Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rediscovering Simplicity

At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to focus on Simplicity. I wanted to have more time and energy for my family and anything else God puts in my way as well as more quiet and more space. How have I been doing?

1. Menu planning has actually becoming a bit more complicated instead of simple. Bummer. I’m on a “migraine diet” which limits the foods I am permitted to eat. I’ve been doing that for about a month and doing well. For the last two weeks, I’ve been avoiding sweets. That’s more difficult and I’ve started allowing 1 sweet on the weekend as kind of a way to “let off steam”. With all the headaches, fatigue, and diet restrictions, I’ve been really bad about planning meals. PWM has done a fair amount of cooking. We’ve had a number of days when we all just ate what we could find – sandwiches, chicken salad, cheese and crackers, etc.. Hopefully, I can come up with an easy way to deal with meal planning despite the dietary restrictions.

2. I’ve done a much better job at limiting choices. I don’t spend much time checking the library websites unless I’m ready for another book to read. I’ve reduced the numbers of blogs I read and don’t feel bad when I don’t read posts that look interesting.

3. I am doing a better job of using my time. I don’t mean that I’m necessarily more productive, but that I’m more comfortable with what I am doing with my time. I don’t feel guilty for just listening to music when my head hurts. If I do some knitting, great; but if not, that’s OK, too. I don’t feel compelled to do two or three things at a time. Sometimes I do like to listen to books while I knit or clean, but I’m pretty comfortable with being quiet as well.

4. There is much more silence in my life. This is new for me. I was used to having music or TV or audiobooks or conversation going on. I purposely make time for quiet now. PWM and I moved our bedroom downstairs, so it’s a little easier for me to hole up in my bedroom for a few minutes if I need to.

5. The biggest change is that PWM and I have really made some strides in getting rid of lots of stuff. We rearranged rooms a few weeks ago (Wild Man’s room is now a music room, our old bedroom is Wild Man’s bedroom, the old schoolroom is now PWM’s and my bedroom, and the front sunroom/office is now the schoolroom) and got rid of lots and lots of stuff in the progress. We still have to finish cleaning the sunroom and do some work in the basement, but I’m generally pleased with how we’re doing. And St. Vincent de Paul has gotten lots of stuff for their store.

Overall, I’m pleased with my progress. The diet is still a challenge. Eating only the same food over and over is difficult for me, so my counselor and I are working on finding good alternatives that fit the migraine diet and my own requirement that they aren’t sweet. The headaches aren’t much different these days, but I think that simplifying life is giving me a little more “space” to handle them. I’m not as stressed now when I get a migraine.

I am slowly getting more focused in life. I’m growing as a Christian. I’m spending most of my energy on my family, homeschooling, and The Knitting Nest, and far less energy on extraneous “stuff”.

One of my biggest concerns right now is to keep this outlook on like and staying focused on the important things after school starts. I want to keep our homeschooling focused on the essentials and give the kids freedom to learn other things on their own. Rosie Girl really flourished at Music Camp and is looking forward to Composition lessons. Wild Man has a hankering to play every variation of guitar he can get his hands on. I need to tattoo “Simplicity” on the inside of my eyelids!

How is your year going? Is Simplicity an important value to you? How do you make it work in your home?



(But, not everyone in the family is buying into the simpler life concept. Rosie Girl’s quote: “Simplicity is for the weak.” Sigh. She’s an artiste.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday–7/27/2012

It’s been a pretty full week, so let’s get going! (And, notice that this is getting posted on Friday!!)

1. Wild Man has been at camp since first thing Saturday morning. It’s really quiet around here without him! But the food doesn’t run out nearly as quickly.

2. Sassy (one of the cats) has become Wild Man’s cat. Which means that she wandered around the house for a couple of days meowing for affection with Wild Man gone. In the last couple of days, she’s just been sulking. She’ll be so happy when Wild Man gets back tomorrow.

3. I’ve been spending as much time at the shop as possible – pretty much any time that I don’t have a really bad migraine. Wednesday was great – the shop was busy with customers and we sold a good bit of stuff. Today, we didn’t have as much business, but PWM and I worked on our new window display.

4. The work on the window display was pretty physical, so when I got home I took a hot shower, a couple of acetaminophen, and sat myself in my rocking chair and haven’t moved much since! I have a feeling I’ll still be sore tomorrow.

5. Quote of the week (from Rosie Girl): “Simplicity is for the weak.”

6. We’re watching the Olympic opening ceremonies tonight. Mildly interesting.

7. I hope to get the front room (now the school room) clean in a week or two. I don’t anticipate that I’m going to have much planning done before we officially start “school” this year. I’m not too concerned, though. Rosie Girl is a senior this year, so she’s pretty motivated to get through her courses in a timely fashion. Wild Man and I will just keep moving forward through his books and he should be fine.

