Monday, November 5, 2012

Healthy Lunch Ideas



I am always looking for good ways to feed my kids great food while they’re at school.  I have spent a lot of time looking online for ideas that would miraculously get my kids to eat awesome things.  An overwhelming amount of sites made kids lunches into works of art!  I love art but some things just need to be quick. 

Unfortunately, I tried to make one of those wonderful artsy sandwiches into the shape of Tow Mater one day.   It took me over an hour!  I have four kids, and therefore, have four lunches to worry about.  Who has that kind of time on their hands?  So, I decided to compile some healthy, easy lunches for our kids to eat.   They may not be works of art but they are certainly great and efficient.  You can’t ask for more!  Please note: at the bottom of all the lunch ideas, you’ll see a link to give you a lot more options.  And, each picture has it’s own link.





Great way to use leftover pancakes!




























Also they have cute notes you can print out!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fun Fall Crafts to do with the kids!




10 Fall-Inspired Crafts for Children
By Denise Craig
Fall is my favorite time of year.  There are so many things to love!  Apple Cider, doughnut holes, hayrides, apple & pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and hikes on leaf covered paths are some of the wonderful things to enjoy during this season.  But, there is something that many of us overlook as we plan our activities during this glorious time.  We forget to use these vibrant colors as inspiration for crafts with our children.  If you’re looking to incorporate some crafts in your day, here are some ideas that I found on PINTEREST.  These crafts require little planning and most of them use very few materials. Click on the project title to be directed to the original site.


  























































































 





















So, dig out your paints, smock, and construction paper, and have fun with those kiddos! I personally have done the Fall Tree craft and the Fingerprint Tree with my kids and they have thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keeping Score

Hubby and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary this year.  It's an exciting milestone.  We've had good times and bad times and from all of these situations, we glean knowledge that changes us.  It's interesting to see the ways we've adapted to life together over the years.

Even though we adore our first child B, his entrance into the world was enough to rock even the strongest of boats.  During labor I lost a lot of blood and was anemic for a while after the birth.  B wouldn't nurse and he was extremely high maintenance (doctors probably could have labeled him as ADD).  But, that might be because we were high strung!  These are all things that were imposed on us, things that couldn't change.

Every time one of us got a moment away from the baby it was chalked up to our mental score board.  So, it was only fair for the other person gets equal time away.  That kind of thinking allows resentment to creep into your heart.  Life doesn't work that way.  Hubby "gets" 43 hours per week away from home.  Was I ever going to get that?

This was an area that HAD to change!  Resentment is an UGLY thing.   Long periods of resentment/anger can cause all kinds of emotions that are not healthy.  It can break down relationships and it can even cause physical problems.

Hubby felt like he was always under the microscope.  Often he would hear questions like, How much time did you spend with the baby, and when can I get a moment to myself?  At this point in life, a shower was a big deal!

Luckily, God blessed us with more kids.  The more children we had, the less we thought of ourselves and the more we had to put self aside.  Time has marched on and we have both grown.  Hubby has  gotten better at juggling the kids so that when I leave, there's no guilt like there used to be when I go out.  The kids have gotten older and can do more for themselves.  And now, I go out 1-2 nights per week while hubby tackles bedtime by himself.

Now that the kids are 3, 6, 9, and 11, I am starting to feel like I am getting some of myself back.  I am writing, a bit more organized than I have been in years, and teaching again.

So hang in there, pray, love your hubby/wife and have more kids! (the last one was a joke- just having more kids will not necessarily solve your problems).  And, whatever you do, don't let resentment creep into your heart.  It will only hurt you and the ones you love.  You can learn from what others have endured and hopefully you won't have to suffer as long.  And always remember to turn to God for help.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Staying safe while Trick or Treating

Mycnymommy.com has posted my second article.  
It can be seen HERE!
Thanks for checking it out and being supportive of my efforts!  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A New Venture


I've been a busy beaver lately.  I was browsing a website that I check every once in a while and the lady who runs it/owner happened to be asking for help to expand her readership.  Her site was exclusively couponing and money saving tips.  One of her ideas was to have articles that might appeal to her readers.  I applied, and she gave it a whirl.  She asked for a piece on Halloween.  That was a tough one for me.  Although we do trick or treat, we by no means celebrate this holiday with the typical grim and gruesome fervor.  So check out the article I wrote for her:

Halloween Events Around CNY

I have some more coming: On Monday she's putting another article of mine, trick or treat safety, up on her site.  There will also be articles on crafty things, recipes and more.   So, stay tuned and keep checking her site.  Good news is, a news website picked up my article, redirected traffic to her site and her site hits are up quite a bit.  There are also 2 other ladies helping her with some other development aspects.  All of this is very exciting.


And also, if you see something advertised on her site and want to buy it, go through her site.  She's a mom who's trying to make enough income on this site that she can stay home with her kids.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Delayed Gratification #2

Please read Delayed Gratification first....

This is just a quick add on to the previous article.  I am remiss to forget to mention the impact that our parents and grandparents have in this equation.

I remember watching my mom walk around with holes in her shoes, denying herself things, so that she could make sure we had what we needed.  She delayed her own gratification.  My Father worked two sometimes three (?) jobs to put food on the table.  We didn't have a lot but we had what we needed.

My husband's parents have had to work many different jobs to make ends meet and are working hard to this day.  My mother in law is awesome at stretching a dollar.

My Grandparents worked as butler and housekeeper.

Our home-life environment has a huge part to play in who we are as adults.  May we be mindful of that as we move forward to spur our children on to hard work and self-sufficiency.  And hopefully, they will learn to delay their gratification.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writing Fiend

Hello everyone!  I am happy to say that over the next couple months, I will be writing articles for a local website.  I guess you could call me a free-lance writer now.  I am very excited and feel blessed that my words will reach beyond my blog and reach even more people.  In order to secure the job I had to do a piece on Halloween.  Funny huh?  I am not a big fan of Halloween but I was able to find ways to use my writing on it anyway.  I wrote about "Alternatives to Traditional Trick or Treating".  I listed things like mall trick or treating, the park that has a jack-o-lantern walk, the zoo, and local churches that have activities set up for that night.

I would've never ever thought that I would get paid for the words I put on a page.  And, it truly is a miracle how it all came about.  I pray that I can encourage others and continue to glorify God in the midst of all.  So, if you think of it family and friends, pray for me that I would honor Him in the words I write.  And with that I wish you all good night!

(When my first article goes live, I'll let you all know about it.  And make sure that if you like it, you comment-on the website- to keep me writing!)

UPDATE:  I was signed on, wrote two articles for her and she never paid me.  Obviously, I did not want to continue that, so I stopped.  Oh well, such is life! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Delayed Gratification

Our TV is huge!  It's a 55 inch projection screen that is blurry and high maintenance.  You have to take the back off of it to clean the three very large bulbs that give it light.  The electricity that it requires to run has probably cost us quite a bit.  For the first 13 years of our marriage we were a 1 TV household.  This TV became #2.  It was free.  I love free or really cheap things.

Most of our kids friends have had flat screen TVs for a while.  And our kids kept asking when we were going to replace the blurry behemoth.  We kept saying, we have to wait...  They heard that for a year and a half.  They knew we were saving.  We were waiting till prices came down; it's like waiting for the stars to align.  Sure we could have put it on a credit card at any time, but where's the self discipline in that?

Then it happened!  I was walking through the store and low and behold I saw a clearance table.  One with flat screen TV's.  They were all on the wall for 6 months as displays- but they were 30% off.  Being someone who refuses to pay full price for anything, I called my hubby and asked him to research the brand.  He looked it up, and it had 4 out of 5 stars.  I was going to get a 42 inch High Def LCD TV for $250!!! We still had to buy HDMI cables, the mounting brackets, and taxes.  So keep that in mind if you're ever going to purchase one.

It wasn't easy waiting a year and a half to replace the fuzzy monster.  But, to our family, it was a valuable lesson.  It taught our kids that 1. You don't always get what you want right away.  2. You need to save your money.  3. Patience  4.Using that money wisely (sales).  My kids are watching me every day.  They are making tough decisions with their money already.  Yesterday I bought some new pants for our oldest.  He wanted me to buy a shirt to match.  I told him that he had plenty of shirts already and that if he wanted that shirt he could buy it with his lawn mowing money.  He stood there for a while and chose to walk away because he assessed it as a want and not a NEED.  I love passing these things down to my children. Being frugal is a good thing.  They can learn a lot from it.  Delay your gratification and they will delay theirs.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Toddler Prepping

Toddlers are funny people.  They can go from laughing to crying in 30 seconds.  Toddlers are inquisitive, funny, intense, and lovable.  They are truly a gift from God.  They can, however, cause a lot of embarrassment in public.  It seems that, when out and about with a toddler, things that they've never tried before seem fun and interesting to them.  And, we, as parents are caught off guard.  

You can't plan for everything-  I certainly couldn't predict it when one of my kids (then 3 years old) decided to pull his pants down in Wal-mart.  I didn't see it coming when one of my kids licked the glass (at least 4 feet of it) on the deli case at Wegmans.  And, I certainly had no inkling that one of my kids would take a dirty sock, dip it in muddy water - and proceed to suck the water out of the sock and drink it.  Yes, all of these things happened to us.  The more kids you have, the more opportunity for embarrassment.  The things I mention are all "unplanables".  You can't plan on them happening and you have no idea when it's going to happen to you.

But, life with Toddlers has lots of "planables".   You can plan on them happening to you, at least once, if your child is breathing.  Planables are things like, running in the store, telling someone you won't be their friend, pushing, begging for things in the store, and many others.  

Prepping your child before you enter a new situation can make or break your time- where you are going.  So, before we get out of the van, we will tell our kids what is expected of them.  Really, when you think about it, you wouldn't want to be on a new job without knowing what's expected of you.  Yet, we get frustrated with our kids when they don't exhibit the expected behavior.  Right before we get out of the van, I can say, "you are expected to keep your hands to yourself, speak quietly, and stay with me."  I then tell them the positive things that they can do.  For example, "you can help mommy weigh the produce, get items that mommy asks you to get, and if you're a really good listener, we can get a free cookie from the bakery."  Obviously, different rules are used for different locations/tasks.

It is so crucial that when these rules are broken that there is a consequence.  I will not tell you what that consequence should be because each child is different.  Sometimes we used a consequence for a child that did not work and we had to find one that did.  But, the point is, it must be consistent.  

At one point, we had a child who would be good throughout the store and then be grumpy with the bakery lady because the cookie wasn't big enough.   Guess what, no cookie until you can be thankful.  Of course, we had to remind them that was expected before the next trip to the store.  

So hang in there, and remember that they are a new person on the job who needs their instructions, confirmation, consistency, and LOVE.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Aldi's vs. BJ's list # 3

I have made yet anther trip to BJ's with pen and paper in hand.  I bought several items and compared the prices.  Good news is, I am bringing my total spent down!  And now that I have information charts to help me, it'll get better and better every week.  :-) Aldi's definitely won, hands down, this week! Here's Aldi's vs. BJ's List #3.

Garden Pesto

I had to pull my basil plants out of the ground to beat the coming frost.  I use the basil throughout the summer in our grilling and veggies and then in the fall use the rest to make pesto.  I had 5 full grown basil plants, so I had to get the pesto rolling.  I didn't have walnuts- so I whipped up my own recipe using almonds (which I had on hand).  It's great!- You can also add Parmesan cheese if you want.

Garden Pesto
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cup washed basil leaves
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 tsp. salt
1 head of garlic

Chop the almonds in a blender- remove and put it in a bowl.
then mix the oil, basil, salt, lemon juice, and garlic in the blender.  When it is evenly chopped, add in almonds till it is completely mixed.  If it is not salty enough, add a bit more.  The basil is done.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kid Tested- Fluffy Flax Seed Pancakes


I make a huge batch of pancakes every two weeks.  We eat some and put the rest in the freezer.  It is wonderful to have homemade things to hand off to the kids for breakfast.  I am trying to fed my family with things that are more wholesome than what we had been doing.  I find that when I "jump off the cliff" with diet changes, I end up shocking the family and I never stick with it.  So I've taken a regular pancake recipe and tweaked it to add some healthier choices Sugar in the Raw, pure vanilla, and flax seed).  These were fluffy, airy, and filled with flax seed!  Enjoy!  Try them and let me know what you think.


Fluffy Flax Seed Pancakes
5 cups flour
5 Tbsp. Baking Powder
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
10 Tbsp. cooking oil
10 Tbsp. Sugar in the Raw
2 Tbsp. pure vanilla
3 Tbsp. ground flax seed
5 cu. milk
4 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix it all together.  Use an non stick pan or griddle to cook these- no oil needed.  Eat and freeze leftovers.

List 2 for Aldi's vs. BJ's

Hey guys, here's the second installment of Aldi's vs. BJ's.  Click here

Monday, September 24, 2012

ALDI's vs. BJ's

Here is my first installment of Aldi's vs BJ's.  I went shopping last week and kept track of all the prices of things that I purchased at BJ's.  Then, I went to Aldi's with my notebook to write down the prices of comparable- non-name brand things from Aldi's.  I wanted to share my findings with you because- really who has time to do this kind of thing?  I know I don't, but I am a nut, and did it anyway.
Keep in mind that almost all the things at Aldi's are generic; you can't use coupons most of the time.  AT BJ's everything is name brand and, they will actually allow you to combine the BJ's coupons and the manufactures coupons for a double discount.
I will do this again with a different shopping list so you can get a feel for their prices on other things.
That being said, check out my spreadsheet to see who won.  NOTE: the highlighted boxes are the cheaper items.  Spreadsheet

Friday, September 21, 2012

Working on something helpful...

I am working on a list of items that we regularly buy (groceries we get every week).  I am pricing them between BJ's and Aldi's.  Some of the findings are surprising.....Keep your eyes open- I'll have a link to it soon.  This way you'll know what's worth the money to buy in bulk and what is not! This is for my friend Kara who asked me- "Is BJ's really cheaper?"- she's about to have a baby and I know she doesn't have time to research this herself.  I wanted to help her out and might as well pass along the info to you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Give em what they want.

Raising kids is no easy task and there really aren't any manuals that come tailored specifically for your child.  The Bible has awesome guidance and helps us to know what traits are good and which are not.  So, I often find myself referring to it.

I know how it happens.  You're in a store and Sarah sees something she wants.  She starts to beg.  "Mommy please can I have that toy???? Please?"  You tell her no, because it was not a planned purchase.  Well, Sarah doesn't like that response in any way, shape, or form.  So, Sarah turns it up a notch.  The whole scene escalates till out of fear of looking like a bad mommy, you cave and give her what she wants.

The score: Sarah-1 Mommy-0.

This is a common scenario and it has happened to all of us.  Luckily, I read many books, talked to friends, watched parents, and learned that this is not a good strategy.  It may make that moment in time a little more comfortable- but it sets mommy and Sarah up for many more fights down the road.

Early on, I taught my kids that no matter how they beg, they're not going to get what they want (article coming soon- Toddler Prep).  They cannot and should not ask for things in the store.  If they want me to consider a purchase, they can ask me while I am making the list.

Once our oldest son understood the expectations, he passed it down to the younger ones. They saw his example and knew that mommy means what she says.

Our kids are not spoiled, as a result.  So far, all their clothes are hand me downs or from garage sales- they don't care- they haven't even noticed (plus in the area where we live you have really awesome neighborhood garage sales).    They think that going to Dunkin Donuts for an 99 cent ice cream is a big celebration. They think that going to the amusement park (the cheapest one I can find) for a day is a vacation.  Tent camping for a week every summer is the most exciting thing of all.  They get excited over things that other kids wouldn't.  Having 4 kids would completely break the bank if it weren't for their joy "in the small stuff."

The key is being persistent. Don't give up/in.  Ask God for help, if you're feeling like you can't do it.  He will carry you through.  And, if you fail- there is always tomorrow.

I am not saying you need to dress your kids in rags and deprive them of things.  Our children are given everything they need- and then some and LOTS of LOVE!  And isn't that the most important gift they can have?

While raising our kids, I constantly ask myself:  What kind of traits are important for them to have as adults?  Yes, I fail- we all do!  But, they are not going to be God-fearing, generous, kind, loving, strong, and confident by chance.  It is intentional hard work.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Spelling Elimination- Homeschool Helps

The spelling curriculum that we are using for our son is written by Abeka.  Abeka tends to be somewhat intense in their requirements- especially in spelling.  Our son (6th grade) has 35 spelling words a week and 15 of those are full fledged definition words.  I tried to figure out how to give him all the words yet not overwhelm him to the point of tears (I do not like to skip anything- so I had to think of something).

I decided that Mondays would be "Spelling Elimination" days.  On Monday, we take the new list and I quiz him.  Whatever words he gets right on the first try are no longer on his list for that week.  Why make a student study something they already know well?  His list is then made up of the words/definitions that he doesn't know.

He still ends up with approximately 7-9 spelling words and 10 definitions.  But, that's much better for his morale, confidence, and his time management.  He writes each word/definition 3x each in cursive (getting our cursive writing in) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Friday is his test.  I wish I could do creative things for his spelling but he truly is a repetition learner.

 But, anyway, I thought you might want to use this idea if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.

