Friday, January 28, 2011

What to do, what to do.....

I woke up a few hours ago, and I just did not feel so hot. 

Ben has been sick for two days, said he was fine last night and when he got up this morning.  After being awake about fifteen minutes, he realized he was still sick.  Nevin also has been not feeling well, but as he would have to be in ICU to take off work, he is soldiering on.

This morning I woke up with a headache.  My legs really hurt, too, but I think that is from the treadmill yesterday (walked up a really steep incline slowly for 30 minutes). 

So, a dilemna.  Today is our book club.  Ben is definitely not going - he's got a date with Grandma's couch.  I really don't feel like going, though I may feel better once I eat and get moving.  The other three boys, however, really want to go.  They aren't sick, and don't want to miss out. 

Not sick, but are they carriers?? 

Yesterday I got a very funny phone call.  I have a friend, I'll call her Lou.  I love her because she says all the things the rest of us only think, and she has no hypocrisy in her - what you see is what you get.  Sometimes she comes off as rude, but I don't think she means to be.  Anyway, yesterday Lou calls because she heard Ben was sick.  What she really wanted to know - and came right out and said - was:

What symptoms does he have?
When did it start?
Do the others have it?
Anyone coughing?
And...are you planning to come to the book club?  Because her family has just been sick for a month and she does not want to expose the kids to anyone else who is sick because she CANNOT go through this again!

I just had to laugh.  I mean really, how often do we look at someone elses' kid and wonder WHY did they bring that kid to this event?  Do you think church/book club/playgroup cannot go on without you?  I know I am certainly guilty of this.  A couple months ago, we had a week where we were "in between" bouts of colds and coughing.  And I took all the boys to chess club.  About 15 minutes into a game I noticed that Joe has begin to cough, and his eyes have gone red, there are dark circles and they have sunk back into his head.

Maybe no one will notice.....

Anyway, even as I sit here and type, and as my third cup of coffee kicks in, I feel fine.  My headache is gone (probably will address my body's addiction to caffeine in another post) and I feel fine.  I think I will head out today.  Ben, on the other hand, is still going to Grandma's.  There is a vast difference between me having a headache and him being on the couch with a fever for two days. 

There is also the possibility that I am trying to get out of baking cookies and going to the book club this afternoon, but I would never do that.....never.

So, we will plan on going.  Tony is an "older student" so he does not have to do a book report - he gets to play on the fooseball table this afternoon - this explains why he is so insistent on going (Mom, you can just drop me and the cookies off if you don't feel like staying).  Henry does not like "lots of people looking at me" so he probably won't do his report.  Joe is doing his on the original story of Shrek by William Steig

I actually like the story book better than the movies.  But that usually happens.  I need to read over Joe's report today, he tends to like to put on a performance for groups, and needs some editing.

So, I have digressed from my headache, to a discussion of illness, when it is appropriate to take people out among others, the dangers of caffeine addiction, and how movies are never as good as the books.  Meanwhile, though, I do feel better.  Good enough to bake some cookies and head out.  It is a beautiful day, and the fresh air will do us all good!

I need to add a disclaimer - NO ONE else is sick, no one is coughing, I don't think we are carriers of anything, and therefore I think it is okay to go out.  In the event that anyone else would show any signs of being sick, we would stay home.  I promise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Lord, make me a woman who loves."

"Lord, make me a woman who loves."

This has been an ongoing prayer.  I have always known that I am to love others, but I have been absolutely convicted for some time  that I need to truly LOVE people - that this is a glaring sin in my life, and the Lord keeps bringing it right in front of me.  I don't want to say, or even think, "...of course I love everyone, but there are some people that I just don't like," or any of that.  I think that is a cop-out.  I acknowledge that in practical terms there will be some people that I have more in common with, have mutual friends with, etc. And, I will probably spend more time in those peoples' company.  I will even admit that there are some people who are difficult to be around - for various reasons.  Is it okay to not hang around them?  Sometimes, I think.  If I am not able to respond to them in a Christ-like and loving manner, then maybe I should remove myself from the opportunity to sin.  Does that give me a pass, though?  NO.  The fact that I cannot respond to someone in a loving manner is not a reflection on THEM - it is a reflection on ME.  It is MY sin.

