Monday, December 30, 2013

A Merry End To 2013

My kids will probably wear these pajamas every week this upcoming year. For whatever reason, of all the pajamas they own, or should I say "jah-ma-zz" we own, the kids prefer Christmas ones most often. I don't know if it's the stripes, the red & green, or just how tight they are, but the kids love them. One child in particular is none to strip as soon as we get home from being in public and immediately put on some Christmas "jah-ma-zz". I won't name any names, but... Solomon.

December was full of all the usual [but still amazing] parties and holiday traditions. Minus the flu. We don't usually make a habit of doing that in December, but we did this year. Bahumbug!

Just a simple Christmas at home. No traveling, no company... it was nice in some ways and too quiet and lonely in others. I hope next year is a full house with lots of people.

Nevertheless, Thank you Jesus for being born. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

That Day You Dread Every Year... Family Picture Day

The year is almost over. Above is our family Christmas card picture. I'm thankful that is over too. Most stressful day of the year for me I think. Everyone has to be clean, dressed, match and in a good mood. Oh and we have to be on time. [We weren't] It's a hard day, but I'm glad I do it every year because it's so fun to see how much we have changed. 

There's always one kid who won't cooperate and this day it was Moses. He just kept giving this little smirk like "what? I'm not smiling". Nation was a good sport and Solomon's real smile lasted maybe after the first click. "Are we done yet?" Heaven didn't want to sit still much or smile at the camera, but she was pretty enough to get away with it all. I had to bribe them with a new toy AND ice cream.

I love my little tribe. 

We used a new photographer and she was great with our kiddos. All in all it's never as bad as I prepare myself for. I even bought a fart machine this time in hope it would make kids laugh, but for some reason even that couldn't crack Moses' smile, ha ha.

Thankful for another year with my wonderful [truly he is] husband, and 4 little ones. We never look this put together the other 364 days a year, so for once, it's nice. Mark your calendars people, our whole family showered that day.

Until next year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

God Teaches Me Math

i feel defeated
i feel a bit hopeless about the after-baby-from-three-other-kids-too-weight
i miss writing
i feel like i don't have anything to say
i like taking pictures, but nothing else that has to do with processing or sharing them
i'm thankful for friends who encourage me
i wish i wasn't addicted to sugar and processed carbs
i feel ashamed
i've been working really hard to train my child in the way they should go but some days make me question if it's all been worth the effort
i couldn't have properly IG today's events without scaring some people from having children
i'm thankful my husband has grown leaps and bounds in listening, validating and comforting me
i need to spend more one on one "fun" time with each kid
i needed that picture today Nation drew of him and I where he wrote "mom is good at teaching me"
i think i drank four cups of tea today to try to keep from comfort eating
i need my heart to be comforted so i don't over eat so much
i love that God speaks to me
i'm scared if He has big things in store for us, I prefer the small and manageable
i've really been enjoying American History
i don't like to write because i don't like negative comments
If it's's me. If it's's me. If it's's me. I'm trying to do so many things in my own effort. I feel like I'm short cutting it by doing it alone and not wasting time waiting years before a silent God...all the while my Daddy is sitting next to me waiting to show me the real short cut.
I see this all the time when I teach new math to my children and they brush away my hand and tell me to shush because they already know how to do it which results in crying, a blank answer, and me repeating, "Are you sure you don't want my help with this?"
I think that's what God is saying to me today regarding my health & rearing my kids...
"Are you sure you don't want my help with this?"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Current Homeschool Schedule

