Friday, July 27, 2007

Really?

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Frugal Fridays - Repurposed furniture

 We're a good sized family in a small sized house. Think less than 1,000 square feet. We're also a homeschooling family, insatiable Readers (yes, with a capital R!), and consumers of good quality movies. Not to mention all the toys, toys, toys, toys. This all adds up to a real storage...issue, lets call it.

I've posted previously about Prince Charming's wonderful bed project for our girls. And I believe I've mentioned how we use discarded drawers on casters under that bed. The picture above shows what we did with the no longer needed dresser.

Prince Charming, with a few quick measurements and less than $20 at Home Depot, turned a ready-for-the-trash-dresser into a bookshelf. This is not the best picture but it's the only one I have at the moment; you can see the general concept. This was my idea but nothing would have come of it had I not been very blessed with a husband who, when given my myriad ideas, can actually do what I want with very little expense or trouble.

This shelf now stands in my living room, holding our DVD sets. (My Jane Austen collection sits proudly on the top shelf, as you might imagine). The top is the perfect size for three framed pictures of our girls and a flower arrangement.

To me, this is frugal: taking something you don't need any more, or isn't good any more, and making it useful and nice again. Before selling anything in a yard sale or passing it on to someone else, always consider whether something may serve a need with just a little change.

Find lots of great frugal ideas at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Sister is for...

Polly & Tigger playing at Mamaw's House

Happy Anniversary!

Happy (belated) Anniversary!

My parents have been married 29 years, as of July 22nd. They are a godly, loving example to my own Prince Charming & me. They have raised and homeschooled 4 (obviously) wonderful children and I cannot thank them enough! Now they are the beloved Granddad and Gram to my own girls. Tigger especially seems to think that Gram is her own personal property. She'll share Gram with Sweet Pea, but only with the understanding that really Gram is hers.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Last night our family went on our yearly outing to a (pro) baseball game. I won't name any names but let me tell you that this team is one of the worst in professional baseball. Prince Charming asked if I thought it would be noticeable if he brought a book he's trying to read. Just a bit. You may understand from that question that my beloved is not a baseball fan.

We went with people from our church. Some of these people are fans. You know fans don't you? These are the folks that dress in team colors, know all the stats (even the really boring ones), and take each loss as a personal insult. Which, given the record of our beloved home team, is just setting yourself up for pain.

Our girls seemed to really enjoy the game this year. Tigger had cotton candy for the first time. Yes, I momentarily took leave of my senses and allowed Tigger to eat a big ball of pure sugar. I forgot my camera so you'll just have to imagine the results. A picture wouldn't have captured the true sticky essence anyway. She even had it in her hair, folks! Quite different from my Polly, who ate it so slowly and delicately I thought it would just blow away on the evening breeze.

The game was tied so it went into extra innings. Part of our group left, unable to stand the suspense, I guess. (Or maybe they had to get up early to go to work...) But not us. We stayed. In what turned out to be the last inning my sweet Polly had just about had enough. The visiting team was up to bat and they had managed to load the bases. Tense moments, y'all. Then she pipes up with about the only baseball language she knows, "Get a home run!!" Not good.

Poor thing didn't understand why everyone in our vicinity yelled at her. I had to quietly explain that in the twelfth inning a "grand slam" by the other team would be just about the worst thing that could happen. A double play saved the day and all was well when our team managed to pull out a win at the last second. (By which I mean the last second I was willing to sit there and watch) And there was great rejoicing in the land. Well, anyway we clapped and cheered which was almost more than Tigger could manage at 10:30 at night.

My girls are probably never going to be fans. But they have decided that "Ballgame song" (otherwise known as Take Me Out to the Ballgame) is a worthy addition to their singing repertoire. Maybe by the next game we attend, which will probably be next July, I can teach them the right words. Maybe.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Overheard: Slightly Mixed Up Lyrics

Overheard recently (o.k, it was Tigger):

"Rock a bye baby, in a tea-pot..."

