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2007 January » Philoxenos


Homeschool Preschool - week 1 day 3

31st January 2007

Homeschool Preschool - week 1 day 3

We took a day off today :) We went to visit a friend in a nearby city before things get all crazy again next week with everyone going back to school. Obviously none of my kids are in school, but our normal activities start up again next week. I limit our activities quite a bit, but a lot of our friends are involved in heaps of things so we have a harder time catching up with them. It’s one of the things that I don’t understand. If we’re calling ourselves stay-at-home moms, shouldn’t we actually be at home at some point? I try to be home at least two full days a week - almost always a Monday - and we’re almost always home in the afternoons. But I know people that are gone every morning of the week and often afternoons as well.

I remember when I had just one child I did go out quite a lot more, probably because it was easier, but I realised after a while that our daughter was happier and better rested when we stayed at home more than we were gone. I like it that way.

But back to the topic of the post: as an incredibly novice homeschooler, I love the flexibility! And she was still pointing out letter As the entire time we were in the car and while we were reading this afternoon she was busy counting things, so the learning is happening!

posted in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

31st January 2007

Is it really sin?

Warning: deep thoughts ahead.

I realise that my blog posts up to now have been somewhat… fluffy. Recipes and such are great, but I do have a deeper side. Tonight it has revealed itself. My husband is out at the church with music practice and I was home, doing mom things and finally spent about 45 minutes on the couch torturing myself with Sudoku, listening to archived Family Life Today radio broadcasts on . One of the broadcasts that I was listening to was featuring author Martha Pearce, talking about her new book, the title of which I’ve forgotten.

During the broadcast she was talking about sins that are common to women (not completely uncommon to men, but more common to women), such as gossip. But she also mentioned PMS. Not that having PMS is a sin, but how a woman deals with it can be. Essentially, simply because there is a physical reason for us to be on an emotional rollercoaster does not give us permission to act in a way which is contrary to what God teaches in the Bible.

Now, since January of 2003 I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding, so I’ve only had two periods during that time, so my experience of PMS in recent years is quite small. However, my body has still be been chock full of hormones because of all the baby-growing and baby-feeding I’ve been doing, not to mention that I tend to be an emotional person anyway (My dad used to say that it was the artistic temperment in me). so this is a subject that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

During one recent emotional outburst, where I was in tears over my behaviour towards my husband and we were talking it through, he said “Michele - you’re pregnant! Of course you’re going to be all over the place. I understand.” And I love that he understands, but as I told him, that does not excuse me for acting in a way which goes directly against what God teaches in the Bible. I don’t have the right to be shrewish, unkind, slothful, or any of the other things at which I excel :) Basically, I don’t have permission to sin just because my hormones are not balanced. It certainly does put things in perspective and give me an understanding of *why* I might be acting in a certain way and definitely gives my husband a bit of an understanding of why I might have just bitten his head off, but I still need to be putting off those sinful things and putting on the fruit of the Spirit.

After an even more recent episode where I was yelling at my kids (ironically, telling them not to yell in the house while I myself was yelling) I realised that my kids have no idea that because I’m pregnant and hot and tired it means I don’t always act rationally. They just know that mummy is yellling at them and they don’t always comprehend why. I don’t want their memories of their early childhood to be of me yelling at them, so no matter what emotional state I might be in, they deserve (and more importantly I believe it is required of me) for me to get control of my emotions and deal with them in a much more  sensible way, rather than sounding like a fishwife.

By the way, what in the world is a fishwife?

posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

29th January 2007

Before I fall asleep…

… I want to tell you about how our first day of homeschooling went.

I’m at the stage of my pregnancy that whenever I sit down it’s like the Sand Man comes and gently sprinkles sleeping dust in my face and I start to drift very quickly into sleep. Doesn’t bode well for driving.


Big girl was very excited about having ’school time’ today because she knew that I had bought stickers just for the occasion. And she’s a sticker MANIAC. Things went really well, she had lots of fun and I did too. And the best part of all was that little girl happily played with blocks in their bedroom and then came out and did some colouring with her crayons while we did school.

I did learn something, though. Doing a craft with a 3 year old requires me to leave all perfectionistic tendencies behind. My oldest daughter is really good at cutting with scissors. She does it all the time. But for some reason she decided that the stomach of the cow didn’t need to be an oval, a square was perfectly acceptable. (we had to cut out the body part individually so we could then paste them together). And why did the cow have to be black and white? Purple and orange are just right in her eyes. So we have a wacky looking cow hanging up on our bulletin board, but that’s okay, because she made it.

