Friday, September 2, 2011

All Things Beautiful

I learn something new from my kids everyday!

Each one of them is unique and just so amazingly wise!

Unfortunately, only one of them has a blog, but if you haven't read it, you are totally missing out!

She blows me away!

If you haven't taken time to read her blog, please do it. Every time I read an entry I am amazed at who she is becoming!

When I was her age I was dating guys who wore make up and listening to such bands as Nine Inch Nails and The Dead Milkmen! She is so far ahead of where I was at her age, and I am thankful!

You know people often try to say that our kids are the way they are because of our parenting, but I know for a fact that our parenting is only a small portion of who our kids are. Each one of my kids have invited God into their lives, and I know that He is the reason they are different. He is the one who gives them wisdom and discernment.

And once again, I'm thankful!

Kristen

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We Can Totally Do That!!

Sooo, we are pretty settled into our new house. Boxes unpacked, pictures hung, rooms pretty well organized.

But getting to this point, was not easy!!

Our move in and move out was scheduled about a week apart. So I figured we could spend a few days moving boxes and little stuff with the van, and then by Friday beg a few strong men to help lift the heavy stuff on to a rental moving van.

The first day I woke up with a feeling of dread. I couldn't believe I had really thought the kids and I (because Mike was working Tuesday and Wednesday) were going to move most of the house before Friday!! What was I thinking!!

This is where I would like to add a side note. Mike and I both have this weird brain disease. I am not sure there is a name for it, but I call it wecantotallydothatitis. When faced with a near impossible task, i.e. Running in a 200 mile relay with little or no prior running experience or moving an entire house with just four kids and a mini van, something clicks in our brains and we think "Ha, no problem!!! We can totally do THAT!!" This is not such a bad trait when the odds are favorable, but unfortunately, that is not often the case.

So Monday morning we got up and since Mike and I had to finish our walk through, he was there to help for a few hours. We managed to move the entire garage over. This is a feat of extraordinary daring and courage.  Not only did we get it moved over BUT completely organized!! Not bad for our first day.

The second day, my dad was headed out with a bed he had promised to Kylee and a desk that was my grandmothers.  So, on top of Kylee getting her new bed, I was getting the use of his rented mini van for the whole week and the kids were getting a papa who loves to hang out with them!!  Two mini vans and an extra adult would make the move even easier!

So for Tuesday, my goal was for the kids and I to single-handedly move over all their bedrooms, set up beds, book cases etc. We did it!! And Mike and I were even able to move some stuff from other rooms in the evening.

Wednesday my dad and I moved living room furniture, electronics, and a good rest of the boxes!! By the time we got to Thursday, Mike was back home to help and we worked on our room and some of the heavier furniture.  It was Wednesday evening, and on the high of getting so much accomplished, Mike and I made the bold statement, "I bet we could move just about everything without a moving van!!" Thanks to the refrigerator, we didn't try it :)

The craziest story from the move would have to be how Mike and I moved our king sized mattress from one house to the other with just a rope, a blanket and our mini van!

We bought our mattress in January of this year, from Costco.  We went with a foam mattress, which was the BEST purchase we have ever made.  I LOVE our mattress.  It is super firm, doesn't sag, and is plenty big.  Its size put it on the things-that-must-be-moved-with-a-moving-van list.  But Thursday evening, the eve of the big stuff move, we got drunk on our achievements.  Mike and I looked around the mostly empty house, and the twelve items still left to go, and wondered if we could take that list down to eleven...

Mike rationalized that our mattress came in a small box to start.

That was true.

And the delivery guy delivered it.

Also true.

So, why couldn't we just roll it up and put it in the van????

Sounds reasonable!!!  We can totally do it!!!

We did manage to get it folded in half, and tied up.  Yes, this would definitely fit in the van!!

I went into the kitchen to grab something and that is when Mike decided he could get it down the stairs.  Which he did.  What we didn't bank on was, trying to lift it from the front door to the van, without the furniture dolly that we left at the other house.

I tried to lift my end, but the combination of it being awkward, huge, soft, and heavy and the fact that by Thursday evening my body had about given up on me, made it nearly impossible for me to move.

At this point we totally could have left it in the living room and shut the front door.  We totally could have waited for the next day for our friends to help us lift it onto the moving truck.

But we had gotten this far!!!  It was so close to being in the van!!  How could we just leave it?

That is when I got the brilliant idea that would save the evening.  What if we took one our old blankets and drug it to the van, then used the blanket to lift it onto the van?  Would it work?

YES!!  It totally worked!!  We got our mammoth mattress into our mini-van and then used our blanket method to heft it up the stairs in the next house.

And as we locked the door to the old house that evening, we only had 11 odd items left to be moved.  We had done it!  We had moved a huge part of a four bedroom house with just two mini-vans, two adults, four children, and one old man, which went a long way to worsening our already bad case of wecantotallydothatitis!

Kristen


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If I Can Do It...

I feel like I've been saying this sentence a lot lately-

"if I can________ ANYBODY can!!"

But seriously, in this case, it's totally true.

I'm talking running here people.

 I am sure there has never been a person more unsuited to running than me.  I have short little legs, tire easily, and have a tendency to fall when not totally focusing on moving my body forward. 

I have never even wanted to be a runner, till recently.

I mean, I've been running off and on for about three years now, but only so I could eat ice cream when I want to, not because I love it.

But something has happened recently, I can't explain it, I just love it all of a sudden!

I think it might be because I always thought I couldn't do it. A few years ago the idea of me running a mile was just ridiculous!

And now, I am running four miles at a time! That is HUGE!

AND even more exciting I've signed up for this!!!

So, I've got until spring to add some mileage and improve my time, I don't want to embarrass my team :)

Kristen

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Been Awhile!!

I feel like I've gotten lost in our summer busyness!!!

First, we took a trip out to AZ for a few days.

Then we came back and it was back and forth from LAX 6 times in two weeks, for Faith and Kylee's best friends from Illinois. (It was totally worth it!!!  We had a blast and I got a visit from my fabulous Jacki to top it off!!)

Next, the girls headed to camp, and when they got back my dad and I took the kids to visit their Great Aunt and Uncle in Portolla Valley and a small jaunt to San Fran.

And here we are.

We attempted to get back to school last week, and somewhat succeeded.  I really wanted to get some of our turn ins under our belts, and we did get some accomplished.

But this week is back to crazy.  Faith is at Disney with the youth group today, tomorrow the girls have shots and check ups, and Wednesday the boys and June bug have shots and check ups. I am sure some school will be accomplished this week, just not sure how much :)


And our biggest news, in the midst of all this we decided to MOVE!!!

When we moved here, we knew we wanted a house with a pool, but it just wasn't in the cards a year ago.  With the approach of the end of our lease we decided to look and see what was available.  We found two ads right off.

The first was not a fit, but the second house was too good to be true.

It is a great house in a GREAT neighborhood, with a pool, 5 bedrooms, and it is about what we are paying for where we are at now!!

We moved quickly, because you have to around here to get a house-with-a-pool rental. 

So, we can officially start moving our stuff over August 15th.  That is a Monday.

Not sure what happened there :)

So, I am going to spend that week moving boxes with the kids and letting them swim in their new pool, and the following weekend we will move the big stuff.

For now I am cleaning, throwing away, packing boxes and reevaluating the boxes that we have not opened in the year we have been here.

Mike loves moving Kristen :)

(sarcastic font anyone?)

Well, got to go, will write tomorrow, because there is more exciting stuff on the horizon, something about me and Mike participating in a 200 mile relay...

Kristen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

15??!! You've Got to be Kidding!!

I can't believe my oldest baby girl is 15 today!!

15!!

Absolutely shocking!!

I remember when she was 2, and so fun, a youth pastor told me they would send me their 2 year old to raise, since I thought it was such a fun age. I agreed as long as they would agree to take her through her teen years!

Truth?

I did LOVE her at two and she was so fun, but, I think she is even better now!

She is a fantastic young woman, centered, God focused, loving, compassionate, kind, brilliant, ABSOLUTELY beautiful,funny, the list goes on and on!

I am so blessed to have her in my life!!

