Monthly Archives: December 2014

Diva Challenge #198 Keep It Simple Silly!

Our Christmas Tree ~ LifeOfJoy.meLaura’s challenge this week is a return to the first challenge she ever posed. I did not participate in that challenge but am doing so today. :)

Since it is nearly Christmas, I thought I’d stay with a Christmas theme. I chose to keep my string simple by merely making a diagonal line across my tile.

Then I chose two tangles that remind me of the season. First I chose the new tangle Arukas because in this form, it reminds me of a star and second I chose Verdigogh because it reminds me of a tree branch. The star for the one the Wise Men followed to Bethlehem to find the new born king (Jesus) and the tree branch for the one decoration I put up every year this time, full of lights, ornaments, and fake snow.

I’m not very good at Arukas yet. I seem to have a hard time keeping things uniform. I also struggle with making straight lines. ;)

Verdigogh, which I have a feeling I am mispronouncing, is another that I still need practice with but I think the tile turned out half decent anyway.

Another Christmasish Zentangle ~ LifeOfJoy.me

I hope you are enjoying this special season. Tiffany was stunned to realize that Christmas is next week. Of course, her excitement caused me to panic just a bit. :D I’m just glad I’ve got most of my shopping completed. Now if I could only buckle down and get the wrapping done too.

I’ll still be posting a zentangle next week even though there will not be a Diva Challenge, as Laura takes the next couple of weeks off.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Sausage Rice Dish

As I mentioned yesterday, we had a really busy (and fun) weekend. It was 11:30 before we were ready to go to bed Saturday night. I wonder if other people need the same “wind down” time we do when they get home around the time they usually go to bed — we need to chill for about an hour before going to bed.

Any way, Sunday morning was church and we were up early. Thankfully I had already gathered the stuff I would need for the day. We went to church and then went directly to the church my parents, sister and her family attend, as this is where the Christmas Blessing was being held for H.A.N.D.S. (the ministry of my brother-in-law and sister). We arrived around 12:15 and began preparing the food.

I messed up the rice. I put all ten pounds in a pan with the required water. I think it probably goes without saying that I have never made that much rice at once before. :\ Anyway, I put it on the burner to boil and went about prepping the other ingredients. A while later, my brother-in-law Mike (Yes, my sister and I both married Mikes; it has made our lives interesting. ;) ) smelled something burning a few minutes before I did. Turns out the rice was scorching before ever getting to a simmer. He was very gracious about it and dumped it and we started again. Thankfully their church is very near lots of stores. :) We then proceeded with the method that he was familiar with — put the rice in a large pan and twice as much water, cover with foil and bake on 350º for 45 minutes, check the rice for proper texture; add more water if necessary and bake for a few more minutes until it is the desired texture.

My parents and kids are a HUGE help!!!! At one point, my dad, Tiffany, Lauren, and Brian were all peeling potatoes. Some started dicing and my Mike started peeling. There were fourty pounds, so it took a bit to complete. My mom began dicing onions. As she was cutting the first one, she commented on how strong it was. Tiffany told her that she’d read that if you chew gum while cutting onions you won’t cry. Dad went out to their van and got her a piece from his stash. :) She diced about nine medium-large onions and did not shed one tear. Amazing!

By this time we’d gotten all the potatoes diced and in pots, beginning to heat up, on low. Potato dicers had moved on to mushrooms, which even my eight and six year old nieces helped with (using plastic knives). My dad moved on to slicing carrots on my mandolin, which eventually wore out his arms – yes both of them as he is ambidextrous in many things. I wish he would have said something, because I just didn’t think about it – we would have had someone take over for him, by the time I noticed, he only had a couple carrots left and would not let it conquer him. ;)

I began sauteing the onions, mushrooms, and carrots in olive oil with some salt and pepper. Mom finished dicing the onions and began browning the ten pounds of sausage. Lauren was watching pots of potatoes making sure that they did not go the way of the rice. ;) We had 3 large stock pots on a regular size stove. What I mean by this is that normal household stoves do not accommodate putting large pans on more than one burner. The stoves in this kitchen are the flat surface type but there is a little raised lip on the edge, which kept one of the pots from sitting completely on the heated surface.

