What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I made these quilted pillows for Gram, Matt's grandmother. The pictures were printed off of my printer onto special printing fabric. The picture on the left is Gram's wedding day picture (the only one she had taken) and the one on the right includes her children at her and her (now deceased) husbands' 50th wedding anniversary. Posted by Picasa

A fleece shawl and beret I made for my lil' sis Adrianna.  Posted by Picasa

Adrianna modeling her gift. I think she likes it. :-) Posted by Picasa

The first side of the reversible apron I made for Corynn. I am going to make a mathcing one for me this coming week so we will have Mother/Daughter ones.  Posted by Picasa

The OTHER side... Posted by Picasa

Watch out! Don't get behind the Newman Family in line at the library! And there are only THREE of us so far! Posted by Picasa

Wait-what was that?!?! A little fairy girl hopped into a book and followed us home. She is too cute to send back...we'll keep her! Posted by Picasa

Shock and Awe and the overwhelmed Mama

Phew! Finally I am able to sit down and relax for a few minutes! The after-Christmas flurry is still not completely over here at the Newman house but it IS winding down. We have not taken the tree and lights down yet just because we don't have the energy! We usually wait until after the New Year anyway. The last few days I have just been sorting through old toys, organizing new toys, putting away presents, and ALL the fun that comes with two days worth of gift giving. I don't know where I am going to put all this stuff! Some of it is not necessarily EASY to find spots for! (For example-a huge blue BEANBAG!) We were gone all weekend with only a short interlude at home on Christmas morning. Since it was such a short time, we had just enough time to unload the car from Christmas eve, open our family presents in the morning and leave again (we didn't even pick up the ripped paper!)-returning with an overflowing car. So-you can imagine the mess. I was OVERWHELMED on Monday morning-and it has taken me until today to get this house back in some semblance of normalcy. I have swept the floors, FINALLY gotten caught up on laundry (THAT was a feat-let me tell you!), and have put away most of the Santa's workshop (by that I mean all the craft supplies that were out in our flurry to get last minute handmade presents done!

I went shopping today to get a few groceries, some film developed, and some after-Christmas clearance fabric. JoAnn Fabrics had all Christmas fabric 75-80% off. Apparently, I waited too long because there was only a few different fabrics available and only ONE of those I liked. It is "Brett-esque" because it is swedish-looking like Jan Brett illustrates in her book. I am not obsessed-really, it was just coincidence! I bought enough of it to make coordinating Christmas outfits for Corynn and Peanut for next year. I am VERY excited!

Matt has had off all this week and we are getting very used to having him around! When Tuesday rolls around, we won't know what to do without him! Tuesday I had a doctor's apt. for peanut and all is well. Afterward, we went out to eat (for the first time in AGES! Thanks so much to Matt's aunt who gave us cash just for that purpose!) and then went to the library. I was glad Matt was there just because I couldn't carry all the books out to the car myself!

Yesterday Matt spent the entire day working with his leather (his brother got him a speed-stitch awl for Christmas). He is going to post a picture of the finished project (he made two of the same thing...) on his blog in a few days. (I write this so that he WILL! hehehe)

Today I am going to post pictures of some of the gifts I made for people this year with the exception of the waterproof apron I made for Matt. He wanted one for when he is wringing out his deer hides. His brother took that with him to use since he is working with some hides today. I will get a picture of that later. All the handmade gifts pictured were first-time experiences (I had never made anything like them before), all were made without patterns, and all were made in one night! ;-)

Expect to see more holiday photos in the coming days-I have a plethora of them to share...that's for sure!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's a lonely and lazy day. :-(

I have spent way too much time doing nothing the last two days. Matt went to his parents' house to work on Christmas presents (his woodworking tools are all there since we have no garage here.) He has been gone for TWO nights and it is two nights too long. I hate it when he is gone. I get lonely and sad and unmotivated. I haven't worked on all those stitching projects I have to do before Christmas...yes there is only three more days until our first gift exchange! I just can't seem to DO it.