How has your week been? Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others are up to!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012-2013 Curriculum

By this time of the year five years ago, I had curriculum and books purchased and was scheduling out our year week by week. By this time of year two years ago, I had curriculum and books purchased and was planning the year although I hadn’t gotten around to actual scheduling. By this time of year last year, I had everything purchased and was hoping we got most of it done. Right now, I have a general plan, but haven’t actually purchased any curriculum.

And this is Rosie Girl’s senior year of high school (or, for the more unschooling in the world, it’s her last year of being educated at home). Which kind of freaks me out. I’m not concerned that she’s not ready for college – she has great ACT scores and is clearly academically ready. I’m not emotionally prepared to be the mother of a high school graduate. YIKES!! But it does have the advantage that I’m no longer responsible for her education Winking smile

Here is the general plan:

Rosie Girl

English – Sonlight Core 450 – British Literature (lots of reading, some writing)

Social Science

Semester 1 – American Government – The Everything American Government Book (with some supplements, I’m sure)

Semester 2 – Sociology – I don’t know what text we’ll use, but I have a degree in Sociology, so I’m confident we’ll figure something out.


Semester 1 – Dave Ramsey Personal Finance

Semester 2 – Basic Probability and Statistics (probably using ALEKS)

Comparative Religion – Hippocampus using World Religions in America

Tap Dance at Dance Dynamics

Piano Lessons

Music Composition Lessons

Community Service – helping the Worship Arts Director at church every week.


Wild Man


Spelling – Spelling Power

Writing – Excellence in Writing, maybe WriteAtHome

Literature – American Literature from Sonlight Core 100

History – Sonlight Core 100 (Rosie Girl did Core 100 three years ago, so all I need to buy is the Instructors Guide and a few new books) – American History

Math – Algebra 1

Bible – Starting with N.T. Wright’s The Bible for Everyone: Revelation because that’s Wild Man’s current interest. From there, who knows what he’ll study?

Science – Singapore Biology with lab

Marching Band at the local high school

Possibly hip-hop class

Community service at the Senior Nutrition Site


How prepared are you for the new school year?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Well, Actually, Saturday)–July 21, 2012

I’m doing my 7 Quick Takes on Saturday again, but that’s OK because I’m flexible – and I’m sure you are, too.

1. Lots of headaches this week . . . I have managed to only take Imitrex twice, but it was still a rough week on the pain front.

2. On Sunday, Wild Man found out that there was an opening for him to go to camp in Colorado with the church youth group that was completely paid for! (He had chosen in the spring to go to Hunter Safety camp this summer instead of the Colorado camp because of the cost.) So, on Wednesday, PWM took Wild Man shopping for some nice warm clothes since PWM has grown so much since the winter and on Thursday, I took Wild Man for his physical. And at 8am, PWM took Wild Man to church to get on the bus. And the group is now somewhere between here and the mountains of Colorado.

3. We didn’t do much celebration on my birthday because I wasn’t feeling really well, so we celebrated last night. We had dinner at The Menasha Grill, a Cajun restaurant on Main Street in Menasha, which is surprisingly authentic. Oh. My. Goodness. I had some wonderful blackened catfish, fried crawfish, fried okra, and hushpuppies. It was delicious. Then we walked by the river for a few minutes. And came home so Wild Man could pack for today.

4. My birthday gift is an ipod! Well, actually Rosie Girl’s ipod that I bought from her and she bought a new one. I am realizing that I’ll want a new one in an entirely too short period of time. I’m already spoiled to all the cool stuff this one can do – and the newer ones will do. Right now, though, I’m happy with the cleaner interface than my previous mp3 player and Rosie Girl is happy with having lots more space for more music.

5. My uncle passed away yesterday morning. I mentioned in an earlier post that we were able to set up a Skype connection at my aunt’s 90th birthday party so that he could see and talk to people even though he couldn’t be there in person. He passed peacefully, for which we’re all grateful.

6. Project Runway’s 10th season has started! Five years ago, I would not have given anything to do with fashion a second thought, but I’m learning to appreciate the art and skill involved in creating beautiful and functional garments. And it relates to knitting. Right? Right?

7. It has been entirely too hot this summer! We are used to having one or two hot weeks in the year, but the rest of the time, we keep the windows open most of the time. This year, though, we’ve had the air conditioning running far more than usual. And the cats aren’t too happy about it, either. They like to sit in the windows and keep an eye on the world, but nowadays they only get an hour or so of window sitting, if that.