By this time the potatoes started getting done. With the help of Mike (my brother-in-law), Mike (my husband), Brian, and Sean, we got the first pot of potatoes drained and in a large container for me to mash them. The idea was to make them a bit ‘runny’ or ‘loose’ so that they could sit in the foil roasting pan, covered with foil, in a warming oven for a couple of hours. The first batch worked great. The second batch had a few lumps and Brian used something and began mashing them by hand and they turned out fine. But that third pot of potatoes were not cooked as done. I did not catch it until I had started to mash them. You can just tell, as the mixer goes over those chunks of potato, if they are done right or not. This batch was not and I had already put the evaporated milk, butter, and salt in with them so there was no putting them back in the pot of water and boiling some more. We have now reached crisis number two. The decision was to add a bit of water, cover with foil, and put it in the oven in hopes that they will get softened up enough to mash.

Meanwhile, my Mike continually washes dishes and keeps things from getting out of control mess wise. You see, I’m a messy cook. Plain and simple. He saves me from myself and keeps things straighter than if I’m left to my own devices. :D

For a Crowd

With two pans of mashed potatoes in the warmer and the other in the oven, I began to work on the sausage rice dish. It is very much like the filling for the Breakfast Burrito without the cheese and two added ingredients: thinly sliced carrots and rice. Add a bit of oil to the skillet; I prefer olive oil. Now add in the onions, mushrooms, and carrots. To feed a crowd, we used roughly six pounds of onions, five pounds of mushrooms, and one and a half pounds of carrots with ten pounds of rice, ten pounds of sausage, and a ?24 ounce? bottle of olive oil.

Side Dish for 2-3 or Entree for 1

Sausage Rice Casserole ~ LifeOfJoy.me

As a side dish for two or three people you need:

  • about 1/3 cup of finely dice onion
  •  3 mushrooms diced
  • about an inch and a half of a carrot sliced very thin (either on the lowest setting on a mandolin or using a potato peeler)
  • about 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 2-3 ounces of sausage, browned and drained (or cook in veggies later on)
  • about 1 cup of rice, cooked

As with the breakfast burrito filling, heat your pan with the olive oil. Add onions, seasoning lightly with salt to draw out the water quicker. Once those get a head start and are just softening a little bit, add the mushrooms with a little more salt. After about a minute, add the carrots. Turn down the heat so you don’t burn it, if you had it on high, like me. ;)

If I’m using turkey sausage, it is at this point that I add 2-3 ounces raw, to the veggies. Turkey sausage is leaner than pork sausage and what fat is released as it cooks flavors the veggies nicely. If using pork sausage you should probably brown it separately so it doesn’t drown the rest of the dish with grease. ;)

When the sausage is browned, add about 1 cup of cooked rice. I usually do this with leftover rice, so I don’t usually need any extra oil but if your rice is clumping together, add a tiny bit of oil – 1/2 teaspoon or less even – and some salt and pepper. You really need the pepper to make it taste good, but just a few twists of the pepper mill or shakes of the shaker. If the rice begins sticking to the skillet and you don’t want to add any more oil, move the ingredients away from where it is sticking and add in a little water. Now stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom and mixing it in with the other ingredients.

When I made this Sunday I used freshly made rice. We browned the sausage, drained it and set it to the side. We sauteed the veggies and added them with the sausage. When everything was pre-cooked, we put some oil in our very large skillets, added several scoops of rice, and then several scoops of sausage veggie mix. Stirred it around breaking up the clumps of rice and making sure it was thoroughly combined, seasoning it with salt and pepper. At times the rice was too clumpy and I would add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the top of the rice and mix it through.

I wish I had pictures of this but alas I don’t. I will take some the next time I make this here, which may not be for a while because with each skillet I mixed, I had to taste for proper seasoning. So, I’m really quite done with it now. ;)

Oh, as for that last batch of potatoes, they took forever to soften. We turned the heat up to 350º and added more water. They finally softened up enough that I could mash them without too many lumps. [I guess I should state here that we have always called them mashed but years ago I was introduced to a new term “whipped potatoes” and have realized that what we call mashed potatoes is really whipped potatoes because we use a mixer and want all of the lumps out.]

