Sunday, May 30, 2010

Call me cheap, I don't mind

One part of being a stay at home mom and keeper of the home after being a 2 income family is doing whatever is needed to spend less money. When I quit my job 3 1/2 years ago, I had to learn to be more frugal out of pure demand. It got to the point that I was standing in the toilet paper aisle in the grocery store with my calculator reading the number of squares on each roll and calculating which brand really would give us the most for the least money. At least at our walmart, it is White Cloud double rolls, hehehe. I also have done a lot more cooking and baking from scratch. I like cooking and LOVE when my family and friends enjoy what I make but having a full time job just put so many time restrictions on me that I did not get to do it often. I have learned that I can make things that I had previously thought just had to be bought like seasoning packets and bagels. One of the best money savers I have found is laundry soap. I have been making my own for about a year now and have probably already saved our family a couple hundred bucks. It is so easy and cheap and it also does not have all the unpronounceable mystery ingredients that store bought soap does. I used the recipe found on the Duggars website. I figure anyone that washes clothes for 20 people must know something about it! In the past year I have spent about $10 on laundry soap. I don't know why I haven't thought to share this process before now but when I made a new batch this weekend, I decided to take a few pictures.

All ya need is Borax (about $3), Washing soda(about $3), and a bar of soap. I use Ivory which I can get 3 bars for $1. Since you just need 1 cup of soda and 1/2 cup of borax, each 5 gallon batch really only costs a few cents.

First you grate up the bar of soap and cook on low heat in about 4 cups of water. You don't really want it to boil. I have discovered that if you let it continue to cook for a while after the soap is all dissolved it seems to help it thicken. I also add my cup of soda to the pan right when I remove it from the heat and stir it until it is dissolved. I have made some that never got thick but this step seems to help.

We have a 5 gallon bucket that we fill 1/2 way with hot water. Pour the pan on soap and soda into the bucket and then add the 1/2 cup of borax.

Fill the bucket the rest of the way with hot water and stir good. Let the bucket sit over night and it should thicken to look like this..

I have made some that did not get thick but it is still just as usable. It is the ingredients that clean the clothes and not the consistency. I have noticed that I use a lot more per load when it is thin. You can find tons of people that make their own laundry soap and they all seem to recommend a different amount to use per load. I say it really doesn't matter. I use about a cup per load. Some people (like Mrs.Duggar) also fill an old laundry soap container 1/2 full of soap and 1/2 full of water and then use that container when doing laundry. This would make your 5 gallon batch actually 10 gallons. I have done that but I usually just use it straight out of my bucket without diluting it farther and have not noticed any difference. Diluting it farther and using less per load would make this even more frugal but I am happy with $10 or less per year for soap. I just really can not see spending the money on store bought laundry soap again even if we get to a place in our lives that being frugal is not as necessary.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Who's the boss?

One thing I have learned from homeschooling my kids is that they have at least as much to teach me as I have to teach them. I may know more about math and grammar than my kids do but when it come to spiritual things they are always teaching me. The faith of a child is truly a miraculous thing to witness. They have not yet had the worldly experiences that taint their views and replace their faith with doubt and fear. They hear the word of God and they just BELIEVE IT! Imagine that! How much better off would we all be if we believed the truth as soon as it was presented to us. The complications of the world lead us to incorporate complications into our spiritual lives that were never meant to be there. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is quite simple. He is God and we are to serve Him. He died for us so we should live for Him. He owes us nothing but we owe Him everything! He created us, He knows best so we should trust him. It is just that simple and the kids don't have to struggle to remember that. I thought I would share with you what Keslee reminded me of...

"Mom, when some men pray at our church I think they do it wrong because they say 'Lord help someone' but they should say 'Lord PLEASE help' because we are not the boss of God. We should be asking for His help and not telling him what to do!"

I know right!!???!!! She is 8! Why do we have to be reminded that we are not the boss of God? That is about the most simple concept there could be. God is God and by definition we could not possibly be His boss but we grow up and automatically try to take over.

Why do we do that?

When does that start?

How do we prevent our children from doing the same thing?

I don't have those answers but I know someone that does. I also know that I do not have the power to prevent my children from doing the same as they grow older but once again, I know someone that does. One more thing I do know is that I will be doing a lot more asking and even some Begging for guidance and direction in that area.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Protecting our kids from what?

