Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions...Yes, I Make Them

I love New Year's Eve/Day.  What better than a holiday to celebrate the successes (or learning from the failures) of an old year and the freshness and grand possibilities of a new year?

Here are some of my resolutions for the New Year:

1. The Husband Project

One of my favorite friends let me in on this.  It's all about showing little acts of love on a daily basis for the hubby. Let's face it...husbands for the most part don't get the credit they deserve in this world.  Why not go the extra mile and let him know every day how important and loved he is?

2.  Wearing nicer shoes.  I am the flip-flop queen.  Or the sneaker queen.  I love my sweats and comfy clothes. But I want to improve my image, polish it a little. So this year, more cute shoes.  Truly, if you have a pair of cute shoes, you know you won't just put on the athletic pants or'll make the effort to look a little more stylish.

3.  Focus more on healthy eating, less on what size I am.  I figure if I gear towards a healthier lifestyle, the pounds will follow. 

4.  Fostering more independence with the kids.  This year I have started leaving them home alone for stretches of time.  They have learned to cook basic meals and clean house and wash clothes.  This year the independence will extend to the homeschool life.  I want them to take ownership of their education.

How about you all? Do you make resolutions?  What are your hopes for the new year?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely and Admirable

I have a 13 year old son.

He has the biggest heart.  He will literally give you anything if he has it and knows it will make you happy.

He has a strong moral compass.  He is quick to point out if something seems 'not-right' or if an injustice has been done.

And like most 13 year old boys, he enjoys playing video games.

I am vigilant that the games he plays are age appropriate and not violent.  He will even tell others who want to get him to play 'M' rated games..."No thanks, I'm not allowed."

I get teased a little for that choice.  Or at least told that video games are harmless fun and it's all just 'make believe' anyway...why not?

My reason for 'why not' is this verse from the Bible:

I want my children to fill their minds with things that are lovely, admirable, noble.

There is too much violence in the real world already...why would you want your young children to actively pursue it as entertainment? 

Also there is this verse that applies:

I want their treasure and their hearts and minds on things that the world needs more of..not of what the world has too much of already.

It's a free country and by all means, let everyone raise their children how they see personally fit.

And please respect me for raising mine the way I see fit.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

That's What Mama Bears Do

As I posted a few days ago, my son is beginning immunotherapy, aka allergy shots, for his numerous allergies to...well, the state of Georgia basically.

Our primary allergy doctor is located in a town about 20 miles away.  On the interstate, on a good day, maybe a 30 minute car ride.

My son had his first injections at the primary doctor's office.  It was a wonderful experience...despite having to have 3 injections in one day.  But the nurse was super nice, and she did it all so quickly and efficiently that is was done before you could say "OWWW!"  Two went in the tricep area of one arm , one in the tricep area of the other.

So, in order to make the bi-weekly injections more convenient and affordable, they suggested I use a local doctors office in my small home-town. 

Sure, I thought.  Sounds like a winner...close proximity and supporting local business!  Less times at the gas pump!

So they sent me home with vials of allergy 'juice' and paperwork.

Fast forward to yesterday.

We all went to the local doctors office to get the next round of shots.

We waited in the waiting room for an hour.  No magazines. No television. The kids didn't even have a book or game. So to pass the time, a read the entirety of the paper work from the primary doctor's office.  I read how each injection is to be made specifically on the designated area of each arm.  And that we were to wait 20 minutes after the injections to see if there is a reaction.  I was surprised at the specificity of how and where the injections were to be given. 

"Sorry you have to wait so long! We are having computer problems!" chirps the receptionist.  I guess she could hear my kids whining through her little glass window.  But wait...they called two other patients back.  Hmmm....the computer problems don't affect those patients? 

When we are finally called back,  the nurse tells me "I had to do a ton of paper work on this, that's why you had to wait so long..."  Hmmm....that's a different story...but...why am I getting two different stories here?

