Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Standing Stones

Today, I feel the need to erect some "standing stones." Some rememberances of how God has been faithful to encourage my faith in a time when I need it most. If you think of any that I've forgotten or want to share some of your own I would appreciate it.

Many tears and prayers through childhood and God has restored my parents and given them a good marriage.

All the lonely times of hoping for love, feeling unloved, wondering if I would ever meet a special someone, and God answered so amazingly and gave me Josiah.

Not knowing where I should go to college and God opened the doors at just the right time so that I knew where He was leading step by step.

When I was confused about Josiah and I's relationship and frustrated God spoke to me so clearly and loudly as I turned around when I was praying and saw a poster on the wall that had a verse that encouraged me and spoke to the situation. Many times he held me up through the questions and angst I had in our relationship.

God's enveloping love that was with me when I was terribly homesick at college.

God delivered us from trial after trial with old cars in our first couple of years of marriage. Always provided jobs for us.
When Alathia joined the family Josiah got a job that paid $2 more an hour, which was perfect timing. Continued raises as our family grows, allowing me to stay home.

Our minivan--we're driving an answer to prayer.
Justus turning around from breech position at the last moment.

Our current rental--we prayed for windows, sunlight, and a fenced yard and got a place we really love and have been very happy in

When we prayed for neighbors to reach out to with the gospel, God more than delivered! We spent a difficult, wonderful, crazy, exciting, couple of years next door to our friends from Mexico. Be careful what you pray for!

When I was terrified of going to public High School God answered all of my prayers for Christian friends and gave me some of the most incredible, godly teens on earth. Our prayer groups, Bible studies, and outreach events were amazing.

God brought us through the long, arduous home delivery of Alathia and the boys' hospital births with healthy babies and no major complications, huge answers to prayer.

God has always provided when there has been a big financial need. He made a way for us to pay for or pay off all of our children and we have never gone hungry, or without medical care.

God brought in the money somehow for me to go to college for 3 years when I thought it would never happen.

When Josiah broke his wrist and couldn't work much, I didn't know how we were going to survive financially, but God provided, through anonymous gifts, our savings and ability to be frugal, through babysitting jobs for me, through Josiah's ability to work one-armed, etc.

God kept me safe on the treacherous, icy drive to Billings and back with my hurt husband. Many safe trips to and from MN too.

God has kept Josiah safe in many situations at work that could have left me widowed.

God has protected my wayward brother from being seriously hurt or killed in two accidents in the last year.

God touched me with healing for a physical ailment when I was in a lot of pain.

This is just the beginning. But is enough to redirect my heart. Trust. He was faithful. He is faithful. He will be faithful.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tps for Homeschooling--Part Four--Guarding Your Time

When you stay home, it's amazing how many people think they can monopolize your time. Even if you are NOT homeschooling, but are staying home with your little ones, you have to be so careful which activities you will join, which church ministries you will get involved in, and in how you will spend your days. Homemakers are continually bombarded with requests for childcare, service opportunities at church, errands or favors, etc. Of course no one thinks they are asking too much of you because they're only asking for this "small" thing. But what many don't realize is that 100 people a week ask you for "small" things and you cannot say yes to everything without going crazy! If I said yes to all the children I've been asked to babysit in recent years I'd be watching at least 12 kids in addition to my own in addition to doing about 10 ministries at church and being my Dad's business secretary and my Mom's paid maid!

Something we do to guard our homeschooling time is not answering the phone during our homeschooling hours unless it is a very important call which I know will be brief. We don't plan errands or shopping for that time of the day. We don't schedule playdates either and I am no longer babysitting any friend's children regularly. I treat my homeschooling like a job, because it is a job indeed! If I worked outside of the home, folks wouldn't demand that time from me, so why should I allow people to demand my time because I work in the home, doing the incredible task of shaping little hearts and minds for eternity?

I'm not saying that I don't embrace those God-ordained interruptions and opportunities to bless someone or be a friend to someone in crisis. The mom-at-home is in a unique position today where she has the time to give where most do not. A rich life is lived in the interruptions. But there are far too many non-important things that can interrupt the school day needlessly if we aren't vigilant to guard our time.

