Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sunset and Thunder

Did you get rain today?

We got just a little bit here ... nothing to fill up the creek like }this{.
And by here, I mean right over our heads, because up the road I think it poured.
That's how it is in spring.

But we did get lovely thunder ... something rumbling every second.
The kind of thunder that sounds like a movie soundtrack,
where you think 'oh please, it's never that good.'

But it was, and I went out on the porch to enjoy it, as we do here.  
Once when we went outside to watch a storm, I watched the barn blow over :o(  
Nothing nearly so spectacular this time, 
just some wonderfully rumbly thunder and a beautiful sunset.

(make sure your sound is on so you can hear the thunder :o)

I hope your evening was lovely, too!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
- Proverbs 22:6

Do you know that Bible verse?
Parenting can be hard and it can be trying.
But that verse up there?  It's a promise worth hanging on to.

One of the most controversial intra-family decisions we made as parents 
was to decide not to own the much loved Disney movie The Little Mermaid.
This was a decision we made just for our family
and I have no judgement for any one else about owning it or not.

The Little Mermaid fairy tale was one of my personal favorites growing up.
The Disney movie is lovely ... Ariel is delightful ... the music is fabulous.

And yet ... there was the example of rebellion against parents, 
intentional disregard for their guidance, 
and a complete escape of all negative consequences 
that seemed to me way over the top in this particular movie.

So, I decided we wouldn't own The Little Mermaid.
It wasn't a boycott - I just didn't want it playing in a continual loop in our house
(because that would have happened!).

We watched it several times.  It wasn't forbidden - we just didn't own it.  
The kids knew my reasons, and they didn't really agree (naturally) 
but they were so busy watching the many other Disney movies we did own 
that it really wasn't that big of a deal to them.  
They did, on occasion though, give me a hard time about it,
especially as they got older.
It was fairly good-natured teasing, with an occasional roll of the eyes
and a "there goes Mom with her weird boundaries again."

My sweet girl is now 15, and she recently watched the Little Mermaid.
Completely awash in a wave of nostalgia,
and frankly expecting only a happy review of what a cute movie it is,
I asked her if she enjoyed it.

"You know what, Mom?"  she said, thoughtfully.  
Long pause .... 
"Okay.  I see why."

I felt like Neil Armstrong on the moon.
It was a small step that bodes great things.

This isn't a blog post about whether or not you should own The Little Mermaid.
It's just one to say that when your kids tell you they understand the "parental" things you did ...
it's worth the wait, and it feels pretty awesome.

How about you?
Is there an unpopular parenting decision that's come full circle for you,
or are you waiting for God's promise to come true?

I'm sharing this post at the Grace at Home Linky party at Imparting Grace ...
click below to come to the party!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Organizing Pots & Pans and Please Don't Slam the Front Door

If there's any area of my life that can use a Life Hack, it's kitchen storage.
Specifically for pots and pans.
That, and teaching my kids not to slam the front door.
If I can get a handle on both those areas, 
life will take on a sparkle and shine that puts springtime to shame.

I don't have a before picture of my pots and pans cabinet for you,
but believe me when when I tell you
it was highly unorganized, unsightly, and inefficient.
And also a big mess.

Enter an email forward of a gargantuan collection of Life Hacks that featured these two ideas:

Pot lids stored on a curtain rod   ...    Pots and pans hanging on a tension rod
 (image credit)                                     (image credit)                

I was smitten.
And inspired.
And I had hope that a couple of curtain rods could solve all my problems.

This isn't a post about my own original ideas,
just evidence that if your pots and pans are in a big mess,
there are some really easy Life Hacks that can work for you, too!

I started with the tension rod (it's a shower rod) and curtain hooks.

To get the tension rod in there really snugly, 
I had to put it in not quite straight and then bump it into place.

I also used a binder clip on the rod to use as a stopper for the cookie sheets to keep them standing up -
this was another brilliant Life Hack idea.

Please let me apologize for the condition of my cookie sheet.
The $1.25 for a nice new shiny one exceeds my budget.
Of course I'm kidding. 
 I do not know why I am putting up with a rusty old cookie sheet.
I assure you the other side looks fine.

Once the rod is up securely, pots and pans go on the hooks and life is so sweet!

But wait!  There's more!!

How about those pot lids, Ladies?
Let's get them all organized, too!

The original idea was to mount a curtain rod across the inside of the cabinet door,
but then I saw another idea that didn't involve drilling holes }here{. 
Since I was a little afraid of drilling holes in the cabinet doors,
using adhesive Command Hooks seemed like a much better option.  

It's a fairly easy process - just figure out where you want your hooks and stick them on.  
They're also easy to remove.  
And there are extra adhesive-pads in the package in case you need them.
Ask me how I know :o)

Also: ask me if I'm glad I didn't use power tools to drill holes in those doors after all :o)

Once the hooks are up, you're in business!