This week our church and this world lost someone great but heaven has gotten so much sweeter. Brother Gayle Burroughs has met Jesus face to face. It is oh so wonderful to know where he is but it is still so very painful for him not to be here with us. I am sure his wife, Ms. Aneada, would appreciate your prayers.
Dealing with the death of a man that meant so much to every person that knew him, including my own children, has brought up a question we have dealt with before.
Do you let your children go to a funeral?
Kenyon is now 12 years old so it is not quite as "controversial" for him but some people still question if we should let a 7 and 8 year old go to a funeral. We were questioned more when Grammy died and the kids were about 2, 3, and 7 or even when we lost Uncle Boy(who was actually a step great grandpa, Leroy, but the kids always called him Uncle Boy. Cute story but not the point here.) and the kids were 5, 6, and 10.
The answer is yes we do take the kids to the funeral. I have never understood when people do not take their children to a funeral because they want to protect them. I just have to ask "protect them from what?" In today's world it seems to me there is a lot of protecting the kids from the things of God and exposing them to all the things of the world without a second thought. The penalty of sin is death. Because we are all sinners, there will be a time that we all must die. Death is part of it. How do we expect our children to understand their need for a savior if we "protect" them from the consequence of sin. It amazes me that so many parents want their children to stay pure until marriage but expose them to all the s*x on tv, movies and in today's music with little or no parental control. Parents expect their children not to use bad language but expose them to that same language in the music playing on the car stereo or maybe even use that language themselves. Kids are expected to control their growing and raging hormones but are allowed and even encouraged to have girlfriend/boyfriend relationships even in elementary school. They are allowed to put themselves in intimate situations while the adults in their lives wave good-by with no more than a time limit on when to be finished doing whatever they want in the form of a curfew. So many parents will agree that there are so many dangers in the public school system; whether it is bully's, crime, violence, immoral teachers that may prey on them, or any number of other dangers, but still put their children on that bus everyday. Parents that check on their children playing in the back yard every few minutes to be sure they are ok but send them to strangers at school or day care for 6-10 hours a day with no real way of ever knowing what may be happening to them. Now I don't claim to know all the answers, or even a large part of the answers, when it comes to raising kids but it seems pretty obvious to me that a lot of people are really doing things backwards. When I don't want my children to do something-those are the things I need to shield and protect them from. Because I do want my children to love the Lord, it is apparent that the only way for that to happen is to expose my children to things of the Lord. That means ALL things of the Lord. Even the unpleasant or painful details.
So yes, we will ALL be attending a funeral in the next few days. My children will cry with me and other members of our church family. They will remember all of the great things about Brother Burroughs. They will talk about all the fun things we did at the annual cook out at his house. They will hug Mrs. Burroughs and feel her pain. They will pray for her for months just as they have prayed for her husband for the last year. They will understand why we must all go through the pain we feel now and then they will rejoice for Brother Burroughs as he walks the streets of Gold and talks with Matthew, Peter, Luke and Jesus Himself. By allowing my children to attend the funeral of people they knew and loved, I am protecting them. I am protecting their hearts and their souls by not hiding the Lord from them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hard work or hard fun??

A couple of weeks ago we actually had a weekend that was nice and cool and was not raining. Thankfully we were able to get lots of outside work done. Monty and Kenyon worked together on the front yard. We have several bushes in front of the house that are unruly and just plain ugly. Not being trimmed at all during the winter meant that you could no longer see the windows on the front of our house. I was expecting them to be trimmed but the guys decided to just chop most of them out completely.

The roots are very deep and will take a lot to get them out but at least for now the ugly is gone.

Kenyon's job was piling the limbs near the curb so we could get ready for bulk trash pick up day. Of course the mind of a 12 year old boy looking upon a pile of cut limbs makes ya start to think...."Wonder if I could take my bike...."

"Yep! It works." A pile of limbs makes a great obstacle to drive through. Kenyon would drag more limbs to the pile then take a few runs through the middle of it then pile on some more and try again. We should learn from the kids and continue to try to make our own mundane work a little more fun.
While the guys were in the front yard, the girls and I were working on a garden. We tried a garden a couple of years ago but it was a total bust. This year we went much smaller and we started tomatoes and lettuce inside to get them going.

