A Day in the Life 4(of some very busy kids)

One of the things I am going to attempt to do this year is make a weekly “Day in the Life” post. Knowing myself it will be rather random despite my intention but if I try to remember it will be a good way to remind myself of how much the kids are actually learning on a day to day basis.

I got Brain Age for my DS from my hubby for Christmas. I was mildly excited–not thrilled because I HATE math games (struggling with dyscalculia makes math NOT FUN, not even Soduko.) Anyway I tried it out and spent some time stuck at “walking speed ” doing math problem after math problem. Blech. Eventually, however, I figured out how to unlock new games, some of which were reading and spatial which are my areas of expertise.

The cool things is the kids saw me playing and wanted to try. Rachel and Esther both set up accounts and even attacked the 20 and 100 timed math problems and the reading aloud (which are taken from books I read in late high school and college–like The Turn of the Screw and The Warden.) Issac has even tackled the non-reading ones like number memory. This little game has done what I have struggled to do with the oldest two–both of whom struggle with dyslexia/dyscalculia. They are writing numbers as answers to timed math problems trying to beat their old times (yes you use the stylus to write the numbers and it misreads if you write the number backwards, meaning that Esther has FINALLY learned how to write her teens and higher numbers in the right order and Rachel has figured out the difference between 2 and 5 when writing.) Praise the Lord!

I should mention that I have spent years working on these things with them–I have tried doing daily practice, fighting with them about working, battling it out to get them to do a single worksheet. And along comes one little video game that keeps daily records, has them write and gives them incentives that they enjoy (persevering means that you get an extra large stamp and may be able to get your brainage lower (mine is down to 25 from the 80 I got when I started.) The girls are determined to get into first place against me and this stuff is NOT EASY.

What else have we been doing? Watching a Martha Stewart Baking video together because the kids picked it out at the library (we have a slew of new recipes to adapt!) Watching some of my childhood favorites (Goonies and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and talking about the cultural significance of the films as well as all the historical characters that showed up in Bill and Ted. We have also watched the making of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at Rachel’s request–she has been trying to figure out how they make movies and so wanted to watch the documentary. This also led to some great discussion on how we learn and how movies are made.

Rachel was feeling a bit icky again (teeth are coming in) and watched a cartoon they got for Christmas–Around the World in 80 Days. This lead to an hour long discussion and questioning about how they lost a day. She explained to me her theory (she knows her Narnia and thought that time went faster and slower in different places) and then we discussed how it worked for real using ball I drew a map on and then later watching some live web cams around the world to see what it looked like at our time. (Another thing I had already “taught ” but which obviously didn’t stick although now she really gets it.)

The kids also spent several hours playing that they were farmers (we got Harvest Moon so they decided to play it in “real life” pretend play–I would explain but it was way to elaborate and included using Magnetix to make plants that “grew” each day). They also spent several hours playing “school” in the school room–Rachel was teaching Esther and Issac reading and some other subjects (Esther for fun–she reads better than Rachel, Issac because he wants to learn and is trying o figure it out.) They also played outside in the snow for some time (which I later found out they were walking and sled riding to and from “school” and that that was all part of the big, elaborate game), cleaned the kitchen up for dinner, did laundry, and worked on Esther’s new paint-by-number. It has been a busy day and lots of learning without “teaching” has occurred. In fact, a lot of things that I had TRIED to teach them when they weren’t interested were learned a few minutes because they wanted to learn it. Very cool.

Update: Just after I posted this I went to read to the kids (we just finished the last Elyon book , Rachel has decided to make her own way through the next series by the same author and is on chapter 5 so we are instead rereading the Half-Magic books after our Bible reading each night.) The kids were being awfully quiet so I went to find them–I found Esther doing the math problems on Brain Age, again (btw those are addition, subtraction, multiplication 0-9), Rachel reading the book Esther is pictured with, and Issac taking a bath because he wanted to.