The Little Things

Our life is still in chaos but at least I've stopped crying and I feel God turning my mourning into dancing again. There are lots of options to consider: buying this house after the foundation work is done, moving into my parent's small guestroom for a month, renting elsewhere, temporary rental, asking the landlord to wait until Spring to do the foundation, buying a home, etc. We found a little home we like in our price range which we will be placing an offer on today. I don't want to get too excited as it may not go through but it's at least a possibility that gives me some measure of joy and relief. Maybe God knew we would never buy unless he literally gave us a shove towards it!

It's funny when your life is completely turned upside down how it's the little things that nearly kill you. On the day I was frantically packing after we had just got the news everything had to be out of the house Jer wet his pants and it pushed me over the edge. Later that day we found a bill we were sure we had paid, and had even double-checked on and thought we had paid, and it was 3 days late. I had to jump in my car with 3 little kids, drive 30 miles in a hurry to go pay it before they closed. That same day folks asked me for two favors and someone else called to tell me they wanted me to do nursery this Sunday (I'm the nursery coordinater at church). The next night I had set some casserole aside for my mom and she came by when I was gone to get it and accidentally took our supper with hers so I got home with cranky kids, thankful that for once supper was ready and waiting in the fridge only to find it gone. It's the little things that stack up on top of the big things to make you feel like you will surely lose it if you haven't already. I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider throwing the kids in the van and driving as far away from this situation as I could and not coming home until it was fixed!

It's also in the little things where you find comfort. The little notes of encouragement and offers of help. Being able to control the small stuff like making your bed neatly even if the whole rest of the house is in shambles and boxes. Taking a hot bath. Watching America's Funniest Home videos and laughing again. Someone bringing chocolate muffins by or friends sharing garden produce. The SEEDS Courage CD that keeps playing over and over in our car as we run a bazillion errands, looking at housing options, and keeps trumpeting the message that God is with us and not to fear and to take refuge in Him.

This week I have talked with or thought of women who have it much worse than I do. I am continually reminded that I have much to be thankful for, even in a difficult time. I think of Hannah (see link on sidebar) who is in prison for a crime she didn't commit and is away from her 5 precious children until she is acquitted. It's been 2-3 years so far. I think of Sharon, a gal in my Bible study group whose granddaughter whom she raised like a daughter embezzled $65,000 from her this week, totally betraying her trust and breaking their relationship and ruining her grandparent's business. Also, I think of Shiloh's cousin who lost her 2 year-old son in a bad car accident this week. I think of a gal at church who is dealing with a reactive attachment disorder child whom they adopted and has 5 other kids to care for as well. I think of friends who were sexually abused as children, some for years on end. I think of my friend whose child is constantly in the hospital with severe problems that are still undiagnosed and of the gal I spoke with at ballet class whose baby died at 37 weeks along in the pregnancy. One friend has an alcoholic husband. Life doesn't seem so hard anymore. Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, but God's peace is with us at this time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Update on the House

Lots of prayer needed! The guys were here today and they informed me that due to some issues with the house they will need to tip the house. This means that not only do we have to be out but EVERYTHING WE OWN needs to be moved out as well because the house will tip. Which means 2-3 days to move everything we own to somewhere and we get to be homeless for a month. My parents have one spare bedroom but they are experiencing a lot of water problems right now and don't have drinking water. On top of all of this, our good friends move away to Kansas in a week.

I was totally prepared for the inconvenience of living in a high rise with construction going on underneath me but I wasn't prepared to hear that not only would we be homeless but that we'd have to move everything as well. This is going to be a tough week.


Our landlord is going to try to find us a place to live during the construction on the house since he had assured us we could live there. He's looking into it today. The odds are slim since it is nearly impossible to get a rental in this town, and especially a temporary rental, unless it's in a meth neighborhood. It took us almost a year to find this rental and even then it was not advertised due to it being my cousin's husband's place. He did say we have some time so a 2 day move isn't going to happen; which is such a relief. But inspite of having time, the thought of moving twice in a month's time is crushing. I'm having to go back and look over my posts on suffering. There's a huge part of me that feels everything that I've worked at for the last 9 months we've lived here is being undone. The flowers I've planted, the yard we fertilized, the walls I decorated so carefully, the organizational things I've done to make our rooms more functional, the routine and schedule we've created, the opportunity to host guests and serve others with our home, the life we've known here.

Gratitude Journals

I used some scraps from my collection of old Christmas cards and a family photo for mine.

Alathia is in a kitten/puppy/bunny stage so these stickers we had in the homeschooling box worked for her notebook!

