Thursday, August 27, 2009

Coffee Talk: When it Rains it Pours!

Good Morning ladies, grab yourself a slice of lemon-poppy seed bread and make yourselves comfortable! I hope you have all had a great week!

In all honesty, it has been another challenging one here at the Tigerden.

I am praying that things will come together soon and we will begin to have some not awful days. Right now, I am just trying to be thankful for not awful moments.

I would like to offer a couple of pictures up for your viewing enjoyment. They pretty much sum up our situation recently.

These are pictures of the latest chapter in our plumbing drama. This is what our school room looked like yesterday after Dancer and her friend decided to "swim" in the master bathtub and run the jets. In hindsight, after the past 4 months of plumbing disasters, I should have just said no.
In case you are not privy to the "flood" of excitement we have had, let me give you a brief update. Since the Wednesday before Easter we have replaced the plumbing in the downstairs bathroom, the main outside hydrant, under the kitchen sink. We had a leak in the air conditioner and when the repairman was looking for it, he found another in the hot water heater. We had to replace a switch on the pump for our well. We thought we were finished, I mean, what else could possibly leak, right?
And then, a couple of weeks ago, the water dispenser in the refrigerator started to leak. Now, I thought that was odd, because we turned the water off to the refrigerator a couple of years ago when the water dispenser decided to run non-stop. So the fact that it suddenly began leaking again was a bit perplexing. We called our friendly neighborhood plumbing expert. It wasn't caused by a leak in the water dispenser, although there was one, but a leak in the valve in the wall. So, Monday, we had the plumbing behind the refrigerator replaced! On a positive note, we now have running water and ice out of our freezer again! Yay!
And then...I let the girls swim in the tub. A couple of hours later, baseball boy was in the school room and said, "Mom--what are those big bumps on the ceiling?" I came to investigate and saw the bulging sheet rock. Knowing what was coming, I decided to check it out, got the step stool and with one gentle poke...was flooded with bubbly bath tub water!
However, we now cannot find the leak...we have run tons of water...not even a drip. Perhaps it was from running the jets, I don't know. I guess we will just have to call the plumber!
So, here's hoping you all have a nice, dry weekend!
For more Coffee Talk go to Home Sanctuary!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Are Cordially Invited to Witness My Nervous Breakdown

I have turned my comments back on! Why? I need you my little bloggy friends...I need you terribly!

You see, this school is not going well. I have been reading a book lately and one of the chapters is called, "In the Valley of Dry Bones". That is where I am. I am truly just drained. We have only been in school for 2 1/2 weeks and for the first time in my home schooling journey, I am ready to throw in the towel.

Our days are utter chaos, my house is utter chaos, and my soul feels utterly chaotic! I know, all I have done lately is whine, I am sorry...that is why I need you. I need your honest little bloggy souls to pick me up by the boot straps and tell me to get over it.

I just can't seem to do it for myself.

Tigerfan says that it is because I am doing this Bible Study for my kids. He says that Satan is attacking because of it. And, perhaps he is right, although I certainly don't think I am writing anything really deep or profound. But he is definitely hitting those areas. So far, the last three weeks, whatever "fruit" we are studying is the area we are really being hit in. The love week was mild in comparison, but last week was joy. Over and over little things crept into our home stealing our joy. And I, the one who is "teaching", and I use that term VERY loosely, was the worst.

This week, is peace...I do not think I have ever had so much chaos and lack of peace in my home ever! From the mess, to the piles of laundry that disturb the physical peace, to fighting among siblings, to the total storm within me over my feelings of failure and frustration and anger because things aren't going like they should.

I have a pre-teen who is mad at me constantly, a 20 month old who thinks he is two and acts accordingly, tantrums at all, a 6 year old still struggling terribly just to stay afloat with reading and math skills, and a 9 year old whose greatest joy in life is stirring things up and annoying people into crying, screaming, or yelling!

On top of this, the work load is overwhelming me and we are spending a minimum of 8 hours a day doing school. I cannot seem to be everywhere I need to be and have four little ones all needing something that I seem unable to give.

I am sitting here, tears streaming down my face in utter surrender. I do not feel God has changed his mind about us home schooling, but we have seriously looked at a private school this week (that we cannot afford). I am so frustrated because I know this is what I am supposed to be doing, but I just don't want to do it right now. I am in the valley of dry bones.

So, my precious friends, please pray. I know that you do not have any easy answers. I know these problems seem so small in comparison to what so many are going through right now. I know all of you have a million things going on as well. But I am asking that when you get a moment, please just lift us up. I don't even know what to ask you to pray for--perhaps the peace that is so illusive this week.

