November 30, 2009


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house. More importantly, it's beginning to FEEL like Christmas. My goal for the next 25 days is to make each day special in some way, no matter how small. To make sweet memories every day so that our hearts are filled with happiness.

Last night we added to our Christmas home decor and ended up about 2/3 of the way done with the whole project.

I remember being so completely in awe of the way my mom set up our Christmas decorations each year. I thought everything was so amazingly beautiful and it made the season seem that much more magical for me and my brother. It's so funny because my girls do the same thing now that I used to do and I can just see their eyes sparkle and hear the delight in their voices as each Christmas item is awakened from its' year long hibernation to adorn its' own place of honor in our home for the coming month. Their joy brings the magic of Christmas alive once again for me as well.

After decorating we all snuggled up in front of the TV to watch a Christmas DVD

Small One- A boy who has to sell his old donkey friend and ends up finding a perfect owner in Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus

Disney Christmas classic at it's finest! Eric and I both loved this cartoon as kids and now our kids enjoy it just as much.
After the mess of Thanksgiving dinner and the proceeding boxes of Christmas items that were brought into the house, all I could think about this morning was getting the rest of that Christmas stuff put out and sending those boxes back into the garage so that I could clean my quite neglected kitchen. It was in the moments of exhaustion last night while staring at the house that was nearing uninhabitable status that I realized that we would not be having any sort of formal schooling on Monday so that I could focus my efforts on cleaning and organizing and running errands.

This is something that I really appreciate about homeschooling- the freedom that it allows our family. We don't have to get up and rush around in the morning to get out the door in time for school. The stress alone that this eliminates is worth the whole effort for me. I do not miss those days in any way. We still get up in the morning at a set time (sometimes a little earlier if the kids wake up hungry), eat breakfast, get dressed and ready for the day, and do a few chores before we start on any school work, and I do try to put everything to a schedule, but it is not a schedule that is not flexible if the need arises. I like that :) In fact, we don't even have to have school on a Monday if we don't want to or if something else comes up. We can double up later or we can do something on Saturday or we can not do anything at all! I mean, really, will it matter in the long run?

Who says learning isn't fun?

The girls enjoy free play with math manipulatives and call them by number and change their names by adding or subtracting cubes from the columns.

The important thing is that my children are learning. They are learning every day. It's true! When you provide an environment of learning and you just get down and play with them, they learn. There are learning opportunities in real life, you simply need to take advantage of them. Learning does not have to be sitting at the table or a desk and doing busy work. Learning should be active and ongoing. That is the life I hope to give my children and I hope that they will know that learning is fun!

One of Alex's favorite things to do is to "play" video games with Daddy.

And a little game time never hurt anybody!

~ Make each day count! ~

November 29, 2009

Welcoming in a New Season

Oh, it may not be my favorite season of weather, but it is certainly my favorite season of happiness and cheer and good will and hope and love and memories! My mind is always swimming with ideas for this time of year and then I get a little freaked out when I realize that time is quickly slipping by and I will not be able to do everything I had hoped. Still, I always enjoy this time with my family and I love seeing the house dressed up in Christmas splendor. It's a wonderful time of the year.

Leftover sweet potato casserole reheated in a ramekin and dolloped with fresh cream

Our tree is up an decorated. I swear it seems smaller every year. I suppose as my kids grow taller our tree looks smaller by comparison. I think we need a new tree. I say this every year though. I think I've been saying it for about 6 years now. Hard for me to believe that we've had this tree for 9 years! That was $25 well spent.

Tree decorating commences

The remainder of our Christmas decor still lies in boxes due to the fact that in order to put it out we have to move much of our existing items from their usual perches and place them into boxes for the next month. I don't want to do that part of it. How boring. But I suppose it is a necessary evil if I want to experience the end result of years of Christmas clearance shopping!

