Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Day of School

The first day of school went great!  The students this year:

Tiny Love, who is would be in kindergarten or first grade.

Curlyjo, who would be in fourth grade.

I say "would be" because they are homeschooled, and I don't really know what the public school is doing.  I know that my girls are bright, curious, fun, and busy.  That is good enough for me!

After lessons are over for the day, I do this:

Settle in my chair with a cup of tea, my planner and a book.  And my cell phone...I have a friend who is due to have a baby any day now, and I want to know when he arrives.

The girls do this:

Visit Webkins World, the place where brain cells and patience go to die.
They are allowed 15 minutes apiece. 

Daisy Dog does this:

We all have our own version of relaxation!
What a wonderful and peaceful first day of school.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

For more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com

Moving is (mostly) behind us now, and we are so happy to be in our home again! 
Today is our first day of school here at the Campbell Homeschool.  I will post "First Day of School" photos tomorrow. 
Here is what our menu looks like for the week.  Brother, you may want to review this and see what nights you will be joining us for dinner...my guess is the nights that include beef.

Monday:  Beef Stew, Whole Wheat Beer Bread (see you later, Brother)
Tuesday:  Italian Chicken Sandwiches, Fresh veggies with Ranch
Wednesday:  Potato and Ham Rosti, Salad, Multigrain bread
Thursday:  Pasta with bacon and peas, salad
Friday:  Homemade Pizza, veggies
Saturday:  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato soup
Sunday:  Leftovers

Now, a little peek inside my cozy castle:

I don't know what the deal is with the weird lighting in this photo, but you get the idea.  Just picture it without the jaundiced look.  See that lump on the ottoman?

Kitty Friend would have just been livid. 

My kitchen:

Cheerful, no?
I even commemorated the move by buying myself some flowers.  Because, why not? 

Men, you should check out Aldi for all your flower needs.  Cheap and so cute.

Have a great day!

Monday, August 23, 2010


This weekend I got my dining room all set up at my house.  My new blogging station:

This is also our homeschool area. 
Talk about multi-tasking.
Some may call it small.

I would call it just right. 
The next room I hope to finish is the living room:

So cozy. 
The entry way is almost done, packed with books, just the way I like it.

Now, I am off to wash windows. 
I love how my old house feels new again, in that exciting way, but not in that "doesn't-feel-like-home-yet" way. 
Have a wonderful day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

What a Great View

I like it when I can look out the window and see this beautiful sight:

Seeing my kids happy and enjoying each other just makes me feel this weird and overwhelming sense of well-being.

It gives me the encouragement I need to press on.  Just like working outside the home, being at home full time has its struggles:
loneliness and isolation.
A feeling that everything you do today, you have done before, and will need to do again tomorrow. 
The fear that no one notices or values what you do all day.
The guilt of not getting it all done, thus proving your worth.
The need for being self-motivated, self-governing, and balancing it all with a huge amount of God's grace and direction.
But this makes it all worth it.

This reminds me that the value I have in their lives is unable to be measured by clean floors, huge stockpiles of home-canned goods, and perfectly filled out homeschool worksheets.

Those things are wonderful, even fulfilling at times.  But home is more than a house where I keep busy all day.  Homeschooling is more than worksheets and tests.  Life is more than an endless list of things to achieve. 
Home is where I make my kids feel safe and loved by letting them be themselves and enjoying them in the process. 
Homeschooling is learning through life AND books.
And life has one central gaze point:
to glorify God, not myself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cookies So Good, Your Teeth Fall Out

I baked cookies on Saturday, and the recipe made the most delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER. 
I sent some over to each of my sisters' houses to welcome them home from their mission trip to El Salvador. 
And to keep myself from eating the whole batch by myself. 
Sharing is good for everyone.

Smitten Kitchen's recipe!  Go here to get it.

Now, don't eat too many, or your teeth might fall out. 
Take it from someone who has endured a sugar-induced tooth loss:

Someone who doesn't consume sugar like the favored form of addictive stimulants, and she still lost a tooth last week (ah, rites of passage, how I love you for letting me think Curlyjo is still just a little girl):

Here, Curlyjo, I will let you have the last cookie.

Too slow, girl. 
Maybe next time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Growing" Good Character

There was at one time a belief that we all have cancer cells in our bodies.  Blink and you may have missed this news, because it was quickly defamed and called "alarmist."  Turns out the science was inflated.  (Or as I like to call it, Darwin-ized).  So, this physical truth is an untruth.  But, I wonder if it may be a spiritual truth?

I am currently plowing through  (i.e., reading rapidly between chapters of another book) Have a New Kid By Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman. 