About the pictures:

The only non-Esther shot is Rachel in the car yesterday right after she discovered that she did, indeed, love Almonds (our favorite car food). The rest are Esther while she showed me some of the things they had been doing today as well as a bit later when I caught her playing the math part of Brain Age, again. The 3 table tent was their farm house. The rake was part rake, part horse. The book is a new favorite from the library: Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat. Oh, and the crazy falling shot was her falling onto the old papasan cushion that they decided to keep after the chair broke and which was where they were planting their “garden” today. Oh, and don’t mind the mess–they were playing dress up for the farmer thing which required that the dress-up box be dumped in order to find everything. πŸ™‚

Krispy Kreme imitation recipe

I had several email requests for this so am just going to post it here. πŸ™‚ I found this several years ago and I have no clue where but it is a favorite of ours and has saved us quite a bit of money (especially since we have a place that sells Krispy Kremes within walking distance. ) It is some work to do but the kids think it is fun and with our food allergies I have found ways to substitute things the kids CAN eat for those they can’t–though they aren’t quite as good that way. πŸ™‚ I have also been known to use Splenda instead of the sugar which worked all right. πŸ™‚ For doughnuts that REALLY taste like Krispy Kremes you have to follow the recipe and use what it says–just saying.m Oh, and having a doughnut cutter REALLY makes a difference.




  • 2 pkgs. yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4–6 tbl. hot water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4–6 tbl. hot water
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips


Dissolve yeast in warm water in 2-1/2-quart bowl. Add milk,salt,eggs, shortening and 2 cups flour. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. Cover and let rise until double, 50-60 minutes. (Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.) Turn dough onto floured surface; roll around lightly to coat with flour.

Gently roll dough 1/2-inch thick with floured rolling pin. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Cover and let rise until double, 30-40 minutes.

Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with wide spatula. Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface.
Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side.
Remove carefully from oil (do not prick surface); drain.

Dip the doughnuts into creamy glaze set on rack; when slightly cooled spread chocolate frosting on top.

Heat butter until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING: Heat butter and chocolate over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

On Being Frugal and Eating Out

This post got me thinking about the changes that we have made over the last 11 years regarding our finances. We have gone from being very in debt spendthrifts who ate out constantly (it was our only “date” type activity other than movies) and bought all kinds of things when we wanted, and who bounced more than a few checks while living paycheck to paycheck them to having no credit card or car debt (and now no hospital debt), almost never eating out, buying all clothing items at the thrift shop, and slowly building up a “cushion”. We don’t use a budget, because neither of us work well with a budget (we naturally overspend when we have a budget) and budgeting doesn’t work well when you are trying to give freely without one hand knowing what the other hand is doing. God is blessing our lack of budget giving and our “keep a general idea how much money is spendable in the bank” attitude. We no longer stress about money and now both of us, together, balance the check book and hold each other accountable about where money is being spent.

That is not really the point of this post but it does explain where we came from and how we got here–a little anyway. So how did we go from obsessively eating out to NEVER eating out?

  • The easiest part is that food allergies make eating out more hassle than it is worth. When we discovered our food allergies it was too hard to find someplace everyone could eat. It helped break the habit. Quitting cold turkey for two years REALLY helped.
  • When we discovered food enzymes and were able to eat out again we had to be careful and analyze WHY we were eating out.
  • Once we understood WHY we could figure out how to replicate those aspects at home. In our case it was having a nice meal together, without a lot of fuss, of our favorite foods in a nice atmosphere. Replicating those aspects at home turned out to be easier (and cheaper) than expected.

Here is how we did it:

  • I figured out our favorite types of food then looked for quality, cheap alternatives at Aldi. The kids and I used ethnic foods as a homeschool project and got all kinds of kids ethnic food recipe books out and tried what looked good. We love Mexican, Italian, and Chinese foods which are all cheap and easy to make at home. Figure out what everyone’s favorite eating out foods are then figure out how best to replicate those at home. If it is something that has a special recipe a lot of websites have “secret recipe” copies that are awfully close (I have a GREAT imitation Krispie Kreme recipe if someone wants to try it.) The small amount of work making it is well worth the $20-$40 saved by NOT EATING OUT.
  • Changing the atmosphere in the kitchen helped as well. When we do an “eating out” meal we set the table extra nice and make sure the kitchen is really clean. A lot of it a matter of attitude–if you spend some time cleaning up so you can “eat out” at home you will feel great about doing it. Get the kids involved–they LOVE to help when they are thinking of it as “eating out”. (Getting out the Chinese bowls and chopsticks or setting the table like a fancy restaurant or even eating off paper plates changes the feel.
  • Make the food ahead. I keep some of our favorite “eating out foods” in the deep freeze for when we are in the mood to go out. Since convenience is part of why eating out is fun, having the foods ready to go makes it easy to switch gears and eat in. If you are into Chinese takeout, Aldi carries a great range of Chinese specialties that taste the same as the restaurant version and cost less than the price of a single meal to feed a family of 5. If you get the whole range they have available you can have a Chinese takeout meal made at home (with everything from egg rolls and stir fry, noodles or rice plus General Tso’s Chicken ) ready within 5-10 minutes with no driving for the price of a single meal of the same from the restaurant– plus have enough leftovers for two whole meals for your family of 5.
  • When I realize how much money we save just by staying home then I don’t look at the price of the foods the same–sure the foods are slightly higher priced than what I would normally pay for a homecooked meal–but when you consider that if you went out, by the time you pay for gas, tip, and the restaurant bill that same meal which cost $5 to prepare and 10 minutes time would cost 45 minutes time and $45. The same goes for fast food joints. Keep some quick meals of the sort you enjoy at home in the freezer for those times where you are tempted to go out.

