Another Homemaking Tip I Should Have Thought Of

With four kids and eight nieces and nephews, we’ve wrapped a lot of Christmas and birthday gifts over the years. Wrapping big gifts and small ones leaves lots of odd-sized scraps of gift wrap, which eventually get wrinkled while stored and eventually thrown out.

So why didn’t I think of doing what home management expert and mom-of-five Deniece Schofield does? She cuts up some of her rolls of gift wrap! For instance, she cuts a 30” roll of gift wrap into two rolls, one 18” and one 12”. Then she stores them in empty aluminum foil boxes to keep them unwrinkled and to make them easy to use.

I can see using the 12” paper for wrapping DVDs, the 18” paper for books and puzzles, and saving the full-size rolls for the big gifts. Super idea!

Of course, I’m not surprised, because Deniece Schofield is one smart mom. I have one of her early books, but it looks like I need to get up to speed because I’m missing out on some great tips. Here are her top-selling books:

Holidays, Families and Breaking the Chains

Just got back from a four-day road trip that included an Easter visit with relatives in Chicago. One highlight for me was Friday night, when our immediate family got together for dinner: my husband and me, plus all four kids, our daughter-in-law and our daughter’s boyfriend. It’s so nice to have everyone together! I’m sure grateful that we had all those years of homeschooling. My memories are a comfort to me now that my adult kids live in other states and it takes planning to put us all around one table again, if only for a few hours.

If you’ve read The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling, you’re aware that I came from a pretty messed-up family. Lots of dysfunction there. In fact, when my husband and I were raising our own kids, I chose to maintain a certain distance from the chaos of my family, in an effort to keep the latest generation on an even keel.

My relatives can take the most innocent holiday plans and turn them into a fiasco, even before the holiday arrives. That happened again this year. While most of the fuss occurred before I arrived in town, and all of it happened without my participation, it did change some plans I had made.

When I tried to explain the dust-up to my kids, they didn’t get it. That’s a relief! That tells me that they’re still not used to the dysfunction, that it doesn’t make sense to them. We may not be a perfect family, but at least we don’t operate the way my birth family does.

Many years ago, I heard someone say that a person who’s been abused as a child has to “break the chains” of abuse by making sure they don’t abuse their own children. It really struck a chord with me, and it was only due to the grace of God that I was able to break those chains. I’m not a perfect parent by any means, but I do believe that God enabled me to keep from doing what my parents did. He did so by bringing people and books into my life that gave me a vision for what to do.

He’ll do that for you, too. Just ask Him! That’s what I tell the homeschooling parents I meet at conventions or who write me and ask how to break those patterns of the past, the ones you don’t want to repeat but somehow find yourself doing just the same. Ask for help. You can’t do it alone.

I’m Baaaaack……

Hope you enjoyed the Christmas holiday! I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last posted. But I’m glad I took a break from blogging because I needed to spend that time with my family.

Our son and his wife came to stay with us for a few days before Christmas. It was nice to have them here, and our younger kids enjoyed some much-needed big brother time. While they were here, we made Christmas cookies together, went to the movies, and relaxed.

On Christmas Eve, we drove in two cars through snow and slush to the Chicago area. That evening our daughter and her boyfriend met up with us, and we had a lovely family gathering….in our hotel room.

Why a hotel room? Well, we lived in Chicagoland for nearly all of our lives, and our family Christmas would have been held in our home there, if we still had a home there. But we don’t, so I borrowed an idea from my cousin. She has five children and tons of grandchildren, all scattered over a couple of states. So she rents a centrally located hotel room or vacation home for their family gatherings. I really admire her for this. She sees that it’s more important that everyone be able to get together, than where they actually go to be together.

So we all gathered in the large living area of our hotel suite ($62 a night—they were having a special!) and ate (we brought trays from Sam’s Club and home-baked Christmas goodies) and talked and opened gifts. It was so nice. The next day some of us were able to attend our old church for a Christmas morning service. We spent the rest of the day visiting Chicago-area family members.

Our son and his wife headed back home Christmas evening. The next day, my wonderful husband took dd17 out shopping, using the trolley that stops near the hotel, so I could take the car and dsds15 to see his best buddy, who also has Down syndrome, is the youngest of five and is homeschooled. They had a great time hanging out, and I enjoyed my time with his mom, who is one of my dearest friends. It was hard to say good-bye, that’s for sure.

That night we went into the city to see our daughter. She has her apartment fixed up just the way she likes it, and she really did a great job. It was good to spend some more time with her.

The next morning, we left for home. It took twice as long as usual because there was thick fog all the way back. I’ve never seen anything like it….300 miles’ worth of fog! We were very glad to get home safely. Since then, it’s been laundry and end-of-the-year bookkeeping and exciting things like that.

And tomorrow will be 2009. What will the year bring? For us, the odd-numbered years have always been the most exciting. We were married in one (1979), had our kids in odd-numbered years (1983, 1985, 1991, 1993), and started our businesses in odd-numbered years (1995, 2003, 2007). Our big upheaval (a move after nearly twenty years in one house) also happened in an odd-numbered year (2007).

Today’s news reports are full of predictions of economic difficulties, violence here and abroad, and other sad things in 2009. But we must never forget that God is in control. I have great hopes for this year. For you, I hope 2009 is the best year ever!


Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

When we lived in Illinois (i.e. near relatives), we often had Thanksgiving dinner at our house. I know it’s not a big deal—after all, someone has to do it—but when you have several children who do not leave the house to go to school each day, it’s not that simple. And if you prefer that pretty much everything be homemade, like I do, it becomes a project.

Women who work full-time can take personal time off to do the shopping and cooking before the relatives arrive, and even most stay-at-home moms send their kids off to school each day, so they can shop and cook in peace.

But those of us who homeschool have to accept that we can make Thanksgiving dinner, but it will take a fair amount of planning. One good thing about all of this is that we do have children to help us. The older they are, the more help they can be.

It looks like this year, there will be only six of us at our house for Thanksgiving dinner. My daughter and her boyfriend plan to come up our way, while our son and his wife (ten hours from here) will be with her folks, who live in the same city. I have to admit that I do miss the old days, crazy as it got sometimes, when all of our kids lived at home and I had a big family Thanksgiving to prepare.

Back when I was in the midst of the fray, lol, I set up a plan so I could manage all the work involved in getting ready for Thanksgiving. You’ll find the details in the feature article of this month’s “Imperfect Homeschooler” newsletter. It’s called “A Simple Homeschool Thanksgiving.”

(You’ll find the November issue here. Get your free subscription here.)