This year I am homeschooling Nation, 7 years old [2nd grade] and Solomon, 5 years old [Kindergarten]. Our schedule usually looks like this:
Monday: 1-2 hours of school before noon then 3 solid uninterrupted hours while Heaven naps from 12-3
Tuesday: My sitter comes from 10-3 and watches the younger two while I school, and helps around the house [like laundry]
Wednesday: 1-2 hours of school before noon then 3 solid uninterrupted hours while Heaven naps from 12-3
Thursday: It's CC "school" day. Class is from 9-12, lunch/recess lasts till 1:30, we sometimes do a little school that afternoon [my sitter stays at home with my younger two]
Friday: Get a few hours of school in before my sitter helps from 2-7 watching little kids while I finish up any school left for the week, and helps me clean before small group
My sitter helps us about 15 hours a week, plus a date night, so if you ever wonder "how I do it", she's the Ace up my sleeve. She loves my kids and they love her. She's been working for us for over two years regularly and knows where my socks go, what I buy from the grocery store, and where everything in my house belongs. I am blessed. I have done it without her, and I could do it again if we had to, but for the time being, it's nice. I can focus on schooling for a few hours a week uninterrupted while my little ones are being paid attention to by someone loving.
We don't mind the cost because it's our version of a "mother's morning out" or "preschool" for little ones. Anyone can cook, clean, and do laundry, but, for our family, we feel I'm the one called to teach my kids. I'm so thankful she steps in and helps me during this season of lots of little ones so I don't burn out or get tired of not having clean undies. I know many moms do not have this luxury, and it is, a luxury, so hats off to you, I definitely don't "do it all" alone.
Our children usually wake up between 7:30-8:30 AM and go to bed between 8-9 PM. For the time being, I take the morning to: workout [this happens rarely, but hopefully more often], get dressed [just me, kids are known to be half dressed], nurse the baby, change the baby, make a hot breakfast [my boys need protein or you can forget school focus], take care of the other 17 things that usually arise [spills, butt wiping, a txt, cleaning up what the toddler got into, discipling, an email, discussing heart issues, you name it].
If we start school around 10 or 11, it's a good day. We have lunch at around 1, then back to school work. Solomon usually is done before Nation because he's younger so his work load is a lot less. The boys currently do Bible, History, Art, Language Arts, Science, and Read-Alouds together. They do separate Reading & Math. The state requires 4 hours of school a day, we easily do this with our curriculum as well as reviewing for Classical Conversations [CC]. I do expect a lot less out of my current Kindergartener than I did the first time I taught Kindergarten. First of all, he knows more just from listening to older brother be homeschooled. Second, I realized [like most first time homeschoolers] I over did it, and required too much from him. It's Kindergarten! So I try to cover the basics, and make it fun. It's an introduction to how amazing learning can be, not a time to create divisions in your relationship or show off to your friends how psycho you are with your 5 year old. 
Moses, my 3 year old, will have spent some of that morning time hanging out with me, and then during our school time if he can't sit quietly in the room with us, he might: go play in the backyard, play wii, play the iPad, watch tv, play in the playrooms. Anywhere he is I can either see him from the school room, or see him on a camera. Occasionally he does get into trouble, do I even have to say that? He doesn't seem to mind the independant time at all though. He rarely naps, if he does, he has trouble being tired at bedtime. In general my rule of thumb with him is, if he's behaving and happy I let him be, if he's grumpy and getting into trouble he has to having resting time in his bed at 3 for 1-2 hours even if he doesn't sleep. He's smart, he's figured this out and in general behaves to avoid this.
Heaven is almost 1 years old. She is very mobile so this creates the biggest homeschool challenge because if she's not getting into a cabinet, or eating something dangerous, or sticking her finger in an outlet, or climbing up the stairs, she's distracting her brothers from school with her cuteness. So for now, she plays at our feet, or walks around in the walker where I can see her, or sits in the high chair and has a snack. Someone suggested bringing in the pack n play which I might have to do soon. She's very good and isn't fussy, but her brothers do love her so much they can't seem to keep their eyes off her. Still, in that 1-2 hours I am able to get some things accomplished with her.
Daddy usually is off work between 5 and 6 and we spend the next 2-4 hours playing with him, eating dinner, attending activities and picking up before bed. Charles loves to do school with the kids too so a few times a week he will sit down with all of them, or one of them, and teach them.
Something new I am trying is to not let the older two have any rewards until their responsibilities [chores & school] are done. Rewards include: TV, wii, iPad, playing, or going outside. I'm still ironing this out as they are use to "morning cartoons" and maybe some TV around lunch or play breaks. I am currently testing some different scenarios. Seems like the little media and outside breaks were making it hard for them to want to let go and come back to school, even if only for a few minutes, so I'm trying to decide how to give them mental breaks without letting them do something so wonderful and distracting they have terrible attitudes about returning to their school work. But sometimes you just gotta go outside because the weather is so nice! Or let them watch TV in the morning because you were up with a teething baby!
Charles and I usually spend 9-11 together, usually talking. We are both night owls, but we also are both trying to get in the habit of working out in the morning so we are trying to go to bed earlier more often. During this time, I wish I wrote more blog posts, or read, but usually I find something to clean, or something to do online. I suppose theirs also hours of unrecorded comforting, listening, organizing, loving, preparing, scrubbing, and child training involved. That's a brief overview of our schedule. Of course, things do come up, and it's not uncommon for me to squeeze two days worth of work into one so that we can go on a field trip or have a playdate. I highly value both of those. We are flexible, but I always make sure we accomplish all of our work for the week. Not only do my children deserve that, but it's the law, and thus it's honoring to God.

What's your schedule like?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Classical Conversations

Cycle 1

Cycle 2

Cycle 3

My Father's World Second Grade

You can view a sample lesson here.
In addition to the Adventures curriculum, we use...
READING & SPELLING: Explode the Code
HISTORY: additionally suggested...
-Check out Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, etc for great US history DVD's & online videos to support your weekly subjects
Learn Our History DVD's are great too [quality is okay, but content is good]

-You get an overview of US history with interesting reading material & books
-Worksheet work is light
-Learning the names of God
-Easy to pull younger children into lessons
-My son enjoys the art & science
-Pace is nice, although my child is a young 7, so older children might find it too easy, but mine is not a great reader yet so it was challenging
-You could probably save yourself the money and download a few dollar apps to study the states, check out US history books from library, and find the crafts on Pinterest, but for the sake of time--- it is nice they organize it all for you
-I didn't feel enough time was given in lesson plans to deeply study each state, but then again, I didn't find much extra time to go deeper in study with the states on my own
Blogs I recommend:
Train Them Up [pics week by week of all things in the curriculum]
Little Natural Cottage [links you to other MFW bloggers]

