Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crazy things that make me happy. :)

I get excited when my kids eat healthy snacks or meals.  Really excited.  Like some women get when they purchase a new pair of shoes.  Add this to the list of things that makes me weird, I guess.

Just now, I pulled out baby red peppers with pine nut and roasted garlic hummus. 

My girls loved them!! 

Andrew's harder to convince, as he tends to take after his picky Papa and Uncle Greg.  It doesn't stop me from trying, though.  :)

My mom and i hit all of our favorite grocery/health food stores this past weekend.  It's become our Saturday routine on the weekends that Phil has the kids.  We try and make it to Eastern Market for eggs, veges, and anything that suits our fancy.  I like Trader Joe's for dairy, nitrate-free bacon, hot dogs, etc and lots of various grocery items.  Natural Food Patch in Ferndale is a must, because they have so much for so cheap.  I get my kombucha there, and I also like their selection of grains.  Their health and beauty section has many of my favorite natural picks, and the selection is the best I've found.  AND I save dollars per item compared to stores like Target.  Anything left on my list, mainly fresh chicken or beef, I get at Randazzo's.  I can't afford fully pastured & grassfed meat, but Randazzo's is the next best thing. 

THIS is what our fridge looks like when we're done.  Our fridge in the basement is half full, too.
We've got lots of eggs, fresh and hard-boiled, Trader Joe's whole-milk french vanilla yogurt (I've convinced my kids it tastes like ice cream), Trader Joe's kefir, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. cheeses, sprouted-grain english muffins, and leftover chicken from stock I made on Monday.  I'm hoping chicken noodle soup for dinner will help my throat feel better.  I also bought a bag of shredded cabbage I'm planning to use for homemade cole slaw!!  Yummm...

Our pantry is pretty full, too.  Amidst my dad's foods and the various items that get lost in a pantry (my mom has a jar of marshmallow fluff that's been in there since I moved in a year and a half ago.  WHAT is she planning on using that for??)  we have brown rice, quinoa, various grains and beans, sauerkraut, and raw honey.  I love raw honey, so we have several large containers.  I'm trying to convince my dad to put a bee hive in the backyard this year so I can jar my own honey. I don't think he's convinced, yet...

My favorite finds this weekend were multi-colored popcorn and orange ("red") lentils.  :D  It's the little things in life that are the most exciting!!

I'm still addicted to International Delight coffee creamer.  I picked up a few large containers the other day.  I need to give this up, since the sippage of coffee is leading me to skip breakfast and lunch.  :-/  Not good at all, especially when you're in a contest with your mom and sis to lose 15 lbs!!! 

Today is milk pick-up in Royal Oak and a trip to No Pins Required in Ferndale for Rockin' Green laundry detergent.  I've been looking for a truly natural detergent that actually gets our clothes clean, and I found it!!  I originally purchased it for our cloth diapers, which is what it was designed for, but now I use it on everything (as the company suggests).  Since I started using it, I realized that clothes without fabric softener feel stiff because of detergent residue (yuck).  Rockin' Green rinses so clean that my clothes are super soft without the use of any softener or dryer sheet.  :D  Super exciting!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A few random facts...

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Man...I wish people knew that about me??"

My mom jokes about her sense of humor sometimes.  "I don't think they get me yet," she says, laughing.  And the fun of it is that they probably don't get her and that makes the things she says even funnier.  :)

I feel like I'm on some weird quest to relearn who I am.  I thought i knew, but I spent 6 years finding my identity in being "Phil's wife" and that's obviously not who I am anymore.  Now I have to relearn,  and I'm actually enjoying finding out all the little things that make up "Liz" (although it's interesting to do it as a 28/29 year old mother of four). 

As I am learning, there are a few moments I've found myself thinking, "I wish people knew that about me!"  If they knew these things, it would save me the trouble of being misunderstood.  Like my mom, and her occasional jokes that some people don't get.  :) 

So because I have a horrid sore throat/earache and need some time away from anything productive, I'm compiling a list.  I am writing it while I enjoy a mug of coffee and some ibuprofen.  Hopefully when I'm done, I can get on with tackling my day.

My list:

1.  I'm very, VERY laid back.  My favorite phrase is, "Oh, it's really not a big deal!"  This affects our homeschooling, which apparently some people don't get.  I cannot start school at 8:00 am and plow through, uber-focused until 3:00.  I would go absolutely crazy.  Most days we start around 9:30 and work on a subject for an hour.  Then we eat something and start again.  Then we break for lunch.  We pick back up after lunch and finish up our work, taking a break for a snack somewhere in the middle.  Aimee usually picks the subject to work on, so it's in a different order almost every day.  This is why I created our sticker chart.  I need a list of tasks each day or I forget to stick with the well-rounded curriculum.  By Friday, we've hit all the subjects.  For an example of similar homeschooler, click here and read the third paragraph.  :)

2.  Apparently I give "dirty looks" completely without my knowledge.  I have NO IDEA how I do it, or why, and i hate that I do it without knowing because i have zero control over it.  So if you're reading this...mean thoughts are very rarely in my head and if you've been the recipient of a look that was taken in a negative way...I DIDN"T MEAN IT!! 