She sings it so sweetly I don't have the heart to correct her and if you think about it, it makes as much sense as "tree-top".

Friday, July 20, 2007

The House Where I Grew Up

The house I was raised in was not large in size. A red-brick, three-bedroom ranch with three young girls and eventually a baby brother, size was not one of its strengths. The rooms were square and plain. No crown molding here. No elaborate features. The backyard though, was the biggest in the neighborhood. We lived at the end of a circle and our yard touched seven others.

I remember falling asleep on the floor (I was 4) while my dad and mom painted before we moved in. We had just moved from Indiana to Tennessee because my dad had accepted a new pastorate. We had stayed with some church members for awhile before they purchased a house. I think I was the most excited about the house because it would mean getting our dog and cat back, who had been staying with church members too, but not the same ones - and that was the problem. We were just two parents and two girls in those days. I thought maybe our dog wouldn't want to come back to live with us because it was a new house and the dog had been living out on a farm. What if she liked the farm better? Well, even if she did, she still seemed very happy to see us.

I remember sitting in the tiny hallway with the whole family (why, I don't know!) and having a spirited discussion about what kind of men we should marry. I remember sitting on my bed for family prayers at night. I remember my parents coming to pray with me when I had nightmares. (Take a hint: don't show impressionable young children The Wizard of Oz!)

I remember trying to get up first so I could beat my younger sister to the warmest spot in the house - right in front of our gas heater.

I remember pulling our little wooden bench over the air register in the hottest part of the Tennessee summer. Lulu and I would sit there together. Once we cooled down we would bundle up in blankets from our bed and pretend we were riding in a wagon, like Laura and Mary Ingalls in The Little House in the Big Woods. I can remember my mom walking in to put laundry away and just shaking her head at her young girls bundled up against frost in the 100+ heat.

I remember playing in our play room before my youngest sister was born and we needed that room for another bedroom. Fisher Price People, Playmobil, dress-up, baby dolls, school... The room seemed like magic because it could be anything you wanted.

I remember playing outside. My parents had to put up a chain link fence because people were always walking through our yard and scaring us to death. We would climb to the top of our swingset, as if no one could reach us. After the fence we would climb to the top and sing at the top of our lungs, secure that no one would bother us.

I remember playing with our best friends, the family from across the street. They had six children (four when I was young) and we all played together. Bike riding on the sleepy circle, softball with my dad in the back yard, catching lightning bugs (and naming them!), playing in small plastic pools of water, and anything else in our perfect yard.

I remember angrily practicing my piano scales on the ancient upright piano in our living room. I remember crying when my parents sold the piano.

I remember the huge garden at one end of our yard. I remember hating the bugs, the heat and the dirt, unfortunately feelings that remain to this day. You will never read my name in any gardening article! I remember eating peas straight out of the pod - nothing ever tasted as good as that.

I remember taking baths with my sister in the tiny bathroom. We'd close the shower door and slide from one side of the bath to the other - the goal being to splash the ceiling. Sorry, mom!

I remember when I had my own room, as a not quite teenager. Decorated my way with garish wallpaper border over the sweet rocking horses. My mom must have hated to see those rocking horses go but she still let me make the room my own. I remember arranging my bed so I could look out the window at night, at the stars and the moon. I remember praying in that bed, about my future, my family, and my hopes and dreams.

I remember growing older and moving back in with my younger sister. I didn't mind too much: we were having a baby brother! I remember going to the room my youngest sister & brother shared in the very early morning. I'd pick up the baby from his crib and he'd smile at me. I'd change his diaper and take him back to my room, where he would play on my bed until other people started getting up. I slept on the bottom bunk, a double size bed. He'd try to reach the top and we'd poke the matress so Lulu would wake up.

I remember a boy coming to pick me up before church one Sunday night. I remember that boy asking me to the church Valentine Banquet. I remember sitting on the tiny concrete porch and talking until it was curfew (mine). I remember watching him drive away and thinking, "He'll be back tomorrow." He always was.