Today I spent the morning making all my candies. I am disappointed. I purchased 'mint extract' thinking it was PEPPERMINT and it turns out to be speariment. So, instead of peppermint patties-I now have spearimint patties (how the heck do you spell speariment?!?!) Then, the 'sponge candy' I had planned to make didn't turn out 'spongy' at all. Although-it turns out the recipe wasn't actually a 'sponge' candy it was a 'honeycomb brittle...yep-there is a difference. The Honeycomb toffee BRITTLE looks and tastes good-but my mom loves SPONGE candy. So that stinks too. I also made cashew brittle. ALong with the peanut butter fudge, they should make nice tins for our neighbors, landlady, mailman, garbage men, and a few families in need of some cheering.

Yesterday Corynn made some things for the grandparents. Given my time constraints and my lack of motivation, we settled on construction paper Christmas trees made from her handprints that she then decorated with glitter, tiny pinecones, and sparkly things. She also made glue snowflakes and I will put a small picture of her in the center. It is kind of neat to do-and not just a Christmas thing either. Anyone can do it at ANY time during winter. You just pour white glue on wax paper in the shape of a snowflake (and even two year olds can do this because the 'strands' shouldn't be perfect! Then, sprinkle glitter all over it. It will take a few days to completely dry-but when it does, just peel the wax paper away and string a ribbon through it. OR-they will stick to your windows like window clings.

On a happy note, I have two exciting things to share.

1) I wrote Jan Brett (one of my favorite author and illustrators) an email to thank her for her wonderful website. And the next day-she emailed ME! It was so great and fun. She included a 'hedge-o-gram' which tells about her current projects and it was just really cool. I got an email from Jan Brett!!!

2) I received a complimentary subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine because the senior editor, Jen, read how discouraged I have been about homeschooling lately. She even sent a few back issues. I just got three of them in the mail a few days ago and have had such a wonderful time perusing them. I have never read a homeschooling magazine before so it is really REALLY wonderful.

As much as I hate to do it-I guess I should go now and work on those pesky projects. :-) No more procrastinating!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bah Humbug!

Doug Wilson has a blog. It can be found here. Only go to read what is on his blog is you want to learn something-or worse yet...feel convicted. A recent little essay got me grumbling-and that is hard to do these days...what with Christmas and all. In it he writes...

"Deep Kindness
Topic: Exhortation

A new commandment is given to you, that you love one another. This love is not to be understood as a mere sentiment, although it makes all true sentiment possible, and more than possible, lovely.

Love means that we are to treat one another as the voice of God requires, and that we are to do so from the heart. We are not to mime our way through various loving actions, but we are to love one another deeply. And love means that we live as Christians in our households. If we are unloving, disrespectful, or disobedient there, then all our "kindnesses" elsewhere are manifestations of a hypocritical politeness, and are not love at all.

How can you love God, whom you have not seen, when you do not love your neighbor whom you have seen? And how can you love your distant neighbor whom you have not seen, or see occasionally, when you do not love your neighbor, with whom you live?

The watchword therefore is kindness to those with whom you live -- kindness in the kitchen, kindness in the bedroom, kindness in seeking forgiveness, kindness in extending forgiveness, kindness in letting go of anger, kindness in letting go of bitterness and resentment over the anger of another, kindness in honoring and obeying your parents gladly.

Here you are, appearing before the Lord of heaven. Is there any unconfessed household sin that you are clutching? If so, lay it down. God will receive you with the same kindness He requires of you, but you must lay that sin down. "

BA HUMBUG! Right he is-yet again. And it turns out I, even I, need some changing. Don't you just hate that when you read something so wise and pointed-and it seems to be talking about you? Blah. Double Blah. This past week my eyes were opened to some selfishness on my part. I realized the problem. Asked forgiveness. Why rub it in?!?! As if deep regret weren't enough...

Seriously though. The timing is impeccable, it seems to me. Not just given MY present circumstances...but for everyone out there this season. We are so caught up in buying people gifts, making people gifts, wrapping gifts for people, giving people gifts, showing we 'care'...are we remembering to show love to the ones dearest to us? Or are we snapping our childrens' heads off because we are trying to make cookies for the mailman?

I will still keep checking D.W's blog. How about you?

I got film developed yesterday so...BRACE yourselves!

