Archive for August, 2005

Potent Prayers

Monday, August 29th, 2005

Thank you to all of my friends, family, & fellow internet buddies for all of your prayers about our potty-training situation. Blessings to you all because your prayers are most potent!

Now don’t get too excited because our Ethan is still not potty-trained…that would be some answered prayer, indeed! No, he has not graduated to the world of Bob the Builder underwear yet, but he did get moved out of that awful class that they were going to put him in this fall where he would have had to been able to use the potty.

We had Ethan’s meet & greet night at school and I have been dreading this for months. I had kept waiting & waiting for the magical phone call that would tell me that Ethan was not in the potty-trained class, but we never received it despite my request that Ethan be placed in the 2b class and not the 3-4 class.

Just in case you have missed my lovely blogs in the past, you will realize that I am either a) not approaching potty-training in the correct manner, b) my kid is not interested in potty-training, or c) we are just not ready for all of this and neither of us has the enthusiasm or time to devote towards making this a 24-7, 365 day hobby. With our amazing track record of peeing on the potty once, I did not see any light at the end of the potty-training tunnel and I realized that the school was either going to have to accept my diaper-clad kid or we were going to get to spend a lot of Ethan & mommy time together. Despite feeling a bit melancholy about Ethan returning to school, I am not so melancholy that I actually want him to miss out on school (puh-leez! Give me a break!)

We were told, once we got to his new classroom, that an opening had become available in the class that we had requested and they would be able to put Ethan where we really needed him to be. The best part was that it was for the days that we had already chosen so I didn’t even have to switch my days around to take advantage of the opening.

His class will still be new to him because he was out of school this summer (when he would have been in this class) so he will still have a new teacher, a new class, and teachers that will be working with him on the potty training too. What a blessing!

This was much cause for celebration so we celebrated by taking Ethan to Dairy Queen for an ice cream sundae, just like my parents did when we had our back to school night. What better place to celebrate returning to school than the big DQ & chocolate sundaes for all!

The Real History of Amy

Friday, August 26th, 2005

I have read, on some feminist websites, that they are pretty darn unhappy with my happy-go-lucky attitude about being a homemaker. They consider my happiness with being home as a direct insult to the progress that we have made as women. I respect their feelings, but also know that I am making the most of what my role as at this time. No disrespect to those of you out there who are bringing home the bacon & frying it in the pan, but I actually enjoy being home.

The truth is that I was not always this way about running my household; in fact, I was pretty much a failure at it. Only in the last couple of years have I realized that this is actually something that I can do and I have tried to approach it with some enthusiasm.

To illustrate how far I have come, I will start from the beginning of our marriage….

When my husband & I were first married, I knew how to cook two things. My first dish that I knew how to make was baked chicken. No, nothing fancy with a sauce or anything elaborate…. just chicken. I would sprinkle Lawry’s seasoning on it and add a side of Rice a Roni and that was our dinner. Yum, yum!

My second dish consisted of tuna casserole. You know the one where the ingredients consisted of a can of cream of mushroom, cream of celery, noodles, & tuna. This second dish was probably the thing that I was most proud of because it felt like real cooking to me.

The first night that I cooked for my husband I made the tuna casserole for him. I proudly served up two bowls of the casserole and watched as my husband’s eyes filled with horror over his bowl. He took a few bites and then claimed that he was full and I just started bawling. You see, the only thing that I knew how to cook was this and he hated it. I think that I yelled at him and told him I was going to leave him (or something to that effect) and I felt a real sense of defeat. We lived hundreds of miles away from our family and anyone that I knew so I didn’t even have a mom out there to come show me how to cook.

That first year of our marriage was filled with a lot of baked chicken and going out to dinner. Seeing as we were both working, I really did not mind the break from the kitchen because we could afford to do that.

Only after my husband secured a job in Indiana did I finally learn to cook (this was towards the end of our third year of marriage) and this was only out of necessity. Ryan moved out to the Midwest to start his job and Ethan & I stayed at our home on the East coast until the house was sold.

Despite my lack of cooking, I did know how to stock a pantry with supposed “cook” ingredients. I realized that we would either have to eat the food in our pantry, give the food away or I would have to eat out by myself with Ethan every night until it was moving day.

With hours upon hours of being alone, I started watching the Food Network and I became almost fanatical in my desire to learn how to cook. If they showed how to cook something on television, I wanted to make it at home. This is really how my love for cooking began and that is when I realized some important cooking skills that I had been lacking.