Marah telling me all about the new ornament I just gave her

I hope to fill this coming month with lots of crafting, gift making, baking, singing, visiting, and adventuring. I want pleasant memories to abound and love to be present in each day. Money is very tight... almost non-existent but I refuse to let it get me down. I know that so many in the world truly know the meaning of living in want and I plan to focus on the spirit of Christmas rather than the commercialism this year. I just hope that my whole family can get on board with me and realize that we do not need lots of presents to enjoy this special time of year.

Alex has finally noticed that there are cool toys being hung on this new tree thing!

I look forward to sharing not only our own seasonal pursuits, but also those inspirations I've found around this fabulous place called The World Wide Web. Hopefully you will be inspired yourself to bring a simple, homemade celebration of Christmas into your home as well.

Daddy loves Christmas too

In school this month our plans include going back in time to ancient Egyptian times, learning all about the Christmas story and why Jesus was born, studying the animal kingdom and classification of animals, finishing up The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Christmas carols, and an imaginary trip to Japan. I am super excited!

Jenna places the finishing touch on the top of the tree

~ Make each day count ~

November 27, 2009

So Very Blessed

I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely and filled with happy smiles and lively chatter and family and loved ones you hold dear. I enjoyed a fairly relaxing day (thanks to all of my advanced planning) with my husband, three beautiful children, parents-in-law, sister-in-law and her husband (who washed all my dishes for me afterward *awesome*). We hung out, watched some football, Fred played computer games with the girls, Alex refused his first Thanksgiving dinner, and all was peaceful and enjoyable.

Marah felt beautiful

It is always at this time of year that I miss my family more than usual. My parents and sisters live in San Diego and my brother is currently residing in Japan. I have not spent a holiday with them since 2000, and I miss experiencing the joy of the season with them. I often feel a small pang of anguish as I watch my children at Christmastime, wishing that my parents could see what I'm seeing. It's not easy.

My mother-in-law working on lemon pudding for a pie

However, I have been blessed with wonderful in-laws all around and while I miss my family immensely, I am grateful for the second family that God has given me and all that they do for me and my children. Our financial status keeps us here in Smalltown, USA and I know that if I were living back in California I would not be able to afford to stay home with my children and therefore homeschooling would be impossible. So although it does bring me sadness at times, it also brings me joy to be where we are right now.

Sweet potatoes- RECIPE

Cranberry Sauce- RECIPE

Our dinner was so good! Thanks, in no small part, to The Pioneer Woman and her wonderfully delicious and simple recipes. I was first introduced to PW last year when my cousin-in-law, Erin, posted on her blog about brining their turkey which was taken from this Pioneer Woman website. She raved about it so much I had to go take a peek at the excitement and I just got sucked in! It was thanks to this website that I felt confident in hosting my first big family holiday meal last Christmas, and it was a great success!

Jenna helped Grandma make meringue for pie

So this year I wanted to try to brine a turkey and volunteered to host the dinner at my house and cook all the food. I was determined to cook the turkey my own (well, really PW's) way and even told my well intentioned mother-in-law as much when she took the turkey out to baste it before I was ready to start basting. One thing you should know about me is that I have a VERY tough time with speaking up about things to other people, so this was a big deal for me and I was so worried that I would come across as rude. She assured me that she completely understood and that she would back off. I'm so glad that my mother-in-law is so wonderful! I really do love her.

Homemade crescent rolls- RECIPE

Me, realizing I needed to take a picture of myself in the kitchen (like my apron? Target clearance score for $2.75!)

The gorgeous turkey- Brine RECIPE and Turkey Roasting help

So, my first Thanksgiving dinner was perfect! I'm telling you, if you haven't cooked from PW's website, you must give it a try! Her step-by-step photos have given me a confidence in the kitchen that I never had before.

Oh man, this was all so good! Turkey, cornbread stuffing (RECIPE), corn and wild rice (RECIPE), sweet pea casserole (which is the French's green bean casserole but with sweet peas. I thought it was so much better!), cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecan topping, and the crescent rolls.

