Curly Tops

Curly tops. :-) We've been playing with rag rollers and curly do's. Fun, frugal, and fancy. :) Cut up an old sheet or pillowcase, roll dry hair in sections and knot to secure. Sleep on rollers, unroll in the morning, and fluff with fingers. Cute and curly!


Modified Monday

"The best-laid plans of mice and men...."

What *is* the rest of that saying, anyway?? Hmm. Well, I don't know about the mice, but the men...and women and children...around here have had a bit of a kink in our plans this week. I sat down last Friday and mapped out a nice plan for the two weeks between now and testing (annual homeschool testing...eek!) I know better. It happens every time. Something happens and said plan ends up out the window.

Hopefully this one won't be completely out the window...but we are modifying a bit. Billy's grandmother passed away Saturday, and so part of our family will be traveling part of the week. Between getting ready for the trip, and having them gone a couple of days, we are headed into "plan B" mode again.

Unfortunately, much of what is on the list this week isn't completely "modify-able". :-) With the spring consignment sale and testing coming up, in some respects "the show must go on". We're going to have to find a balance of diligence and flexibility this week...along with a real dose of wisdom to discern what *must* be done, and what can wait a bit. I'm also determined that I'm going to spend some time being a *fun mom* with those who are staying home from the trip. That is not my strong suit, and I have committed to work on it this year--and I've decided this is the perfect opportunity. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Bible Study

Still working on Steve Lawson's book When All Hell Breaks Loose (and getting through it much more slowly than I had anticipated.) Still hoping to post some of my notes soon.

Have Tos/Procrastination Busters

Didn't make much progress at all on the spring clothes swap last week. *Have* to get that done and get clothes ready for the consignment sale next week. Also have several important phone calls to make early in the week, and need to get some serious housework done (spring cleaning!).
Home Blessing

This week's focus areas are the living room and clothing storage areas. The living room needs some freshening, and since I'm going to be sorting clothes *anyway*, the clothing sorting areas are a definite must.

Creative Pursuits

I would really like to play around a bit with digital image creation this week. That is a new endeavor for me, so it will be interesting to see how it goes! I am also *determined* to complete *one* scrapbook page this week. Just one. I keep saying that...but I'm really going to do it this week!

Oh! And I almost forgot! I need to come up with a *plan* for new curtains this week. I have the fabric picked out for new kitchen curtains, but I need to decide on a style. Then I need to decide what I am going to do in the bathroom and entry hall. Maybe next week I will actually start sewing. :)

Menu Plan Monday

*BBQ Wraps and Slaw
*Baked Ziti, Green Beans, Salad
*Zuppa Toscana (didn't get to this last week)
*Chicken and Rice
*something-else-that-I-haven't-figured-out-yet. :-D (I may try to do a *fun meal* for the kids while Dad and Bay are gone, or we may eat at church Wednesday night...so I may only *need* four meals. :))

Thanks to Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday every week, and to Tiany at Live, Love, Learn for hosting Monday Meanderings.


Good Reads

My blogroll has been in dire need of an update for quite some time. It had gotten *way* too long, and I wanted to sort it into categories, as well as get rid of some dead links, update some blog names, and add a few new ones. *Finally* this weekend I have been able to sort through and redo my list.

While I'm at it, I'd like to introduce you to a couple of new-ish blogs that are definitely worth checking out:

Delivering Evangelism is my brother-in-law's new blog. Tim's excitement about what God is doing in his life and his enthusiasm for sharing Christ with others are contagious and convicting. I am thankful that God has given us an opportunity to spend more time with Tim, Shelly, and Brianna lately. They have been a real encouragement to Billy and I and a blessing to our children. I am excited to see what God has in store for them in upcoming days!

Another must read is Creative Confetti. My friend Tauna is one of the most creative and fun people in the entire world. Really and truly. If you saw this post about my wedding...she's the one in the groucho glasses. ;-) Only because she is one of my *best friends ever* do I not hate her because she looks *half* my age...when she is actually *older* than I am! :-D Her whole blog...short though it is at the moment...is worth reading, but her Haiti posts especially are not to be missed. I felt like I was there, and I didn't want to leave. Those incredibly beautiful children...the poverty of this "5th world" country...the beauty of God's creation...the stories of God's work there. Wow.

Easter Hymn

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Christ the Lord is ris'n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing ye heav'ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O Death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O Grave? Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened Paradise, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Foll'wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

~Charles Wesley


Much-To-Do Monday

We are in the midst of what promises to be the busiest time of the year for us. Last week we finished co-op, had the art fair (which I coordinated) and presentation night, and went on a field trip. Upcoming events include Easter (of course), the Growing Kids Sale, homeschool testing, doctors' appointments, a friend's homeschool graduation reception, Family Camp, VBS, a visit from out-of-town family we've never met, and the birth of our new niece (and a trip to Hot Springs to meet her! :-)). Oh...and teaching at least one scrapbooking class, working to get my custom scrapbooking business going again, and continuing work on the house (hopefully finishing the dining room/schoolroom...yay!!) Not to mention a couple of other events that we know will happen sometime between now and the end of June...we're just waiting for dates.

According to the calendar, this week should be somewhat of the eye in the center of the storm. We're planning to be out one day to go to the park with friends and spend some time with my mom, but other than that, we hope to be *home* most of the week.

Not that it is going to be boring, mind you. We have *much* to do at home this week. Mainly *school, school, and more school*. ;-) But lots of planning for upcoming events, work on the house, the big seasonal clothes changeover (every mother's favorite task!), and a bit of shopping for Easter (okay, so that isn't technically *at home*, but it isn't *scheduled*, either...;-))

After our busy week last week, my to-do list is literally *twice* as long today as it is most days. Ack! And that is with Billy getting the dishes caught up and doing I'm-not-sure-how-many loads of laundry over the weekend. (Isn't he wonderful??:-D) So...I'm going to get this posted *quick* and get back to it!

Bible Study
I just started working through a book by Steve Lawson called When All Hell Breaks Loose...You May be Doing Something Right, subtitled "Surprising Insights from the Book of Job." Wow. I have wanted to read this book for a long time, and it is *excellent.* I'm going back through the book of Job along with the book, and I'm excited about posting some of my notes soon!

Have Tos/Procrastination Busters
I'm not even going to try to list them all here...just a few of the most important or more interesting. :)

--Fold Mount Laundry. (All that laundry Billy washed over the weekend for me is threatening to cause an avalanche that could bury a small child for days. MUST BE FOLDED today. MUST. Fortunately, we have a couple of Netflix movies I haven't gotten to see yet, so I can multitask my way down the mountain. :)

--Call Dr. M and have records transferred. (Ooops...I was supposed to do this Friday and never made it that far.)

--Catch up on blog posts, update sidebar, reply to comments, etc.

--Plan scrapbooking class and make flyer and class sample.

--Sort clothes for spring/Growing Kids' Sale

--Easter baskets

--Preliminary VBS planning

--Pedicure (Sandal weather is here!;-))

--Work on menu binder

Home Blessing

I'm not concentrating on any one area this week...I have a bunch of little tasks all over the house that I'm going to label as "random catch up". Tasks that I've worked on over the past few weeks that I *almost* finished, but not quite, tasks that I have planned to do for several weeks and *haven't quite gotten to*, *hot spots* that were cleared, but are beginning to pile up again, and some little areas that just need some *spring freshening*.

Creative Pursuits

Planning this scrapbook class, working on Easter baskets, and planning (maybe even starting?) some sewing projects for the kids for spring/summer...those are at the top of my list for creative pursuits this week. I also *must* get my business cards updated, as well as a few other *business-related* projects finished.

Menu Plan Monday

This is going to be a *use it up* week here. We didn't do a big two week shopping trip last Friday and I have been scrambling to come up with meals that won't require one at least until this coming Friday. So...it may be an interesting culinary week here. :) Here is what I have come up with so far:

* Breakfast for Dinner--Sausage, Biscuits and Gravy, Eggs, and Fruit
* Taco Soup and cornbread
* Zuppa Toscana and homemade bread
* Bowties with homemade Alfredo sauce and grilled chicken
* Cheesy Enchilada Rice


*Pizza Pockets and Chips
*Tortilla Pinwheels with fruit and carrot sticks
*Chicken Nuggets, cheesy rice, and salad


*Protein Balls
*Fruit cobbler
*Cream Cheese Crescents (I have cream cheese I need to use, and I ran across a recipe from my dad's cousin that I want to try...I remember her making these when I was growing up and they were delicious. I'll post after I make them. :))

To see what others are eating this week, visit Laura at Orgjunkie. For more Monday Meanderings, go to Less of Me, More of Him. Thanks to these ladies for hosting every week!