We had a 10X10 plot tilled and I decided to take measures to prevent the weeds from taking over. The girls helped me roll out the weed control stuff(not really sure what it is called). I then just cut holes at the spot I wanted to plant something and dug the hole. The girls helped transplant our tomato and lettuce plants and then spread mulch. Just like their brother, they were continually looking for ways to make the work more fun. They kept telling me "boy, planting a garden is really hard work!" I am not sure what part they thought was the hard part. Maybe it was burying the seed(packet and all) and then digging for the buried treasure(and not finding some of them for a few hours!); or maybe it was sifting the dirt through their fingers "looking for grass" even though it appeared to me more like throwing dirt; maybe the hard part was trying to jump over the mulched part and landing in the dirt; then again maybe it was just hard on them because I kept taking the little shovel to actually plant a seed while they were trying to dig their own holes for other reasons.

Nevertheless, we got about 1/2 the garden finished and have tomatoes, lettuce, okra and squash. It was a productive weekend day and we all had a little fun . Of course one of the best parts for the kids was....
playing in the dirt with mom. And then of course the fun of...
the clean up.
All the rain that we have had means I have not even had to water but our garden is doing great. A little over a week after the planting...
we have sprouts! The okra and squash are both coming up and the lettuce and tomatoes are doing well in their new home.

So far the weed control stuff is working great as well. I have high hopes for our little garden this year. I guess I can't call it our first garden but hopefully we will be able to have a first harvest.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


♪♪♫insert pomp and circumstance....♫♪♫

Isn't he handsome!?! That is my baby brother John. My baby brother that is now 18 years old and.....

a high school graduate!

Yep! He got his diploma even though he kept us guessing until the last minute. He went to a Christian school and they use the ACE paces. In the last WEEK of school, John finished a 15 page term paper and 10 paces. TEN PACES. And not easy paces but in classes like Algebra 2 and senior English. He did a few months worth of work in 1 week and we were all on pins and needles until we talked to him at 4pm on the last day of school and learned that he finished it all! He made it and did get to graduate! Not only that, he finished on the B honor roll just 1/10 of a point from an A. That is based on ACE grade scale-not the normal public school scale. He had to make a 93.4 average to get an A. Proof that my brother can and WILL do whatever he puts his mind to!
Here he is with his fellow graduates. Yes, he was the only senior boy. John has been a big flirt since he was about 2 years old so I am sure that he was not bothered by that at all! ☺

It was so good to get to see everybody. This is John and Heath(his cousin) with Brother Jayson. Brother Jayson is just the most awesome music director a church could ever have. He is also the writer/singer of about 20 of the greatest God honoring songs I have ever heard. Unfortunately, God saw fit to call him and his wonderful family out of his music director position at our church into a full time youth director position a few hours away. I guess it was about time he put that Bible college degree to work but we sure miss them all!

Not sure what was up with all the guys holding each other. When I got my camera back, I found John holding Heath, Heath holding John, Jayson holding Heath and John, John holding Chris, Chris holding John and maybe some others. Looks like they were all having fun so I guess that is what counts. I have also said understanding my boy is my biggest challenge. If these boys are any indication, it will be a never ending challenge.

John and his fellow graduates out of their caps and gowns.

John's buddies all came to watch him graduate.

My grandad (mom's dad) had come down a few days earlier because he has an older sister that is not doing well. He made the trip down from Washington to see her one last time. He spent the week with us here and got to watch his youngest grandson(not counting the GREAT grandsons) graduate. Don't know when the last time was that my mama got a picture of herself with her daddy and ALL of her 6 kids. AAAWWWW....good times!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Unsocializing my homeschoolers

We are a homeschool family. Like every other homeschool family, we do what works best for our family. We are not the family that gets up at 7:30 every morning and finishes school shortly after lunch. We normally START school after lunch time. Because of that, we are often not finished for the day until 5pm. The children in our neighborhood all attend public school. I have had a hard time getting them to understand that just because they are home from school at 2:30 does not mean my children are free to go play. I tend to get very impatient when the little boy down the street rings my door bell every twenty minutes just to ask "are you done yet?" When public schools have a day out does not mean that we will not be doing school. There is one little boy in the neighborhood that has told my kids that they do not have to do school and can come and play because there is no school that day. This same little boy feels that it is ok to ring my door bell at 8:30 am on the weekends. With the hours of Monty's job and me doing a paper route in the middle of the night, we DO NOT get up at 8:30 on weekends (or most any day!). I also do not like for my children to play with the neighborhood kids everyday. These children are outside from the time they get home from school until the sun goes down. I believe playing outside all day is great but I don't know when they ever have any family time. When my kids are with their friends every single day, problems arise in our home. They start to focus purely on their friends. They start talking to me in a way they know not to talk to me in. They fight more with each other. The family relationships we work so hard to preserve seem to go out the window fast.
I had to find a way to UNSOCIALIZE my homeschooled kids. A way to keep the door bell from disrupting our school time. A way to keep the door bell from disrupting our family times. I decided to make a sign for the door that was simple enough for even the 6 year old neighbor boy to understand.

