Oh Yes, I Am College-Educated

We had to say goodbye to our art teacher a couple of weeks ago; he was giving us a great deal on art classes, but we still couldn’t afford him anymore. This is just the way it goes with four kids: great deal x 4 = too much. Couple this with our weekly walk through the local public elementary school for ballet lessons (the whole year already got paid for last fall, so we don’t have to drop that until after the school year), and the need became obvious.

During said weekly walk, we go through the hall where the teachers display all the cool art work the kids do. This walk makes me second-guess homeschooling every week because that’s what my kids are missing out on – the cool art work that gets hung up in a hall along with everyone else’s in a sort of gallery.

Last week after my weekly walk of doubt, it occurred to me that, hey, I remember getting a college degree in Early Childhood Education! I remember taking several classes on (get this) teaching art to children! I think they probably make elementary school art curriculum books for people JUST LIKE ME!

So I went to the mothership of the Internet and found this: Complete Art Curriculum Activities: 150 Easy-To-Use Art Lessons in 8 Exciting Creative Media for Grades 1-8

We did the first lesson today and I was really pleased with how things went. The girls were super- pumped that I added my own art lesson into the mix today, and we simply pinned their pictures up on the quilt I have hanging on the wall behind their school desks. Today’s activity was “self portraits:”

Self-Portrait Gallery

Not to be outdone, I spent some time being artsy today, too. I made some of the cool verse packs I mentioned the other day:

Dotted Verse Packs

I got about 20 done today and have 30 more to do for this first order.

Verse Packs

We’re enjoying being at home today, taking things slowly, getting things done. I love not having to go anywhere! Now back to my life as a stay at home mom who also homeschools and sometimes sews…

Wherein I Get Really Crafty, Really Fast

Sew, Mama, Sew!

I have a bunch of hip college girls who special order verse packs out of cool fabric two or three times a year. I had to turn them down in the fall because I still needed to sleep in the fall in addition to everything else, but when I was emailed with their latest request last week, I said I would. I then went to work finding a website to supply me with cool fabric because I’ve had mucho trouble finding a decent fabric shop here in St. Louis.

I’m not a snob about many things, but I’m well on my way to becoming a fabric snob. Hancock’s is generally good for cheap patterns and on-sale notions and an emergency fabric need (yes, there is such a thing), but specialized retro prints? Nothing. The chain stores lost their appeal to me soon after I stopped working at ClothWorld and it was taken over by Joann’s, wherein it turned from a fairly decent chain fabric store into another craft explosion in a building with fabric thrown in for good measure – like a Hobby Lobby on speed.

Okay, so I got way off track there. Anyway, I sent the link to Sew, Mama, Sew to this college gal and had her choose some favorites. I then added in a few favorites of my own. The order came today and all I can say is that I so do not want to make verse packs out of these. I don’t know exactly what I want to make, but I want to make something else, something way cute, something I get to keep. I like the fabric that much. Never mind the fact that I have a floor-to-ceiling length shelf packed full of fabric I’ve been stashing away ever since my job stint at the above mentioned ClothWorld in, ahem, 1990.

Nobody can exactly mistake my blog for a crafty-blog, but every once in a while the bug bites and I must sew. Having super cute fabric really helps.

Party Planning

Katie turns 6 next week and she’s never had a “friend” birthday party before. Everyone else had a family-only party for this last round (party season in our house goes from August-February), so it’s Katie’s turn. We’ve always done “do-it-yourself” parties to keep costs down, but this year I scouted around various places to see what the options were. The options told me I was still better off with a “do-it-yourself” party.

I usually look around on a bunch of party websites to get ideas, but one popped into my head tonight that I think will be perfect. It should be low-maintenance, low-cost, and a lot of fun. The theme is Almost-a-Sleepover.

Katie has been begging to either go on a sleepover, or have a sleepover for about a year. We’re of the opinion that 5 is too young for this sort of thing, so we’ve avoided participating in them thus far. This theme gives the appearance and fun of a sleepover, minus the super late bedtime and cranky kiddos the next day. It’s a win-win. The girls will come in jammies and with a pillow.

Sleeping bags are optional. We’ll eat pizza, play some games, and watch a movie. Perfect Friday night activities.

For me, coming up with the theme is always the hard part and everything else falls into place after that. I’m glad this one came so easily. Now then, crossing my fingers on the low-maintenance goal of the party…

Yeah, So I Offered Real Content on Wednesday

Nikki tagged me and I’m trying to play well with others this year, so here I go:

6 non-important things/habits/quirks about myself:

1. I think I have an attachment disorder to our living spaces. I worked in a home dec shop for a year and learned how to make all sorts of cool window treatments, but have managed to not make them for the majority of my windows for forever. Somewhere in the back of my mind I think we’ll be moving in a few years, so why bother? This has always proven to be true. I think if we make another move into a house we buy and I actually cover all the windows, we can call ourselves officially and completely home.

2. I have four girls and stink at fixing little girls’ hair. I’m a mess with hair bands and barrettes and can’t french braid to save my life.

