Monday, April 26, 2010

Do I Have a Couch Spud?

With our new little man I seem to notice things that I didn't with the other ones. Maybe I have more time. Maybe I am more observant. Maybe the experience with kids lends a keener eye. I can't say the reason, but I do seem to notice things in a different light with Avery.

Our house is always hopping, and the television does seem to be on at various times throughout any given day. When Avery was a brand new baby I would turn it on for light during the middle of the night feedings. Not to mention, it helped me keep my eyes open. However, I did notice something a bit strange to me. At just a couple of weeks Avery had already noticed the television and seemed to be watching it. I actually got to where I would position him facing away from the television during his feedings. I would also make a conscious effort to make eye contact with him.

Now, Avery is three months old, and he has viewing preferences! WHAT? This morning I was watching the news. I tend to watch it briefly each morning to catch the local weather. Well, I was distracted. He was in his exersaucer, and he started to "complain". Yes, he was complaining. We have gotten to a point in baby communication that I can clearly recognize that he was indeed complaining. So, I did an experiment. I switched the television to PBS. I turn it on most mornings when we get up. He quit complaining!

Then, just a little while ago I had Dora on for our two year old granddaughter who was visiting. I didn't notice that it had gone to the menu screen. Avery started to complain again. I turned on Backyardigans, and he started watching it! Who knew? Not me!

I took a peek online to see what the "experts" had to say on the subject, and there seem to be some clear opinions and concerns about infants and television viewing. Some say that children under the age of two should not view television at all; that it may even contribute to attention disorders in adolescence. Some say that certain, quality programs that are specially made for babies may actually be good for infants and their parents. This style of programming encourages constructive play and interaction and even teaches parents how to better assist in the development of their babies.

I can't honestly say where I stand on this. I guess I will have to continue to observe Avery and his television viewing as he learns and grows all the while keeping in mind and being conscious of his interactions with others and quality play time. Too much of anything is usually a bad thing, especially when it's generally a bad thing to begin with. I've always thought that television should be used sparingly, and quality programming should be the prime target. Now, that seems more important than ever.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

First Blooms of Spring

I've been going back and forth and back and forth trying to decide to what level I would like to garden this year. It seems daunting to try to keep up with a vegetable garden with all the demands I have currently. However, I really do love fresh produce, and it never tastes better than when you grow it yourself. Not to mention, I have a load of heirloom seeds left from last year. After the past two years, though, I hate to put a bunch of work into a garden when my time is so limited and get no real return. The garden has been less than successful the last two summers, especially last summer. It was SO disappointing to have seeded all of those heirloom seeds and get no real return from them. Disappointing!

In the meantime, I managed to take a short walk around our yard to see what I was up against. The front looks great. There's not much weeding to be done there. As usual, the back yard needs a lot of attention, and that is where I normally plant my produce. I have such a difficult time keeping weeds and grass out of that garden. I don't get it. It's very frustrating.

I've decided that if nothing else I will be visiting the several farmer's markets that I am fortunate to have in my area. I will buy fruits and vegetables as they are in season and put up as much food as I possibly can. I even purchased covered ice cube trays especially designed for putting up food for Avery. It will be so nice to have fresh, locally farmed food stored up in my freezer and cupboard.

While you're anticipating the coming bounties of spring, summer, and fall you can enjoy the first blooms from my yard.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fun Reviews

I'm trying out a volunteer opportunity to review products as a homeschooling mom for the TOS Homeschool Crew. I hope you find the following information interesting and useful:

Help, Lord, I’m Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler! is an e-book put out by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The book is a compilation of personal stories written by real home educators. This is a nice, well-rounded collection that encompasses many different styles of homechooling families. Therefore, it has the potential of appealing to a variety of different readers.

Personally, I can often find these types of resources frustrating. It is easy to read books like this and distress over one’s own homeschool not being magically perfect like the ones portrayed in the articles and stories so often published. With the 13 personal stories encompassed in this e-book everyone is sure to find at least one that they can relate to on some level and avoid the intimidation and feelings of inadequacy that can often follow reading about the lives of fellow homeschool families. This collection is effective at avoiding the fairytale feel and invoking more of a shared experience, a sense of been there done that, a passing on of wisdom from one family to another.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to read about so many different approaches to homeschooling high schoolers. Sometimes it can feel as if we’ve already read everything there is to read by the time we reach the part of the process that finds us knee deep in the throws of educating our high school age children. One thing that I did learn from each and every story is that there is certainly room for more prayer in my educational efforts with my children. That is one thing that is a bit different and refreshing is that each and every family highlighted in this collection has a love for the Lord. The stories not only share about homeschooling approaches, learning styles, and challenges. They also share how Christ was incorporated into their educational plan. Sometimes we need a reminder of what is important…on every level.

As a homeschooling mom of four that graduated from public school, one that graduated from homeschool, and two preparing for graduation from our homeschool this year and next, I had thought my homeschooling journey was coming to an end. Well, God had different plans for my life, as he often does for all of us. He has brought another handsome young baby into our family. I now find myself pondering the pros and cons of homeschooling versus a church school education. This old girl is tired, but I find myself looking more to God than ever before for guidance. If it is His will that I homeschool one more child, I know I can surely do just that.