I wasn't entirely sure the lids and the pans wouldn't clang together when the door closed,
but I just had faith that they wouldn't and forged ahead.
They don't, and here's a pic from the inside to make a believer out of you, too:

(it looks like the bottom lid is coming in contact with the pans but it isn't)

Now in all honestly I will tell you that if you slam the cabinet door carelessly,
a lid may go flying into the pans and make a great and terrible noise.
We must close the cabinet doors ... ah ... maturely. 

The family has been informed.

As I've been training my children for years not to slam the front door when they come and go,
I'm considering this a challenge round to further sharpen their door closing skills.  

I'm all for the better training and upbringing of our youth.

Especially if it means organized and orderly pots and pans!

I love those Life Hack people ... they make me feel so smart!

UPDATE:  I've since moved this pots and pans hanging system to an upper cabinet.  It was great down below, but having pans at eye level and not having to bend over to pull one out is fantastic!  (it's the little things :o)  Click }here{ to see how that looks.  

I'm linking this post to these great Linky Parties ... click below and come join the fun!

  Grace at Home at Imparting Grace

Catch a Glimpse Thursday at A Peek Inside 

 All Things Thursday at Posed Perfection

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Helps me Drink 96oz of Water Every Day

Okay, so tell me, was drinking water on your list of New Year's Resolutions?

We all know we're supposed to drink lots and lots of water ... 
the list of benefits is unbelievably long for plain old water.  
The Mayo Clinic says women should drink about 74 ounces (2.2 liters) a day, 
and I've struggled for years and years to do this.  
Really ... YEARS.  
For some strange reason, it's hard to drink all that water every day.  
I've tried many little tricks to entice myself to doing this good-for-me task, and failed miserably.  

I've tried:
tally marks on a calendar
tally marks on a whiteboard
checking off squares on a graph
moving eight pebbles from one pile to another
filling a pitcher with 74 ounces of water in the morning
putting out the requisite number of water bottles every day
putting eight pennies in my pocket and taking one out every time I drink a glass
planning to drink a glass on the hour every hour

You get the point.  I've tried!

Years ago someone gave me the greatest cup to encourage drinking water.  
It was a plastic cup, with a ring around the outside that had numbers 1-8 on it, 
and every time you drank a cup, you'd move the ring forward to the next marker. 
It's kind of embarrassing just how motivating I found that little cup to be.  
Tragically, the ring got broken and the cup lost its magical powers for me. 
But while it was intact I drank my water daily and for the first time in my life, 
I understood that drinking enough water
 is the difference between feeling good and feeling GREAT.  

Here's some good news:  if you're like me, when they told you to drink 8 glasses of water a day, 
you were thinking 8 big glasses.  
But actually, when they say glasses, that's an 8 ounce glass, which is only one cup.

No big deal - we can do that!  

Disclaimer:  the trick I'm about to tell you is so very simple, 
you may wonder why I'm even bothering to write about it.  
More importantly, you may wonder why you're sitting there reading about it.  
Well, here's why:  it took me about 10 years to figure this one out.  
Hopefully, you're smarter than I am and figured out your own little trick before all the Y2K hubbub.  
But if there's someone out there like me who just can't find that one trick 
that helps them drink all their water, and I can save them from a decade of dehydration ... 
well, that would be cool.

Here's my technique...

It's a countdown on the refrigerator whiteboard.  
I drink 12 glasses of water a day, and every time I drink one, 
I wipe a number off the board.  
I know ... I KNOW.  But it works!    

I use a small glass, one that holds just about 8 ounces, and that seems to help too.
I try to drink 4 glasses before 9am, 4 more by noon, and if I can do that, the rest is all downhill.
I really think the trick of it is ... well ... finding a trick that gets you to do it.

For me, there's something about seeing those numbers going ...

going ...


gone ...

that helps me get in every last drop.
Well - most days anyway.

It's not a fancy iphone app, and there's not a www. about it ... but it does work.
How about you ... do you drink the recommended amount of water every day?
Do you have a trick to make you do it?
Does it make a difference in how you feel?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shopping for Prom in All the Wrong Places

Did you know there are proms for Homeschoolers?  
I sure didn't for the longest time.  I knew kids in our homeschool co-op attended one, 
but it just wasn't on my radar, nor was it on the radar for my oldest two, and that was fine by me.
But when Ben attended prom his senior year, I saw the whole thing in a different light.

It was, indeed, prom ... 
with the tuxedo rental and the pretty dresses and dancing and pictures ... 
but as with everything homeschool, there was a much different spin on it.  
It was well and actively chaperoned, with a modest dress code
and a music play list that was contemporary but wholesome, 
and there were even dance lessons prior to the event.  
The theme and decor were well thought out and beautiful.  
Rather than dates, most of the co-op kids attended as a group, 
and it was more a really fun dance party than an over-hyped culmination of all things high school.  
My son's only regret was that he waited until he was a senior to go, 
so I was happy that Abbie wanted to go this year as a freshman (this prom is for 9th-12th graders), 
and especially pleased that Ben was glad to accompany her.

