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, January 18, 2018

An Elephant Never Forgets: 2018 Goals

Oh, Judah.  How I miss that cue ball head!

Every day is a gift.   Not just a gift to be opened and enjoyed.  But a gift to do something with.  Every Sunday is a nice crisp brown paper package tied with a bow.  The start of a fresh week.  Every January is a huge honkin' box sitting pretty right in my living room.  What should I do with it, I wonder.

I have found that the best way to do something worthwhile with my day (my week) (my year) (my life) is to make goals.   Not really resolutions, as they seem be lost pretty quickly after having been named.  But for me- goal setting at the beginning of the year is like list-making at the beginning of the week.  (I do that too.)  That written-out plan helps to ground myself in what needs to be done and shows me how best to use my time and resources.

I saw a lot of good happening in the beginning of the year last year, when I was working hard with my goals.  I know those are worthwhile. Many of this years' goals will be reincarnations of last years' because, unfortunately, though they were valuable, they were not lasting.

In order to avoid the Forget-Goals-By-July problem (as you read in my last post), I am printing this list out and putting it on my fridge this year so that I will be reminded of it often.  And since meals come three times a day, I'll be reminded often. ;-)   I am also putting a chart to check off some of the weekly goals.  I love a good check-off.

Here are my goals for this anno domini 2018:

~ Financial ~ 

I'm going all Dave Ramsey this year to make these goals attainable.  It will require tremendous focus and discipline- these are very lofty goals.
  • save to pay for a new window in Dining Room (replacing the one that is currently broken in half and being held together by duct tape.)
  • pay off Rebecca medical bills and start on Adele' medical bills.
  • pay off van
  • pay for cow to be butchered
  • pay off credit card BEFORE tax return
  • begin Andrew dental work fund.  VERY IMPORTANT.
  • pay half of tractor loan

  • Review/Revise Budget at the start of every month.  

  • ~ Hopestead ~
    • repaint living room
    • try growing spaghetti squash (they are GOOD!)
    • add at least one nut tree/bush
    • add grapes
    • make new strawberry patch using any plants I can find still growing in the old one.
    • re-do girls room, staying within budget
    ~ Personal ~
    • read scripture at least 3 times a week.  (Log in book journal books as they are completed until whole Bible has been read.)
    • pray often for the Parsig family this year 
    • schedule computer time
    • lose at least 10 pounds by July (I'd like to say 20 but let's be real, shall we?)
    • exercise at least 3 times a week through winter. (I'd like to do this all year but hot summers and busy canning seasons always shut me down.  I want to be sure I can check this off next January- so I am giving myself grace.  I can certainly continue after winter.)
    • read more books than last year.  Continue to log them in book journal. (At least 22 books.)
    • Read aloud at least 12 for-pleasure chapter books to children. 
    • read at least one Lord of the Rings book with Corynn
    • Make a Heritage photo album of all of the old photos we keep accumulating and/or are making copies of.  Nothing fancy- just put them in an album instead of in old books.  ;-)
    • Less than 10 cups of soda the whole year.  (Only in emergency cases of extreme migraine/sleep exhaustion.  Again- grace.)
    • Make Judah baby album
    • Do enough yarn projects this year to empty at least one basket of yarn.
    • Make handmade gifts for my parents and parents' in law for Christmas next year.
    Also- I am not sure how to make this a measurable goal- but one change I would like to make this year is my volume.  I've noticed I yell a lot more than I want to lately...sometimes out of sheer necessity to be heard in the chaos that is this house (and yeah, that should change too.  If you ever find out THAT secret, let me know)  and sometimes, I admit, simply out of frustration.  If you have to yell to discipline your children- you're doing it wrong.  Or so I have always believed.  (soapbox)  And I am speaking to myself here.

    I want to be conscientious of that and speak more kindly and calmly and quietly, even when frustrated.  That would be the most 'resolutiony' of the goals- but one I really am going to work on this year.

    My hopes for this year seem to be many, but really they can all be boiled down to 'Choose Wisely'.

