Sunday, December 20, 2009

and Happy New Year, from our family to yours!
S (15), C (13), M (10), A (5), & K (3)
Glory to God in the highest!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Shutter speeds, F/stops, and Aperture, oh MY!

I've had a Nikon D40 for over 2 years now. My sweet sweet WONderful brother-in-law bought it for me - and I told him from the beginning it was a better camera than I deserve!

The picture in that last post just proves that I'm not using this puppy to its fullest potential. I love using natural light and turning off the flash - but if there's too much of that natural light, the pics end up all washed out. It's bothered me for-EV-er and I've decided to do something about it!

Before I resort to using my cell phone's camera to take all my pictures, I'm reading the manual for the camera (finally -ha!) and watching some Y*u T*be videos on tips & tricks. If any of you guys have a D40, or some other SLR digital camera, I'd be interested to hear any tips you have for settings, lenses, composition, etc.

Thanks!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meeting them where they are...

I take for granted sometimes that my Littles know all the things I've been teaching the Big 3 lo these many years. But I discovered yesterday there are some ... shall we say ... gaps in their body of knowledge about Advent and the Nativity. So I did it ... I broke down yesterday and bought this:
The Little People Nativity set. Family Christian Store had it on sale. It's not elegant. It's a bit cartoonish. But it's got A (5) and K (3) enjoying the Christmas Story for hours on end and sparking their interest in hearing the story from the Bible.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Job Description

I don't take any credit for this. My sweet longtime friend, Wendy, introduced me to Nancy Wilson's blog a couple of years ago. Yesterday we were discussing this post and I was telling her how it made a big impression on my heart and how I've been applying it.

Mrs. Wilson wonders if Paul had mothers in mind when he wrote I Thessalonians 5:14 "Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." Don't you agree with her that's a very good description of mothering?

I made myself a sign out of the verse, printed in one of my new favorite colors (orange :) and mounted on a slip of scrapbook paper. It now hangs prominently in my kitchen, where I see it often - to serve as a reminder of my job description.

It's been posted for about a week now. I find it interesting that each time my one of my children has a need - a need that "interrupts" my "work" and I'm tempted to get frustrated - meeting the need falls easily into one of the four categories! The Big Boys getting off-task in their schoolwork? An opportunity to admonish the idle. The 5yo has a high fever and keeps us up all night? An opportunity to help the weak. The Littles are grouchy and lacking self-control because of hunger? An opportunity to encourage the fainthearted (and give them a snack.) The end of a long day, when my "to-do list" seems untouched and I feel like what I need most is just a BREAK!? An opportunity to be patient with them all. (And... as Amy Carmichael says ... a "chance to die" to self.)

Is it my nature to do this? No way! I'm so selfish, and I do love crossing things off my list. I wrestle with my flesh constantly when it comes to dying to myself and "walking" in the "good works" (Eph 2:10) the Lord has prepared for me in each moment - especially when those good works seem to be interrupting the good works I've planned for myself. That's exactly why I made the sign - I need a visible, present reminder for I have much learning and growing yet to do in this area.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Which I Make a Delightful Discovery

I had much puttering to do around the house this afternoon. The Little Ones were napping and the Big 3 were doing schoolwork, so the house was quiet. I was thinking how nice it would be if Gateway to Joy were still on the radio - and on at this time slot - and wishing my Elisabeth Elliot talks were not all on worn-out cassettes hidden away in boxes b/c I no longer have a working tape player.

My Sweetie suggested I look for mp3s online and guess what? They exist! I found a website called Blue Letter Bible that has more than a dozen Elisabeth Elliot talks available for free to stream or download. Go check them out here.

The one I listened to today was called "Sulking." I was attracted to the title because it's something I never do. Har har har. It was SO good to hear the voice of my old friend again, a spiritual mother whose writings and talks have encouraged me since I was a teenage girl.

(The BLB webste, along with this one , this one, and this one, are going to come in handy as I load my iPod for some long runs ahead in prep for the half marathon in December!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

While on hiatus...

...among other things, I've been working on some Hidden Art. Ya'll know I love me some Hidden Art! (If you're not sure what I mean, look here for an old post, here for another one, and here for Edith Schaeffer's inspiring book.)

After several weeks of hunkering down and working hard to keep our little home and school on track, I just needed some beauty! You know what I mean? So I poked around on a couple of user-friendly decorating blogs (The Shabby Nest and The Nesting Place are my favorites - go check 'em out) I got inspired.