 I don't want new kids per se, but I do like to hone the old parenting skills.  Plus, the cover was all in primary colors, which we all know is attractive (McD's).  I digress...

What if we all have "bad character cells?"  What if my sweet babies were born with the potential to be rotten, disrespectful, mean-hearted punks and my job is to help those "cells" die...at the cross of Jesus?  I wonder if I am creating an environment that encourages the growth of bad character or good?

The exasperated sigh when they need something while I am ON THE INTERNET?????  The refusal to be inconvenienced by what is BEST for THEM?  Eye rolling, venting at the driver in front of me, grumbling when life doesn't go my way?  They see it all.  And all of those things are like McDonald's for the soul.  And I fed it to them.

I don't do everything right as a parent...I don't do everything wrong, either.  But, if I don't like what I see in them, maybe I better take a good look at myself. 

1 Corinthians 15:33 reminds me,
"Do not be misled:  Bad company corrupts good character." 

The company they keep most is ME

I don't want to corrupt--I want to instruct.
I don't want to mislead--I want to guide wisely.
Good thing I have an ever-present encouragement, guide, and admonition in the Word of God. 
Thanks, Dr. Leman, for reminding me that parenting is heavy stuff, God-sized work. 
And I need to get in.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY:  August 17, 2010

Outside my window...birds are singing.  My windows are open, and I can smell a hint of fall on the breeze. 

I am thinking...about how strange it will be to wake up in my own home again.

I am thankful for...the hardest two years of my life...2009 and 2010.  God has taught me some difficult and amazing lessons that will remind me to be more like Jesus.  It wasn't fun, but praise God for it.

From the learning rooms...I am excited to begin school in earnest the first week in September.  We are going to be starting American history!

From the kitchen...tonight there will be steaks on the grill for the "menfolk."  The Husband and Brother will not have to ask THE question:  "Is there meat in this?"

I am wearing...the usual. 

I am creating...a home.  I went to my house yesterday, and while I cleaned my bathroom I prayed that God would keep me this grateful for a home to clean.  I just have an overwhelming sense of joy when I walk into my house, though just months ago I could not go there for the sadness that filled my heart.

I am going...to miss Brother.

I am reading...the Bible.  And other, less important things.

I am hoping...that the next two months pass quickly for Mom and Dad (and Brother), so that we can all be together again.  And I hope that Brother doesn't burn the house down.

I am hearing...silence.  I am NOT hearing the school bus driving by, though today is the first day of school in our area.  That sound is another thing I miss about living in my house.  I miss the little, insignificant predictabilities of town life.

Around the house...boxes.  Laundry.  Broken air conditioning.  No Kitty Friend :(

One of my favorite things...coffee!  It has fueled my early mornings, soothed my soul, and been enjoyed around the table with family and friends.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Packing, cleaning, visiting with a dear friend that I haven't seen all summer, praying, and getting up crazy early to workout with DVDs filled with perky instructors with strange colloquialisms ("Burn butter?"  Seriously?  So, what do vegans burn?)

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...Brother, who I see every morning doing exactly this at the kitchen table.  How I will miss your profound thoughts, overuse of condiments, and propensity to calling me a homosexual.  I hope you will come to town and have coffee with me. 

For more Simple Women, visit here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Have to GET UP!

I have been struggling to get in my workout time lately.  It is really important to me that I stay physically active because without daily exercise, I struggle with depression, anxiety and weight problems.  Like everyone else, I have 24 hours in a day, and some of them are more full than others.  Some of them are more productive than others as well!  I used to exercise from 9:00 to 10:00 AM, Monday through Friday.  I kept this schedule for about three years.  When I moved, it became harder, not just because I lived out of town, but because life was crazy!  I can see the results of this crazy life and not enough exercise, and it isn't pretty.  With homeschooling, etc. how can I fit it in? 

One savvy blogger came up with the challenge to "Maximize Your Mornings."  This means working toward getting up early enough to have workout, Bible study, and planning for the day done by the time the kids get up.  Difficult, yes; impossible, no.  Totally worth it!

My wonderful Mother-in-law has been maximizing her mornings for years.  She gets up super early to get to work two hours before everyone else, just to get things done before the day gets busy and people need her.  So diligent :) 
Why can't I bring the same concept to being a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooler? 
So, in the words of Charlotte Mason:

"I AM.

This is day two for me.  I have succeeded thus far in having a workout, Bible study, planning time and breakfast before the little ladies awaken.  I am working toward getting up at 5:00 AM so that I can go to the gym again and be home before The Husband leaves for work, as the gym will only be a couple of blocks from my house when I move it two weeks.
I am tired. 
But, oh, so proud.