    We are always making choices.    Sometimes, vegging with a movie on Friday night and Saturday night (with bowl of ice cream in hand) is easier for me than reading books aloud to my children.    Eating drive-thru would be so much faster than coming home and making supper.  Eating sugar goes down my throat a lot easier than spinach. Letting Morning Time with Mama slip past me but still managing to eek out a few minutes (or more) behind the computer seems a bit hypocritical....but I've done it more than I'd like to admit.  Buying something that is good but that I don't need feels better than paying down bills with those few extra bucks.

    Sometimes there is an obvious 'should' and an obvious 'shouldn't'.  Sometimes both options are good ones.  But there is always one that has a bit more wisdom in it.

     I'm going to try to choose WISELY.

    Friday, January 12, 2018

    The Year That Was: 2017

    These pictures brought to you by a kind and talented 15 year old Millie, who spoiled Ineke with a lovely new knit bonnet. 

    Now that the Christmas stuff is tucked back into cardboard boxes and the festivities are over,  the fact that it is now a spankin' new year is pretty apparent.  (The freak 55 degree, spring rain day doesn't help either.)

    Oh, the opportunities!

    About this time I like to slow down and do some introspection. Where am I headed this year?  What am I going to do with this new year stretched before me?  This new opportunity?  What changes would I like to see happen?  What things MUST happen that I need to prepare for?  How can I grow this year?   

    But before I do all that, I like to look back and see just how far I've come with the previous years' goals.  Did I meet my goals?  Was there positive change and growth?  How did my life change at the end of 2017 from what it looked like at the beginning? 

    I'm not sure how interesting this sort of thing is to read for you, but I've found it is pretty helpful for me.

    How did I do on 2017 goals?  

    Over all, on many of the goals I made last year, I didn't do as well as I had hoped.

    I did really well on my goals until about July.

    I wrote letters, saved money, didn't touch soda,  read aloud to the children, read the Bible to myself on a daily basis, practiced memorizing scriptures, hung art on the walls and curtains in the living room, planned homeschooling better, participated in Hillsdale Colleges' Shakespeare course and listened occasionally to Wes Callihans' Histories.  I even was exercising often.

    And then July hit and BOOM.  I had a particularly excruciating week of no sleep so I drank soda to keep me awake.  It was hot so I stopped exercising.  I was busy so read-alouds stopped and so did personal, daily Bible readings.  We were entertaining more often so I went shopping more often.  Once I drank soda- it was easier to have. I drank it a few more times.  And then December hit and I had fallen so far off the bandwagon, I didn't hesitate to down a coke when I was running on no sleep.  Which happened more times than I care to admit.  I probably had soda 15-20 times last year.  :-(

    I lost ten pounds- gained a few back.  Lost another 6 more lbs- gained a few more back.  I lost well over 17 pounds (the goal) but it doesn't count if it is lost in increments and then gained back.  After Christmas, I am basically back where I first began.  (I don't want to talk about it.)

    I never bought yarn but used only what I had on hand.  :-)

    I set aside money for Matt each paycheck.  I saved $900 for the girls' room re-do through selling stuff we had.  I'll tell you, puppies came in handy there.  ;-)  I investigated insurance and changed car insurance over, saving us money.  I switched our phone company, almost halving that expense but getting faster internet in the process.  (Why didn't I do that sooner?)    I used the envelope system for cash better in the latter half of the year but still not perfectly.   I bought cheap chicken nuggets at the Burger King drive-thru more than I should have.

    I put money toward medical bills, but we made more.  ;-)

    Other things I forgot entirely that I had resolved to do... like I totally forgot about painting the living room or saving money to put towards Andrews' dental work. 

    I remembered the first few months to memorize scripture and then forgot that I had made that a specific goal.  I memorized no where near to 12 passages of scripture but I spent a lot more time in the Word this year than in the last few years.  I read all of the new testament and quite a bit of the old too.