She procedes to give my son the injections.  I noticed with each injection she is taking a l-o-o-o-n-g time.  Not the quick, precise movement of the previous nurse.

The final injection she gives just below his elbow.

Wh...Wha?  Hold on.  I *know* what the last nurse did and I *know* what I just read.  That wasn't right.  My son winced in pain.  That wasn't right.

After 5 minutes we were told we could leave.  Without her checking the injection sites for a reaction.

Now my alarms are going off.  She didn't know what she was doing.

I called the primary nurse.  I asked her about proper injection procedure.  When I told her what happened, she sounded alarmed. She called the other nurse (whom I shall refer to at this point, Nurse 2)  and told her that she performed incorrectly and told her how these injections are to be administered.  She called me back and asked me if I wanted to return to their office. I said YES.

So at this point I realize I have to go back to Nurse 2 and take custody of his vials of allergens.  UGH. 

I hate confrontation.  But now the Mama Bear Mode was in full swing.

She stuck my baby with needles and didn't know what she was doing.  She either lied to me or at the least wasn't honest with me. There was no way she would ever touch my kid again.

Let's just say, by the time I left the office, I had my son's allergens and the nurse looked like a whipped dog.

And despite the money, time and inconvenience, I will be driving to the primary doctor's office from now on, twice a week.  Cause that's what Mama Bears do.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How Do You P.E.?

When I was a kid my least favorite class was P.E.  Well, first it was math.  I really don't remember structured P.E. classes until middle school (back when it was called 'Junior High')..and then I hated it.

I was always a skinny, uncoordinated kid, so asking me to dribble a basketball and run at the same time was just as impossible as asking me what the square root of 111 was.

However, that isn't to say I disliked physical activity...on the contrary I LOVED gymnastics (no formal lessons, just out in the yard with my friends attempting back walkovers and handstands).  I loved swimming. Skating. Dance. Climbing trees. 

Now that we homeschool, I truly do not have a structured approach to physical activity.  There are mornings or evenings when we walk around the neighborhood.  My kids climb trees.  In the summer they go swimming constantly.  They ride bikes and attend ballet/ tae kwon do classes.  Yesterday we all went to the military base and walked the 5k track.  We own a trampoline.  When I have to get on to them more than enough times to do something, they are required to run laps.

We also discuss the importance of exercise and how our muscles work.

How about you all?  Do you have structured P.E. time?  Or do you just allow opportunities for your kids to be active?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

White Chocolate Chip-Cranberry-Almond Cookies

I made a batch of these on a whim for my husband to take to his office mates. 

One of them declared them to be 'crack'.

Another offered to be my Santa Claus this year.

People from other areas were coming to partake of the crack cookie heaven.

So I am sharing with you all.

White Chocolate Chip-Cranberry-Almond Cookies aka "Crack"

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter MELTED
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp of each: vanilla, almond extract and rum flavoring
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream together melted butter and both types of sugar until well blended.  Beat in flavorings, egg and extra egg yolk until light and creamy.  Mix in sifted ingredients just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds.  Chill dough for 1 hour.

Roll out 1 inch balls of dough and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until lightly golden around edges.

Let cool completely on the cookie sheet.

Be the most popular mom and wife this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blessed to be a Blessing

I just got finished grocery shopping with my kids.  I was annoyed to have to pay over $200 for didn't seem like a whole lot of groceries.

The van was low on gas, so while at the Kroger I stopped at the gas station to pump gas.

As I was pumping gas, an older, beat up looking car pulled up on the other side of the pump.  A lady approached me from behind...

"Ma'am? Can I please bother you to get me a little gas?"

I replied that I didn't have cash. 

"I don't want any cash...I need gas. Even if it is just a little..."  Desperation in her voice made me believe her.  I looked in her car.  Two little, scared little girls peeped out from piles of clothes and household items. The cat meowed from its carrier.

She continued, "My house burned down...I have two kids, the little one has the flu, and a cat, and everything I own is in my car. I don't know what else to do but go back to Florida, where my family is.  I keep praying to God, but He doesn't hear me..."  At this point she is almost sobbing.