Here are some of my own common misconceptions about the world of food:

– Beef stew does not come out of a can. I mean, it does, but that is not the way one was intended to eat it.

– Whipped cream is actually cream that has been whipped, it is not Cool Whip. This is one of those things I did not realize that you could actually make.

– Marinara sauce is not necessarily all made by Prego or Ragu- you can actually cook stuff from crushed tomatoes, garlic, & herbs.

– Not all rice is made in a minute.

– Chicken can be prepared in a variety of ways, which could include but not be limited to my baked chicken.

– Vegetables can be bought & prepared fresh…and they actually taste better than the Del Monte veggies.

– Roasting a whole bird (turkey or chicken), despite looking pretty complicated, is not as hard as it looks.

– Brownies can be made from basic ingredients in your pantry- they aren’t all made by Betty Crocker and brownies are not always put together in a powder form.

These are just a few of the simple things that I did not know and why I have attacked cooking & homemaking with a vengeance.

Through my Food Network knowledge, it has opened all of these new doors for me. Now I am not attributing Food Network with everything (watch Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade show to understand why I wouldn’t give them all the credit), but without my new love for cooking and a desire to be home with my family, I would have never had this blog, or my site, or all of this extra spending money (okay, that last part is a total lie, but you get the picture).

Go ahead, feminist sites, bash me away. Just try to make me look foolish! Ridicule my Donna Reed-ism & my Leave it to Beaver site…..say what you must!!

But just ask my husband once, if he would like a bowl of tuna noodle casserole and you just SEE if he wants his working woman back…..Hmmm…I think NOT!!

Now just where did I leave my apron?


Thursday, August 25th, 2005

I have discovered that I have lost all of my motivation, to do basically anything, since I have been pregnant. I am supposedly in the honeymoon phase of my pregnancy (the second trimester) and I can’t seem to complete anything these days.

Part of it feels like I am lacking motivation, but the other part of me feels like I am trying to squeeze in as much time with Ethan as I can before he returns to school & before the next baby arrives.

Instead of running him all over town, we have just been hanging out at the house and I have been doing absolutely nothing. Our home has been in poor condition, our meals have been lacking that certain sparkle that I am so famous for, and my calendar has been cleared of all my obligations.

I am so excited about having another baby, but I am also a little bit scared too. We have wanted this baby for so long, but now that it is finally happening, I seem to be getting a little bit of the jitters.

When it was just the two of us (my husband & I) I couldn’t imagine how we were ever going to have enough love/time/devotion to add one more person to the mix. Then Ethan arrived and we realized that we did have all of those things to offer him.

Now we have given Ethan all of our love/time/devotion and I can’t imagine how I will ever have enough of that to give to one more person. I suppose that my heart has the capacity to do this though since people have more children than us, but it just seems very mind-blowing that I will be able to divide my love/time/devotion evenly between two children.

I remember asking my mom over and over and over again which of us she loved more. She always told me that she loved us equally and every time she said this to me, I always thought that she was harboring a secret special love that was extra and just for me. I couldn’t imagine that, of the three of us kids, that she could equally distribute her love. She never told me if she had a favorite among us, but always claimed that she loved each of us the same. Then I would ask her if she loved me more than my dad and this would be answered with the statement of it being a different kind of love and yada yada, but I still thought she was storing some dark secret of loving one of us the best of all.

I wonder if my kids will be asking me this someday and wondering the same thing when I answer them with the same answers my mother gave me. History does have a way of repeating itself, and I can picture me telling my children this same exact thing…..and I have feeling that they won’t believe me either!

Well, I may be lacking motivation these days, but I am not lacking love/time/devotion for my son and I guess that is all that matters.

Why I Shop at Aldi

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Yes, I know that you think that I have given up on blogging, considering how infrequently I have been updating this, but the website has taken precedence over blogging these days.

I have had many projects in the works for the past few months and one of them has been creating a menu plan just made from ingredients purchased at Aldi’s. I had decided to make it my goal to create a month’s worth of meals, complete with a price book, of dishes you could make from this supermarket. You will see this up on our website at some point, but it is going to take awhile since it is 25 pages of information for my husband to post for me. I could see him visibly cringe as I revealed that I had finally completed my masterpiece, and oh by the way, it is 25 pages that need to be broken down by meal, by tip, by item, by grocery list, etc… Considering his busy schedule it might be a little while before it is up, but in the meantime I did write an article on Aldi so make sure you check that out too. You can also show your appreciation to me by clicking our Google advertisements, on our site, so I can continue wasting time on the internet and claiming it is research for all of you.