Thank you my dear friends, for letting me rant and vent and cry and pout. And thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Peace in the Storm

I have no business being on this blog. It is 10:00, I have to plan and set out lessons for tomorrow, empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and feed my sourdough starters and still try to be in bed by 10:00...see the problem?

Anyway. This last week was rough! I mean rough! I am finding that systems of schooling I have used in the past just aren't working right now. Things are chaotic and I am stressed and you know what they say, "When Momma ain't happy..."

Anyway, I have devoted an inordinate amount of time this weekend trying to research and pray and figure out how to do things differently, something has got to change. And in a very un-me like fashion, I have actually allowed myself to "give it to God" and leave it. Because I am very good at taking those things back!

Well, this afternoon, I was working on my children's Bible Study for the week. Each day we will be studying a different story illustrating peace and on Friday, the lesson is on Jesus calming the storm. I must be honest. This was the, I really need one more story lesson. You know, the one that I just added 'cause I needed a little more. But as I was typing up the Bible study...I was just awed at how God used this story for me! Yes, me! I am writing a children's Bible study. I am trying to teach them...okay, I am trying to show them how much they drive me crazy with all their fighting and JUST GET ALONG ALREADY, OKAY!!! But after reading the passage, I was preparing questions and discussion points and I wrote this:

"With just a few words, Jesus calmed the storm. He brought peace. Jesus can do that for you (And for me!). No problem is too big. He can handle school, annoying brothers and even demanding parents. The Bible says, "He commanded even the winds and the water, and they obey him." That is what He can do for you.

When life is not on Jesus.

When friends are on Jesus.

When siblings are driving you on Jesus.

When a loved one is sick or your family is struggling or your dad lost his on Jesus.

I could add here, when school isn't going well, when your schedule is crazy, when you are drained and cannot seem to be on Jesus.

You might not be able to calm the storm yourself, but He can! Pray and leave your "stormy" thoughts to Him...he can handle them!

Maybe those words weren't meant for anyone else...but they just floored me today. My God is the One who can calm the storm. No, I can't handle this on my own and yes, the problems will still be there tomorrow. But praise God, I have a savior today that can speak peace! He can calm the winds and calm the waters and soothe my tumultuous soul! I pray for God's peace for each of you today...I know many of you are going through struggles far worse than a crazy year, God can give you peace as He walks you through the fire! Call to Him because He is faithful...maybe He is just waiting for you to ask before He speaks those words!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coffe Talk-August 21

Good Morning, ladies! come on in and grab a slice of Amish Bread (cinnamon or chocolate chocolate chip) and a usual, no coffee. But I would love to offer you some delicious chocolate milk!
Hope everyone has had a great week. Or couple of weeks, really, cause I haven't been around the blogosphere much lately.
School has started with a bang around here and frankly, I am just barely hanging on! We are in full blown survival mode! I have missed more points than I have gotten this month and haven't read or commented on many blogs in weeks. You may have noticed that I haven't typed a blog either...just can't find the time!
I have been very slowly reading through a home schooling book that has really convicted me about my method of schooling. I think, because I have classroom teaching experience, it is a little hard to transfer to a home mind set. Our first year at home was AWFUL because I placed "school" expectations on my son and I. Pledges had to be done at 8:00a.m. Reading was at 8:30 on the dot, etc. While that system works in a classroom setting, it didn't work in our home and I finally learned to relax my standards and allow for some flexibility. That being said, I am still one of the most "anal" home schoolers I know. I write lesson plans, I keep very strict attendance records, I keep every piece of paper we use just in case someone comes to "check" on us. What I have learned, however, is that learning and school are not fun for us. Not for the kids or for me.
This book I am reading makes a great point. We have so many resources right at our fingertips. It is not so important that I teach my children facts because they can go to any computer and pull up those facts in a matter of minutes. What I need to teach is a godly spirit and attitude first, and a love of learning next. If my children love to learn, than they will find a way to learn.
Now I am certainly not saying we are stopping our structure altogether. Certain skills must be taught. Math and reading will never be improved if the skills aren't introduced and practiced. But my methods up until now have been instruction, workbook, move on. My children don't LOVE to learn, they HAVE to learn. So, the past couple of weeks I have been trying to change my style. We have begun a Bible Study that I am writing and customizing just for them. I have loved doing this, I have learned a TON...but it is very time consuming! I am also trying to make things more fun. More math games, more arts and crafts incorporated, more flexibility, more practice with the computer, less stress from mom.
It is a slow process. Because what I have learned is that having fun takes time. I know, that sounds weird, but to play a game or build with blocks, or make up a poem takes a lot more time that to just explain the work and get busy. Our days have been starting at 8:00 and ending about 4:00 and we have been skipping subjects! Add on top of this a very active toddler, dance, guitar, baseball, church, tutorial...I am tired! I am drained!
I have also learned about a new system called work boxes that I am considering. They will eventually foster more independence, but the initial start up will also take time and money...something I just don't have right now!
I am not trying to whine, I feel better about the direction we are going in than I have felt in a long time. I truly feel the Lord guiding us in this direction and know it is the right thing. What I am struggling with is how to do it all. I do believe this is just a season and if I have to sacrifice my own time for awhile, it will be worth it in the long run. But I am continuing to struggle with balance. I know they say a mother needs to take time for herself to recharge, etc. and I do see the wisdom in that. And I would be lying if I said I didn't long for a few minutes of quiet rest...even these few moments typing as I let my kids sleep in are sacred...but I don't feel I can take those moments right now. I feel so selfish saying I "deserve" it because I don't feel I deserve anything. Am I making sense?
Anyway, that is our life right now...well that and making Amish bread because I have run out of people to pawn starter off on so it is growing out our ears!!! We have tried banana, cheesecake, cinnamon, get the picture. I just found a recipe for sourdough pizza crust that can be half baked and frozen...maybe that is my answer. We can put away some pizza around here!
Hope you all are having a great week and don't forget to hop over to Home Sanctuary for more Coffee Talk!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook 8.10.09