Sunday Morning Snippets

I know...I still have a whole list of things I've promised to post...and I haven't forgotten. Hopefully I'll get to them this afternoon. If I don't take a nap. Having been up from 3-5 a.m., I just might. Of course, if I do, I won't want to get up for church tonight...which I must do. So we'll see. :)

After our long day Thursday, we had a field trip (more on that later....yum!) Friday and went out to lunch with friends. Went home and tried to rest for an hour or so, and then picked Billy up at work and went to the library. Then went out shopping with friends in search of an Easter dress for Em, among other things. Found nothing, but at least marked another store off my list. :)

Yesterday Peter and I went shopping. Or should that be WENT SHOPPING. I had planned to take the three olders with me, but it ended up being just Peter and I. This was the first time in a long time that Peter and I had spent a day together without at least some of the girls...usually when I shop I either have everyone or I'm by myself. So this was a fun change.

6 1/2 hours. We were looking for pants for Peter, shoes for Peter, and Em's dress, as well as any really good deals I came across on camp clothes for people. I don't know how many of you have shopped for girls' dresses this year, but for those who haven't...it is not a fun thing. There are almost no pretty little girl dresses left. Next year I am determined to plan ahead enough to sew. Perhaps I should start now...;-)

We did finally find Em a dress. The last store we went to...not the perfect dress, but close enough. The best part was, we had seen the same dress in another store for $60.00. Between sales and coupons, we got it for half that. So *that* was a blessing. Emlyn has been really picky about her dress this year, but ended up not wanting to go shopping yesterday. We came to an agreement that she would be happy...or at least *act* happy...about whatever I brought home. When I asked Peter as we were checking out if he thought Em would like it, he replied..."Well, if she doesn't, you just need to beat her until she does." *grin* Looking at 789 dresses in 6 stores ended up being a bit much for him, I'm afraid.

I wasn't quite prepared to shop for my *little boy* in the men's department. Talk about feeling old. Of course...at 10 he wears the same size shoe his daddy does...ack! Bless Peter's heart...he tried on what I know seemed like million pair of pants and jeans (he's in a hard to fit/find size at the moment.) We did finally come up with a pair of khaki pants and a pair of jeans that seemed to work, as well as a pair of Sunday shoes and a really nice shirt that was on sale. So...it was worth it, even if our feet may never be the same. I think Pete's had his share of shopping for a LONG time. :-)

We had a great surprise when we got home...Billy and the girls had done quite a bit of housework, and Billy had done all the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Isn't he wonderful??

This morning, Billy is staying home with Gracie and Emlyn...they've both had a pretty bad cough. I've got to go finish getting ready...we have to be at church really early so that I can be there to practice the organ. I'm playing a really simple part with the choir special this morning and I am a nervous wreck. (Which could be partly because I don't *play* the organ...;-)) It's been a lot of fun, and I love the song we are doing...a gorgeous arrangement of "At the Cross"...but I'll be really glad when it is over. :)


The Question...

It was just a quick encounter...a few short minutes in the midst of a terribly harried day at the end of an incredibly hectic week...but they've come to mind often in the two days since.

I don't even remember exactly what we were talking about at the time...something about plans not always going right and not being as on top of things as usual, I think.

"My dad passed away a couple of months ago, and...." I don't remember the end of that sentence, either...I just remember a sudden feeling of connection and understanding. "I understand...I've been there. I lost my dad three years ago."

The conversation changed then, in direction and tone. "Does it ever get any better?" she asked. My heart ached in understanding as she shared a touch of her experiences with this grief. My reply was honest: "It took me a year and a half. It was really, really hard for a *long* time...but it *did* finally begin to get better. I think it took me longer than some people though...my dad and I were really close." "We were, too," she said, and shared about how often she talked to and saw him. We talked for another minute or two...snippets of experiences of the grief that overwhelms at the oddest times, the hole that such a loss leaves, and the way the whole world seems to change.