I took this picture this last weekend at G&L's. It is from their driveway. I loved it. Posted by Picasa

glowing lights Posted by Picasa

An extra tree skirt given to us became a shawlf for Corynn. It looks so cute-I might actually USE it as a coat! hehehe Posted by Picasa

Putting angel on the tree...It's not my job anymore... Posted by Picasa

Corynn's 'school area' or show-off board. :-) There is a mouse in the corner! Posted by Picasa

Don't you know you mustn't lick your lips outside, Matt? Posted by Picasa

We got this photo made into wallets for the Christmas cards...as you can see, Matt SHOCKED me by shaving his beard for Christmas. I was SO shocked I CRIED and I didn't even LOVE it to begin with! Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

A sampling of the Christmas goodies made so far. Clockwise from top: Chocolate-filled mint pillows, chewy maple cookies, frosted sugar cookies, and cashew clusters. The center is chocolate covered pretzels surrounded by peanut butter fudge with chocolate covered cashews dispersed throughout.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Santa's Workshop and Mrs. Claus' kitchen!


Today is quite a day in one way, and yesterday was quite a day in another. Yesterday was Day #1 of my baking days and the focus was COOKIES. I realized just a few days ago that Matt's last day of work is on Friday, so the platter I make every year for him to take with him, must be done by tonight! (If youw onder why he has a week off for Christmas it is because if you don't USE your vacation time, you LOSE it-and there is certainly no point in THAT!) Yesterday my intention was to make two batches of cookies. Instead, I was a baking MACHINE and made FOUR batches of cookies (ALL different!) and one batch of fudge. The cookies were Chewy Maple Oat cookies, Mint Pillows, Frosted Sugar cutouts, and soft cashew clusters. The fudge was my all-time favorito....Peanut Butter! Today, I am SUPPOSED to make chocolate dipped pretzels but I had better get hopping. I also have to make a SKOR cake since we are having company tonight-a friend from church who is bringing all the fixings for PIZZA night, provided I make him a dessert. Sound like bachelor? Well, there's a reason for that! :-)

I am also planning to make, (possiby not this week but DEFINATELY by Christmas!) Chocolate Glazed Toffee Sponge Candy, Peppermint Patties, and creme puffs. These require a bit more time than I have to devote right now and requires me getting to the store to get some ingredients.

I have THREE more gifts to make before Christmas. AH! Usually, I am all done my gift-making by now. I did finish MATT's homemade gift this week. That is something. I also have to get stocking stuffers....cough,cough, er, I have to talk to Santa about getting stocking stuffers. Hehehe. :-)

Yesterday I spent more time then necessary perusing the wonderful Jan Brett website.
I printed off a mask of a Meadow Mouse for Corynn,who then spent the entire afternoon being a mouse. I also made a few things for her to give to some friends. THEN, I made thank-you postcards for after Christmas. They have a darling picture of blonde haired girl hugging a reindeer (his antlers are covered in quilted scarves with jingle bells!) and to the side I wrote,

Dear __________________,
Thank you for the wonderful gift you gave to me for Christmas! I loved the _____________________! Love, ORYNN

I will fill in the blanks to personalize them and she will fill in the "C" because she is learning how to write a "C'. I hope that these save time while teaching her the importance of writing Thank-You notes for niceties received. They are just so darn cute, if I do say so myself!

Well, I have got to get cracking-though I hate to do it. I will post a picture sampling of my 'goodies' tomorrow, if possible.

OH! One more thing, I am so excited, because my Pastor's daughter is going into labor so they left for Connetticutt today. I am of course, excited for HER, but also-with them being AWAY, my dear hubby does not have a session meeting to attend tomorrow night-which frees us up to go see a Handel's Messiah concert as a family! How exciting is THAT?!?! I love live productions and want Corynn to grow up loving them too. And the cost is only $5.00 per adult! Woohoo!

Our Christmas House... (sorry you can't see our tree in the window...instead, you see the house across the street!)  Posted by Picasa

Corynn the FRIENDLY mouse waving Hello! She made sure to tell me she was FRIENDLY, possibly in fear of getting caught in a trap! :-) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You know you are an addict when...