Also, set aside a little for the money you save by NOT going out to purchase something you enjoy doing as a family. One of the best things we did was find something else we enjoyed doing as a family to replace going out–for us it is playing video games together or going to the park or walking around the mall (not buying stuff.) Considering that for us not going out saves enough money to buy one video game that will give the family hours of fun is a pretty good incentive to eat at home. When the kids start bugging to go out we point out that a trip to the Chinese restaurant is the same price as two DS games (which they can play together since they each saved up for a DS) or one computer game (which Daddy plays while they watch) or two purchased DVD’s or a month of free rentals at Netflix puts the going out into perspective. If you don’t like those think about what your family likes to do together, then use those things as an incentive to eat at home and use a little of the saved money to do a fun activity together. One of the cool benefits we found is that by doing this we changed the “feel good” aspect of eating out–if you train your children to associate feeling good and being a family with food you are setting them up for trouble when they are older. Move the focus of family away from food and food becomes just one more way to be together instead of way to feel like family.

If you are here from WFMW you can click here to see more tips.

Wordless Wednesday

or not so wordless. The following were taken while I baked cookies to put in Christmas presents this afternoon. The kids had just spent the morning outside sled riding and decided to have a “Christmas Tea” for lunch which they did completely on their own without my help, including the getting dressed up bit. This consisted of putting on Christmas music, dressing up in their best clothes (Issac in his suit, Esther in her fairy costume, and Rachel in an old prom dress from the thrift store), cleaning the kitchen so they could have a spot to dance, and drinking peppermint and licorice teas while eating animal crackers and dancing to the music. Cleaning up the kitchen entailed putting away the various projects they had left on the table from the day before–a spider web built from construx, a spider and lawnmower built from K’nex, a stuffed ladybug for the spider to eat, some homemade flavored marshmallows that didn’t go quite right. Issac was a little gentleman and served the ladies who practiced not being the leader while dancing. This went on for 3 hours while I baked cookies and packed them up. I should mention that I had also just cleaned the fridge which is why there are several garbage bags in the background which my husband hadn’t taken out just yet. ( He is sweet like that.:))


There are two videos, the first is Issac dancing with Esther, the second Issac dancing with Rachel.

An Unschooling Homeschooling Giftlist

So many of the big sites have Christmas giftlists that are great, if you had all the money to buy the stuff and knew the exact people they are talking about, maybe. Geekparenting.com did a cool one of geeky stuff for babies and really all you need is to hand a geek a Tigerdirect or Thinkgeek catalog and have the perfect wishlist. But I was thinking, what about an unschooling family? What about a nontraditional homeschooling family? The following is a list of the cool educational/fun things I have been way too tempted to buy around the net.

Acrobotics: We have a set of these and the kids LOVE them. They are actually my husband’s and the kids often beg to play with them. They have used these not only to build strange towers with geometric magnets that I picked up on clearance at Saples but have learned all about how magnets worked, poles, repelling, and how various joints work. (I should mention that they learned all about 3-d shapes using the cheap plastic geometric shapes magnets I got at Staples. VEry cool.)

Tetris Magnets: These are just too cool. Plus what better way to learn spatial relationships (other than Blockus of course, which is almost as cool.)

