Monday, September 26, 2011

Dirty Jobs at Home - Cat Litter Lesson

Cat Litter 101 is beginning! Every homemaker knows, we often have dirty jobs.  But in everything we do, even Cat Litter!, we can learn more about ourselves, and our  relationships with others. The mundane is never meaningless when you have a God-centered perspective in life. (I often hear preachers say, "my family rolls their eyes because I can find a sermon in any situation..." I can't respond or speak for a pastor but as a Follower of Jesus, and therefore one who listens to God, He is always speaking love, assurance and restoration to my soul even in dirty jobs.)
I keep laughing at this - a Cat Litter CAKE!

Couldn't help but show this "Cat Litter Cake"... wonder what my family would say if I served this dessert? (here is your laugh for the day:)

And my blog gives me a place to share a few of these moments. I hope you will enjoy, and relate, but most of all I desire for you to experience your own special moments as you walk with Him.

 I tackled the well-overdue cat litter box today. I wish it was as small of a task as it is to write about it in a short sentence. I simply dislike the smell... I know that is normal so at least I have a few normal qualities. But it seems it only is intense enough for my nose to do something about it. (Can I get an AMEM?!?)

The four other people in the house - I am sure - also smell IT, but when the dirty job of cleaning needs to be done - make room for mom! Chocolate brownies... fly out of the kitchen without one person thinking of leaving "it" for mom... but stinky cat litter has mom's name all over it. At least at our home.

So I decided to tackle this dirty job today!

 I am trying a new system of a cardboard type absorbing liner tray placed inside the plastic tray instead of those plastic bag liners. After dumping the old liner box into a large outdoor bag, I began all fresh with a new disposable cardboard liner (I am sure it is made of recycled paper).

Now to the pleasant part:

I filled it with litter (frankly, there are so many different types of cat litter: "for small spaces," "for immediate release," "for fresh scent," "for non-clumping" etc. at the grocery store I just stare at all the varieties. I get puzzled as to which would be best for my home and wishing they would combine all those qualities into one container. Usually I go with the color or design that is most appealing on the label.). The one I had today had little bright green crystals mixed into the the grey litter. At least it looked nice when it was first poured in, and smelt nice too!

But taking on any job at home is never a one step undertaking.... (do you so totally understand?)

The cat area is a mess! scattered litter all over the floor and bench... the big plastic tray container holding the food and water bowls looks like something white is growing in a few of the corners... and the mat (a picture place-mat of fresh green the cat might think he is stepping onto grass or maybe it is for the human's benefit). The grassy pictured mat is covered with grey matter that has been crumbling chalk dust attempting a litter craft.

Armed with the vacuum, I tackle litter-sprinkled carpet, and you know how easy it is to get distracted... I ended up vacuuming the first five steps that somehow never get done and the landing, before my brain reminds me to get back to the litter area.

Then back to the cat spot, washing down the once white bench with whatever liquid sprayer I can find within  arm's length reach (409 or lysol) and wipe it with a handy towel tossed in the corner by some member of our family. I pick up the trays and the bowls and head to the tub to give them a real heavy duty bath. I guess I was serious about the cat corner today because it received the imperial Mom-Best dirty job cleaning!

Enough to make sweat bead down my face... and then I know it is time for a cup of coffee and to reclaim my non-menopausal body temperature! 

Half an hour or so later, I head back to litter corner. Placing newly cleaned items back and carrying down the trash bags, I  have a sense of accomplishment. And I laugh at myself thinking "I must have a really boring life" if that is an accomplishment for me!

But as in everything in life, God keeps trying to teach me in analogies... this time I am hearing about "my dirt", and how He does the dirty job of keeping me clean and it is no more fun for Him then it is for me. Dirty jobs simply must be done or they build and build and build. Isn't sin like that in our life? Sins never magically resolve themselves.

One thing that keeps revolving in my mind is if I had a regular routine, these jobs wouldn't be so dirty. If I scooped daily, and ran the quick vacuum every few days, and swished a soapy towel around the trays before the build-up.... the task could possibly be a mild event or dare I say pleasant. I am sure this is certainly a parallel to our own life. Regular attention and care - like balancing our checkbook, flossing  our teeth, or weeding the boarders ... is always a more "do-able" small task if done frequently.