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Sandy Month

Our month started out with a family beach trip [with a day of Disney thrown in] and ended with a girls only [my 5 Beth Moore table Amiga's] beach trip. Lot of packing, driving, and sand. Oh, but I love the beach. Even if it's the second year in a row I've gotten "bitten" by a sea shell, got an infection and had to see a Dr for antibiotics. Even then. I have just humbly accepted I now get to accompany my swim dress next year with water shoes. Even my doctor agreed...they are dorky. However, cheaper than a Dr visit. #Jesuscomebacksoon
Aren't you glad I didn't post a picture of the foot infection? That was a special privilege for my IG friends.
I would say this month the theme was---No one has it all together. Even though I know this...I forget this. Am I alone? God highlighted to me how important honesty, venerability, and transparency are. But also reminded me not everyone does this. What you see on social media, or even what they tell you out of their own mouth may be a Candy Land version of their home life. And what does it matter anyways? You're already God's favorite so stop trying so hard to be better than so and so and feel better after you tear her down. #guilty
You win. You're awesome, no one else is. Are you happy now? No. That's dumb.
God showed me to cheer when friends have victories I don't have. To ask for prayer [and advice] when they have something I'd love to have [weight loss!] and present myself to my friends as "not having it all together".
Honesty sets others free.
Sugar coating, puffing up, hiding the mess, skipping over the real...just leads to everyone else striving towards something unrealistic.
There are two types of people. Those who pee in the ocean and those who say they don't. Everyone is a mess, especially those who don't say they are. So embrace your've got a clean God!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What June Taught Me

IMG_3602June was filled with lots of swimming. A braves game, or two. Trip to the Zoo. Golf camp, Tennis camp and VBS. Trip to the lake. More swimming.
Also this summer, Charles and I took a course at our church called Arise. I wrote down some amazing things God showed me through the class in June in my journal. Some of which I will now relay to my good friend Sarah would say... "you're welcome"
One was called Journal Activation. Fancy for, talk to God, write down what He says.
Three questions our teacher suggested...
1-What do you want me to give to you today?
2-What do you want to give me in exchange?
3-What do you feel when you look at me?
So, God might say something to me like a word, or I might see a picture, or hear a song, etc. Like lots of noise, and then I say "God what was all that noise about?" and he might say "I want you to give me all the noise in your life" and then I'd ask, "What do you want to give me in exchange for that?" and the might reply "Rest, Peace, Quiet, Being Still, Selah..." and Then I'd ask what he thinks when he looks at me and he might say or show me something. Like a stream, and I have the impression that it's so nice to be around and quiet and relaxing. think I'm relaxing? [I don't think I am! ha!] He sees the potential in me though! He's encouraging me to trade what's not of Him, for what is of Him, that I might be who he sees I am.
Sounds simple right? Well, it is and it isn't. It is easy because God is always talking, and he deeply desires for his sheep to hear his voice. However, it can be hard because the world is so loud and the enemy is so determined we often miss the opportunity. We're impatient or we think "that was just me." I found that journaling what the Lord was saying back to me helped me to logically rationalize less because I was just flowing and writing it.
Did God really just say that about me?
I can't begin to tell you how encouraging it was to hear God. So try it. Just ask God, and write down whatever you hear. If it lines up with scripture, take it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

