Monday, October 31, 2011

To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

To Kindle or not to kindle is a questions that I am considering.  I am a bookworm whenever I get the chance.  It is not unusual for me to read a book a day in the winter months especially.  Often, I will start reading and get lost in a book during the night when I am sore and cannot sleep. 
Months ago, Joe asked me if I would like a Kindle.  I must admit that where technology is concerned I have the attitude of one who is skeptical of any form of technology.  I have been thinking about it though.  Let's face it.  My beloved is a very smart cookie.  Want me to consider a new form of technology? Just mention it's benefits to me and drop the subject.  I will eventually get around to stewing over it and give it a lot of consideration.  He mentioned how much I love reading and how it might be easier on me. 
Well, here we are, months later and I have been thinking about it.  I went to a store that sells both the Kindle and the Nook.  This gave me the chance to see them both side by side and compare them.  Between the two brands, I know the Kindle is best suited for my needs.  I do still have some questions to consider before getting one however.
Is there a good way to back up the books your download, such as on a flash drive, so that they are not lost if something happens to your computer or Kindle?  I would hate to replace books already purchased due to a technical problem with the computer or Kindle.
If you ever have problems with the Kindle battery, how easy are they to replace?  I realize they are likely to be easy to install, but how pricey are they?
How often does the Kindle's system upgrade?  During the upgrades, do the changes ever affect the ability to read older downloads?  Another words, do you have to be concerned that an e-book is no longer able to be read due to the new upgrades?
Can you only read books downloaded from Amazon on a Kindle?  Often I see e-books on websites such as our library's which offer free downloads.  Would I be able to read those on a Kindle?
Can you find children's books for Kindle that I can download for the kids?  Abbie loves books like the Little House series and I would like to have those for her also. 
What would be a good way to incorporate the Kindle into our homeschooling?  Likely, this is where the children's books would come in, but what other ways does it benefit?
Lots of questions in my mind.  But I am considering it.  Joe thinks I would enjoy it.  He has Kindle on his netbook.  Of course, he has it for a whole different set of reasons.  Mainly to have ready references for his blogs so he can easily write quotes from a book without having to have a hard copy of the book handy.  On the truck, he listens to audio books instead of reading while shut down.  With a student in the truck, they are on the go too much for him to read.
I would love to hear your thoughts on a Kindle if you have one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Continued Blessings

Well, blessings are abounding. In recent weeks, Micah began feeding himself snack crackers. I keep a little 3-sectioned dish of various snacks available where he can reach it. His favorites being: cheese fish shaped crackers, fruit snacks, popcorn, and dry cereal. Micah likes to walk around while he eats. It is a task to get him to eat sitting down. This week, I started putting him
into a booster seat at the table during meals. We are making him finger foods for most meals and set them in a divided plate in front of him. He looked pitiful, whining and fussing because we wouldn’t feed him. After a few minutes of our ignoring his attempts to get us to do it for him, Micah started feeding himself lunch. The first day it was something simple, a grilled cheese sandwich. Now, he will feed himself anything that does not require a fork or spoon.

It is fun to watch the progression that Micah is taking in his development. I am prepared for the
typical “two steps forward, one step back” routine that can often accompany such progression. Many kids will progress really well and then suddenly it is as though they lose ground briefly. Thankfully, any ground lost is regained quickly.

As he learns to communicate more and begin the steps towards independence, we are seeing a calming in Micah. He doesn’t become as frustrated as he used to. This is such a blessing to see. When the frustration is present, it is hard for Micah to calm himself enough to express his needs. With the newly found ability to feed himself a snack or his meal, he is gaining self-confidence. He is gaining a level of control in his world. With this, he is stimming less frequently. Overall, each new accomplishment is bringing with it a calming in Micah.