Thank you, Lord, that you’ve given me the opportunity to stay home with my kids. Please (I beg you) remind me of days like today when the going gets tough, which I know it will.

posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

29th January 2007

Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding

Several years ago I really wanted to serve dessert to guests but didn’t have much in the way of ingredients and didn’t want to go to the store. I got onto, my favourite recipe site, and found a great recipe called Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding. I made it again over the weekend and it’s still a hit! I thought I’d share it with you.

Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding

1/2 cup white sugar

3 tbsp cocoa

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

2 3/4 cup milk

2 tbsp margerine or butter

1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat and stir in milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and strin in the margerine and vanilla. let cool briefly and serve warm or chill in fridge until serving.

I use reconstituted powdered milk in order to cut the cost, so this is a very low cost dessert and everyone loves it!

posted in Kitchen stuff | 10 Comments

28th January 2007

Homeschool Preschool - week 1

Tomorrow we’re starting school! I’m preparing our lessons for the week while everyone is having their Sunday afternoon naps. I’ve already had mine (the joys of having an early church service) and want to make use of the quiet time.

I realise that homeschooling one preschooler really doesn’t require that much preparation, but for my own peace of mind, things function a lot more smoothly when I have some idea of what I’m doing. It allows me to be more flexible.

I’ve decided to start out with Letter of the Week which provides FREE (an important word around here!) weekly lesson plans. The author has provided several levels but we’re going to start with the preparatory curriculum, which is really just introducing the letters, shapes, colours and numbers. My 3 yo will already know some of these things but I figure it’s never a bad thing to review. There are 26 lessons (to match the 26 letters of the alphabet), each with a different theme. I’m just going to take it week by week and if she’s really progressing faster than the lessons, then we’ll probably move on to the next level.

This week’s theme is COWS, so I’ve printed off a picture of a cow and a calf, as well as a couple of colouring pages of cows. My girl is really into colouring, so I’m sure she’ll like that part. I’ve got a few extra things planned, like making pretzels in the shape of an A and visiting a friend’s farm to see the cows.

I realised as I was planning that it’s really not that much extra stuff beyond what we’ve been doing naturally, but I have a plan so that I can be sure to do those things that I’ve been wanting to do just haven’t done yet.

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27th January 2007

dueling toilet paper

When  I was growing up my parents were on a tight budget and one of the things that got economised was toilet paper. Of course we still used toilet paper, but it was just a less expensive brand than the fancy quilted kind :) I remember thinking to myself that when I grew up I’d buy the softer kind.

I’m grown up now. And I have occasionally bought the softer, more expensive kind, when it was on special and I felt like splashing out (yeah, I’ve just given you the secret to my happiness - expensive toilet paper). I have recently purchased eight rolls of the stuff and I’ve been paying close attention to how quickly we’ve been using it. And I’m questioning whether I’ve been ripped off. I do believe that there are actually less squares of toilet paper on a roll of the expensive kind than on a roll of the ordinary kind that I normally buy because we have gone through eight rolls in about two weeks! That’s not very long in this one woman, one girl child using the potty, house.

Today I had to buy more toilet paper and I’ve gone back to my economy selection. I’m sorely tempted to actually count the squares on a roll of each kind just to compare but I’m afraid this might border on the ‘going over the top on the search for frugality’ monitor. You tell me. If I do it, I’ll let you know the results.

posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

26th January 2007

Crunchy kitchen floor be gone!

I have a newsflash for you: the simple act of sweeping your kitchen floor can make your kitchen look amazingly clean almost immediately. Not even mopping (because that would just be going way overboard) is required, just a simple sweep. Who woulda known?

posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

25th January 2007

demise of the bubble gun

I’m (not so) sorry to say that the bubble gun of which I spoke the other day has just kicked the bucket. I turned on the wrong heat element on the stove to get the meat cooking and left the kitchen (I know, I know, you’re never supposed to do this). Our stove has a ceramic top, so the burners are like flat. The bubble gun was laying on the back burner, that I NEVER use. You guessed it, that’s the one I turned on. I started smelling a burning smell and went into the kitchen and there was a milk jug melting very quickly, along with the bubble gun. I yelled for my husband, who is working at home, and I removed the offending objects, afraid they would start to burst into flames.