I remembering packing my things in my room, preparing to move them to the apartment that I would share with my Prince Charming. I remember being sad that Lulu's piggy bank wouldn't stand next to my piggy bank any longer. I remember coming across "treasures" from my childhood and wondering if I could really leave everything I had loved so well. I wasn't just leaving home - they were leaving me too.

My dad had accepted a new pastorate, this time back in Ohio where he had lived most of his life, except the fourteen years we spent in Tennessee. I would marry my prince but I would no longer be able to go home, even to visit. Everything was gone in a matter of weeks.

No more snowball fights in the rare event that we got snow, no more running through the sprinkler, no more swinging "high enough to touch the sky", no more late night whispers with Lulu, no more family movie nights with popcorn, no more lilacs right outside my window, no more fighting for the bathroom (hey, I had two sisters!), no more slamming my door in adolescent pique, no more washing dishes for a family of six that inexplicably did. not. have. a. dishwasher., no more waiting for Prince Charming to come over when he finished work, no more dreaming about what the future might hold. The future had come and the house that had sheltered me from the age of 4 was ours no longer.

I've been back once to see the house. It looks so small now, although I never thought it very big. The Christmas trees we planted are big now. It looks a little shabby, a little...unloved. I decided I don't want to see it again, at least not for a long time. It had its faults but I loved it. I'd like to remember it as a magical place. Because it was.

You can read more childhood home memories at Owlhaven, hosted by Mary.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Personality Quiz

Here's yet another personality quiz. This one is really good but it does take some time to complete.


Aww...

The U.K daily mail has some irresistible pictures of lions up today. I defy you not to "aww...". It's amazing that a creature so fierce and powerful can also be so sweet. Not that I'd want to meet one in person, of course. Our zoo is about as close to the animal kingdom as I like to get, and sometimes even that's a little too close, not to name any creatures by name <cough> peacock <cough>.

What an awesome Creator we have!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WFMW - A Magazine Tip


I read a lot of magazines. Some I subscribe to and many I check out at the library. One of my favorite things is looking for recipes to try. I've come across some that became instant family favorites. I've come across a few more that have become...trash bag filler.


Anyway, rather than pulling out every recipe that interests me I tag it with a sticky note. Then I type all tagged pages into a special computer file. I have separate files for Main Dishes, Breads/Breakfast food, Sides/Salads/Soups, and, my favorite of course, Desserts. When we try a recipe if we like it I can print it out and put it in the corresponding folder (kept in my kitchen) and if we hate it? Well, it can go to the great computer recycling bin in the sky, or wherever.


This is important because some magazines go back to the library, where they really look down on you removing pages. Some magazines I pass on to my sister. And some magazines I keep forever and want to keep "whole". Yes, I know it's sick, but I have every issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion that I've ever received (back to 2004!). Other magazines I tear apart for my inspiration books or scrapbooks but not that one.
Find tons of great Works for Me Wednesday tips at Rocks in my Dryer, hosted by Shannon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rejoice!

Rejoice with me, friends! My oldest, known to the blogging world as Polly, has professed her faith in Christ as Savior and has presented herself to our church for baptism. My cup of joy is overflowing! Her daddy and I have been praying for this since before she was born. She is clear in her understanding and determined to follow Jesus as best she can. Please pray that God will continue to work in her life and that she will remain open to His guidance as she grows.

She is young, true, but I feel blessed to have given birth to her, blessed to be raising her, blessed simply to know her. And now she is my sister as well as my daughter.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
II John verse 4

What Kind of Girl Were You?







What kind of little girl were YOU?




Quiet Girl
Take this quiz!
This is about right except I don't think I've become any more outgoing than I ever was. If this including something about reading it would be exactly right. I always had a book in my hand. Actually, that's still true as well!

Friday, July 13, 2007

A True Pick-Me Up


You can read my lengthy heartfelt post about Prince Charming's absence here. Then what should come along to brighten my day but my very first blog award! My friend Morgan (be sure to check out her site, A Splash of Color) tagged me with the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. I've already added the image to my sidebar. And updated my business cards. O.K, not that last thing. I don't have any business cards. If I did that little fact would be right on there, you can be sure.