The Lord is doing so much with Micah. He is opening the locks in Micah that prevent him from being able to develop as a typical child would. Micah is starting to communicate more each day. Whether a gesture, sign language, or speech, he is communicating daily with us. I know that it is the Lord blessing Micah’s efforts. Each new day brings with it a witness to the Lord’s grace and blessing through Micah. I thank the Lord for this awareness that we are being given of Him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homemade Christmas with Simplicity

In our family, Christmas is a time when we focus on others more than
self. We never ask what the children want for Christmas, but what they
would like to make for someone else. This, to us, is critical in
teaching them to put others before themselves. Too often, children get
a massive case of the "I wants" or the "What did you get me" attitude.
In our focus upon the birth of Christ, we teach them that Christ gave
His all to others without expecting anything in return. In our walk
with the Lord, if we have His Spirit residing within us, shouldn't we
also want to bless others' lives and do for them with the same selfless

We strive to give handmade gifts and to decorate with handmade
decorations. Often, the gifts are simple in nature, but ones that are
appreciated. One year, I made fleece slippers for Joe and the kids.
They loved them. Yes, there are some gifts that are purchased, but most
are homemade. We are trying to teach the children, through our example,
to give of themselves and their talents to others.

There are many gifts that can be made easily. Some are much faster than
others to make. It is not difficult to find instructions on nearly any
gift you may want to make. Books at the library as well as searching
online can yield a wide range of options for both gifts and decorations.

One of the first decisions to make is that of the tree. Large or small,
fake or real, indoors or outdoors, the tree is one of the focus points
in your holiday decor. We have a large desk that I am going to place a
small, potted tree on this year. We can then plant the tree later. It
will make a nice tradition with the kids to plant our holiday tree each
year. With it being a small tree, the amount of decoration needed is
minimal. One of the simple decorations that I have the supplies for is
a garland.

Raffia garland: I saw this idea on Shepherd Hill's website a couple of
years ago. You start with a length of string to serve as the base of
the garland. Onto the string, you tie on lengths of raffia until the
string is no longer showing. You can either tie the raffia in knots or
fold a length in half, wrapping it around the string and thread the ends
of the raffia through the loop of it's fold to tie the raffia onto the

Using cookie cutters as a pattern, you can make felt ornaments. Trace
around a Christmas themed cookie cutter onto 2 layers of felt. Cut out
the shape. Using a blanket stitch, sew the 2 layers together. Glue
sequins, buttons, or other odds and ends to decorate. You may also
decorate them with dimensional fabric paint to give them a frosting look.

Applesauce-Cinnamon ornaments are easy to make. They are a great way to
give fragrance to the room also. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough
into shapes. Using a straw, make a hole to thread a ribbon through.
Bake the dough until hardened and let cool. Decorate with dimensional
paints and when dry, tie on ribbon for hanger.

Looking at websites such as the Pack-o-Fun or Family Fun magazine
websites, you can find many easy ornaments for kids to make.

A really nice way to display extra ornaments is to decorate a pine
wreath. You can even get clever and make them into a theme such as a
cookie cutter and decorated "cookies" for a kitchen wreath, for example.

In making gifts, I try to make ones that are things the person really
can get use from. My mother-in-law likes to wear a specific type of
apron, so that may be a good gift option for her. Being that Joe is out
on the truck a lot, he would better enjoy something he can use there.
One year, I made him a simple 2-layered fleece blanket for his bunk in
the truck sleeper. He still uses it. The kids also receive handmade

One lesson that we are working on teaching the kids is to make their
gifts for others. Abbie has a potholder loom kit and has made
potholders on it. She was so excited to give her very first one that
she made to our pastor's wife, Miss Juli. Now, she is wanting to make
more to give others. Miss Juli was awesome when she got the potholder.
She made such a fuss over Abbie making it that Abbie's fired up to make
other gifts. Micah will be making his gifts also this year. I have a
couple of ideas in mind, but have to work out the details first since he
has a few sensory issues where textures are concerned. I am planning to
incorporate their holiday crafting into the homeschooling. Just put
into a shoebox the materials needed for that craft and have it ready to