You steal two good batteries from something, to mix with two OLD batteries in your digital camera, just to post pictures on your blog! It worked. It is only temporary-just to get my 'fix' in. Maybe, if the batteries last long enough, I will post a few more tomorrow. :-)

Our living room- Christmas-a-fied! Posted by Picasa

Proof that Matt DOES love FooFoo. Look-he built him a castle of carpet to keep warm in! As you can see, FooFoo doesn't really fit into the palm of my hand anymore.... Ah, how they grow! ;-) Posted by Picasa

Corynn is ready for that bright white snow! Posted by Picasa

Why is it that snow never sparkles in pictures?!?! Posted by Picasa

I have had this Christmas Cactus since we have been married. The year we were married, it was plucked of all of it leaves by a visiting toddler. I thought it was toast...but three years later, it has given me a bloom! Who knew a little blossom could make me so happy? Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 09, 2005

It's a choice.

Frustrations Abound. But as with everything in life...you have a choice to wallow in pity and completely shut down OR embrace your problems as a challenge that you WILL overcome.

Last night I was stuck in the first rut. Now, I have moved on to look on my concerns as a challenge. Here they are...

Last nights' dinner was a serious flop. I was so organized and had everything planned and timed perfectly. We were to eat at 6:00...everything was done by the time our guests had arrived at 5:00. I was able to enjoy their company without hiding away in the kitchen. At six, everything was ready and on the table. I was just taking the main dish from my roaster oven to put in a nice platter when I realized...the beef wasn't cooked! I don't know WHAT happened. I did everything 'by the book' and had it roasting with AMPLE time (it roasted for 2 hours which was MORE than it called for in the roasting instruction book. I ended up frying some SLICES of it (GROSS!) and putting the rest in the oven. THen, at the table I realized the cabbage hadn't fully cooked. Everything else I made was good-but since the beef and cabbage was the main dish, it is hard not to consider the whole meal a TOTAL and utter FLOP. Thankfully, I redeemed myself with my dessert. (I posted the recipe for you to enjoy if you so choose...)

It seems like EVERY time we have company over, my meals (meals that are without a hitch when I just serve them to Matt) conspire against me and laugh at me when I serve the results. We had company over a while ago-and the chicken was so DRY it was pathetic.

I am a great baker. I have never had anything but rave reviews on my desserts: pies, cakes, cookies, candy, you name it. But when it comes to cooking...I need some serious help. Not because I can't cook (although I fully admit I am still in the learning stages...it certainly doesn't come NATURAL to me) but because for some reason: under pressure SOMETHING happens. If I DID have cooking as second nature, I would have known BEFORE I cooked the beef for two hours and planned on it being done in two hours that it would take FOUR hours. But I don't.

My challenge now is to overcome and outwit this corned beef. When my sister had problems with her bread machine, I encouraged her to break it out every week and try and try again until she conquered it and made something delicious. Now I am taking my own advice. When I go grocery shopping, I will buy more corned beef. I will cook it until it is RIGHT. I will keep buying it until I prepare it perfectly. I will not be conquered by the corned beef! :-)

My challenge for the future is to become as knowledgable as I can be in the kitchen so that I can teach Corynn how to cook BEFORE she is married. That way, she doesn't struggle when it really matters.


The other day I stumbled on a blog about classical education. Since I plan to homeschool, and we are thinking classical education might be the way to go, I was very interested in reading the many resources available from this womans' blog. It was a great blog-don't get me wrong! But very quickly I became very overwhelmed. I have been very worried lately about this whole homeschooling thing and so rather than helping me, all those resources hindered my efforts. I feel like I am drowning in 'what-if's' or 'how-to's'. I know some of you may think I am silly to worry about homeschooling a two year old. But I am not worried about homeschooling a two year old. I am worried about homeschooling a four or five year old....and then on from there. I was never homeschooled so I don't have that memory to look to. I can't look to my mother for advice or even as an example. I am comepletely clueless as to how I will have TIME to devote to Corynn's studies when my days are busy NOW. Not to mention any other children I will have! I don't know how I will organize concepts and themes; how I will read the amount of books to and with my children as is necessary; how I will sort through the vast amount of resources to actually find something to work with; how I will be able to teach more than one child. How much time do you devote to each child? Each subject? How many hours of schooling a day? There are so many questions I have but no answers. At one time, I thought because curriculum was so expensive, I would just make my own. I know now that, at this point-I am NOT capable of that. I will NEED a curriculum to follow. But, will a curriculum tell me all I need to know? All the topics I should cover that year? How am I supposed to know that stuff?