Blokus: We LOVE Blokus. This is a game that is easy for even a 4 year old to grasp and which the whole family enjoys. It helps children develop problem solving skills and spatial relationships.

What better way to introduce kids to the periodic able than on a shower curtain. My kids LOVE to take baths and read EVERYTHING they see. Having a giant periodic table in a place they are likely to view it and spend a long time viewing it is perfect. If we had this it would go on the inside of our decorative curtain facing the tub. We had a giant aquarium one up that way and the kids took great delight in finding all the fish and turtles and figuring out what they were. Of course this is also cool.

Having killed off several ant farms in my life time I find this VERY cool. Especially great for families like ours who due to allergies cannot have pets. What a great way to study ants.

Giant plush microbes. Much better than beanie babies. πŸ™‚ What kid wouldn’t love their own plushie E. Coli or Lice.


If you are not so sure about the microbes, what about a diy music box kit. I know my oldest who LOVES music boxes and always wants to take them apart would LOVE this.

Then there are the CRanium games. We LOVE Cranium games and still play Hullabaloo even though it is a bit young for all three kids it is great for listening skills. This one looks like a GREAT game for all. Since we have several ages playing and all three kids LOVE playing games we like to look for games that are good across the age ranges. This one looks awesome.

So many other things out there but that is good for now. πŸ™‚ The point is that there are many books and activities out there that are fun AND educational. My son is getting The Dangerous Book for Boys which my husband and I perused before I wrapped it. There are so many cool things in it that remind me of the activities my brother and I did growing up. I think the girls are going to get as much out of it as he will. πŸ™‚

What my non-traditional students did Friday, all day.

Remember I said that the kids would get tired of playing Fate and go find something constructive to do. Two days of Fate was enough. They did play this morning then totally got caught up in this idea.


It is a fort made of 3 nap/exercise mats.


Some duct tape.


Some structural items (yard sticks, a drafters straight edge, other random stuff).


A sheet, the pages from Geosafari, and lots of paper.


Those are flower beds around it and yes that is a mail slot in the door and a chimney.

The walls were Issac’s idea, which inspired Rachel and Esther. They have been working on it for 4 or 5 hours now and playing house in between building. And are now rebuilding it because Issac’s idea of fun is to knock things over. The girls are trying to find a way to make it more structurally sound without more duct tape–because they used all the duct tape.

Update: They gave up and decided to make three houses out of something stabler–our three card tables –they added doors to eac, and roofs, and flower gardens. My living room looks like Hobbiton.

A Day in the Life 3: Unschool vs Traditional School– a Reminder to Self


This past few weeks have been a time of waffling in regards to various areas of our lives. Shamus and I both have been too easily tossed in the winds as far as our decisions have gone, making a decision we feel God pulling us towards only to second guess a day later. I long to work through them here but some of them I can’t because they are too personal or would border on gossip. The school question, however, I am willing to put out there although I know some will not understand and may even judge me because of it. Before I explain let me tell you that in all of these questions of decision we have been waffling internally yet God is keeping us head on–giving us instant reminders as soon as we begin to waffle. Today was just such a day.

As I have mentioned before, we have a classroom in the basement set up in the traditional classroom style. It is especially good for Rachel to know it is there–it is a reminder that we are responsible for her education and that we take it seriously–even if most of her learning does not occur there. In fact, we haven’t used it in a few months–other than as an art studio where they set up shop with oils and acrylics while I worked on an oil painting.

So, if they haven’t done their workbooks in a few weeks what are they doing with themselves all day? How can they possibly be learning if they aren’t taught? Shamus and I had this very discussion this morning because he occasionally likes them to bring him a workbook page so he can see what they are learning. He is very open to the new style of teaching I have taken on but is nervous because he hasn’t seen any evidence. I suggested he ask them what they are learning or listen to their conversations to see if they are learning anything new. He agreed and went in to have a chat with them. (Because I am under PA tutor law instead of traditional homeschool law I am considered their primary educator–it is because I have a teacher’s certification and 5 years of college that I can do this but it also means that Shamus is not considered their “teacher”. He recognizes this and holds me accountable instead of taking over teaching–though he will likely teach them programming and higher math as they show interest.)


So what did he find out and what have they been doing?