In every situation, I try to look at my role.  Sometimes this is easy.  Sometimes I can just note that I need repent and ask God to give me the supernatural ability to be more patient and loving.  Often, I can see where I was quick to judge and criticize (even if I don't say it out loud).  

Sometimes, though, it is difficult.  When I feel like someone has wronged me - especially when dealing with someone who is being passive-aggressive, where you know they are digging at you, but it is being done so subtly that you really can't call them on it.  That is the sort of thing that can feel like grit in your soul.  But what is my role in this?  Even if I did nothing to provoke it, I still have a role - my role is my response.  Do I get angry, and then go on a vent against them?  Do I turn it over (and over and over) in my head, sucking up my day with my grievances?   Do I pray for God to "fix" them?

Or do I turn to my Savior, and beg Him to take this anger from me, and to replace it with love and compassion. 

Honestly?  Sometimes the former, sometimes the latter.  But I want it to be the latter.  I want my actions and my thoughts to be glorifying to God.  You know what I really want?  I want for it to not even be an issue - to be so filled with love for my brothers and sisters that I don't even see their wrongs.  I want their "sandpaper" to rub me smooth.


I recognize that I am also sandpaper for others, but I am going to leave that for another post, on another day!

I am blessed to have a "slightly" older woman who holds me accountable.  We are close in chronological age, but she is years ahead of me in her walk with the Lord.  Last week during a prayer meeting she cried out to God to give her a heart to love people the way she should, the way He does.  This has been my own prayer, and when I heard it spoken out loud it became like a searing flash across my heart.  Oh Lord, how critical I am.  How easily offended I can be.  How impatient, and unloving.  Lord, let me see others as you see them.  As you have loved and forgiven me, let me love them.  Give me a compassionate heart, instead of a critical one.  Lord, if I see a brother or sister in sin, let me be grieved over it.  Let me take it to You, let me intercede for them.  Let me not tell others about it, or complain about it.  God, if you lead me to confront them, let it be done in humility, in love, not in self-righteousness.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

If anyone says, "I love God" and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:7-12, 20-21  ESV

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A final thought on goals (and I really mean it)!

So, now a few weeks into it, and how am I doing????

1. To get back to my Weight Watchers goal weight and maintain it - I am 10 lbs over right now (yikes!).
I have been staying within my Points and weighing in each week - the last two weeks I was down. .6 pounds each week.  This is good - as much as I'd like that 10 pounds to disappear immediately, I know that slow and steady is the way to go, and that will be easier to maintain.

2. Make getting all the schoolwork done a priority for the boys.
So far, so good.  I have re-vamped our schedule a bit, revised my expectations some, and looked at what are the basics we need to accomplish each day. 
3. Follow through with my Bible reading plan.
On track, making it my first priority each day.  I am really blessed to see how Tony is staying on track with his, and making sure it is done each day.  He sets aside time and goes by himself to study. 

4. Have housework done before I play on computer.
I think someone else must have snuck that one in! 

5. Exercise at least 3 times a week, besides my regular "on my feet all day" stuff.
Let's just say it is still a "goal", not an accomplishment.  Getting better, though.  I have found that if I do it first thing I seem to get more out of it.

6. Keep the school records current, so I don't have to face a month of stuff to log.
Doing better, everything is current up to Thursday of this past week, and I am finding time in the day to sit down and work on it.

7. Have more families over for fellowship at our house.
Have had people over this month, have plans for more, hosting the homeschool book club this week, tentative plans with some other moms and kids - this is really more of an ongoing goal, since we do have friends and family over frequently. 

8. Stay with a regular cleaning schedule.
This is probably more what I mean by "housework before computer" - these two goals are basically the same!  Back with the Flylady, though not quite as ambitious as she is.  But we are doing better with putting things away when we get them out, at least!

9. Be consistent with the boys - in discipline, in chores, in everything!
I hadn't addressed this individually - I guess it doesn't need much explanation. 

Okay, maybe it does.