3. When we got married, I had every color of keds imaginable, including a few great prints (great in the early to mid ninties…). I stored them in plastic shoe boxes on a top shelf in our 416 square foot cottage and they took up almost the whole wall. I now own about as many pairs of shoes as my kids and they all fit in my cubby, stored loose, not in boxes, just like the girls’.

4. I love peppermint ice cream.

5. I’ve read every Janette Oak book ever written. (I read these in elementary/junior high/high school, but I still own them and plan to introduce my girls to them at some point in the future, so I’m sure I’ll be reading them again.)

6. I can’t eat broccoli anymore and that makes me sad. Broccoli is my favorite veggie.

On Fasting

I’ve never really been one to fast. I’ve had a whole host of excuses lined up, and during certain seasons my excuses are (were) certainly valid. My problem now? I can no longer claim any of them: I’m an adult; I’ve not been pregnant or nursing a half pint for well over three years now; I’ve run out of reasons.

I probably wouldn’t even be thinking of this at all but for the series on fasting I’ve been reading over here. And the clincher for me? Carolyn reminded me that Jesus didn’t say if you fast, he said when you fast. It’s an implied spiritual discipline, one I’ve been all-too-content to ignore for, well, forever.

I’m trying to be careful how I write this because I really don’t want to be pharisaical by saying that it’s something I’m trying to incorporate into my spiritual disciplines. I’ll just say that Craig and I have added a 24-hour fast into our weekly practice for the past two weeks now and I suck at it.

I’ve needed to explain to the girls what I’m doing because they’ve gotten pretty concerned by my not eating on those days. So, the last time I did this (today) I read the above linked passage to them and explained that I’m not wanting to make this a big deal to anyone else but me and God. I told them I was trying not to really mention it, though I think it’s good for them to know I’m actually trying to pray through it on these days.

Anyway, last week when Craig came home in the evening, he asked me how I was doing. I told him, “I’m hungry. And tired. And grumpy.” Today I was much the same. I’m not doing a very good job of putting oil on my head, washing my face, and not being completely obvious about this to my family.

I’m not meaning to be this way, but I just never realized before how completely dependent I am on food. I didn’t even realize I was getting short-tempered with anyone until late tonight when I broke the fast and had something to eat. I felt normal again; I was nice again; I suddenly wanted to hug everyone and giggle and play. Rebounding from the fast made me realize just how much the fast really did affect me during the day.

Craig wondered tonight if maybe I shouldn’t do a 24-hour fast anymore. I wondered if I should do a computer fast instead. He said (somewhat in jest), “No, that would make you even more grumpy.” Yikes. I’ve clearly got some idol issues I need to wrestle through, so I guess I’ll add those to my list of things I’m praying through when fasting in the future.

Speaking of my list of things I’m fasting over right now, there are three significant areas that have been weighing very much on my heart for several months that I’m finally getting more serious about praying over. I’m entering into this season of weekly fasting until we wrestle with God in two of these areas. I’m praying He answers very soon.

Photo Fun

In November when the Nav conference came to town, we all went to hang out at the convention center and see old friends. While there we met a new one. Janet is a photographer in Chicago and was looking for sisters to photograph for a photo book she’s working on (on sisters – see, it all makes sense!). She asked if I would mind bringing my girls back the next day for a photo session and I was all – what, free photo session by a professional? How fast can we secure this thing?

We had fun with Janet and even managed to convince Millie to participate (she smiled in most of the pictures and frowned in few). I have what I wanted to use for the girls’ annual “school” photo (which just means a nice single shot of each girl to mark their look and growth for that year and not at all to be excused for what typically passes as a school photo).

At the end of the session of the sisters, I managed to sneak in a couple as well. My favorite? Right here:

The Sorority

Thanks, Janet. We enjoyed our time with you and appreciated the photos you sent us and are looking forward to seeing the book when it is completed!

Friends

Little Friend, Big Friend

We’re going to visit our friends, the Eubanks, tomorrow. The Eubanks were our first real connection to St. Louis and, interestingly enough, we “met” right here in blogworld. Ed received a pastoral call in October and, where they once lived three houses down the street, they now live about 5 hours away.

In keeping with our desire to be more live-people oriented this year (as well as the fact that I’m not nearly as busy as I was in the fall), we asked them if we could visit them in their new home and church this weekend. The girls are excited. The last time we interacted with them in person was the week this photo was taken, in which you can see our Chloe and their Molly walking together at the zoo.

We haven’t packed yet, but that’s okay (I’m a fast packer). We’re looking forward to seeing you all really soon!

The Biblical Nature of Ethics

I’ve always been one to see the Bible as defining my ethics. If I can justify my actions biblically, I can then justify them ethically. I’ve been challenged on that recently by folks who have no idea they’ve challenged me on that. It’s been a humbling process, but one that has needed to happen.

Practically speaking, I’ll begin with my CD mixing and sharing. I’ve been pretty liberal with passing out my favorite song collections – for party favors, baby showers, Christmas gifts, etc. I never considered that this was wrong. I don’t think I was necessarily sticking my head in the sand, but I simply didn’t think about it too much at all. I sort of viewed myself as a self-appointed Paste. Whenever someone gives me a CD like that, I love it and am introduced to a lot of new music I otherwise would never know about. I usually end up buying three or four albums from the collections, so the artists come out on top in the end, right?