It's Hard To Say: I Have Something To Say

I meant to write this post yesterday because it was going to really kill my personality to not have written even ONE post all of May. I went to log into my account and I could not remember my log in and password---that's how bad I've fallen off the blogging wagon. I'm going to make this post appear written on May 31, because technically I wrote it in my mind yesterday, but until my web designer kindly reminded me today I was just able to log back in.
I don't really write much anymore for two reasons.
One, I find it hard to find the time. Two, I don't feel like I have anything to say.
Lately---Potty training, mobile nursing infant, finishing up one homeschool year and prepping for the next, exercising, adjusting schedules, possible baby blues, and cleaning for what feels like every moment of my day. Add in all the rest of the regulars and my day is full with little time left for personal endeavors. I do not think this is ideal, but it is what it is for now.
I would probably abandon this blog altogether if it was not for a super tiny voice reminding me that there's a slight possibility God's called me to write. My heart is to encourage other woman, namely in this season in my life---mothers. Although I find this ironic, as I do not feel I have much to offer. After all, there are plenty of other bloggers out there you can find just about any answer to any question you have. Why be redundant?
It is this incredibly weighted resistance to me writing that makes me curious. Why is the enemy trying so hard to keep my fingers from the keys? [if that is what it is]
Truth be told, I'm not sure how transparent you should be in blogging. Enough to be real and help others, but not so much everyone in the world is in your business when really only a handful of people should be. I've recently written many many posts in my mind, but wasn't sure how well they would translate to print.
If saying here how I feel or how I've been doing helps someone, I suppose it's worth it.
My life is beautiful and I really have no room to complain, but I find myself lately being pretty overwhelmed, angry and ungrateful. Jesus, sunshine, Vitamin D, exercise, sleep [well I could use more of that!] and comfort from my husband doesn't seem to completely cure it either. I've never had baby blues before, and I'm not even sure if having an 8 month old qualifies for that, but either way--- I just want to wake up and be thankful. Smile. Laugh. Be light-hearted. Have fun. Enjoy.
I don't want to be Martha. I want to be Mary.
I don't want to fuss and clean, and stress and yell, and miss the moments I'll never get back from today. More than ever I feel like I don't have much to say here, but here I am. Walking on this journey too. It's not as beautiful as Instagram makes it. Ha. It has a child who has accidents in their pants, a nursing baby who cluster feeds at night, a child who probably needs more time with me, a child who is still being trained to do things the first time their asked even if it requires every hair on my head turn grey first and me, who, when it comes down to it has a pretty selfish attitude.
But...I'm writing...and...
"He hears my voice...He bends down to listen...[He's] kind, good, protects.."
-Psalm 116:1-6

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Deeper Way To Encourage Your Husband

My husbands love language is words of affirmation. Which means, what I do say matters, and what I don't say also matters.
For someone who throws around words in an emotional state, this can be pretty toxic and unproductive. I may or may not be known to say extreme words like "never" and "always" even if, in fact, it's just been a few times. That's just me vacillating, but that's a whole other book I need to tell you about.
What I wanted to share today is about a little truth God dropped in my heart a few weeks ago when I pulled up in my driveway. I guess it's taken me over 30 days to get from my head to the keyboard--- but I suppose for every non-blog-post written was a sink of dishes washed or a stack of homeschool papers finished. I could probably sum up my busy March and April with one word.
So...I thought to myself...Okay, start telling Charles all the things you're thankful for about him, tell him what he's good at, and what he's done well lately. While I think those are effective and do work. I think there's a deeper calling as a wife in the area of words of affirmation.
Speaking spiritual truth over my husband for WHO he is, not WHAT he has done.
The difference between an unconditional acknowledgment when I've see an element in his heart, or a conditional compliment on a accomplishment I've seen him preform.
One will send him on his face before the Lord, "make more more like that Lord", and the other will keep his mouse wheel spinning...hungry for another praise. Example...
Charles, I see your generous heart. You love to give. You're so good at giving away and not holding back. You really please the Lord's heart with your willingness to give. Charles, I see your love for your boys. You really listen, hold, and play with them. They are blessed to have you as their dad. I can tell you really want to impart God's truth and love into their hearts.
I recognized and acknowledged God's call on my husband to give, and his deep desire to have The Father's heart for his sons.
Verses...That was nice of you to give money to them, way to go. Or, You're a great dad, thanks for playing with them.
See the difference? Both are grateful and complimentary, but one truly speaks to elements God has placed in their hearts and the callings and gifting in them. It draws out what God has put in their depths and spurs them onto more. Not just rewarding them with a cookie for a trick well done.
Husbands need encouragement, and if it's based only on performance they can easily become discouraged because they do fail. But, at all times, we can encourage our husbands on who they are even if what they are doing isn't wowing us. That glimmer of calling is always reflecting, even if it's not blinding us. Find the glimmer, magnify it.
Try it.
Look for specific ways God has gifted your husband. Beautiful glimpses you've seen in his heart. When you see it in action---even a little bit---encourage him in The Lord.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Giving Yourself Credit

Being 18 days away from Spring and all, I thought my abandoned-for-the-last-month-blog could use a little bloom. I mean, what mom of three young boys doesn't just love the constant cold and wet days of winter? {sarcasm}
Something simmering in my mind over the last month as been how poorly I view my performance most days.
This isn't a long, ginormious insightful post, but I hope you see the tiny bloom of insight I share here in the winter of your days. If you wrote down every single thing you did all day, instead of only staring at the things you didn't, you'd give yourself a lot more credit.
I wake up with a ridiculously unrealistic mental list of important things to do. Seek Jesus, and do my very best all day to lovingly attend to the hubs & kiddos while crossing things off. Laying my head on the pillow at night, I exhale with a few groans all the [seemingly] giant things I didn't get finished.
All the while, never really giving myself credit for the things I did get finished.
If every kiss, hug, smile, "attaboy" was recorded.
If every comfort, cheer, praise, challenge was recorded.
If every prayer whispered, scripture confessed and discipline given was recorded.
You'd see a list of a lot of wonderful ways you accomplished things that day.
If days weren't valued by loads of laundry put away, and dishes dried or meals cooked. But whose value was found in the monopoly money of playdoh played, crayons colored, and paint splashed with little persons given straight to you from our big God. You'd feel more accomplished.
Not in the wiping, straightening, rinsing, and folding, but in the hand in hand and eye to eye connection.
"I see you running soo fast"
"I see you jumping soo high"
"I see you helping your brother"
I see you.
I promise you our God's pleasure is rooted in seeing your children and not just serving them. Although important [they have to eat right?] we shouldn't give ourselves such a hard time when things to-do remain. Because the truth is every day will bring dishes, laundry, dirt on the floor, and toys scattered. But you only have today to see him jump that high---in that very moment. You only have today to tickle her toes at 151 days old. He has a story he wants to tell you about right now.
Write that down.
1. Listened to his story of driving on the moon
You can't cross it off a list, because you didn't know it was needed or would happen that day. That is the joy and excitement each child brings each day to us. Something we will do, that we had not planned on.
2. Lingered longer at the changing table cooing back at her
Give yourself a little more credit for all the things you do all day, and give yourself a break for what remains, for it always will.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Q&A Giving Another Mother Advice