Kristen

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rocky Peak Trail

So we decided yesterday that we should do something we have been wanting to do since we moved here-go hiking!

We are surrounded by the gorgeous Santa Monica mountain range, but had not gotten out on the trails yet, until yesterday!

It was a beautiful day, clear blue skies, 75 degrees, and a day off!  Off to the trail we went!

We parked and walked up to the Rocky Peak Trail, and what is the first thing we saw? 

A snake.

Yeah, a snake, just all coiled up in the middle of the trail.

I took a ton of pictures of him, but didn't realize till later, that my camera was set on manual, and I hadn't adjusted it for outside :( 

Anyways, he wasn't a rattler, Mike said he was a king snake, and he appeared to be not feeling so hot. Another guy on the trail got a huge branch and moved him into the brush.

Once I figured out my camera issue, Mike and I did get some great pictures of the kids and the view.


















 Love this picture, they look like little ducks :)







Brothers enjoying the view.  







They chose this pose!!




Notice they are up high, I'm not :)






Two beautiful girls










My silly boy.





Beautiful!!  Can't wait to take some winter pictures when everything is GREEN!!!




Exploring a little cave.






I think this is where I decided I really like hiking- on level ground, that is paved, when I'm wearing flip flops :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Enrolling the Kids in School!!

I knew that would get some attention :)

Too many amazing things have happened in the last 24 hours!

Well, about a week ago I was looking for home school options.  Groups, co-ops, organizations, anything that would assist us in our journey as home school parents.  And as I was looking I ran across an organization that called themselves a home school charter school...

It's called River Oaks and here is their website.

I couldn't comprehend just what it was they were offering, but it really sounded like what we have been looking for, well, forever!

So, Mike and I went to the parent meeting last night, and it was like meeting a long lost relative.  I absolutely loved meeting the director of the school, Resa Steindel Brown, and listening to her speak about the brilliance found in all children was beyond amazing.

One of the original reasons we started home schooling, so long ago, was because we believed that God created our children, all people, special.  That they have been gifted with special abilities and talents.  And I believe that once you discover those talents and focus on them your child will thrive and grow, and there will be no stopping what they can do!  And I could never really wrap my mind around how I could help my kids find their specialness, while they were away from me for so many hours a day.  So we brought them home, and hoped we would be able to help them identify what God had made them for and raise them up in that.

Now of course this school is a public school so they cannot use the name of God, but everything that Resa spoke of last night was exactly what I believe God has charged us with as parents.  He tells us if we raise them up in the way that they have been created that they will not depart from it, and that is exactly the brilliance that Resa is so very passionate about. 

This school is a public school, they offer LOTS of workshops for kids and parents to participate in and the only requirements are: monthly assignment turn ins (to show we are fullfilling state requirements, and those assignments count as our attendance), and state testing (which they call worksheets :).  That's it!!!  We can still use our curriculum.  We don't have to go to the school any number of days, just have to be sure to turn in or assignments once a month.  I am still the kids primary teacher, and can participate in the classes alongside the kids! 

We will have access to teachers who can teach the kids, languages (as well as getting rights to use Rosetta stone at home!), computer programing, science labs, robotics, art, music, and the list goes on and on.

And guess what?  It's a public school so it's all free!!!!

I know, I know it is almost too good to be true.  But then I found out they have very limited enrollment, and almost cried.  We really, really, felt like this is the place for our kids and for us as parents.

Well, I called this morning and I have an appointment to enroll the kids next Tuesday!!! 

I am so excited!  It will be the first time Kylee, Seth, and Joshua have been enrolled in school!

Okay, so that went fantastic, Faith's braces got put on yesterday without too much trauma or drama, AND I went to the dentist and had a great cleaning with out any visible issues!

Woo Hoo!

Kristen

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kinda Deep for a Monday Morning

Two posts in one day? It's like feast or famine on this blog!

Today as I was running, singing, praying, praising (yeah, I'm sure it's a sight to behold, but it's my own personal God time) and I got to thinking about how we, I, praise God.

Until a couple of years ago, I would say I knew how to balance disappointment when I didn't get what I wanted, with still praising God for his greatness, knowledge, power, and goodness.

About 10 years ago, Mike and I went to a Jeremy Camp concert and he told a story about his first wife. How told how much he loved her, how happy they were as a young married couple, and then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He told us about her on her sickest days how she would not be able to move, but would raise her hands in praise to God.

I really wanted that kind of a relationship with God.

And thought I had it.

I mean, things hadn't always gone our way, we had experienced job loss, friend loss, moving away from family, money woes, and in all these things we were able to thank God for what He did provide. This isn't to say we weren't confused by the direction, and His method of accomplishing what needed to happen in our lives, but we didn't doubt His decisions were for our ultimate good.

We praised Him.

Then, we lost our friend Todd.  At that moment, nothing seemed to make sense, especially not God's plans.

And, here, I will share not my proudest moment. As his family stood around his hospital bed, singing, as he took his last breaths, I begged for God to please just do a miracle and let Todd live. And as Todd took his last breathe I told God I would never sing to Him again.  Actually, in my head, I was screaming it.

I was mad.

Understandably so. I know God felt my pain, but in those moments of my greatest sadness, instead of balancing my anger with God's majesty, I lowered my arms and told Him He was not worth my praise.

That is hard to admit, and not one of my finest moments, but it's the truth.

It took about two days for me to realize I was completely wrong, and beg for His forgiveness.

Now, I'm not saying that I shouldn't have been- mad, sad, angry, terrified, frustrated, confused- God understands pain, and can handle our feelings, even at their ugliest.  But there is a difference between being mad, sad, angry, terrified, frustrated, and confused, and telling God He is not worthy.

We are quick to say "Praise God!" and "He is Good!" when our loved one lives, or the house doesn't get foreclosed, or our relationships are good, or you do get the promotion, or you don't lose your job, or the test results are in your favor, but what about when the opposite is true?

Do we still think He is good and praise Him when things aren't going our way?

That is the kind of relationship I want to have with the Creator.

So, I'll keep trying.

Kristen

Charters and Braces

Where did May go?

I can't believe it is almost June!

This week is an exciting week, not only are we finishing up our school year, but faith is getting braces, and I have a meeting with a perspective homeschool charter school for fall!

Faith's braces have been long awaited. Until we moved here, we were told by two prior orthos that her jaw would have to be broken and set when she turns 18. When this new guy told me we could try braces, I almost kissed him! But it is going to be a long process, so pray for her, and me :)

And, the homeschool charter school, I will discuss later in the week, my hopes are up pretty high and I don't want to make it worse if it doesn't work out :)

Kristen

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Faithfully Yours

Have you checked out this blog???

If you haven't, go there now and read it!

Go ahead, I'll wait :)

Yeah, my kid is the author of that blog, and let me tell you she BLOWS me away!! I mean I knew she was smart, but she is so wise also. How did she get so wise?

She will be 15 in one month and if I had been HALF as wise then as she is now, man, I think my teen years would have looked a whole lot different!!

Well, I hope you take the time to read her thoughts, and show her some blog love :)

Kristen

Monday, May 2, 2011

One Year

I'm not sure how this is going to go...

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my mom passing away.

It was both a good and a bad thing.  She had been sick for a very long time.  It wasn't a big surprise when the moment finally came.  We had been preparing for it for years.  We even had several dress rehearsals.

I remember the day the nurse pulled me into my mom's hospital room.  I was just a little girl.  They wanted to explain to me that my mom was now a diabetic, and would have to give herself shots.  She didn't want me freaking out when I saw it for the first time, so they explained the whole thing to me, in detail, so that I would understand why she would have to do this.

I remember the day, as an adult, when I first saw her half-gone foot.  For about a month, I had been taking her to her doctors appointments because she couldn't drive while her foot was "hurting" her.  The appointment was to clean out the wound on her foot.  I had no idea what this wound looked like, but in my simple mind, she had a cut on her foot.  I took her to the appointment and waited out in the waiting room for her to finish up.  She called me back to ask me something and I got the first view of her poor decimated foot.  It was at that moment that I knew she would loose her first limb.

I remember the day when my dad called me to tell me that her other leg was in danger of being amputated.  All I could think of was how was she going to make it on no legs?  She had poor balance on two legs!! 

I remember the morning I got a call from my dad, a few years back,  telling me that I had better get a plane ticket and come out, mom didn't have long to live.  My dear friends Todd and Paula gave me a ticket to go and see her.  And you know what she did after the doctor told us it was the end and we should say goodbye?  She lived.  Yep, she turned around, got better left that hospital and even went off the dialysis machine! It shouldn't have surprised us, this was the second time she had done this.

I remember the night I was sleeping on my mother-in-law's couch because she had just had surgery and I was helping her out, and the phone rang.  My Mom was going to the hospital, and would most likely have to have weekly dyalisis treatments from then on.  Her kidneys had given up.

And she lived like that for a couple of years.  She was tired a lot.  Her quality of life was poor.  She was very unhappy and felt really sick and tired much of the time.  Whenever I would go and visit her, I always said goodbye, like it was the last time, because I knew that it potentially was the last time I would ever see her. 

I remember the day my dad told me that the doctors suggested she be put in hospice.  I was out running.  I was a mile and a half from home, and I got off the phone and cried and ran the rest of the way home. 

It was a hard road for her the last ten years of her life, so her passing was a good thing.  We were happy she was out of pain, and wouldn't ever have to go and have another shot, blood draw, shunt insertion, dialysis treatment, hospital visit, or limb removal.

But this last year the sting of being motherless has been hard.  It is a really lonely feeling.  I am not going to pretend that my mom and I had a perfect relationship, because we didn't, it was far from perfect.  But what I do know is that she loved me more than her own life.  I know that she did the best she could.  And isn't that all that is required of us as moms? 

That we do the best we can.  

I miss her today, and although I am glad she isn't hurting, I would do anything to hear her laugh and have her talk to the grand babies she cherished.    

Kristen

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Water Fast

Well, we made it through Easter.

I don't mean for that to sound terrible.  Really I don't.

But for ministry families, holidays can be a tough time.  Especially when you are in a new area, and haven't really established yourself fully yet.

But I didn't start this post to complain, so I'll stop!

I do have some great news.

The week of Easter our church decided to do a water fast.  They asked those who wanted to participate, to abstain from all beverages other than water for one week, and give the money they saved to help dig water wells in Uganda.

So, Mike and I decided that we would participate, and asked our kids if they would want to also.

They said "YES!"

We explained to them, that it meant, only water.  While I know other families made exceptions for their kids and allowed them to have milk, Mike and I asked them to abstain from all drinks except water. 

That meant not even milk on cereal!

They all agreed.

They did great!  I am so proud of them!  They really thought a lot about why they were giving up these other beverages and were so excited to give the money we saved to those who need it much more than we do!

Really, it is such a small sacrifice on our part, to give something life saving to someone else.   

I can't wait to find out how much money we raised as a church for clean water!

Kristen

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Epic Fall

So, as I mentioned on Monday, the last couple of months I have been in funkville.

Not just one big long funk, but really two consecutive funks.

The first, the home schooling funk, was over pretty quick, it only lasted about a week.

That one ended just in time to be followed by the I-hate-my-birthday funk.

Now that I am on the tail end of that funk, I decided to start running again.

(I'm pretty sure that while you are in a funk it is unheard of to exercise, so I didn't)

Faith and I got up Monday morning and decided it was time to start running again.  And we weren't taking the sissy run either.

This particular run I speak of is three miles.

It goes uphill.

And when I say uphill, I mean UPHILL.

It also goes downhill, which is where I make up my time, for walking on the extreme uphill part :)

So Faith and I were running this morning and we had gotten past the uphill part.

And we were past the downhill part.

We rounded the corner and we were on the home stretch.  I was feeling a bit winded and was ready for a walk break, when we came up to a man walking a dog, going in the same direction as us.

He pulled over to the side, which I wasn't thrilled about, because that meant we had to speed up to get past him, then stay running to stay ahead of him.

We ran past him, and I started to imagine the dog was a big scary dog, so I would run faster.

***side note*** You know those little kids that have no sense about animals.  The ones who will go running up to the snapping snarling dog and try to pet it?  Yeah, that's me. ***

So you can imagine, that I was having quite a time trying to imagine what kind of scary dog was following me.

Well, right in the middle of my imaginative dog chase, my shoe caught on the uneven sidewalk.

I wasn't expecting it, and therefore didn't have time to get my hands out in front of me to catch myself.

I went down on my right side and continued to skid down the sidewalk, banging my head as I went down.

Luckily, we were running alongside the golf course, and I mostly fell in the grass.

It was a pretty epic fall.

I am pretty sure that it was even in slow motion.

I jumped up, not because I felt great, but I was super embarrassed, and the big dog was boring down on us.

And now I think I am officially a real runner.

Or, I'm that little kid I call "the little falling kid".  You know the kid I'm talking about, the one on your kids football-soccer-basketball team that falls during every game.

Come on you know the one I'm talking about.  

No, I think I am a runner.

Kristen

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time For a Change

Well, it's been kind of quiet around here.

And when I say "here" I mean, blog-here, not house-here.

Lots going on,  not sure where to start.

And... I've had a bad attitude, so I thought I would keep it to myself.

So, now that I am mostly out of my funk, I thought I would write a little.

I think I will start with the home schooling situation.

So, a few months back I said we were going to go and talk to the principal of the local high school about potentially sending Faith to school part-time.

We did.

Unfortunately the offer they had for us wasn't good.  Part-time was really full-time, with no diploma at the end.

Mike, Faith, and I decided to pray seperatly about whether she should go, full time, not-part-time-part time, or stay home. 

Then I went into a funk.

I couldn't put words to it, but sending her full time just didn't seem like the answer.  But I knew something needed to change.  And I realized, through the whole move thing, that California-homeschool-Kristen, hasn't been the most fun home school mom. 

I have been really focused on getting us set up here.  And on top of that, it was also Faith's first year in high school. 

So just like I freaked out when Kylee started kindergarten, I kinda freaked out. 

Okay, I totally freaked out. 

No kinda about it. 

I over loaded her with work, and provided very little fun, excitement, or opportunity for love of learning.    

Anyways, all this to say it was a major wake-up call to me.  I changed up our school schedule, still challenging, but with more hands on activities, shaped it to fit their interests and skills, and I am looking into co-op type groups for the fall.

One cool thing in the middle of all this was, I got a call from God.

Yeah, I said God.

See I was praying and crying and feeling like a pretty lame-o mom, when I finally just asked God to give me a call and tell me what to do about my Faith's schooling.

That's when the phone rang.

I kid you not.

A lady called me.  Faith's friend's mom.  She called to ask me about one thing, but started the conversation out about home schooling.  After she told me how great she thought it was that I home school, I felt compelled to tell her about our week, about the school visit and the decision we were trying to make.

After listening to me she said,"Kristen, I am telling you, don't send her to that school."

I about started to cry.  I told her I had asked God to call me and tell me what to do, and this seemed like an answered prayer.  She told me some things that I really needed to hear, and since her daughter goes to the school in question, it meant a lot.

Anyways, long story, long, we are going to continue schooling all our kids at home, with some changes for the fall.

And I learned an important lesson:  I am not perfect.

There, I said it! 

I try really hard but, I make lots of mistakes.  And the cool thing is, there is no "too late".  Sometimes you just have to acknowledge your mistake, ask for forgiveness, make the change, and move on...

Kristen

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink!

Well, Mike got all the parts and put them all together.

Because, he is that awesome.

The glue is setting, and we are going to give it an hour and see if it is hydra-proof.

I'm praying it is. 

Even though the water is turned off, water was still leaking out of the broken pipe, so it was really touch and go trying to get it dry enough to glue.

I am still pretty upset that there either isn't a turn off valve to the sprinklers, or it is broken.  That really could have made a big difference to the amount of water that was wasted this morning.

I am finding it a bit ironic that this was all caused by a child doing a chore, without being asked...  Maybe this is one of the downfalls of our allowance system :)

I am hoping that we will be able to turn the water back on soon, and return to a normal household.

Or, maybe I'll just go to the beach...

