march update [tuition savings]

march was an interesting month. we found out that we didn't receive any financial aid for bryan's last year of school. so, we had a long talk, went over some things in our budget and buckled down. more importantly though, god and i had a really awesome heart to heart.

can i just say that all that stuff in the bible is actually true?! he is the god of all comfort and the great provider who loves us so much. i haven't forgotten that his true and perfect act of love is all i need, and yet he continues to provide more!

god is also the greatest, most gentle and patient teacher. he has been teaching me a bunch about his generosity and being open-handed with our money.

the morning before we received our financial aid notification, i was sitting in church, listening to the message and god asked me to give a certain amount to the summer missions trips. i said okay and talked to bryan about it as soon as i got home. he agreed to this and then we found out that we didn't get any financial aid. isn't god's timing funny? we wrote the checks, even though it was hard. that whole week, god tested our generosity. he kept reminding me of the countless times we've benefited from the generosity of others [you know who you are!], and we both felt overwhelmingly that we should open our hearts and bank account to those in need.

it has been such a blessing to follow god's leadership in this area. especially because i have had a particularly tight grip on our finances, especially since we decided to move to iowa city. but when has god ever not provided for his children?

i've been insanely encouraged by all of you i've talked to, or who commented on my last blog, or sent me emails of encouragement. thank you, thank you, thank you!

sorry for the long, heart-exposing blog, but it happens every once in a while!

here's our financial update for march:

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of march: $1,100.00
difference: $8,554.00
percentage saved: 11.39%
percentage left to save: 88.61%

we have progress! can't wait to see what God does!


homeschooling 101


part one-the basics of homeschooling in my house


do you want to know how i learned to read?

well, i followed my mom around the house when i was 3 and begged her to teach me. despite my persistence, she only managed to sit down and complete the first few pages of the abeka reader with me, which mostly taught me how to sound out vowels. i guess i can't blame her, she did have a toddler and my two older brothers who were actually supposed to be homeschooling.

however, those first few pages were all i needed to be on the fast-track to reading everything i could get my hands on. it kept me busy until i was supposed to start school a year or two later.

that's how i learned to read, i basically taught myself.

and that's pretty much how we homeschooled in my family. we taught ourselves using the materials we were given. my mom was a very relaxed homeschooler compared to moms who teach their kids latin and stuff nowadays. don't get me wrong, i think that's amazing, but if we do homeschool our children [which we probably will for a time], i'll probably do things more like my mom.

hopefully you don't get the wrong idea, i truly feel all 6 of us duvick kids got a pretty stellar elementary education and we all started public middle school with ease. my mom just didn't stress about teaching us creative lessons or worry about how to explain things just right. she just made sure we knew what we were doing at the end of the day.

to be continued...

please comment if you have any questions about how we homeschooled, i have two more short posts written for the next two weeks, but i'd love to answer any specific questions you may have about how my mom homeschooled six kids through elementary school!

[photo credit]


'member that time?

'member that time when i decided i wanted to be truly evil? 'member how i decided that the most evil thing i could do was to trick my brother mark into getting in trouble?

so 'member how i took him to the basement and handed him scissors and told him to cut my dress? it took some convincing but 'member how i finally got him to cut through about an inch of the hem of my dress and then i immediately ran up the stairs to my mom and yelled, "mark cut my dress!?"

she believed my brother and i got in trouble.

dang it.

ps: happy 21st birthday to mark in three days!

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


knitter's bag


this is a cute little knitter's bag for my friend shea. i gave you a sneak preview last week and now it's finally finished. i'm pretty happy with it.

the goal of the bag is to keep their kitties from attacking shea's yarn in that oh-so-iconic way. i think it will serve her well!

you can't see it super well in the picture, but yes i did add piping to the bottom seam-i told you i was addicted. : )


it's like they write it just for me!

even though i'm not pregnant, sometimes my intense food cravings make me think i am. for the last few months that i haven't been pregnant, i've been craving eggs. all the freaking time. i've been eating at least 1/2 dozen eggs a week, all by myself. and this has been going on for months! i blame it on the switch to organic eggs, those things are so darn good!

other things i've been intensely craving are tuna, yogurt, bananas and weird vegetables like kale. what can i say, i'm on a healthy food craving kick!

well, once again, real simple has tapped into my mind, and said, "let's write another magazine just for lisagrace."

in this months issue, they had a whole TEN ideas for eggs! it's a beautiful two pages in the magazine.

i'm trying out their recipe for spaghetti with herbs, chilies, and eggs [sorry, it's not on their website, email me for it or pick up the april issue of the mag], and their awesome egg in a hole idea.

oh how i love you, real simple.


when in doubt, sack out.


i was planning on tackling "homeschooling, ami style" this week, but it's taking me longer to say everything i want to say about it.

so in an effort to produce high-quality blogs, i'm going to work on it another week. this week, i'll explain yet another ami quote. [check out the new ami quote tab at the top!]

blog 011

"when in doubt, sack out."

my mom chose not to vaccinate us [another post to save for later], and we never had anything like that hateful tylenol stuff in our house. that would be an abomination! [catch the sarcasm, please] instead, my mom put onion juice in our ears for ear infections, and lathered us up in melaleuca oil when necessary. essentially, my mom was into homeopathy, though i never recall that word being used.

but mostly, and more specifically, my mom's mantra was that sleep could heal almost everything, and that sickness was your body's way of telling you to slow down. it seemed to work well for our family.