I hope you are having a fun and yummy holiday season! Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Making Memories

Making Memories ~ LifeOfJoy.meI really should have followed my instincts and made this post last Friday even though I was a bit tired, because by last night, I was exhausted! :D Mike and I went to bed early last night, which is extremely unlike me but I was that tired. As a matter of fact, Tiffany was that tired too because even she went to bed early. I was only slightly tempted to stay up to talk to Sean when he got home to see how his work party went, even though we knew he was already on his way home (which meant it was probably at least another half hour before he arrived). Yep! T-I-R-E-D! :D

I do have to say, it was a good tired. As I mentioned Friday morning, I went shopping with Tracie for gift bag fillers for their H.A.N.D.S. Christmas Blessing. I made it home in time to have hamburgers and french fries ready to eat at our normal time.

Saturday I got up excited for a good day ahead. Mike and Sean went into town and stopped to drop of a big vac at Brian’s for him to close up their pool for the winter. They had other errands to run and some how Brian ended up at Walmart with them. Mike had planned to get some lights to put up outside. (This is the first time in our married life that he has even wanted lights up outside. :) I’m excited that he wants to do this.)

Any way, the plan had been for Mike and Sean to get into town, run their errands and get back so that Mike and I could leave by four o’clock to meet Brian and Lauren at Cheddar’s for dinner. Then Sean and Tiffany were to come into town and meet all of us at Rhema to enjoy their light display.

Mean while at home, Tiffany and I thoroughly cleaned the living room. She got a really bad headache and I sent her to take a nap in hopes that it would go away, while I did a short zumba, then off to the shower to get ready for our evening. Whilst I was in the shower Mike had texted me and finally gave up and called which roused Tiffany, who brought me the phone. New plan emerged . . . he and Sean had gone back to Brian’s to help with the pool but were running late so Tiff and I needed to come there. Crazy short version: we left for Cheddar’s at 5:00 instead of 4:00 and the place was packed — but everywhere nice was going to have the same problem at 5:20 on the Saturday twelve days before Christmas. So, I convinced Mike to wait it out. (His normal instinct would have been to leave.)

Our original plan would have had us nearly finished eating by this time and headed to Rhema. We then experienced some ripples from our delays. We waited quite a while for our food, which was no problem because we had a good time of fellowship with Brian and Lauren, but we were being delayed yet again. By the time we finally got out of there it was after 7:00. Let me just say this is NOT the time to be headed to see the lights! I was told there was a 3 mile backup to get into Rhema but we persevered and found a way to enjoy the traffic even though we were in three separate vehicles.

2014 Xmas ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Rhema Traffic view from Sean’s car, Lauren and Brian in front of he and Tiffany, Mike and I in the van in front of Lauren and Brian.

I’m not sure who called who but the next thing I knew, Brian and Mike were talking on their phones. I told them that one of them should 3-way in Sean on the call, which Brian did. We then all had our phones on speaker and enjoyed talking and laughing with each other as Mike lead the procession to our destination. Our team plan was to go passed the turning line of traffic and enter a different parking area and enjoy the lights as we walked to the main displays.

2014 Xmas ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Small view of where we parked.

The place was packed and none of us like crowds but we were determined to enjoy ourselves all the same (and we did). We finally left, as they were closing, after 10:00 pm. We decided that whenever we do this again in the future that we will not try and eat out anywhere other than fast food and will be there at 5:30 and attempt to go earlier in the week NOT on the weekend;)

To the Point

Now, you may be asking, what in the world does this have to do with marriage. The thing is that in marriage, we give and take. I have given up going and enjoying the light displays for the last several many years. This year Mike gave and took me, even amidst his most disliked situations (crowds). We built some memories, not only as a couple but as a family because as a couple we had dinner with our oldest and his wife, and as a family, we made fun memories to be retold again and again.

Marriage is about living life together not just getting through it. It is about giving of oneself, showing your love for the other, and allowing your partner in life to give of himself as well. You have to be a good giver and a good receiver. Marriage is about knowing when to do which and doing it with grace and love.