Kristen 

Liquid Gold

Crazy morning!

So I was getting dressed this morning when Kylee and Seth came running up the stairs and knocked on our bedroom door.

"Mom, Dad!!!" they panted, "We were dragging the garbage cans out to the front yard, and now there is water spurting everywhere!"

"What? Where is the water coming from?"

"The ground!"

Uh oh.

So, Mike and I ran down the stairs and out the front door.  And sure enough on the side of the house water was pouring out of one of the sprinkler turn off pipes sticking out of the ground.

I bent down to see where the water was coming out, and the pvc pipe was snapped right in two.

Not good.

We quickly called the landlord, hoping she would tell us where the turn off valve for the sprinkler is, but guess what?

There isn't one.

So we called the city and asked them to send someone out.

They called us back after about five minutes and told us to call another number.

Meanwhile, with water costing about a million dollars per drop here in California, water is flooding our front yard and running down the street :(

We called the other number and they said they would send someone.

I walked outside and started to hyperventilate a bit, as I watched my neighbors yard fill up with our water. 

Then I prayed.  I sat down on Mike's car and begged God to send out the water man as quickly as possible.

And then I got up and turned around and there was the water guy!!!

God is in control.

And Russel the water guy is my new best friend.

So he turned off the water for our entire house, that's fun with four kids, and told us he would come back after we got this thing fixed.

Before he left he told us the city will work with us on our bill, because it's going to be a big one.

I suppose that is a plus.

I am hopeful that my brilliant husband can fix this pipe, so that we don't have to pay to have someone come fix it.

AND that we can fix it quickly so that Russel can come out and turn our water back on.

Kristen

Monday, March 28, 2011

Done For Real!

Okay, so one more post on allowance, and then I will move on.

I promise.

Another cool thing Mike and I have noticed about our kids and their allowance charts, is that they have all developed an amazing sense of care for their surroundings.

They seem to realize that taking care of our home is all of our responsibilities, no one is in it on their own, and we all like it better when things are kept up.

It doesn't always happen, but they are all getting better at noticing when something needs to be taken care of, and doing it without being asked. 

I think the reward aspect of the charts, is what got them to start looking for chore opportunities.  As a result of them looking for money making opportunities, they realized it feels good to have a clean house, to have things in order, and that is an added benefit that I didn't expect them to understand.

For example, we tend to do an overall cleaning every week on Thursdays.  And just about every Thursday, after we have completed the tasks at hand, at least one of the kids will come up to me and tell me how good it feels to have the house cleaned from top to bottom.  They feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, and they got paid for it! 

And when things get a little crazy around here, like over a weekend with a bunch of stuff going on, one of the kids will usually ask if we can work through some of the chores on the list, so that we can get things back in order.

This is not to say they are perfect!  The boys struggle with keeping their rooms clean, and I still have to keep on top of them.

And, we have had weeks where someone falls behind on their laundry, and they have no underwear :) 

It's a good life lesson.

So there you have it, not perfect kids, but at least they try, and that is all I ask.

Kristen

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wrapping it Up!!

Okay, so I am about ready to wrap up this allowance discussion, and I think I want to talk about why I think this system works for our family.

First, I would like to say, I do not think we have all the answers, nor do I think that we do everything correctly, or that someone else's system will not work or teach monetary responsibility.

This is just the system we chose to use.

Here are some reasons I think it works for us- 

The first thing that comes to mind is consistency. When we decided on this allowance plan we started it and stuck to it. Yes, there have been modifications through time, but we didn't give up.

Have we been perfect?

NO!

But the thing is, since we have not given up and the kids know what to expect, it works.

No one likes surprises. They know if they do chores they make money, if they don't do them someone else will and make the money.  It is really pretty simple.  This leads to the second reason I think it works.

In thinking back to the beginning, I seem to remember a time when it was pretty difficult to get anyone interested in cleaning toilets and mopping floors.  But then one kid realized that she had an opportunity to make some money.

And she did.

And the first time we did pay out and she got 15 dollars of her very own money to keep and do with as she pleased (yes, you did the math correctly she earned 60 bucks all together!!  That was over a couple of months time) and the others made 1,3, and 5 dollars to keep for themselves, they realized that there was a huge imbalance here, and it had nothing to do with age, favor, or ability.  This really created a natural competition, that I don't think we could have created if we had set out to do it.
  
Another reason I think it is successful, is because our kids need money!! We provide for their basic needs but for extras, they are responsible. We would not, for example, go out and purchase a DS or an iPod for a child, even for a holiday. We also wouldn't ask a relative to make a purchase like that. We feel that by saving and purchasing a bigger item, they have more respect for what they have.

There has to be a need!!!  If you, as a parent or grandparent, are providing everything that child wants, then why would they work for it?  As they realize that the only way they are going to get the fun things they want is to get to work and earn the money, the sheet starts filling up and I'm a happy Momma!

Okay, I know I said this is the last post, but I think maybe one more, on what I see this system has created in our children.

Kristen

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Family Tax

Now on to family tax.

This idea came from the Oprah guy.

The idea behind family tax is simple- we all have to pay taxes.

You can't escape them.

 It is inevitable.

Everyone pays taxes.

So, why not start now!

The quarter of their allowance that gets put into the family tax fund is used for family fun.

It's that simple.

The kids love it and look forward to spending our tax money on fun family activities.

The only real stipulation to the spending of family tax is that it must be used by all the family members, on an activity that is just fun.

It really is a great opportunity for us to get creative as parents, and reminds us to have fun!  Fun can be easily forgotten when life gets crazy, so it is a good reminder.

Family tax is something our kids always look forward to.  They have never minded contributing a portion of their allowance to the tax.  Although calling it a "tax" could potentially give it a negative connotation, it really is a great opportunity to spend time together as a family, and give a positive spin on one of life's necessary requirements.

Kristen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Giving Back to God

I know I said I would discuss the family tax next, but I think maybe I should talk about the order of the division of money, and how it has made a difference in our children's attitude about money.

The very first thing that the kids give to, out of their allowance, is giving back to God.  As I said earlier the kids tithe 25% of their allowance, which is more than God asks for us to give.  But really God doesn't ask for much does He?  When you think about it, He owns everything and asks ONLY for the first 10%, and He lets us keep the bigger portion for our own enjoyment!  That is a pretty generous God!

They have never questioned the amount we set up for them to give, and it has spilled over into the money they earn outside of allowance.

For example, when Faith started to make her own money, through babysitting, before she did anything else she took 25% of the money she had earned and placed it in the money for God.

And she continues to give 25% of her earnings, even after I told her that God only asks for 10%.

And when her sister got her first babysitting job, she brought her money to her sister and asked her to help her take out her money for God, first.  She said she wanted to make sure that she gave to God just like Faith does.

I love that they cheerfully give to the One who gives us EVERYTHING, that they don't feel like 25% is too much, and that they realize that it is the first thing we should think about when we get paid.

Kristen 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lettuce Wraps

We had a great time making food last night, together as a family.  It is a really fantastic part of home schooling and one of the things I love to do with the kids.

Since we had just finished a week reading about China in the mid 1900's we decided to take the kids for Chinese food on Friday.

As I got to thinking about it, I decided we would spend less money and have more fun if we just made it ourselves!

So we broke out our recipes for egg rolls, crab rangoon, and (a family favorite) lettuce wraps.  Mike and I showed the kids how to wrap the egg rolls and the won tons, they did a fabulous job!  Not one egg roll exploded, and if you have ever made them from scratch you will recognize that, that is a feat on its own!!

I have had a bunch of requests for the lettuce wraps recipe, so I thought I would post it here.  I did get this recipe somewhere, a long time ago, but I don't remember where, so I can't give credit, but I have seen other copy cat PF Chang lettuce wrap recipes that are the same as mine.

Special Sauce- combine all these ingredients, whisk and refrigerate.

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp sesame oil

Before you serve add:

1 T. Chinese hot mustard
1-3 tsp garlic red chili paste

***This does spice it up a bit, if you don't like spicy be moderate!!!  We just give each kid their own little bowl of the sauce and let them add their own mustard and chili sauce***

Next, you need to make the stir fry sauce.  I usually double the sauce, but this is the single ingredients:

2 T. soy sauce
2 T. dark brown sugar
1/2 t. rice vinegar
3 T. veg. oil

Mix and set aside.