No. I am not worried about homeschooling a two year old...but now is the time to get my act together and at least have myself prepared for the schooling years. As with cooking-I didn't learn how to cook until I was thrust into the role of wife. I had no clue and so my husband had to watch me flounder (and still does occasionally-prime example was last night). NOW is the time to learn this stuff. I need to KNOW what to do and how to do it when the time comes-because I will not waste precious schooling years trying to 'figure it out'. If I can't do simple things with Corynn now-how will I be able to prepare myself for the VERY large change of homeschooling?

So-now I am faced with a decision. Do I shrivel up and forget the whole idea? I wish. If there were not so many repercussions to my decision...I would be tempted. I can completely understand why people give up. Homeschooling is confusing and very overwhelming. Especially to those of us just diving in-having had no experience with it before. But it is more complicated that that. Matt and I feel homeschooling is best in so many ways-and we are not willing to forget the responsibilities the Lord has given to us in raising a child. We can't afford a Christian school-and wouldn't use one anyway, given the choices in our area. So-homeschooling is our only option. I can't be tempted to give up before I even begin. I know many concerns I have seem silly and that I am working myself up for nothing. Twenty years from now, homeschooling will be so ingrained in my head that I will laugh at my feelings now. But that doesn't help NOW.

No-my choice is to embrace my fears with gusto and learn as much as I can NOW. For a couple reasons: So I can feel empowered. Prepared to teach. Excited to teach. So in a few years, when it is time to really 'school' Corynn...we will BOTH be ready. And because...if I don't get answers to these questions, being overwhelmed will turn to desperation and then I will convince myself I can't do it. And I can. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My focus will be shifted from Christ to my insecurities and who brings those about? SO I embrace this as a challenge and I pray that if any of you have answers to any of my questions, you might be willing to share them. Because I am telling you-I need answers, now more than ever.

Pumpkin Crisp Dessert

I love this recipe! It's a piece of cake to put together and so delicious! I love the crispy crumb topping. My husbands eyes' lit up when I suggested I make it for dessert last night!

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 eggs
1 can (30 oz) canned pumpkin
1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
1/2 sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 t. ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter, and one egg until crumbly. Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13x9 pan. In a mixing bowl, beat remaining eggs. Add pie mix and milk;pour over crust. (I also sprinkle a bit of sugar and pumpkin pie spice in the mixture though the recipe doesn't call for it...)

Combine remaining ingredients with the reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over pumpkin layer. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour then refridgerate for two hours or until chilled before cutting. Yield: 12-15 servings

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I didn't lie...

I promised to post some pictures yesterday but never did. I didn't lie-when I went to take the pictures I realized the batteries were dead on my camera and for once we don't have spares lying around. So-I suppose it will have to wait. That stinks too, because I decorated the outside of the house yesterday and the rest of the house is done also so I have lots to show you! :-)

Today we are having our in-laws and my brother and sister in law over for supper. Though a bit premature, we are having corned beef and cabbage. (The corned beef was cheaper than a regular roast). Along with that we will have potatoes and carrots and bread. Then I will make a pumpkin crisp for dessert. I am still searching for a good sidedish or two to go with it-but nothing is sounding good with Corned Beef and Cabbage, to me anyway. I like to have a fruit at every meal and another side to round out the meal. Any suggestions would be great.

Yesterday during nap, I put up all our outdoor lights and decorations. I was disgusted with myself for waiting until the most blustery, freezing day to do it. Especially after having such nice warm weather after Thanksgiving. My face and hands are chapped and red. And really, it is a fudged job, since ALL of the lights I had from last year were broken. I went through each bulb and fuse out of desperation, but to no avail. Thankfully I had picked up some red and green lights at the dollar store and I had a strand of white lights from our craft show display tree. Looks like I will be buying some more Christmas light strands this year, when they go on the after-Christmas clearance sales. It looks nice though, I am pleased with the results. I even took the trimmings from the bottom of our Christmas tree and wrapped them around our mailbox and a stone porch garden we have. I WILL post pictures as soon as I am able.