They spent all of yesterday decorating their room for Christmas. I put up an artificial tree in their room with lights and Christmas balls and handed them reams of construction paper, glue, tape, and scissors. They spent hours cutting and pasting making tons of paper chains and other decorations and taping them around their room. While two were doing that the other one was playing Fate–a D&D type computer game with NO plot. If you have never played D&D and are a Christian you are probably nervous. Don’t be. Most of the game consists of trying to catch different types of fish, fighting evil creatures, and leveling up so you can get better stuff. You have to earn and save money, make wise spending decisions, choose different armor and other items based on percentage bonuses (yes, all three are reading what they need to do and understand percentages and how different percentages of different bonuses affect different functions of their character. Believe me this is tricky stuff that I can barely wrap my brain around–harder than figuring out percent off sales when shopping by a long run because you have to take in multiple affects.) They also had to keep track of how long each child had been on the game to decide who’s turn it was next and Rachel spent a long time helping Issac figure out the basic reading and how percentages work–this had him going around the house reading plenty of other things.


They also wrote me a grocery list of the items they felt we needed based on what each child liked to eat. They looked in each of the cupboards for things that were missing or that we only had one of and helped me plan the list by making their own. They had to look up spellings or sound out those they were unsure of. And if they wanted it it had to be on the list. (I am talking my big monthly shopping list here–not even a once a week list.)


We have also been reading about 4 chapters or so of the Elyon books per day–me reading aloud as they old laundry (we were a bit behind on the laundry and this has gotten us caught up.) Issac has also been helping me figure out the colors for a new painting and how they go on the paper. This goes far beyond “what color is this” and into “what color do I need to add to get this to the exact right shade of red.” Also, Rachel taught herself how to make pie crust by messing the first one up and then making the second one right because she didn’t follow the instructions the first time–she made a pie for herself and one for her brother and sister (small ones.) She also took on rice making and several other recipes because I was busy on a project I need to finish up.

Add to that them listening to old radio shows and my old records, playing board games (we played Where in the USA is Carman Sandiego yesterday which degraded into “how fast can you find the state”–I was amazed to see how many Issac knew.) They also watched “Mythbusters” online last night–Rachel just listened and we discussed their ideas of what would and should work and how they tested their theories. There have been many more goings on–including the girls playing Fate while Issac and I went shopping.


Issac and I had a huge discussion about God’s love for us and whether He loves us even when He allows bad things to happen–for a 6 year old he has a better grasp of this than many Christians. He also helped me keep track of the grocery budget, decide how many of each item we needed to last us a month, and loaded and unloaded the cart. When we returned home the girls put away what we had and helped decide what items we just weren’t eating and those will go to the food cupboard. Putting a month’s worth of groceries away is a big deal (especially for a family of 5) and requires much ingenuity of stacking and storing. :)) We are now off to visit our final grocery store and my grandmother, dropping things off at the food cupboard and picking up some work for myself.


Writing it all down is a wonderful reminder of how much they are learning and growing and living. (And don’t worry about the video game–they will be sick of it in a few days and have some other project they are working on–they always do. I write this up to them having the freedom to play for long periods of time without someone complaining about it–when you are free to do something as long as you like you get thoroughly sick of it. Believe me, I know. :))

Finally–you may be wondering how God reminded me that the kids are growing and learning a lot? After our discussion this morning I went out. When I got home I suddenly had a slew of unschooling sites in my feed reader with posts about the benefits, including one that linked back to my previous “unschooling” post.

Oh yeah, I forgot.


*The photos are all from this year–I haven’t had time to take pictures this week but these all reflect things the kids have done this week. πŸ™‚

A Day in the Life 2: Getting Geeky and Learning to Play


Today I set up two computers, with the help of my son. One is missing a sound card and a monitor but otherwise works–the other is all good. Yeah!!! We were suffering without a computer for the kids, and once we get a monitor (getting some through Freecycle–our extra is also on the blink) and I pick up a sound card we will have two computers for three kids, which is much better odds.


When I realized that the first computer was missing a sound card and why (we had cannibalized it for another computer) I began searching our boxes of old computer stuff–I knew we had an old shrink wrapped Soundblaster card somewhere. I was thrilled when I found it. A brand new Soundblaster sound card–an oldy but goodie. However I was shocked when I checked the specs–Windows 3.1 with floppy disks. Hmmm. Shamus thought it would probably work so I opened it anyway.


When I looked in the computer I realized we had a bit of a problem. This card was older than we thought–it had an Xt-bus instead of an ISA or PCI like the computer had. For those who have no clue what I am talking about–imagine trying to fit an old floppy disk in a cd rom drive or a European plug into an American outlet–no worky . This thing was OLD–an antique. Anyway from a geek point of view it was cool–awfully tempting to keep just because it was that old–from the late 80’s in fact. Instead I handed it to the kids and let them play with it. Yes, I let my kids play with an old Soundblaster card–they spent an hour pretending it was the map of a city and pretending that there were cars driving on it, etc. What is really funny is that someone is trying to sell one right now on Ebay for $135. It is nearly useless because it is such old technology (it cost nearly $100 new–no we didn’t buy it, it was given to us when a business was going to throw the old stuff out.) The kids had fun with it though and learned quite a bit about how and why it wouldn’t work with this computer.


Now all I have to do is pick up the monitors from Freecycle, see if the guy with the monitors has any newer old sound cards lying around (all geeky people do–if not I will ask my dad, I know he has a few), and set the second computer up! I had considered making a monitor out of our old dead laptop but think the components to make it work would be too expensive for right now–think I will save that for a cool school project.


The last leaves standing.

The kids had another geeky thing going on today. Aside from taking walks, playing board games, and reading aloud they made up a new game. It is based on the Zelda game but involved real children playing the characters and trying to sneak by while one child plays the guard. If you have never played a Zelda game this involves one person turning very slowly looking only forward as she turns and the other people trying to sneak around her and stay out of her line of site. I am sure it has some useful application–like if you are every trying to stay out of a searchlight, or um, well something. Anyway they had fun doing it and even made level cards to say what level the players had made it to. πŸ™‚ It was interesting to watch.


Our yellow fall.

This was especially interesting since Rachel and I had a huge conversation about gaining responsibility, God’s kingdom and His view of maturity, and play. She thought there was some written rule that adults couldn’t play anymore–she got this impression from the way all the girls at Sunday School were sure that it was NOT okay to play with dolls once you reached a certain age.


After a long conversation she began to understand that play changes as you grow and that children’s play is preparation from growing up–practicing adult behaviors, imagining solutions to various problems, and developing interests. This shocked her so much that she wanted to call all her friends and tell them–“someone has to tell them, Mom!”


Farm near our house.

After talking a bit more she understood that as adults we still play, it just changes because we are no longer practicing for adult things. The good thing is that suddenly she wasn’t afraid of growing up anymore since she knew that we didn’t mind her playing dolls and such for as long as she liked. The down side is that later in the day she fought with her sister because she was playing “baby games” on the computer and Rachel was offended because she found them boring to watch. Sigh.


Sheep on the hill.

A Day in the Life 1: Yet another list of what I did today (because you can’t get enough of them. ;p)

For some reason I seem to be doing a lot of “lists of things we did” posts. Probably because writing it down proves how much I accomplished even when it doesn’t feel like I did anything–and it also is a good reminder that “yes, the kids learned quite a bit today”. Frugal post coming later.


  • Today I was up at 5:30 am, no real reason, just because my brain was full of all the stuff that had to happen today.
  • Spent about an hour reading everyone in my Google reader–I think roughly 65 posts and listening to Rachel chatter while trying to talk to my husband (morning is our talky time.)


  • I got the kids up because we had to be at a meeting by 9:30am.
  • Had to help Esther and Issac find clothes that they liked and which fit (they are all in growth spurts and nothing seems to fit just right.)


  • Made the kids toast and eggs while making myself some coffee and eating a small bar of low sugar dark chocolate with all natural crunchy peanut butter–breakfast of champions I know.
  • Got the Rachel to get the lunch basket and enzymes and help her brother and sister find shoes that suited their clothes (believe me, finding shoes is ALWAYS a big deal in our house, even though there are only two places where they are supposed to be stored.)


  • Gathered my things for the meeting, updated Shamus on the plans for the day, had Rachel callGRandma and let her know we would visit later.
  • Got kids packed in the car and headed to the meeting 25 minutes away. Did I mention it was COLD!