~ Make each day count ~

November 24, 2009

Destressing the Holidays

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to you! Today I am feeling good and fairly relaxed despite the headache I've been fighting off since last night. We are hosting the Thanksgiving meal this year and it's my first time cooking a turkey!

Our "Thankful Tree" each leaf has something we are thankful for written on it

Hosting a holiday meal can be very stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Let me tell you, I am no stranger to stress! I am also not a very organized person. These two qualities that I possess can really come up against me during the holiday season and make me miserable if I allow them to. So here are some tips that I have for hosting a more relaxed holiday dinner.

The first thing I suggest is gathering all of your recipes and ingredients that you will need to buy a few weeks before the meal. Next, plan on getting your groceries in small trips. I started stocking up on the non-perishables about two weeks ahead of time. Just each time I went to the store I would grab a few things. Spices, canned soup, broth, flour, sugar, things like that. As the day gets closer you can start picking up more items and then finally get the refrigerated items a day or two before hand.

One thing I really hate about holidays is when the host has to spend the whole day in the kitchen. I don't like to miss out on the whole day and I also don't enjoy the stress of trying to get everything done in a limited amount of time. For this reason, I prepare as many of the dishes as I am able the day before. Stick them in the fridge, and the next day you can relax while the meat cooks and just toss side dishes in the oven as mealtime approaches! I did this for Christmas last year and it was so nice! My mother-in-law came over and asked me what I needed help with and I couldn't think of anything! We got to enjoy the day chatting and playing games. Here are the items I prepared yesterday:

sweet pea casserole
corn with wild rice
sweet potato casserole
cranberry sauce
brined the turkey

This morning I simply rinsed and stuffed the turkey and stuck it in the oven. Now all I have left to make are the mashed potatoes and the rolls which I will start on in just a minute here.

The last suggestion I have to make is to not stress about the housework! With three kids underfoot and a husband who drops things where ever he may stand, I just do not have the time or energy to worry about my house being perfect. Besides, we are home schoolers and so there are always going to be papers and books lying around. The walls are covered in kids drawings and school work. We don't have a house that belongs in a magazine, but you know what? Who cares?! The most important thing is spending time with the people you love and they are not going to care if your shelves aren't all dusted or if there are toys in the living room. They will enjoy the day much more if you are relaxed and energetic and so will you! I know that when I worry too much about the little things I am a much more irritable person and that is just no way to be on any day, but particularly on a holiday!

So enjoy your day, don't sweat the small stuff, be with your family. Wholly.

~ Make each day count ~

follow that bird

check out my pursuits at Forget Regret

November 23, 2009

Setting New Goals

Day one of setting the new goal of going to bed earlier and getting up at 6 am. Goal met! It was tough to get up but I made myself do it and, while I was tired and ready for bed by about 10 am, I pushed through the day and really enjoyed it! I spent so much quality time with my kids and I could tell how much they thrived on it.

One thing I did today was to separate their activities into folders so that they could have a new surprise each time they transitioned to the next part of their day. They were so excited every time they opened a new folder. It was too cute! I kept laughing every time they would gasp over a new worksheet or practicing handwriting. They really loved school today for the first time... this year I think! They kept saying they didn't want to stop.

Here are some pictures of our day-

Alex woke up at 7:30 and I enjoyed the first few minutes of his day with him as I usually do, singing and snuggling

Got everything set out for the day before the girls woke up.

Alex had some breakfast

While I took in some much needed coffee and did a little blog reading.

Awana workbook time.

Marah's Cubbies book had her create a card for someone who is sick. She made a card for her great-grandma who is having surgery soon. I forgot to take a picture of it but she drew a crabby patty, fries and a drink.

Alex had a hard time hanging in there. I need to figure out how to entertain a baby while all this is going on. Any suggestions?

Seeing how difficult it is to write with our left hands.