For now, I have to get to cooking! Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Little Moments

Today has been a lazy day here. It has been so cold in the house, I have only wanted to curl up on the couch under a blanket and read-which I did this morning. It is dangerous to start new books for me…they blind me to work that needs to be done and lure me to a cushy seat. This afternoon, though, I finally bucked up and got going on the needed tasks. This weekend was a busy one-with decorating for a baby shower on Friday, my last craft show of the season being successfully completed on Saturday, and our Christmas tree brought in and decorated on Sunday. This along with some present wrapping and hiding, reading, cooking, shopping, and similar preparations made for a busy weekend. Today I just have to do the rest of the house decorating-outside lights, hang the stockings on the wall with care (we have no chimney…), put our nativity out, and strategically plant Christmasy fabrics and florals throughout to make things festive. (Most of which I have done or are in the process of doing!) I also want to bake a batch of cookies-Matt’s pick was Oatmeal Raisin for this week. Tomorrow is a big day of cleaning the house and packing away the craft stuff for another year. Then I have to get cracking on my Christmas cards…I made them this year so that is neat.
Baby Peanut Moment: I have never known a more active in-utero baby (I am such an expert having had only one child!) but this little one is an energetic little tyke! And what is most fascinating to me about dear Peanut, is that when I feel him/her moving and put my hand in a spot on my belly-Peanut will seek it out and kick it with purpose. I am not sure if it is just a love tap or a “stop pushing me!” but either way, it seems like we are connected.
Corynn Moment:
Corynn asked to color this afternoon so I sketched a Christmas tree for her to color and drew circles of red inside as ornaments. I sat down to watch her as she worked and saw her draw her own circle ornaments and colored in mine. I was very impressed with her work…they were not perfect circles-but neither are mine. And she strayed out of the lines a bit-but goodness…she is TWO YEARS OLD! She always impresses me, which is yet another reason why I have this fear that I will fail her as a homeschool mom. Will I challenge her enough but not too much? Will she excel under my supervision or will I expect too much of her? Will I devote enough time to homeschooling or will I continue to be tempted when she is ‘of age’, as I am now, to not worry about it? So many concerns!
On to bigger and better things(well, maybe not bigger and better but certainly less stressful!)…I have been searching and searching for child-sized metal pots and pans to go along with the apron I am making for Corynn to no avail-until yesterday when I just happened to move a box in TJMax and behind it was ONE box of just want I wanted. I was ecstatic! Matt is thinking of making her a wooden ‘kitchen’ with a stove and oven to go along with it, which of course, would turn a very special gift into something magical! We’ll see if he has time.
Finally, the best news of all-we just received a Christmas card today…making it TWO already this season! We have already hung them on the doorway. Corynn is now the official card opener and will not be happy if she can not open the card, ‘read’ it, and then carry it around for the next 30 minutes. She comes up to me at the most random times and puts her empty little palm out exclaiming, “Here Mama! The Mail!”
I will take some photos tonight and hopefully get around to posting them tomorrow. Have a good night!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Planning is half the fun of it...

Hello everyone! Corynn is sleeping, and Matt left to go work on a boatload of hides he just got-so I have a free minute to blog. Not only do I have a 'bun in the oven' but I have buns in the oven...rising so in a little while I can bake them. My original plan was to make sloppy joe tonight on homemade buns-but I have a hunkering all of the sudden for a Turkey Bacon sandwich melt. SO-I am going to finish making the sloppy joe and finish baking the buns...and we will eat those tomorrow and enjoy the turkey melts tonight. If anyone ever eats at Friendly's-they have them there and mine taste almost exactly like them.

Yesterday was an extremely busy day for me. I got so much accomplished and was very proud of myself. I vacuumed, dusted, moved furniture, swept, scrubbed and bleached the kitchen sinks (it SHINES now!), paid some bills, organized clothes, cleaned and organized the desk, furniture polished stuff, did lots of laundry, watered plants, cleaned bathroom, wrapped presents, and emptied all garbages. I also put together the beginnings of a lesson plan for homeschooling Corynn in the month of December and changed the bulletin board accordingly.