2 breast fillet cut in small pieces
1 cup water chestnuts
2/3 cup straw mushrooms
3T.chopped green onions
1 t. minced garlic

Use the 2 T. of oil to saute the chicken.  If you chicken isn't cut up, cut it after you cook it.  Mince chestnuts and mushrooms (I make them unrecognizable)

Add all chopped stuff and to Wok with chicken and stir fry sauce.  Cook until hot.

You can use ice berg or bib lettuce to serve.  I just wash it the lettuce and gently remove the leaves.  Then each person can scoop the filling and put the sauce on their own wrap.

I will post the recipes for the egg rolls and crab rangoon another time :)

Kristen

Friday, March 18, 2011

Splitting the Pay Out

Now back to the topic of allowance.

As I mentioned earlier, we created a chart that lists a variety of "paid chores".  These chores have changed over time, as the kids have grown and based on the needs of the house we are living in.

We base the amount that each chore is worth on how frequently the chore could be done.  For example, picking up dog mess in the back yard could be done every day.  It is worth 50 cents every time they pick it up.  There is a serious opportunity to make good money here.  The catch is, it is worth the same amount of money, regardless of how often they do the chore.  Unfortunately, for them,  it usually only gets done once a week, so they are picking up the same amount of mess in one day for 50 cents that they could have gotten 3.50 for.   But other chores like thoroughly cleaning the bathroom is worth 1.00/per cleaning because it is generally done once a week.

So we created a chart with various chores on it.  The chores on the chart are chosen by need of the household, and things the kids think should be done.  For example, Seth really likes cleaning windows, I am not all that into windows :)  but we added it to the list.  It is a chore he can make money doing, but that I don't particularly care about.

The chart is created as an excel spread sheet and when the chore is completed they put their initial in a box next to the chore.

Once the chart, or an entire row is filled it is pay out time!!

The payout is another unique aspect of this system.  The original Oprah guy suggested splitting the payout into threes, but for our purposes we split it up evenly into four.  These four areas are: tithe, savings, personal money, and family tax.

So lets say that one of them earned 40 dollars, this could happen if you let the chart fill up. (It's really best NOT to let the chart fill up, but it does happen :)

That 40 dollars would be split up with 10 dollars going to God, 10 dollars going into their savings account, 10 dollars going to them to spend how ever they see fit, and 10 dollars in to family tax.

Tomorrow I will go into greater depth and explain the family tax, what it's used for, and the thinking behind it, as well as one of the reasons, I think, that my kids are motivated to do the chores on the list.

Kristen

Thursday, March 17, 2011

James 3:18

Now for a break from allowance charts.  I will return tomorrow, but this afternoon, Kylee said the coolest thing. 

I was cleaning my bathroom when Kylee came in.  She said,"Mom, you know yesterday when I was angry and I had to go to my room to calm down?"

I said yes.

She said,"Well, while I was in there I thought I should look up some scriptures that talk about anger, so I did.  I found James 3:18.  And do you know what it says?"

I said no.

She said," It says 'Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness' so I was just thinking, that every time I get upset and feel angry I will just say that over and over.  I did it today and it has really helped me!"

Wise beyond her years.

Kristen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This is Just the Beginning...

Alright, here we go! There is a lot to cover so I am just going to start writing and see how far I get today!

I really don't remember how much of our current plan was this Oprah-guy's idea and how much of it, we had morphed to fit our family. So I will just tell you what we came up with and how it works for us, but keep in mind, some of it is original and some of it isn't.

First, I would like to say, that we started this program with our kids when they were 5, 3 and 1. They are now 14 1/2, 12 1/2, 10 and 8 1/2. We decided, at that time, that the age of 5 was a good time to start a program like this. But as all the kids grew up knowing the system from a very young age, they have all entered in to the allowance program at different ages and stages. I think you need to know your kid.

I think that this system has worked for us for a couple of reasons:

a) We started it young! We had time to make mistakes and then changes based on what we found to work and not work. Little kids are a lot more understanding of this process than, say teenagers. I am not saying that you couldn't start this with a teenager, I just think you may have more work on your hands :)

b) As parents Mike and I are stubborn...um...I mean consistent. When we decided to take this on, just like many other challenges in parenting, we knew that we were going to have to stick to our guns, in the good and the bad. We aren't perfect in this, but we try really hard :)

Okay, so here is the basic premise of our system:

We have a chore chart. On it there are a variety of chores. They range from easier tasks (for the littler guys) to more difficult, time consuming, or just plain yucky tasks for the older kids. All the chores are assigned a monetary amount, so that once it is completed they know just how much they have earned. There are no limits or restrictions as to how many times a week a chore can be done or who can do it. That last statement isn't totally true, I do have quality control standards :) For example, if you aren't tall enough to vacuum and do it well, then you can't do that chore.

With this system, any child has the potential to make a good bit of money in any given week. I realize there is a potential for backfire here, but in our almost 10 years of using this system, we haven't experienced it yet :)

All of the chores on the chart are chores that we consider to be above their standard responsibilities. Now that they are older standard/non paying chores would include:

cleaning their room
feeding/washing their animals
washing/folding/and putting away their own laundry (yes, even the eight year old)

These responsibilities have to be kept up, for us to pay them for the paying chores that are on the list.

When they were little the only non paying job was cleaning their room. We felt that since it was their space, they should take personal responsibility for it and it didn't warrant payment. Kind of a good life lesson, no one pays you to clean your house/apartment/dorm room when you get older, it is a matter of personal pride and care.

Okay, this is long enough for one post :) I will write more about the charts and how the money is paid out and divided up tomorrow!

Kristen

Moni, Moni, Money... Money!!

Today I thought I would write about a topic near and dear to all kid's hearts...allowance.

I don't know many parents that don't struggle with the how, what, when, and whys of this challenging topic.

And to be honest when our first child got to be of allowance age, we struggled too.

How much do you give a child?

At what age should you start?

Should it be based on performance or is it just our responsibility, as parentals, to provide an allowance?

How can we use it to teach them the importance of money?

All these questions and more were going through our heads when it came time to start considering allowance.

The first technique I heard about was to give them half their age in allowance each week. It could be dependent on simple chores, but didn't have to be.

That seemed simple enough. We had a five year old at the time. I thought we could handle 2.50 a week.

After several weeks of this we found that it didn't seem to be working out. There was no motivation behind earning the 2.50. She didn't really care about it and wouldn't do the chores we thought she should do to get it. We felt like we were just paying out with no lesson being learned. This felt like we were teaching monetary irresponsibility.

Then one day, I was watching Oprah, and she had a financial guy on her show. To be honest I can't remember who the guy was. I wish I could remember who he was, I would love to thank him. He gave us the allowance system that we use to this day. It has been effective in motivating our kids to do chores, use their money responsibly, tithe regularly (above and beyond what we are called to tithe), and has taught them how to use their money (outside allowance money) in an outstanding fashion.

What is this system? How does it work? Why does it work?

More tomorrow...

Kristen

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Potato Leek Pizza

We love making home-made pizza in our house. I found the perfect dough recipe a few years ago, and have been using it as a base for my pizza ever since. It is very versatile and can be used to make a thick doughy crust or a thin crispy crust.

1 T. yeast
1/2 t. sugar
2 2/3 cups warm water
2 T. olive oil
1 T. coarse salt
7 1/2 cups flour

Mix together ingredients. I usually let the mixer mix it for about 5 minutes on a higher speed, then let it rest for about 10 minutes.

This recipe makes two crusts, If you want thinner crusts, you can stretch it to three crusts.

I made this crust yesterday and decided to try something new- potato leek pizza.

