Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Capture: Autumn

This week's photography theme at You Capture is autumn. I love autumn--aside from the ragweed, it is my favorite season.

I love the splashes of color inside

Look! My African violets have finally bloomed!
and outside.

I take a few way too many pictures of pretty clouds and dramatic sunsets, and this is the perfect time of year to do so. The skies are always changing

and sometimes ominous looking

You can see the storm front just to the right of the bright patch of sky.

but autumn is still the perfect time of year to go exploring on horseback.

Check out other You Capture entries at I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in on the fun!


Aside from some cropping, all photos in this post are SOOC with my point-and-shoot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday: Organization

Wow. It has been a really, really long time since I've linked up with Works For Me Wednesday! To make up for my absence, I thought I'd share several tips at once.

Just kidding. But I do have several tips to share. And most of them deal with paper, which makes me wonder why my house looks the way it does since I have these great organizational skills. (Ha.) Which leads me to...

A disclaimer: I am what you could call selectively organized. The things I'm going to share with you are things I am highly organized with. This is not a reflection of what the rest of my life looks like. If you have ever seen my home, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The Mom's Notebook is my notebook for household management. You know the organization systems that have you using index cards and an index card box? Those never worked for me. I took the basic idea and used a notebook instead. I had Avery notebook tabs labeled alphabetically on hand, but you can make your own if you'd like--I've made tabs using different shades of construction paper. The tabs came with a table of contents page:

Click on image to enlarge.

I write the contents of the notebook beside the corresponding letter of the alphabet so I can see at a glance what is in the notebook. Each letter of the alphabet has at least one sheet of notebook paper filed there, ready to be used. "Attendance" is filed under "A" and this is where I keep our homeschool attendance forms, with enough copies printed for the entire school year, ready to complete. (I keep stamps and addressed envelopes for mailing these attendance forms in the back pocket of my Mom's Notebook, too.) "Wish lists" is filed under "W" and this is where I have made a note of a gift idea for a family member at any time during the year. I also keep an information sheet for the babysitter that has things like our cell phone numbers, a neighbor's name and phone number, snacks the kids are allowed to have, bedtime routines and bed times for each child. My Mom's Notebook is a view binder, and I keep the babysitter sheet as the back cover of the notebook so it's handy and I actually remember to use it. I tried using the notebook to keep track of things like changing the A/C filter, but I still do better making a note on our calendar of when things like that need to be changed.


My Mom's Notebook is standing on the kitchen counter next to my Recipe Notebook. With all of the recipes available online (printed on printer paper), I stopped using a recipe box years ago. I use a view binder for this, too; when I am using a recipe, I slip the recipe page into the front cover so the recipe stays clean. I made tab dividers for the various sections (Chicken, Ground meat, Desserts...) and, in addition to the recipes on printer paper, I keep a sheet protector in each section to be a pocket for recipe cards or recipes cut out of magazines. I will not copy everything onto full-sized sheets of paper just so it will fit in my notebook!


I keep a simple piece of paper with the days of the week labeled (and covered with clear self-adhesive film) to keep track of leftovers in the refrigerator with a dry erase marker...a customized homemade dry erase board. I keep the dry erase marker inside a nearby cabinet so I will actually use it. Please use prettier magnets than mine.


I keep a master list of most of my homeschool resources in a database file. We generally keep out only the resources we are currently using since we don't have a separate room for "homeschooling." The rest of the resources are stored anywhere I can find the space: in boxes in the garage, in one of the bookcases in the kitchen, or in the lower cabinet area of the china cabinet in the living room. With this list, I know where everything is and can find whatever I'm looking for within a few minutes. I have a printed copy that I can take with me when I know I will be shopping for resources (used book sales, Goodwill, etc.) so I can buy things we actually need and not pick up any duplicate items. I can sort this list by grade, subject, storage location, etc.

This image shows one page of my master list before I prepared for the current school year. I had a box in the garage labeled '10 for this school year. Now, all of those books have been updated on my master list and are marked as "USING." The other boxes are labeled with the grades that make sense for the size of box they are in, such as 1st-4th, 5th, and Middle School.

Click on image to enlarge.