With resources like the ones offered through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine both in print and online and the various e-books available through the magazine, making my final decision may just be a little easier. As homeschoolers one thing we have surely learned is that making an educated decision involves reviewing enough information to be properly informed. There is certainly information a plenty available through The Old Schoolhouse. The end of the book is loaded with helpful links and resources. Most any homeschool family with highschool age children or those that are nearing highschool age could surely gain something useful from this resource, and with the current focus on penny pinching an e-book is a nice bang for the buck. Also, for the environmentally aware and those that prefer digital formatting The Old Schoolhouse Digital Magazine is a steal at $16.95 for an annual subscription. There is surely something that will appeal to all ages.

If I had the time to write a newsletter and publish e-books, this is SO how I would do it. Molly’s Money Saving Digest is awesome. It is chocked full of fun and useful information. If I didn’t have a brand new baby in the home I would have so done everything included in the digest. In my perfect world I did!

I am an absolute organizational freak that lives with a household of family members that are not. This digest speaks directly to my core being. I love the fun cover, the step-by-step pictures, the recipes, the meal planning section with amazing recipes, the financial planning forms, the suggestions, the crafts…it just goes on and on.

Can you believe that I actually want to make a pie from scratch? It really does seem easy with Molly’s In~A~Pinch Pie Crust Recipe. I actually do believe that I am going to have to try her German Chocolate Pie for Father’s Day. That’s right PIE! My husband loves German Chocolate Cake, and I think this might just earn me some brownie points, especially if I am able to pull it off with a newborn in the house. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

As a big time bargain hunter, I really appreciate the shopping tips. In “On Sale This Month” Molly lets you know just what you should think about purchasing that particular month based on what the stores are generally putting on sale and clearancing out at that time. She also provides some useful links, fun dates and information about the month.

The monthly budget forms are well laid out and very useful. However, what I like most in the organizational section is the Family Clothing Inventory forms. Genius! I cannot believe I never thought of it before. What a useful tool! We resale shop for most all of our clothing. Having this form filled out and tucked away in my purse, which is currently a diaper bag, would prove invaluable. I am totally doing this by the end of the summer.

The “interior decorating” crafts are beautiful, fun and super easy. The ideas that she shares can be easily achieved in an afternoon with little financial investment. They would make a great addition to any home as well as wonderful gift ideas.

Being a “foodie”, the menu section is my favorite. The best part? Pictures are included with ALL recipes. That is a BIG plus for me. You eat with your eyes first, right? One thing that is nice about it is that it doesn’t appeal to the typical American diet alone. There are yummy vegetarian and vegan recipes included in the mix. They are not labeled of marketed as such, but they are present none the less. I can’t wait to try some!

The digest goes on to include fun crafts, stories, and resources. This is a wonderful grab bag of fun and information. I’m not one to subscribe to things like this, but I actually find myself considering the $3.95 per month subscription which includes a tremendous selection of FREE e-books. This surely beats the $4.95 price of purchasing the e-books individually, despite their affordable price. In the meantime I did subscribe to the FREE newsletter, A Minute with Molly, and received the FREE Menu Planning E-book. I absolutely love this resource!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

You Are Here

I do believe we have adjusted to having a baby in the home. Having a little one just seems like normal life now. I am so thankful to God for bringing this little one into our home. What a blessing he is. I had forgotten the feeling of looking upon the face of a baby and seeing the face of God. I had forgotten the feeling in basking in the miracle of birth. Really, babies are completely miraculous, and I am so honored to have been given the chance to watch another miracle unfold.

This little man has made such an impact on our life. I am thankful to be recapturing the precious gift of sleep. We are blessed to be falling on the early side of sleeping through the night. No complaints here! Last night saw 10 straight hours of a sleeping baby at a mere 10 weeks old. I can so live with that.

I'm on to new things and trying to recapture some stability in time management. There are things I let slide that need my attention like the bookkeeping for our transmission repair facility. I'm officially one month behind on the paperwork. It's also becoming evident that I need to be more attentive in my 16 year old's educational progress. Apparently he is not as ready for independence as I had thought. That's okay. I'm coming out of my fog and becoming more able to be there in a larger capacity for him.

It's also time to dive full on back into editing the bulletin for the church and step back into my teaching position with the kids in our Adventurer Club. Life as we knew it has ended forever. Now, we have a new direction. Different things are important, and life's meaning is becoming clearer and clearer. I have taken on a new responsibility aside from motherhood by joining the Fundraising Task Force for Solid Ground, an amazing transitional housing facility right in our neighborhood founded by a wonderful woman that has an amazing love for Christ and all humanity.

I have accepted that things are fallible, and life is unpredictable, and I am a-okay with that. I know that my life may read out better than any soap opera on television, but God loves me. He loves my family, and he cares for us through all things. I may not know where I am being led, but I do know I am here. That is all I need. Life is better savored and lived with intention. Becoming a mother again has taught me to take my time. It's okay to be in the moment and live life to the fullest, intentionally.


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