You asked:
"How do you give other mothers advice...are you frustrated when they don't take it?"
1-Advice Without Permission
I don't pretend to be relaying this correctly, but I hear a lot of my friends who attend a local church here say it. Essentially, first and foremost, always strive to make sure that your advice was requested first. Rebuke is biblical, but we aren't talking about sin here, we're talking about should they or shouldn't they do such and such with their babies/toddlers/kids, etc. The difference between back sleeping or no back sleeping or homemade babyfood or store bought is important, but isn't necessarily eternally significant. Thus, if someone seems to be struggling or parenting foolishly [to you]...
-pray that God would allow an opportunity to speak into their lives if it's His will
-ask them "would you like some advice on this?" if you sense no, or they say no, wait & keep praying
2-Plank Humbly
No, I'm not suggesting that you lay across two chairs with humility. I'm suggesting you heed this biblical warning...
"Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" -Matthew 7:3
By nature, I think it's easier to see the flaws in others [and their children] verses ourselves and our own families. We don't necessarily notice that our child is a picky eater, but we sure notice their child doesn't seem to sleep enough. I think we need to walk in humility, and make sure that our advice comes out of a place of love for the other mother, and her child, and not out of a place of policing other people and their failures. Personally, I struggle with this, and have to have God help me not judge them in my heart, as well as keep my mouth shut if I don't have anything to say in love.
3-Sharpen, Refresh, Ignore
To recap, if you have permission to give advice & you feel like it's coming out of a non-judgemental place then share with love. Remembering that we truly do have God-given-individual wisdom, encouragement, talents, and insights to share with others. Us moms, we need each other. I can't begin to explain the value of the wisdom I've learned from other mothers.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17
Share what has worked for you to hopefully bring a solution to their dilemma. Tip: I usually follow up all my advice with "it works for me, but it may not for you, every family is different" I think this is a safe disclaimer. More than likely they are already feeling overwhelmed and insecure so don't add to it with your condemning "help". Just because you notice something they do wrong, doesn't mean it's God's timing to share with them. Be spirit-led. Water them as you share.
"...whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." -Proverbs 11:25
When you share, prepare yourself, that it's likely they will completely ignore your advice and continue doing the same old thing [producing the same old results] and continue to complain as if they know no better. This happens. You've probably be on both ends of this too. Some people really just like to complain and don't really want to change. For others, it takes time to "try" your advice. And sometimes your advice just works for your family, but not theirs.
Be okay with that.
Our charge isn't to fix other moms and their problems, our charge is to encourage one another in the faith. If they asked, you answered, and they either don't like it or never used it, you still did the right thing. As far as Jesus is concerned, mission accomplished on your end. You don't have control over what they do with the wisdom you give them. It's up to you if you continue to give them advice or not. All you can do is pray for them and know their complaints hold little weight, as they are unwilling to change or try anything.
4-Just Wait
Pretend with me. You have your first child and they just so happen to sleep, eat, and play with others perfectly. You pat yourself on the back and shake your heads at all the other moms obviously struggling so hard with theirs. "Why don't they just do what I do?" "They must be doing something wrong" "Gosh, my kid never did that". Then, you have a second child...
Suddenly, even with the same parenting style & schedule--- this kid doesn't sleep, eat, and play with others so perfectly. You scratch your head, then find yourself wanting to hid under a bush [the same bush you built out of your own seed sowing of judgmental thoughts]. "What happen?" "I did everything the same" "Maybe this is what happen to so-and-so, that I was so convinced was all her fault." You swallow a big spoonful of humble pie. Not all children are created equal.
If you practiced #3 above, and you sowed refreshment instead of judgement, this scenario will play out much more kindly.
The thing is, no one really knows but Jesus. No matter what it looks like, we can't ever be positive it is or isn't the mother [or fathers fault]. Yes, we can judge a tree by it's fruit, but we aren't there 24 hours a day, and we don't really know all the personal, financial, relational, natural or supernatural elements at play. It's possible it's completely the mothers fault, but it's equally possible it's not. Who are we to judge and decide?
I suggest, you just wait.
At this very moment, you may feel like you're the perfect parent and have it all figured out...thus your calling to "help" all the rest of us. However, I offer this wisdom, just wait. It happens to all of us, in one form or another, something will send us crying to Jesus in repentance for judging others so harshly.
Inevitably, something will come along your way that you never expected that will completely humble you in the area of parenting. It may be their first two year old tantrum at the mall, when they pee on their sibling in the backyard during a play date [personal experience], or when your amazing sleeper suddenly decides they no longer are. The list goes on.
No one has it all figured it. Not even you.
Let's all agree to just help one another in love.
God being our model. Be gentle.
Carry your friends and their children in your heart.
"He tends to his flock like a shepard: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
-Isaiah 40:10-12