For more information on "Maximize Your Mornings," click here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


My sisters, my brother-in-law, and my niece are currently in El Salvador on a mission trip.  They travel with an organization that digs wells in impoverished communities, teach health and hygiene information, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people.  It is such a wonderful project!  For more information, see here.
So, with my younger sister out of town, I have been enjoying this face for two days:

Oh, Roo, how I love you.

I have also been in charge of harvesting tomatoes from the Amazon garden.

That just says "summer," no?

All while collecting free stuff from Walgreens.

I don't know how Nivea makes money...I get stuff free from that company all the time!

In my free time, (as if...) I have been packing. 

My family and I will be moving back to our own home at the end of the month.  Brother will be here by himself for about two months until Mom and Dad come home for good!  I will be coming over to clean for him and generally make sure he doesn't die/mold/starve/cry.  This arrangement should make for some interesting blog material.  Please watch for future blog posts titled "Brother, why..."

Meanwhile, I will be happily making a home out of our house again, eagerly anticipating my parents' move back to the good old United States. 
Happy days are yet to come :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Busy Hands Two/Too

I am not the only one in this house who has busy hands!  Curlyjo has been reading this (for FUN--I love homeschooling):

In the book, she found instructions for building a loom from cardboard.  So (naturally) she did. 

She used yarn on her loom, and was kind enough to demonstrate the weaving to her fascinated mother.

Sweet little hands. 

The finished product was a lovely little woven basket for her doll. 

Poor-quality picture of high-quality workmanship, I assure you.
I must say, the coolest part of homeschooling is watching them learn so many wonderful things that I didn't and couldn't teach them. 
What a blessing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Busy Hands

I have been working on my bread making skills for a couple of years.  I just love making bread.  I like the kneading, the thinking that naturally happens when your hands are busy with a redundant task and the mind is free to wander.  I like the skill that comes with knowing, by sight and touch, that the bread is done being kneaded.  I used to just set the timer and knead it for however long the recipe recommended.  Now, I just know.  I like that.  My latest attempts have been with High Protein Whole Wheat Bread from the More with Less cookbook.  Oh, my.  If you are on a low-carb diet, please look away.  This will be obscene for you.

Yeah, I made those. 
I can't put the recipe on here, because I didn't make it up.  But, the cookbook is so worth the money! 
This bread is not too dense, slices beautifully and is super nutritious.  It is not, however, vegan, if that is a concern.  It is a concern for me, when visions of this book come a-haunting.
But, who could resist?

"Bring me the jam, stat."
(What does "stat" mean?)
The way my mind is wandering, you would think I was kneading something.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goodbye, My Friend.

Today, I said goodbye to my Kitty Friend.  We have been friends for almost thirteen years.  Kitty snuggled me through:

~ Many sleepless nights, when I was eighteen, newly married, and my husband was working midnights.  I had never even slept in my own room as a child, so I was scared and lonely.  She was a great comfort to me.

~ A near-collapse of that same new marriage.
We moved out together. 
Then we moved back in together.

~ Several years of repairing said marriage.

~ The birth of our children, and my subsequent depression after the first one. 
What a wonderful treasure was her company through my many tears.

~ Moving, several times.

~ Many cold winter evenings in front of the fireplace, her favorite spot.

~ Through the last two years, when nothing felt familiar, she was. 

Thank you, my Friend, for all the memories, cuddles, and the puddles. 
I have loved you so.

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY:  August 10, 2010

Outside my window...there is sun, heat, and condensation on the windows.  It is going to be hot today!

I am thinking...about my Kitty Friend, who is having surgery today. 

I am thankful for...wonderful friends and family, who love me enough to care about my cat. 

From the learning rooms...Curlyjo learned Roman Numerals in one lesson.  I was so impressed.   Tiny Love has discovered that adding can be fun, so she wants to do an addition worksheet at odd times...like bedtime.
From the kitchen...I am making Garden Minestrone today, because soup is good food, even when it is over a hundred degrees outside.

I am wearing...my glasses.  It promises to be an emotional day, and crying dries out my contacts.  It is good to plan ahead. 

I am creating...a beautiful apron.  I began this sewing project three years ago, and I have decided to finish what I started.

I am going...to the vet to visit my Friend, to have coffee with a friend, and to Walgreens to get free stuff with coupons.

I am reading...too many books at the same time.  I am also reading 1 Samuel for my Bible study.