The only problem now is that I'm supposed to pass the award on to five other bloggers who haven't already received this award. I thought of several who ought to have the award but I'm apparently not the only one who thinks so because they already do.

So, I'm going to cheat. If you read my blog and haven't been awarded this, just let me know. I'd love to know about you and your blog and I'd love to pass this award on. Some of my favorite blogs are in my link list. I'm pretty sure each of the ones I mention have received the (much deserved!) Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. If not they all should have it!

I award an honorable mention to my husband. The blog we have together is really his baby. If you're in the mood for conservative politics, opinion, and snark check it out. It's been sadly neglected this week but I expect it be hopping as soon as he gets back. I know he's not a girl but he definitely rocks!

And to continue a thought from Morgan's blog: there are some of you that really, really ought to be blogging. Lulu, I'm looking at you! Jodi, I know you'd have a wonderful one.

Almost Over...

Well, the week without Prince Charming continues to drag on. And on. We did go visit him Wednesday night for chapel. The girls really enjoyed being at camp again. I enjoyed seeing my husband and some more of my family but it was honestly a lot of work just to get there and get back. They all wanted me to consider going back out tonight (the last night). Well, I've considered and I don't think it's going to happen. He'll be home in the morning. Just about 17 hours from now. Not that I'm counting...

Today has just been a tough day. Tigger has had some real obedience - setbacks, shall we call them? - and potty training issues. Polly has been busy with one of her favorite pastimes. Yes, that would be tattling. She honestly just can't help it. She has too much of, ahem, me in her. If there was a crown for biggest boss and tattler of a sister it would have gone to me, as Lulu and Princess will attest. But my own little darling may be challenging my title. How did my own parents stand it?!

Of course I had many ambitious plans for this week. Why I thought I would get more done without my husband around I have no idea. Call it temporary insanity. Needless to say, although this is my blog so I will say it anyway, none of those ambitious / unrealistic things have gotten done.

I have had quite an Austen splurge this week. Yes, in Prince Charming's absence I have gorged myself on all my Jane Austen movies. I've saved my favorite, Pride and Prejudice, for tonight.


I've already watched Emma, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility. I threw in a new to me mini-series, North and South (NOT the the cheesy 1980's Patrick Swayze feature, the classy BBC period drama, what kind of girl do you think I am?) for good measure. I will not need to watch any movies for at least a month or two. I rarely watch anything but this is what boredom will lead you to.

I did finish Wendy Shalit's new book, Girls Gone Mild (which I highly recommend!), just in case you have a mental image of me lounging on my sofa eating bon-bons and watching Regency Romances. I was not. Not that I wouldn't have if I actually had any bon-bons, but that's beside the point.

And my house is cleaner than usual. I don't know if that means that Prince Charming is messier than the rest of us or that I only clean when I'm bored but it's probably the latter. I hate cleaning so much that Polly actually thinks it's fun. So maybe that will turn out well for her. She'll eventually rebel by being one of those "How Clean is Your House" ladies.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Water Babies



WFMW - Busy Times

This week has been a real eye opener for me. Prince Charming is off having fun, I mean working, at church camp. I am not. At camp. Or having fun.

O.k, that's not exactly true but this week has been a bit more difficult than others. I just don't have enough hands or hours in the day to get done everything I want to get done. I never realized how much my husband has spoiled me. So when I get done being mad at him for being gone I'll be sure to thank him a little more than usual.

So, that little whine aside, here's what's working for me:

- lower expectations. This is not a week for redecorating, big projects, fancy meals, etc.

- not underestimating what the kids can do. This morning Polly poured cereal & milk for herself and Tigger. Polly pulled up the trashcans after the garbage man came. (Can we call them that any more? Does that anger the "sanitation worker"? I don't want to offend!) Tigger can put the silverware away from the dishwasher. Sweet Pea can... be as cute as ever, giving me much needed smiles and time to rest as I nurse her.