I got the recipe out of "The Pioneer Women Cooks", with some modifications (due to ingredients that I had in the house)

Three yukon gold potatoes, or red potatoes
1 leek (her recipe called for three leeks, that seemed like too much leek for me, but maybe that's just me :)
1/2 pound bacon
1 pound mozzarella
olive oil
salt
goat cheese
Parmesan cheese

First, I sliced the potatoes very thin. I used a slicer to get them potato chip thin. Then I soaked them in cool water and set them aside.
Next, I sliced the leek super thin and set it aside.
Then, I chopped the bacon and fried it up, once cooked I removed it from the pan and set it aside.
I put the leeks into the pan with the bacon grease and sauteed them.

After the crust has been stretched out on the pan, I sprinkled olive oil, garlic and coarse salt all over the crust.

Once the crust was ready to go, I dried the potatoes and layered them on to the pizza, overlapping slightly.

After the potatoes were on the pizza, I spread the leek all over the potatoes, then I sprinkled the bacon over that and the mozzarella last.

I didn't have goat cheese, but this is the time that the goat cheese and the fresh Parmesan would go on.

Then bake. She said to bake at 500 for 8-11 minutes. I baked it at 450 for about 15 minutes. I watched it closely and once the crust and top looked brown I took it out. I was so scared the potatoes wouldn't be cooked all the way, but they were perfect!

It was delicious!!

Kristen

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Home Schooling Revealed!!

I ran across this blog post on another home school mom's blog today. It addresses some of the questions and misconceptions that public school parents might have about home school parents/children.

It is one I have been wanting to write for some time, but have never had the right words.

I think this mom did an excellent job of expressing everything I would want to say, so I am just going to link to it here and say enjoy!!

Kristen

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lemonade, Fresh Cold Lemonade!!

My kids have this strange entrepreneur gene, and I'm not sure where they got it.

Must be Mike, because it certainly isn't from me!

As a kid, I don't remember ever wanting to sell anything. It just wasn't my idea of a good time.

And as an adult, the mere thought of me having to have a garage sale breaks me out into a cold sweat with hives sure to follow.

But my kids, they LOVE to sell stuff, and are constantly looking for an opportunity to make a buck on the street.

Last week Seth came up with his brilliant scheme.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and Seth came running in from playing outside. "Mom! Mom!" he shouted in his sweet out of breath voice.

"Yes" I answered.

"I have the best idea! You know how the lady across the street is always having garage sales?"

"Um, yes." Gulp. Uh oh.

"Well, I was thinking with all that traffic, and these warm days, I bet I could sell a lot of lemonade if I opened a lemonade stand while she is having her garage sales! What do you think?" he said with a look of utter delight on his face.

"Hmmm, do you have any money for start up costs?" (please say no, please say no...)

"Nooo, but if you buy the first lemonade mix, I will pay you back out of my first profit!"

So I bought him his start up lemonade.

I have so many thoughts about this venture.

First of which is- why in the world a perfectly healthy little boy would want to spend his time selling lemonade on a beautiful sunny California day?

Also, I wonder if my entrepreneurial neighbor is going to want a cut on his profits?

And if we aren't careful our street could, just possibly, start looking a lot like a flea market :)

Kristen

Monday, March 7, 2011

He's All In

I am blessed!

We just spent a great week with my dad, and I am overwhelmed with how blessed I am to have him in our lives.

It has been a tough year. When my mom passed away last May 3, I had no idea what our life would look like almost a year later. I knew we wanted to be closer to my dad but had no idea how that was going to happen.

Then God dropped us in California.

After being 2000 miles away from our family for 10 years we were finally going to be in driving distance.

Since we've been here, he has made the yucky 7 hour trek every couple of months, just to spend time with us. It isn't easy for him, but he does it because he knows how important this relationship is. We need him.

And because he pours over the kids, they respond to him in the most amazing way.

While he was here each kid expressed their desire to be near him in a different way, and it was so cool to watch.

Joshi is not a morning person, but my dad is. My dad is actually a too-early-in-the-morning-for-anyone-in-their-right-mind-person. He regularly gets up around 4 in the morning!

Yikes!

Every morning my dad was here, Joshi set his alarm for 6 o'clock, so that he could get up and spend a couple of hours with him alone.

Precious.

And once Seth was up, he was attached to his Papa's side. If my dad went somewhere his little buddy was right by his side.

Faith and Kylee spent time making sure Papa was okay. Watching out for him. Especially at Disney. They were very concerned about how he was, if he needed anything, making sure we didn't lose him :) Also, my dad, who has perfect day time vision, is essentially blind in the dark. So they spent a lot of time making sure I didn't swing him into too many walls in the dark caverns of the rides at Disney!!

These kids yearn for this relationship. We spent a lot of years too far away from grandparents, and now that they have a chance to have it they are hungry for it!

I am so glad that he chooses to be here. That he chooses to spend his time, to make the sacrifice of his comfort and his desires, to be here with us. I know he could be in a lot of places, but he chooses to be with us. I love that when he is here he is all in for whatever they want to do. If they want to play Bananagrams for hours on end, he's in. If they want to go to the park and play football or bags, he's in. No complaining, he just smiles and goes with it.

The time he is spending here is something they will never forget and it blesses me!!

Kristen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just Try and Make Plans

These last two weeks have been a bit overwhelming to me.

Last week was the high school visit, which I am not ready to discuss, so I won't.

And this week Mike has plans to go to an overnight conference from Wed-Fri. I thought this would be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my Dad, so I invited him to come and spend a couple of days with me and the kids. It was supposed to be a week of fun, maybe even a trip to Disney with Papa!

I was really looking forward to him being here, and then last night Joshi got sick... twice.

I couldn't afford to get my dad sick, so I called him at 5 o'clock this morning and told him he should not come today.

I am sooo sad about this.

I got up and bleached everything that isn't moving.

And since Joshi has been awake, he says he feels fine, has eaten- toast, applesauce, and two glasses of ginger ale. No fever.

Weird.

Hoping he is fine, and no one else gets sick. Hoping I can talk my dad into coming tomorrow, so we can still have a fun week :)

Also Mike and I have tickets to go see Hillsong tonight! Think if everyone is good I will still be able to go.

Why is it that you can go for weeks with nothing going on and everyone is well, but make plans and someone gets sick???

Kristen

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back to School

Well, it's that time of the year again. I am starting to investigate what it looks like to get my Masters degree.

I knew when I completed my Bachelors degree that I wasn't really finished with school and I am really excited about working towards a career.

I really want to be mindful of what my primary focus is right now and that is the education of my kids, but I also want to continue to look forward to the future.

Let's face it, at the most in 10 years my job gets outsourced. My kids will all be in college or working in their profession of choice, and my job as a home school mom will be...gone.

It is really exciting to think that in just a few years I could be doing a totally different job with all new adventures!

So, my hearts desire, right now, is to get a masters degree in counseling- marriage and family therapy. I don't know if that focus will change when I start the program, but I really feel like that is the direction God has been leading me in for quite some time.

There are a couple of problems with that degree.

First, the degree I get must be primarily on-line. I understand there will be a point where I will have to intern or do something like that to get practical experience, but for the most part I need the classes to be online.

Also, I need to make sure that the school isn't just accredited but it will also lead me into getting a license to practice in whatever state we may be in at that time. I have heard horror stories of people spending the time and money to get on-line degrees from some of these accredited on-line schools just to find out when they finish that they can not be licensed in the state they are in. For this reason, I am leaning towards a CA school that offers on-line degrees, but running into a road block when it comes to the degree I am looking into.

I am excited and a little fearful, but know that I can take this challenge on, and know that God will lead me to the right place and the right degree.

Kristen

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2010-2011 School Year

We are finishing our 17th week of our school year this week, and I thought I would give an update as to how our year is progressing.

Our curriculum started us out in the late 1800's, and we are now just finishing up with WWII.

Kylee finished reading "Lord of the Flies" yesterday, and only cried twice :) She is also working on finishing a WWII poster on some of the highlights of the war. She has been writing mini-reports each week on different aspects of the war.

Faith is reading "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok. In one week she will have her 9-week comprehensive final. This year I started giving Faith weekly tests as well as these 9-week comprehensive tests in history and literature. She has always taken math tests and science tests but these history and literature tests are her first experience with timed short answer/essay type tests. She has done really well on them, and is learning some valuable test taking skills. On the writing front, she is in the final stages of writing a 10 page research paper on Women's roles during WWII.