And I reflect - do I regularly allow God to clean me up or do I wait until I break down or stink up everything. I don't want to reflect long because I know the answer all too well... what about you?

So what dirty jobs have you accomplished? Or better yet, how have you learned to regularly take a once "dirty job' and make it pleasant? 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Homeschooling Perseverance

Are you crying yet? Are you noticing the yellow bus rolling down your street at 6 a.m. with tempting eyes? Have you started seeing more hair in your brush or drain? Have you forgotten to eat and look like you are still trying to roll out of the bed? Do you have coffee stains on your clothes and carpet and teeth? Do you think you might need to check into an overnight respite?

Keep Going, Don't stop!
If you answered yes to most of these, you must be homeschooling your children. It might be your first year or you might be thinking it is your last year. Did no one tell you the truth about homeschooling or maybe you believed it would be different for you? Let me give you some advice and encouragement: You are going to have to learn to PERSEVERE and always count your BLESSINGS.

My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience4But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  (James 1:3-6)

If you are wondering perseverance is also translated as "endurance" and "patience." As a homeschooler you are going to have to learn to dig in with sheer determination, to ignore the nagging temptations of "quitting" that the enemy is tossing your direction throughout the day, and take time to pause before God to remember the reason you are homeschooling.

I don't want to always make homeschooling sound so dreadful. I promise I would have NEVER educated my children any other way (of course, unless God prompted me). My children are now teens, and they are three of the most incredible lively, engaged, personable teens I know. Still that doesn't make schooling at home easy... especially three or more.

You got to love how honest teens can be. I learned today that 

  • I spend too much time writing/and on the computer. 
  • I need to find a television show that I watch regularly for at least an hour a day. 
  • Cellphones are intimate personal property that connects people to the out-side world. 
  • Greek is my son's favorite subject. (My daughter's used to be lunch.)
  • Teens can better understand why something is important if I explain instead of demanding.
  • I have a problem with time... I am oblivious to it... never on time.... never bother to look at it.
  • Crumbs on the sofa are OK because they are our crumbs not some nasty who-knows-from-where.
  • My children love me and I love them, and we can talk through even difficult problems.
Yes, these are all the blessing of today, and I probably have missed a few. So while I might whine and warn you of struggles of homeschooling, when each day is done (and when my oldest child walks across the graduation stage this year) I will be so glad we persevered

Hang in there and count your blessing!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Herman Cain! - Time to Topple Northeastern Elitist

Herman Cain is the candidate conservative republican have been longing for decades! I am disgusted by Republican Elites that say he is not electable!  The Northeast Elites who hog-tie the rest of the Nation's American Republicans need to be dethroned! I am sick of their Presidential nomination process. It is a charade, not a genuine candidate nomination process. Why?

  • They pick who they want and marginalize all other candidates. We end up with McCain and Dole... "me-too" melba toast candidates that I couldn't get my living room full to come hear them speak.
  • They are so prejudice that when we finally have a brilliant Black American (Herman Cain) running for president they ignore him to the point of being indignant toward non-prejudice Republicans.
  • They dribble out our primary election with one sacred cow state after another getting to crown the nomination king before the majority of Republican get a chance to vote in the primary.
  • They use strong Christian American support to get the vote out but make us pull the lever for their slimy RINOs instead of giving any credibility or elect-ability support to Strong Christian candidates like Rick Santorum.
We need to be the "Abe Lincoln and Martin Luther King Republicans", not ivy league silver spoon lackeys. 

The local Republican Party county and State base needs to reclaim their National Republican party or leave it!

We are the grassroot hardworking foundation and if they ignore us or push another bad candidate down our throats we need to establish a NEW REPUBLICAN party! If we need a name: what about the Genuine Old Republican Party! 

We must stop being helpless beaten people submitting and slaving to the carpetbaggers of the NorthEast.

And that is my opinion. I welcome yours.

(only comments the are decent and on the point will be allowed, no trolls!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homeschooling After a Few Weeks

For all homeschoolers (new and old) that started out this year with great plans, most of us have experienced cracks (if not craters) by now. I am not trying to be discouraging, just honest and helpful. So being a veteran homeschooler, I will give some ideas to help with subjects, schedules, and support. By now you are ready for a homeschool check-up, so let's go!

My motto for homeschooling has always been "life happens." 

No matter what year, the ages of my children, how well prepared (or not prepared) I am, homeschooling never turns out like I expected. Schedules have gone with the wind. Curriculum have shown their strengths and weaknesses. Unexpected running around most often will blow a few days with an assortment of  appointments, special events, a classes or lessons, family/friends, etc. (For me this year I got sick... after the first day and ended up in bed for a week) So after three weeks (or four), it is a great time to reassess the general plan for the school year. We will never be perfect at homeschooling, so we must continually allow God to show us what needs to be changed.

I don't think a year has ever gone by that I didn't find out that one of my children just didn't fit the curriculum I so thought would be perfect. Also some subjects/studies end up taking a lot longer than I anticipated, and some parts of lessons we just never seem to get done. Little things like: not having enough binders, needing notecards or graph paper, realizing copies have to be made, and trying to remember where I put a resource or book or special tool (like the compass or protractor). When this happens, if I can't remedy it quickly I just move on and figure we will get back to it. For me, getting distracted can be one of my worst enemies.

So after a few weeks into the homeschool school year is the perfect time to rethink plans:

  • Subjects- make a quick survey of each subject, it may help to write each curriculum down, note the positives and negatives, adjust what you  must, and if all else fails... if something really is not working at all, ask around/look around for an alternate. Many sources for used curriculum can be found; one of the best sources can be other homeschool families. From experience, forcing a child or a lesson plan to mesh is not a good idea. You probably would be better off banging your head on the wall because that is what it will feel like everyday anyway. Remember you are not a slave to lessons written in a book, and neither should your children be. Lesson plans are to be helpful guides that assist you and your child in learning. Be willing to let go what you must. And if you have been skipping something you really want to do, think about what you can prepare ahead to get it accomplished.
  • For example, I am using Mystery of History III with my 10th grader and 8th grader. We never get to the timeline or maps, and I really want to include these items. So I will need to make the copies on Monday or Tuesday so I have them available at the end of the week. I will put them in the back of the book, so I know where they are when I need them. And on Friday I will make a point of joining my children during their history lesson. (By this age, my children can do some of their school by themselves making available time for some household work, errands or one-on-one assistance.  

  • Schedules - it will be obvious by now what activities or routines or days are burdensome. Go ahead and tweak it a little. If you need to move a date for a lesson or even drop some activities, do it. School is suppose to enrich life. Never force your natural flow or your child's into a box. Be sensitive. Include your family in brainstorming new possibilities. Ask if the order of subjects is working, or if a change would help. And you have probably realized you need to get to bed at a more reasonable time than during summer to get up before early afternoon (especially if you have night owls or teens). Try some increments of slowing down, turning off electronics, and transiting to bed time earlier. Do forget to schedule spirit life time for both yourself and your children, too.
  •  In my home, we really ignored the clock this summer. We were so carefree and staying up real late.Being willing to stay up allowed me the blessing of being available for my teens that want to talk after midnight. I found that I had to stay up one entire night last week. In the morning (as my husband left for work) I went to bed and slept for about 2 hours, from 6am to 8am. By 6 pm that day I was soooo tired I was looking forward to crawling in bed. After doing that my body reset, and I am able to go to sleep earlier and rise earlier. (my 16 year old son suggested it... I thought he was crazy but after trying it I was delightedly surprised - it worked!)

  • Support -  You need assistance. It may be meals, laundry, loneliness, frustrations, messy bathrooms, a certain troublesome subject, no alone time, (even less frequent bath-times), errand running, etc. You may experience any or all of these, and likely more not listed. Homeschool families need support! 
  • Of course, your first source is God... and I really do literally mean God. You will find that homeschooling will press you into Him and onto your knees. He is your number one "go-to" person. If you are running on empty, run to Him. Frankly, everything else can wait a few hours or even a few days. Nothing is more important and believe me, your children will notice. 
  • Don't forget to talk with your spouse. While they don't often do the teaching, you may have one or two subjects that they would love to help do or be responsible to check. I for most mothers this is not the norm, but you will never know if you don't communicate. Also, ask for prayer, or even better pray together. He may also be willing to pick up one or two household items that you never get to or if your children are old enough, assign them one new chore. If everyone shares the load, it is less likely for one person (most frequently you!) to get burnt out or literally exhausted.
  • And don't forget about fellow homeschoolers. Even if you don't have a group in your area, you can plan a time for some of the ladies you know to get together. I have always found this time to be refreshing (even if it is with one mom for an hour). For me, it is so nice to be with others who can relate and share. 
The bottom line: be flexible, willing to try something different, and take care of your own needs. After a month into schooling, re-examine it is always essential. (you may feel like you need to re-examine your brain for deciding to homeschool, but if God called you hang in there!) Make changes that appear obvious and be willing to get feedback from God, your spouse, your own children, and other homeschoolers. Making even minor changes for subjects, schedule and support can go a long way to improving your school year!

From my home to your home,


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Old-timer's Version of Some Fancy White Soup

Soup is pretty cheap and easy to make right from the can, but if you want some homemade soup and you don't want to use a lot to make it... you can try this. I did the best I could because honestly I can't remember the exact amounts of spooning this or that. 

Ok, I will tell you right off this is more trouble than it’s worth, but times are getting tough, money is tight and most of us can still get some milk, onions and a lemon for pretty cheap. So I am going to tell you how to make some soup. If anyone complains you can tell them they can cook the next night, and at least you didn’t give them a boiled leather shoe. If you do any holiday cooking you will probably have some cloves from that ham you made, and some nutmeg from the eggnog up in the cabinet with the spices.

If you don't want to use two pots, just keep stirring and stirring......
Now here we go: pour some water in a big pot and then put a smaller pot into the water (or if you have a double broiler like you use to make candy at Christmas you can use that), put 6 cups of milk in the small pot that’s sitting in the bigger pot of water; unpeeled two onions (if you put a slice of bread in your mouth or a closepin on your nose the onion wont make you cry cuz the onion smelling is what causes your eyes to water) and push four cloves  into them onions like coal buttons on a snowman, drop those decorated onions into the milk, shake a little nutmeg in.

Ok, we ain’t done yet, get your sharpest little knife out and rub it down a real lemon (not that plastic fruit you’ve had on the table for years in a bowl), as I was tellin ya rub your knife a few times down  that real lemon making very, very thin strips (you want yellow only, no white) or you can use a peeler/grater/zesters if you got one, throw those pieces of lemon skin into the milk. Drop six peppercorns in the pot, too.

After all that, turn on the turner and bring that mixture of stuff to a bubbling boil but you betta watch it real, real close because you know milk has a habit of liking to stick to the bottom and sides of the pan (that’s why you have your pot sitting in a pot of water to help it not curl up, turn all brownish, or clump up on the bottom and sides of the pot). After it boils, stir it a little (or a lot) and tilt the pan to the side and turn the burner down real low letting it simmer for 30 minutes. (Don’t ask me why you want to get it to go to one side of the pot, it is what the recipe says you are suppose to do. Now don’t forget to watch that pot and stir every so now and then so it don’t go sticking again.)

After thirty minutes (I know that is a long time to watch a pot), use a spoon with holes in it (or a slotted spoon or a little fine strainer) to tryin get all that stuff out that you just worked so hard to put in the milk before you boiled it. Toss away any stuff your able to scoop out in the trash (or add it to your compost). Find some of the bread left over from breakfast or lunch that has gotten stale, and somehow try to crumble it up so it looks like you grated it (the more stale the bread is the finer it will crumble), drop the bread crumbs into the milky soup, toss a dab of butter in the pot too or more if you like butter (I like more butter).

When it cooks a bit, taste it and see if you want to add salt, pepper or something else. (Cheese is always good to add!) Enjoy!

Comments are highly welcome! Let me know if you have a variation or another ingredient to add. Also if you know why you tilt the pot, let me know.

On a cold night, a bowl of homemade soup is always welcome.