- use the baby carrier. Sweet Pea is almost too big for the carrier I have but it has been a real life saver this week.

- reward the girls with special things. They miss their daddy, too. So, while it isn't exactly frugal, a few things from the grocery that we don't usually purchase have gone a long way to encouraging cheerful behavior.

- keep an upbeat attitude. This is probably the most important thing I can do. Like yesterday. We had to go to the library and the grocery store. With a big bag of books and many bags of groceries. In a downpour. If I were an octopus this would not have been a problem. But you cannot carry a baby, a diaper bag, a library bag, and an umbrella while clutching the hand of a toddler so she doesn't become road-kill. Or can you? 'Cause I did all this and more yesterday. I hope I don't have to do this again but if I do have to I know I can.

Check out some really great ideas at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Shannon.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Frugal Fridays - Blanket Storage Tip

After two, yes two, entire days celebrating the glorious fourth, I'm pretty worn out today. As we are now going in to a stretch of time where Prince Charming will be gone for over a week, that is not a good thing. I need my energy back if I'm going to care for these three bundles of enthusiasm myself.

While I try to find my energy I'll share a quick frugal tip: when you buy (on sale!) or are given new sheets or blankets, always keep the clear plastic zipper bag they come in. 

These things come in handy for so many different things. I currently store our flannel sheets, extra blankets, quilts, our swim stuff (suits, towels), and extra towels in these bags. Our basement is very damp and the bags work quite well at keeping everything dry. If you don't buy new sheets/blankets you could always ask some friends or family to save the packaging for you when they buy them. Freecycle may be another option but the point is: do not throw these things away. 

And if you don't want them, send them to me. Just kidding, of course...

Find lots of great tips at Biblical Womanhood, hosted by Crystal.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Dreams, Plans, Catalogs, and More

Someone asked me about homeschooling on another post. Here's the basic story:

My parents homeschooled me for my entire K-12 education. I consider them some of the "pioneers" because there wasn't much understand of homeschooling, very few curriculums or even books about it, and much confusion about education laws. Most of that changed as I grew up. They also successfully homeschooled my sisters (Lulu & Princess), who are grown up contributing members of society now (tho' I had my doubts at times!). My brother (The Bear) is starting junior high this fall. So they've still got one to go before they can consider themselves "finished".

My personal history definitely played a large role in our decision to also homeschool. I have to say that our main reason is the belief that our children are just that: ours. God blessed us with children and we do not see a single benefit in turning them over to the U.S. Government for 12+ years. You may disagree but that's how we see it.

In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that Prince Charming has a degree in education. But that's not why we homeschool (I do most of the actual "book" work with Polly, anyway). Prince Charming had a very nice education from a small town public school growing up. The first year we were married we both worked for a nice, well-respected Christian school. All that to say, we are familiar with different types of education and we still believe that homeschooling is the right choice for us.

Now I'm reading books on homeschooling theories, tagging catalog pages, and just generally dreaming up plans. A lot has changed since that day, long long ago, when my dad & mom prayed and plunged into the relatively unknown. If anything, I have too many options and too many curriculums to choose from!

Sidebar: If you homeschool your family you must order the Rainbow Resource catalog. This thing is thicker than our (big city) phone book. For those of you with a tiny phonebook just imagine a book two and a half inches thick of small type and hundreds of homeschooling goodies. There are other great catalogs out there but this is definitely the mother of all homeschooling catalogs.

Right now Polly and I are working through a Phonics program. It's amazing watching her figure it out. I think I almost cried listening to her read her first "real" sentences.

Tigger likes to have a "reading lesson" too, in which I have taught her the basic sounds of the letters of the alphabet. It won't be long before she'll be reading, too! And then the days of spelling over her head will be sadly over. No more i-c-e c-r-e-a-m or p-l-a-y-g-r-o-u-n-d.

But that's o.k. Prince Charming and I have known each other so long we routinely say things like, "Later when that thing is, yeah, then we'll do that, uh huh..." and actually understand each other.