Now the main question that people have been asking me since I wrote this article has been if I have been endorsed by the company in any way, shape or form. I never approached the company about my idea, but considering their “no frills” approach to the grocery experience, I doubt if I could get anything for my efforts anyway. I would love some money, of course, but would settle for a few other perks from them. VIP parking, no deposit on my cart, free bags, a small discount….well, that is just to name a few. For all the business that I have been bringing them, a small spokesperson position would be lovely too.

We shop at Aldi once every two weeks, in an effort to save our family some money, and I usually take my son with me to do the shopping there. Now my son can be a real handful, at times, but he is also is about the friendliest child you will ever meet. He is very persistent in getting to know every single person around us whether we are at the grocery store, the gas station, a public restroom, a restaurant. You see his love for people just has absolutely no boundaries.

Now, not to characterize the average Aldi shopper, but just like any other grocery store, there are some interesting people shopping at the store while we are there. Ethan does not seem to mind if these people have absolutely no interest in him or if they are particularly weird, he just prevails on…”Look! Look! LOOK! Look at my dinosaurs!” or “Hi! Hi! HI! HI!” until he receives an acceptable response. If no response is given he will continue on until he, at the very least, gets a nod from the person who could care less about the engaging conversation that he has to offer.

Now in spirit of the interesting shoppers, I have been meaning to blog about my particular experience that I had as I was shopping at the store one day with my son. We were just beginning our shopping and we were headed towards the milk, when we overheard (I use this term loosely since she was shouting at the top of her lungs) a young woman on her cell phone. Always a people-watcher, I pretended to browse the milk section (believable isn’t it considering there are only three types of milk there) as she was talking, just to get a closer look at her. Here is how her conversation went…

“No, you will NOT be moving back to my f*?%$#$@ house and sleeping on my f*&^%$#@@@ floor and I will NOT put up with your f%$#@$% s%$#@ anymore you, f$#@$% piece of s%$#%. NO, NO, NO, F&^%$ Y&^%#! Mother @#%###@”

As the woman hung up the phone, she then repeated exactly what she said to her girlfriend who was standing next to her. I then wondered if she had no idea how loud she was or if she had any idea that every single person in the store had stopped to watch her in disgust and/or amazement. Apparently oblivious to us, she continued repeating word for word what she had told this guy on the phone as though we all had not witnessed her nasty vocabulary.

Now this, in and of itself, was a classic moment in supermarket visit history for me, but I haven’t gotten to the good part yet….are you ready?

So then her phone starts to ring and I begin to unconsciously hum along to the ringer tone. Was her ringer tone hard core gangster rap? Well, considering her language that is exactly what I had expected….but no….that would not be very funny, now would it?

Are you ready????

Her ringer tone was, “Our God Is an Awesome God.” (this is a popular Christian hymn, for all of you heathens out there!)

When it finally registered what I was humming along with, I had to run away from the milk section so that I would not bust up laughing and become the new target of this woman’s anger.

Apparently, I caught her in a fallen moment from her Lord, but it certainly brought some irony to the situation.

I just don’t think you can have an experience like that at any other supermarket and that is just one, of many reasons, why I shop Aldi Supermarket.

What is Homeschooling?

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Do you know what these famous people have in common?

  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • George Patton
  • Albert Einstein
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Winston Churchill
  • Agatha Christie
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Will Rogers

If you guessed that they were all homeschoolers, you’d be correct. This is a very short list of famous and successful people who were educated at home. If you would like to expand this list, do a search on the Internet for “famous homeschoolers.” There are many websites that list these people and some provide detailed biographies. There is even a book called, aptly, “Famous Homeschoolers“, by Nancy and Malcolm Plant.

The point here is to get into the mindset that people can be educated and become successful adults without attending public school. And because I can almost “hear” what you are thinking, no, it is not necessary to have a high school diploma to go to college.