"He doesn't hear me....I just pray and pray.  I lost a baby last year at this time and I keep wondering "Where is God? Why doesn't He help me??"

I filled up her tank with gas.  I asked her if she wanted me to pray with her.  She said yes, so we stood in the gas station holding hands and praying. 

I left her with a hug and told her girls "Merry Christmas".

I'm not telling you this story to make myself look good....

I'm telling you this to inspire you to not be cynical this Christmas.  When someone needs your help, give it, what ever you can, what ever it takes.  Show some one who is hurting that YOU care, even if the world seems like it is caving in.

I wish I knew what lie ahead of her.  I hope she makes it safely to Florida.  I hope if that is ever myself and my children in desperate need, that someone BELIEVES me.

I wish her and hers all the blessings that God can shower upon her. 

And I wish the same for all of you too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Season

Every year we do something a little different for Advent. 

One year we made a wreath out of fresh greenery and placed the traditional three purple, one pink and one white candles to be lit each Sunday of Advent along with a Bible verse that corresponded.

This year we made an Advent banner, courtesy of this lovely blog:

I printed out the triangles and wrote an activity on the back of each one.  Things like 'write a note of apprectiation to someone in our family' or 'have a movie night of Polar Express with cocoa and popcorn' and 'Make gingerbread houses'.  Also I downloaded some corny Christmas riddles for the kids, cut them out and taped one on the back of each triangle.

I paper-clipped each triangle onto a length of shiny ribbon and hung it across the fireplace mantle.

Some other ideas for each day are:

Study different countries and their celebrations at Christmastime.
Learn about St. Nicholas and leave a shoe out for him to fill on St. Nicholas' Day.
Do a random act of kindness for a stranger.
Make snowflakes out of paper.
Make salt dough ornaments.
Learn a new Christmas song to play on the piano.
Make Christmas cookies.
Read all our favorite Christmas stories.

Simple, inexpensive fun.

How about you all? Do you celebrate Advent?  And how do you celebrate?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doing Hard Things With Dracula

Have any of you ever taken a look at readers or school books that were used back at the turn of the century?  OOPS...I mean the end of the 1800's and beginning of the 1900's. (NOT the y2K...although that will apply later in this post.)

Children were assigned classics...Robinson Crusoe, Around the World in Eighty Days, Treasure Island.  The original versions.  Nowadays kids are handed the same stories, but in an overly simplified version.  It's the literary version of the mother gull pre-digesting the fish for the young.  Sure, the young get fed, but it's no substitute for flying out over open waters and diving for a fresh, wiggling fish of your own.

The whole thing is a pet peeve of mine.  When you lower your expectations, you are lowering the bar.

Now, I am all for building confidence in struggling readers.  Let them read what they want to and what they are comfortable with.  But don't be complacent in the safety of the shallow waters...

Dive in to the deeper realms. 

We are studying the 1800's in history and around mid-October I thought we should all sit down and read Dracula.  Round robin style, as we do when books are long or somewhat difficult in nature to comprehend or with vocabulary words that may need clarification.

So we started reading one chapter a day. 

The language is a little archaic at times.  It took us up until today to read through the entire thing.

But, oh, did we enjoy it.

We spent a lot of time with these characters...Van Helsing, Mina Harker, the curious Renfield, and of course, the Count. 

Reading Van Helsing out loud is somewhat akin to speaking like Yoda. But we pressed on.

My son loved everything about it.  My daughter, who is ten years old, had only one complaint: it was too long she says.  But we became very engrossed in the story, despite looking up words and having to discuss what was happening and why at certain points.

Sure, I could have handed them the Great Illustrated Classics version, condensed and pre-digested.

But I don't think we would have enjoyed it quite as much.

And a little lesson within the lesson...every once in a while, do the hard things. See it through to the end.  Battle the demons of self-doubt and claim your victory.

It's all the sweeter that way.