I know that there are some who think that homeschool families fall into a form of idolatry with their children.  Well, maybe some do, but I think you can see that in all kinds of families, no matter what form of education they choose.  We do not idolize our children.  However - our family is first God-centered, and then family-centered.  And our family just happens to have a lot of young boys in it! 

We have these children in our homes for such a short period of time.  My oldest is almost 13, and when I think of how fast the last 13 years have gone by, and I look at only having another 5-6 years ahead to train him, I could go into full-blown panic.  But, the Lord reminds me that this is HIS child, He has marked out Tony's days before the creation of the Earth.  Nevin and I are to train Tony (and his brothers) up, to guide them, love them, instruct them, and then to let them go out into the world. 

Back to the consistency - it is hard!  Sometimes it is easier just to do the chore myself than to have to remind (remind, remind) others to do it, but then all they are learning is that if they turn a deaf ear and wait me out, they get out of work.  Sometimes it is easier to say I am being "merciful" when I don't discipline them, when really, I am just being lazy.  It is no fun to have to stop what I am doing and address someone's bad behavior.  Especially when I am going to come out of it as the "bad mom" or even the "mean mom".  Joe used to tell me that I was a "terrible mudder" when he was younger.  Ah, the joys of motherhood....!

BUT - it needs to be done.  There is no need to be rigid, but we need to be consistent.  Consistent bedtimes, consistent waking up, a regular routine of school and chores, and then lots of time to relax, dream, read, play, build, and just follow our own little plans for the day.  So this is another of those ongoing goals, and sometimes I do really well with it, and sometimes the whole system falls into chaos and anarchy. 

And then I just ask the Lord for strength for another day, forgiveness for where I've fallen short, and get up and try again. 

And now, just because Joe and Ben thought I should put some of their Lego designs on the internet, here are pictures of the ships they built the other day, as part of our Lego lapbook project!
Ben's boat, I believe that is a crab trap and the shark wants the crabs.

A little more detail, with additional endangered creatures being captured.

I mentioned to Joe that I didn't think a square boat would float, and he became very annoyed with me and my lack of vision. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goal #7

"Have more families over for fellowship at our house."

This is really not a difficult one at all.  I do have people over all the time - but it is mainly moms and kids from our homeschool group.  I really enjoy getting together for playdays, and we usually host things like the book club, board game days, etc. at our home.  We don't have a big house, but it is pretty open and we have room upstairs and downstairs, so it seems like we can fit a lot of people.  We do have a great yard, though - we are out in the country and have wooded acreage, plus the requisite trampoline, giant wooden playsets, tree fort, creek, etc. 

As long as it isn't raining and we can make the kids eat outside, I am open to having lots of folks over.  I think our max was 55 at the book club last September.

Where we fall short, however, is on having families (ie, dad too!) over in the evenings and on weekends.  We are getting better, though.  We had families over for 4th of July, we have been having a few families at a time over to eat, toast marshmallows, just hang out, watch football and we have both sides of our family over for Easter and Thanksgiving.  I enjoy having people over - I hate to admit it, but if we never had company, my house would not get a good cleaning very regularly!  Company always motivates me to vacuum under the furniture! 

I have learned not to stress on the cleaning too much, though.  I used to not have people over because it was so much work - super cleaning.  Now I do want things picked up and tidy, but I am not insane about it.  I don't have any hesitation to just make sure the bedroom doors are all closed.  As long as it is picked up, and the bathrooms and kitchens are clean, we are good.  When I go to someone's house, I am just delighted to be invited - I don't spend any time checking out baseboards.  I assume others are the same.  Let it be known, though - anyone who comes over and comments on my baseboards.....doesn't get invited back!

Keep it casual, keep it fun, don't stress out - get a set of folding chairs and a couple tables some time on sale and have a party!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goal #6

Keep the school records current, so I don't have to face a month of stuff to log.

Here in Missouri, homeschoolers have to record or "log" 1,000 hours of instruction per calendar year, broken out into core and electives. 

I have no problem getting plenty of stuff done - as I've said before, we subscribe to a "learning lifestyle" so I look at everything we do as learning - not just those things done with a pencil and paper.  The hard part is not the learning - it is the recording of the learning. 

The things that I have on a "schedule" for them are easy - I plan each week, print a list for them of what we are going to do, and as it gets done I check it off.  Then I just have to mark it complete in the computer and how much time we spent, and the Homeschool Tracker program does the rest.

But what about the time Ben spent yesterday in the library reading a DK book about WWII?  Or the time Joe, Henry and Dad spent going through an I-Spy book last night?  Some of the tv shows we watch are definitely educational.  Ben has spent several hours this week assembling an approximately 4' tall skeleton out of duct tape (I am not joking) - is that science or art?  So many things - okay, most things - don't involve sitting at a desk, and oftentimes we rabbit trail off to topics that don't seem to have any relation to what we set out to study.  But yet, learning is happening.  Just not the learning that I had on the list for that day!

I have considered giving the boys steno pads to write down what they are doing each day, but that seems like a "joy of learning killer", at least for them.  I think I need to carry a steno pad around and write down everything they do.  Actually, I know that is what I should do.  I guess I could hang it from a chain around my neck or something...

Anyway, we always get in more hours than we need for state requirements, I just tend to stress myself out because I know I am missing so many things that we do.  I guess it would be easier if I just sat them down at a table from 9 - 3 each day (with a break for lunch) and had them do a list of assignments.  But that does not seem like much fun for any of us.

So, a system needs to be in place, but what that system will look like is uncertain.  And as life is always changing, the system will need to change and be re-vamped frequently.  For now, I should probably find myself a really attractive chain for the steno pad I will be wearing!

And here are a few examples of what learning looks like in our house:

Copy pictures of Missouri insects and then coloring and painting them - art/science

Doing a portrait like Picasso would, and a sculpture to match - more art!

Reading for fun!

Enjoying a science video with some friends

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Goal #5...

Exercise at least 3 times a week, besides my regular "on my feet all day" stuff.

Okay, this is a problem.  I hate - can I say "hate" - exercising.  I like to go for walks, but there are no roadways to walk on.  We live in a rural area, no sidewalks, barely even a shoulder on the road.  I really don't want my four sons to be walking down that road, probably wandering into the traffic lane, where cars come zooommmmiiinnng over the hill at you.  We can hike through our woods, but you really can't do that every day.  I have a very nice treadmill, but I don't feel like using it.  I have started stacking my magazines on it.  The idea is that I can ONLY read magazines while on the treadmill.  So, I have a stack of new, unread magazines.  This is really not working.  I tried using an exercise dvd and the boys laughed at me. 

Here's the deal.  I am on my feet most of the day.  I maintain the home, homeschool four kids, help with the business, care for the critters....I just don't feel like doing anything else.  When I have down time I want to be down - to lay down and read a book, check the computer, etc. 

But, I know that I should be doing this.  It is good for me.  It is really just such a low priority, though, that when I look at the things that NEED to be done (like, at least two loads of laundry every day!) that I want to get those things done and I (rapidly) lose any interest in exercise. 

I don't like this goal.  But I know it ties in with Goal #1, getting back to my Lifetime Weight Watchers weight.

I was down .6 today from last week, btw.  Slow and steady wins the race!

Anyway.  I just don't like doing it.  I could go do it right now.  I should.  It would require me changing pants, putting on my shoes, putting up my hair.  It would also require me getting off the computer. 

Okay.  I can do this.  I will do this.

I am off to go do this.  I'll tell you tomorrow how it went.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On to Goal #4

Have housework done before I play on computer.

This is a stumbling block.  I mean, housework never ends, right?  Especially in a house where both the parents lean towards "cluttered", and there are four boys.  And did I mention we homeschool, so they never leave.  There is not that block of time while they are in school that I can be cleaning.  I try to clean as we do school, or clean as I go.  I will admit that our house is usually "okay" - as in, if I know someone is coming over I can pick up the kitchen and living room, wipe down the hall bath and get us presentable in about a half hour. 

But woe is me if they open any bedroom doors!

I know how to clean.  I even know how to maintain.  A few years ago I signed up for Flylady

- Flylady has a complete system to get you on track by using "baby steps" - 15 minutes a day at first de-cluttering, setting up goals like shining your sink, taking care of "hot spots", keeping clutter under control.  I usually sign up, get on the ball, then get incredibly overwhelmed with the emails (sometimes 20 a day!) and drop out.  And then, my good habits start to drop away.

But today, I think I will sign up again.  I need the reinforcement to do the small jobs throughout the day.  I have a tendency to look at something that is a big job - like cleaning out the toy closet and tubs in the family room - and see such a huge project that it cannot be done and I give up.  Or I'll be straightening my desk, and see how the baseboards are so dusty, and then I can't finish the desk because I stop to clean the baseboards.  I am easily distracted.

Last night we watched the movie "Up", and I loved how the dogs would be in the middle of a sentence and then suddenly, "Squirrel!" and then they would come back to their focus.  It is so like me, all day.

See, that is what I mean.

Anyway, today I am going to sign back up to be a Flybaby again.  I really do like that system, I like the baby steps, the "15 minute" projects and zones each day.  I can focus on those small chunks.  And, as long as I focus on that, and not look at the huge overwhelming "clean the whole house-while doing school-and making food for fellowship tonight-and typing on blog-and whatever else I come up with" I can keep things under control.

I also want to clean out my closet today, but that may have to wait until we come to that "zone" again.

If you've never tried (or even heard of) Flylady I highly recommend checking it out.  Even if the whole system doesn't work for you (it doesn't for me, either) there are probably parts that will.

I know I have not addressed the whole "before getting on the computer" thing.  I mean before I get on it AGAIN, okay?  I do check my email, etc. first thing in the morning, after Bible reading/devotion time, before kids overrun the house.  But my goal is to not get back on and play until the school and housework is done for the day.

You may never hear from me again.......

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goal #3 from "the list"

#3.  Follow through with my Bible reading plan.

I have always done pretty well with having a time each day to spend in scripture.  Sometimes I will go for periods where it is a lot of time, getting into some serious study.  Others, it may be just a few chapters.  I have always had the goal - and never accomplished it - of reading through the Bible in a year.  I have tried various formulas and schedules, have tried using chronological Bibles, etc.  I tend to get hung up around Leviticus, then at Job and the minor prophets. 

This year, I am using the reading plan listed in the daily readings from  Table Talk

I started reading older copies of this last year that were set out on the table at church, and really enjoyed it.  We have our OWN subscription this year.  I am going to read the devotional study each day, and the chapters.  It also includes some chapters and verses for further study, and I try to get those in each day, too.  I like this because it goes through books of the Bible verse by verse, as opposed to being topical. 

I have tried to do group or "organized" Bible studies in the past, and usually don't finish them.  I have attempted various Beth Moore studies, and even Experiencing God.  I find that I make it to the class, and I get a good start on the homework, but I just cannot get the 30-45 minutes worth of homework done each day.  I really don't care for the flipping through the Bible, looking up verses and filling-in-the-blanks approach.  So I get behind, then I have too much to finish....and then I don't get it done.  Just the way my mind works, I guess!

When I find a topic that really interests me, say, baptism, I will look up all the scripture I can find on it, then I will often look up a few websites for their perspective, then move on to some Church history.  I always want to know WHO did WHAT and WHEN.  When did certain practices of the Church come into existence?  Who made that decision, and based on what scripture?  I find that helps me clarify in my own mind whether some doctrine is from scripture or added through mans' tradition. 

And I just really like to study history.

This is the Bible that I have been using for study for the last few years:

and I also like to use this Bible dictionary, which was recommended by a pastor:

So, I tend to go in different directions at times, reading on a subject, chasing some rabbit trails through history and modern commentary. 

I think however you decide to study is fine, I just want to encourage everyone to spend some time in the Word each and every day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Goal #2 from "the list"

Goal #2:
Make getting all the schoolwork done a priority for the boys.

Sometimes this is difficult.  I make a schedule.  Really, I do.  But I have four rambunctious guys, who really have better things to do than sit around with schoolbooks. 

I try to promote a "learning lifestyle" - everything we do is learning.  It doesn't all come from books.  Of course we have books - lots of them.  We also have text books.  We use those and workbooks in conjunction with math and grammar.  We also do a lot of creative writing, reading together, watching videos. finding out stuff on our own, and we go on lots of field trips.  I think so many lessons can't come from books - like how to get along with others, how to work, how to serve, how to create and invent.  So, while we do hit the books in the morning and get that part "out of the way" (and yes, some homeschool kids do really see their schoolwork as something to just.get.done) we usually leave the afternoons open for some fun, or for them to just have time on their own to BE.  To exist.  To be human "beings", as opposed to human "doings".

I will admit that sometimes the drawback to being relaxed in our approach is that sometimes I don't feel like we are doing enough.  I know we are, we get all our hours in every year.  But I keep falling back into the idea that "school" is "bookwork".  And I have to shake myself out of that and remember that "school" is "life".

And there is much more to life than textbooks and workbooks. 

So really, this is an important goal - school needs to be their priority.  But sometimes the definition of "school" needs to get revamped a bit.

And now, just because it is my blog and I can, I would like to share pictures from the spelling bee last week.  Ben and Tony both competed.  It was a very small bee, but we had fun.

Tony - he looked so huge up there on the stage!

Ben is in the back, there, with the other finalists.  The winner from each grade went to the spell-off.  He didn't place there, but I thought we did pretty good, considering we'd never even ATTENDED a spelling bee before!

Tony and Ben with their ribbons.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dealing with those goals things..

Even though my "organizational" goals are pretty humdrum, they do seem to be a humdrum that is common to most people.  Therefore, they may be worth discussing a bit.

Goal #1 for 2011:
"To get back to my Weight Watchers goal weight and maintain it - I am 10 lbs over right now (yikes!)."

My journey with Weight Watchers has been humbling for me.  After having four children in 6 1/2 years - all in my 30s, I might add - I was putting on some "mom weight".  I was not overweight - still within WW guidelines for a healthy weight for my height (just barely, though).  So, I joined WW in April of 2008, and was very gung ho.  The weight just dropped off.  I threw myself into it.  I had had gestational diabetes with three of my pregnancies, so I was familiar with planning meals, counting starches, fats, etc.  Weight Watchers is MUCH less restrictive than the diabetes diet I was on.  My goal was to get to 140.  I was at 152.  Not a huge loss, but honestly, I did not think I could do it.

I really, really, really like to eat. 

Anyway, I started losing and just kept going.  I got down to - get this - 125.  A skinny size 6.  And boy, did I feel good about myself!

I maintained that for about a year, and then suddenly....well, I am not going to go into a lot of detail, but let's just say the changing hormone age hit me early and with a vengenance.  And in one month I gained 5 lbs.  THAT is discouraging!  The next month I gained a few more.  Then I reached the "what's the use!" stage and practiced the program sort of half-heartedly for the next year.  I eat basically healthy, I usually track what I eat, etc., etc.  But I quit going to the meetings.  I know my portion sizes started creeping up again, and the ability to only have one cookie seemed to evaporate. 

So right now, I am 11 lbs over goal - almost back where I started.  I feel differently now, though, than I did three years ago.  In 2008 I felt FAT.  I felt dumpy, and dull.  I don't feel that way now.  I'd still definitely like to get back to my goal of 140, but I do not want to get back down to 125 again.  I gave away all my 6's and told my friends that if I ever get that thin again it will be due to a wasting disease and I am just going to wear sweats in that situation!  But basically, I feel good about myself.  I know I've blogged before about turning 45, aging gracefully, and all that, so I am not going there again.  My main focus is to get back to eating healthier.  Now, by "healthier" I go with the idea of being "healthy enough".  I get my daily requirements of fruits and veggies, protein, dairy and healthy oils.  I take my vitamin supplement.  I try to eat my daily requirements before I eat goodies.  And I am limiting my sweets and fried foods.  But I am limiting them - not eliminating them.  That is one of the reasons I like WW so much - nothing is forbidden, but you have to think about the point value of say, a biscuit as compared to...well, just about anything else!  Think about whether to have seconds on country fried steak.  Balancing out each day.  Be aware of portion sizes.  Eat when I am hungry, not just because something is there. 

It is harder now than even a couple years ago.  And since I had my children "late" we are still in the kid stage - lots of activities that involve going out.  We also really enjoying fellowshipping with others, and that always seems to include a meal.  I won't give that up.  I want to enjoy eating, and enjoy fellowshipping, and I refuse to be one of those people who picks apart all the food at a potluck.  And, if I go to the WW meetings, and stick with the program, little by little I will get back to my goal weight.  But the focus is on being "healthy enough" - not obsessing over my food, my weight, my size - getting enough exercise, being active, being able to work and play and serve and enjoy life.  That doesn't seem like it should be too hard!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Goals, goals, goals...and Great Grandma

I refuse to call them resolutions - I don't know why, maybe just because everyone else does, or because I want to join some of the backlash against resolutions!

I did force myself to sit down and make some goals for the year.  I hate to admit it, but the things that most come to mind are goals of the "organizational" type.  I feel like I have so many irons in the fire, and so many things going on, and I am so easily distracted that I have lots of things "sort of" completed.  I go back and forth on things - for a while I will do really well with a very solid cleaning schedule, for example, but then I will get tired of having to be "regimented".  Start talking in my head about freedom in Christ, that sort of thing. 

I don't really believe that freedom in Christ = don't bother to clean house, but I can go on some tangents when it is just me and my head sometimes.

But here are the goals I came up:

1.  To get back to my Weight Watchers goal weight and maintain it - I am 10 lbs over right now (yikes!).
2.  Make getting all the schoolwork done a priority for the boys.
3.  Follow through with my Bible reading plan.
4.  Have housework done before I play on computer.
5.  Exercise at least 3 times a week, besides my regular "on my feet all day" stuff.
6.  Keep the school records current, so I don't have to face a month of stuff to log.
7.  Have more families over for fellowship at our house.
8.  Stay with a regular cleaning schedule.
9.  Be consistent with the boys - in discipline, in chores, in everything!

Well, THAT is a dull list!  Those don't even seem like they should be goals - those should be givens. 

What is my real goal this year?

I wanna be more like Grandma.

This week we went to visit Nevin's Grandma K.  She turns 96 today.  In the 16 years we have been married, I have never heard this woman complain.  Any time I'd see her she'd hold my hand and tell my about Otto, her husband who passed away about 15 years ago.  I had only gotten to meet him once, after he had had a stroke, so I never knew the guy in the stories, and it sounds like I have really missed something there.    Grandma always made a point of telling us how lucky she was.  She had such good neighbors, she got to be in her own house, her children all came home to help her regularly.  She is always encouraging, and always so happy to see us.  She came to the United States with her parents and five siblings when she was 8 years old, in 1923, and has some fantastic stories about coming through Ellis Island, and how her parents had them learn English right away.  She has always been close to her sisters and brother, all of them ending up living in the same area of Iowa.

But now she is the last of the siblings, and a few weeks before Christmas she told her children that it was time for her to leave her home.  She just couldn't take care of herself anymore.  So, she is now settled into a very nice, very "homey" home, where she is getting wonderful care.  But still, she misses her house - she had lived there 70+ years, and raised all four of her children there. 

You would think that this would be an opportunity to complain.  But no.  She just says she misses her house, but then she looks up and says, "They are so good to me in this place.  The food is wonderful, they take care of me.  They come to my room to get me every day, because I do everything that I am asked to."  She participates in all the activities, is making friends with some of the other residents (though she did tell us one woman was not happy there...."I think that she thinks she is important," Grandma says matter-of-factly).  She was so happy because her children would be there this weekend for her birthday - they were going to have it in the party room, which is very nice. 

As we were driving back to the hotel, I was thinking over the "burdens" that I complain about.  The people who rub me the wrong way, the things that don't go my way, the things I'd like to do and don't have time for, the things that need to be done that I don't want to do, having to eat where the kids want to eat...blah, blah, blah. 

I have absolutely nothing to complain about.  And even if I did, exactly what use is complaining?

Grandma doesn't talk a lot about her religion - she lives it.  She is kind and gracious, she is pleasant.  When she was younger and able she served her family and her community.  And now, at 96, in a whole new place, she serves in a new way. 

Grandma, with some flowers we brought.  She was so delighted with such a simple thing.

Grandma with her grandson and four great-grandsons. 
So this year, as I know that my real goal is to grow more like Christ, I also want that to look like Grandma, too.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reading Log for December, 2010

Good reading month - one of the best books I've read in a loooonnnng time - Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice. 
 This was truly a great book.  She told the story of her family - ordinary people, many of them teachers or pastors, middle-class folks.  She was born and lived the first part of her life (until high school) in Birmingham, Alabama.  She was there during segregation, and recounts the effects.  I will be honest, since that was before I was born, and let's face it, I'm not black, I have never really thought about it on a personal level.  Condi tells about how she was brought up in a protected environment, her family and neighbors segregated themselves as well, and taught their children to excel - that they had to do everything twice as good, just to be acceptable.  It is mindboggling to think of the Secretary of State not being allowed to use certain restrooms or eat a hamburger in a city in the United States.  This book really changed how I look at things like affirmative action.  Can you imagine that Bull Conner closed all the public swimming pools in Birmingham, instead of allowing African-Americans to use them?  Condi simply tells the story of how they lived, how her parents sacrificed so much for her to be educated and have opportunities.  The book goes up to December, 2000, when her father died (her mother had died several years before).  At first I thought that was a shame, because I wanted to read about her time in the Bush administration, but that is probably a different book.  This is about her parents and her family - extraordinary people.
And, for the rest of the list:

197. An Expert In Murder: A Josephine Tey Mystery – 3.5 – Nicola Upson – no where near as good as I was expecting – so much detail about the various characters’ lives, and way too much coincidence for me.

98. The Relaxed Home Schooler – 4– Mary Hood, Ph.D. – a nice, short book, extolling the virtues of relaxed homeschooling, and unschooling. Made me feel better.

99. Decision Points – 4.5 – George W. Bush – very good, much better than I expected. I felt like I really got to know him. He discussed his decions that had to be made, starting with his decision to marry Laura and to quit drinking. He did not go into huge detail about his extended family (I hate autobiographies that start 4 generations back in the Old Country) but discussed his parents and how he was raised. You could really feel the love and admiration he has for his parents. The book was fairly fast-paced. He explained how he made all his major decisions as President, where he got his information and what were deciding factors for him. He noted where he made mistakes and his regrets, yet did not blame anyone else. Definitely not a critical, tell-all book. If you are looking for dishes of dirt on Washington, this is NOT the book for you.

100. Death of a Glutton – 4.5 – M.C. Beaton – more fun with Hamish. A pretty good one.

101. Death of a Travelling Man – 4.75 – M.C. Beaton – one of the better Hamish mysteries.

102. The Wolves of Andover – 4 – Kathleen Kent – I originally gave this a 5, as it was fast-paced and a real page turner. But then I thought about it some more. The book was not as good as The Heretic’s Daughter. What made it so fascinating? I hate to admit it – the book was full of vulgar characters, and gruesome details of death and torture. So, if I were to take out all the “lurid” details, would the story still stand? Not really. The background story (Thomas Carrier is Thomas Morgan, the man who is rumored to be the executioner of King Charles I) is still interesting, but the characters were never really fleshed out in my mind – just their darker sides. So, I have to take it off the list of favorites of the year. Because of the violence and crudeness, I probably would not recommend it to most of my friends.

103. Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker – 4.5 – Lynn Bowen Walker – a weekly devotional, covering topics like housework, schedules, holidays, family vacations, etc. I tried to read it every Sunday morning. Lots of encouragement, some chocolate recipes, done from a Christian perspective. I am going to read it again this year, too.

104. Extraordinary, Ordinary People – 5 – Condoleezza Rice - see review above

And that is it!  I don't have any real reading goals, other than to try to read a good mix, not waste my time on anything I am not enjoying, and I do try to hit 100.