pack it away with my Christmas things & bring it out each year. Today's story was titled "My Most Memorable Christmas", so I've been inspired to share some of my Christmas memories.

I remember really wanting a Cabbage Patch Doll for Christmas. I believe it was around the time when they were first being released, 1980-something. I don't know if I still believed in Santa Claus or not, but after some snooping around the house, I discovered two Cabbage Patch Dolls hidden behind my parents' waterbed {back when waterbeds were all the rage~LOL!} I was crushed. I think because the element of surprise was taken out of the equation. Nothing to look forward to on Christmas morning, other than taking off the wrapping paper & playing with the discovered dolls. I never snooped again. For all the years following, I even knew where my mom hid all the gifts, but I never looked. I wanted to cherish the element of surprise.

The Christmas of 2004 was memorable for all different reasons. Rick had gotten fired from his job of 5 years just twelve days before Christmas. I was 8 months pregnant. I thought this was such a heartless act. We really didn't have a lot of money and to me, that just turned the focus to Jesus all the more. I scraped together some money to buy Tatiana a few gifts and I think when you don't have a lot to give, it makes those presents all the more precious. It's amazing, though, how God has worked that situation for the good. It was actually a blessing that Rick lost his job because through that, God has provided a really wonderful one.

I think that the Christmas of 2005 will be one that I will cherish for a long time. My parents have been divorced for almost 10 years now. My dad's parents have both been deceased for decades & he really hadn't been close to many of his siblings. I know that while they were married he considered my mom's family just as his own. Fast forward to 2005. Every year we celebrate Christmas Eve at my grandma's house with a big fat Polish extended family celebration. I mean, every year for as long as I can remember. Rick & I began alternating holidays with my parents after Tatiana was born though. In 2005, my mom announced that it would be okay if my dad {and step-mom} attended our Christmas Eve celebration, with HER family. This is one of the biggest acts of forgiveness and love I have witnessed in a long time. I pray that this will go a long way towards sharing the Truth. Just that simple act made for a very merry Christmas.

Care to share your most memorable Christmas?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Party of 12, please

So on Saturday evening we went out to dinner with the in-laws {as opposed to the out-laws...LOL}. Dear husband & children had spent the day with them and I just ending up meeting them at the restaurant after a long day of driving around for my part-part-part-time job. {What else would you call a job that you only do once every 3 months??} Anywho, dear *cough* in-laws choose the venue: Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar. Or as my friend Justine says it's affectionately called: B-Dubbs {short for B-uffalo and 2 Ws}. In case you have never been there, this post will serve as an informative review. I took it upon myself to call ahead to see if 1) they accept reservations and 2) if they can accommodate parties of 12. No to #1 and Yes to #2. I get there early to stake claim to a table. In-laws finally arrive and we're seated. It cozy seating arrangement. Here is a run-down of pros & cons:

Pro: Awesome buffalo wings! If you are a buffalo wing lover, this place is a must. They've got about a dozen sauces to choose from ranging from mild to blazing near seizure inducing hot.
Con: If you are not a buffalo wing lover, um, you'll be snot out of luck. They do have some chicken sandwiches, wraps and ribs so maybe you could order one of those. Also, limited selection for "healthy" diners.

Con: Aforementioned limited menu {which I hardly care about since I am a carnivore & love bbw, ribs, and burgers. Also I did not like that the sandwiches did not come with a side. You would think that I could order a boneless wings meal basket, but alas, NO. It's a la carte baby. I guess you can get the basket deal at lunch, but not at dinner. I don't even really like restaurants where a salad doesn't come with my entree *cough, Applebee's, cough, cough*, so to not get a side was ridiculous.

Con: Depends on what you're looking for whether this is a con or not, but atmosphere is more bar-ish. Kinda loud with big screen TVs everywhere~I guess if you're a sports fan you put plunk this down in the "pro" column.
Pro: I doubt the intoxicated patrons will mind rowdy children.

Pro: Service was good. Didn't have to wait for a table {5:15 pm on a Saturday night}. And they seemed accommodating.

Now back to our feature presentation. I ordered the boneless wings with some Asian type sauce & they were freakin' awesome. I mean, delish. Spicy in all the right ways. The other thing I liked is that they had a nice selection of kids meals. Figures that we ended up ordering 4 mac & cheeses. The funny thing about a party of 12 is that when a typical table would maybe need just one or two more things, like extra napkins or a side of some kind of sauce, when you multiply that by about 4 the requests are as long as Santa's "nice" list.
Um, waitress! Could you please bring 2 sides of hot sauce, some tartar sauce, a lemon wedge and some extra silverware? Ok, now that you've returned with that, we need another Corona, a diet coke refill, and one more straw.....
It was actually quite comical. {I began wondering about families who, in and of themselves, are parties of 10 or 12. Do you call ahead everywhere you go? Do you even go out to dinner that often?} They also had these little handheld video trivia game thingys where you compete against other diners answering questions broadcast on a couple of the TV screens. This kept the kids nearly endlessly occupied which was great for the big people. Until that is, dear father-in-law was having a coronary over the kids dropping them, so that put a kabosh on that. All in all, it was a very enjoyable meal. And if I ever in the mood for buffalo wings, which is strangely often, I know where I am headed. Care to join me?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Trimmings

I'm sure it probably looks like an ordinary Christmas tree, not unlike others that are in millions of American homes. For me, it is a BIG deal.
I really love Christmas
. I love the festiveness of everything. I love that it's an entire season in and of itself. You see, every Christmas dear husband and I debate the merits of Christmas decorations, trees, and gift giving. Even the importance
is family gatherings gets put up on the butcher block. I can understand his point. To him, Christmas is about only one thing: celebrating the birth of our Savior. To me, the decorations and gifts and family gatherings are just the trimmings on the main event, the icing on the cake, so to speak. I dragged the tree out on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I even unwrapped all my Christmas decorations. Due to a lingering "bah-humbug" spirit in the house, I decided to put everything away. Yep. I even took the tree down. The whole week I prayed. I prayed for peace. I prayed that I would come to a place where Christmas means only one thing to me. I think we don't realize the importance of something until God asks us to sacrifice it. I think sometimes He likes to see whether or not we are willing to give up what He asks of us. Ya know what? He answered. I did come to place where even if we didn't have a single Christmas decoration in the house, it wouldn't really matter. I came to the place where Christmas is only about Jesus. About meditating on Him and the story of His birth. Everything else was stripped away. And then, this last weekend, dear husband announces that we are putting the tree up. And so we did. And it looks...festive. And it makes me smile when I look at it. And I am glad that I can put my icing back on the cake.

Speaking of things that make me smile, I created this Christmas paper bag album for all my holiday photos. Usually I end up with so many pictures from our {too} numerous family gatherings, that I don't know what to do with them all. If you've been reading for awhile, you'll remember that I created a Summer paper bag album so I wouldn't have to scrapbook as many layouts for the summertime. I am so happy with how this Christmas one came out! There are 12 interior pages as well as 4 hidden tags for more photos/journaling. All based on a paper bag. Who'da thunk it?

I also like to use my scrapbooking/embellishing skills when wrapping gifts. I never really thought to do it before, but I was feeling creative when wrapping this gift. I used my tag punch and Making Memories stamps to initial the tag, added some ribbon & a jingle bell, and viola! One tres chic gift ;-)