Now, remember, I'm no Martha Stewart. Don't wanna be. Just want to bring a little beauty into the lives of the people I love and make our home a haven. It all began when I found this little basket at Good*will. It used to be an icky shade of sea foam green. But I liked the shape and thought it would be a cute way to contain our keys, etc. on the kitchen counter. So my Sweetie spray painted it black for me. Isn't it cute? (I'm really loving the way black looks with my fun green kitchen paint. hmmm.... )I had noticed how both of the bloggers mentioned use monograms a lot in their decorating. Lettering is definitely a fun trend. Our guest bathroom has needed some art for a while, so I found an old picture frame, got out the black spray paint, and went to work. I removed the glass, cut a piece of burlap to size and used spray adhesive to stick it to a piece of cardboard (also, amazingly, cut to size LOL.) I looked and looked for a letter just the right size and shape at the craft store, but struck out. "C" is not a very pretty letter. But as I was about to give up, I found this little one in the dollar bin! It's really meant to be a little velvet coloring project for kids. But more black spray paint and voila! (I'm really getting addicted to black spray paint. And burlap. Just think of all the things we can do with them....)In the closeup you can see the how the "C" is embossed with little stars for coloring - oh well, adds texture, I say! The fern leaf was created using an inexpensive stencil and black acrylic craft paint. Next I tackled the need for art in the guest bedroom. I bought frames at I*kea months ago, but finally printed some of my photography to put in them. (The "Sisters" frame was a gift from - you guessed it - my sister! Aren't we cute?)Then I "shopped my house" for another set of frames and random accessories (and added some more of my photography.) My Sweetie helped me hang everything.Next I put away the pile of shoes and purses that tend to collect on our hearth and "shopped the house" for some happiness to put there. (The picture frame is another .99 GW find. I just added my 13yo son's favorite art print.)Throw in some little punkins from W*l-M*rt and the fireplace looks almost pretty. Speaking of WM, I found the most adorable ceramic pumpkin for $5! Added to a clearance charger and placemat and I ended up with a cute fall centerpiece.
I also prettied up the front porch. More burlap (yay), some beads I already had on hand, a welcome sign on clearance, a punkin and some mums on sale at the garden center.
All of these little changes were affordable and quick - we did most of it in one weekend afternoon - but make a big difference. A little frugal creativity can go a long way to achieving a little Hidden Art. That is Mrs. Schaeffer's main point, after all - that ordinary people can have beauty in their homes without spending a lot of money or being interior designers by trade. Simple. Cheap. Beauty.

Happy Fall Ya'll!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thought for a Rainy Thursday

I'm still sort of on a blogging hiatus; I just came across a wonderful quote by George MacDonald that I thought fits well with the season of life I'm in (and the theme of my blog, LOL!)

"Bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go to do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feelings. Do thy work." (quoted in George MacDonald: An Anthology, C.S. Lewis, ed.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to Regroup, Prioritize, and Lay Low

I've been here before. I'm sure that as long as I'm on this side of Glory, I'll be here again. Burnout. Frustration. Overwhelmed.

But "a bruised reed He will not break." The Lord has given me counsel through His word, through re-reading a good book , through a convicting blog post, and through good, godly friends. (you know who you are! thanks!)

The truth of the matter is this: I've got toddlers to teens; high school to preschool - with everything in between. Faithfully mothering young children is a full-time job. Faithfully mentoring teens as they become young adults is a full-time job. Homeschooling is a full-time job. I think somehow I assumed that since I'd been at this for 15 years that I was somehow coming to the easy part. You know, the part where I get to workout whenever I want, attend book clubs, shop in the middle of the day, and get lunch with friends. And oh, yes -- blog and read others' blogs!

Not that I can never do those things. But I'm realizing (again -slow learner!) that the best contribution I can make to the world - and God's Kingdom - right now is to be a faithful mother to my children and a helpmeet to my husband. And do it with JOY (James 1:2; Phil 4:4) and THANKSGIVING! (I Thes. 5:18; Psalm 107:1). And without complaining. (Phil 2:14)

I'm performing surgery on my schedule, cutting out activities that are getting in the way and causing me to be all "hurry and flurry" about the things that matter. I'm letting the phone go to voicemail during school hours, staying home more, checking addictive social networking site (you know the one!) less, and laying low in the blogsphere. Please forgive me if I have not stopped by your site recently, or if I miss a few of your lovely posts. I'm so blessed by all the blogs that I read. But I must be careful. Five minutes on the computer quickly turns into half an hour, and then I'm frustrated at myself, behind in my work, and not in the frame of mind I need to be to tenderly train and teach my children.

So thank you for understanding and please bear with me as I blog less and live more. Blessings! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today's Mercies

I am using John Piper's fantastic book A Godward Life as a devotional with my older children. The portion we read today was very fitting for our family as we adjust to the stress of a new school schedule, but I suspect we all can identify in one way or another, so I share the first part here.

(Meditation on Matthew 6:34 "Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Piper says:

Part of saving faith is the assurance that you will have faith tomorrow. Trusting Christ today includes trusting him to give you tomorrow's trust when tomorrow comes. Often we feel today like our reservoir of strength is not going to last for another day. The fact is, it won't. Today's resources are for today, and part of those resources is the confidence that new resources will be given tomorrow.

A Godward Life, (Multnomah Books, 1997) p.25

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You do what you've gotta do...

Today is my "easy" homeschool day. The Big Boys go to Veritas, and I will start attending a ladies' Bible study at church in a couple of weeks. So I've not scheduled Tuesdays as a big workday for M (10) and A (5). Today I decided I would try to get in some kind of run on a local Greenway after dropping S (14) and C (12) off at school. Operative phrase being "some kind."

