Friday, January 31, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 1/30/14 - 32 Degrees

I was amazed (yes, amazed) to walk out of work this Friday morning and realize it was a balmy 32 degrees. It really HAD warmed up after I went to work Thursday evening!

Why the amazement? In the past 2 weeks we've only had 3 days where it reached the freezing mark. We live in Central Indiana, our AVERAGE high is 34, with an average low of 19. We have spent almost all month below the average, with at least 3 or 4 days where the high was 0 or below. That's right, we have been having the type of weather you normally read about for a winter storm in Duluth, MN or Bismarck, ND.

I have lived in Indiana my whole life. I cannot recall a January being this cold with this much wind. 

32 degrees F  is balmy based on this past month. I am thankful for the warmer weather, even if it probably will bring more snow.

Snow, I don't mind snow. After all, I live here, and we have 3 snow shovels. What has made me grumpy (I know, a bad choice on my part) is the snow and the COLD!

Today, I am thankful it is not so cold... and that I smell pumpkin bread baking in the oven.

I think it's time to go be thankful for some hot chocolate!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unrealistic expectations - for Moms

There are two themes I observe floating around in the cyber-world dealing with Moms. The first, is the pinning, tweeting, everything looks perfect ( like a Martha Stewart ad ) in her house mom. The second one is a realization that 'perfect' will never happen, often accompanied by remorse or a lamenting of her failures.

Please let me reassure you, real Moms struggle to find a place in between the two 'cyber Mom' images. I have friends and acquaintances who fit both ends of the spectrum, but most of us are in the middle somewhere. There are days when I think the house will finally get clean ... followed by days when I wonder where the floor went.

Perhaps you've struggled back and forth between these two cyber-images of motherhood? Whether you're a stay-at-home Mom or a working mom, I think we may ALL put too much pressure on ourselves.

Yes, there is work to be done as a Mom, lots of work! However, that doesn't mean God desires us to struggle with depression or feelings of failure because we don't end our days with everything on the to-do list checked off. God wants our hearts, not perfect looking houses or holiday crafts with mounds of bitterness or rage attached. The work to be done as a Mom is much different than what the world portrays!

God wants YOUR heart. He wants MY heart. He wants our children's hearts.

Do not be discouraged because you never achieve a 'picture-perfect' house or dinner. Your husband cares too much about you to really care if the biscuits are a little burnt or the pudding doesn't set. My husband isn't expecting a five course meal on a one-pot budget. Neither is yours.

Stop placing unrealistic expectations on yourself. Ask God to help you be the Mom HE wants you to be.

Tomorrow you may need to work away from home again. That can be hard, I know. I have spent most of my 'Mom life' working at least part-time away from home. 

Don't beat yourself up because you can't be with your kids 24/7. God is watching over them, and you! God sees your heart, He knows your desires, He knows you would love a 'picture perfect' day. He also knows what HIS perfect plan is for you. It includes a heart devoted to Him. His 'perfect' day is one where you walk with Him, talk with Him, and show His love to your family.

It's time to change your expectations!

Maybe you are one of those 'tweet, pin, picture' Moms. In your desire to be re-tweeted, re-pinned, and photo-ready, are you missing out on joy? 

Perhaps God has gifted you with abilities that keep you and your household running smoothly everyday. Thank Him for that!  You must guard against missing out on the joys of childhood, playing hopscotch, building a snowman, snuggling under the blankets and reading a book together, just because they are not on your 'to-do' list. Ask God to show you if you are doing things because HE put them in your heart, or because you want to check off YOUR boxes. 

Maybe it's time to change your expectations?

God made us Moms to fulfill HIS plan. He wants us to come alongside our husbands and raise Godly offspring that desire to follow Him. Are your children meeting Jesus in your words and deeds everyday? THIS should be our goal as Moms!

I often fail. Not because I can't make a soufflé or my house isn't picture perfect. I fail because I forget to take a Mom time-out and ask God what HIS plans are for my day. I rest in the reassuring thought that His mercies are new every morning. He gives me another chance. Daily.

Can I ask you to hold on to His promise of mercy? Can I ask you to join me in the real world of Moms where our lives and homes might look messy to outsiders? Will you please join me in this world where Moms go FIRST to God for direction, and not to the cyber-world of unrealistic expectations?!

Moms, unrealistic expectations, messy lives

Now go, ask God what HE wants you to do today. Then go love on your family. 