  • Got 5 minutes from the house, realized Rachel had forgotten the enzymes, which the kids can’t eat without so drove back home and got them.
  • 10 minutes later back on the road and headed 30 minutes south toward the meeting.


  • Spend an hour working out the plans for the new Lighthouse website that will match their new brochures while the kids read books and sorted change to help them out (they are a non-profit ministry and always have little jobs the kids can help with while I work on the site.)


  • Head 10 minutes north to the other job I have to get done in the coming weeks, picked up the cd of images I need for the site and discussed the images for the other part of the site–which I will get next week.
  • Head south again to my grandmother’s. On the way there we discussed how driving works, which led to how the steering wheel works and then how combustion engines work.


  • Once there we helped Grandma with some house work.
  • Got a call from a dear bloggy friend–one of the only people I know who’s daughter has similar issues to Rachel. So nice to know I am not alone.


  • Ate lunch with Grandma.
  • Allowed Issac and Esther to watch some cable tv (they never see it unless at a grandparent’s house. They chose to watch Between the Lions which is right where Issac is in his reading.)


  • While they watched Rachel read comics, did a puzzle with grandma, and we talked about how things were when when she was a girl. This lead to a discussion of how people traveled then (she was one of 13 children and was born in 1929). We talked about how hoboes used to come to her door and how her mother (widowed when my grandmother was in 8th grade) would feed them and give them a room for the night. This lead to discussions of how social programs that force people to give money to the government to help people have freed people from feeling an obligation to help one another out of their own unselfishness.


  • Rachel threw a temper tantrum (she isn’t feeling great) so instead of going and buying a joke book as they requested we headed to the grocery store to pick up some things for Rachel.
  • On the way home stopped to take a photo of my grandparent’s old house, which just sold to a nice young couple. I need to do a painting of it for my grandmother for Christmas–this is the house she had lived in since she was 6 years old, then off and on while married.


  • The kids took crazy pictures of the fall foliage and a lot of vehicles and power lines on the way home.
  • Got home and read emails while the kids watched daddy play a game and helped him solve problems.


  • Realized the craft show was in two days and the kids wanted to make some things to sell so they could use it to buy each other Christmas presents and send some cool stuff to our friends who are missionaries in Burkina Fasa.
  • Took Rachel to Michael’s, leaving Issac and Esther watching a movie they can’t watch when Rachel is home: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


  • I had forgotten that it was rush hour–the drivers were INSANE. I had one guy sit on my tale the first part of the drive, then another pull out in front of me, all kinds of other craziness. A definite reminder that the Christmas season is coming–every one starts driving like lunatics (since I usually do all my running in the day time I am seldom out after 5:00pm so I don’t often see masses of people in a hurry to get somewhere.) One the way there Rachel and I discussed the types of things people are likely to buy at a craft show around the holidays, and what types of things the kids could make that might sell.


  • We got to Michael’s, spent some time looking at what was on sale–we decided that in order to make something worth trying to sell and still make any money she needed to buy things that supplemented what we had at home and which she and her brother and sister could make and have it look nice. She decided on getting some vintage style buttons to make a button bouquet and some ribbon to try to make some angels like the ones ME sent us. She also decided on some chocolate since she can help me make some of those to sell (I have some really cute coffee mugs I got on clearance that will look adorable full of chocolates.) I also picked up the paint and brushes I needed (did I mention oil painting is EXPENSIVE?) and the whole point of the trip, some 2.5 x 3.5 frames to put my little art cards in for the show.


  • We went through the line 3 TIMES!!!! First for the stuff I went for, then Rachel found some cat and dog masks on clearance (she wants to be a cat next Halloween and they all play dress up a lot) and had to buy those and a jingle bell for her self–don’t ask. (Okay she convinced me by explaining she wanted it for her sled–they have been sledding on the wet leaves in the dark and her brother and sister keep not getting out of the way and since we need to be extra careful that she not hit her head, well she is sure this will help. I am not sure but it was $1 and she bought it herself.) Finally we went back and got some Wilkins chocolate because the candy store was already closed so I couldn’t get Merkins. (Did I mention that at the grocery store they gave the kids Marburger hats? They did, and RAchel wore hers until she got home–and then wore the cat ears the rest of the night.)