This is now what they see as they step on to my porch. I hang this sign on the door at night and leave it there until I decide my kids can go outside(in the front yard) and play. They are still able to go in the back yard because we have a privacy fence. When I feel that me kids have had TOO much friend time, I just leave this sign up all day long. We can often hear little boys on the porch reading the sign but we never hear that door bell ring! That may be because Keslee asked me what I would do if they rang the bell anyway and I said "I will just whoop their butts!" Keslee told them all what I said. Of course I would never spank them without their parents permission (even though a few of them really need it) but as long as they think I will-I don't have to worry about that door bell!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

89er days

April 22, 1889 was the date of the first land run in Oklahoma. Every year we celebrate 89er days with parades, carnivals, rodeos, and tons of other activities. My mother and my youngest brother John also share a birthday on that same date. Not many people get to say that their city throws a parade every year for your birthday. hehe:) We have several other family members with birthdays around the same time and 89er days have always been a time of family fun for us. This year John turned 18 years old. I can't believe my little brother is 18!!! To start the festivities, his other brother and brother in laws had to chase him down....

tackle him...

and give him his 18 birthday spankings! No birthday would be complete without that!!

It did rain during the parade (which is not uncommon) but it was such a nice, light rain that it did not ruin it. I always remember this HUGE American flag being carried in the parade when I was younger.

It was always one of my favorites parts and I was so glad to see the boy scouts bring it back out this year.
Luckily the rain did not stick around all day and the kids got to enjoy the carnival.

I still can not believe that ALL of my kids are big enough to ride everything. The girls are not yet ready to try the flipping rides like the zipper but Kenyon was able to get his cousin Alyssa to ride with him for her first(and maybe last) time. One of the girls favorites is
the zero gravity. They will ride it over and over and every time they do I am so thankful that the Law of gravity is a constant!!! Can you find them on there???

You can't tell by the look on Nathaniel's face in this photo, but everyone really had a great time. We always have so much fun on 89ers but I am glad it only comes once a year. It was a busy, fun filled day and NOBODY had a problem falling asleep that night. (by the way-this ride had not started when the picture was taken and Nathaniel decided to get off before it did! )

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When homeschooling doesn't work

I ♥ homeschooling. I will just let you know that I am "one of those homeschoolers." believe that home school is the best option, it is for everyone, and ANYONE could do it if they wanted to. I realize that there are several factors in our world today that often times make it harder or seem impossible for some families to homeschool. If our country would have stayed on the path our fore father's intended and continued to seek the Lord in all of our endeavors, I believe homeschooling would still be the norm instead of the exception. Unfortunately I have experienced one incident when homeschooling does not work today.

As you may know, I have homeschooled my sister, Jacinta, for the last 2 years. She joined our homeschool because she is just a year younger than my son and my mom works and does a paper route. She had been enrolled in a Christian school since Kindergarten but my mom and step dad found themselves with financial difficulties that made continuing to pay tuition impossible for them at the time. I thought that I was helping them and helping her by taking her education on myself. The first year went really well. We all enjoyed it and learned a lot. Well, that is not true-we did not ALL enjoy it. My husband did not like it. Monty feels like I take to much on. I try to be everything for everyone. I always want to help others and often times it is at the expense of my own responsibilities. Monty told me that he did not want me to continue teaching Jacinta. When this school year started, my mom and step dad's financial situation had not improved and my mother's jobs make her time very limited. I decided to continue with Jacinta's education.