3.  I'm shy.  Very.  So I'm not ignoring you.  I just wonder if you saw me and if i should say hi at the risk of you not seeing me and me looking like a total idiot while you walk by and I say hi to apparently no one.  This happens quite often in the big corridor at church where the nursery and restrooms are located.  I'd avoid that space, but it kinda connects the two sides of the church.   ;-)

4.  I overthink everything.  And I mean everything.  I drive myself crazy.  And my sister crazy.  And Bethany.  Just ask them.  You could probably throw my mom in there, too, but she overthinks stuff, too, so we "get that' about each other and therefor talk it to death together.  :D  For an example, see #3 above.

5.  I am incredibly forgetful.  If I don't write it down, which many times I forget to do, I will most likely forget to call you.  Or bring something i was supposed to give to you.  Or anything that requires the use of my memory.  The only exception is prayer...I have learned that I need to pray immediately for someone I have said that I will pray for, or I may forget someone when I have focused prayer time.  So if I say, "I'm praying for you!" I am most likely doing it at that moment.  If it's continued prayer, the Lord brings you to mind throughout the day and I pray for you again.

That's it, I think.  My coffee is cold and I need to make lunch.  Phil came to take Aimee to the movies and stayed for an hour to visit.  But it kept me distracted while the ibuprofen took affect, and I came back and finished up my post.  Now on to what will hopefully be a very productive (I'll settle for semi-productive) day...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thoughts on yesterday's post...

Thank you to everyone who showed me so much support yesterday.  I was really under attack yesterday morning and didn't realize the extent of it until several hours after writing my blog post.  In all honesty, I was under such a cloud of confusion and self-doubt that I wanted to cry.  Run to the doctor.  Give up the things that I was struggling with so much.  Something, anything, to clear up my mind and allow me to think clearly again.  I don't know that I was even capable of simple math at several points during the day.  I prayed, asking the Lord for strength.  And suddenly, as I was driving down Van Dyke, I had such a revelation!! 

Oh my gosh!!" I thought.  "It's Satan.  He is confusing me.  And shame on me for allowing him to have this power over me!!!"  TRUST ME when I tell you that in that instant my confusion and headache vanished.  It was gone.

This made me think of two very important bible verses...

James 4:7
"...Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Ephesians 6:12
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

My self-doubt began when this influentual person suggested I put the kids back in public school.  I was angry at first, and worried they would make things difficult for me.  But then I thought about Aimee and Andrew's struggles, and the steps I mentioned yesterday to work through them.  I decided to form a "plan of action," so to speak, and be firm in my decision to homeschool, regardless of the discouragement I was receiving.  Yesterday morning, I sat down with Aimee's math books and started planning everything out.  That's when the confusion settled over my mind.  I could hardly think straight, which caused me to doubt my ability to make the right decision for her.  Should we go through 3rd grade math again?  Or just review?  If we step back, do I start at the beginning of the year?  Or somewhere in the middle?  Where, then, do I start?

Coupled with the negativity I was receiving, I seriously questioned homeschooling.  I was scared. 

"My kids deserve the best," I thought.  "How can I decide what is best when I'm so tired and unable to think??  Maybe this person is right...I can't do this!!"  I was ready to throw in the towel.

Now that I am aware of the devil's influence over my thinking yesterday, I am even more confident in my decision to homeschool my children.  I still don't think homeschooling is for everyone, but i firmly believe it is what's best for our family.  The Lord has supported me, by providing my favorite curriculum for free.  That was such a fleece for me.  And the fact that Satan was trying so hard to discourage me and leave me in self-doubt tells me I'm doing something he fears. 

Today was a MUCH better day.  I decided the best plan of action for Aimee is to give her each chapter test from the 3rd grade math book.  I review the material with her briefly (it has been a year) and then give her the test.  We will take one test per day.  When the tests start showing her weaknesses, we will begin at that chapter.  We will continue math throught the summer, which i had already decided to do, so she should catch back up in a year or two.  She will be even farther ahead of the game at that point, becuase she will have such a strong grasp on the material.

There is one thing  I want to clarify...I may have worded things in yesterday's post to suggest that i felt responsible for my children's struggles.  This is not the case.  I know that every child struggles at some point, with something.  And the beauty of homeschooling is that you can immediatly recognize where your child's struggles are and offer them the one-on-one help and extra time they need to grasp the new material or concept.  My struggle was that this person I mentioned noticed what they felt was a "lack of teaching" on my part, and without talking with me about it, firmly suggested I step down as the teacher.  The lack of conversation on the subject angered me the most, since they immediatly jumped to conclusions.  So at that point, with them already doubting my ability, I was anxious about stepping back a year, if Aimee needed.  This, as I said, would be throwing myself in the lion's den and receiving a great amount of critism and discouragement, at best.  My personality is that of a peacemaker...I hate conflict.  I was scared.