So what is homeschooling? In the broadest sense, homeschooling is educating your children at home. You, as parent, become teacher. Parents homeschool for more reasons than you can imagine. Some want to avoid having their children exposed to violence and peer pressure. Some homeschool so that they can make sure their children’s education adheres to their religious beliefs. Some live a different lifestyle: perhaps they travel a lot and want their children’s schooling to be flexible enough to fit around that life style. And some, like me, simply enjoy being with their children. They don’t want the public school to interrupt and weaken the parent/child bond that they have been working hard to create for the first five years of their child’s life.

Just as there are many reasons to homeschool, there are many methods of homeschooling. All the way from “un-schooling” (learning by doing, learning from life, not using textbook type materials) to “school at home” (using textbooks at desks set up in a schoolroom at home) and everything in between. It’s very easy to find hundreds of homeschool Websites by using a search engine, but just to get you started, try: Jon’s Homeschool Resource Page

When I decided to write this article, I thought hard about what I could offer that wasn’t being displayed on thousands of Websites on the Internet. I realized that the only thing I have to offer anyone interested in homeschooling is my experience. So everything in the article below comes from my fifteen years of experience homeschooling my four youngest children. I hope it is of some use to you.

Deciding to homeschool your child may be one of the most important decisions you ever make as a parent, and it will take a lot of thought and soul searching. To the newcomer, it may seem impossible, overwhelming and very, very lonely. But like most huge obstacles, once it’s broken down into smaller pieces, it becomes manageable. We’ll take it one step at a time, in small enough chunks to get a hold of. So, if you’re game, roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work figuring out if homeschooling is for you and your child.

First things first. Organization is the key. Get a three-ring binder (homeschooling parent’s LOVE three-ring binders) and put a label on the front. (If you’ve made the transition to digital record keeping, you can just start a folder on the computer. But it’s not as much fun.) Label it something serious, like “My Homeschooling Plans” or “Homeschooling Thoughts.” Put some paper in the binder, find a really comfortable ink pen, and sit down somewhere quiet.

Ready? Good. Now, let’s get started.

What are your reasons for considering homeschooling? Even if you haven’t actually made the decision to homeschool, the fact that you are here reading this article says you are curious. Perhaps you honestly don’t know the answer yet, and that’s ok. The remainder of this article is going to try to help you start to find those answers.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has it’s own set of laws that must be followed. Compulsory (how I hate that word) education here in Washington State starts at the age of 8. Even though I had been homeschooling him from birth, to stay legal once my son reached 8-years old, I was required to become “certified.” That meant I either had to have two years of college education, or take a “certification class.” I met this requirement by taking an independent correspondence class, during which I was asked to put on paper my goals, philosophies and reasons for wanting to homeschool. I’d like to help you do the same right now.

Start a page–either the “tree” kind or a file on the computer and title it, “My Educational Beliefs.” List what personal beliefs you have about education especially the education of your own children. Get as detailed as you can here–the value is in the thinking process behind the list. Take your time, I’m in no hurry.

As an example to get you started, I’m going to share with you what I wrote on my list nine years ago:

My Educational Beliefs

1. I believe my child’s attitude about learning should be: One of continual curiosity and seeking of knowledge.

2. I believe my child’s learning should lead towards a lifestyle that is: Rural, physically active, creative.

3. I believe these basic values should be part of my child’s learning:

  • Respect for others
  • Loyalty to family and friends
  • Honesty
  • Generosity

4. I believe children learn best: Through hands-on learning experience, reading, workbooks.

5. I believe a teacher should:

  • Provide side-by-side assistance and direction.
  • Interact with the child.
  • Provide the structure within which the child may explore, experiment, study and achieve.
  • Provide a good example of excitement in learning.

6. Other beliefs:

I believe my child should grow up to be self-reliant and occupationally secure in a field of high interest to them.

Now, that wasn’t too bad, was it? Don’t give up on this until you have at least something written down, but don’t agonize over it either. You can come back to it later if need be. Next, start a paper or file titled “Life Goals For My Child.”

I want you to write down what kind of person you envision your child being as an adult. What are your hopes and dreams for him/her? What educational gifts do you hope to be able to help them find that will serve them their entire lives?

I’ll share mine from 9 years ago, just to get you started:

“Life Goals for My Child”

  • Be literate.
  • Be self-reliant.
  • Compete well in their chosen field of occupation.
  • Appreciate art, music, and literature.
  • Be creative.
  • Be inventive and resourceful.
  • Be healthy, mentally and physically.
  • Co-operate with others.
  • Maintain a strong sense of self-worth.
  • Maintain a life-long curiosity, seeking knowledge as a way of life.
  • Look to the future with a sense of excitement and adventure.