As we stood there, I realized that three years ago, I could never have imagined being able to say, "Yes, it does get better." I realized that the healing that started 18 months after Daddy died has continued over the past 20 months and brought me to a point I would never have expected to be. I still miss him terribly, and occasionally there are still tears...but different tears than the tears that overwhelmed for so long. God has given me not only a thankfulness for the years that I had with him, but a thankfulness for the bits of His plan that I'm only beginning to see in not giving us the miracle we asked for so desperately. There are still days when I would give anything for another 15 minutes with him, but there are also days when I am overcome with gratitude that he is experiencing the joy of Heaven, and not here dealing with earthly pain and trouble.

This conversation has come to mind often in the past couple of days, not only because this new friend has been on my heart to pray for many times, but also because I have marveled that despite all that has gone on in the past 39 months, God has truly brought us to the place of a *new normal* that I never thought we would see. There are still struggles and uncertainties from other issues in our lives and extended family, but there is a realization of healing and hope and an excitement about the future that I would not have imagined three years ago.

God works in such amazing ways...using a *chance encounter* reminding me of one of the darkest occasions of my life and how far He has brought me from that, to show me, once again, that He is working in the darkness of today as well. Just as I could not see any end to that tunnel of grief for so long, there are circumstances in our lives today that seem to have no good end in sight. Situations in which I struggle with "whys?" and question "Will it ever get better?" But just as I now am at a place I could never have imagined being after losing my dad, there will be a similar point someday with today's heartaches as well.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " Jeremiah 29:11


Worn to a frazzle...

That used to be my mom's phrase for being completely exhausted. I'm not sure what a frazzle is, but I'm pretty sure I'm worn to one tonight. Co-Op, Presentation Night, and the Art Fair are over. We spent over 7 hours at the church today. Whew. I do know that Kelli is more exhausted than I am...I can't believe how hard she worked to put this all together. I'm pretty sure this was the biggest presentation night I remember. And I'm agreeing with Kelli...co-op was great and I really enjoyed it...but I couldn't have made one more week!

I'll try to post pictures and more on the art fair tomorrow. Tonight it's time for pain meds and sleep...:)


Co-op classes, drs. appointments, birthday parties, field trips, co-op presentation night, playing the organ in church (did I mention I don't *play* the organ? ;-)), getting a head start on VBS, and our homeschool art fair...it's been quite a busy few weeks! Hopefully I'll be back soon with pictures and a story or two. I also have a couple of blog awards to share, and...I've been tagged. :) Looking forward to being back with all that and more soon!

In the midst of all the busy-ness, there is much to be thankful for. For my wonderful husband, who keeps me going through all of it and helps in so many ways....he spoils me and puts up with me and makes me laugh and even does dishes! For four funny, creative, healthy, amazing kiddoes. For family, which although it is very different than I expected it to be at this time in our lives, is still a wonderful blessing. For friends, who listen, and make me laugh, and cry with me occasionally, and listen some more. For our church, which while it isn't perfect (because none are :)), has been a treasure in more ways than we can count over the years...a blessing many desire but don't have. For Billy's job, which certainly brings its share of stress, but which also is the source of unexpected provision and odd blessings. For the hope of input from a new doctor soon, and the evidence of God's hand at work in mysterious ways. For the opportunity to homeschool...I realize more and more what a blessing that is, and it has truly become a *joy*, despite the challenges. For music, a gift which constantly comforts, and encourages, and strengthens me as God uses it to reach me in the deepest, darkest valleys and on the highest mountains. For new and exciting opportunities for creativity. For a Heavenly Father who never changes, no matter how much our circumstances do, and who loves us and patiently keeps teaching and correcting us and showing us more of Himself and His glory in the darkest days.

What are you thankful for today? Thankful Thursdays are found at Sting My Heart...and I'm thankful for Iris and her reminder each week to stop and be thankful!


Speaking of Creative....

Prior to the bug everyone here had a month or so ago, I can't remember the last time I actually spent a day in bed. Then in the space of less than a month, I was down *twice*. The first time, *everyone* was sick, so we were all down together. When I was down a couple of weeks ago, though, the kids had an unexpected day off (well, other than taking care of me and pitching in with the *have tos* around the house even more than usual). My mom asked me at some point if they got bored. Bored? My children? Not hardly. Once again, some of these photos left a lot to be desired, but here is a sampling of what they found to occupy themselves during their *break*:

Emlyn's paper bag book....

Peter's paper bag book....
Gracie's card...
Bayley's cards...(these were so cute...but I could *not* get a decent photo no matter what I did...ugh!)The next day while I was at the ER, they made a family of *Borrowers*...

Notice the *helmets* made out of plastic Easter eggs, and the *tools* strapped on their backs with pipe cleaners. They also made houses and furniture for them from empty boxes and all sorts of odds and ends...somehow I didn't get pictures of those. Bored? I think not. :)

creative pursuits...

It's been snowing here most of the day, with predictions that it will continue throughout the night and leave us with accumulations of 4-12 inches, depending on who you listen to. ;-) In Arkansas, that's a lot of snow! Some area schools were closing before noon, and our homeschool co-op was cancelled this afternoon.

We've gotten a lot done this week so far, although the *to do* list is still quite full. If we get snowed in this weekend (or maybe even if we don't ;-)), I'm planning to celebrate by getting some scrapbooking done this weekend. I finally have room to work and supplies organized, and my creative gears are spinning.

Here is my *warm-up*....the latest co-op class project. (We've had so much fun in there, btw...7 crafty girls and a couple of great assistant teachers...I *must* remember to get pictures next week!! It's been so exciting to see the creativity of these 6-10 year old girls!)

(Someday I'm going to learn how to take good pictures of projects like this...I obviously haven't figured it out yet. *rolling eyes*)

As a bit of an extra motivator, I'm going to be teaching a scrapbooking class at Hobby Lobby on March 29th. I taught classes at Michaels for 3 years, and while I have not missed the *employment* aspect, I have missed the teaching. HL will be the best of both worlds, since I'll be an independent instructor, so I'm really looking forward to it. Now to decide on class projects! (Stay tuned for more on that...;-))


Wild Weather Monday :)

Arkansas weather. The past two days it's been in the 70s. When I checked the weather at 7:00 this morning, it was 65 degrees. And yet...we have a winter weather advisory! Snow...and maybe even ice...by evening. I'm not sure how much rain we've gotten overnight, but our entire backyard is standing water, and it is still raining steadily. I'm thinking our main task for the day should be to build a boat. ;-)

The big news here other than the weather is...drum roll please....I *finally* (make that *FINALLY* got the last remaining corner of the dining room cleaned out Saturday. That corner that had my school/scrapbook table and storage shelf...yes, *that* corner. The one that was piled I'm-not-even-going-to-tell-you-how-high with *stuff*. I lost track of how many boxes I cleaned out, and I filled up 3.5 black trash bags to throw away. Yay! I have a little more *putting away* to do, and we have two more small sections of wallpaper to remove (two sections that didn't come off as easily as the rest, so we'll have to work a bit at removing them.) If we don't get snowed in, I'll pick up Kilz and paint in the next day or two and we should be priming by the weekend!

Here is the plan for the week:

Bible Study

I have finally ordered a book I've had my eye on for a long time...Stephen Lawson's book on the book of Job. While I'm waiting for it to arrive, I'm going to spend some time in the Psalms.

This is the Week of Prayer for Home Missions, so the kids and I will be working through that prayer guide this week.

Home Blessing

Now that I finally have the dining room under control (yay!), I plan to spend 15 minutes a day this week finishing up and maintaining it. New focus areas this week are the kitchen and the laundry. While I've been down the past couple of weeks, Billy and the kids have done a great job of helping keep the laundry washed...but I have *not* done a good job of getting it folded, ironed, and put away. *blush* I need to do some serious catching up in that area, in addition to some deep cleaning and re-organizing in the kitchen.

Procrastination Busters

1. Pay Bills
2. Finalize Art Fair Details
3. Catch up spring calendar
4. Photos--burn to disk, order prints, email
5. Register for Growing Kids Sale
6. Organize file basket

Creative Pursuits

Now that I have the dining room under control, creative projects will be much easier to accomplish. There is room to work and I can put my hands on my supplies again! Here are my plans for this week:

1. Co-Op project planned/prepped.
2. Complete one scrapbook page this week.
3. Make one card this week.
4. List of pending creative projects.

Menu Plan Monday

*Spaghetti, Cucumber/Tomato Salad, Croissants
*Lasagna, Green Beans, Salad, French Bread
*Hamburger Steaks, Carrots, Salad, Potatoes
*Breakfast for Dinner--French Toast and Sausage
*Chicken Fettucini Alfredo, Garlic Cheese Biscuits, Broccoli

More Monday Meanderings can be found here. For more Menu Plan Mondays, visit Orgjunkie.