But today is a much better day.  I am confident in my abilities and the decisions I have made.  Homeschooling is a huge blessing in our lives and the right decision to make, as is taking Aimee a step backwards in math.  Andrew will benefit from daily, constant repetition of the letters and sounds, as have Amerie and Lexi already.  He just might take longer to read than some expect him to take.  And that is okay.  :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I am growing so frustrated with myself!!  Our homeschooling journey has reached a few challenges, and sometimes I lack the personal confidence to know that I'm handling the problems appropriately.  I KNOW that I'm doing the right thing, but because I am the one making the decision and not asking someone else to make it for me, I question it.  This drives me nuts!!

Andrew is struggling with his letters and reading.  He remembers most of his letters (I think he trips up on G, T, I and D) and he can remember the sounds they make some days, but not necessarily every day.  Whether this is a learning weakness or lack of cooperation I have yet to decipher.  I was talking to his speech pathologist, who has mentioned a few times that phonics will probably need to be delayed with him because of his speech challenges.  She said that he's still struggling in speech with the same concepts he was struggling with last year, and phonics might frustrate him because even if he could remember the letter's sound, he can't necessarily say it correctly. So he chooses not to try, out of frustration with his speech delay.

Aimee is struggling in math, and has been for a while.  We are working on long division, with remainders.  She just can't seem to "get it."  Plus, she can't remember half of her times tables from last year.  So this week we put math on hold, in order to rememorize the multiplication facts.  I also borrowed 3rd grade math from the (wonderful!!) woman who loaned us our curriculum this year.  I have been looking it over like crazy, and there is so much that Aimee needs to work on.  She struggled in math a little last year, and since it appears that 4th grade math is mostly a repeat of 3rd grade, only more in-depth, she needs to go back and fully grasp 3rd grade concepts before she can successfully dive into 4th grade.

My struggle is two-fold.

1.)  I fully believe that taking phonics slow with Andrew is the best thing for him.  He will be 6 in May, so he's technically in kindergarten this year.  But had I enrolled my kids in public school back in August, I would have held him back and sent him to kindergarten next year.  I do think he would have done okay in kindergarten this year, but i think he would have done much better waiting a year.  And Aimee...she made the cut-off for school by 1 day.  She was ready for kindergarten when I sent her, even though she didn't turn 5 until late that Fall.  But looking back, I wish I would have had the patience and maturity to wait and send her when she was 5, going on 6.  Even though she was ready for kindergarten at the time, now that she's a 9 year old 4th grader, she's struggling a little bit more than I'm comfortable with.

Since we homeschool, I'm "keeping" Andrew in kindergarten and Aimee in 4th.  They have friends in these grades at church, and I don't see any reason to "move them back" when it doesn't affect anything.  I will instead be teaching them according to their skill levels and readiness for new concepts.  I think I will be doing lighter workloads in the summer without quitting for 2 1/2 months like a traditional school year does, so in the end they might end up ahead of the game, anyway.  But the little voice in my head, who doubts my ability to make grown-up decisions, is telling me that this is unconventional and "out of the box," so it's therefor a wrong decision.  But I know it's a good decision.  I'm praying this through.

2.)  There are certain influential people in mine and the kids lives who feel that homeschoolers should all be geniuses or at least smarter than their peers.  And since Andrew is struggling with phonics, I must not be a good teacher.  I really do think that this is the main reason i am anxious about my decision I stated above.  If I work with the kids at their own level, which may be below their grade level, I'm the first one to be blamed for their "failure or delay."  It's apparently my own failure as a teacher, and not that the kids have an area in school that they struggle with.  As a result, I have been encouraged to throw them back in public school (which i am 100% against).  So for me to then step out and make the decision to teach them at their own pace,which is unconventional, is like throwing myself into the lion's den and hoping I make it out okay.  Not only am I sticking with my decision to homeschool (which I firmly believe is under the Lord's approval), but I'm doing out of someone elses box.  I'm praying about this also.

In a sort-of related side note...these are the reasons I'm so bad about blogging every day ('cuz I know everyone is on pins and needles waiting for blog posts!!).  There is so much going on in my life each day, things like blogging, reading a book, or even making my bed just have to wait until I get a handle on the rest.

If you're still with me and reading this, thank you for being my friend!!!  Thank you for being supportive and understanding and wonderful and taking the time to read my little vent of frustration!!  I pray the Lord blesses each and every amazing person that He has blessed my life with.  :)  And if you remember my kids and I during your own prayer time, I would very much appreciate prayers on our behalf!!  Thank you in advance.  :)