For the last exercise, start a third paper titled: Why We (I) Am Going to Homeschool Our (My) Child? (Yes, single parents can successfully homeschool their children.) You may not have all the answers for this one yet either, but just get something down. All of these ideas and beliefs can start getting mixed in with other people’s opinions once we start educating ourselves in depth about homeschooling, and you’ll be glad you have these lists tucked away.

Okay, here’s my old list:

Why We Are Going To Homeschool Our Children

Our family consists of myself, my husband, a 21-year-old daughter, a 19-year-old daughter, an 8-year-old son, a 7-year-old daughter, a 4-½ year old daughter, and an unborn son due in 6 months. My two oldest daughters (from my first marriage) were in the public school system for the whole of their educational years. It is largely a dissatisfaction with the public schools and all it’s attendant problems (academic, social, and moral) that has caused us to make the decision to homeschool our youngest children. We decided, even before our 8-year-old son (the oldest of the younger set) was born, that somehow we would find an alternative to the public schools.

We want to homeschool for some additional reasons. We want added closeness with our children. We want more independence, greater control over our family’s moral and philosophical values, and better awareness of our children’s interests.

We dislike the thought of any government agency–no matter how well meaning–directing the raising of our children.

We intend to homeschool because we do not want our children’s academic, social, and moral education taken out of our hands.

We believe these areas of a child’s education are a parent’s responsibility, right, and pleasure.

I’d like you to spend some time going over these lists until you feel they accurately reflect your feelings about homeschooling your children. When I did these exercises, I had only a vague idea about why I wanted to homeschool and what kind of education I wanted to help my children acquire. These simple exercises helped me to solidify my ideas and provided the basis for our future homeschooling methods. I hope they help you to do the same. Keep these lists in a safe place and add to them as you explore the possibility of homeschooling your child.

Blog? What Blog?

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

I checked my email this evening and noticed that there were actually comments that had come through on my blog. That is when I remembered that I had a blog….oh, and that it could use a little updating. Unfortunately, my creative moments seem few & far between so I have had little to contribute these days. I will give this my best shot though…

We found out a couple of weeks ago that we are expecting a baby girl. What a dream come true to have a boy & a girl! I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. My life has been a sea of pink since we got the news. This is the first granddaughter on either side of our family and I know she is just going to be spoiled rotten. We already have quite the little wardrobe, for our future princess, and I already know that her outfits are going to be better than my own. It is just so much fun to be able to buy for her.

Ethan is starting school soon and we have his little meet & greet night coming up. I am a teensy bit worried about all of this because they have put him in a class that is for potty-trained kids and my son is nowhere near the potty-trained stage. I have read that it isn’t good to pressure them into potty-training just because you feel under the gun, but it is hard not to feel that pressure.

Potty-training with Ethan is not going as I had hoped. There are a couple of things that inhibit us from being successful. One thing is that he does not like to be naked… all. I know that most parents have the exact opposite problem, but our Ethan is very private and thus he must be fully clothed at all times. Other than swift diaper changes and popping him in the tub (both with much struggle) he is always fully clothed from head to toe.

The other problem we have may be the way that we started the potty-training fun. We thought that putting him on his little toilet in front of the boob tube, watching a favorite movie, would be a great way to get him to go on the potty. We also gave him his favorite salty movie snacks, a gallon of fruit punch, and a big bowl filled with warm water and little boats for him to play with. I even was pouring the water very slowly into the bowl to make great sounds for him to potty by. Two hours later he did potty, but now all sitting on the potty must now be done in front of all of his favorite shows, playing with boats, eating snacks, and drinking fruit punch. Are we going about this the wrong way? Oh…the other thing….he has never peed on the potty since this one incident so our tactics have not been a roaring success.

Now I have read these great tales of people potty-training their kids in a day and, God bless them, I think that is just freakin’ wonderful….but I have trouble grasping the realism and if there is really that much success with that. I have heard greater success stories from people who just let their kids decide to go on the potty and when they made the decision, their kid was potty-trained.

Now all I need is for Ethan to make this decision within the next two weeks and we will have absolutely no problems…..

Any suggestions from my little peanut gallery will be much appreciated. If I have to read Once Upon a Potty one more time I just might lose it, however, I will read it four thousand more times if you all think it might make a difference.

I must return back to the potty-training trenches….good night, all!