I hope that you are taking time to show your beloved how much you love him during this wonderful season, giving of yourself, receiving with grace, making memories to treasure and finding time to thank the Lord above for it all.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Another Busy Week

Another Busy Week ~ LifeOfJoy.meI’m sure it does not come as a shock that the second week of December has been a busy one for me or anyone. ;) It started out deceptively slow but ramped up quickly when I offered to go shopping with my sister the end of the week. I decided to make myself available to her both Thursday and Friday, if she needs me. Of course, that meant that I’d need to run my errands earlier in the week, which I suddenly realized would have to be the next day. Then I realized I’d need to make a menu and grocery list . . . PRONTO.

Now you may be wondering why my sister and I are going shopping when we did our shopping last month. You see my sister and her husband have a ministry (can be found on facebook here) to the people at one particular apartment complex. This Sunday will be their Christmas Blessing and there are a few gift baskets that need to be made and gifts that need to be purchased, for which I volunteered to help. Thus we will shop for them today. :)

Tiffany worked a miracle in the library on Monday. I started wrapping Christmas gifts. I took a tally and found that I needed to pick up a few extra stocking stuffers when we ran errands. Now that is nearly complete, I’ll ask my kids to pick up one or two more for me on Sunday when they make their coffee run after first service and I’ll be done. I do have one straggling gift to get yet and I don’t know what to get her.

When we ran errands, Tiffany and I decided that we wanted to be home more than we wanted to do shopping so we skipped the extra bits and went straight to getting groceries. Of course, when we made this decision we decided to look for a new blouse or two at Walmart for her.  But when we walked in the front door of said store there were carts with ladies undergarments on clearance for $1 each! I think it is rather needless to say that we spent some time looking through these carts. :) This took some time because we also had to try them on, as we must with nearly all clothes we buy.

Then we went looking for shirts for her. This was not an enjoyable activity . . . enough said. We got home an hour and a half later than I wanted and we were very tired.

Tiffany and I ordered Zumba for the Wii U last week. It came in earlier this week. Yesterday we “played” it for a little more than 30 minutes and boy did it work. Let’s just say, showers were needed promptly afterwards. ;)

Turned out that Tracie, my sister, decided not to shop on Thursday, so I had one more day to get some things done here. I wish I had accomplished more but we did exercise and I did get some more gifts wrapped AND I found the curling ribbon I bought and couldn’t find. (It was buried under some bags of stocking stuffers awaiting wrapping.)

This is going to be a fun weekend. Saturday, Mike and I are going out with Brian and Lauren for dinner and then Sean and Tiffany will meet us at Rhema to view their lights. It will be a fun night. Hopefully I’ll get to post some pictures next week. :)

Sunday, we will be helping Tracie and her husband with their Christmas Blessing, so that will be a busy day as well.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Until next time, enjoy this special season and God bless,

Michele ºÜº

What to do about Santa

Kneeling Santa ~ LifeofJoy.meI read an article yesterday about how to handle the subject of Santa Claus with children when you are a Christian. I found it to be an interesting article. It seemed to go along with what we did with our own children.

I remember my father-in-law calling his grandkids and telling them sSanta had been seen here and there. This shocked me! Growing up in a Christian household, we did not “believe” in Santa. Oh, we watched the Santa Christmas cartoons and saw the Santas in the stores but he was just some man dressed up in a costume like clowns or cartoon characters and such. My mom never acted as if he was anything but a fantasy character, like Mickey Mouse and such.

When our kids were old enough to communicate, I remember we had to tell my father-in-law that we did not want him making those Santa sighting calls to our kids. I’m sure he thought we were a bit odd but he did honor our wishes.

All was well and good when the Christmas specials were just cartoons but when The Santa Clause came out, that was something entirely different. For the open minded, that movie can really cause some trouble and for children . . . well, I chose to err on the side of caution. If kids have enough things telling them something, I would think they can begin to believe it is real. The Santa Clause was not animated, it used real people and had good answers to questions about Santa. I chose not to allow my children to watch it and its sequels until they were older and had a firm grasp on real and make believe and were solid in their beliefs, not to be swayed by it.

We felt that we wanted our children to believe us. If we told them that Santa was real, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and/or others were real and then we told them that Jesus, God, Adam, Moses, David, Goliath, Jonah and others were real. Just how much would they believe me when they found out that Santa and other fictional characters were just pretend and I continued to tell them that Jesus and the others are real. We did not want our credibility to take that hit.

Then there is always the whole lying issue. How can I hold my children to a standard of truth when I will choose to tell them a lie or just lead them to believe a lie. I taught my children that if you are intentionally making someone believe something that is not true then whether the words you say are actually a lie or not, you are lying. I must be held to the same standard. Thankfully it was never an issue.

What to do about Santa ~ LifeOfJoy.meI did however, tell them about Saint Nicolas. I even got a book about him. Saint Nicolas was a real and good man. With so much info out there, it is a good thing to be able to separate the true.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Diva Challenge #197-New Tangle Arukas

A week ago a new official tangle was released and usually Laura will make it the subject of the new challenge but this time she had planned to have guest bloggers/challengers because of some personal matters. So, this week she is back and the challenge is to use the new tangle.

I had not played with it at all since it is a busy time right now but I decided to take some time last night and do just that.

From the samples I’d seen, it appeared that Arukas, the new tangle, resembled a star. With it being Christmas time, I thought I’d make mine the star on the top of a Christmas tree but I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit the whole tree on the tile so I used just the upper portion on the tree.

Since I had never played with the tangle at all before doing my tile,  I thought a smaller starting circle would do what I wanted and as you will see, it did not! :(  I went with it anyway and decided to put one on each side of the tree, thinking it would look like ornaments on the tree but I was not correct about this either. ;)

So, here is my tile.

Diva Challenge #197 ~ LifeOfJoy.me

I really like it better smaller. The one on top kind of reminds me of the tree topper we had on our family tree when I was young. It always reminded me of a gold robot. I’ll ask my mom if she can send me a picture of it, so I can share it here. Then you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, I enjoyed working with this tangle and will do so again. I’m not very good at lines that are supposed to be equidistant and straight. I have a rather shaky pen, it would seem.

Here is the tile a bit smaller. Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Update: My mom found the tree topper I mentioned. I think it does resemble the Arukas on the top of my tree. ;)

Diva Challenge #197 ~ LifeOfJoy.meTree topper from my youth ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Pumpkin Pie

 

Pumpkin Pies ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Years ago Mom asked my sisters and I to make the desserts for Thanksgiving and Christmas; she and Dad supplied the main meal. Of course, everyone wanted pumpkin pie, so I took on the challenge. At the time, I did not use the internet for things like this. I asked Mom how to make it and she told me she just used the recipe on the Libby’s Pumpin Pie can. Of course, she made her own pie crust but I wasn’t going to attempt that then.

I bought the can of pumpkin and frozen pie crust and set off to baking. It was a hit and I continue to make the same pie to this day, although I have tried other pie crusts throughout the years.

This year I used the refrigerated pie crust, like I did for the Apple Crumble Pie I shared last week.

Sugar Cinn Ginger Ground Cloves ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Start by mixing the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves in a small bowl. I don’t know why they say to do that in the directions except that the spices are then completely mixed and won’t accidentally end up all in one spot.

Beaten Eggs for Pumpkin Pie ~ LifeOfJoy.me Beat the eggs in a large bowl.

Pumpkin Pie step 3 ~ LifeOfJoy.meNow add the pumpkin and dry ingredients and combine.

Pumpkin Pie nearly ready ~ LifeOfJoy.meNearly ready.

Last step ~ LifeOfJoy.meGradually add in the evaporated milk as you mix. This is a new mixer for me. Although the switch says it has about 4 or 5 speeds it really only has two – high and HIGHER. I was making a double batch so the bowl was rather full and kept spitting everywhere. I have the evidence on my recipe in my recipe book, which is in need of replacing yet again, but that is a story for another time.

Ready to bake ~ LifeOfJoy.mePour in pie shell. I place my pie pans on pizza pans to catch any spill-over.

Bake in a preheated 425º oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350º and continue baking for 40-50 minutes or until sticking a butter knife point first into the center and removing, comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Best served cold with whipped cream. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15 oz can pumpkin (just pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk (found in the baking aisle in most stores)
  • Unbaked 9" pie shell

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425º.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Beat eggs in a large bowl.
  4. Add pumpkin and dry ingredients from small bowl.
  5. Gradually add in the evaporated milk.
  6. Pour into pie shell. (If using refrigerator pie shells place in 9" pie pan.)
  7. Bake in preheated 425º oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to 350º bake 40-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.
  10. Serve cold with whipped cream on top.
http://lifeofjoy.me/pumpkin-pie/

P.S. Once again, this recipe is from Thanksgiving and I forgot to take individual serving pictures. :(  I’ll be doing it again in a few weeks and will try to remember to take the pictures then and update. Thanks for bearing with me!