[ Two unforeseen benefits of homeschooling
1.  brothers and sisters have genuine friendships and don't mind being seen together publicly
2.  age differences don't impose social limitations, i.e. it's okay to talk to a freshman :o)  ]

Just one problem:  
Abbie and I aren't really girly-girl shoppers ...
and well ... you kind of need a pretty dress for prom.

We looked online for ideas so we'd know when we found the one we wanted:

(image source for both dresses: here)

We made our date to go shopping.  
And we shopped. And we looked.  
And she tried on.
And we looked.
And she tried on.
And we looked.
And we got distracted.


We didn't come home with a prom dress.

But we certainly had a good time at the pet store.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tiding Over

I always wonder how massively creative DIYers manage to live in their houses 
and not be driven c.r.a.z.y. by all the projects that are on hold in their heads.

I tend to intimidate myself and can't get going until I've completed that master plan 
for all house projects to be completed in the next 25 years.
Or I get fixated on the big projects ... 
the ones that require trips to Home Depot in the truck, heavy lifting, lots of power tools, 
and looking at the house floor plan one more time to verify which walls are load bearing.

But sometimes a little project can be just as satisfying.
Or at least tide you over.
She does the big deal DIY things, but this one I thought I could handle.

I picked up these at a shopping trip to Ikea

to fill in a boring spot in the kitchen at the end of the kitchen counter:

It took me maybe 30 minutes to "install" ... 
It only involved putting four small screws into the end of the counter and putting the rail in place.  
Super easy.
Not expensive.

And a nice little change!
Maybe this will be the jumpstart I need to tackle some of the bigger things on my list.
Or maybe I should just go shopping at Ikea again :o)

Have you done any small projects to tide you over until you can get to the big stuff?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Value of y

It's been many, many years since I sat in a high school Algebra class.  
It could have been many many more years and I would be quite happy.  
I limped through Algebra I and II with my oldest two, 
but I knew this year I was going to have to step in more actively for my Algebra student to engage. 
The first several weeks were hard.  
My student had no interest whatsoever in finding the illusive x 
and cared not one bit for its value.  

There was a lack of concentration.
There was doodling.
There may have been tears.

And more than chasing after y, we were both chasing after WHY.

Why do I have to do this?  
Why do I need to learn this when I will never need to solve for x in real life?

I didn't like teaching it any more than she liked learning it.

The moment it came together in class
and the moment it came together for me as a teacher were one and the same.
The day she made a 100 on the quiz 
when it was time to demonstrate mastery over multiplying the likes of (x+y)(x-y),
I understood why I'm teaching this math-we-will-"never"-use-in-real-life.

I'm teaching her to stay focused on a problem.
I'm training her to order her thoughts in the face of confusion.
I'm teaching my student how to think.

My Dad used to say, "the more you learn, the more you can learn".  
I never quite understood his statement, although it did ring true.
Education teaches the brain how to think.  And if you know how to think ...
you can do anything.

We're not out of the woods yet as far as Algebra is concerned,
and we may not have the value of x quite nailed down ...
but at least we've figured out the value of why.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Four Seasons

The winter decor was requesting its vacation.
The spring decor was clamoring to come out.  Clamoring, I tell you.  
Temps in the 70s ... the 80s ... and you know. 
You just know ... spring must come out.   

I took the tree off the porch a couple weeks ago, 
because a flocked tree on the porch and 75 degrees in the yard is just too in-congruent, even for me. 
With the balmy spring temperatures, I was really ready and a little impatient 
to put winter away and welcome the new season in.

I came close to judging myself like the pest control guy did
But then my sister said until you burn all your firewood, you can keep your winter decor out.  
That made me feel much better :o)  

I intended to make the switch last weekend, but we had some car shopping to do.  
Two in one week ... may it never happen again ... I'm so glad that's done!  

With temps making springlike leaps up into the 80s on Saturday, the time was right.  
Winter went back into boxes 

Always, always I am telling myself next year I will organize and pare down ... next.  year.
Until then, many many boxes labeled "WINTER" are going back to the shed,
and we brought out the spring boxes ... all two of them.  
Two total boxes of spring things.  
Which always leaves me feeling like "wait ... where's all my stuff?"

Spring is my least favorite season as far as decorating is concerned.  
I'm not much of a pastel lover.  
I take my cue from nature and use lots of rabbits, birds and flowers.

Let's take a moment for a quick blog trivia question. 
If the room pictured above is bright and glowing, what should Melissa be doing instead of taking pictures?
Click }here{ if you don't know the answer.
Just making sure that you're paying attention.
And feeling really thankful that LtDan loves to cook.

I got most of the spring things out by Saturday night, 
and as much as we enjoyed the winter decor, 
we all  appreciated that feeling of spaciousness that comes when you take the tree down.
Then: surprise!! 
Sunday came, temps plunged into the teens, and ice fell from the sky.
I'm so glad there was still firewood to burn, 
because nothing makes you enjoy the spring decor like sleet pelting the window and a fire in the fireplace.

Part of the reason I love to decorate for the seasons is because 
I've always longed to live somewhere there are four distinct seasons ... 
Just not all in one weekend :o)