Here's how it goes: Drive around aimlessly for 20 min, unable to find Greenway until helpful bro-in-law gives directions to a park with easy access. Ok. Now, get out the clunky, old Gra*co single stroller for K (3), as well as scooter & helmet for A. Think to self: "why do I not own a jogging stroller?" Decide that training for a half-marathon requires some actual time running, and this is the best I'm gonna get today. Load K in the stroller and set off. (M leaves her scooter in the car, saying she'd rather run like me. I'm concerned about this, but I'm also concerned about how I'll carry 2 scooters and push the stroller when everyone gets tired before 3 miles are up. That's one of the reasons I picked the Greenway, though, instead of a loop trail ... once we're on it, ya gotta finish to get back to the car! *wink*)

Running with this old stroller isn't easy - it has to be man-handled through every turn and I have to bend over to push. Hard on the back, but good for the biceps! ;-) Jog at a pretty good pace for the first 1/4 mile or so. Concrete sidewalk gives way to lovely boardwalk along the creek. Splat! A wipes out on his scooter on the wet wood (did I mention it was drizzling? What is wrong with me?) Biker speeding by beeps a wimpy little horn and narrowly misses the fallen boy on the trail. Hug, wipe the knees, and lay the scooter over the stroller handle so A can go on foot. Continue jogging, with the scooter's extra weight now making the stroller a real challenge.

A quickly tires of running. Asks to get in stroller. Ok, K is ready to stretch her legs, so I slow down and walk a bit. Scooter still "parked" on the stroller handle, as we're still on wet wood. Wood gives way to asphalt and M decides to take a turn with the scooter. A doesn't want to give up his spot in the stroller, so I put K ... in the basket! Running uphill with 2 kids in a non-jogging, single stroller! Are we having fun yet?

And so it went for the first two miles. We had no other major incidents, even when the trail briefly followed a busy road, then went d.o.w.n a steep ramp to cross under it. We finally hit our stride for the last mile, with M happily scootering (wth only one little wipeout - silly wet wood!), A running, and K in the stroller. After all his complaining on the first leg of the trail, A ran the whole last mile! I had told them we were doing 3 miles total, and when he reached the car, A kept saying, triumphantly, "I ran a 5K! I ran a 5K!"

And you know what? Perhaps not the most serene run I've ever had, but definitely a workout and definitely a memory made.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week 1 Report

I'm going to try the weekly reporting thing again this year, mainly for my own accountability and record, but also on the chance that someone out there is mildly interested!

We had a rough week, to be honest! I posted the picture at right (taken at Cloudland Canyon while on our anniversary trip last month) because it reminds me that in our school year there will be times we are on the mountain-top and times we are in the valley. And times in between where we, with firm resolve, struggle to climb back to the top!

Monday was spent organizing last-minute details for the boys' first day at Veritas Classical School, as well as getting books ready for M & A to study here at home. I hadn't run errands - or run my feet - in a while, so I ended up doing both Monday afternoon and evening, and was a little scattered and tired Tuesday as a result.

The boys liked their classes and teachers, but it's going to take some time for them to adjust to the workload. S (almost 15) did a tutorial three years ago and we learned the hard way how easy it is to leave too much work to do at the end of the week. So the 2 boys and I sat down Wednesday morning and mapped out their assignments by days. S. had quite a lot of literature / writing to get done over the weekend and will have a busy day Monday. C. has been able to keep up with his assignments, but he's a fast reader.

The other big change for the boys is that we've dropped Saxon math. It simply wasn't working for us anymore, and the DIVE cds weren't helping, either. So S is doing Jacobs' Algebra, and so far is loving it's straightforward lessons and narrative style. C. is using BJU Press 7th grade math. No cd-rom or DVD means Mom will have to be more involved in the instruction, but I've scheduled that during K's (3yo) nap and A's rest time. I'm pretty good at algebra and at least this way when they have a question, I won't have to spend 45 minutes reading through what they're doing to answer it - we'll all be on the same page, so to speak! ;-)

M (10 -5th gr) and A (5 - K) got a little bit of work done each day, but I'm still tinkering with the schedule and still trying to get my planbook organized. M is really motivated this year, and is already reading ahead in history! I'm stremlining for these two, using mostly curriculum from Christian Liberty Press, with a little A Beka and some living books thrown in.

My mission for this school year is:
-to help S & C succeed at Veritas and spread their wings as young men, learning to be responsible for themselves, be challenged academically, and begin getting out from behind Mom's apron strings and into the world;
-to get M up to grade level. As the middle child (and one with special medical needs that at times distract us from school), her academic progress has gotten kind of lost. I'm calling her a 5th grader, though some of her work is still 4th, but I'm optomistic by the end of the year, we'll "be there." If not, we'll just call next year "5th grade, part 2!"
-to simplify!!! I'm learning more and more that the specific curricula we use and the grand plans I make matter less than just "doing the next thing" - just diligently working through whatever we're using.
-to create a pleasant, Christ-honoring atmosphere in our home, no matter what we accomplish academically. I've only a few years left with S at home, and I want to impart a love for the Lord, His Word, His people, and the nations. He can always study and learn and fill in the gaps of "information", but I don't get a "do-over" in training his heart.

I finally posted C's 7th grade line-up here, and M's 5th grade on this page. Kindergarten ideas still to come. (And no, I've not forgotten about chores! More on that coming soon, Lord-willing.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It wasn't pretty, but we survived!

Today was the first day we had a full school workload. We officially started Monday, but that day was mostly organizing and preparing for Tuesday - the boys' first day of classes at Veritas. So today was day 1 with assignment sheets from Veritas, plus our work at home (math & science for the big boys; all subjects for M (10yo 5th grade) & A (5yo, kindergarten.)

To be honest, it wasn't really even "full" - M is taking science at an enrichment program and classes there have not officially started, though she does have some taxonomy cards and reading to work through before the first day; C's (12 yo 7th gr) math books haven't arrived (mainly b/c his mother forgot to go pick them up from the homeschool store -- oops!); and we didn't get to phonics or math with A.

But still -- it was a full workday. I had a conference with each of the boys and we mapped out which assignements need to be done each day. (In the future, I hope to do that on Tuesday evenings, but we had a little family birthday celebration last night for A - my little BLT turned 5!) C's teachers started off light -easing the students into things, I guess. Not so with S (14). I guess they figure "Hey, this is high school, get used to hard work!" He hung in there today and got the list done, but he's definitely going to have quite a workload.

The house, of course, looks like we spent all day on school! The kitchen is a mess, any room K (3) played in while we were working is a mess, dinner is going to be late, and the laundry is not caught up. My attitude has been horrible all week - feeling disappointed with myself for not being more ready for the beginning of the year. But .... we survived and lived to tell the tale!
Now ... on to "do the next thing!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ninth Grade Curriculum Plan

In case you're interested:
S – 9th Grade Curriculum Plan, 2009-2010
(S will be attending Veritas Classical School one day per week for humanities instruction. Their book list is copyrighted and is only available to registered students. So I can't list the books here, but trust me, they're good!)
Veritas Curriculum
Bible - New Testament Survey
History -U.S. History
American Literature
English - grammar, writing, vocabulary
Rhetoric / Debate
Greek I
(S. will also be taking an apologetics elective at a local a la carte homeschool enrichment program)
Apologetics -The Quest for Truth Chris Sherrod
At Home
Algebra I - Elementary Algebra Harold Jacobs
Physical Science - Exploring Creation with Physical Science Dr. Jay Wile
Fine Arts - Appreciation: Annotated Mona Lisa Carol Strickland
Young Persons Guide to Music Neil Ardley
The Story of Classical Music CD by Darren Henley
Various composer studies
Studio arts: Various drawing exercises
Guitar - weekly lesson & practice
PE - fitness training and various group classes at YMCA

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And the winner is...

...Shannon! Congratulations - you are the proud new owner of Exploring God's Creation!

This was a fun giveaway, and I wish I had something to mail to all of you! Thanks for visiting and commenting. If I can ever find time to blog again (with the craziness of illness, last-minute end-of-summer trips, and school starting) I look forward to making some new homeschool bloggy friends!

Have a great week!

Friday, August 7, 2009

We interrupt this program....

Ok, so I promised to get the Part 2 Chores post up and running the other day. But then the Chicken Pox decided to visit our house and I've been a little distracted. So blogging is on the back burner for now, but stay tuned.... (and thanks for understanding!)
*Note to the curious... yes my children received the vaccine. But 10yo M has a rare blood disorder and she just marches to the beat of her own drummer, medically speaking. =)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Homeschool Giveaway!

*******Update: the Giveaway is over. Go here to see the winner! Have a great year, everybody!

Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations is sponsoring a Curriculum Cleanout. Now through August 15, lots of great resources will be recycled through giveaways. Have something that needs a new home? Need a few items to round out your curriculum? Then check out this great blog carnival that grows daily!
Photobucket


My giveaway is for Exploring God's Creation Science workbook from Christian Liberty Press. First, I just want to say how much I love Christian Liberty Press! They are affordable, user-friendly, and have a solid Biblical worldview. This science workbook (we used it more as a "text") has information and activities on a range of topics in all the major areas of elementary science. It's listed in their 3rd grade materials, but we used it as a group when my kids were in 4th, 2nd, and K. (The first couple of lessons have some marks - before I got smart and photocopied the lessons.) Each chapter has a bit of info on the topic, followed by some questions and an experiment that uses easy-to-find household items. We supplemented each topic with books from the library and spent about a week on each lesson.
The way to enter this giveaway is to leave me a comment on this post - it's that easy! (Be sure to leave me a way to contact you.) Contest ends at midnight on the 15th - I will randomly select a winner from all the entries. Hope you win!

**Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of the Chores series!

Overheard

If you were a fly on the wall in the Next Thing house this week, you might have heard...

"Can I do yogos on the map, Mom? Can't I? 3yo K asking to do yoga on the mat one morning. I had to stop laughing to say "yes." She tends to end all questions with a sweet little, lilting "can't I?" What - does she think that makes her hard to resist? She's right!

K's Dictionary
shaps ships -- chap stick
sssip sslops -- flip flops
precious -- princess
Blessed Jesus to Your Name -- title of her favorite song, "Blessed Be Your Name"

"I think 21 Gu*ns is the best song ever. It makes me cry." 12-going-on-13 yo C, commenting on music by Gre*en D*ay

"Mom, K had to go potty at 5am and I took her." 10 yo M being a sweet big sister. She's done a good job with the middle-of-the-night potty breaks and hugs now that K has a big girl bed and shares M's room.

That's some of the chatter happening around here. Go visit Mary's place for more Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pondering...

Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10b

Our citizenship is in Heaven. This world is full of sin and brokenness. And yet, Jesus promises abundant life here. Food for thought.Italic

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chores, Part 1: Basic Principles and Resources

Ok, let's do this in spurts. If I wait until I have the time to write one big post about all the chore principles & methods, successes & failures in the Next Thing house - well, it will just never get done!

So part one is an overview of our family's basic principles and some resources we have found helpful. And remember, I never claimed to be perfect. *wink* There are dozens of good books, ideas, and methods out there. This is just a sampling of what we've liked and used.

There are two resources that influenced me more than any other in the early years of chore training in our family: The Heart of the Home cd set (well, my original was cassette tapes!) and a book titled The Managers of Their Homes.

Heart of the Home is a 5-cd set by Sue Jakes and Priscilla Stewart that is a wealth of encouragement on many topics relating to a biblical view of motherhood. I really can't recommend this product strongly enough! It was originally a gift from my mother-in-law in 1997, and changed and blessed me, as a young wife and mother of two, in so many ways. It's full of encouragement - both from Scripture and from two moms with a total of 11 children between them. It's also full of practical ideas on everything from learning styles to discipline, to --well -- chores! (It includes a handy study guide with its own resource list, diagrams, and Scriptures mentioned in the talks. And though I love all of it, my favorite talk is "How a Good Mom Can Be a Great Wife" - but that's a post for another time.) I listen again and again for encouragement and have loaned it or given as gifts to many people. Fantastic stuff! (click here for a link to the PCA bookstore, then search for the title, if the link above doesn't work.)

From HOH I gleaned many things that relate to chores. First is just an overall desire to instill in my children a servant's heart. Living in a family is a great way to demonstrate, "by love serve one another" on a daily basis as we work together to make our home a nice place to live. Second, was the "chore fishy" idea. I think they mention it in the talks, and instructions are in the study guide for making the little fish tank. Third, was the "swat team" approach to tidying up - I've sort of adopted and adapted this using some FlyLady ideas and call it "Room Rescues." Quick clean-ups with each person tackling a specific zone in the main living areas - good for sprucing up before Daddy comes home or being ready for that unexpected visitor. Lastly, was a very handy teaching tool for young and old alike:
First: I show you how to do it
Second: Let's do it together
Third: Let me watch you do it
Last: Now you do it on your own

Managers of Their Homes was a resource I discovered a few years later, when beginning to homeschool my oldest. At that time, I had three kids: kindergarten, preschooler, and baby. MOTH is primarily a scheduling resource, but since doing chores are part of the daily schedule, they are discussed at length in the book. (Since I got my first copy almost 10 years ago, they have published a Managers of Their Chores. I hear really good things about the Chore Packs they utilize in that book.) MOTH can be admittedly overwhelming if you try to employ every principle every day. But be wise, cut yourself some slack, and like any good resource, adapt it to fit your needs.

MOTH gave me several things, but there are three key principles on chores that we use in our family. First, to assign any particular chore to the youngest person possible. It's amazing what a 2-year-old can do if given the training and tools, and a lot of praise! (More on that in Part 2.) Following this principle ensures that we really are working as a family and the older children don't carry more than their share of the load. The second principle was to make the chore assignments permanent (or semi-permanent), so that everyone does the same chores every day. It was this principle that helped my oldest, S.-nearly 15-become the household laundry expert. (I'm toying with variations on this, however, for the older ones- so they can learn to do a variety of things for the family. More on that in Part 3.)

The last key chore principle from MOTH was "training time." Schedule a specific time of day to train your children for new chores. (Or to give a refresher course to older ones who slowly forget how to thoroughly clean a bathroom, LOL.) Each day you're working with a particular child on a particular task relating to chores (or cleaning and cooking in general.) I found so many times that I was frustrated by a job poorly done, when I had never really trained them in the right way to do something. (Training Time is a good time to employ four steps above from HOH.)


I know there are other excellent resources available, and I encourage you to find and use whatever seems a good fit for your own famiy. These are the things that have worked (so far) for ours.


Next time - Part 2: Chores for Little Ones. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Overheard

The kiddos around here are full of constant chatter, keeping their father and me in stitches. Problem is, I don't record most of it and now I've forgotten! Oh, well, that's okay, though, because each day they come up with new sayings to make me smile. Today we are going to a small, local arts center that has hands-on activities for kids. The Littles are very excited and have a lot to say about it. Here are some samples from this morning:

"Mom, when can we go to da art wees-mees-um?" 3yo K., eager to get this party started

(nearly-5-yo A was at my bedside this am before my eyes were open, asking when we were going to leave) "Mom, when are we going to leave?"
"After we eat breakfast, do our chores, and get ready."
"Ok, I'm going to do my chore fishies now."
And off he went to start on his chores while I dragged myself out of bed and to the shower. Later he reappeared.

"Mom, look! I made two new fish. One for eating breakfast, and one for getting dressed!" He proudly showed me two little white paper fish he had drawn and cut out.
I get it , I get it - ya'll are excited to go to the art museum! Can I have my coffee first??

As a side note, the free pass we got from the local library is only admission for four, so the Big Boys are staying home. Last night I asked C, nearly-13yo, if he minded staying home. His reply,

"Sure! We can stay home and have 'bro time!' "

That's what the tiny (and not-so-tiny) ones are saying in this house today. Go visit Not Before 7 for more fun Tiny Talk Tuesday.

**ha ha ha - 10yo M just got up and walked over to me, "Good morning, Mommy. When are we leaving?" Guess I'd better go get this show on the road, huh? ;-)

(If you're curious about the "chore fish" - I'm planning to finally get that chore post going soon... check back later!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

3.4 miles - unplugged

I want to start off by saying, "I did it!!" On July 4, I ran the Peachtree Road Race 10K with about 50,000 of my closest friends! ha ha In truth, a dear friend and encourager ran with me and was truly the wind beneath my wings all the way to the finish line! If you had told me a year ago I would run a 10K, in July heat, in Atlanta, I would have thought you were crazy! But by God's grace I did it! I owe a lot to Kate, and to Janice who ran with me in training, and to the "Wonder Women" of the 5K in March. I also owe a lot to a couple of you out there in the blogsphere who were "virtual encouragers." So thanks and props to all of you! And of course I couldn't have done it without the Lord. I'm so grateful that He has blessed me with the health and ability to run.

Ok, now on to "3.4 miles - unplugged." As a novice runner, I have been using my iP*d as a crutch to keep me going -- fast-paced (and often loud) music that makes my feet move fast! But after several months, the playlist was getting tired - or I was getting tired of it.

On my long run Saturday, I experimented with a more mellow playlist, and just enjoying the music of Indelible Grace and Caedmon's Call, etc., as I ran - not needing the music to push me on. I thought about what Wendy and another new running/blogging friend said about feeling close to the Lord when running - and wondered if I could ever get to the point where I don't need the iP*d to run. And then it happened...

I grabbed my iP*d at the beginning of my run last night only to discover little A(4yo) had drained the battery! At first I was mad, then I thought, "ok, here's my chance to be a real runner - just me, the Lord, and the trail."

It was nice! I did spent quite a lot of time in thought and prayer, when my mind could focus. I enjoyed being able to give a nod and a hello to the other runners/walkers on the trail and hear their reply. I enjoyed the crickets and the rush of the wind in my ears as I climbed the big hill. And oddly, I enjoyed the rhythmic sound of my feet hitting the pavement.

I'm not saying I'll put away the earbuds forever, but I may have to do more runs unplugged!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Things That Make Me Smile

This blog: A Year of CrockPotting. I'm finding this a little late in the game, since the posts were mostly 2008. The recipes are still there, however, and are fun to browse when trying to inject some life into ye olde slow-cooker.

2yo KL's "crazy curls." Even on the days when it looks like she put her finger in a socket, they have an untamed beauty I find irresistible.

Finding Titus 2 encouragement here.

The sound of S (14) trying to learn the guitar chords for Holy, Holy, Holy so he can play it for K. It's her favorite hymn.

A cup of this before bedtime


Watching Mr. Towhee hop backwards on the ground under the bird feeder, flicking the dirt with his feet and grazing on the seed dropped by other birds. I love his striking black and orange colors and I love that his bride is always nearby.

My Da*isy Fu*entes Favorite Tee in "orchid." Found on clearance. Lightweight, comfy - the perfect layer over my workout tops for running.

The way all five kids pile all over me when I read a story. Even if they've heard it a hundred times, the Big 3 still cuddle up when they hear me reading Corduroy or Winnie-the-Pooh to The Littles.


Holding my husband's hand during prayers at church.


The truth of this verse:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things
present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything
else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ
Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interruption or Sovereign Delivery?


The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls "real life" is a phantom of one's own imagination. This is at least what I see at moments of insight: but it's hard to remember it all the time.
------C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Arthur Greeves (as quoted in Shopping for Time, p. 86)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spiritual Fitness

There was a time, in the days before multiple pregnancies and the busy life of motherhood, when I was in pretty good shape. I even enjoyed exercising! But as the babies arrived and my world became more complex, I pushed workouts to the side and began to view my own fitness as a luxury, not a necessity.

Now, however, as the big four-o looms on the horizon and I see my metabolism slow before my eyes, I'm realizing that being healthy actually is a necessity - for when I'm healthy, I'm better equipped to fulfill all that God has given me to do as a wife, mom, and member of the Body.

So in January (no originality in my timing, eh?) we joined our local YMCA and I began working out in earnest and training for my first 5K. It hasn't been easy - the hardest part is not the exercise itself. I'm sure you can guess what the hardest part is... finding the time to go work out. I've had to get creative - sometimes the whole family goes and the older ones walk on the treadmill next to me while the Littles are in the nursery. Sometimes I sneak out at naptime while S (14) babysits. A couple of times I've even gone after supper while The Man of My Dreams tucks everyone in bed.

All my hard work has paid many dividends: I ran the 5K - with a personal best time; I'm now training for a 10K; I've lost a few pounds (hoping for more!); and I feel less stressed and more energetic. But there's a problem...

...what about my spiritual fitness?

My energy level may be better than in years, but I still struggle daily with my sinful heart. My attitude deteriorates, my faith lags - many times I feel spiritually and emotionally drained at the end of the day. I've been convicted recently, however, that my heart is worn out and thirsty because I've not spent time nourishing it with the life-giving stream of prayer and time in God's Word.

I've made every effort to make time for my workouts, but in the process, let my time with the Lord be limited to the scraps of the day - if I "happen to get a moment of quiet." Lord, forgive me for my divided heart!

What's a girl to do? How can we keep house, care for little ones, deal with school - whether at home or "abroad," exercise and faithfully spend time with the Lord? I've just finished reading Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney. It's a quick, easy read, full of biblical wisdom from a lady who takes Titus 2 seriously. The first tip she gives for finding the time we need to "get it all done" (hint 'all' here means 'all the Lord wants you to do') is to rise early and sit at Jesus' feet. She points to multiple passages in Scripture where Jesus rose early and withdrew to pray. Why not follow His example?

I want to interject a word here - no guilt, no legalism! Our salvation does not depend on when we have our quiet time! For some, early morning may not be the best time. When my babies were small and we were up in the night, afternoon naptime was when my mind was most alert for reading and praying. But now that I have older children and homeschool, afternoon naptime is catch-up time. If I save my time for the Lord for the afternoon, it quickly gets overshadowed and forgotten. For this season of life, for me, the early morning seems to be the best. I've not yet joined the "5am Club" as Mahaney suggests, but I'm in the "6:30 club" and that's working for me. (Understand that since we homeschool, most of my kids don't get up until 8, so I have the house to myself at 6:30.)

The point is that we need to make spending time with our Lord - our Friend of sinners; our Wonderful Counselor - a priority. Getting to know Him through reading His Word; praising and thanking Him; and pouring out our burdens in prayer. Mahaney points out that trying to get through a day - or a week - without first seeking the Lord is like a two year old insisting she can make her PB & J "by self!!"

I am so sad that, like Martha, I have allowed the busy-ness of life to weigh me down with many cares. I'm sorry for the sweet fellowship I've missed on the days when I just "couldn't find the time." But, but God's grace, I'm hoping to continue to be an active member of the "6:30 Club" (might even move it to 6) and sit at Jesus' feet. I want to drink deeply from the living streams of the Word of God that I may be firmly planted, spiritually fit, and overflowing Christ's love to my family.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Overheard

(I see A (4) rolling the pizza cutter all over the open dishwasher instead of doing his chore: unloading silverware)
Me: A, you need to quit playing around and finish your chores.
A: Well, I want to, but my brain is just making me silly!
Me: Your brain is going to get your bottom in trouble, so you need to put that away and get finished!
A: Oh, I'm remembering how to do my chores now!

"Hey, Mom! I did 43 jumps in a row using the crutch as a pogo stick!" 14yo S, who along with 12yo C has been inventing new uses for old crutches. pogo stick and stilts top the list. I just close the door to their basement room and pretend I know nothing. :)

Go visit Mary for more Tiny Talk Tuesday

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sweet Dresses & a Giveaway

I get so frustrated sometimes trying to find clothes for my girls. Especially as M (10) gets older. I want fun, feminine, modest clothes that are also comfortable. I sew a little bit, and if I weren't also trying to homeschool, run a home, and all that other stuff, I might just find the time to make some. But the reality is that isn't happening. So I must outsource that department for now.

I've discovered two great sources for lovely skirts and dresses that will make any "twirly" girl's heart sing.

First up is Cupcakes -- "tastefully sweet fashion." Check out their blog for samples of some precious dresses for spring.

Second is Amoretti. I love the sweet dresses and skirts. I also love their signature item, the "skirty." A skirty is a must for any girl (like my two) that prefers to wear skirts and dresses. Simply, the skirty is an undergarment, but a pretty one - covers like bike shorts but so much better looking! Check out their website here.

Now for the Giveaway ... Amoretti is giving away a skirty (and some other fun things) in their "Fortnightly Purse" blog. I'm hoping to win one for my warrior-princess! Click here to enter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Overheard

"Mom - Kisses can dry off!" 4yo A. announced out of the blue last Saturday morning. I think he was explaining why he needed another one.

"Wait - is this a cautionary tale?" 12yo C said with a smile while I was reading Storytime with the Millers the other day at lunch. I almost couldn't continue reading because I was laughing so hard.

"Mommy, can I have a nutcracker?" 2yo K asking for her favorite morning snack - a graham cracker.

"See, mama! See?! She hurt she-self!" K trying to show me the owie on her dolly's leg. For some reason, "she" is her all-purpose pronoun these days.

"Hey, Mom - I think we can safely say I have the biggest feet in the house!" 12yo C's recent proclamation, which happens to be true.

"Sometimes I just need to get out of the house!" 14yo S, after an especially difficult time babysitting The Littles. This is why he'll be spending some time interning with his Dad at work next year. Time to start spreading his wings a little bit.

Go visit Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Boys

I'm guessing the 12 yo boy's thought process went something like this:

If the cozy coupe toddler car is fun for little kids, I bet it would be fun for me. But I don't fit very well, so let's take the roof off. Now, what would be really fun is if we rode it down the driveway. [our drive is slightly sloped] "Hey, A! (4yo) Come over here and let me push you down the driveway in K's (2yo) car! Coool! Now, grab the end of my grappling hook and I'll pull you!"

Their ability to come up with creative ideas of trying to kill themselves never ceases to amaze me. Thankfully the only casualty in this escapade was a sippy cup.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Thought #147

If my feet are cold, no matter what the actual temperature is, my whole body is cold. My cozy slippers are a hot commodity around here - every one from My Sweetie to 9yo Meg to the big boys wears them. And I can't find them right now, so....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Must be Thursday

We had a crazy day around here. No matter what I did, I was behind. I barely ate breakfast by lunchtime. Then we had an appointment to get little K's (2) cast off - yes, she broke her elbow three weeks ago, but all better now. The appointment got moved (by their office -at the last minute) from early afternoon to smack in the middle of naptime. Then I had to take ALL the kiddos with me - seems my built-in-babysitter that I've been waiting fourteen years (!) to enjoy is having trouble controlling the former BLT (a.k.a. A) when he's not asleep. So unless I wanted another broken bone to occur in my absence... they all piled in the overcrowded waiting room and joined in the fun. hooray. :)

The check-in lady was gruff, the x-ray tech chided me for K's paci, and the doc missed the day in med school when they handed out bedside manner. Oh, and I had a headache all day.

Relief came after dinner when I was able to get to the Y and burn off some stress and then come home and LMAO watching The Office.

I'm sharing all of this because it gives me an excuse to use my favorite new quote:
"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays."
-(Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kid-worthy Comic

I admit it: I'm not a huge fan of comic books. In fact, I could probably live happily ever after never reading a single one. I am, however, a mom of three boys. For a while, the big boys played Anachronism (history-based trading card game) at a local comic store, and the little guy is quite obsessed with superheroes of all kinds. I also live in a culture full of comic-heroes-cum-blockbuster-hits.
My comic education may be limited, but I am aware of some basics. First, many comics - the good ones, anyway - are really a type of pop art. Second, many of the themes are too mature for children. This doesn't stop kids from wanting "picture books" of their favorite heroes, though, creating a bit of a dilemma for us moms.

Solution: my latest book find at the local library. (Well, Children's Librarian Amy, knowing A's love of comic heroes, actually found it for us.) What book? you ask: Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight by Ralph Cosentino. The author very skillfully retains the feel and artistic quality of "real" comics, yet with simpler lines and images that are not dark and scary. He also paints Batman as a true hero who fights bad guys that are bad. None of the postmodern hero-angst found in so many of the latest comic movies.


A (4yo) really enjoyed this book, and honestly, I enjoyed reading it to him. I hope Mr. Cosentino has more kid-friendly hero stories to offer in the near future. In the meantime, if your little guys (or gals) are fans of the Caped Crusader, check out this fun episode.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Overheard

"Mom - Kisses can dry OFF!" 4yo A. announced out of the blue last Saturday morning.

12yo C, pretending to fall on the floor and die, "Ahh, I'm dyyyiinnng!" A rushes over, bends down, proclaims, "True love's kiss!" and smooches C on the cheek.

As little 2yo K tugs at my sleeve..."Mommy, you look cute! You puh-ple! I wike your shirt!" so sweet!

"Dad, I wan bagel-nut." 2yo K declared at breakfast. "A what?" asks Daddy. "A bagel-nut! Like Dah-doo!" (that's what she calls A)

Turns out a bagel-nut is, in fact, a crueller!

For more Tiny Talk Tuesday, go visit Mary at Not Before 7. Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday -"Mommy, I kweening!"

2 yo K helping mommy clean the floorI was tickled to have caught her reaction to 4yo A spilling Yo*gos

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Photos

Don't Expect an Easy Path

I subscribe to a daily email from Grace Gems dot org. It's a site that collects and sends out snippets of wisdom from Puritan writers and other great Christian theologians. I highly recommend their site - go check it out.

In the meantime, let me post a passage here from today's devotional. It was very timely for me as I wrestle with my own very light afflictions and watch some friends walk through much harder times.

Do not expect a smooth and easy path!
(Arthur Pink, "David's Flight")

Prosperity is often a mixed blessing, and adversity is far from being an unmixed calamity!
Alternating spiritual prosperity and adversity, is the lot of God's people on this earth. All is not unclouded sunshine with them--nor is it unrelieved gloom and storm. There is a mingling of both:
joys--and sorrows;
victories--and defeats;
assistance from friends--and injuries from foes;
smiles from the Lord's countenance--and the hidings of His face.
By such changes, opportunities are afforded for the development and exercise of different graces, so that we may, in our measure, "know how to be abased--and how to abound . . . both to be full--and to be empty" (Phil. 4:12). But above all, that we may, amid varying circumstances, prove the unchanging faithfulness of God--and His sufficiency to supply our every need.
Ah, my reader, if you are one of God's elect--do not expect a smooth and easy path through this earthly wilderness--but be prepared for varying circumstances and drastic changes. The Christian's resting place is not in this world, for "here have we no continuing city" (Hebrews 13:14). The Christian is a "pilgrim," on a journey; he is a "soldier," called on to fight the good fight of faith. The more this is realized, the less keen will be the disappointment, when our ease is disturbed, and our outward peace harshly broken in upon.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous," and if 'troubles' do not come to us in one form--they most certainly will in another! If we really appropriate this promise--then we shall not be so staggered when afflictions come upon us. It is written that, "it is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22), and therefore we should make up our minds to expect the same, and to "not to think it strange" (1 Peter 4:12) when we are called upon to pass through "the fiery trial." Affliction, tribulation, and fiery trial--are a times, our portion here on earth.
Changing circumstances afford opportunity for the development and exercise of different graces. Some graces are of the active and aggressive kind--while others are of a passive order, requiring quite another setting for their display. Some of the traits which mark the soldier on a battlefield, would be altogether out of place were he languishing on a bed of sickness. Both spiritual joy and godly sorrow--are equally beautiful in their season.
As there are certain vegetables, fruits, and flowers which cannot be grown in lands which are unvisited by nipping winds and biting frosts--so there are some fruits of the Spirit which are only produced in the soil of severe trials, troubles and tribulations!