Maybe, but I don’t have the authority to act as my own personal Paste. My thinking on this was seriously rocked when I handed out copies of my Christmas compilation to four guys in, get this, publishing (which should prove I didn’t think I was violating anything – otherwise I would have avoided the publishers in my gifting). The only one to question me on this was the head publisher himself and, while my face was burning up when he questioned me on it, I’m really glad he did. I had another small pile ready to give away sitting on my desk during that phone call. During that phone call, that small pile found their way to the trashcan.

So here is my public confession, since I’ve been public about my mix-mastering in the past. If you get a CD from me from this point on, know that I personally paid for your copy of all the songs I’m giving you, or have otherwise sought appropriate permission to share. And as much as I hate to do this, if you are one who shares music like this with us also, I’m hereby asking that you no longer include us, unless you also have personally paid for our copy of the songs you are sharing.

Tough part over.

That conversation sticks with me in many other arenas. We went to the movies recently and I’ll admit this too: I’m a snack sneaker. $9 for popcorn and a Coke is completely crazy, so I’ll usually sneak in a Coke and something salty in my pocket. No more. The last time we went to the movies we forked over the cash for the snack. In this case, they allowed one refill per item, so that was pretty nice. And yes, it was tempting to send someone else back with the tub for a third refill – the movie people would have never known, but that would be breaking the deal. They offered one free refill, I made that agreement with them when I bought the snack, and I would have been lying and stealing to have done otherwise. I felt really relieved by that decision that day.

Now comes Monopoly. I’ve grown up playing it that if you land on someone’s property and they don’t see you, and someone else rolls, you don’t have to pay. Without thinking, that was the way I began teaching my own kids to play. Craig played with us the other day and he called me on it: this teaches our kids to be honest and responsible with their debts how? He was right. Ethics and biblical understanding apply to everything; they inform and shape who we become.
May my yes be yes and my no be no, and my acts and intentions be honorable (and biblical) from now on, and for all the days of my life.

When Theology and Homeology Collide

I’m preparing as much of our Sabbath meal for tonight as I can this morning. I chose the southern selection from the A Return to Sunday Dinner, and that selection includes fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, green beans with smoked bacon, and hominy spoon bread.

Hominy spoon bread?

You have to understand, I’m mostly a self-taught cook and in my decade-plus of self-teaching, hominy spoon bread has never before crossed my menu plan. So, this morning the directions said to use 4 cups of prepared hominy grits. Okay. I’ve never made grits before, so I followed the directions on the back of the container which said 1 serving was equal to 1/4 C. So I made 12 servings (which, yes, technically should have equaled 3 cups, but it seemed like an awful lot of water, so I stopped there).

If you’ve made grits before you probably know where this is going. Apparently the 1/4 C = 1 serving means 1/4 C of unprepared grits = 1 serving, and once cooked, it = a whole lot more than 1/4 C. What this means practically is that I ended up with a LOT more than the 4 C of prepared hominy grits I needed to make the hominy spoon bread. What to do with the remainder of the grits?

I remembered seeing something about cheese grits on the back of the package and just so happened to have a block of Velveeta handy (I don’t normally keep this in my cabinet, so it was like a bonus today). I dumped in some Velveeta and some garlic powder and voila! Instant cheese grits.

Which, of course, I would be the only one to eat. I spent a few minutes eating a small bowl of cheese grits and staring at the large mound of leftover cheese grits in the pan and thought to myself, “Hmmm. I wonder if cheese grits can be saved.” And then I answered myself, “I supposed if they’ve been predestined.”

I may need this week’s Sabbath rest more than I thought…or just a good “theology of grits” class at Covenant.

PS: Anyone know if cheese grits, once prepared, can be stored and reheated with any success at a later time?

So. Very. Tired.

This homemaking thing is much harder than it looks. Sitting around watching Oprah and eating chocolate cookies all day is just completely draining.

As if.

In all truth, it was one of our better weeks. We’ve been on top of our routine game all joking week. The house has stayed in relative order all week, quiet times had every day, school gone as planned each day, check lists created and appropriately checked off ala Jill (Craig’s sister, the checklist queen), some furniture schlepped around, a couple of rooms reorganized, meals planned, shopped for ahead of time, and prepared as planned every day.

And here it is, 7:35 on a Friday night and I’m completely exhausted. It’s our weekly family movie night and I’ve abandoned everyone to both be alone and avoid watching Denis the Menace (which, yes, I choose for them and, yes, bailed on them, making Craig sit through it without me).

Tomorrow will once again see some fairly serious cooking for our Sabbath meal (which, incidentally, Craig invited all of his ethics students to join us for sometime this semester – we have 5 joining us in two weeks!), but after that, I’m all about bubble baths and books and sleep (and worship) for the next 24 hours. Oh, 5:00 Saturday night, I’m ready for you.