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tape Player

My mother gave my oldest son a box of junk from her garage. My husband told my son it was a tape player and tapes go in there. Nation [6] asked me why this tape wasn't fitting in the tape player. After all, dad said "tapes goes in there"

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sharing Mommy

"How do you divide your time between multiple children?"
I don't feel fully qualified to answer this as I am still a new mom to 4 children [oldest only being 6]. I have a helpful husband who is available in most seasons for the kids and I after work. I also have a babysitter come 3 days a week for 5 hours each to help me with things I don't get to [chores] or helping with a few kids while I homeschool our oldest one. We decided this was a lesser expensive option compared to private school for older ones and day care for younger ones. Although precious, the little ones can be distracting for older brother while doing his school work so a few hours a week we are guaranteed uninterrupted time. Also, I would rather be in the house with the kids and know exactly who is with and what the kids are up to. I know this isn't an option for everyone, but I am truly grateful for the opportunity to stay at home with my kids and have help in this season with so many little ones.
I say all this to say---please don't think I do this all alone. These people make it possible for me to spend so much one on one time with my children. However, even if your husband works a lot, or you don't have any outside the home help...there is still some ways to share mommy evenly.
Probably my best piece of advice for spending a lot of one-on-one time with each of your children everyday is to invite the children into whatever you're doing. If I'm making pancakes, I will let one child help me. If I'm doing laundry I'll let another child help me. If I'm running an errand I'll take just one child with me. You get the point. Basically, as moms, we have a lot of daily chores and things to attend to, and if we try to do all of them alone and spend lots of quality time with each child too---we will go mad. There just isn't enough time in a day for that. You have to learn how to be intentional about letting your children work beside you.
I probably first heard about this from Martin Mommy [my bestie] . It is just what it sounds likes---you take one of your children out for "date",  just you and them. They get to talk to you as much as they want about whatever they want without having to compete with any other children. I remember I once took my [seemingly] quiet middle child out one night and he literally didn't stop talking. He would comment on everything he saw and thought. It was cracking me up. Obviously he'd been storing it up since he normally is beat to the chase by his two very vocal brothers. It can be fancy or simple. It can be for a half hour or a whole day. Just do it. Your children will really enjoy the quality one-on-one time with just their mom.
Sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed how quickly we forget. Be intentional to pay attention to the amount of quality time you spend with each child. Even ask them. "Do you feel like mommy spends more time with X than you?" Etc. Especially the children who are less maintenance and keep to themselves more. It's easy for me to neglect Solomon because he's completely happy to play alone and he never gets into anything. However, he's just as precious as his more high-maintenance-risk-taking-brothers, so I have to be intentional to say---even though you'd spend all day playing wii upstairs while I homeschool your brother and take care of the house, please come down here and sit in my lap while I read to your brother. Or I will let the other boys go play outside and hold him back for a bit to play or read for a few minutes before he joins them. I have to make a point to notice and keep things "fair" and share my time equally with him even though he doesn't demand it with bad behavior and getting into things.
Things will never be the way they were. You don't have one kid anymore, or just two, or just three. You have what you have now and although you are spread a little thinner, your love will be supernaturally multiplied if you call on Him for more! Let your mind be present, grateful and full of confidence in His ability to help you spread your time and love around evenly. God thinks family is a great idea. He loves siblings! There is a way, specific to your family, for mommy to be shared. Ask God for wisdom.
There are just seasons where you need to turn the TV on, break out the granola bars, and gather the kids into your lap while you nurse the baby. Short term, yes, it may be scary to think about the amount of time they are watching TV, but long term you know you will eventually feed them a real breakfast and lunch, but for now...granola bars are easy for them to get themselves. Ha.
After a new baby, recovering from sickness, rainy days, you name it---there just plain are seasons where we can't be the parents we are in our minds and we just need to do our best to spend time with our kids in close proximity even if it's in our laps watching a movie. I can think of worse things. Don't feel guilty.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Q&A "Do You Sleep Train?"