Through the next couple of months, I will be posting links to holiday
crafts that we will be making. I will post these links at least once a
week. Hopefully, these will also inspire you and your family.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In Response to a Blog Comment

Last night, I received a very bizarre comment to my Tree of Gratitude post. I deleted the comment due to the sheer lack of knowledge the person had of our family's life an attitude. The person objected to the phrasing I used when I mentioned that the kids might list their toys and our dog first among the things they are grateful for. In this person's mind, I was saying that our dog was no more than a toy to our children. They went onto chastise me for not teaching the kids that dogs are sentient beings and should be treated with much love.......

I am dismayed that out of the entire post, the only thing that stood out was the comment about what the kids may first express gratitude for. Our children are taught to treat our family dog with respect and love. He plays with them and is very loving. Of course a 5 year old child would express gratitude for their dog! Being kids, they also are grateful for other things important to them - their toys. By mentioning the two in the same sentence I was in no way inferring that the dog is a toy to the kids. Young children have a different outlook than adults. Let's face facts. Most adults even have varied answers on what is a blessing in their life. When I gave the example of toys and dog likely to be mentioned by the kids, it was just that - an example!

For those who have not read the blog for very long and don't realize it, our family has a wide spread in ages. I have 3 children who are now adults from my 1st marriage, and my husband and I have 2 young children (ages 3 & 5) from our marriage. When I speak of the kids, please consider their ages before passing judgement on what the may be doing or saying.

This blog is a window into our life but it is not reflective of everything. Do not assume that we are not teaching our children to have respect for ALL life. You do not know us personally, therefore have not the knowledge of us needed to make that kind of judgement.

The Tree of Gratitude post was all about teaching our children to have an awareness of the blessings in their life and to express gratitude for them. I am sorry that some readers missed that fact.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tree of Gratitude

Here is an idea that I am going to be doing with my kids and grandson
this year in November. I am mentioning it now in case someone else
would like to try it with their kids. We are going to make a Tree of
Gratitude. At a newspaper office, you can buy the end rolls of
newsprint for a very low cost. At the office in Shawnee, they charge 25
cents per 1/4 inch of newsprint on the roll. I have never paid more
than $4.00 for a roll of newsprint. The rolls are wide enough to use as
table covering during craft projects. We have also cut the roll into
sheets of a usable size for the kids to draw and color on. An end roll
can last us about 6 months or more if only used for art projects.

Using a length of the end roll, I will be drawing a tree without any
leaves. This will be placed onto the wall using poster tape. Poster
tape is a double sided tape that holds very well but can be easily
removed later without damaging walls. Each day, the kids will each
write on a leaf something that they are thankful for. These leaves will
then be glued onto the tree's branches. By Thanksgiving, the tree will
be filled with it's autumn leaves.

The idea is to bring to the children an awareness of God's blessings in
their lives. This helps to lay a foundation in them to have an attitude
of gratitude for the blessings. If desired, a family can do this as a
part of their family devotions, praying and expressing gratitude each
day for the things placed onto the tree that day.

One of the most effective ways to help children recognize the Lord's
blessings is to make it personal. Isn't it that way even with us? In
our human nature, we have to know just how something applies to us
before we can understand or find a concept important to us. Our
children are no different. Making this tree will give the children a
visual display of what the Lord has blessed them with. Granted, being
kids are doing this, I fully expect things like their toys and our dog
to be listed. We can build on that though. Teach them that they have
those toys because the Lord blessed us with an income. That they can
play with the toys because they were given health and the ability to
play. The dog is a great companion and is a blessing because he brings
them joy and is also a protector when they play outdoors.