I wonder, how will I be able to effectively keep to a schedule when she is old enough and HAS to do school, if I can't even organize a little time each day for her schooling when it ISN'T necessary? I did a bit of introspection and realized that my fault lies in disorganized attitude in this area. It is hard for me to sit down and do something with her each day, if each morning, I am wondering what I have to do! So-I decided to keep a monthly lesson plan with one specified activity each day all planned for. Each weekend, I will prepare for that weeks' plan by expounding on what I can do alongside the activity (reading consistently themed stories, etc.) and preparing the craft activities. I have a rough idea of what I want to do in December-and I have activities until next week. I will do next weeks plan this weekend. Here are some of tihs months' objectives:

Theme: Christmas Story
~Journey to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7)
~First Christmas (Luke 2:1-20)
~Angels Visit Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
~Three Wise Men follow Star (Matthew 2:1-12)

Within and alongside the THEME, I will teach the following...

SHAPES: Review All
FOCUS: Star and Square
Letters: Review All
Teach Alphabet Song
FOCUS: C (cookies, Christ, Christmas, candle
D (December, deer,)
J (Jesus, Jingle Bells, Joseph)
Numbers: Review
Teach 15-25

So-that is my goal. I would be very interested to see what everyone elses' plans are for December-those of you who homeschool directly or who participate in teaching their kids after the kids come home from school. I will admit-I may steal some ideas though, if they are good. But maybe you can consider helping a newbie in the business...remember: Titus 2! ;-) (Of course, you young'uns share too-that way I will know I am not alone! :-) And here is plug for you, Jen...maybe you could tell me about your plans specifically? I am especially interested in what you do and how you do it! I just want to encourage you to keep up the homeschool blog-because you have one very serious fan right here! I will check your blog to see if you ever get a chance to do it...I hope so!

I have recently taken to the idea of reading aloud to the family and realize the importance of it. Recently, I have read quite a abit about recreational family reading and have geared myself to that way of thinking also. After a conversation I had with my sister yesterday, I am even further convicted by the good it could bring a family. While I ALWAYS read stories to Corynn, I feel very strongly that as she gets older...I will continue to read to her (or maybe even Papa) chapter books and beyond. Then, she can take over reading along with the other 'children' (that I have yet to have! hehehe) to better their reading and oratory skills. It seems like it would not only a great bonding experience, but would further each and every persons' knowledge and skill level. A person is never too old to be read to, but should also have practive themselves. I can't wait for the day Corynn wants to read to me. Soon it will be, too. She already 'reads' me stories by holding the book open and telling me the major points that she remembers I just read. So cute.

Okay-before I close this post, I want to tell you some of the Christmas planning under way in the Newman house. I have gift-wrapped all the presents that have been bought so far (I do this early because we don't have many hiding spots in our house!) and we have bought 3/4 of the gifts we are buying. Last night I went out looking specifically for Matt-his BIG surprise present and I found it. I have been saving my craft money to get him this and so it is very special to me and I am just so excited. The best part is that I was able to purchase it at nearly half the price I expected to pay. I have also decided what to get for Corynn. I will get her a Leap Frog Alphabet phonics fridge game.

Along with storebought gifts, we try to make many of our gifts also. The projects I have in store include mother and daughter aprons, a fleece shawl and beret set, a hat and slipper set, a set of photo pillows, and a cross stitch. Matt has a few woodworking projects in mind too. We have a few other things to make, but we can't be specific as they are gifts and we don't want to let the cat out of the bag...this is true for one of Matt's gifts from me too. After we get the 'big' presents made, I have to focus on baking and candy making...as I make tins for our neighbors, mailmen, garbage and recycling men, landlady, and others. I am still pondering what I can do with Corynn for the grandparents...

Finally-we are getting our tree this weekend and will decorate the outside of the house at that time too. I was impatient so I decorated the hallway and upstairs with some extra multi-colored lights we had (we usually decorate the house with white lights.) It was fun and is so neat looking now.

I guess that is it for the Christmas report. Until next time....