I threw the gun into a flower pot outside, where it still remains, looking like a Terminator reject, with half of it’s insides exposed and eeking out a horribly repetitive gun sound as it breathes it’s final few breaths.

My daughter started to cry. Great, now I’m the great bubble gun killer. Add it to my resume.

posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

24th January 2007

Tornado which shall remain nameless

I just walked into the living room and realised that a tornado must have come through our house and I wasn’t aware of it. But I am definitely looking at the aftermath. My oldest daughter has created a fort of some kind with every single cushion from the couches, plus the pillows from her bed AND the blankets and sheets from her bed. There are books spread out on the floor in a four foot radius around the bookshelves. Every dolly and Little Person from the bedroom has been brought out and are in various stages of disrobement.

Meanwhile, my youngest daughter has pulled out all the plastic stuff out of the cupboard in the kitchen and then wandered away (as she tends to do) to check out what her sister is doing.

To top it off, my daughter has found a Christmas present that I was hoping would remain lost forever - a bubble making gun that *actually* makes gun noises. No, I didn’t buy it for her and I won’t tell you who did.

So, that’s our day. I’ve read the Babar story about five times and am getting to the point where I want to just rip it into little pieces. Perhaps I should finish typing now before I get violent. I’m not sure if I can be held responsible for my own behaviour.

posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

24th January 2007

Big ole box of laundry detergent

I must work on my post titles.

When I first got married I bought the cheapest laundry detergent possible. When one only has about NZ$40 a week to spend at the supermarket, this is what one does. But as the years passed I realised that this cheap stuff didn’t actually work all that well and it left a very cloying, perfumey smell on my clothes and I suspected quite a lot of soap residue as well.

When our first daughter was about to be born and I was preparing all of her clothes, I decided to upgrade our detergent to the kind recommended by all the baby people. It’s called Persil and it is definitely more expensive, but it works. I generally buy the sensitive kind, which comes with no extra smells or dyes, and I buy the concentrate, which makes it a wee bit cheaper and less packaging to recycle.

A few months ago I branched out and tried a new kind of laundry detergent, sold by Ecostore . I had received a free sample in the mail and then had gone to a Parent and Child Show where I was able to buy a 1kg box for $3? I think that’s how much it was. So I bought it to try it out. At first I was quite happy because you use a lot less of it. They say it’s because other detergents use a lot of fillers. But then I realised that my clothes weren’t getting clean enough. And this was at a time that my youngest daughter discovered her older sister’s markers and was happily marking up herself and her clothes before I could stop her. At least two of her shirts were complete write-offs, even after soaking them. So I decided to go back to my dependable Persil.

This morning I ran out of Persil. Considering that we use cloth nappies most of the time and just have a lot of laundry in general, this is not a good thing. And also considering that I did not have a trip to the grocery store planned nor any money to actually spend there, I realised that I was going to have to come up with an innovative, no-money-spending plan that would allow me to actually come home with some detergent.

My husband (have I mentioned he’s a smart cookie?) reminded me that our credit card allows us to earn points at a New Zealand wide retail store, similar to Walmart (although not as good in my opinion) and we had enough points accumulated so we could get $80 in store credit. So I got the kids in the car and we went off to the Warehouse. I got the gift card loaded with $80 of credit and went over to the detergent section. They don’t specialise in this kind of thing like you’d see at Walmart, but they do have a smaller section and the prices aren’t bad. What I’d pay at the supermarket if it wasn’t on special.

I found a 5 kg box of Persil Concentrate for NZ$25.99, which is about what I expected and I heaved it into my trolley. Heavily pregnant woman hefting heavy box not a pretty site.

Now, the whole point of this post (I’m sure you were wondering if there was one) is - I wonder how long it will last? I believe that the 1kg box that I normally buy lasts me four weeks. So based on that this box should last me at least four months. Of course we’ll be adding another person to our household in a few weeks so laundry will increase. I’ll keep you updated because I’m sure this is very important information for you.

I have a question: for those of you living in the States, what kind of laundry detergent do you use? Where do you buy it? How much does it cost? I’ve heard about making your own, has anyone ever done that? I’m really curious because when we move I’ll have to switch my loyalties and I like to gather information in advance.

posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments