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2008 January » Philoxenos

Philoxenos

Do… Done

28th January 2008

Do… Done

It’s 8:23 am and I’m feeling somewhat on top of things. So of course I deserve a break on the computer ;)

Today we have instituted a Do-Done Chart on the fridge. Visit Stacey here  to get the idea of what we did. I read this idea almost two years ago and haven’t forgotten it! I had some time to myself yesterday afternoon while the kids napped after church and Handsome was at work finishing off a few necessary things. I was thinking about how our household was running and how things could be improved. I realised that I really needed to be more diligent about training the kids to help around the house. I remembered this chart and set about making my own little magnets.

The last month we have been more careful to make sure the kids are only playing with one toy at a time and cleaning up after themselves. It’s done amazing things for the state of our house! And now it’s time to move on.

So from this morning on Precious is responsible for wiping the table after each meal and Cutie is responsible for finding any stray books and putting them away. This is particularly relevant in the morning since the girls each take a book to bed with them. These little jobs are in addition to getting dressed, brushing hair, brushing teeth, and making beds. No more getting out the door and realising that one child only brushed her teeth and the other only brushed her hair!

My one comment would be this: all those women that said that training your children to do housework is a lot of work in the beginning? They were right. They were also right about the feeling of accomplishment that the kids have when they’re finished. And I know it’s going to pay off in the end. I’m outnumbered around here and if we’re going to have a happy homelife it’s going to take contributions from everyone to make it happen.

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25th January 2008

It’s not that I don’t think of writing…

… it’s just that I have discovered there are more important things for me to do!

What have I been doing when I’m not writing on my blog?  Mostly I’ve been simplifying my life. I realise this is a bit of a cliche, particularly at this time of the year, but it’s true.

Simplifying it how, Michele? you ask.

Well.  It all started one night when Handsome was away at a meeting. I was soooo tired. Weary, even. I had put the children to bed and was fighting to walk straight I was so tired. I was thinking that this just wasn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I couldn’t exactly identify a particular reason why I would be feeling this way, but I imagine it’s a combination of things. Not knowing how long it might take to address these things, I knew that I need to simplify things in the meantime in order to prevent some kind of breakdown which I honestly felt was imminent. That night, as I sat at the computer brainstorming ideas, I was actually typing with my eyes closed because I didn’t have the energy to keep my eyes open. Folks, it was only 7:45pm.

The first thing I identified was changing my menu sytem. I’ve mentioned a few times previously that I kind of got out of the cooking/menu planning/grocery shopping groove since moving to America. This has caused me untold amounts of stress because 1) I know it’s something that I’m capable of because I’ve done it successfully for years,  2) because of my lack of doing it, it was costing us more money and time. I hate that. and  3) I never really knew what we were going to eat on any given night so food was going bad before we could eat it.

I decided that night that we would institute a one week menu for the next six weeks until 1 March. So for six weeks Mondays would be Roast Chicken, Friday Pizza, Saturday nachos/burritos/fajitas, etc. I had a few variations, such as Wed being either Beefy Mac or Spaghetti. The purpose, though, was that each meal was something that our family likes a lot and I can make it with my eyes closed. I sat down the next day and wrote out a grocery list, taking into account what we already had in the freezer and pantry. I made sure to buy breakfast cereal, baking ingredients, everything that we’ll need for six weeks. Amazingly I only spent $200, which leaves more than enough to buy milk and fresh produce and some perishable dairy products like yogurt.

I included some rules for myself, again to keep things simple: I would not go to the store for anything for six weeks. Handsome volunteered to do it. After all, he’s more than capable of picking up some bananas and milk. Going to the store here is not fun for me like it used to be. So if we run out of something then tough bikkies. I’ll just have to use something else.

How’s it going so far? It’s been nearly a week and it’s going great. It’s been so simple for me which was the key. And I believe there is enough variation that we won’t get tired of it after six weeks. For example, last night was soup night but I didn’t have a specific soup listed. I asked Handsome in the morning what he wanted and I gave him about five choices and he chose one. We’ll have soup twice a week (another way I keep the cost down) but we’ll still have variety.

How’s my mental wellbeing? Better. I’m going to bed earlier most nights. I’m doing the most important things first. The computer is pretty far down the list. Prayer is much higher. I’m spending time enjoying my kids. Last night I was looking at Little Boy, who’s nearly eleven months old, and just cherishing my little baby. He won’t be a baby much longer. My little girls won’t be little girls forever. This time is precious and I want to be in the right mind to enjoy it. So please forgive me if I don’t write much. First things first.

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16th January 2008

A little bit of nothing

If anyone is paying attention, this is the 16th of January and I’ve only posted three times in the entire month. I have learned that there are people that check my blog every day to see if I’ve written anything new. Some of these are grandparent-type people who are starving for information on their grandchildren and figure my blog is the only way they’ll get any news, considering how frequently we email.

So. I’m writing. However, I have nothing of substance to say, so I’ll just waffle on a bit and then publish and take a nap.

This month I have learned how to recreate McDonalds Vanilla Iced Coffee. It required a special trip to a different supermarket to purchase vanilla coffee syrup. And it was worth every extra minute of travel time. The medium size coffee drink cost something like $1.80, including tax. Although not a tremendous amount of money, considering how often I was wanting to buy them, it definitely added up. Even just twice a week was $3.60, which over a year would be $187 and that, my friends, is not inconsequential. So I’ve come up with my own recipe which is fantastico! But now that I know what goes into those things, I’m a-thinkin’ it’s not so good to have them very often. Sugar, fat, calories, all that stuff.

I have recently started thinking about learning about more natural methods of keeping my family healthy, something not requiring trips to the Costco pharmacy to get prescriptions filled. My kids are sick again. And Handsome and I are, too. Yes, we were just sick in December. No, this isn’t fun. So I’m thinking it would be a wise investment of my time to learn about homeopathy or naturopathy or herbal medicine. First step: learn the difference between these. If you have any information to add, I would greatly appreciate it. I don’t really know where to start, although I’ve found some reputable sites that look like good reading.

My son is learning to sleep through the night. Before he got sick late last week he was routinely sleeping until at least 5am. This is a big improvement over the 2-4am waking time that he had previously. I’m going to give him one more night to use the “I’m sick” excuse and then it’s back to crying for him! I know, I know, it sounds so cruel, but trust me, it’s totally working and he doesn’t even remember in the morning.

Oh, Little Boy now has three teeth. Two on the bottom and one on the top, which I just noticed this afternoon.

BSF rocks! Our teaching leader totally knows how to teach the Word of God. Go read Matthew 13. Be prepared to be convicted. And read chapter 12 while you’re at it. Which leads me on to the next thing.

Last week in BSF we studied about the Sabbath. Matthew 12 is when the Pharisees were telling Jesus off for healing the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath, who just happened to be sitting in the temple near them and Jesus. They totally framed him. But Jesus is like, whatever. But our teacher was talking about it and putting it into context about keeping the Sabbath holy. And during this last week I’ve been thinking about it - what do I do to set apart Sunday as a special day, a day for focussing on God? Well, we go to church and we make going to church a big deal for the kids because we want them to know it’s a special thing and a privilege that many people in the world don’t have. But what do I do when we get home? I often try to catch up on laundry, run errands, and generally just take advantage of the fact that I have my husband home so I can share childcare and use the car. So I’ve been thinking about things that I can do to make it a different kind of day. Note, I didn’t say that I’ve been praying about it. Because if I start to pray about it then I’ll have to actually listen to what God wants to tell me and then if I don’t do what he tells me, then I’m disobedient and that’s not fun. Because if my children are disobedient then they get a smack. I personally don’t want to cause God to give me a smack because that would be no fun.

As I type I realise that by choosing not to pray about it, I’m already being disobedient because I’m obviously convicted about it. So, I suppose I should start working on obeying or else check the sky for lightening bolts.**

**I say that in jest, but I recognise that I reap what I sow. If I choose to disobey God’s direction then there will be consequences.

So now I’m thinking about how to make the Sabbath different in our family. I need to talk to Handsome about it. He works at the church on Sundays, so that’s a bit of a challenge as far as the rest part goes. But we can still make it a day to focus on God and I think that’s the key. It’s about heart attitudes.

Okay, I think the kids are all finally asleep for their naps, so I’ll stop rambling and take a nap myself. I appreciate any feedback regarding any of these issues that I’ve mentioned.

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11th January 2008

Making good from the bad

I spilled a box of Cheerios on the floor this morning. A big box. I had to leave the room quickly in order to take care of something else and when I came back I discovered this:

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Cutie decided to take advantage of my mistake and she also dumped out some more Cheerios, just for fun. And of course Precious (4 years old) thought it was a good idea, so they both had an early morning tea.

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10th January 2008

Friends

**Beware, sappy post to follow

One of the hardest things about moving is making new friends. You know when you move you eventually find another supermarket that you like. You seek out another cute coffee shop to call your own. You find the park with the best slides AND swings too. You learn which library has the best children’s section. But friends, well, friends take a bit more work and a lot more time.

I just finished reading an email from a friend in New Zealand and I almost wanted to cry when I was finished. We both have two daughters. Our two oldest daughters are only three weeks apart and our two younger daughters are about four weeks apart. We would get together as often as we could to play and talk and catch up, but we lived about 20 minutes apart and were involved in our own commitments so didn’t find times as often as we wished.

But those snatches of time that we found were special.  We talked about the kids, wondering how to manage a particular behavioural problem or deal with potty training issues. We talked of spiritual things and about marriage and just life. She is a good friend.