I Gave My True Love

My True Love ~ LifeOfJoy.meOne year for Christmas I did the twelve days of Christmas for my true love. :) It wasn’t much but I got him something little  every day, for twelve days beginning Christmas day and ending on January 6th, which is Epiphany. (In case you are unfamiliar with Epiphany, it is the day to celebrate the wisemen visiting Jesus.)

I just wanted him to know that I love him and he is special to me. He didn’t realize I was giving him something every day for twelve days until it was nearly over. He enjoyed it and I think it did make him feel loved. I had just done a romantic coupon twelve days celebrating his birthday in October. This is why I went with little gifts for the Christmas twelve day. Truth be told, I think he liked the one I did for his birthday better than the Christmas one. ;)

So it has me wondering what I will do for him for Christmas this year. I think it is important to do something special other than the budgeted gifts for him. I have an idea for next year but it is not something I can put together for this year as it is too costly and will take me a year to gather.

I have considered giving every family member a “coupon” redeemable for a dessert of their choice, with a week’s notice (so I can be sure to have the items available to make it), BUT my family has a hard time actually “redeeming” said “coupons” so I hesitate to do anything like that.

This week I will be brainstorming what special thing to do for him this year. I’ll probably put it to prayer and then write down any ideas I have (like parts of the above mentioned things) and then scour pinterest and The Dating Divas to see what interesting things I can find. I may just share them here at some point.

If you have any good ideas, please share them. Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

An Odd Week

LifeOfJoy.meIt has been an odd up and down week. For about the past six years I have gone several hours away on the Monday through Wednesday after Thanksgiving to help a ministry prepare for a Christmas gift distribution. Several of those years I went on Sunday and came home on Wednesday night having stayed overnight with one of the organizers. It has always been fun but tiring work organizing and even purchasing the gifts. When there are several hundred children getting gifts, it is imperative to make the list and check it, not just twice, but at least thrice.

In my tenure of helping, we decided that the gifts needed a uniform labeling system and I was assigned the task of figuring out how to do so. This year the school, which is a boarding school for Native Americans, is under new management, I think. Anyway, they changed the names of the dorms from tribe names to such creative names as Wing A Boys and Wing A Girls not to be confused with Wing B Boys and Wing B Girls and so on through the letter D.

This creates several problems for organizing the gifts, which is done by dorm and then by alphabet. I could just envision those boys and girls gifts getting in the wrong dorm all too frequently, so a system needed to be devised to help. Now, it is probably a good time to mention that my husband has never liked me being away but has agreed to it for many years, until this one. He just didn’t think I should go this time but said he did not care if I worked on it from home, which is a great option for doing the office type work except for the fact that I do not have the same programs available to me at home that they have there.

We gave it a try anyway. :) We used different colors for the boys and girls and then made the dorm letters stand out in a different color. Then after figuring out how to get the info in the right format and all using my available programs, I had them print the first several and unfortunately, vital information disappeared. Thankfully I was able to figure a way to make it visible again for both of us. Of course, it wasn’t without its challenges. One such challenge was my computer freezing up on me after only a few changes, which became thoroughly frustrating.

Tuesday night we were supposed have a dinner date night with Brian and Lauren (my oldest son and his wife) but around 2:30 I had to postpone because of the compute freezing problem and the need to get the labels finished that day. It bummed we girls because we look forward to these rare nights even though it was necessary.

On top of all of that, Tiffany said it wasn’t feeling like Christmas this year. I reminded her that I’m not usually home which made her realize that although she is glad I did not go this year, that was making it feel different, as she is used to having some alone time to do as she pleased during the day. Mind you, in those first years she had at least one of her brothers home with her; I cannot remember if Brian was still homeschooling or if he had already graduated that first year I went. I remember the quandary I was in the first year she was going to be left alone during the day. She was old enough but it was still very difficult.