I hope that this idea is one that will bless other families. As we
approach the Christmas season, I will be posting ideas on how we avoid
the commercialism and keep the holiday season focused on Christ's
birth. Especially, there will be upcoming posts on how to teach
children to appreciate what they have and to focus on what they can do
for others in the holiday season instead of focusing on the "what did I
get" attitude.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Cold Season

Ugh! The cold season has decided to knock on our door and someone
practiced hospitality and invited it in. Little Miss caught a virus and
had to be taken to the ER Thursday night when her fever peaked at
104.2*F. She is fine. They sent her home with instructions to give her
alternating doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen until the fever is
completely gone. We are all taking precautions to help reduce the risk
of us all sharing in Little Miss' virus experience. In some things,
family togetherness is not always necessary. LOL

I have had a bit of a sore throat, so have my honey-lemon made in the
refrigerator. It is a small jar of equal amounts of honey and lemon.
Every time my throat starts to bother me, I stir it up and take a
spoonful. Gotta love the Amish methods of doing things! Sometimes the
simple is better. If I want a nice warm tea, I stir a spoon of the
honey-lemon mixture into a cup of hot water.

I am looking for an alternative to the popular hand sanitizers. I know
there has to be a more natural alternative. Will post if I find one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Precious Blessings

Today, I am writing to share with you a precious blessing. Over the
past month, our family has gone through some changes that affected
routines for Little Man. As anyone familiar with Autism knows, this can
bring about stress on your autistic child or loved one. With this in
mind, we relaxed the routine to give Little Man the time to adjust.
With that decision came a blessing.

Instead of doing structured therapy with Little Man at home, I have been
simply letting him enjoy his days. I gave him all the time he wanted to
play in a quiet room. With 7 people in the house, I felt it was
important to give him that time to adjust to the increased activity
level. Today, he spends very little time playing in a quiet room
alone. He has chosen to spend more time each day with the rest of us.
I have left it totally up to him. Only Little Man knows how much of the
stimulation he can handle. He now only goes to that room for very brief
periods unless he is tired and wanting to lay down. When he is with us,
he is more engaged in what we are doing. He may not always participate,
but he is there with us and taking part in his own way.

A few days ago, Little Man began to feed himself his cheese crackers.
What a blessing! At 42 months of age, he has finally figured it out and
is consistently doing it. We now leave a little 3-section container
where he can get to it stocked with his favorite cheese crackers and a
couple of other snacks. He goes to it whenever he is hungry and feeds
himself. We are now working on getting him to feed himself finger foods
at meal times.

Today (Tuesday) Little Man came up to me and signed "cookie." I hadn't
taught him that sign yet, but months ago had used it. He had remembered
that sign and asked for a cookie today. I gave him a cookie, broken
into finger food sized pieces in his dish, and he gave me his cup. I
asked him if he wanted water or milk. He looked towards the
refrigerator instead of the water pitcher on the table. I asked if he
wanted milk and he signed "yes" which is another sign I hadn't worked on
with him. I got his milk for him and he was all smiles.

The relaxed atmosphere is benefiting Little Man more than any structured
therapy has to date. We are involving him in our daily activities just
as you would a young toddler or child. I am finding that he is eager to
participate. He is enjoying the connection with us and now seeks it
out. Our son is turning into a more confident child. No more outbursts
from frustration. No more hitting himself or screaming out because of
not being able to communicate his needs. He is gesturing or signing
consistently now.

I know that it is the Lord's blessing and grace that is aiding him. It
is as though a switch has been flipped on inside of Little Man. He has
always been a joy in our lives. Seeing his joy in the realization that
he is able to convey his wants and needs is a humbling event that just
shouts out to my heart how much the Lord is involved in this journey.

So many friends and family, especially our church family, have been
keeping Little Man in their prayers. The Lord is hearing our prayers
and answering them. I feel so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to
see Him through our son. Not a day go by that the Lord's presence is
not being shown to us. He is with our Little Man with every step he
takes from the isolation and withdrawal of autism to being an active
participant in our family. It renews each day my conviction that Little
Man will one day be able to stand up and share his testimony of what he
has been able to do & how far he has come in his life in spite of his
autism through the Lord's power and grace.

Ready for Thanksgiving

I am ahead of the game this year and am loving it. I am taking a very
proactive approach and preparing ahead for the holiday season. One area
is in the stocking of the pantry. As of last week, the only things I
still need to buy for the Thanksgiving dinner this year is the turkey,
fresh cranberries and possibly acorn squash. Here is an idea of our
typical Thanksgiving menu.

Turkey - usually bought a few days before when prices are at their lowest.
Dressing - I bake bread to use in the stuffing/dressing. The other
ingredients are items that I normally have stocked in the pantry year round.
Whole Cranberry Sauce - I make this using fresh cranberries. This year
I may try home canning it since finding the recipe in the Ball Blue Book
canning guide.
Baked Acorn Squash - this is a favorite in our family. Sometimes, I
will make it glazed.
Candied Sweet Potato Casserole - a favorite containing pineapple and
Pumpkin pie - made from fresh pumpkins
Sweet Potato Pie - one of my favorites
Shoo-fly Pie - a rich pie made sweetened with molasses
Dinner Rolls

This is always the start of "holiday cookie season" in our family. We
have a couple varieties of holiday cookies made. This year, I have some
autumn themed cookie cutters and plan to let the kids help make &
decorate some sugar cookies.

Of all the ingredients, I am so thrilled to have all but what must be
bought fresh. Who knows, one year we may even be so blessed as to raise
our own turkey. If we had a shelter and safe pen for it, we could buy a
turkey pullet in the spring and raise it until needed for Thanksgiving
dinner. I am looking forward to the day when I can say that we
literally raised each vegetable and meat used in our holiday meal. That
day will come soon enough. Until then, I am just grateful to be as
prepared as I am for this year's special family dinner.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Little Boy, Huge Steps

This week, our little boy made a huge step forward. At 42 months of
age, he finally has begun to feed himself finger foods! Praise be to
the Lord!!! Until now, I have had to feed him everything he eats.
Though he had fed himself a single bite of a gummy bear or chip on the
very rare occasion over the past 8 months, it only happens a couple of
times. Today, he actually fed himself a dish full of his favorite
cheese crackers. He is still reluctant to feed himself at the dinner
table, but this is progress towards that. I am so proud of him!

On the preschooling, he has finally started to use a crayon and try to
color. I got a coloring book and jumbo crayons for him at a dollar
store. We tear a page out of it and use a small piece of poster tape to
hold the page down on the table so it won't shift around and frustrate
him. I now have his first coloring page on the refrigerator. He used
several colors and colored small areas just a bit larger than a quarter
in size, but this is an awesome beginning.

Other progress made this week was his signing "more" to me when he
wanted more water. He had set his cup on the table then came to me
signing the word "more". I asked/signed what did he want more of. He
then showed me his cup. I asked if he wanted water or milk. He walked
over to the pitcher of water and stood by it. Yep! He wanted a cup of
water and was all smiles when I got it for him.

The relaxed approach I am doing with him now is working. Instead of
having a lot of structured therapy based activity, we are simply finding
ways to work therapy into the daily routine. I include him in as much
as possible. If I am kneading bread, he is right there and wanting to
touch the dough. For a kid who didn't like play dough, this is funny.
I break off a piece about the size of an egg and he plays with it. He
also has helped me to mix pancake batter by hand. He stands in front of
me and I place my hand over his as we stir the batter in the bowl. It
is little things, but I am seeing much more progress this way. I still
am teaching him. He is learning to sign, for example. The difference
is, he now has more time in between new things being taught in a
structured manner. This down time in between is giving him time to
process the new information. End result is that he is responding far
better than before.

I am so grateful to the Lord for the guidance He is giving us and the
blessing He is giving to our son. You can see His hand in each step

Friday, October 14, 2011

Checking Our Spiritual Compass

Here is a question for you. How often do you check your spiritual compass?

Going to church is easy. It is also easy to go through the motions of being spiritual. Praying, reading the scriptures, and talking to others as hough you have it all together. But, how often do we give ourselves that reality check? Do we really look hard at our spiritual life and assess it?

One of the problems prevalent in Jesus' day was the spiritual apathy in religion. People went through the motions, but their hearts were not in it. They followed the letter of the Law but not the Spirit of the Law.

In our daily walk, are we praying and reading scripture out of habit or out of a deep desire to have a relationship with the Lord?

Another question is to consider if the way we are living is what the Lord desires for us. The Lord allows us time to grow in our relationship with Him. In our human nature, we can easily turn that into feeling comfortable enough to not make further changes. When we slowly weed away the human nature and let Christ's nature take center stage in our life, our relationship with the Lord deepens.

We need to avoid getting too comfortable with where we are today. Checking our spiritual compass to see if we are still on track with the path the Lord has set us upon is an ongoing process. We need to check and see if we are still following Him or just being comfortable doing what we think is right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Glimpses of God's Grace

Having a son with autism is not any parent's goal. In honesty, when I
first realized that our son was not just on the spectrum but had the
classic autism disorder I had to go through a form of grief. I had to
let go of the idealistic dreams and get real. Yes, our son can still
achieve many of those dreams through the Lord's blessing. He will
simply have a harder road to travel to obtain them.

Our son is considered non-verbal. At 3 years of age, he chatters like a
child of about 10 months of age. He doesn't connect words with their
meaning. One example being that he will say "da-da" continually
throughout the day, yet he isn't saying it to mean "daddy." It is
simply a sound he can say and he says it repeatedly. When I say a word
like "eat" to him, he knows it means that he will be eating something.
He cannot use the word himself though. For this reason, I have always
believed that we should never baby-talk around him. I read to the kids
each day and I speak to Micah as though he understands. I am also
signing to him often when saying simple things like, "Micah want to
eat?" or "Micah want to drink?" I feel it is important to fill his
mind with the words and to introduce him to the sign language. I use
hand-over-hand technique to aid him in signing one word responses in
order to teach him how to communicate in a non-verbal way. I am giving
him options.

One day in late September, we were blessed with a glimpse of the Lord's
grace in Micah. We were at a library and I had found a book about
Clifford the Dog. Micah loves his Clifford book that we have at home.
He carries it around with him and looks at it frequently through the
day. This particular book was one about Clifford being hot on a summer
day and his misadventures in his attempts to cool off. I showed Micah
the book and he came running to me very excited. As I turned the pages,
Micah was chattering in his baby babbling way. Suddenly, intermixed
with his babbling came the comments, "I like Clifford. Doggie wet.
Doggie funny. Doggie lay down". He was very animated and excited as he
chattered and talked. This lasted only a brief time and has not
happened since then. What a blessing however to see this glimpse of
God's working with Micah.

We know that the Lord has a purpose and mission for Micah in his life.
There will come a day when Micah will have much to say. His limitations
are only in the minds of others. With God, there are no limits to what
Micah can and will be able to do. I know in my heart that one day Micah
will be able to stand before others and give testimony to God's grace in
his life. That he will be able to share with others what he has been
able to accomplish in his life in spite of having autism and through the
blessings and grace of the Lord.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pantry Stocking on a Budget

Went to the grocery store last week and after seeing the price
increases, even at Walmart, was inspired to revisit an old topic.
frugality in the pantry. When we started working at lowering our food
costs in our home, the greatest boon for our family was to stop buying
packaged or convenience food items. Cooking from scratch has always
been far cheaper than buying the prepackaged or frozen versions. Most
times, the homemade versions are more flavorful and healthier for your
family also.

One example of the homemade being cheaper is tomato soup. I buy 3 large
cans of tomato juice and use other ingredients that I always have on
hand to make a batch of soup which provides us with 11 pints of soup.
The recipe is a simple, basic one that our family loves. The soup is
thick enough that you could thin it just like the small cans of
condensed soup from the store. The cost of making the soup yourself is
just under half the cost of the equivalent amount of the small cans from
the store. I will be posting recipes later when I can get to the library.

Doing a search online, you can find sites with recipes for dry mixes.
Many of the convenience packages foods at the store can be made from
home. You don't always need to search online though. Why not take an
afternoon and mix the dry ingredients from your favorite cake recipe
into a jar? Label with the cake name, remaining ingredients to be
added, and the baking instructions. Just like that, you now have a
packaged cake mix in your pantry! Do the same with brownies, cookies,
muffins, and other family favorites. This same technique can be used to
make homemade versions of the boxed hamburger meals, rice pilaf mixes,
and even your favorite seasonings mixes like Taco Seasoning.

One of my beloved's favorite breakfasts on the truck is the muesli
mixture we put together. For a single serving I place 1/2 cup of rolled
oats into a sandwich bag. He then adds brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped
pecans, slivered almonds, or raisins to each baggie to his own
preference. He cooks the mixture with water in a little cooker on the
truck. Using the rolled oats makes a hearty breakfast that only takes a
few minutes longer to cook. If you wanted a faster version just
substitute the quick cooking oats. I make pancakes from a recipe. This
can also be prepackaged by putting the dry ingredients in a jar &
labeling it.

By looking at your recipes for your grocery list, you can save further
when buying the basics. Instead of buying small bags of flour, for
example, I buy the largest sized bag. I purchase all of my herbs,
spices, and sea salt at a health food store from their bulk bins. Sea
salt purchased that way only costs $1.20 for a quart jar full. I am
able to buy a 1 cup measurement of most herbs for under 50 cents each.
When shopping, I have a master list of the most often used ingredients.
I tally how much I need of each, using a monthly menu plan as my guide.
By taking the extra time to prepare the dinner menu for the month, I am
easily able to stay on a tight budget.

The last thing that I do is to shop around for the best deals. I know
what stores I can go to to get the lowest prices. Sometimes, it isn't
worth driving out of my way to get one or two things. I do however make
the extra effort if the savings is substantial. It all requires
planning and organization. If the savings is worth it to you and your
family, you may want to consider giving it a try.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Holiday Attitude is a Parent's Responsibility

Go to any store and you are bombarded by the signs of the upcoming
holiday season. How do you combat the lunacy of the commercialism &
stress of the season? How do you teach your children to not get caught
up in it?

Mashed toes alert! If you are the sensitive type who takes offense
easily, be warned. The following comments are my own opinion and it may
not be one that is shared by others. This is a topic I have been
praying over for quite some time. It is my prayer that others will read
it and be given cause to stop and think about my words. See if any of
it rings true in your heart.

Each year, I read emails or have conversations with other moms who
lament about the stress of the holiday season. These ladies are
familiar with my family's ideas on simplicity and express a desire to
adopt a more simple way in their own families. The primary reason given
for not adopting it is always the same - their kids are so used to
pricey gifts that the kids would not be willing to get more simplistic
gifts. Really? Is that truly the reason? Alright everyone, if you
think you may be getting your toes mashed, now is the time to follow a
suggestion our pastor has given the congregation in past sermons and
tuck your toes under your chairs.

Why do we, as parents, allow our kids to dictate how expensive the gift
giving will be? I see several reasons for this. First, we want to
avoid feeling guilty for not giving our kids everything that they want.
It is much easier to give in to them than to say "no" and listen to
their displeasure. Heaven knows, some kids are quite brutal in letting
their parents know just how angry they are to not get the video game or
other gift they expected. But who's fault is that? Who gave the kids
the idea that they could get away with that? Sadly, the guilt-trip is
extremely effective with single parents who already have guilt issues
after a divorce.

Second reason that I have seen is the parent who wants their child to
have everything they never had when growing up. This is very common.
You hear parents use that same approach in their discipline and
household chores. The most common 2 phrases you hear are that they
don't want to be as strict as their parents were and that they want
their children to be a kid and not have to worry about chores. Problem
with this is those same parents will lament later on when they can't get
their children to help with any tasks that need doing or their child has
become the "ruler of the roost" due to lack of discipline.