Seth is currently reading "Pipi Longstocking". He wasn't so sure about it when he first saw it, but he is great about not judging a book by it's cover and has enjoyed reading it. He has also been working on writing a 6 page biography of Stalin. And this week is working on campaign posters for Truman and Dewey.

Joshi is reading "Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot" a book about the pilots who dropped supplies from the skies during the year after WWII, when Stalin set up blockades of all roads, railroads, and canal routes going in and out of West Berlin. This is a true story of a pilot who would drop candy for the children. He has been working on an "inventions of the 20th century" project for the last eight weeks, and is almost done. His writing assignments have been focusing on writing compare and contrast papers.

We have also just started going through a bible study about the mind of Christ. Ideally, we are going to learn to think more like Christ. The author of the study states that there are 6 attributes that characterize the mind of Christ, and help you to develop these traits. There are weekly memory verses, this week's is Roman 12:2, and a unit memory verse which is Philippians 2:5-11. The kids are great at memorizing these verses, I am the one who struggles with memorization. It is actually an adult bible study, but the kids are doing great! It is covering some great stuff, like purity and humbleness.

The boys are doing Apologia astronomy, Kylee is doing a general science course from Apologia and Faith is doing Apologia Biology.

Faith has also had U.S. Government and Philosophy as electives this year. It has been an interesting experience studying some of these philosophers from a christian perspective.

We have tried to introduce Spanish this year, but I haven't been very successful with that, may be time for a Spanish teacher :)

Overall it has been a great year so far!

Kristen

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

So after stressing out for a week over this meeting with the principal, it got canceled!

Got a note last night from the principal and he said that he had a meeting and would not be at the tour today, so I rescheduled for next week.

Don't know if I am relieved that I don't have to do it this week, or upset because I am just continuing the stress for another week.

On a less stressful note, I made some delicious focaccia bread yesterday, and thought I would share it.

I made the bread just as the recipe states, but gave it about an hour to rise as dough and also an hour to rise once it was rolled out to its bread form. I know a tablespoon of salt sounds like a lot, but it is kosher salt, so it works perfect!

As for the top I didn't measure the salt, oil, rosemary, or cheese, I just sprinkled it on.

It was super easy, and so yummy!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thinking Outside of the Box

What have I gotten myself into?

We have been feeling it has been time for a change on the school front, for Faith, for a couple of years, and before moving we had even looked into some of our options.

We had opened communication with the principal of our local school in Illinois about Faith attending some elective type classes and participating in after school activities for her freshman year of school.

Up to this point, Faith has not shown an interest in going to a traditional school, but when she expressed an interest to attend part time, I looked into it.

As we approached the start of her freshman year we were also approaching a pretty major move across the country. Well, the move seemed to be enough change for one year, and we decided to wait on any other big changes.

But now we are settled and are looking ahead to the fall semester. We are investigating what our options are for Faith's Sophomore year at high school.

Yikes, she is going to be a Sophomore!!

Anyways, I wrote to the principal of Simi Valley High School last week, and got back a great response. They are running tours of the school every Wednesday of February and he invited Faith and I to come and check it out.

When I expressed to him that I wasn't sure how this was all going to look, since we only want her to attend part time, he said we could "think outside of the box".

Those are beautiful words to me!! I love that God put us in a school district where the principal is willing to "think outside of the box" when it comes to the education of my child! I do not want to depend on this school for anything that I think we do well at home, i.e. math, writing, literature, history, bible, and science. But for things like art, foreign language, p.e., and drivers ed. it would be GREAT to have assistance in these subjects.

With all that said, we are moving forward and going to the tour and a meeting with the principal this Wednesday, and I am STRESSING OUT!!!

Pray for us! Pray that we will be able to think clearly and hear clearly. Pray that if this is the right move for our family, for our Faith, that Mike and I will know it after this meeting. And if this isn't the right choice He will open up the right door and we will recognize it!

This is a very hard decision for me. We have a great time at home, and I really don't want to rock the boat. But, I do want what is best for my kids, and I think this is worth looking into, so here we go!

Kristen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fifi the Five Foot Vampire Goose

We have a lovely walking route, and if we do the whole thing, it is about three miles in length. It goes up hill, down hill, and past a beautiful park/golf course.

We often wait until the evening and walk it as a family after dinner, but on Mondays I go to a small group in the evening, so the kids and I have been trying to walk it in the afternoon.

Yesterday, we started down the street, it was a beautiful day, 75 degrees and sunny. The boys had brought their bikes and Kylee was running up ahead with them, while Faith and I were walking at a quick pace right behind them.

About five minutes into our walk, as we were walking by the beautiful golf course, I looked up ahead and saw three giant geese sitting by the sidewalk. As the three kids up ahead got closer to the three geese, one of the geese got up and looked quite upset.

The next thing I know she (the kids have dubbed her Fifi) began squawking and with her head low down to the ground she charged the kids!

Kylee, Seth and Joshi turned themselves around and took off back towards Faith and me. This crazy Fifi chased them down the sidewalk and even bit Joshi's tire!

By the time the three kids reached us, Joshi was in tears and they all suggested we just turn around and go down the other side of the street.

Well, I was not about to let a goose tell me I couldn't walk down the street!!

So, I told the kids we were just going to walk straight down that sidewalk, right past Fifi and we would be just FINE!

Meanwhile, Fifi had not taken her eyes off of us. We very determinedly walked back towards the three geese, and when we got about halfway there, she began screaming and charging us again!!

Okay, I admit it, I ran.

This Fifi meant business.

I decided we were going to have to just go out into the bike lane of the very busy street, and walk very quickly by this very scary avian menace.

We waited for traffic to clear and I grabbed Joshi's bike. He and I ran as fast as we could down the bike lane and got past Fifi to the other side.

Victory!!

I turned around to cheer with the other three and realized they were not behind me, they had gotten scared and were cowering on the sidewalk, being yelled at by a very angry Fifi!

I told the kids to just do what I had done, wait for the traffic to clear and run!

The girls made it.

Now, Seth was trapped on the other side of gooseland and Fifi looked like she really meant business.

She was on to our game, and at this point there was no guarantee that she was not going to follow him right out into traffic this time!

I decided to try and distract her by coming towards her from the other side, the safe side, which seemed to work. She quit giving Seth the bird-eye and came after me, which in turn made all the kids on the safe side scream.

Seth got out into the bike lane and made it to safety, and Fifi turned her goose tail and walked off towards the golf course.

We ended up stopping at a friend's house instead of continuing on our walk. By the time we got to our destination, the boys had morphed Fifi the goose into a five-foot vampire beast with huge fangs and a troll like voice.

Do you think they are going to need therapy?

Kristen

Monday, February 7, 2011

Productivity

It's 9:24 Monday morning, and I have already been super productive.

It was a great weekend. We had dinner with some new friends on Friday night. It was a fabulous evening of connection, time both Mike and I needed!

Saturday night was the big surprise party for my friend JoAnna. Another great opportunity for Mike and I to connect with others. We even stayed to listen to Dick Dale, surf guitarist, for a bit before heading home.

We pulled into our house that night, tired and ready to fall into bed, when I opened the back door and heard this strange beeping noise.

Hmmm.

I walked down the hallway and soon realized it was the washer. I had never heard this odd insistent beeping noise it was emitting.

I opened the laundry closet door, or tried to open it, when I realized the door to our front loader was ajar, and being held partially closed by the closet door. I reached in and tried to shut it but there were clothes spilling out and I really had to push.

I finally got the washer door closed enough to open the closet door, and that is when I realized there was water EVERYWHERE!

Apparently, the locking mechanism on our washer door decided that in the middle of a wash cycle was a good time to stop, well, locking.

So instead of going to bed we were cleaning up water. The funny thing is that the washer is still acting like it is locking, and doesn't seem to think it has a problem, so I have no idea how long this has been going on.

That was my first order of business this morning. I called those Whirlpool guys and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon. This family of 6 will have to take our chances on the locking door, because a week without laundry isn't going to work here :)

Also, this morning I sent an email to the local Magnet Arts and Tech. high school, to see if they are willing to accept a part time student. Faith is very interested in attending part time in the fall, and I would love some help with some of these subjects that aren't in my skill subset.