I am hoping...for good news for Brother about his job situation.  I am also hoping that my sisters, brother-in-law, and niece are doing well in El Salvador, digging a well and telling others about Jesus.

I am hearing...quiet.  Outside it is quiet.  Inside me, I wish there was more quiet.

Around the house...I am about to see more boxes.  I will begin packing this week, as the big move back to our own house is coming soon.

One of my favorite things...is the Bible, which gave me so much encouragement this morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  attempting to find time in my schedule to get to the gym.  The treadmill is my stress management apparatus, and we need some time together.  I will also be keeping my nephew, The Roo, for a couple of days this week.  I am very happy to get to see him!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...my Friend, when she was happy, healthy and taking a nap in her favorite position.  I hope she will be again soon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday...and a Request

When I do a menu plan, I almost always end up improvising at some point in the week.  Things just never go quite as planned!  So, I have decided to tweak the way that I menu plan a little.  I made a list of five meals (leaving one night for leftovers and one for simple food), and I grocery shopped accordingly.  Now I have a list of meals that I can make with what I have on hand this week. 

1.  Hamburgers/veggie burgers on whole wheat buns, oven fries, zucchini
2.  Quiche, bread, and fruit
3.  Chicken wreath and salad
4.  Crock pot BBQ chicken, macaroni and cheese, frozen or fresh veggie
5.  Garden Minestrone and Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Other things to make this week (for breakfast/lunch/snacks):
1.  High Protein Whole Wheat Bread (also from the More with Less cookbook--it is amazing!)
2.  Granola Bars
3.  Tuna salad

If you don't have a copy of the More with Less cookbook, I highly recommend it and its philosophy on cooking and eating.

And now, on a more somber note, I have a request.  I don't know what the rules are about praying for pets, but if you could keep my Kitty Friend in your thoughts, I would appreciate it greatly. 

She is very ill, on IV fluids, waiting to gather enough strength for surgery.  They think she may have a tumor in her abdomen, and she has lost thirty percent of her body weight in just two weeks.  She is weak, and I am not sure she will do well in surgery, or that they will be able to do anything for her.  She has been my friend for thirteen years, and my heart is just breaking that it may be time to let her go.  Remember us today.  I am aware that she is an animal, not a person, but I think God cares about ALL of my tears, and there have been many today from my beloved Kitty Friend.  If nothing else, I pray He will comfort me...and her.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Holy Women" by James W. Knox

It is Sunday!  I have been to church, which was awesome, and I have picked up the Sunday newspapers for this week (great coupons this week!).  How about you?

I want to share a link to the Bible study that I have been doing in my quiet time every morning.  It is called Holy Women, by James W. Knox.  At first I thought, "Why does a man write a Bible study for women about how to be holy (set apart for God's purpose)?"  Oh, ye of massive feminism.  Well, I think his teaching is valid for several reasons:

1.  The study is based on God's Word about holy womanhood, not some guy's version.  So that guy can teach God's Word to whomever, male or female.

2.  God is masculine.  The Bible says "He."  And He tells me what womanhood really is.   I don't care to argue about the rest.

3.  I, as a woman, should be willing to be taught...even by a man.  Especially by a man (my husband). 

So, now that the knee-jerk feminist response has been duly dealt with in my heart, I can approach the Bible's teaching with a ready mind.  And this study has been speaking to me in so many ways.  

The Bible teaches in a way that counter-cultural.  Or the culture teaches in a way that is counter-biblical.  Whichever it is, if I obey God's commands for womanhood, or marriage, I will have to walk against popular culture, in heart and in deed.  But first I must know what God says womanhood is, and be willing to believe Him, obey Him, and declare Him in my life.  This study has helped me with the former; I am still working on the latter.  Join me?

Holy Women by James W. Knox (pdf file)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Vacation Part 3: I really was there.

I think there are literally two pictures of me on our vacation.  I took 150 pictures. 
So, let's play a little game of "Where's Waldo:  Vacation Edition."
Only look for me.  Not that creepy Waldo guy.

There I am.


Hey, that's my ring!

Sure looks familiar.

See!  I really was there. 
And it was wonderful.

See you tomorrow with a link to an awesome Bible study for women!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Vacation Fun: Part 2

To try to describe how we felt about seeing the ocean just reminds me how limited words are in communicating what happens inside us all. 
The kids thought it was the most beautiful sight they had ever beheld.  I agree.  Something about the ebb and flow, the vastness, the beauty is just spiritual.  It just cries out of a Creator.  So, I will just share some pictures I took and leave the words out, because they would be wholly inadequate anyway.

What a lovely land is our America.