"mom, i don't feel very good."
"take a nap."

"mom, i have a fever."
"go to bed with extra blankets."

"mom, my stomach hurts."
"drink some water and take a nap."

get the idea? oh yeah, my mom's second favorite thing is water.

water and sleep, they can cure the world.

so the next time you're feeling ill, just remember, when in doubt, sack out.

[photo credit]


'member that time?

'member that time when my baby sister was born on my six and halfth birthday? and i was just so excited to finally have a sister?

'member how my grandma was all like, hey lisagrace, let's get some new clothes for your sister at target, could you help me find it? and i was all like, yeah, i'm six and a half, i can give good directions to target.

'member how i knew where the first turn was, but i just could not figure out where the second turn was and i kept telling my grandma to turn right one block too early? 'member how we went in like six circles before my grandma just stopped at a gas station and asked where it was and the dude was all like, yeah, it's just like a block over.

and now when i'm lost, i always go further then i think i should.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


in progress

did you doubt me? were you worried that i'd fallen off the crafting cliff? i'm sure you really didn't care, but i have a craft update for you anyway!

i've been crafty as usual, i've just been lazy about getting pictures up to complete my crafty blog posts. sorry! i don't have any completed projects from this week, but i have some progress pictures.


this is almost finished, it's a knitter's bag for my dear friend, shea. it's not perfect, but i think it coming along nicely, you'll likely see the finished project next friday!

speaking of knitting, can anyone guess what this might be?


i'll give you a hint, it's from the book i just finished reading: a knitter's home companion.

still no clue? i guess you just have to wait and see!

happy crafting, and sorry for the late posts!


there's a doll named after me

blog 011

from january until last week, i took louis [my cousin's one-year-old whom i watch on tuesdays and wednesdays] to this class every tuesday called music together. it's a pretty adorable class, and though i can't see myself paying for such a thing with my own children, i'm happy i know some of the songs from it!

there is a cute little girl in the class named naomi. she's usually pretty shy and sticks with her dad who brings her to class. but apparently, she'd been admiring me from afar, because it turns out she named one of her dolls lisagrace! how cute is that?!

i almost cried it made me so happy! okay, i did cry.

yep, that's all. this is just one of those braggy blogs about how children love me so much. : )

[photo credit]


deprivation is key


my mom has lots of "famous quotes" that we repeat as a family. one of them was mentioned in the last post, "what does that mean?" i wish you could really hear my mom say it, because the tone is everything.

to name a few other quotes,

"when in doubt, sack out."

"the whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead." [this is more of a loretta original, my mom's mom]

"fruit 'til noon."

"yes mom, coming mom" [what she would make us say when she called for us]

today, i want to highlight a quote that has had a particular impact on my life. she used to say, "deprivation is key." the key to what? well, happiness, contentment and gratefulness mostly. basically, we didn't have much growing up. we had enough to stretch between eight people in my family, but we never had an excess of anything and understandably so.

but instead of focusing on the lacking, my mom as well as my dad always focused on the character-building that came from the lacking.

for example, every single person in my family has been excited about a simple glass of milk. why? because my mom only let us have milk in our cereal, and that was it for the day. deprivation is key. a simple glass of milk brought us so much gratefulness.

this has applied to many things for me. i often test myself just to see what i can go without. not in a fanatical way or anything, but in a "do i really need to buy some more clothes right now?" way or "do i really need chocolate, or is it more of a severe want?"

this principal has ultimately instilled in me that i don't need stuff to make me happy.

so, moms, the next time you think you just have to have something for your child, the newest innovation, the coolest toy, the most convenient item, remember that your kid might just be happier with the cardboard box or the homemade drum [aka pots and pans]. be encouraged!


oh money

blog 011

well, after being anxious for weeks, we finally found out if we are to receive any financial aid for this upcoming school year. we didn't. nothing at all! i was kind-of surprised. i was so counting on it. even just a little would help. and we made a whole ten thousand dollars less than the year before and we received almost a full scholarship then.

i suppose i sound completely selfish and ungrateful right now. after all, we've been able to get bryan through three years of school without any loans. that's not something a lot of people can say. but, all the same, here i am complaining about how we didn't get any free money. boo hoo.

well, i'm only human, i guess.

so, for those of you who have been reading a while, and know that our main financial goal right now is to pay cash for college, i'll tell you what we're thinking. we have a little over $1,000 saved up just set aside for tuition. all of bryan's income over the summer will also go straight into the tuition fund. thankfully, we think that should cover almost all of the first semester of tuition. we're not sure what we'll do for the rest. i might start giving plasma alongside bryan to earn some extra money, maybe i'll actually sell some crafts for profit too. bryan may get a part-time job while still in school too, but i would like to avoid that if at all possible.

although it's even less desirable, we may have to take out a loan for the second semester, but we would definitely get a loan that doesn't accumulate any interest for six months after graduation. they still have those right? is it obvious i know nothing about student loans? we'd almost surely be able to pay it all off within 6 months, but it would set us back a bit, especially as we'll likely need another car when bryan graduates. i don't even want to think about coming up that money as well. arg.

if you have any encouragement for me, i'd be so thankful for it. sorry for the not so humorous post, perhaps i'll have a sense of humor about finances soon, but i tend to take it all very seriously right now.