While all of that was happening, I was making sure all the kids were started on their assignments for the day, figuring out dinner for tonight, and answering neglected email from the weekend!

If only I can be this productive the rest of the day :)

Kristen

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Story About a Grill

I am laughing right now.

There is a lady on our little 12 house cul-de-sac who has a garage sale business.

She has garage sales EVERY single Thursday, Friday, and Saturday!

It is a tad bit irritating. There isn't a lot of parking room, on our street, and with the extra people on the street, perusing the goods, it gets really crowded.

But, this week we decided to take advantage of our crazy garage sale-ing neighbor.

We had some things in the move that were damaged beyond usability. One of those things was our grill.

When we moved, we chose a mover that said they would cover 100% of the cost of anything damaged. That wasn't totally true (but that's a different story), but in the case of the grill, they did give us what we claimed.

So, here is our dilemma, now we have a broken grill that needs to go, before Mike's wife :) will let him purchase a new one.

What to do, what to do...

That is when I came up with the brilliant plan! We would use the advantage of all the garage sale traffic, and put our grill out in the driveway with a free sign on it! After all, we just really need to get rid of it, right?

So that is exactly what we did this morning.

Several people got out of their trucks and looked at the grill then, drove away.

I was quickly realizing, we couldn't even give it away.

Then, I heard the clatter of the grill being drug away! I excitedly looked out the window, to see the garage sale neighbor, dragging the grill across the street to her garage sale!!!

She promptly removed the sign, and placed it prominently out in front.

After about 15 minutes and several people looking at it, she sold it!!

Don't know for how much, but she sold my broken grill to some poor consumer.

The good news is, now Mike can get a new grill :)

Kristen

Monday, January 31, 2011

Maple and Merfume

I, admittedly, have some strange quirks.

One of those being I can't stand the smell of maple. I can eat it with no problem, it isn't actually the smell of maple in itself, it's more the smell of maple on skin.

I think this comes from teaching pre-school. Have you ever smelled a child who hadn't bathed in several days?

Maple.

So, when I had children, I made two vows.

One, I would bath my children, often.

And two, if they did consume maple they would quickly get a bath.

This last week I was taking the boys to choir. They got in the van, and it became obvious that one of them had over done it on the cologne. (Santa brought cologne for Christmas, crazy Santa)

I said,"Whew! Smells like one of you might have over done it a bit with the merfume" (that's what they call cologne)

Josh quietly says from the backseat,"Yeah, that was me. I was walking up the stairs and smelled maple and thought it was me, so I went in my room and sprayed on some of my merfume, maybe a little too much..."

Maple.

Faith was burning a candle in her room, which is right by the stairs, and it just happened to be a hazelnut candle which surprisingly smells a lot like maple.

My poor children.

Kristen

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kylee's Fumble

Had an interesting interaction with my Kylee Hope yesterday.

She was outside playing with her brothers and some neighbor boys when all of a sudden she came in through the back door, and walked straight up to her room.

I was sitting on the couch reading a book, and asked her if everything was alright. There was something in her demeanor that told me she was really angry and was trying to hold it all together, but she wasn't stomping, or crying, just seemed a little upset.

She very calmly said,"I am really angry and just need to go to my room and calm down."

After a short bit she came down the stairs and I called her over and asked her if she wanted to talk about it.

She sat down on the couch and began crying. Here is pretty close to what she said:

"I was outside playing football with the boys, and Seth fumbled the ball, so I told him he had to go back to where he started from and he said, no, that he could start from where he fumbled it, and then, I got really mad at him and called him a jerk, and now I feel very remorseful that I called him that name and I did it in front of our friends, and I feel terrible about how I acted." (huge tears falling)

I was speechless. She had done a fabulous job of working out her anger, separating herself and coming full circle to accepting her fault in the situation (her out of control anger) and even felt remorse (her exact words) for her outburst.

I love that her focus was no longer on the action that had made her angry. I have to admit I am guilty of this. How easy is it to try and justify our rage with whatever it was that caused it. "If they hadn't done ____ I wouldn't have ___" Instead, she recognized her actions were not justified and felt compelled to make it right.

I encouraged her to go and tell her brothers and her friends that she was sorry for her outburst. I also encouraged her to tell her brother that when he tries to change the rules in the middle of a game (what 10 year old boy doesn't?) that it frustrates her.

She's a great kids, and it is awesome to see her growing and maturing!

Kristen

Jeremiah 31

For the last few days I have had a scripture constantly pop up in my head.

It's not a common verse, that is repeated often, like John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

And until a couple of days ago, not one that I had ever thought about very much.

But it keeps popping into my head. I woke up this morning repeating Jeremiah 31 over and over.

It is really great stuff. I read it as a love letter between God and His people. It speaks of love and hope and forgiveness. It speaks of joy after pain and a new covenant with His people.

Just not sure what it is that He wants me to get, so I am reading it over and over and praying on it, and hoping God shows me what it is that I need to take from it.

Then, I thought, maybe it isn't a message for me specifically, but someone I know, so I thought I would be obedient and post this verse, maybe someone I know needs to hear it today :)


Here it is:
“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. 2 This is what the Lord says:

“Those who survive the coming destruction
will find blessings even in the barren land,
for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”

3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
4 I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.

you will again be happy
and dance merrily with your tambourines.
5 Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria
and eat from your own gardens there.
6 The day will come when watchmen will shout
from the hill country of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem
to worship the Lord our God.’”

7 Now this is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Israel.
Shout for the greatest of nations!
Shout out with praise and joy:
‘Save your people, O Lord,
the remnant of Israel!’
8 For I will bring them from the north
and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame,
the expectant mothers and women in labor.
A great company will return!
9 Tears of joy will stream down their faces,
and I will lead them home with great care.
They will walk beside quiet streams
and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.
For I am Israel’s father,
and Ephraim is my oldest child.

10 “Listen to this message from the Lord,
you nations of the world;
proclaim it in distant coastlands:
The Lord, who scattered his people,
will gather them and watch over them
as a shepherd does his flock.
11 For the Lord has redeemed Israel
from those too strong for them.
12 They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem.
They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—
the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil,
and the healthy flocks and herds.
Their life will be like a watered garden,
and all their sorrows will be gone.
13 The young women will dance for joy,
and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration.
I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
14 The priests will enjoy abundance,
and my people will feast on my good gifts.
I, the Lord, have spoken!” 15"

This is what the Lord says:

“A cry is heard in Ramah—
deep anguish and bitter weeping.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted—
for her children are gone.”

16 But now this is what the Lord says:
“Do not weep any longer,
for I will reward you,” says the Lord.
“Your children will come back to you
from the distant land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,” says the Lord.
“Your children will come again to their own land.
18 I have heard Israel saying,
‘You disciplined me severely,
like a calf that needs training for the yoke.
Turn me again to you and restore me,
for you alone are the Lord my God.
19 I turned away from God,
but then I was sorry.
I kicked myself for my stupidity!
I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’

20 “Is not Israel still my son,
my darling child?” says the Lord.
“I often have to punish him,
but I still love him.
That’s why I long for him
and surely will have mercy on him.
21 Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Mark well the path
by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel;
return to your towns here.
22 How long will you wander,
my wayward daughter?
For the Lord will cause something new to happen—
Israel will embrace her God.”

23 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of Judah and its towns will again say, ‘The Lord bless you, O righteous home, O holy mountain!’ 24 Townspeople and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness. 25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”

26 At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.

27 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah. 28 In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the Lord, have spoken!

29 “The people will no longer quote this proverb:

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’

30 All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

35 It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day
and the moon and stars to light the night,
and who stirs the sea into roaring waves.
His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
and this is what he says:
36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel
as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“Just as the heavens cannot be measured
and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored,
so I will not consider casting them away
for the evil they have done.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

38 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when all Jerusalem will be rebuilt for me, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 A measuring line will be stretched out over the hill of Gareb and across to Goah. 40 And the entire area—including the graveyard and ash dump in the valley, and all the fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the Horse Gate—will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be captured or destroyed.”