  • We then ran to the mall (another place full of lunatics and it will only get worse in the coming weeks) and picked up a few joke books. The kids LOVE to tell jokes and often make up their own (much to my dismay. Here is a free sample: why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to go eat at the restaurant over their in his pajamas. Yes, that is what I have to deal with. The good news is that my three are all visual learners and remember what they read–joke books are a good thing. :))


  • When we got home we made some angels from a pile of handkerchiefs and doilies I had.
  • The kids got snack and I wrote my Laced with Grace post for today.


And my plans for today? Write my frugal post, finish a painting, start a new painting, clean the kitchen thoroughly so th kids and I can bake some cookies and make 2 and a half pounds of chocolates. I also need to get a few packages to the post office, pick up some thrift shop vases. Plus start work on two additional web pages, supervise the kids making some crafts for tomorrow, have them figure out how much each cost to make so they can price them. Get my things together and get the car packed for tomorrow and my Saturday Scavenger hunt up, maybe visiting some pages since I won’t be back till tomorrow afternoon. And yes, I just made a list (I hate lists) and I made it here for you to read so I can hold myself accountable. πŸ™‚


All pictures in this post were taken on the drive home by my three kids –I had to straighten the ones Issac took, and turn them right side up but otherwise they all took some great photos–too many for me to share.

A Bit of a Ramble, or 13 things I did today instead of what I had planned to do.

Wednesday. I had hoped to do WFMW or Wordless Wednesday but that didn’t happen.

I had planned to visit my grandmother, but that didn’t happen.

What did I do instead?


You can’t see it in this shot but it is REALLY snowing.

  1. Made pinto beans in the crock pot and made several batches of refried beans while helping Rachel remember the steps to making baked potatoes.
  2. Worked on an oil painting I started yesterday–realized that I had forgotten how much more work (physical hard labor) oil painting is than watercolor. I also forgot how much more materials you go through with oils–expensive materials. Sigh. Yesterday I prepared the board as well as some canvas for the kids–they like to paint when I do. Rachel is working on an oil, Esther and Issac, acrylic. (I also sprayed some displays black for my mom’s jewelry.)


  3. Helped the girls work on their Young Nanowrimo. Rachel is writing a modern fairy tale type story, Esther is writing moody poetry. Really moody poetry, about the death of her grandfather last year and how she misses him and the very next about fun and joy. Did I mention it was REALLY out there, and fairly well written for an almost 8 year old.


  4. Worked on some watercolors that need done in time for the client to get them framed for Christmas. Normally I can finish a watercolor in a day but with my back and hands bothering me that isn’t happening. One of the three is of cats, which I usually don’t paint–which also slows me down. I need to finish these and get some other small watercolors done for this weekend –I am going to be showing my work at a craft show on Saturday, along with my mom’s jewelry. Rachel is going to help me.
  5. Basic house work type stuff like laundry and dishes.
  6. Made several business calls–have some meetings tomorrow so had to get things organized.
  7. Answered a slew of work related emails.
  8. Made extra long sleeve mittens for the girls from old sweaters. I had already cut the sleeves off of the sweaters because Esther wanted some of those really cute sleeveless sweater dresses that are popular this fall–I picked up some adult long sweaters at the thrift shop and reshaped them for her. She loves them, and now she has matching mittens.


  9. Got the kids to do their dishes and put their clothes away.
  10. Comforted Issac after he got hurt playing outside in the falling snow. This lead to a kiss attack and then into a long chat with Issac about different number patterns and how many letter many words have using Alphabet signs to form each letter which moved into a tickle fight and then into a discussion about how movies work.


  11. Showed Issac how to make a little animated gif style movie on the computer using Jasc animation studio. The kids are planning on making a small stop-animation clay movie because of this. In fact they are working on the scenery as I write–they are having a bit of a fight though because the girls want a fall scene and Issac wants a volcano and dinosaur.
  12. Reread”Calling on Dragons” because my back went out and I had to stay flat for a bit while the kids played outside–something about castles. Also worked on my own Nanowrimo, which the kids are begging for–they make excellent motivation.
  13. Played games with and read aloud to the kids.


This is their first try. Click the image to see the little silent movie. They are working on another one with more detail, better lighting, better layout, and no moved camera. Not bad for a 6, 7, 9 year old with no help from mom other than uploading the pictures and putting them in the animator.