Monday, March 31, 2008

FUN MONDAY ("Quotes" is the theme)

How cool is it for me to be participating with Robin ( on her Fun Monday challenge. This week, famous quotes, funny ones, serious, whatever kind is the theme. I have two I would like to share from British authors. Right now, everyone except my 9 year old seems to be going through adolescence, and the boys seem to be really hitting it pretty hard. The following quotes were found and suitable for our situation. Would these be ones you can identify with?

"Boys will be boys. And even that wouldn't matter if only we could prevent girls from being girls."
Anthony Hope Hawkins (1863-1933)

"The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted: thence proceeds mawkishness."
John Keats (1795-1821)

Have a Fun Monday yourself!!!

MOMMY (Caregiver/Mentor) MONDAYS (#8)

I've been reading a really great book by Lisa Whelchel, you know, Blair from the Facts of Life TV show. I think that I remember someone telling me after I was an adult and the show had long gone off the air, that Lisa was a Christian, and had been since she was a young girl, meaning that she was saved when she starred as Blair on the show. Evidently, I had forgotten though, and was surprised to remember that fact when I walked in LifeWay and saw she had written books, one, The Me in Mommy, which we'll talk about today and has her own website chock full of useful information. This book was on sale and, after reading the inside and back flap and back cover, I thought it would be a great book to purchase and read...over and over and over. It's like a reference tool and a good read all in one. I got to discover Lisa in a whole new way reading her book, which has excerpts or bits of her testimony here and there. I can't wait to go on her website. It should prove to be very useful and interesting. I can find things that I don't agree 100% with in her book, but I don't think I've read too many books in my whole life that I agreed 100% with. The huge majority of this book is good, interesting, useful, fun, and thought-provoking. She not only gives great ideas, but she has what's called "Rest Stops" so that you can ponder over what you've read and then read on for great ideas and how to make the ideas practical. Those qualities alone make this a book worth investing in IMHO.
Here are some things I think are worth sharing in case you never buy the book (although I think it will be easy to venture on her website and find some information on some of this stuff):
Lisa tells her readers from the beginning that moms and caregivers can't be effective in their families, churches, and communities unless they take care of themselves properly...WITHOUT GUILT!! What mother or caregiver doesn't struggle with that? First of all, who has time? Then, when we discover that we do, we decide that our time is better spent on someone else. That's great and selfless. I think that women are wired that way and we can't change (nor should we want to) our wiring. What we can do is change our attitude about what it means to take care of ourselves. If it's done right, we will still answer to the natural tendency to give selflessly, but we'll be happier and healthier and more effective doing it. That cannot be done to the highest degree possible until we invest in ourselves. I have to learn this lesson over and over and over. I think I will fight it the rest of my life. (Maybe that will change drastically when the kids are older and out of the house:)) At least when I start forgetting the reasons I need to take care of myself, I can pull out this book and others to remind myself again. Anyway, back to things I want to share from the book:
Lisa Whelchel says that you have to nourish your spirit, body, and soul. Okay, yeah, you've heard that before. It's cliche. Well, what makes this book different is her fresh approach to these things and HOW (which is what we're always looking for and in some books, it seems to escape us) they can be done with many ideas to choose from. A quote from her book says, " As moms, it is critical that we "live and breathe" Jesus, because what we inhale is what we'll exhale" on ourselves and others with our attitudes, speech, and actions. Whew!! What a thought. We can do something about our attitudes and actions just by breathing in Jesus (with meditation and prayers), the reading of His Word, and praise and worship. Does this seem overwhelming? I mean, does it seem like something you want to do, but it seems impossible because you don't know how and/or there is not enough time in the day? I promise you, if you read this book or check her website, there are so many choices to doing these things and one or some of them WILL fit in your schedule!!!
So how can we fill up with the Word? I will tell you one among many that I know works for us: put Scripture in places where you can see it regularly. I was already doing this before I read her book, so I was delighted to know that this was one of her ideas that worked too. I write or type Scripture on little cards or square sheets of paper and tape them to the edges or corners of my computer screen, bathroom mirror, even the wall in front of the commode. I think we have some on the fridge too; anywhere we'll pass by or come in contact with a lot. Right now I have John 14:21 and Psalm 84:11-12 taped to my computer screen while I'm posting this to you. I like to look up from working and meditate on Scripture or look at it frequently so that I can memorize it without going through a lot to try and do it. Your kids can get in on this too. As a matter of fact, my kids pick out new Scripture they're working on every week and tape it in the bathroom. Sometimes it's their verses for church and sometimes it's just ones they want to memorize for themselves. Other ideas the book gives is to tape it to your visor in the car, medicine cabinet, hide it in your purse or wallet, use it as a book mark in your books or Bible, etc.
Take time to just hang out with Jesus. How? This nourish note was easy: just talk to Him daily, as you go along, as if He were there. Lisa takes a quiet moment in the mornings in her bathroom and sits on the toilet where she talks to God as if He were literally sitting across from her on the side of the tub. I've also read books where great men of God (specifically Brother Lawrence) would practice the presence of God by talking with Him throughout their day, during chores, during devotions, during comtemplative periods while walking, etc. The idea is to start looking at the God of the universe as your friend, your confidante, your comforter, your day-starter, your everything. Look at Him like He is what He is, your Father. Some more great opportunities to talk with the one whom will help you throughout your day is to talk with Him while you fold laundry, pray in the car, pray with your husband at night before you go to sleep, etc.
Fill your days with worship. Put on your favorite inspirational, praise, and/or worship music CD's. Go back to listening to some of your favorite hymns. Sing some of them to yourself or actually, you would be singing them to the Lord! Sing while you're in the car with your children. When you go to your favorite Bible book store, pause and listen to the music piped in. Go to the church that you've been lead to on Sunday. You get to participate in singing great praise music to the Lord and you can fill these hours with things of the Lord and learning.
Keep a journal. Write in it every day, once a week, or even once a month. Write praises, prayer requests, and follow-up (meaning seeing how God eventually handled your prayer request--this will help you to see His hand in your life DIRECTLY!!). Do a blog-that's a computerized journal.
Take care of your body. Your body is not yours to neglect and abuse. It is yours to carry out your life in and do the will of God. It needs to be taken care of to function to its optimal levels and highest potential. Your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, which, if you're saved or have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, has taken up residence in you permanently. You need to keep His temple in order! This is not only going to help you praise Him, worship Him, and carry out His mandates, but it will help you all day every day with the earthly family He has given you. You're of no help to your family, and you cheat them out of the best of you when you're run down. This is where women get into trouble. We think we're the Energizer Bunny (R) and can keep going and going. Think of it like you do your car. It won't go unless you put fuel into it; the right kind, the right amount, etc. Same as your own body--it won't function right without the proper rest, relaxation, meditation, exercise, dietary habits, etc. And it (your body, mind, and soul) won't do anything at all when all of these things have been depleted and not replenished.
The book goes on to talk about so many other topics like dressing to make yourself look and feel better, food journaling, easy exercises, weight loss ideas, pampering that you can realistically achieve with limited time, hobbies, having fun with friends and/or family, and lots more. I highly recommend this book for ease of reading and practicality. I read it while I traveled this weekend, because that's about the only time I get to read a book without much interruption. You see, there's another idea. If you don't have much time to read and "feed your brain" at home, let someone else drive for a change, if you can, and let your seat back, relax, and read. Take Bible study notes, put in your earphones and listen to good music, catch up on writing your thank you notes, update your schedule or calendar, make lists; you can do lots of things during this time.
I'm glad to be back posting again (had to be away out of town and don't own a laptop), so tune in the rest of the week for more stuff. I pray you have had a wonderful Monday, and I pray that you take time for yourself, unselfishly. Yes, it can be done and should be!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I will be so busy tomorrow, I won't get a chance to post on Thursday, so I thought I'd do it tonight so you'd have the benefit of still having something to read tomorrow. That way, we don't miss a beat. I'm in the poetic mode again, and I like poetry, so it doesn't take much to get me in the mood. I wanted to do something fun and challenge you to do so also. Tongue Twisters have always been fun, I think. It's poetry anybody can do; you don't have to be professional. Just have fun with it. There is no need to over critique your work. Come up with something fun, cute, clever, whatever, and post it as a comment at the end of this post. Be brave. Let's post for everyone to see. Just don't be intimidated. You'd be surprised what you can come up with; you'll be proud of yourself, and others will appreciate your efforts.