If I were not selectively organized, I'm sure this list of homeschool resources would be neatly filed away in my Mom's Notebook. Instead, it lives on top of the computer desk...but that still works for me!

Do you have any tips to share?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I Learned This Week: My husband told me I had to write this post

Seriously, my husband told me I had to write this post and share this knowledge. This isn't something that I learned this week but it is great information to have. And I guess that, technically, I could say that I learned (from Jason) that it was my civic duty to tell you this.

How can I argue with that?

Do you have people calling you from various charities asking for contributions or pledges? Do you have a hard time saying "no" but can't actually donate anything, or have agreed with your spouse "These are the charities we will contribute to this year/month"? We don't have caller id...which is probably why we feel like we are the only ones taking these calls. But in case I'm wrong and we aren't the only ones without caller id, here's my (so far) fool-proof way to get off their calling list without all the added guilt they throw your way via their scripts.
  1. Tell the person on the other end of the phone line that you believe this is a fine organization/a good cause/a worthwhile program...whatever is appropriate. (It helps if you actually mean this. I'm not encouraging you to lie!)
  2. Immediately tell the caller that you really cannot contribute anything at this time. Mention your budget if you would like. (Again, it helps if you actually mean it. They can't argue with your budget.)
  3. This is key: Immediately follow up with "And I need to be taken off your calling list." This is crucial, or else you will be reciting the first two steps every month or so while they check back to see if your resolve has weakened situation has changed.
Nine times out of ten, this ends the call! If it does not and the caller refers back to their script, repeat steps 2 and 3 in one breath. If they still persist (this has only happened to me only once), repeat steps 2 and 3 and then follow up with "and I need to hang up the phone now." You can do this sooner if that makes you happy, but sometimes the caller keeps you on the line to verify that your phone number has been removed from the system.

Remember throughout the entire dialogue to be kind to the caller. This is their job, and they may not like making the calls much more than you like receiving them, but it is their job. It's not personal, and you have better things to do than get in a huff over this.

Maybe next week I'll tell you about how I make telemarketers hang up on me. Oh, wait, I already did that...

What have you learned this week?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You Capture: Orange

Last Saturday I went on a daytrip to a historical downtown area with the ladies' ministry at our church as part of Pastor Appreciation this month. We all had a great time! These are some of the orange things we saw while we were there.

A cute masked orange orangutan in a window display:

I suspect we will be seeing a lot of these in this week's You Capture challenge:

But I dare say that this is the only place you'll be seeing cheetah eggs and giraffe eggs:

Pretty produce stand:

Check out other You Capture entries at I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in on the fun!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I Learned This Week

This post nearly wrote itself as I was hacking away at brambles in my back yard. It's been a long time since I linked up with What I Learned This Week...not that I haven't been learning anything, but we have taken the week off from school so I actually have a little more time to devote to my poor, sadly neglected blog.

This week I also have had a little more time to devote to my poor, sadly neglected back yard, which is how we got here to this post.

You see, the house next door is vacant and the yardwork has been tended to by us and the neighbor on the other side of that house so that, you know, it doesn't look so vacant. However, it has been years since the previous owners mowed the back half of their back yard, so it looks like this:

Seriously, there are about a dozen trees in that back section that weren't there 10 years ago when we moved here.

There are also brambles...lots of brambles. And over the summer, these brambles crossed through the fence and grew into our back yard.

Why, yes, that is ragweed. That's growing and spreading, too. Yay.

While I was cutting away the brambles, I noticed that my mind kept returning to the spiritual applications I could make with this whole process. With the brambles representing sin in our life:

1. Our sin affects those around us with the resulting consequences. Our old neighbors didn't envision brambles and ragweed (and oddly spaced trees) growing to fill the back portion; they simply wanted to pay their lawn guy less money when they made the decision not to mow that area.

2. If we are watchful and stop sin in its track early on, it is easier to deal with because it has not established deep roots in our lives. If I had taken the time to walk around and look at what was happening in my own back yard, I would have seen the brambles sooner. If I had seen that the brambles were growing through the fence earlier, there would have been less work involved to remove them.