Cursive practice

Thanksgiving coloring book

Household chores

She did a pretty good job! Not perfect :) but that's okay!

Creating her own Thanksgiving story

Checking out what happens to rotten squash

It stinks!

There were other things we did today that I didn't get a chance to photograph, but you get the idea. We had a great day! And now it is 8:30 and the kids are all bathed and I am ready to put them in bed so I can enjoy the last couple of hours before I go to bed and start all over again. Gotta plan Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Shopping and menu making! So excited!

Thanksgiving printables from abcteach
Prayers of Thanksgiving
More Thanksgiving activities from Resources for Christian Teachers
Printable calendars and schedules by year, month, week and day

~Make each day count~

November 22, 2009

What's in a name?

Why 'Forget Regret'? In this blog you will read all about the disorganized homeschooler and the chaos that can ensue from this problem. You will also read about my journey toward becoming a more organized, well-rounded, involved, motivated mother, wife, homeschooler, and Christian. The title comes from the song "No Day But Today" from the musical RENT. "Forget regret, or life is yours to miss." It's one of my favorite lyrics ever and something I think about often. How important it is to just live life and take advantage of every day that God has blessed us with!

Anyone who has a family with small children in today's world knows that "calm" is hard to come by. Heck, I'd guess that anyone, small children, grown children, even no children at all probably understand how difficult it can be to live a relaxed, care-free life. While I realize that life is always going to have it's crazy, unplanned moments (and isn't that what makes it so great) I still plan to put all of my heart and soul into making things better for our family.

And so that is what Forget Regret is all about- Learning, growing, striving to become a better person so that my family can reap the benefits. Living each day to it's fullest and enjoying these precious moments with the people I love most.

The fab five on a cool Autumn day exploring by the river

~ Make each day count ~


It's not my strong suit. Not at ALL! But I keep trying. I am working to get us on a schedule. It's something I know that we need but that I keep resisting because getting us on a schedule takes time that I often feel like I just don't have. However, I have been really feeling convicted of this lack of organization in my life. I believe that God has called me to homeschool my children and that means that I need to actually... um, do it! It's not that I don't try. I do. It's just that I get distracted and then the kids get distracted and sometimes (okay, most of the time) it's so easy to just think to myself 'Hey, they're enjoying themselves quietly in their room, who am I to interrupt?!' and then just settle myself into something on my own. Not that I'm sitting around doing nothing. Not even close. I'm always doing something, it seems. I just need to be making more time for them and stop worrying so much about everything else.

Something I need to work on is sleep. I need to be more scheduled in my sleep patterns. I need to get up before the kids do. I know this. I don't want to do it. But if I don't then I wake up with them and practically go to bed with them and get little to no time to myself. So my goal for this week is to get to bed by 11 and up by 6. That gives me 7 hours of sleep and time in the morning to wake up, spend some time in Bible and prayer for the long day ahead, and eat breakfast before Alex wakes up at about 7. The girls are in bed until 8:30 but I think I'm going to change that next week. I want to get myself in sync first. One goal at a time.

November is almost over and we've been learning, just not as much as I would like. So another goal for this week is to write out a schedule that the girls and I can utilize each day with time mapped out for each activity/subject. It can be a little flexible, but overall I think a schedule will really help Jenna and me stay on task better. I don't know if it will help Marah, but it's good to start practicing the concept with her and it should help her to learn more about the idea of time as well.

Another thing I want to get started up before December starts is a homeschool blog. I've considered keeping everything in one spot here but I think it will be better to do it this way. Keeping the more personal stuff separate so that people who are only interested in homeschool type stuff can read it all in one place without having to wade through any family type stuff. We'll see. I'm still thinking about it.

Anyway, for now I'm just sharing these goals because it's always good to put it out there. Helps keep me accountable and also is helpful to others who are in the same crazy boat that I'm in to know that they are NOT alone!