I don't pretend to have all the answers, or that I would repeat everything I've done, but to date---I do have 4 children who sleep 11/12 hours through the night now and did as infants. Now...toddlers and naps [that's a whole other post!]
If you want to know "how I do it" continue reading...
They all have different personalities, and levels of difficulty, but somehow they all sleep from about 8 pm till 7 or 8 am most days. It isn't normal for them to get in bed with us, or wake up super early, although the early wake ups do happen on occasion. Either way, we do try to enforce a pretty tight routine so that a) Charles and I can have personal quiet time together and b) we can slept 7-8 hours a night so that we can properly [and patiently] attend to them every day. Especially me.
Right after I had Nation [my oldest], someone handed me Baby Wise. I was too exhausted to read it all the way through [and still haven't], but I skimmed over it and feel like I gleaned the main points. Eat Play Sleep. Which, I do agree, is the way most babies [and children] function.
EAT-As far as I understand it, if you want to schedule [strictly or loosely] your child it starts with feeding times. For example, my 3 month old eats about every 3-4 hours. So If I nurse her at 7:30am, she will eat for a half hour, then "play" for a half hour, going down at 8:30am then sleep for 2-3 hours, waking up to eat around 11:30am. More or less. I did nurse to sleep [few minutes] some of my kids, but some, like Heaven can just be happily laid down and fall asleep on their own within a few minutes. Feedings were more frequent when she was younger and I'm willing to feed slightly more often, but not every few minutes.
PLAY-I am purposeful in my "play" part to properly wear them out both mentally and physically. As infants I will try to make a lot of eye contact, talk to them a lot, provide toys for them to play with, and carry them around. I don't know if baby wearing [or holding] has anything to do with it, but I do attempt to hold my infants as much as possible since their season for needing [and wanting] to be held is really short in the scheme of things. I do put them down if I have to attend to something, but I do try to wear [or hold] them as much as I can.When they start to fuss or whine I know "it's time".
SLEEP-I use a box fan for noise, shades for darkness, a sleep sack for safety, and a light up toy in bed for noise and entertainment while they fall asleep. Usually I just lay them down and they will fall asleep on their own within a few minutes. Obviously a child who sucks their fingers or thumb [Heaven] is easier than a child [Nation & Moses] who used a passey and they can't keep it in or it keeps falling out until they are older.
The big question right? When Nation was born, we let him sleep with us and next to us in the bassinet. When he outgrew it [started rolling over!], we moved him over to his crib [around a month]. So, you go lay them down and what do they do? They cry. Someone told us to just let them "cry it out". So, we did. I sat, also crying, by the baby monitor for a longer period of time than I care to share, and then he fell asleep. He was clean, full and only wanted me to hold him while he slept. I think he did this two or three nights and then rarely ever again, especially for any real length of time. He seemed to have quickly "trained" himself to realize he wasn't getting picked up. My other three children we did the same thing with, but all of them trained even quicker and with a shorter cry time. I chalk this up to personality and stamina.
I suppose I should clarify, that I do allow breast feedings through the night when they wake for them [as long as they are spread out and not every few minutes]. For example, if my baby [teething/sick/healthy] wanted to nurse at 12, 3, 6, and 9 am. I would. Honestly, it didn't bother me. I would nurse laying down and then go put them back in their bed and hardly miss a wink of sleep. I didn't feel comfortable letting them "cry it out" if I thought they were actually hungry. If it was just to be held I didn't feel as guilty. Obviously the younger they are the more likely they were to wake up more often, the older they got the less likely they "needed" another feeding. And when they did I figured it was because they were sick, teething or growing.
The first two kids probably would have slept all night, but I used the nightly nursings also to help me from ovulating for 12 months. The last two kids I didn't wake them up at night to nurse them, and they slept all night most nights and some nights they woke for one, or several feedings. Even now, Heaven at 3 months, will sleep 12 hours straight some nights [ouch breasts!] and others nurse a time or two. For me it works. As long as they will nurse laying down while I sleep and I can go put them back in their bed afterwards and they go right back to sleep it's a win-win for both of us. Changing diapers, fussing, or rustling next to me in bed don't work for our family middle of the night [unless they are newborns].
Here's where I might be changing what I think. I'm currently reading a book How We Love and although it's on marriage, it talks in depth about the comfort [or lack there of] we received as a child and how that ends up affecting the rest of our adulthood relationships. I haven't really made up my mind yet, but I'm beginning to lean towards maybe feeling slightly more guilty for letting them "cry it out" so much. I don't think the concept is entirely bad, but maybe in need of a more balanced approach. Maybe we are putting an unnatural pressure on the babies [and ourselves] to have them sleep a certain cookie-cutter-way. Maybe.
I believe "fetuses", infants and children are all 100% persons. I don't think they start feeling the spiritual, emotional and physical affects of this world at some point in adolescents, I believe it starts earlier than we want to believe. Thus, I believe the way we treat those in our womb, or in our arms, can make great impressions upon them later in life.
So, I'm questioning... did those, although, few times, of letting them "cry it out" hurt them in any way? I'd like to think it didn't much, but I wonder.
For me, I want to leave you with one word at the end of this post, it's...balance. Like I said before, I never followed Baby Wise to a T and if I felt like I needed to go in and pick them up mid "crying it out" and comfort them, then I did. So my advice to you is...
1-Hear from the Lord because every child, parent and family is different. What worked for one family, or child may or may not work for you.
2-Comfort them when you hear the Holy Spirit telling you to. Just now even, I laid Heaven down and she would normally go right to sleep watching her sea horse light up and sing to her, but she didn't. I waited a few minutes, and then went up held her spoke to her, and reassured her for just a few minutes and I can now hear that she's asleep. Tell them [even if they don't understand it] "You are safe" "You are loved" You are not abandoned" Etc
3-Pray for them when you lay them down. Pray things like "Peace" "Security" "Angels all around you" Etc
4-I suggest finding something that helps you sleep. I know that I will probably never chose to "comfort" [stay awake with all night] one child for months at the expense of not sleeping at night. Regardless, my other 3 will be up at 7 am, so if my infant and I hang out all night for months and months and never get on any schedule or common compromise no one is winning. Mommy will be nice to one child, while being mean to all the rest of them, and ruining her marriage.
5-Don't be afraid to do something for the greater good. If it's a few minutes of crying it out, or a few mintues of singing, or a few minutes of nursing, or a few hours of co-sleeping. Be willing to do whatever it takes. Because not sleeping has a domino affect on my marriage and relationships and responsibilities to the other children. Don't ignore this truth.
I don't know about you, but I feel crazy, impatient and hate the world when I don't sleep [for long periods of time]. So read, ask, pray, try, but most importantly find something that helps you sleep and makes your child healthy. Children need sleep. If your child thinks they don't, ask God for wisdom to show you how to help them do so. He will answer you. Specifically for your child.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wild With Wonder