So what’s up in your neck of the woods? Check out Conversion Diary to see what others are doing!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Conversations with God

Jill and Stuart Briscoe spoke at Family Camp this week. Oh, the wisdom that they shared! They have been involved in teaching ministry for over 50 years – 50 years!! Married, walking with Jesus, teaching others. I just can’t even imagine the wisdom that they have accumulated. I hope, though, that they don’t tend to get their nuggets of wisdom the way I do – by messing up!

Anyway, Jill talked about having conversations with God. She wasn’t talking about some mystical process, though, like I’ve heard other people talk about. Rather, she was talking about praying and reading Scripture. OK, this seems incredibly obvious now that I’ve written it down, but I think I’ve tended to approach the Bible as something to be studied. I “know” that Bible study and devotional reading are usual different things, but I tend to read “studiously” and not as often “devotionally”. Did that make sense?

Jill’s illustrations of meeting God on the “steps of her soul” I think made it a lot easier to grab on to this concept this time around. She also talked about not shying away from reading familiar passages again because God may give us new insights the next time around. (Although, we have to be careful to avoid reading “new” things into Scripture. The Bible doesn’t suddenly have new meanings after 2000 years of existence. I’m talking about God teaching us something about our particular situation from a section of the Bible.)

And, of course, I felt ten times smarter listening to Jill because of her beautiful British accent! Why is that?

What are you learning these days?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fort Wilderness Memories 2012

This was our tenth year of going to Family Camp at Fort Wilderness and it was wonderful, as usual! Here are some highlights.

    • Rosie Girl and I picked up Wild Man from camp on Friday and the three of us stayed in Rhinelander, went to see Brave, and did Wild Man’s laundry.
    • Wild Man had a great time at Built to Live Camp where he got his Hunter Safety certification. It was incredibly hot during the week of his camp, so they spent lots of time swimming and playing games involving water.
    • On Friday night, I did an assessment of Wild Man’s injuries – sun rash from his first day which was just fading, blister on his little toe which looked like another toe, various bruises. But, he didn’t complain – he said it was a great week!
    • PWM stayed here in town until the shop closed and then drove to camp. He made it just in time for dinner.
    • Stuart and Jill Briscoe were the teachers for the week. I felt smarter just listening to them because of their British accents! Well, they’re really smart, too!
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    • It was also pretty cool that they both taught. Jill would start each session with a few thoughts, then Stuart would do the main teaching, then Jill would wrap up.
    • Both kids stayed in the sessions with us to listen to the Briscoes instead of going to the high school group. They like the guy who does the high school teaching, but they preferred listening to Stuart. And I thought it was pretty cool to be all together.
    • The Briscoes taught on holiness this week. Lots of good stuff for everyone.
    • We met a family this week that was there for the first time and they have just moved to Milwaukee from England. The kids (even the two year old) have adorable British accents)!
    • I am still following my migraine diet, although I did loosen things up for the week we were there. I only had 1 piece of bacon on the mornings when it was available. The only chocolate I had was in mint chocolate chip ice cream. And I did have a couple of Cokes. Overall, not too bad.
    • On the headache front, though, my headaches weren’t any better, despite the Botox. I had two definite migraines along with the daily headaches. One of them was Thursday night, so I missed some of the last session. On the upside, though, the kids did all the packing. (Really, though, I’d have been happy to pack if I could have avoided the migraine!)
    • Rosie Girl made a basket on Tuesday. I actually don’t have a picture of it – bummer. Anyway, take my word for it – it’s beautiful with blue and green stripes.
    • PWM and Wild Man were in the carpetball tournament, but both were beaten pretty early this year.
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    • In more important news, I beat Christopher in carpetball!! He proceeded to turn around and beat me right back, but I have the satisfaction of beating him once in my life!
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    • PWM and Wild Man did lots of riflery during the week. PWM, Wild Man, and Rosie Girl all did some archery and Wild Man won the tournament, receiving a coupon for a double scoop of ice cream!
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    • The weather for Wild Man’s week at Built to Live camp was awful – temperatures in the upper 90s with high humidity. He said that they went swimming a couple of times a day and had water breaks every hour or so, no matter what they were doing. The day that Family Camp started, though, the weather improved dramatically. For Family Camp, the highs were in the 70s to low 80s and the lows were in the 50s to 60s. Absolutely perfect!
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Now that we are home, we have embarked on Laundrypalooza 2012 and resting up for Family Camp 2013!!

So, how has your summer been?