Now we live in a different countries and the girls won’t be playing in the garden out the back anymore.  Almost daily I pray for friends - for myself, for my daughters. For children it’s a little bit easier, particularly at this young age. They just want someone to play princesses with. Someone to chase in the grass.

I want someone that I can confide in, ask advice from, just talk to. My husband is my very best friend and I can do all these things with him, but you know how it is. Women are just different kinds of friends.

In the meantime, while I wait to find another special friend, I’ll remember those times. And I’ll pray, knowing that God is my everything.

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7th January 2008

And it all went downhill from there…

Dinner started off early this afternoon with the making of a loaf of bread in the breadmaker. About 90 minutes into the cycle I had a peek in the little window at the top and realised that it hadn’t risen. At all. It was sitting there like, well, like a lump of dough. No happy bubbles and barely even a yeast smell. I can almost guarantee it’s because I didn’t warm the water enough.

So, I threw it into the rubbish. By this time it was too late to make another batch of bread, since it takes three hours and it was already after 3. I threw together the ingredients for my fool-proof Bread Machine Rolls instead, knowing we’d still have bread in time for dinner.

The children spent most of the three hours from 2:30 to 5:30 crying. I have no idea why.

Handsome was coming home about 5:30 so about 5:00 I got the bread rolls ready to rise in the pan. No problems.

I was standing in the kitchen, mentally reviewing the ingredients for my pumpkin soup when I realised I was missing a key ingredient.

You thought I was going to say the pumpkin, huh? No, I’m not that lame. Pretty close, but not quite.

I was completely out of chicken stock powder. It is on my grocery list, which we tried to do yesterday with the three kids in tow, but we cut our losses about ten minutes into the shopping when the girls couldn’t stop fighting in the little car they were driving.

Chicken stock powder is an important ingredient of my soup and I knew that beef stock powder just wouldn’t cut it. So I’m standing there trying to figure out what to make. Anyone who knows me for a long time knows that I rarely have this problem. I’ve got oodles of ideas and normally have a menu posted on the fridge for the week and enough food to eat for a week without a problem. Folks, those days are over. It’s like America has caused some kind of short circuit in my menu-planning brain. And don’t even get me started on the supermarkets. I get lost and it takes me two hours to find my way out again.

I decided on this Stove Top/Chicken thing that I’ve made before and we all liked. Just meant dinner was going to be another 30 minutes away, rather than 15. And we were having carbohydrates with a side of protein. A very small side.

I got the bread rolls out, took the first one out of the pan. No problems. Took the second one out and the dough was still raw on the inside!! What’s up with that?? These are my fool-proof rolls, delicious every time. Except tonight of course.  I stuck them back in the oven after taking out a couple from the corners so I could give them to the kids before they started knawing on the table legs.

A few minutes later I pulled out the casserole dish. BURNT! It was burnt! At this point I wanted to throw the dish out the window and go get drunk to wipe out my memory of the evening. A few problems with that of course: 1) we rent our apartment and I’m sure our insurance wouldn’t cover replacing a broken window, 2) I don’t drink, and 3)even if I did drink, I’m just too cheap to waste money on an evening that I wouldn’t remember.

I looked at Handsome and said “Please go to Taco Bell and order me a Grilled Stuffed Burrito and a Pepsi. A REALLY big one. So as I type I’m drowning my sorrows with a Pepsi. And it’s not even diet!

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7th January 2008

First Day of Kindergarten

I wanted to commemorate Precious’s first day of homeschool kindergarten with a picture on my blog. I took a photo for our family’s memories which included a sign with her real name, but I can’t figure out how to blur her real name, so I’m going to include a picture I took of a craft/snack that we made.

We are using Five In A Row as our curriculum. This is a literature based unit study programme, which I’m finding very easy to use. The idea is that we read the same book for five days in a row, picking out different aspects each day. Because Precious is only four and a few months, we’re starting pretty slow, so from now until June we’ll do one book every two weeks, but we’ll only school three days a week, so I’m planning six days of schooling every fortnight.

Our book for the first fortnight is Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton. To go along with the snow theme, we’re going to study winter-related things, like snow and hibernation and ice. We’re even taking a field trip to the snow in a couple of weeks!

So for our snack/craft today I got out the large marshmallows, some raisins and pretzel sticks and the girls made snowmen. dsc00325.JPG

And we went ice skating! Cut out a couple pieces of wax paper and ’skate’ on the carpet. It was great fun and I could even twirl around. But once the waxy stuff started wearing off it wasn’t as easy.

After Cutie went down for a nap we worked on handwriting and math. Precious has been writing her name for several months but she uses only uppercase letters. She taught herself essentially so I wasn’t fussed about it. But today I started teaching her the lower case letters of her name so she can write her name properly.

And then of course we had to do a bit of M&M math as a reward for a job well done today.

And now Mom needs a nap, so I’ll sign off!

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