Hugs to you from one real Mom to another!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 1/23/14 - Flowers and Memories

Today I am thankful for flowers. 

While there aren't any blooming right now in my yard or at the park, I can look back through my photos from this past year and remember how much the flowers cheered me last summer and fall.

Sometimes, it's hard to think of what you are thankful for. 

Maybe you're in the midst of bad weather, or daily working with a disobedient child. Maybe you're feeling overwhelmed by stress at work or financial struggles. Whatever you feel like you're facing, God is there. I know.

I often struggle with depression. It can feel like I'm drowning while standing still. It feels like an uphill walk just to do everyday things. Yet, in the midst of my battle, I know God is there. He is protecting me, guiding me, loving me ... even when I feel unloveable.

God uses flowers to remind me of his faithfulness, of His love.

He shows me the beauty He has instilled in each and every flower. It reminds me that He has placed beauty in my life, even when I don't recognize it. When I look at a picture of a flower, sometimes it reminds me of the day I took it, sometimes it reminds of a smell, sometimes I just see the beauty in God's Creation.

Flowers evoke memories, which remind me of the Maker of my life and the Giver of memories - God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

So while there are no flowers outside, and none inside either, the memories of flowers remind me of God's faithfulness, His provision, His Love.

I am reminded of the words of the second verse of the hymn 
"Great is Thy Faithfulness."

Today I am thankful for flowers, memories, and the God Who makes them both!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


It's been a couple weeks since I posted any pictures here on the blog. It's not that I don't have any to post, it's just that we've been busy, and not always the good kind of busy. We've had a LOT of snow the past couple of weeks and it seems like everything takes longer when there is so much snow.

So today, here is a picture for your viewing enjoyment... and it does not include snow!

Hurry up Spring, we miss you!

Monday, January 20, 2014

ghc (Great Homeschool Conventions) are you going?

*Note* this post contains affiliate links, see bottom of post.

I have been asked many times about WHY I like to attend the Homeschool convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, put on by ghc (Great Homeschool Conventions.) There are a few key points I usually respond with.

1. The Exhibit Hall is HUGE! I have never been to an event with a larger exhibit hall. I will admit that we are extremely picky about what we spend our homeschooling budget on. That being said, I really appreciate the ability to 'touch, see, browse' afforded at a convention exhibit hall. Most vendors will have 'sample' copies for you to look through, as well as either the author, or someone knowledgeable about the products to answer your questions and help you make the best selection for your child. When you have decided, they are happy to sell you a brand-new (not sample) copy, and if they happen to have sold out, almost every vendor will offer to ship it to your house for free.

2. You can hear from the ACTUAL authors during the speaking sessions. Sometimes I might be looking for a particular need, and if I'm torn between two options, I try to attend a session with each author. Sometimes you get the 'feel' of the writer from hearing their talks (even if it's not one specifically about their curriculum, but rather about a particular teaching or learning style.) I have decided both for and against particular books or curriculums based upon these sessions. Sometimes I can tell that while the information covered is what I'm looking for, the presentation style of a particular author will not mesh with our girls.

3. I really enjoy listening to the speakers talk about the different learning styles. (There are SO many methods of organizing your home education, and sometimes I listen to speakers outside of our chosen style just as a confirmation that a particular style is NOT for us.) However, some of the speakers are just plain fun to listen to! I really like Todd Wilson from FamilyMan Ministries, he makes me laugh so hard I cry! Other speakers are a comfort and joy to listen to, like Jim Weiss from GreatHall Productions! Jim is probably the single best storyteller I have ever heard. He is also incredibly cordial and talks with the parents and children after his sessions, and at GreatHall's booth in the exhibit hall (remember #1?)

4. ghc events are family friendly. While there are many other choices  near us to attend homeschool events & conventions, not all of them are 'bring your kids' oriented. I understand that some parents want to get away for the weekend and make curriculum choices without their children around. I however, like knowing the option of taking the girls with me (or us, depending on the year & Kurt's work schedule) is a realistic option. For families with children ages 5-12, there is an optional Children's Conference (for an additional fee.) The last time the girls went, they stayed with us. If I wanted to attend a session that Kurt didn't want to hear, he would take them to the exhibit hall to scope out more "fun" school options, like CIA:CyberOps.

5. I am a consumer. There, I've said it. I KNOW there are companies that want our home educating budget, and at the ghc Cincinnati convention I have always found a solution to our needs, sometimes several solutions, which gives me more choices. I like choices. While I know there is a cry to support our state's homeschooling association, I will be honest and say that I get more out of attending the ghc event. There is nothing wrong with our state's events, they just somehow don't fit me as well. I also like getting away from home for the weekend. If the girls aren't going with me to Cincinnati, then they're having a fun weekend at Grandma's house. If they are staying at Grandma's house, I can turn off that part of my brain for a couple days. Trust me, after 16 years of motherhood, and 11 years of homeschooling, my brain appreciates that break!

6. It is refreshing to see all the parents with their families and realize that God has matured me some along this journey. Yes, I still get upset with our girls when their work isn't done on time, but I don't stress myself out about 'fitting it all in' anymore. I realize this is a journey, and while our responsibility is to provide the materials and guidance needed, it is up to God, and our girls, for them to grow. If I can instill a love of learning, and the skills necessary to learn, then I won't worry about covering everything. I can rest in the knowledge that they have their whole lives to continue learning. After all, Indiana has a 'Core 40' standard for graduation... not a 'they must know everything' standard!

7.  The ghc convention in Cincinnati, OH is almost always in April. Yes, April, near the end of our school year... when I really need the encouragement to soldier on. When I need to be planning for next year, but not too much, and when Spring has *sometimes* appeared. Since we don't go away on a "Spring Break" vacation, this is a good time to pause, reflect, and regroup. Last year I was able to help out two dear friends with their booths, listen to all the sessions I had picked out, and still feel refreshed. The change in my routine did me good.

So what about you, are you thinking about going to a ghc event? There are four of them coming up: Greenville, SC, on March 20-22, Cincinnati, OH, on April 24-26, Ontario, California, June 12-14, and Ft Worth, TX, next February 12-14, 2015.

There are early-registration discounts available, even up to just a week or two before the events.  You can choose to go as an individual, or as a family. If you're thinking about going, click here to view all the details!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to the ghc website. IF you happen to decide to purchase a ticket to one of their events, I will receive a small payment. (Know that it will be put to good use buying homeschooling supplies for our girls!) All opinions are mine! I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 1/16/14 - Radiators!

As I went to bed last night (which was really this morning) I thought about how thankful I am for our radiators. 

We live in an old house. It's been here more than 100 years. We think originally it had a coal-fired furnace (hence the coal chute into the basement.) 

Somewhere along the way it was converted to a boiler/ radiator system. I'll admit it, while it does get dry in the winter ( it doesn't have a humidifier,) we feel really blessed to have radiators! This heating system is a lot less expensive to use than a forced-air furnace, AND you can put your slippers or blanket on top of the radiator and have them all toasty!

This point of toasty-ness is particularly important to me, because I do NOT like being cold. This past week I spent a lot of time in the cold, and it was such a blessing to be able to come home and stand right up against the radiator to defrost myself. 

I remember in college, they had steam-heat radiators, and they got too hot to touch. Ours are hot-water radiators and they are just right! In fact, I just put my toasty slippers on my cold toes - ahhh... bliss.

We live in Indiana, the weather has been cold, but our radiators are warm.

Today I'm thankful for our radiators. What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday - 1/9/14 - the trash man

Today I am thankful for the trash guys from BestWay. Usually they come on Monday, but this Monday we had 8" of new snow on top of 4" from last week... and we were under a 'no travel' emergency. Tuesday was much the same. 

So yesterday, I decided to check their website to see if there was an update. Yes, there were specific updates by town. For our town & pick-up day they said to leave the trash out if it was already out (we have one of those monster-sized rolling cans) because they were going to start Wednesday and try to get caught up.

About 11 a.m.the trash truck rolled down the street and stopped to get the neighbors' trash across the street. That side of the street usually gets picked up an hour or so before ours does (then they swing around and come back down our side of the street) ... BUT, today, they trudged through the drifts on our side that the city still hasn't plowed and drug our can around the truck to the 'lift-arm' then drug our can back through the drift to its spot.

How awesome is that!?!

I think a "Thank-You" letter to BestWay is in order. 

We're still waiting for mail delivery... and the UPS man stopped his truck, took one look at the drifts, scanned the package & put it back on his shelf and drove away (yes, I WAS watching out the window!)

Today, the trash man wins!

Thank you Best Way!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Avocados and me

Do you ever have one of those 'ah-ha' moments about something simple? Sometimes it seems funny to look back and see where you were before it, or how you did things differently.

I recently had one of those 'ah-ha' moments about avocados. I have enjoyed eating avocados while at my friends' houses for a few years, but was never brave enough to try it at home. Then, last year, when I made the decision to get some to eat at home, I kept struggling with how to best keep them. After all, what do you do with the other half of the avocado if you're not that hungry? 

So, I went to work learning about purchasing, ripening, and storing avocados. (Sometimes the endlessness of the internet can be helpful!) I am here to say I think I finally have it under control. I have figured out the right 'ripeness' at which to put them in the refrigerator and keep them longer, thus reducing how often they need to go on the shopping list.

BUT, there was still one remaining problem. The price. 

Since no one else in the family likes (or even wants to try) to eat avocados, it puts a dent in the produce budget to buy them just for myself. In my limited Midwestern scope of 'winter available' fruits and vegetables, they were ranking near the top of the price-per-pound scale. Ouch.

Then, one day, I was at ALDI getting a few things and noticed they have avocados, for ONLY 49 cents each!!! That is a much better price than the $1 or $1.25 each that the other local stores are charging. The quality was just as good, and the price was excellent.

When I left the store, I thought to myself, "How did I not know ALDI had avocados?" It reminded me of the line from the Adam West 'Batman' show "meanwhile, back at the Bat Cave." 

"Meanwhile, back at ALDI..."

I know, you all probably already knew about ALDI and avocados, but it's a new thing to me. Sometimes it does pay to shop more than one or two stores.

So there you have it, my 'ah-ha' moment was about avocados.

Today, after shoveling 8" of new snow in the bitter cold, I enjoyed a perfectly ripe avocado! Yum.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thankful Thursday 1/2/14 - 2013!

2013 was truly a year to be thankful for! We were blessed to spend so much family time together. We were doubly blessed to be able to travel from Indiana to Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend to spend time with our dear friends Mike and Ella Pace at the Delaware Pow Wow.

So many great memories from 2013!

Here are just a few pictures of things we were thankful for:

 Stopping at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO

 Teaching Arlene about using an unusual perspective to take a unique photo.

 Spending the weekend in Oklahoma with Mike, Ella, and family!

 Listening to Bucky Buck and Mike tell stories!

 A visit to the site of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Alton, IL

 Showing the girls the cemetery in Alton, IL where Elijah P. Lovejoy is buried... and explaining his story.

 Lots of visits to Mounds State Park

 Having an exhibit at the State Fair about video games... and having a quarter so Kurt could play his favorite -TRON!

 A visit to Minnetrista in Muncie, IN, and seeing their 'bugs' exhibits. They had some excellent specimens on display.

No visit to Minnetrista would be complete without a visit to their rose garden!

 A fall trip to Pittsburgh, and some really magnificent architecture!

 The Terrible Towel that went to space is now on display at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh

 Kurt with one of his favorites... C3PO!

 Probably the world's largest game of 'Operation!"

 We got a good crop of strawberries this summer, even after the stress of 2012's drought!

 The girls finished their 4-H sewing projects on time... AND they fit!

 Spending time at the Lego Road Trip booth at the State Fair

 Watching the sun set as we listened to a Symphony on the Prairie

Beautiful asters at Caesar Creek Lake - a great place for fossil hunting!

If you've forgotten what you were thankful for about 2013, maybe it's time to look through your photos again. These are just a few of the hundreds (thousands?) of pictures we took this year. We are so thankful for all God has blessed us with. We look forward to 2014!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A new year is here. Am I ready for it? Probably not. That's OK, because God knows what is coming, and I trust that HE is sufficient to see me through. 

I have been thinking about the new year, and things I might want to accomplish during it. But mostly, I've been asking God to give us direction for our life. So far He has been whispering to me only one word - transformation.

I realize this word means I cannot plan for what is coming, there is no one thing I can do, add or give up to prepare for what He will do. I can only change the superficial things about myself, however God's transformation can remake me. He can do things I cannot even imagine.

So what will this year hold? I have no idea, yet I am not afraid. I know Who holds my future.

I am constantly reminded of James 4:13-15
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)

There are sure to be times of refinement that I will struggle with. May I be reminded that God is doing all things for my good and His glory. Only God can transform a caterpillar into a butterfly. Only God can transform me.

Trusting Him with 2014