She usually gets most of the decorations up while I’m gone and hadn’t done any on Monday, which I think was another big reason it wasn’t feeling like Christmas too her. Upon making that connection, she started putting up the decorations as usual, since although I was home, I was occupied.

She has done a wonderful job this year! One of her classes/areas of study for the last year and a half or so has been decorating or interior design. Not only is it something she is interested in but is a good idea for her future being a homemaker.

I have nice little snowman collection that I usually put on top of my computer cabinet. One little snag this year is that since I no longer have a desktop computer and have used a laptop for the last several years, I let Sean use the computer cabinet. This was okay in the beginning but I didn’t really like the cabinet and wanted to purchase a desk. The new problem was what to do with the computer cabinet that was not in the best shape after its 17 years of service . . . the boys deconstructed it and moved it to the shed. We knew then that we would have to find a new place for my snowmen come December.  Tiffany cleaned off the counter area in the living room and put them there . . . nicely done.

We have other decorating creativity that has been necessary over the years. One such dilemma is what to do with stockings when one does not have a fireplace or more specifically a fireplace mantle to hang them from. I’ll share that fix and other decorating creativity with you next week, as this is getting long again.

It is Friday and I’m always home by Friday night.  Well I’m usually home by Wednesday night but one year was a huge challenge and I stayed until Friday afternoon and Mike and I ate out at Ihop that night, so I didn’t make it home until around 8 or 9 that year. Anyway, I said that to say, things are feeling a bit back to normal. We planned our activities for the month, which I’ll be sharing next week and I’ll be wrapping gifts and getting them under the tree. Of course, this will cause me to do another check of my own list, so that I can purchase any final stocking stuffers. It sure is nice to have the bulk of my Christmas shopping done . . . the rest can be done on normal errand days without feeling rushed.

I hope you are gearing up to have a most joyous holiday season! Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

No Burn-Out Here

Don't Burn Out ~ LifeOfJoy.meIn our early years I struggled with getting tired of homeschooling and getting it all done. Then I learned about The Student of the Word curriculum. It is Bible and discipleship based. But through it I learned one of the most freeing ideas. Basically it is year round schooling.

Here is an idea of how it works: plan for school a certain number of weeks, be it 4, 6, or some other number. Then plan for a week or two off and then back to work again.

What we did, following the example in SOW, was to do four weeks of our concentrated full load work. Then the fifth week was glorious. :) That fifth week was a light week or a catch-up week. It is during this week that bare essentials are completed (reading, math, and whatever else is deemed absolutely necessary, which is different for each family. This week is also the week to catch-up on whatever it is that you wanted to do but didn’t quite get done. Did you have an appointment one afternoon and not get a science lab done? Or maybe company came for an afternoon and you didn’t get the history video watched? Maybe you were just too tired to supervise the craft you’d planned. No worries, you now have a full week with only the most important things to accomplish, which allows for some free time and time to catch-up on any of those things you really wanted to have the children do.

The light week is also a time to incorporate games for review and fun work on skills and such, thus math can be a math game instead of further work in a curriculum. Light week is a great time to schedule appointments.

Before the beginning of our school year, I print out a calendar for the next 12 months. I go through and mark the weeks I want to be sure we have for vacation time (a.k.a. no school but learning is always being done. ;) ) be it summer vacation, spring break, or Christmas. Then I go back and start filling in the school weeks, 4 weeks and then a light week. My goal is usually to have a semester done before we break for the holidays and to be sure I get all 36 weeks scheduled. After I get it all worked out in pencil, I go back and use a highlighter to color code the weeks so that the children and I know at a glance what the week holds.

By having these light weeks every 5th week or so, it has kept me from suffering from burn-out for the last 12 years or more. It has only been when I expected too much or planned too much that I started to feel frustrated, which is the first sign that burn-out is trying to come your way. It was in those times that I’d cry talk to my husband about it and make changes. Most of those times it was because I felt the kids needed to have  some extra study and it really wasn’t necessary in the big picture.

I highly recommend light weeks throughout they year to keep you from burning-out on your homeschool journey. As this is our final year, it is the final Christmas break I scheduled. We do fun learning throughout December, so we are still able to count these days as school days but they are fun, enjoyable, and even relaxing at times.

Until next time, enjoy your light weeks and God bless,

Michele ºÜº