FOR TODAY ...August 10, 2009

Outside my a beautiful morning. I just came in from feeding the dog, watering the plants and having my quiet time. It is clear and pretty but already pretty warm, I predict a scorcher today.

I am thinking...about the first full day of school. I have way more packed into this day than I can possibly do!
I am thankful for...a wonderful summer and so sad to see it end so soon!

From the learning rooms...First full day of school. We do reading and math all summer and began a few subjects last week but tutorial starts tomorrow, so today is the day!

From the kitchen...we will be making some teacher goodies, I think I am going to try out a new recipe: Giant Chocolate Chip Brownie Pillows!

I am wearing...Old shorts and a t-shirt...I am hoping to exercise at some point today...probably won't happen but at least I look like I am trying!
I am creating...a Bible Study to do at home with my kids. I am so excited about this! I printed out the first week's lessons last night and I like it so far. I think I'll blog about it tomorrow! This week is about love, next week: joy. If you have any favorite verses or Bible stories that exemplify joy, please let me know!
I am Open House at Mother's Day Out tonight--I just can't get around all the reminders that school is starting back!

I am reading...the Bible a lot in preparation for this Bible study. Also some books on home schooling and probably getting ready to read a whopper of a science book along with Football Boy! Welcome to Junior High!

I am create a fun learning environment this year--trying to let go of some of my "uptightness" and be a fun homeschool mom.
I am hearing...water boiling, time to make my oatmeal!

Around the blessing day. Sheets to wash, dusting, vacuuming, bathroom scrubbing, no fun, but I love a clean house once it is done.

One of my favorite things...laying in bed an extra thirty minutes and cuddling with Tigerfan...of course than we get a late start, but...aaaaaah!

A few plans for the rest of the week:Tutorial, babysitting a friend's little girl, hopefully a little back to school fun with friends.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
I really think Dancer has a future in hair design and styling...what do you think?
Don't forget to check out more summer Daybooks at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Coffee Talk

Good Morning ladies, hope the day finds you all doing well. It has been a busy week at the Tigerden although I would be hard pressed to tell much of what has gone on. Mostly it has consisted of trying to get back into our school routine and get ready for tutorial to start back again.
We have had haircuts, lunch with Daddy, started a couple of subjects gotten lots of "goodies" in the mail (okay, goodies to for them, cause it is all our new curriculum), and tried to start getting to bed on time. We have failed miserably in the getting to bed on time department, but there is always next week!
Dancer has officially moved up with the big kids at church and is no longer in the preschool department for anything! How has this happened so fast? I thought she would be a little shy, a little intimidated going into that big room with all the big kids. She was not. She hopped in there and ran around like a maniac with the best of 'em!
Today, I will go get my cart organized for tutorial. Classes start back on Tuesday, so I guess I better stop procrastinating and get ready! For the first time since he began the tutorial, Football boy will only be attending one day of classes and staying with a friend the other day--I cannot believe how quickly things can change!
I know, this is an incredibly boring post--just waxing nostalgic about my babies growing up...however, PLEASE do me a big favor. Go to this post and add your thoughts. I even opened up comments just for this because it is super important to me. I also learned, however, that I am not ready to turn comments back on full time because as soon as I published that post I began to obsess over whether anyone would respond. I really miss comments and the relationships that are begun through them and hope I can grow up soon and put them back! I love ya'll, thanks for stopping by and have a great week!
For more and certainly more interesting Coffee Talk visit Home Sanctuary!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

PLEASE READ---I Even Turned Comments Back On

I know, two posts in like four hours...Record breaking for me! I am posting now to ask for your help! I even turned the comments back on for this one!