    I kept track of the books I read in a new 'Books Read' journal, which I plan to do from now on- it is fun to see what I have read.  It often feels like I don't accomplish any reading at all- and while my list may not be impressive...I can see that, even if I am just reading a bit each night before bed, it does add up to completed books.

    Here was my 2017 Personal Reading List:

    * Bandersnatch Glyer (Loved!)

    * Killing Lincoln O'Reilly (really interesting)

    * Teaching From Rest MacKenzie (encouraging)

    * Out of the Silent Planet Lewis (fun)

    * The Things We Couldn't Say Eman (loved.  drew me closer to my now deceased Dutch grandparents-they lived inside this story)

    * Perelandra Lewis (fun)

    * A Fine Romance Branch (a fun jaunt through Europe)

    * Destiny of the Republic Millard (really interesting! Looking forward to reading this author more)

    * Peace Like A River Enger (Beautiful.)

    * Gilead Robinson (Wonderful.)

    * That Hideous Strength Lewis (Great)

    * Something Wicked This Way Comes Bradbury (a new genre.  Not my fave.)

    * A Square Meal Ziegelman (good)

    * To Kill A Mockingbird Lee (really good)

    * Coolidge Shlaes (Enlightening.  Coolidge was a great president and man! We should all know more about him.)

    * Hamlet Shakespeare (It's Shakespeare! Enough said.)

    * The Best Yes TerKeurst (meh)

    * The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and The New Deal Murphy (good!)

    * Ghost Boy Pistorious (heart-wrenching and profound.)

    * Queen of the Reformation Ludwig (putting a face on Martin Luthers' Kitty)

    * FDR Goes to War Folsom (enlightening.  FDR was an awful president.  We should all know more about the REAL him.)

    Don't pick on me- I know my list is miniscule.   Still, I am happy to see I finished some books.

    Overall, I feel both disappointed and pleased with my 2017 goals.  In some ways, I utterly failed.  And that is majorly disappointing.  But in and around those failures, I can see definite progress.  Growth.  And I can see how great the benefits were when things were working.  They are very valuable changes. 

    So I know it is worthwhile to keep chugging along.

    I'll be back with 2018 goals next.

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    Handmade Christmas

    A kindly neighbor gave me a rabbit fur coat last summer which I doubted I would ever realistically wear.  But because I do happen to have a fur-obsessed son, I gladly accepted such a luxurious gift knowing it may be reincarnated as something for him for Christmas.  (I made sure to warn her that it may wind up being cut up- so if she didn't want that fate for her precious coat, to find someone else to give it to.)

    Having never worked with real fur before, I really didn't know what I was getting into.

    It is a MESS to work with real fur!  (That was probably a 'duh' moment on my account.)  And I was terrified I was going to screw it up and butcher that coat for no good reason.

    You know I love my boy lots- because it took weeks before all the rabbit fur left my eyeballs, nostrils and throat.  

    For his hat, I used the pattern/tutorial found here

    And I happen to love his little sister too- because she got some slippers from the remnants. 

    Even though the second time, I knew full well what I was getting myself into.  

    I used this tutorial for the elf slippers.

    Two layers of fur shoved together made for less pointy toes, which was sad.


    ~ a (faux) fur blanket for Corynn using fabric I got two years ago on deep discount.

    I appliqued a buffalo on a robe for Judah- which basically blew his mind.  ;-)

    Poor Adele' got a disheartening paper envelope for her handmade gift which contained a certificate for a crocheted mermaid of her very own that she has been pining for and which her Mama was unable to complete in time.  She was a good sport about it though- and now she can give input on colors and things.

    Some flannel sleep pants for another deer-loving nephew:

     Handmade soaps

    Woodburned stuff

    A snazzed out purse (purse was given to us) for my 7 year old sister.

    A hat for Dad~

    A bag for my older sister... I just painted the words, I didn't make the tote on this one.

    Felt play food for my niece... I actually made two of these sets so maybe next Christmas I will have a gift for Ineke at the ready!  

    My favorite were the little blueberry pies... in little tartlet pans.