It did not work because I was in direct disobedience to my husband which means I was also being disobedient to God. I did not submit to his will as the Bible instructs me to do. It did not work because I can not "home" school a student that does not live in my home. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the relationships that develop between all the members of the family. Being together and learning together is natural. Jacinta was not getting any of those benefits. She was getting angrier everyday that she had to come to my house. She did not like for her sister acting as her mother while she was here. We are to the point that we do not even like each other anymore. I realized that I am not helping Jacinta or my mom. I have tried to take on a responsibility that is not my own. In doing that, I became an enabler. Just like anytime we outsource any of our own responsibilities, we do not deal with the problem at hand and just let the other person or government entity take over. Nothing is solved.
Even though this years school year has been very difficult and at times I wonder if we have actually progressed academically, I learned many lessons. First and for most, I learned that I should have listened to my husband. No matter how much I tried, I could not make things work and I know that is largely due to the fact that I was going against my husband's wishes each day that I continued. My own convictions to never put my own children back in public schools have also gotten stronger. I have seen first had the fact that only I have my children's best interest at heart. Even though Jacinta is my sister, I love her, and I want only what is best for her (which is what every public school teacher would tell you), it is not the same. There were many times that she had a bad attitude (she is 13!) and wanted to argue about different lessons. Although I tried, I did not feel the same need to make sure she "got it" that I feel with Kenyon in the same situation. I will always go the extra mile for my own children. That same instinct is just not there for someone else's child no matter how much you love them.
These lessons were hard to learn and even harder to admit to myself and then admit to my mom. Luckily, it only took this one year and now I want to make everything right. I have told my mom and step dad that I will not be teaching Jacinta after this school year. I do not know what avenue they are going to use for the rest of her education but they will figure that out. It is not my place to make those decisions. I have to concentrate on my own family; teaching my own children; honoring my own husband. I am soooo excited about this next year of school. It will actually be the first time that it will be just me and my 3 children. It will be a whole new dynamic for us. I can't wait! If the joy that I have been experiencing in my marriage since the day I made the decision to not homeschool Jacinta is any indication-NEXT YEAR IS GONNA BE AWESOME!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

You know what this means.....

Here is another hint....

You got it yet???
YEP! You guessed it....
Last weekend was the 3rd homeschool convention that I have gotten to go to. The last two years I went with my mom and we tried to sit in on as many workshops as possible. They were always good and we both always learned a lot. This year my mom was not able to go. I did not want to go by myself so I thought I may not go at all. That was until I found out.....
I was so excited to see her. Her husband, Tanner, had to work on Friday so they did not get to OKC until late Friday. Since the convention is on Friday and Saturday, we decided to just get a shopping pass for Saturday and skip the workshops. Amy had never gotten to go to a convention so it was really helpful for her to get to see everything available and talk with the vendors about how it all works. We spent the entire day walking and talking and BUYING! It was a lot of fun and we both got everything we will need for the next year. We also ran into a few ladies that are very important to me and Amy got to meet them. I have talked about them so often to Amy and they have heard lots about her so I think they all kinda felt like they already knew each other. It was great to get to catch up a little.
In the past I have gotten to look at all the curriculum and decide what I wanted and then order it later. This year I pretty much knew what things I was looking for and I actually got to buy at the convention. Here is what I got. I have decided that I will do My Father's world-Rome to the Reformation with all 3 kids since the girls are reading pretty well know. This will really help since I won't have to teach 3 different levels everyday. They will each just do the assignments within their own level. I also got Truth in Science for Kenyon. My Father's World uses Apologia but I wanted to supplement more for Kenyon so we will do both. I got to hear a talk by Dr. Sharp last year and really fell in love with this science. I am so excited to start it. Keslee will continue to work on her Eagle's wings science that she has not finished yet and I may order another workbook for Kalysa. All three kids are going to use Math U see this next year. I am waiting on Writing Strands. They were sold out at the convention but I was able to order it and it will be mailed with no shipping costs. Kenyon is still working his way through Intermediate Language lessons and the girls will start on Primary Language lessons. Kenyon will also be finishing his Personal Help for Boys. I also go a few extras like a unit study guide for Little House in the Big Woods. We may try to go through it this summer. I got some more penmenship books-Keslee is gonna start cursive- and several paperback classic books for reading.
It feels so good to have everything ready for the next school year and I am so excited about the upcoming year. Of course the kids can't help get excited when a new load of books arrive and the girls are already asking if we can start "new school" instead of finishing what we have. Kenyon is excited because we will be building a castle and learning to play chess. Monty and he play some but he has already been reading the new chess book to learn all the tricks. I think he is excited about some of the other books as well but he just doesn't want me to ever know about it. Now I will be spending the next few days going through the different teacher manuals to prepare myself for the next year.
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