The last reason is likely the most common one of all, if we are honest
with ourselves. In our human weakness, we want to be the "good parent"
and we buy our children's affections through giving in to their whims
and fancies. We don't want our child to think harshly of us. We want
them to love us and be happy with our decisions. In doing this, we can
actually be causing them great harm.

Who is the parent? Does not the Lord give us stewardship over the
raising of His children? How many times do we think of the birth of a
child being a blessing from the Lord? Yet, when we are raising these
children we often forget that blessing. Are we honestly doing our
children a great service by catering to their demands? If not the
parents, who then will teach our children that you have to work for what
you have? Who, if not the parents, will teach them to be grateful for
what the Lord has blessed them with? Who, if not the parents, will
teach them the principles of it being better to give than receive? Who,
if not the parents, will teach them how to gracefully accept
disappointment? I tell you in all truth, it is a much harsher lesson to
learn as an adult than it is as a child.

Stress at the holiday season can be greatly diminished when we take a
step back and quit trying to please everyone else. Most especially, it
can be lessened considerably when we stop trying to out-do our gift
giving with our children each holiday & birthday. If we allow our
children to pitch a fit because they didn't get what they wanted, we can
only blame ourselves. Allowing them to display that kind of attitude is
a trained response. We have trained them, through lack of consistent
discipline, that such behavior is acceptable in our eyes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Autumn Preps and Homeschool

Autumn is truly upon us now. The days are warm and evenings are getting
cooler. It is again time to start winterizing the home. We are taking
stock of the supplies we need to purchase. We are making a change this
year. We are purchasing a propane heater for the home's main living
area. Up until this year, we have only heated with wood. We will still
have the wood cook stove in the kitchen, but the large wood stove we
used for heat was taken out over the summer. Using the propane stove is
a choice we wanted to make for some time as an optional source of heat.
Beloved likes it due to a propane heater being far less maintenance than
the wood stove is for me to work with while he is gone on the truck. He
is always looking for alternatives to make our lives easier while still
maintaining our simple lifestyle. We will be adding more insulation to
the bathroom and putting clear plastic on the windows throughout the
house to help in keeping the cold weather at bay. Overall, it is a lot
of work, but worth it when winter winds start blowing.

I am planning out a better layout for our pantry shelving. I am wanting
to add more shelving to the room so that I can expand what we store. I
want to add the non-food items that we use most often. This will
eliminate the extra trips to the store. I don't like driving on winter
roads, so having a ready supply of paper goods and other supplies makes
like easier and less stressful.

We are doing well with the homeschooling. Beloved was so thrilled to
hear our daughter read to him when he was home. He was surprised at how
many words she can read. We are so proud of her and all of her hard
work. I have backed off a little on our son's schooling. I noticed
that he sometimes needs to take a step back and have a chance to absorb
things going on around him. I am focusing more on the hands-on things
like letting him paint or decorate paper with paint daubers. He loves
playing with them. Once I show him what to do, he is very independent
and enjoys himself. On Tuesday, I showed him through hand-over-hand
technique how to make a flower using the paint daubers. I then left him
to play as he wanted. After he was done painting, I noticed that he
made a cluster of the paint spots that looked like he had attempted to
make his own flower. I am thrilled to see that he is picking up small

In reading, our daughter is still enjoying the Little House books. We
are gradually buying the series to read to her. I ordered a dress
pattern and am waiting for it to arrive. The pattern is for a dress
with pinafore similar in style to what little girls wore back then. The
dress and pinafore are easily made more modern simply through the fabric
choices. Our son is finding a lot of enjoyment looking through books
also. His book of choice so far has been one that we have of Clifford,
the big red dog. He loves those books. At the library, I showed one to
him and he came running to me. We are so blessed to have kids who like
books as much as we do.