Okay, I'll go first, and you join in:

Terry Thompson taught tigers to tumble toward Tina triumphantly. (Okay, see if you can say that fast five times:)

I'll make this next one a little more difficult or longer:

Jerry jerked Jeckyll jokingly and just jeered jingling Jeckyll's jeans.
(This one hurt me just looking at it afterwards)

Okay, last one, and I'll try to make this one...IMPRESSIVE (Ha!):

How can Hannah hang her head heavily, heaving hoes, hoisting hinges, heeding His Word, and handling Henry's hungry hippo-help us heavenlies, help!
(Now say that one 5 times really really fast without tripping up and getting your tongue all twisted. Don't cheat!! Say it to your kids or spouse...or dog?)

Have fun with this one guys!! I can't wait for you to try your hand at this!


Well you thought you knew the answer to the poll question at the bottom of my blog, "What was the most popular girl name for 2006?" I got you this time. Usually your answers are right on the money, but Madison was NOT the most popular girl name chosen for babies in 2006. Surprisingly, according to the Social Security Administration, Emily was the most popularly chosen girl's name. Tune in for the next poll question and see if you know the answer. It will be posted tonight and I will reveal the answer next week. Thanks for participating.


There is a post with a prize connected to it. We all like free stuff!! Admit it!! Some things in life are free,...well almost. You do have to do some work for it, but you don't have to spend any money!! Anyway, I wrote a post that discusses winning a prize if you make it to the end of the post (meaning if you really read the whole thing:)) The prize is for a LifeWay devotional or inspirational. No clues right now, so when you get time, READ, READ, READ. You might find some interesting stuff along the way. I will announce the winner next week, hmmm probably around, well, on or before Wednesday. That's enough information for now. Oh, BTW, the book is really neat (I bought an extra copy from LifeWay today!!) and it's one mentioned in my post today, Woman to Woman Wisdom, Inspiration for Real Life (the name of the book). I think you'll enjoy it (if you're a woman that is:)) If I find out one day that I have any male readers, we'll expand our give-away closet to be inclusive,:) so let us know guys, if you're lurking around out there. I have a natural tendency and bent toward ministering, writing for, helping, and giving to women, but most of my posts can be enjoyed and used by everyone.

At the end of the post in discussion here, the one with the prize, it will tell you what to do to win, so you will know when you've arrived at the right one. To be fair, it is a post written within the last two weeks. Although I'd like for you to have time to read all of my posts, I know that it would take an incredible amount of time to read and sift through all of them from the very beginning. Most of you would probably give up before you went through all of that. This is supposed to be fun, not wearisome:) Can't wait to see who wins!!



Another Bible version says it "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (KJV-Hebrews 12:2)

Discussing the subject of faith can be pretty intensive and extensive, but I will just give you a "wisdom nugget" today, so that we can remember not to intellectualize it, like we humans tend to do. We "understand" this word very well, that is, until something happens that shakes us, and asks us to think, do, function, etc. in ways we never have before. This takes us out of our comfort zones, and we don't understand it. I was reading Youngs, Fuller, and Schuller's book Woman to Woman Wisdom and found a really neat excerpt from it that I want to share concerning this matter. At the end of the day, we need to understand that the God of this universe is always in control, does things to get our full attention, wants our full dependency on Him, and strengthens our resolve and relationship with Him through this issue trust or faith. What do you know of it? How has your faith been tested? Do you understand the difference between intellectualizing and just plain faith and trust with wreckless abandonment in Christ?

The authors of the book wrote, "...experiences that shake, rock, and otherwise threaten to buckle our lives can move us beyond business as usual and, instead, to search out a new place-a new way-to live. Whether our angst causes us to reel, scream, plead, or cry out to God, one thing is for certain: when we go knocking-or kicking, screaming, or banging-at God's door, we do find God. As with all productive fights, the exchange leads us to a new understanding of ourselves and beyond a mere intellectual-level understanding of the God of the universe. The difference of the distance we've then traveled is not just a matter of degree, but of redo-much like when a house burns down." Has life caused you to question your faith and question your sense of who God is and what He should or shouldn't be doing?

A man of incredible faith, a pastor, lost his home and all valubles in it. He thought that his faith was strong. He knew God, a good life, hadn't had many trials; He knew what the Word said about faith and could quote it backwards and forwards. That's all good until your faith is tested. How will you trust God then? Will your opinion change? This man sought refuge in God, and at the same time, he railed against Him. He begged God for mercy through his ordeal, but, at the same time, accused God of not sparing a man who was a servant of His. How could this happen? This man had no idea that these pleadings and accusations, his shaken resolve and faith, would transform his thoughts about God and what real faith was. It would force him to rebuild a more solid relationship with God from the ground up. The book says of him, "A faith once rooted in his intellectual and professional life had been tested mightily, and the result was a greater breadth and depth and scope of God than he had ever known. He now knew God intimately and could speak to others on a level he never even understood. He arrived at a far richer place than he could have ever predicted. The branches of his earlier faith withered in comparison."

We will have our moments like the man mentioned above. We will go through the "fire." Our faith will be tested and sometimes harshly. We usually want to race around in our minds trying to figure out what just happened and then what we're going to do about it. We don't connect any lessons for life to it or any building up of character. Sometimes, we withdraw and nothing good comes out of it. If life's trials shake us up, and our faith is merely intellectual, we will be thrown off course or break. Some things are beyond our understanding, and no matter how hard we try and figure it and God out (concerning the matter), we won't get what we're looking for. It's really dangerous too, when things are going well and we adopt the "Don't call me; if and when I need you, I'll contact you" attitude. When the trials and storms do blow in (like they inevitably will), with this attitude, we'll blame God or do away with Him altogether. His goal isn't to drive us; it's to draw us. He uses storms to build or rebuild a relationship with us, because that's ultimately what He is interested in. The authors say, "In this, the storms of life are productive in that they move us from an intellectual understanding of God to a deeper and richer relationship with Him," if you'll just trust Him. "But we need not wait for a "fire" to drive us into a rich and lush relationship with the Almighty. We can do this even when the sun is shining and the skies are clear." This is my admonishment. I find that when I practice loving, seeking, and trusting Him with wreckless faith during the good times, it makes it easier to run to Him and seek His covering, grace, mercy, and protection when things get rough.

Choose to build or rebuild your life with God in the center seat, asking Him to help you trust him blindly, through good times and bad; to help you not intellectualize (and trust in yourself) or over-analyze, but to put your complete and total trust in Him. He is still and always will be in control.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm so happy happy to announce the winner of my tea give-away!! It is Patrice H.!!! Ha!! I bet she is so happy. This lady just discovered my coveted J Greens and...SHE LOVES THEM!!! I had the privilege of turning someone else on to my lovelies!! YEA PATRICE!! Patrice won a bag of imported Genmaicha-Matcha Iri, and I already know that she loves this one because she has sampled it before.

I've decided that I am definitely going to be giving away a box or bag of our own domestically grown tea (from Charleston, SC). Charleston tea is the only tea grown in America (at least on a large scale or on a plantation). Most people don't even know we grow tea here in the good ole U.S. If you missed my post from last Tuesday, go back and read it. It's an interesting little read about tea in American history. Also, google tea in Charleston and you can read about the only tea plantation in America. They're proud of what they do. I can't wait to taste some of it. I'm a very picky tea sipper, so....

Anyway, the tea-cha is ready to get down to business concerning what we'll be discussing about tea today. We're always talking about tea and tea drinking, but how do you really ensure that you brew a pretty good cup? Lots of things factor into having a great cup, but it need not be so much that it becomes difficult or too time-consuming. With the right tools and ingredients, patience and practice, you can smoothly brew a perfect pot, rendering a perfect cup. Start with these simple steps, tips, and items:

1) Always use fresh, cold water. Springwater (not distilled) is preferable to unfiltered tap water treated with chemicals. Soft water is the best. Check to see what kind of water you have in your area. You can purchase springwater just for your tea drinking.

2) No matter what temperature your water needs to brew to steep your tea, always let your water boil first, and then allow it to cool to the temperature it needs to be.

3) Make sure you warm your steeping pot before putting in tea leaves and brewing.

4) Measure and add the tea to the pot if you're using loose. Otherwise, add the right amount of tea bags according to the package instructions. Black tea generally requires one teaspoon or one tea bag for each 6oz. cup. Some green and white teas require more tea. Some of the green teas I drink start out requiring 1-2 tablespoons instead of teaspoons.

5) For black tea, use full boiling water to steep your tea. For green and white tea, the water should be boiled first, but cooled to the right temperature. The temperature of water for green and white teas can vary greatly from tea to tea. It is very important that you follow package directions with these. It will make a difference in taste. If the water is too hot, it will be very bitter. If it's not hot enough, it will be watery and tasteless. For Oolongs, water should be approx. 180-190 degrees.

6) Steeping times vary considerably also, like the temperature of the water can. You can't judge the readiness of your tea by its color. Instead, brew to taste or according to the instructions. I always implore people to brew to taste though. That's important. You can start off brewing by instructions, but adjust steeping times according to your taste afterwards. It it's weak, next time steep longer, and so on. In general, black tea should steep longer, up to 5 minutes. Again, white and green vary from tea variety, etc. on steeping times. Be careful with these, but when you are, these can be very rewarding!

7) Most good, quality tea leaves (loose or bagged) can be steeped up to three times. A lot of the teas in the store (for regular iced tea brewing) may not be able to be steeped, at least not to a satisfactory taste, more than once. Tea is worth its cost because good, quality tea leaves can be steeped more than once.

8) Check a previous post of mine on what you can do with discarded or used tea leaves. You'd be surprised what you can do with them. They have freshening and deodorizing qualities.

Enjoy your tea moments today and everyday. We'll have some more exciting things to talk about with tea next Tuesday. We'll be discussing how to have a themed tea party. How fun!!

The tea-cha is out!

Monday, March 24, 2008

MOMMY (Caregiver/Mentor) MONDAYS (#7)