    Because we have plenty of people in my family and getting something for every one could be a bit much, the younger set usually draw names for a gift exchange.  

    Corynn and Andrew decided to make something for their gifts.  
    Adele' and Judah opted to do extra chores to earn money to buy something for their gifts.

    Corynn drew/painted this canvas for her 'secret santa' gift. (He's a Star Wars fan)

    Andrew sewed this leather pouch for a his 'secret santa' gift and filled it with some goodies. (She's a fan of small trinkets)

    Adele' painted this for a friend and wanted me to take a picture of it.

    And Ineke saw everyone else standing and showing off their handmades and felt she ought to be included.

    She 'made' that ruler waaaayyyyy cuter.

    So what am I crafting on nowadays?

    I have to make Adele's mermaid.  I've already restarted the head several times- I don't know why but it is quite a bit larger than the last one I made.  I think at this point, I'll just go with it and if she turns out huge- so be it.  I'll just use more yarn that I already want to get rid of, right?

    I am reading a book that was on my Christmas wishlist.  (Yay Mattie!)   I'm really enjoying it.  It speaks of the parallels within the early Roman Catholic Church and Modern Feminists of their views of women.  For the Roman Catholic church, the highest and most worthy calling for women was stepping out of the role of wife and mother and becoming a nun and the view that modern feminists have of women- that the highest and most worthy calling for women requires stepping out of the role of wives and mothers to find success (and happiness and liberation) in careers.  Both of which distort God's great and high calling of women in their vocations as women, wives and mothers. 

    Good stuff.

    linking up here and here

    Monday, January 08, 2018


    Also entitled: The Time When Rebecca Posts Too Many Snowflake Bread Pictures.

    But it was beautiful bread...

    I made it a handful of times in two weeks' time. 

    Sometimes with plum jam, sometimes with strawberry jam, sometimes loaded with cinnamon and sugar (like a big delicious cinnamon roll).

    Lovely and delicious- snowflake bread is going to be a tradition from now on.

    We had hosted the Cantrell family Christmas at our house on New Years' weekend and went for the Newman Christmas on New Years Day, leaving Christmas Day to be blissfully quiet and slow and wonderful with just ussins and no place to go. 

    We listened to Christmas music and sucked candy canes.  I ate almost an entire stocking load of Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles.  We opened gifts and played with them.  We read.  We ate lasagna (and snowflake bread) and took naps.  It was bliss.

    Cantrell Christmas was brunch this year.  Which I wouldn't mind doing every year for the food alone.  Breakfast pizzas.  Hashbrown casserole.  Mini quiches.  SNOWFLAKE BREAD.

    On the second day of Christmas, we were so surprised when the doorman knocked and gave us a box of gourmet toffee... the label read: 

    And we really DID taste the love.  That was amazing toffee.

    (Thank you Mary!!!! What a treat!)

    Mom's Christmas Wish~ a picture of the whole family...

    Andrew brought some bunnies in....  and lots of people went out to see the puppies.

    Ineke is a singer.  She gets it from her Mama.  Who got it from HER Mama. 

    And now the older and the younger sing together.

    And while Nanny was teaching me to sing out and proud, she was teaching my big sister that same lesson.  And she taught HER children.

    And now we all sing together in nursing homes at Christmas time.

    Christmas can be exhausting.

    An hour before a houseful of company came, Adele' reminded me that I had promised to cut her hair. 

    In fact, I had remembered all week but put it off because 1) I was afraid I would screw it up (it isn't boy hair afterall) and 2) because I was SURE she would change her mind and 3) I was hoping she would forget.

    She didn't.  So an hour before company and when I had a million other things to do in preparation, I cut her hair. 

    And an hour after that, she opened a present from her Aunt and Uncle with a box for coloring hair.

    And then things got real.


    A picture of what is happening under the big bear blanket to the right.

    In other words, what Mama and Papa do after all the guests head home.

    Judah lost a tooth!  (Too much toffee??)

    Christmas was, as they always are, very merry indeed.