What I really think matters to God when it comes to teaching little ones...
There are lots of books out there that show the most amazing human beings who weren't textbook feed. They were saturated by fellowship with family & friends, and encouraged to get outside and get dirty. They were given opportunities to feel, touch, see, experience--- be curious about the world.
They were read to a lot. They were free to really experience life, not just hear and test on it. Especially with younger children, this is not the time, in my opinion, to worry about "can they write their name?" "can they count to 20?" blah blah blah. Will they eventually learn that? Sure!
But what a shame to have a naughty brat, who doesn't know their parents or the Lord well, who is lazy when it comes to reading or investigating but excels on paper with A's. What a waste. God wants our children to be fully alive in Him, and for now, you are the closest picture of God to them. You are the closest, most tangible piece of Jesus.
Make their brains go wild with wonder.
Don't shove papers and pencil in front of them yet. They will have the next 20 years to learn that way.
Above all else, I'd suggest Godly character in them [sharing, responsibility, thankfulness, service, etc] and focus on having fun, reading, exploring, and playing.
Two words---Enjoy them.

Q&A "Homeschooling, Where Do I Start?"

I received an email from a friend  who is slightly considering homeschooling, and in the event she does more strongly consider it...she wants to know...where to start.
My [imperfect] answer---
1. Ask Jesus what He wants you to do
2. Make sure your husband is in agreement
3. Join a group (like the one I'm in!!!) so you have support and a place to ask questions
4. Don't stress, it's K-12th grade, not a doctorate program
5. Ask around, best way to avoid terrible curriculums or common novice mistakes is ask those who have "gone before"
Regardless if you want to or not, feel qualified or don't, think it will be easy or hard---you have to obey what The Lord says. Or don't, and be miserable. Whatever His answer, or calling for you and your house---answer that. Not your neighbors.
Read more in my homeschool section

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chicken Spaghetti & Pencils

I can barely walk up the stairs. I have my new personal trainer to thank for that. Three years ago Charles prepaid for three months worth of training 3 days a week and never used them---lucky me---I'm now stealing them. He's also so kind to pay for a sitter as well so I don't have to lug the kids to the gym. I guess he's equally excited to see me regain [some resemblance] of my girlish figure. Ha.
We started school back again after our "summer" break [we took the Fall off instead of the Summer]. See picture above. No teeth were pulled, but not many worksheets were finished either, however I do feel as though a lot of learning occurred. Check.
Charles is working is going well. Kids are playing with Christmas toys and outside a bit on warmer days. Heaven is a good baby [let's not use the word "easy" makes me look bad]. I'm getting back in the groove after the holidays.
I made chicken spaghetti [take that new year's resolution to cook more]. Let's all just pretend there was no cream of mushroom in it. Everyone also please put your hands together and cheer that I now know that "pulse" is the better option than "on" on the food processor if you prefer to make your chicken shredded verses babyfood mush.
Look at me, one week into the new year and already I've occurred a life lesson.
My to-do list is long. My basement needs a good organizing. Scrapbooks need finishing. Hair needs washing. Let's not even talk about leg shaving...

Thursday, January 3, 2013


 my inlaws visited us from Oregon, so we grabbed a few shots together


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