Why do we choose to place our children in the school of our choice (those of us who have the privilege to choose)? Is it because we love public school and all that it offers, you know, more diversity (it's hard for me not to smile if not laugh out loud just imagining the look on some of the faces right now, that are reading this:)), usually more competitive sports, in most cases a wider variety of subjects offered (mainly in high school), all of the planned and unplanned activities, and the "freedom" with some things that the "strict" Christian or private schools frown upon? Do we like private schools (not Christian per se; there can be a big difference between the two) because, we can afford them, we can pay for our kids to be away from the "non well-bred," we can pay for a better environment for our kids, we can insulate them (and sometimes isolate them), we can protect them, it offers higher educational standards, the curriculum is better, the kids are nicer (I'm having to stop typing to laugh out loud now), etc.? Do we put them in Christian schools because they're getting a Christian education versus a "heathen" education, they're in a Christian environment most of the hours they're away from us ("just like home," right?), the kids AND the teachers are nicer in this case (because they're all Christian, right?), and we would surely be isolating (oops insulating may sound nicer) them from the "worldly" kids wouldn't we? Do we homeschool for the same reasons we send them to Christian school, or because we can't afford Christian or private school and this is the alternative? Or is it (I know you're not supposed to start a sentence with 'or') because we're in control of what goes on in our kids' lives (for the most part), and we believe in educating our own kids and/or providing them with a Biblical worldview? Are we homeschooling because our children are the problem in "regular" (that's public) school or they, for special reasons, can't function in a "normal" school environment? Why do we do what we do? Do we know, and did we make educated and conscious decisions about our children's education, or is this just the way it SHOULD be, or "did everybody in my family do it this way?" Is our decision based on what's expected of us based on someone else's expectations, or did we "buck the system" and do the total opposite of what was expected because we didn't want to do what was expected?
I ask these questions because I've heard (from others) ALL of the reasons, excuses, etc. listed above. Some of them are currently my own beliefs and some have been my beliefs, at least in part (like my parents have always said, "When you learn better, you do better--or you should). I'd like for us to think about the questions posed and answer them within ourselves honestly. Are we sure and confident in our decisions and are they good decisions ("sure they're good decisions; they're MINE--for MY kid/kids!")? What are we basing that confidence and goodness on? In whom do we trust for those decisions, or are they really OUR OWN decisions? Are we deciding based on the individual child and their needs, or there is no question or decision to make, they're definitely going where we say they go regardless?
Let me let you in on my world. BTW, I pose these questions not only because I've heard all of the reasons and excuses before, but because I ask things that I know sometimes people won't or perhaps just simply haven't put much thought into at all. Educating our children the way we do, for the right reasons though, is vitally important. Knowing why we do what we do and being able to wrap our fingers of assurance around that will not only please God (whom these children really belong to), but will bring us off our knees with the confidence every parent needs to move forward. Back to my world--I now have one child who is being educated in his aunt's home by homebound tutors, one in public school, and two being homeschooled in my home. I have 10 1/2 years of homeschool experience, although not 10 1/2 years straight. I have experience with my children going to public schools, and I've paid for Christian school for several years. I have a son who went back and forth between public, Christian, and homeschool all of his school career but was mostly homeschooled or placed in private. My other son was in public school every year until middle school came around, he skipped those years in public and went private (it was a Christian school) and was homeschooled 1 of those years. One of my daughters had gone to public school all of her elementary school career (except for 5th grade) and experienced Christian school for the first time in her life year last year. The youngest daughter has never seen the inside of a public school except when visiting one of her friends for their school play. She has always been homeschooled or gone to Christian school. What did I tell you all of this stuff for? Apparently we've experienced quite a few 'different' school environments with our kids, but how did we get to those decisions? Why so many changes? Trust me, it would have been nice had we had kids that could fit in some neat little category where we could always put them in the same kind of school until they grew out of it. With our many different needs and personalities, along with budget-conscious decisions, prayer, digging for information at each school venue, seeing and hearing things we liked, hearing and seeing things we didn't like, we had to not only stay flexible, but we had to make decisions literally year to year, and twice had to change our decisions in mid year. That was tough, but necessary.
I tell and ask you all of this because I'm afraid, in all honesty (which is always good, but sometimes will hurt, or at least cause us to pause and think), that we may not be putting the best decision-making tools in place when it comes to WHY we educate our kids the way we do. Now, of course, some of you have this done right and have had it right for your particular needs and children. We need your prayers and advice. I have sometimes gotten the decisions right for the kids' education (maybe mostly), and sometimes I have not, evidenced by the consequences we all suffered by making the wrong decision (and you'd be surprised to know that it wasn't necessarily the "public school" years that did it either). Putting our kids in the "wrong" (even if we want it to be right, because it's right for US) education setting can be hazardous to our kids' mental, emotional, and academic health. Know why your kid is in public, private, or home school. Know with confidence if this is what's right for them or not. I've had to pray over one particular choice later, that I had mistakenly not prayed over beforehand. I put one of my children in a school that all of my other ones were going to (because it was convenient for the first time in their school careers--finally!!), and it was not right for him. It wasn't a good fit. No matter how hard he and I tried to make it fit (after all, it was just going to be for one little year), it didn't. We both suffered the consequences. How does it feel as a parent to know you made a wrong choice for your kid, well at least one that you could have avoided had you paid closer attention to the matter beforehand? We'll all make them inevitably, I know, but the goals are to try and make them as less as possible, and to have the tools to making them as less as possible.
I have found no better way to make eduation decisions than to pray literally every year, BEFORE school starts, all summer long even, before we sign the next contract, etc. It's so easy to just blindly do that (sign the contract or fill out the paperwork). It is possible though, and such a blessing to be able to keep them (one or however many children you have) at the same school, year after year, until they grow out of it and into another. It's also a blessing when you have children that can go to any kind of school, leaving you with not much thought to have to put into it. Is this the norm though? Can it sometimes be the case of convenience or inconvenience? I know it was really really really tough on us (sometimes just me alone) to have so many different needs (when we looked closely) and have to cater to each one. Although I love homeschooling, I'm not trying to promote homeschool when I say this or insinuate that it is the best choice for all children (because I know for a fact it's NOT), but it has allowed me the most freedom, flexibility, and enabled me to individualize the most. This option MIGHT work out for a lot of us who have children that we're not quite sure what to do with. Other ways to investigate your children's education needs is to ask around, and don't just ask people who are going to agree with you or do what you do for the same reasons you do, if you have a reason at all. You'd be surprised at some of the various answers (pros and cons) you might find.
I also check into everything going on. How will the environment impact my children, will my children leave an impact on their school environment (among the children and are they equipped to do that), what are my child's strengths and weaknesses, how will their environment affect me, etc.? What can I find that I like about public school and what they offer (if anything), do I know the difference between Christian and private school, am I getting my money's worth from paying for their education, whether I pay for a homeschool curriculum and supplies or private/Christian? What are my real feelings about Christian, private, and public school, and are they legitimate? Are they based on hard evidence or the news media, newspaper, statistics, the children I see in public on a particular day and how they seem "to be?" What success stories have I seen come from each venue? ARE their any success stories? Are there any drawbacks to what I'm doing currently? What changes can I make? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that my child gets the best education possible anyway (that's a whole other post on a whole other day for sure!!)?
I know this post is long, but definitely worth reading. I've heard it all you guys, and I've wondered how some of us came to the conclusions we have. I've wondered if, while we're downing or wondering about others' decisions, have we put that much thought into our own. I heard a lady just the other day say that no thought whatsoever was put into the decision of where or how she would educate her children. They just simply weren't going to ever step foot off into a public school. I started to ask why, giving her the benefit of the doubt, because she may have had really good, solid reasons (or maybe not "good" reasons, but at least A REASON). I mean a good discussion can only come from people talking about why they did something based on some reasoning right? I didn't have to ask this lady after all, because she finally gave her reason and it was, "They're just not going because we think there is no other school option for our kids but private. We don't have another reason. We don't need another one. We can afford private." I just blankly stared in disbelief. I couldn't speak. My husband and I, if we both worked again, could also afford private school for all of ours. We can (if I budgeted really tightly) afford private school for a couple of them now without me working. Should I blindly send them to private then, because we can afford it? Why would I do that? What would I be proving and to whom? You guys, I can see doing what you need to do, but I can't see doing something "just because" when it comes to important things like my children's education. Another mom told me that the reasons she doesn't homeschool are because she couldn't stand her children being at home all day and she needs daily "me" time. If those are her only reasons, maybe her children don't need to be home all day with her, for their own sanity and safety.
I pray that we all find a good method and tools to good or solid reasoning behind doing what we do. What you do for yours should be what's right for you, and not be based on my or anyone else's opinions and decisions. Your children, the ones on topic here, and their needs should be the determining factor, and of course, what you can or cannot afford, if that even comes into play for your situation. It may have nothing to do with money at all. There are so many options and our kids and their needs are so diverse. I always speak and/or write with honesty and probing questions because usually I've made mistakes with mine and I don't want to see someone else do the same (you don't have to; just wait on people like me to mess up and be transparent about it:)), and I care about our kids. I care about why we do what we do and what that's based on. I guess I'm interested in where our thoughts are coming from sometimes. It could be that at some point in time, I've thought things that I would never think again (about my children's education and otherwise), but I know that if I thought them, someone else did or does too. We're here to help each other, ask the tough questions, hold each other accountable, and in the end, make the Lord pleased with our decisions. If you're reading this and are not saved, or are not sure that you are, you can still use or do some of the things mentioned herein. I want you in particular to know though, that you can only wrap your fingers of assurance around a decision if it came from the Lord. And you CAN know that it did. There is no greater confidence; it's better than wondering if you alone did it right or are simply left with taking a CHANCE.
If you read this post to the end, thank you for hanging in there (you deserve a reward--how about a Mommy or Woman's devotional from LifeWay--comment at the bottom if you made it to this point). I didn't know, starting off, that it would be so long. I hope and pray that you were able to look inward and then look out, either knowing you're doing just fine with your choices, or you're going to start scratching deeper than the surface, praying, asking, looking, and then making the right decision for EACH one of your children's educational needs.
Have a more than marvelous Monday, mommies and mentors!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I've done Art Linkletter before, for Humor Me Sundays, I know, but I must do him again. I really enjoy his humor with children. I can do something else, but I found some more "old" humor that will hopefully still be just as fresh and funny today as it was when his book was published in 1961. I love to laugh and I love good, clean humor. That, my dears, never gets old, wouldn't you agree?

Art says: A girl in the third grade was having trouble doing her arithmetic without counting on her fingers, so her mother tried to teach her to do sums in her head.
"Close your eyes and imagine you see a blackboard," the mother told her. "Do you see it?"
"Yes," said the girl.
"Now write your problem on it. Do you have it written down?"
"Not yet," the girl said. "I can't find the chalk." (I love it!!)

In another excerpt that I love from his book, Art says, Any parent knows that children are absolutely ingenious at inventing excuses. The average mother hears more plausible explanations for misdeeds in one week than a traffic judge hears all year. Let's listen to some of these inventive minds at work: A boy's mother told him, "You mustn't pull the cat's tail like that." "I'm only holdingt it, Mom," he said. "The cat is pulling."

Asked why he always gobbled his food, a nine-year-old explained: "It tastes so good that I want to eat all I can before I lose my appetite."

A mother asked her daughter, "Why can't you behave like Sally next door?"
"Because she's a doctor's kid," the girl said.
"What's that got to do with it?" her mother demanded.
"The doctor always keeps the best babies for himself," the girl replied.

I hope you've had a wonderful Easter Sunday, whether you're with family, or it's just you and Jesus. If you're not a believer, it's still you and the Lord because HE IS ALIVE and real, whether you believe in Him or not OR whether you know of Him but haven't trusted Him as your Savior. I pray you know Him and celebrate the risen Savior today!!

Friday, March 21, 2008



I love antiques and vintage things as much as I love tea. I'm not sure which I love the most. Actually, I think I can afford to love them equally because there is no compromise. They're in completely different "enjoyment departments," thank God; one you can drink and enjoy (or sip and savor) and the other you can look at, enjoy, and collect.

I have no idea what caused me to want to know Webster's definition of the two words (antique and vintage), but I did. I knew there was a difference, but I hear people using the words interchangeably ( I may be guilty, at some point, of doing it myself), and I wanted to clarify. I guess this all hit me when I was out looking during my Friday Fun Day with my family, and we stopped at little places along the way of getting to the actual errands we were supposed to be running, that had sweet little reminders of old and such. We also stopped at a friend's, and her house is wonderfully decorated with whimsical things and filled with antiquity. I love it. She had some vintage but more antiques than anything. What do I mean?

Webster describes antiques as "something of ancient times; ancient; old; a piece of furniture, silverware, etc. made in a former period, generally more than 100 years old." The last definition here is the key definition. Actual antiques should be things that are at least 100 years old, so some things in an antique store aren't actually antique, they're more vintage than anything. And what does vintage mean? Well, Webster describes this as "representative of or dating from a period long past (vintage clothes, etc.), or the type or model of a particular year or period (a vintage car)." The funny thing is, Webster's first definitions for the word 'vintage' have more to do with the crop or yield of a particular vineyard or grape-growing region in a single season, so really vintage in some circles could conjure up a whole different image than what we typically think of.

Either way, I'm nuts about antiques and vintage articles. I love it whether it's just of recent years gone by or it's more than 100 years old. I have a friend who owns a vintage clothing store and I can literally spend hours in this store looking around and trying on, whether I purchase something or not. I have a few things I've purchased from her over the years, and my husband just loves to see me in vintage clothing. This stuff is not "old" or "outdated" to him. He loves to see vintage clothing come alive in the 2000's. He likes to see me modernize the old look or be brave enough to wear it in our modern time and set my own trend. I've always been different and I love to wear these fine articles of clothing that once looked so great on women from decades ago. I may not do the clothes as much justice as these women, but I wear them anyway.
Anyhooty, if you like old stuff or things from the old days, go antiquing and vintage shopping, and no matter what name is on the door, you'll know the difference:)!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


So you thought the Queen of Sheba was dead or worse...mythical?!! Think again. Here she is, dripping in gold from head to toe (well waist actually)!! I'm not stupid; I didn't take ALL of my gold to Solomon. A girl had to keep some back to decorate herself with! And you know I'm important when I can hang out with people like the Seuss'!!! Yeah, that's right. They're in my "circle." Important people travel in pairs and are only seen with the "cool" or elite. :) Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I so crack up when people won't share things like INFORMATION, or recipes, or Biblical wisdom and knowledge, or where they purchased something. Now for the last item listed, I can understand this just a smidgeon because people don't want you to go out and buy something that they have, and then they come over and find it in your house. It somehow robs them of their "uniqueness" and individuality. You "copied" them. Heaven forbid!! Okay sarcasm aside, we all like to be different, and we all want to feel like we've discovered something or shown a piece of our personalities by acquiring something we'd like to think is unique and different...and...hopefully no one else has it. (I'm still cracking up:))

Even though it's obvious and common sense to know this, there are very few one-of-a-kind objects out there. I mean to find something and have it for yourself that no one else in the world (or at least close proximity) has is really rare, to say the least. I know some of you are thinking about at least the "close proximity" thing now. "Well, I know somebody might have one like me, but I've gone out of my way to ensure that it's rare enough that no one in my circle of friends has it. That way I won't 'happen' upon it." This is a crack up too because more than likely the people in your circle of friends shop at the same types/kinds of places you do, probably are in the same income bracket (so can afford it), and because you're friends, you probably have similar tastes. These are the people reading this that will go out of the state or country just trying to ensure that these friends have at least a "hard time" getting what they have. We're so funny as humans. I would say at this point, "Who cares? At least they think that you have great taste like they do, because you both thought to buy the same thing." Your house probably looks like theirs anyway, because "you're friends." You didn't think "unique" when you purchased a house in the same neighborhood because "you wanted to be just like them." What happened to "I want my own, original everything?" I'm not being smart, just realistic, observant, and having a blast watching and hearing people lately on this subject. (Don't get offended. I know that my comments don't speak for everyone and everyone's circumstance)

I was thinking too, that when you purchase things (you know, those unique, one-of-a kind things...sorry), did you see those 30 others of the same kind behind it? Even in the rarest cases, did you see the other 2 behind it? Somebody is going to have what you have! We can only combat this when we start creating and crafting things ourselves. I just wish I had the time...

And what of information? Who is information for? ANY AND EVERYBODY WHO WANTS OR NEEDS TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT SOMETHING OR SOMEBODY. Why do we not tell people things? Do we secretly want to be the only ones to know? Do we want to be the "learned, informed one"? Do we one to be "one-up" on somebody? What's the deal? Does it speak of an insecurity? Now, trade secrets in some cases, I can understand. But just general information...why do we want people to suffer or agonize over something that we can simply tell them? If we can do something well or we know a better way, why not share it? Even if you had to figure out things the hard way for yourself, why not vow to make life easier on someone else...JUST TELL THEM. Now, I know there are some exceptions to the rule here. There are some people who wouldn't look for any information on their own because they know somebody close to them will tell them. This is not the situation I'm talking about. Would we be better off taking some information to our graves (where we can do nothing with it, by the way) rather than share something that can help someone TODAY? Hmmm

Among women, especially in the past when women spent more time in the kitchen, recipe sharing was either really prevelant or really secretive. There were recipe swaps, cookbooks, etc. usually going on, but there were always those women who could not and would not give up "the family recipe" or their new creation. Again, if this were for business reasons or a trade secret (if it was all about the money, IOW), I can see that. But this was usually not the case. "I just didn't want Suzy to have my recipe. I want to be the only one with compliments at the potluck at church. I want people swooning over my stuff only!" I'm telling ya, we crack me up!! :) I wonder if we're secretly scared Suzy can "outcook" or "outbake" us, or make Aunt Smyrna's apple turnovers taste better than Aunt Smyrna did.

Last thing is the church or religious secrets. What of the Bible should be a secret to anyone? It's the one thing we ought to want to share with everyone, but listen people, I know people that for whatever reason won't share with you everything they have learned and won't even share with you techniques of learning the Bible that they have for fear that you might "know." You might surpass them in learning. There are Christian and religious leaders that won't even encourage you to read the Bible or whatever their "book" is because you might surpass them in knowledge. You might really learn something. You might see that they don't know what they "put on" to know. You might find out a whole lot of things. Your life could be changed!! Imagine that!! Who wants that? Then you might grow, think that you're better, share with somebody else, telling what might happen.

If we all go to one of the only two choices of places that I think a person will go after death, what you kept secret in this life won't mean a hill of beans. In one place, you'll be agonizing too much to care of any secrets or information you kept, and you will probably wish you had been less petty and more kind. The other place won't have secrets and the things you concerned yourself with in this world will be null and void, so that would have been a complete waste of your time. You might even get questioned by God, depending on what information you withheld and how important to Him it was, as to why you kept the information to yourself instead of sharing in the first place; He would want to know why you didn't share it in a place and during a time where it would have been more useful to the receiver; He might want to know why you chose to cheat them out of the opportunity for needful and good information for growth, etc. when He freely gives. Freely gives...what a concept.

Why not think of things you can "give" today without fear or apprehension for no really good reason. Share information about a sale you just discovered on something. Tell somebody about Jesus. Let somebody in on where you just bought that beautiful blouse you're wearing (because you've got taste girl!!) or those really cool trousers (guys). Give somebody a recipe and dare them to make it better than you can. Have a "who can cook the best blow-out" party and have yourselves a good time eating it all!! Tell somebody your favorite stores where you purchase things to decorate your house. Help them pick out stuff there that "almost" looks like yours, but is a little different, and help them coordinate to have their own unique look, although they got the great decorating ideas from you. Hey people, this can work out for everyone if you look at it right. Have a good day!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Well the result of the poll at the bottom of my blog is in. Couldn't fool you old folks!! You, of course, knew that the music records from the "old days" were made of vinyl instead of rubber, plexi-glass, or some of the other choices I gave. What you may not have known is that there was one other choice I gave, that records WERE made of besides vinyl, and that was...SHELLAC. Google information on these now ancient, round music marvels of their time, and you will see how they were made, and other materials they were made of. It surprised me when I researched it. My husband still has most of his old favorites on records (or "albums"). I have been wanting to get him an old record player so that he can hear that nice, warm, crackling sound again, of the music that thrilled his soul so long ago. He would love to spin those discs on the turntable again. My how time flies. We now have little mini discs compared to 45's or LP's called CD's and we probably have other mini things that this electronic iliterate (sp?) doesn't know of. What next? Well, I'm off to post the next poll. Watch for it and give your answer.


Just thought I'd share with you a little American history about tea. Usually when we talk of tea, it has to do with the growth, production, and consumption of it in other countries. We are not nearly the #1 consumers of this most wonderful beverage. I hope some day that we learn to appreciate and drink more of it. Here goes the story...
The most famous tea story in American history may be that of the Boston Tea Party, but the United States also produced two other tea phenomena. At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, Richard Blechynden, an English tea merchant, was dispensing free samples of Indian tea to promote his product. Since the weather was extremely hot, he literally could not give the tea away. Blechynden added ice to the drink, fairgoers got hooked, and Americans now consume five times as much iced tea as they do hot tea. In 1908, New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan began sending tea samples to his dealers in silk pouches. These were found to be so convenient for brewing tea that the tea bag was born.
Tea is grown in South Carolina, where French botanist Andrew Micheaux brought the first tea plants and seeds to Charleston in 1799. Although intermittent attempts to market South Carolina tea failed, it is again sold today-and has been named the state's official hospitality beverage by the state legislature.
(This information was obtained by the ALL ABOUT TEA KNOWLEDGE CARDS, by Linda Osborne--Publisher-Pomegranate Communications, Inc.)
Here's what I think: We should check out this tea from Charleston. I've been wanting to taste it just to say that I've tasted American-grown tea, though I've heard that it is "wanting" itself in quality and taste compared to the foreign tea that we consume everyday. I'm not sure if that's due to inferior plants or if the weather conditions and landscape aren't as ideal as the foreign countries that grow it and have been growing it for so long. Anyway, I think it's worth a try and me forming my own opinion. Maybe I'll order it and give it away on the next give-away contest on my blog!! Then you can tell me what you think.
Sorry you're getting this post so late today. As you can see, we have our priorities around here. I try to post each and every day, but family life reigns supreme and calls me to answer to it first. We've been really busy around here for the last two days, so I'm playing catch-up. I love blogging, but on rare occasions (that I hope don't get too common:)), I may have to put a post off for a day or two. Don't despair. I'll be back ASAP!! Keep checking back because the tea-cha won't leave you for long. Thanks for reading when you do. I hope you enjoy it.
The winner of my tea give-away contest will be announced next Tuesday. Be sure to tune in. In case you forgot what we're giving away, it will be a wonderful imported bag of a J Green called Genmaicha-Matcha Iri, the green tea with a wonderful, nutty roasted flavor!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

MOMMY (Caregiver/Mentor) MONDAYS (#6)


Around 15, my son was showing the normal signs of puberty and adolescence, but by 15 1/2, they started to get more severe. Who would know it was more than just puberty and adolescence? He was my oldest child and the oldest of 10 grandchildren. I was supposed to go through everything first and then let everyone else in the family see what it looked like. We were all "first-timers" through me. This means I had no idea what normal puberty looked like, except for what I was looking at. But God gives us some kind of insight and wisdom doesn't He? In areas where we're ignorant, He gives us some kind of sense that something is not quite right. In my case, He finally woke me up to realize, "This isn't just your average kid going through puberty and boy whose testosterone levels have peaked." Something wasn't quite right and eventually, between what I was seeing and what he finally told me, I realized that my son was/is mentally ill. Up to this point, my son was the average kid (with the exception of ADHD), was polite and respectful, got into the same little life's troubles as other kids (but nothing the average family can't handle or doesn't see all of the time), was very smart, hung around pretty good kids, etc.

Here's some information, while nowhere near exhaustive, I'd like to share with my readers and that I hope you share with someone so that we can all be on the lookout and help our babies. Boys who will have a mental illness usually show signs of the illness around the age my son did, around 15 1/2 to 16. This is the classic, average age, although, it can happen before or after then. If it is hereditary (or whatever other reason a person can acquire this disease), usually something like puberty (and the great hormonal changes that come with that) or trauma will trigger it. My son has a history of mental illness on both sides of the family, but more prominent and similar to his own kind on his father's side. For a while, the illness can closely mimic puberty and all that goes with that, and then it may look like puberty gone out of control, but you still may not recognize what you're dealing with. All children don't exhibit signs the same way and to the same severity. In fact, it may not be anything "wild" at all, but what we all do know, is that something isn't quite right with this child and it no longer fits the bill of "just growing up." What you have to watch out for, in yourself, is that you don't jump to conclusions about what could be normal and assume that they do, in fact, have some sort of mental illness. Well, I'm sure the next question is, "Well, how can you tell?" All I can say is, you're the caregiver in some capacity and to some degree, whether you're the mom there everyday, a foster parent temporarily, an aunt, a friend, whatever, and you probably make enough contact with the child that, if you've paid close enough attention to the habits of this child, and you've listened to the normal rants of other caregivers whose children are going through normal "stuff," somehow God just lets you KNOW that you're no longer looking at normal. That's all I can say about this part because I hadn't known anybody with this type of mental illness before this, I had no books to go by, I had no one to tell me about it, nothing. Never fear, sooner or later, YOU WILL KNOW!! The desire is to know sooner than later because the sooner you can get your child help, the better for them in the short and long run.

I started out by taking my son to see a counselor, for just the "normal" puberty stuff. He got worse. At home he was suffering in ways we could have never imagined until he finally told us. The illness (NOS Psychosis or Schizophrenic type behaviors) is a major deceiver. It is a cruel disease like Alzheimer's, although it is not Alzheimer's. Once my son started to tell us what he was hearing and seeing, he realized that the secret was no longer his, and his mind told him that he should not have shared it with us. So now, he was suffering with the illness, trying to tell someone, but the illness was fighting back, fighting against him, trying to keep him from sharing it and possibly getting well, deceiving him so that he got to the place where he tried to start hiding it, and thinking that he would have been better off not ever saying anything because "now everyone knows, and I don't really have a problem, and if I wanted to make it go away I could, and it's not as serious as I may have made it sound, and I've gotten used to it and it doesn't bother me anymore"...stuff like that. Our son struggled hard with trying to be "normal" now. He didn't want to be unlike the rest of the boys his age. He had always wanted to fit in, and now having this disease made him want to fit in more. No way was he going to let on what was going on. What he didn't know is that left untreated, the disease would always have the upper hand and would always reveal itself, whether it was in subtle ways or obvious.

We didn't know the stuff mentioned above and more until months later. He had suffered a great deal by then, and we were thinking that this has got to be the worst case of adolescence and puberty in the world!! But, it was so strange that hormones would do stuff like what we were initially seeing to the degree it was. While we had not yet been told about what my son had been audibly hearing and what he had been seeing, he was talking faster than normal when he got upset, he was looking around while we talked to him sometimes or just looking off to the side, he was getting upset more than normal over really petty things, he was talking back and very rudely and disrespectfully (something he had not done toward me, adult family members, any other adult up to this point), he was staying in his room more or wanting to be out of the house, away from around family, but drawn to other people that he would have NEVER previously been around, he was making really bad choices rather rapidly, he was telling lies on a regular basis now (not your kid fibs that they would tell to keep out of trouble occasionally while growing up), he was starting to want to get into music and other activities that, up to this point, would never and had never been a choice of his, he was thinking of really strange ideas and things to say and do, he was going in and out of his window at odd times of morning and night, and a host of other things. Well, most of them sound like just your average, rebellious teenage "stuff" right? You have to look closer. Sometimes the normal kid would "come out" and stay out and then sometimes this kid I just described would "come out," and then, the "abnormal" kid started to "come out" and stay out more often because...the disease was getting worse and it was completely out of his control. The harder he tried to maintain control and gain control of it, the worse it got and the more frustrated he got. His frustration would come out in ways that mimicked normal puberty, but sometimes it would be worse. This is what fooled us for so long. He did a tremendous job of hiding it for as long as he did. We had done everything, talked to him, took him out by himself to spend time, gave him an open forum to tell us whatever he wanted, privileges, church, activities, freedoms where we could, counseling, what we thought was the right school for him, you name it. We were vigilant parents and we paid close attention to our children and their stages,...or so we thought. We prayed for them on a regular basis and for ourselves so that we could raise them the way we should. Well, while it appears that the prayers didn't pay off, actually they did, because we were praying for discernment on how to raise them and at this point, God was giving us the discernment to realize that something was wrong and we needed help. He was helping us raise our children and He started to set the alarms off big time!!

Once our son told us what he was experiencing, and with no sources to tap from outside, having never gone through this before, not knowing where to start, we first looked within; we prayed, looked in the Bible for answers, we started asking questions, we looked on the computer, and then we talked to doctors and started pooling help from everywhere. We stumbled our way through. Sometimes we feel like he suffered more at our hands than the illness itself because of our ignorance with dealing with the matter and knowing how and when to get help, but God is gracious and was protecting our son (no matter what it looked like) the whole time. What we didn't realize until later is that He was protecting us too. If we could tell all of what we went through the first year, it will appear by all of what should have been, that we should be needing some serious mental help and intervention ourselves. IT WAS TOUGH!!! Only a God like the one we serve could have pulled a family through. Obviously our son still and probably will always have a mental illness, but we are many steps closer to him being the best he is ever going to be now, and we take one step closer every time God reveals another piece to the puzzle or another step we can all take in getting him "there." We got him lots of help in our city, but because we had just about exhausted all of our resources here and because of some of the poor choices our son had made while he was suffering through the hardest part of his illness (at that time), he could no longer remain in our home if we were to keep him safe, keep him out of trouble, keep him from hurting himself, and give him a start to the best future he could possibly have (our son was months away from turning 18-that comes with the possibility of a lot of stuff, not always good if you're ill). He lives with my sister in another city and her family. She and her husband were gracious enough to take him for whatever length of time it took to help us in his healing process and to plant his feet on more solid ground. We all (the siblings) have a great sense of "family" so, while this was not going to be an easy road for them or us (having to even THINK of sending our son, whom we want at home under the best conditions, away), it didn't take them long to agree to help and come to the rescue of another family member.

We are all now in the process of getting him through his senior year of high school (PRAISE THE LORD ALMIGHTY because we had lost hope in this or thought that it was going to have to be put off for a while, and, at the best case scenario, be completed in a very specialized setting) although it is a homebound program, helping him transition into adulthood (which is proving to be difficult, but he's listening just a smidgen more now to us than he has for a long time), helping him in his independence (although we think he'll always need some one's guidance and help), and helping him understand, accept, and cope with his disease. This last one I think, has been the hardest and it may be for a while. What soon-to-be 18 year old boy, who has the same desires, wishes, etc. of any other one, wants to think that they're that different than the rest of them? Boys innately think that they can conquer the world, so conquering this "disease" and making it "poof" go away or at least "be gone" when he wants it to is not beyond their thinking. It is very hard to penetrate that line of thinking and change it when this thinking is what boys are hard-wired to do. This wiring works perfectly for them under "normal" circumstances, but it makes conquering a disease that you really don't have any control over VERY difficult, for the parents, the child, and all of the wonderful caregivers involved.

Moms, caregivers, mentors, watch your babies (girls and boys) very carefully. I haven't shared nearly as much as I'd like, but for the sake of space and time, I've included thoughts that I think will get you to be more vigilant (but not overly) and caring (even if it's not your own child) about a disease that, up to this point, you may not have thought much about. My husband and I have decided that for our son's sake, other children that may be out there like him, and the parents and caregivers of these children, we're going to speak out and shed some light on the subject. We didn't have much to go on initially, but we wanted to make sure that we did our part in making ourselves, not just available if you find you have the same situation, but available beforehand, so that you'll know what to look for and catch something early, or you'll know that you have a "normal" baby after all:).

Since I could not have described the disease and warning signs in great enough detail hear and certainly couldn't answer all questions and curiosities, please visit websites like,, or a host of other great websites. You can Google just about anything and pull up a wealth of information on a specific mental illness to mental illness in general. Check out Psychology books at the library. A friend of mine gave me a great one from when she was in college, and it had a lot of very useful and relevant information. See if your church has a ministry that caters to the support and giving of information for mental illness, and like in my case, if they don't have one, pray about and dare to go to them and start one. IT IS VERY NECESSARY THAT THE CHURCHES ADEQUATELY ADDRESSES THESE ISSUES AND ARE EQUIPPED TO DO SO!! Ask a psychologist, psychiatrist, and mental illness nurse specialist to give you their time and some paper information. Talk to your child a lot and absorb information. They can give you a better clue of what's going on with them than anybody can. PRAY AND PRAY WITHOUT CEASING THROUGHOUT YOUR CHILD'S LIFE!! While that may seem obvious, sometimes we need to be reminded that it takes God, who created us, to tell us and show us how to raise us. That's the most important thing. He will lead you, like He lead us, to all of the answers. You're not in it by yourself. What a great, needful, and refreshing reminder!! All of the resources and answers we got came across our paths, our hearts, and our minds because of Him. Let me end by telling you this too, if we had not known Christ BEFORE our son's mental illness ordeal, this would have pushed us to seek Him out because we were desperate for something besides ourselves to give the help on lonely nights and turmoil-filled days that we absolutely COULD NOT have gotten on our own. You realize really quickly that the whole ordeal is much bigger than you, and there is nothing in this world or nobody big enough to handle such a thing BUT GOD!! You can take that fact to the bank!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008



Okay this is not going to be a sermon, so I won't preach (unless i'm preaching to the choir), but I was just out nosing around town while the kids were at birthday parties and spending time with their friends and noticed something--the long, long lines at Starbucks (Okay, get the band-aids out, I might have just stepped on some toes til they bled, but it's going to be okay:)). I'll be the last one to blast someone about the little luxuries like coffee, TEA!!, chocolate habits, purses, extras for our cars, etc. I don't do all of these, but everyone knows about my TEA. Anyhooty, just stop here for a few seconds (it might take some of us minutes to add this up depending on the habit), and try to come up with a dollar figure for what we spend per month, then per year for these habits or luxuries. Oh my Word!! I can hear some of you going, "Yeah..., and?" But some of us are thinking, "Uhh, is it really that much?!! Boy what I can be doing with that much money!"

When I saw the lines at Starbucks, I wondered, "Are these people regulars (probably), first-timers just getting into the habit, every-now-and-theners, or what?" For the regulars, how regular is regular? Do they get the same thing every time? What's the average amount someone would spend on a cup of latte or coffee? Is there any thought behind the purchases? Do they have an actual coffee budget? I have a friend I went out to lunch with the other day who admitted to me that she stops at Starbucks twice a day, every day. She said that it took us going out to lunch and talking about something (I can't remember what it was now) for her to stop and realize how much she was spending on that habit every day. She says that just the Mon-Fri habit alone was over $50.00. $50.00!!!! Yall, am I aghast because I'm poor or is this my stewardship needle bending heavily toward "can you give yourself a little treat every now and then because it's in the budget (life's little pleasures that God allows and gives us the privilege of having on this road), but consult God about wanting you to do something else more meaningful with the rest of HIS money?' Or is it both with me? This all made me go back and look to see where I might be spending on luxuries (that's what it's called you guys, when it is not a necessity for life--I know we don't always like to hear that though) and pray for wisdom on whether that's where my money should go, even if I can afford the luxury.

Don't get me wrong, and don't stop reading here. I don't think we should go around to prove something by making ourselves do without things that I'm convinced God allows us to be privy to. Life won't be easy for any of us all of the time, and the Christian's life will come with all kinds of trials and sometimes persecution, but again, I'm convinced that God has created and allowed man to create some wonderful things in this life that He allows us to enjoy, BUT...can we enjoy those things and be grateful for the privilege and then re-focus and look around to see if there really are other places or things our money would be so much more useful for? As for me, I'd like to be more conscious of this than I already am.

What I think is cool is that there are so many "affordable, little luxuries." This is good because there are plenty of very expensive habits that we could be getting ourselves into, if we chose to and could afford it. So, I guess I'm just wondering are we conscious sometimes of what we're spending and if so, have we decided for sure that what we're doing is "okay", or can we see where we may need to do something a little different? Just a thought...

Friday, March 14, 2008


What's your idea of having just plain fun with family? I can think of lots of things. Here's some silly things we do, and while they seem simple or maybe even lame, I've never laughed so hard and/or had so much fun!!

The first thing that comes to mind are days when my family and I go to a store that sells sunglasses and we purposely try on ones that don't go with our face shape, don't fit our personalities, or that we know are completely outdated. We look in the provided mirror at ourselves and crack up!! We look around at each other and quickly give our opinions of what we look like (a fly, a 70's hippie, a chicken, or just plain "wrong!"), and we look at the stares from people passing by, not only looking at us in these weird sunglasses but are looking at us laugh and point at each other.

Another thing that my son likes to try is seeing if he can "one-up" himself by scaring his siblings and then telling my husband and I about it after the fact. What he does to them is so hilarious!! He told us of one time when he hid in his sisters' closet and waited for them to get something out of it. The oldest one reached in to hang something up, and my son silently just reached out and grabbed her hand tightly. She was so scared that she couldn't even scream right away. She looked like she had gone into shock. Her reaction was so late, that she, many seconds later, buried her face in her pillow and then screamed. By then, my son thought she was either never scared that bad or dead. He realized later that she was really scared SILENT!! She almost started crying. He was laughing so hard he couldn't even sympathize. He promised not to do it again for two reasons: one, it was so classic he knew he could never repeat this and get the same reaction again, and two, he thought he would give her a real heart attack next time. He has scared everyone in the house but the adults since then, but different. He never "strikes" the same.

On a whole different note, we like to go and smell freshly ground coffee in the stores, or freshly brewed. Don't you LOVE the smell of this stuff? Now, we don't just walk up to people and sniff their coffee while they're trying to grind it, we just like to be in a store where that goes on so that while we're shopping and looking around, we get the pleasure of smelling it. Just the other day, my husband found whole bean French Roast in a store that was selling it buy one get the other bag free (they were a few days from being outdated on the shelf) and wanted it ground right there in the store. We stood there and just drank the scent in while it was being ground. Even after we got home, and I transferred it to an airtight container, one of my daughters kept me from throwing the bag in the trash and saved it so that she could get up and sniff the bag the next morning. Yes, we're a PECULIAR family!! But we love it!!

I like the fact that even though we have teenagers, we all still like to go to the movies together. No, we don't all go in the same theater room all of the time (the older ones don't mind being seen with us in public, but they say sometimes our movie choices are lame), but we all go together. Sometimes we just have to wait for each other in the lobby area just a few minutes until the other ones' movie lets out. Last night though, we all saw the same one!! The kids liked our choice!! Hey, we take what we can get while we can get it from them. They only stay with us for so long (Thank God...just kidding!!). BTW, the $2.50 movie theater is a hit with our family. Great price, great movies!! Eventually the same films that are at the $8.00+ theater reaches this one, so we're in no hurry to see anything that we can't wait a few weeks or couple of months for and save BIG!!

Have fun with your family today, the weekend, and maybe during your family night next week. If you don't have family night, see if you can create one. Maybe I'll do a post later about great ideas for a Family Fun Night, from something simple to something far out and BIG.

Catch me tomorrow for Saturday Shopping and Savings Day!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Well I don't know if you all remember last week when I talked about the results from the soap poll or not, but I had a reader, Anonymous, to ask, "When are we going to talk about the "true" soap stuff?" I told her probably next Thursday, so obviously, today is the day. I was delighted to see that someone was really interested in this bit of trivia. I will try and give you the answer today and I hope someone else is intrigued or is more knowledgeable after the information I'll give.

Alright, to tell you the truth, you may not be using what you think you're using when you purchase it off the store shelf and bathe with it at home. We're talking the bars we use to cleanse and sometimes deodorize our bodies with, that we call or the company that produces it calls SOAP. To be called soap, true soap, it has to meet the FDA'S definition of what that is and be regulated (not by the FDA in the end) by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC).

True soap, by the FDA's definition is "a product in which most of the nonvolatile matter consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and whose detergent properties are due to these alkali-fatty acid compounds." Translation--soap is saponified oils (olive, palm, coconut, animal fat, whatever you use to make it with) and lye liquid (water and lye mixed together) with the naturally occurring glycerin retained in the soap during the saponification process. Most store-bought bars are synthetic detergent "beauty" or "bath" bars, although some "soap bars" may be soaps with added synthetic detergents (companies know you won't buy it if they label it for what it is. Would you buy a " hardened, rectangular lump of synthetic detergent with artificial rose fragrance?") . In their defense though, these products were made to be just as good as soaps in their functioning, but are increasing on the market primarily because they are more "user-friendly" in hard water (true soaps work well in soft water but react with minerals in hard water to leave soap scum behind). There were and may still be though, more reports of adverse reactions from synthetic detergent bars than true soaps because of their ingredients like fragrances, colors, and other additives. This is not to say that people have not had or will not have an adverse reaction to a true soap and that they are completely safe for everyone. Obviously, that cannot be true.

Soaps and synthetic bars can be labeled just true soap and be regulated by the CPSC, or, can be labeled a cosmetic, a drug, or a cosmetic/drug combination. None of the last 3 categories can simply be regulated by the CPSC anymore, but have to come under the FDA, and, their labeling requirements change. True soap, because of its simplicity and its protection by the FDA Act of 1938 (exempting it from regulation as a cosmetic), does not have to have a listing of its ingredients on its label. All the others do though, and additionally, if it's a drug or combo, it must meet FDA's drug labeling requirements and safety and effectiveness requirements. An example would be an anti-dandruff soap. Now it's not just a soap, but a curative or something medical. It gets a little complicated, if you get outside of your true soap category. So long as true soap has the simple ingredients named by the FDA and makes no claims outside of just cleansing, it can't be controlled or regulated by the FDA. This makes it simple for small companies and home soap makers to make their product and sell it without having to go through so much red tape, etc. I really appreciatd this when I was making soap.

A quote from Harold Hopkins' article says, "Fortunately, plain soap of the noncosmetic, nondrug variety has earned a good reputation. Apart from getting the familiar sting from getting soap into your eyes or the peril of slipping on a bar in the bathtub or shower, common bath and hand soap is relatively safe. In fact, we often use it to remove other substances from our hands and skin that we think are a lot less safe." Amen, I say!!

The kind I made was a Castile type soap, primarily made of olive oil. Before I added essential oils or herbs and other botanicals, it was just a good, plain, hard bar of soap that was good for washing anything from the body to things in the home. I liked it because it washes away really squeaky clean. No residue or oiliness left behind. In fact, some of the really strong bars will strip away all traces of surface dirt and oils to the point where you need to apply lotion so that your skin won't be dried out. These were good for using after gardening or working on a car, etc. I also made soap using goat's milk. I like these a lot. They really feel silky, but again, won't leave your skin feeling like something was left behind.

From now on, you'll know what you're buying in the store and why. I won't tell you not to use the synthetic bars the stores sell or what you've been using to this point just because I happen to Iike "true soaps." If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say!! As long as it's been working for you. I've used and still use both for different purposes, but I have a preference for handmade, true soaps.

In the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about thaat."