3. There is no use going through all of the "if onlys"--you simply have to start where you are and deal with it...and, hopefully, learn from it. Thinking about how I could have/should have done something earlier did absolutely nothing to get rid of the brambles. I could, however, ask Robert to tell me as soon as he started noticing the brambles while mowing our yard.

4. It's easier with someone alongside you helping you. Even if that person is an 8 year old who would just as soon be sitting on the driveway smashing rocks with a hammer...or smashing the driveway with a hammer...whatever. Having Josiah help cut away the brambles helped the job go quicker. And, as a bonus, it kept him from smashing more of the driveway, too. (I wish I weren't joking...)

5. When you are helping someone else in dealing with their entanglement in sin, you have to establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from getting entangled along with them. After I finished cutting away the brambles in our yard, the only thing I could do across the fence was to cut as wide of a gap as I could into the neighbor's brambles. At the very least, this will keep the brambles out of our yard for a little longer next year.

6. You cannot do the job correctly without the right resources. I need better work gloves! However, even though the job was a little more painful without thicker gloves, I would have stopped long before I was done if I had not had the long-handled clippers and lopper.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 21-24 NIV)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV)

If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NIV)

...for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13 NIV)
So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body. (2 Peter 1:12-13 NIV)

What have you learned this week?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Overheard: The Homeschooling Edition

You might be a homeschooler if:

...You are 13, it's Saturday morning, and your mother says, "You know that science test I forgot about before we left for Athens yesterday? Get ready for have thirty minutes." And you don't even protest.

...You are 8, you're doing a worksheet, and you ask your mother, "What's with this 'Wackyville'?" She explains that it's just a city name that was made up for the worksheet, and you say, "Well, I'm changin' it." And your mother isn't surprised to see that you've changed the name to "Tenese" [Tennessee].

...You are 4, you are clutching the workbook you would love to work from all day long (the very same one your brothers wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole) and sigh sadly as you tell your mother, "I'm just no good at writing letters."

...You are the mother, and you are looking forward to having next week off from school just as much as your children. ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You Capture: Animals

When I heard that this week's challenge was animals, I was almost at a loss. We don't have a pet. (I know, neither does Beth or probably about a hundred of you out there reading this...if there are that many reading this...OK, I'm really being generous here with that number.)

But then I started seeing the animals--the ones I saw but couldn't take pictures of, like the dead bird in the road at the end of our driveway (Oh, please tell me you wouldn't want to see that!), or the skittish squirrels that have finally made it into our yard after all these years, or the white cat that jumped the fence into our back yard this afternoon and promptly jumped back over to continue prowling the neighborhood.

But, fortunately, I also managed to capture some animals...digitally, of course.

We took a day trip to Athens and saw a bulldog that was just waiting to be loved on

as well as a ferocious sand dragon with a long red tongue that was just waiting to be climbed on by tall boys.

In a strange turn of events, Grace's beloved Emily turned into a puppy (and a boy puppy, at that, complete with a blue collar).

Stranger still, Grace turned into a puppy, too!

Oh, wait...that's not so strange. Grace even has a puppy name: Sweet Dog. It suits her.

Now, shhh! Don't tell anyone, but we saw animals at the library.

And we even took some home with us.

Check out other You Capture entries at I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in on the fun!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

You Capture: Faces

A few weeks ago, I ran across a post by BooMama where she quoted from a TV show, "Those of us who are busy require hands-free hydration." (This is probably from The Office but I'm not sure...she also referenced 30 Rock, and I don't watch that one, either.) I immediately thought of a frequent scene in my kitchen...and I was just waiting to work it into a blog post somehow. :) These are not posed--as evidenced by the next two shots--but, given the chance, this is what Josiah will do while doing a worksheet. And, yes, he is continuously drinking water from a straw while he writes...and it drives me just a little nuts.

Grace is so excited to have weather cool enough to wear her "new" pajamas with Barbie on the front. She put them on, came running up to me, and gushed, "Isn't Barbie so pretty, Mommy?" I told her that Barbie was pretty, but not as pretty as my little girl. She protested. I still hold my ground...because I'm right.

All of these are SOOC. I didn't even fix the blue smudge on Grace's cheek that was from the hand stamp she got at the library. Those gorgeous eyes are all her own.

Check out other You Capture entries at I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in on the fun!


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