In a moment of either brilliance or insanity (that remains to be seen) I got the inspiration to write a Bible Study for my kids for our homeschool. Since we began this journey seven years ago, I have never felt I had quite the right study for my kids. I want to do our study together, at least to some extent, but also want to begin encouraging my oldest two to begin studying on their own and learning to set aside time for their own quiet time. I have never been able to find something that worked for all ages and was flexible enough for me.

I have really been praying about this and thinking about what to do and last night, this came to me. I love the format of my Wednesday night ladies Bible Study and it lends itself to both independent as well as group study and discussion, however, it is a little too deep for my younger kids. So, I decided to try my hand at doing my own. I have decided for the first quarter to do a study of the fruits of the spirit focusing on one each week. In my head, I know the format I want to use and I have some ideas. So this is where you come in.

I would love to know what stories in the Bible most demonstrate love to you and also what specific verse or verses best turn your heart toward a loving spirit or attitude. We have routinely memorized a verse of scripture each week or so, but I would like to offer some choices this year as well as look at each fruit from four or five different stories each week. Of course, I will be incorporating the ultimate story of love which is Christ's death but would love to hear what stories make you think of love.

Thanks for helping me out and feel free to send others here. For once, I am not trying to boost my ego through comments or trying to increase my readership, but I really feel passionate about this and would love some feedback!

Thanks in advance. I love ya'll!

Just in Case I was Having a Good Self Esteem Day

Last night as things were winding down and we were getting ready to turn in for the night, Dancer came running in to me.

"Mama, you have GOT to come see this commercial! There is a lady vacuuming and she is kinda youngish and kind of you!"

Monday, August 3, 2009

And Now it's Time for Deep Thoughts...

As you may know I have been busy around here making Dancer a little outfit. Although I took Home Ec in school, I would definitely not consider myself a seamstress and had not sewn in YEARS until a couple of years ago when Dancer moved out of toddler sizes into the big girl clothes.

The fashions now are a little better, but at that time they were not modest or very little girl like and I really wanted to find her cute, modest clothing at an affordable price. At that time, I stumbled upon Aimee's sight, Sewsensible. I commented, she emailed and before long she was coaching me through making Dancer an outfit. I was SO proud when I completed my first one and have gone on to make a few more over the past couple of years.

I say all that because I recently finished a new pattern I had never made before. I was so proud, patting myself on the back and posting pictures everywhere! I even sent some to Aimee. She was so kind and gracious...but then she informed me that I had done the pleats wrong on the top. I couldn't believe it! I loved my little outfit and I really thought I had followed the pattern exactly!

I began to "research" I took the pictures I had made and studied them, which, by the way, was not an easy task because they are not good pictures. They are a little blurry and they have a glare on them, but I studied them as best I could. I then went to Aimee's website and checked out the picture of her outfit. I could definitely see that her pleats met in the middle and I knew from making it that my pleats did not, but they were close. The thing is...even though I KNEW my pleats didn't meet, I couldn't really tell in my pictures, not as hard as I tried--I couldn't tell. But Aimee could.

So here is where my deep thought comes in. Aimee is the creator of that pattern. She has worked with it, developed it, tested it, redone it. She has drawn and redrawn it and sewed the outfit probably countless times. She has pleated and re pleated and she KNOWS that pattern. She knows it so well that even looking at a blurry, glared photograph, she can see a flaw and knows exactly what it is! She knows every stitch, every cut, every pleat and knows exactly what that pattern is meant to be.

That is how my Creator knows me! Sometimes, I get so frustrated and feel like no one understands, no one really knows me, no one "gets" me. But my creator knows me inside and out. He knows every detail about me and He knows His plan for me. He knows just exactly how He wants me to "turn out". Sometimes, I don't follow the pattern He has prepared for me. I get off track and take my eyes off Him and I end up not looking quite right. Sometimes, I do everything in my power to make the world see me how I want to look--but He sees me as I really am. With all my flaws, with all my insecurities, with all my longings--He sees me and He knows me and He loves me!

How comforting it is to know that I am known by my creator that much! I am loved by my creator that much. He doesn't just make me and forget about me. He loves me continually, thoroughly, completely. He is continually cutting, stitching, repairing me to make me into the one He created me to be! Oh, for the day when I can look into His eyes and worship at His feet, perfected by His love.

Psalm 139:1-17
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, [
a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to [
b] me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!