Jeremiah's Gratitude Journal

I absolutely love reading the blog Holy Experience. I found it through another favorite blog of mine, The Homespun Heart. When I read Holy Experience, my heart feels squeezed, I feel infused with truth and encouragement in my role as a mother.

One of the main things Ann Voskamp posts about at Holy Experience is her experience in starting a Gratitude Journal, which she calls 1,000 Gifts. When she set out to find 1,000 things to be thankful for, she began to fill her days with thankfulness and praise and she has long since passed the one thousand mark! I loved her idea so much I made some simple journals out of some notebooks in our stash that were purchased on a back-to-school sale for 8 cents each.

Every day it is a delight to see what my children draw in their journal. They draw while I read from the Bible for a while. It helps them listen better. My daughter, in typical girl fashion makes everything into families. One day she was thankful for wolves and rainbows (drawing a family of each), one day circles and dots (with a daddy, mommy, and baby circles), one day for princesses and girl baby dolls, cat families, the moon, and a house. Jeremiah, being a typical little boy drew snakes and lizards the first two days and I have to remind him daily that he needs to pick something new besides snakes! So he's moved on to giraffes, hippos, and other animal favorites!

Eventually, I may move Gratitude Journal time to the end of the day as I like the idea of closing the day by thanking God for something memorable and sweet that happened that day and recording it for posterity. But for now, it fits in well with our morning school routine.

I have sooooo much to be thankful for! For strong arms enveloping me in a hug at lunch time, for a sugar plum princess ballerina dress for my daughter's December recital, for a new watch, for a mountain sunset, for a free Happy Meal coupon, for fresh ground pepper on sauteed vegetables, for sweet conversation with friends, for tears shared together with a friend in pain, for the taste of fresh breadsticks, for beautiful September days, for lazy fall picnics, for bike rides to the park, for kissable baby cheeks, for the beauty of music, for clean Carhardt jeans, for frozen blueberries on top of oatmeal waffles, for a washing machine, for clean dishes every morning from the dishwasher, for pumpkin cheesecake and mini marshmallows in a steaming cup of cocoa, for God's never-ending patience with me, for a baby who loves to clean up library books, for friends who understand and save time for a chat, for kids who spontaneously give each other foot massages, for creativity and the ability to create, for authors who pierce my heart with deep truths, for excellent printable coupons, for giggling kids, for lush parks, for new beginnings, for the chance to watch God work in the lives of those around us, for trials that grow us, for the ache that means the friendship was a great one, for lotion that is neither greasy or watery and gets the job done, for that twinkle in Grandpa's eye when he laughs, for a Grammy who invites Ali to share lunch and recess with her at school, for the magnificence of autumn..........

I could go on and on but I'd better stop lest this post get too long! The more I look for evidences of graces in my life, the more I see them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick note to let you all know that our house has NOT gone up yet. The workers never came on Monday as they were supposed to. So, we've been enjoying life on the ground as usual this last week and aren't going to hold our breathe waiting. It may happen this week, or it may not. Given the delays with even starting, I am sure hoping that the project isn't delayed and put off once it has been started!

Thanks for your prayers and I'll keep you updated as I find out more!

Stay tuned for a post tomorrow on our Gratitude Journals!

Thoughts from the Retreat #3

How many women's retreats talk about suffering as a Christian? Not many I've been to! And yet, we all have various kinds of suffering in our lives. I was so blessed by this lesson.

Romans 8:28 says that "All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord."

The thing is, God gets to define the meaning of good.

Sometimes what's good for us doesn't feel good.

Biblical definition of hardships:
A. Trials
B. Discipline
C. Persecution
D. Sin

Instead of Avoidance we need to have Endurance
Many women try to take care of the pain through medication, internet, friends, books, exercise, alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, etc.

The Fruit of Suffering
A. Perseverance
B. Eternal rewards
C. Testimonials (can cause others to come to Christ)
D. Share in Christ's sufferings
E. Conformed to His image
F. Increases Faith
G. Teaches us us to say "nevertheless" (nevertheless I will praise you and trust you)
H. Sacrificial praise (even when our feelings don't agree, even when things are hard)

Can you pray, "Lord, strengthen my back that I might bear the burden" instead of "Take this trial away!!!!"
Ask God to give you eyes to see the fruit that comes from suffering.
(Notes from our retreat handouts)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thoughts from the Retreat #2


One thing that was continually mentioned by our speaker at the retreat was the importance of having a "running buddy" or accountability partner to spur us on in our goals and commitments. I love this concept and was glad to hear from a missionary and pastor's wife of many years that you never stop needing one of these no matter how old you are, who you are married to, or how many retreats you speak at. I am fortunate enough to have some running buddies in my life. One of them helps me stay on track with baby-weight-loss and eating when I feel the need to lose or to exercise more or cut back on the sweets and chocolate. That same friend and I are helping each other stay accountable with some budgeting stuff right now as well as we found ourselves struggling this summer to stay on track. My Bible Study group encourages me to study and read and memorize verses, and sharing openly on my blog about daily schedules and homeschooling is a form of accountability for me as I feel the need to continue what I've started and press on, knowing that I'm responsible to live out what I write. My mom reminds me that I need to control my tongue. My brother Colter often has a word of wisdom when I'm in a tough circumstance. Since my little girl is a by-the-book firstborn she even holds me accountable and reminds me of things ("Don't forget to pray for people in the Christmas Card stack tonight Mom!")

In addition to having running buddies I want to be one for the friends in my life. I often ask friends what God is teaching them, what struggles they are having, or look for opportunities to encourage them. Someday I would love to lead a Teen Girl's Bible Study and I hope to give a Modesty Talk this winter to the girls in our church. I'm praying about a few friends God is bringing into my life that I hope to disciple or help. I want to be a listening ear for women younger than myself and be a mentor even as I am mentored by older, wiser women too.

If you don't have a "running buddy" in your life start praying for God to bring someone special into your life! I'd love to hear what your running buddies are helping you with right now!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts from the Retreat #1

I really enjoyed the session where our speaker, Lori, talked about time management. On her handout there were 4 boxes in which we filled in some examples:

Urgent and Important
Crisis situations
Important telephone calls

Urgent by Not Important
Children's extracurricular activities
Too much time at church
Holy Huddles (Christian bubble)
Phone ringing often
Other people's demands of you

Not Always Urgent but Important
Christian growth
Time and connection with spouse
Connecting with children
Vacations/Times of refreshing
Sharing your faith

Not Urgent and Not Important
Internet surfing
Soap operas/TV
Indulgences (spas, manicures, etc.)

Everything is permissable, but not everything is beneficial

Invest in the eternal--Am I wasting time on things that are not urgent and not important?

Most of our lives as moms of young kids is lived in the urgent and important box. It can be a challenge to fight for strength and time to make the important-but-not-urgent-things a priority. In whatever down time we have it can be so easy to fill our time with pressing-but-not-important-things like too much housework or too many church commitments or not-pressing-and-not-important things like a computer addiction or other escapisms. While reading a book or using the computer, etc. aren't bad things, they have to be kept in balance lest we waste our lives on the good instead of living our lives for the best. Finding the balance and the tension between all of these things in our lives is what we must continually strive for throughout our lives. And I know someone will say, "But what if I text my husband to remind him I love him?" or "What if I use facebook to share the Gospel with my unsaved family?" or "What if soccer is super-important to our family?" I'm not sharing this list to say those things are bad. You can make your own chart with your own answers for the quadrants. These are just some ideas folks had at the retreat and are a springboard towards sorting out one's priorities. Are you living your life to the fullest for the glory of God? Are you maximizing the time, talents, and money He has entrusted you with? Are you balanced in all of these areas or are you stuck in one box of being overly busy with things that aren't the MOST important things so that you don't have time for family devotions and prayer or rest time? Are you wasting too much time on video games, TV, fiction books, facebook, blogs instead of serving your family, encouraging your friends, or taking banana bread to a new neighbor?

Some good thoughts to consider!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Chocolate Moose Women's Retreat

See the moose up there?
Sherry (on the right) put the glasses on and waited for Heather (her son's sweetheart) to look at her. Heather jumped a foot!

My mom and I tried a "foot masque" for the first time.

View from the balcony looking down on the lodge's living room

Half of the ladies opted for bed over late-night pampering!

Me, My lovely mom, and my cute cousin, Val

Chocolate mousse in a chocolate bowl

My friend Jade and little Levi talk with the retreat speaker, Lori, who's from CO

Jade gave an awesome testimony!

Jessica's prize for winning the clothespin game

I can't believe I'm putting this pic on my blog!