[photo credit]


'member that time?

'member that one day when my big brother levi was left in charge of us for a while? 'member how i was being incredibly annoying while he was washing the floor? 'member how i kept singing [and managed to get my brother mark on board too] my own little parody to an amy grant twila paris song [as corrected by my mother] where i repeated over and over in a sing-song voice: "god is innnnn control! not leviiiiiiii!" 'member how i sang it so much and taunted him about bossing me around that eventually i got him to crack and he ran after me, tackled me to the ground and started jumping on me in a rage fit for an eleven year old?

and 'member how he ended up spraining my wrist and my parents made him pay for the doctor's bill?

yeah, i was a horrible little sister sometimes.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


cute 'dry-erase' board

blog 008

i can't remember where i saw this, but i think it was in real simple. i immediately fell in love with idea.

the idea is simple:
  1. take a lightweight frame with glass
  2. put cute light-colored fabric or scrapbook paper in the frame
  3. hot glue* heavy duty magnets on the back
  4. stick it to your fridge
wah-la! or not.

they look cute up there ^ but on my fridge, well, this is what they look like.


i guess i need much stronger magnets. i'll probably try again soon.

*you don't necessarily have to use hot glue for the magnets, but as i'm mildly obsessed with hot glue, that's what i did.


a shorter video for you

if you watched all 10 minutes of bryan's testimony video last week, here's your reward. this guy is pretty hilarious, and i say that as a real-life hilarious person.


she doesn't look down upon


over 26 years ago, when my mom was preparing for her first child [i can assure you my mom is still 29, so you can stop trying to calculate her age] she took many roads less traveled.

and while my mom is known for her adorable and seemingly ditzy "what does that mean?" questions, you would probably underestimate how well-researched she is on the decisions she made. what are some of those decisions, you ask? to name a few, she chose to birth naturally at home, not to immunize her children, and home-school later on. all of these choices were definitely not common 26 years ago, though they are slightly more mainstream now.

i want to talk about my mom's experiences in all of those things, but before that, i want to share with you one of my all-time favorite things about my wonderful mother: she is the easiest person to talk to. ever.

now, this may not seem like a big deal, but when i choose something unconventional, i can become a monster. all i want to do is prove that my way is best, and that really, everyone should do what i'm doing. does this happen to you? we get up on our pedestal, preach to anyone who will listen, even if they didn't ask. sometimes, we indirectly ruin relationships. we become those people that no one wants to approach, because everyone already knows where we stand on these controversial issues. frankly, it's ugly. i know first-hand.

so this is the biggest reason why my mom is so amazing. ever since i can remember, she's always had women approaching her with questions or concerns and almost always, they walk away encouraged. that's right, encouraged, not depressed, not judged, not feeling like they've done everything wrong, not feeling like they have to change anything. it's amazing!

this is ultimately what i want to be when i grow up. the best way i can describe her in this way is humbly wise, and simply sweet. she's attracts people to her.


'member that time?

'member that time when my family re-wrote that one famous car-x song? you know, the one where it's all like, "rumble, rumble, clatter, clatter, piece of crap caaaaarrrrr? don't worry, call the car-x man!" [those aren't the exact lyrics, but you get the idea]

well, anyway, 'member how we thought we were really clever to substitute the lyrics for our names? and 'member how we had the perfect amount of syllables between all of our names, that it was almost as if my parents planned it that way?

for those of you who know the song i'm talking about, here's the von duvick family version:

rolf, ami, luke and levi, lisagrace toooooo.....mark, adam and alyssa joy!

pretty amazing stuff.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]



blog 011
okay, so i've found a new obsession. and it's piping. yay! thanks to a cousin craft day on wednesday, i officially know how to pipe. and no, i'm not talking about plumbing, although i wish i knew how to rid our shower of the standing water...

i made a pillow case as you can see above. it's awesome, as you can see above. what makes it so awesome? you guessed it, the piping!
blog 012

blog 014

i especially love the corners, it looks so professional, if i do say so myself.



she did half the laundry


so you hate doing laundry. and you don't want to smell. what would ami do?

wear the same thing twice in a row.

simple, yet genius. before i saw the beauty of this, and thought it was kind-of embarrassing, i would wear an outfit and then hang the clothes that didn't seem too dirty back up in my closet. but after they sit in the closet for a while, they get smellier than i realized. i was talking to my mom a couple weeks ago and she made some joke about always wearing the same outfit two days in a row. we chatted about it and i realized: my mom has done it again, she's a freaking genius.

monday and tuesday i wore the same outfit twice. it was awesome and i didn't smell, but i'm still doing half as much laundry. the best part was, i didn't see anyone on monday that i saw on tuesday, so it wasn't even embarrassing!

[photo credit]