Chocolate-dipped strawberries

Playing the wild clothespin game. You had to grab other people's clothespins without letting them grab the ones on your own back!

Here's the great teen gal who babysits our kids now and then for us. She's the life of the party! Someday she hopes to be a midwife!

Each lady got a bag of fun treats!

Mom and I's cute little room adjacent to Val's with a large bathroom that had an enormous tub!

Val and Mom

My mom invited me to her church's women's retreat and I wasn't sure about going because we had just been to family church camp the weekend before and I wasn't feeling "desperate for a break from the kids" (what a rarity--I attribute it to the dishwasher!) and the cost was high. My Dad chipped in some money for me for working on his website and my fun cousin Val decided to go so I decided rather last minute that I would go. I was so glad that I did! It was a lot of fun even if it was too short!

We had delicious food, fun fellowship, a great speaker who had tons of great wisdom to share and some Gospel-proclaiming testimonies. I never knew a group of older ladies could be so goofy and fun! And I had never tried chocolate-covered popcorn before or eaten a bowl made out of white chocolate!

It was so inspiring to talk with the faith-filled women there. At first glance, the nonbeliever might think we were a roomful of proper, holier-than-thou types with perfect, easy lives. But as we talked, listened, and shared a day together, it was apparent that all of us were the same and all of us are standing in need of the grace of Jesus. One woman there had recently lost her husband of 63 years. One woman who was there has a 12 year old son who was hit by a drunk driver on the 4th of July while lighting a firecracker in the street. He was drug under the vehicle for 40 feet and not only lived, praise God, but is thriving and back in school with no lasting major damage just 11 weeks later. In fact, he was antelope hunting with his dad while his mom was at the retreat! The prayers of the community held this family up and the mom talks continually about the sovereignty of God in their situation and how God carried her in that hospital room after she told a friend that she didn't think she had the faith to go through this.

Another mom shared how God stepped in when she experienced a medical emergency with her grown son. Another mom has a child with an incurable lung disease and another child being ostrasized in school. Other moms have unsaved children, or had alcoholic parents, or are living in a difficult marriage right now. A couple of us there were in the trenches of young motherhood, living through the physical exhaustion that comes from parenting tiny ones and there were also a handful of sweet teen gals there too! Quite a few of the women are married to artists and know the strain of tight finances. All of us could relate to the speaker as she shared so transparently her struggles with sin continually in day-to-day life whether with eating, gossiping, judging, etc.
It was so good to hear how God had worked in the lives of other women friends. I was so excited that my cousin got to go. She's about 12 years older than me and though I hardly saw her in my growing up years, she heard about my mom's summer Bible study through a facebook comment and began coming each week this summer even though she lives 30 miles away. We've continued the study bi-monthly into the fall. My aunt has been coming with my cousin many times too so it has been a wonderful experience to study the Word with my mom, aunt, and cousin along with a few other precious gals. I have literally seen God transform Val and I stand back amazed at what He has been doing in her life lately! It has renewed my own faith in the power of the Gospel (the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ) and has given me much reason to praise Him.
I was a little nervous about leaving Justus for the first time and leaving King Jo for the first time with ALL THREE! But all of the kids survived and hardly seemed to notice I was gone and hubby said he had a wonderful time and wouldn't have minded even a little more time with them since it seemed to go so fast. In 24 hours he managed to take them to the park, the Blasdel twins' birthday party, a town 30 miles away to play at a park and visit 5 stores (quickly, looking for a bike chain), read them library books, to play Memory, and to deal with their incessant hunger and poopy bottoms. I'm so thankful for my wonderful guy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This Week

Please keep us in prayer this week as we will be dealing with a lot of upheaval as the construction guys prepare to lift our house 4 feet in the air to rebuild the foundation beneath. We are hoping that the gas, sewer, water, and electric lines can be extended (apparently this is done often and folks can continue living in their homes). If not, we are in a big dilemma because we have limited options for where to live if for some reason our house collapses, or it is without water or power. My folks just have one small guest room and have a broken water softener right now that's giving them all kinds of water trouble. Whatever happens, it will certainly be an adventure. I've been thinking about the folks living in desperate poverty around the world and reminding myself that no matter what happens God will take care of us and we are better off than they. We have so much more than most people in the world and we have people who can help us whatever happens. While it's tempting to grumble about the possibility of a month of no hot water, a month without heat, having to live in a tent or with relatives or friends, and not getting to use my new dishwasher for a while after I've just gotten used to having the consistently spotless kitchen, I know that we will get through this and that we can be thankful in spite of it. We're getting a break on our rent for the inconvenience, the boys will love watching the construction men, it's a good reminder that possessions should be held onto loosely, we may have opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the construction workers, we will be compelled to be outdoors more, exploring the canyon and hiking trails near our home so as to stay out of the way of workers at times, and we may get to do some sleep-overs as a family at Grammy's (something the kids would love to do for sure!)
Pray that our kids would be safe with the four-foot drop out of the front door and the hole underneath the house and pray that this would be a wonderful time for our family to grow.

Pics to come of this process.....

In the meantime I have some posts lined up to publish automatically throughout the week of other things I am excited to share with you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Homeschooling Planning Book

Got this great little planner at Target in the $1 section this summer.

It doesn't have space for EVERYTHING, but most things. In addition to what's written down, we also look at our daily chore chart, read library books sometime during the day, and read Little House on the Prairie after lunch. We've also started doing Gratitude Journals daily too. (Coming post on these soon!)
You may have to click the pic to see the written words more clearly.


My 2nd grade teacher taught us to make these. I thought they were so fun that I've remembered them all of these years later. I made smiles for my kids the other day, relishing the simple pleasures in life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

School Supplies

I promise that not all of my posts from now on will be about homeschooling! However, I enjoy sharing the things I'm learning as I study on this subject and begin this journey with my children!

My cousin Val gave me these old tubs she had laying around which she wasn't using and it was perfect timing since I was wanting some to organize some of my supplies. I devoted one large shelf in my hall closet to homeschooling stuff and this is where I stash all of these containers and my large cardboard box full of odds and ends and workbooks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tips for Homeschooling--Part Three--Personal Discipline

You can't expect your kids to do what you won't do.

If you want your kids to love the Word, they need to see you loving the Word and reading it daily.

If you want your kids to make their beds, you need to make your bed.
If you want your kids to be giving and unselfish, you need to be giving and unselfish.

If you want your kids to be organized and responsible, you need to be organized and responsible.

If you want the kids to do their chores you need to model a strong work ethic and do your chores.

If you want your kids to avoid excessive amounts of video games/computers/TV you need to as well.

If you want your kids to respect their Dad, you need to model respect.
If you want your kids to love books and learning, you need to read books relating to your interests and goals.

Our kids are watching and imitating us every second. My daughter started biting her nails because she's seen me do it! Isn't it scary to hear your child giving a lecture to their siblings in "that tone" that they always receive a lecture in? One of the most important lessons I've learned in my short time of parenting is that I have to BE what I want my children to BE. This is hard stuff! When you homeschool your children and they are with you all day long, you have that much more opportunity to inspire them by example, or exasperate them! We can all grow in the area of personal discipline; no one has this down! Our lack of personal discipline is good motivation to get on our knees and pray for God's help in this. He is faithful to help us grow in the area of personal discipline. Having personal discipline is a key component of a successful homeschool.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tips for Homeschooling--Part Two--Rotating Tasks

In January I posted about my method, which I call "time blocking" which is how I rotate between being a mom and a keeper of the home, without going crazy. While I don't do it all (no one can) and there will always be distractions and interruptions, I have found that this rotating of time between home and kids is a wonderful way to keep your head above water in the sea of endless responsibilities and tasks. Whatever you call it: time blocks, rotation, focused time, or balance, it works for me!

In a non-homeschooling normal day, time blocking/rotating tasks would be giving the kids 10 minutes of reading, then doing 10 minutes of chores, then supervising them play outside for half an hour, then having them play in their bedroom for a half an hour while I get things done on my to-do list, having some "relax time" when they nap, and getting them to join me in my tasks.

In a homeschooling day, this works in much the same way. I do a few activities with the kids, then get them busy on a tracing paper while I throw laundry in and start dishes. Then I go back to helping them do a craft, and leave them to work on it for a few minutes while I play with Justus or sweep floors. Because we are still in the early years, when schooling doesn't take a lot of time, I still have plenty of time for squeezing chores and even mommy blogging breaks around the time I spend with the kiddoes. As school takes more and more time, I will have longer times of teaching the kids interspersed with times of doing chores and I'm sure it will be difficult to just get the basic cooking and cleaning accomplished. But as they grow, they will also be able to read to themselves, wipe their own bottoms, and do more chores!

Some books stress having fun with the kids and enjoying them and forgetting housework and other books stress all the things you should be doing to stay on top of your clutter and run a super-orderly home. If you don't find a mix of these you will be a super-fun mom living in the aftermath of a toy tornado, a super-uptight mom shoe-ing the kids away like flies at every turn so you can clean the house, or a totally over-whelmed mom who has decided to check out and just ignore the kids and the house. Why not combine some of your household chores and time with the kids by having them help you do them? I know it takes longer when the kids help you but it's good training for them and eventually they'll be more of an asset than a liability with the spray bottle. I take my kids grocery shopping, running errands, and allow them to bake with me. They "help" wash dishes and spray-mop the kitchen floor. They sweep the porch and help me clean the yard up. When I have to do things that the kids cannot help with, like paying bills or making calls (some of my most dreaded chores!), I try to get them busy and occupied elsewhere for a moment.
A lot of homeschooling moms advise spending time with your toddler first before starting the big kids on their lessons. Apparently it is easy to overlook the little ones in your quest to educate the older ones so spending some one-on-one time with a toddler first thing can help them feel loved too.
I greatly enjoyed the book "A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family." The author Mary Ostyn, who has 10 children, 6 of whom were adopted, gave a lot of tips on this very subject, as well as many others regarding how to afford, manage, suvive, and enjoy a large family!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Neat Post

My friend Natalie, the one from whom I stole the phrase, "Closing Down the Zoo" had a fun post full of organizing tips which helped make her life easier this summer. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then again, I always enjoy Natalie's posts because she is so humble, transparent, real, and deeply in love with the Lord.

Check it out.

Tips for Homeschooling--Part One--Dress the Part

I have always been a bookworm, and lately much of my reading has to do with homeschooling. I'm sometimes overwhelmed by all of the resources out there and have a hard time absorbing it all. Some of these tips come from my own short experience as a mom, some come from favorite bloggers who have shared their own ideas, and some from older, wiser authors who have paved the way for homeschoolers. Many of these tips apply to homemakers in general and not just to homeschoolers.

Dress the Part

I personally find that I feel like more of a teacher when I'm dressed nicely for my day. This is not to say I won't ever take advantage of the opportunity homeschoolers have to lounge around in PJ's now and then and have a lazy day, but for the most part I prefer to be wearing nice, everyday, feminine clothes and have my hair fixed. (You will remember a post in the late winter I wrote about my hair going by the wayside when I had a third kid. Thankfully that was temporary during the time my husband was hurt and I now have time each morning to do hair and make-up! I sure paid the price for being that open on my blog! I assure you I did not drive my husband away into the arms of another woman because I had a stressful season of life where my hair was a low priority!)

There are many reasons I want to look nice, not just to get into my "role" of being a teacher but also because:
*It models good hygiene for my kids
*It honors and blesses my husband
*We see LOTS of people throughout the day--because our home is near a riverwalk we see countless walkers/bikers/neighbors out with dogs and because we live in a rental that is under contract to be sold and has a totally worthless foundation we have lots of repairmen and inspectors dropping by unexpectedly. There's nothing more embarrassing than being in your skimpy summer pajamas with wild hair when people drop by!
*I represent Christ to those around me who know I'm a Christian. I want my behavior and appearance to adorn the gospel and not detract from it.
*I represent young mothers (in a world that discourages women from having kids) and stay-at-home moms (in a world where this is a rarity) and don't want to look like I'm miserable and unkempt in my important and joyous role, which I do love in spite of the less-fun moments.
*I represent mothers of many (in our town you get endless comments if you have more than two) and homeschooling mothers as well (freaks for sure!) and want to look nice to lessen the criticism I already get on a regular basis.

In accordance with dressing the part myself, I expect my kids to have clean clothing and combed hair before we begin homeschooling. Is it life or death? Not at all. As a teen I babysat often for a family of homeschoolers that had a very loose schedule, never had combed hair, and their house was a collossal mess. But today those girls are incredibly smart, talented, kind young women who have great fashion sense and hygiene. Even if appearance isn't a major issue, I feel that my kids should be learning to care for themselves daily because it teaches them personal discipline and because of the reasons mentioned above. Putting on clean, neat clothing and combed hair only takes a few minutes anyhow!

More Tips on Homeschooling to Come.....
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