 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

IBS my foot!

NOTE: I AM NOT A DOCTOR NOR DO I CLAIM TO BE- ALWAYS ASK YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING HAIR BRAINED IDEAS YOU READ ABOUT ON THE INTERNET:   :-) HAHA!


I have struggled with my lower digestive system for a long time.  Back in college I had to have a colonoscopy because I went 10 days without "going".  I know - gross, but I am giving you a background history here.  In the interim years, I would have attacks that would cause pain- bloating, constipation....etc.  Well, for the past year, I have been fighting constant constipation and not much helps (I've tried a lot of things, believe me).  I had another colonoscopy done (normal results)- no celiac found, and I don't think I have a problem with lactose.  The doctors just called it IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndorme) and sent me on my way.

I saw a post on pinterest about lemon and cucumber water being a "natural detox".  I didn't really think that would do much so I ignored it.  Then a friend of mine had it for her guests at a birthday party and I loved how it tasted.  So, a couple of weeks later I made it for our company who was visiting out of town for the weekend.  I mentioned to our guests that it was supposedly a detox and I rolled my eyes to show my disbelief.

Well, the next morning one of my visitors said, "Holy Cow, you were right!"  Hmmm!  So wouldn't you know, it is.  For the past week, I've been drinking about 2 glasses a day and I feel wonderful.  Seriously- I feel great.  No more gas pain, bloating and everything else that goes along with it.  FYI- I also have been found to have Esophagitis and Gastritis so I am sure that played into some of the discomfort.

So how do you make lemon/cucmber water?  Take a gallon of water and add a half of a cumber (diced) and a whole lemon (diced).   Wash the the lemons and cucumbers first! And leave the rinds on.  I only drink two large glasses per day so The gallon lasts a couple of days- but the lemon slices and cucmber last 3 days in the fridge- so just refill the pitcher when it's low.  But, after 3 days, throw away the cucumber & lemon.

I am not sure if I am helping my gastritis or hurting because there is acid in lemons- I guess that remains to be seen. But, I had to find a solution to the uncomfortable state I was in.

I'll update you if there are changes, but it's been a week of feeling like a normal person again!

BTW- If you suffer from diarrhea- this will probably NOT help you!   here's a link to a site that give a recipe

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Teaching Children to Handle Money Wisely

I was never taught how to handle money.  Not really, or at least not that I can remember (sorry Mom and Dad).  I would be in tons of debt if it weren't for my Hubby and all the research he's done.  He's a planner.  I am not.  He budgets, I just follow his lead.

Kids often do not get training in how to handle money and we have seen the results of that.  Devastating results have occurred in our society.  And don't get me started on work ethic.

We certainly want a better financial upbringing for our children than either of us had.  We needed to put a plan into action.  Our children are 3, 5, 9, and 11.  We already had a summer chore chart (see link) in action for which, on completion, our children were paid.  This helped us to still have a somewhat clean house and a very FUN summer.

More importantly, our son who is 11 started making money in the neighborhood mowing lawns.  He has made well over $200 dollars doing this.  He is saving up for a tablet computer.  As soon as he started bringing home his money, we taught him to figure out the percentage he needed to save and the percentage he needed to give to church.  He put 30% aside for savings and 10% for church.  He can do whatever he wants with the other 60% (within reason- he's only 11).  We opened a savings account for him and we started dropping his 30% off to the bank.

Again, I believe there's a window of time (see link) in a child's life when this can be done easily and when it will be like PULLING teeth.  If you wait till their teens, it may be too late.  Because, "who do you think you are to tell me what to do with my own money?" would probably come out of their mouths all too easily.  And, our younger ones don't really "get it" yet.  So, for them we will wait a bit.

This savings plan will hopefully become so habitual that he will do this automatically as an adult.  Of course, there's a lot more that we need to teach him. But for now, this has been a good start.

HAPPY SAVING!!!  GET GOING WHILE YOU CAN.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Forced Organization

I haven't written in a while because I have been getting ready for an unexpected change in our lives/schedule.    I was asked to teach music at a local school- out of the blue.  This will definitely change our schedules, our day and the way we handle our everyday paperwork.

We will continue to home-school our 11 year old, send our two middle kids to private school, and chase after the 3 year old at home.  There will be lots of paper work to juggle.  I am not an organized person by nature, so this will be a stretch.

First, I had to find all the books, materials, paperwork...etc. for music teaching that I had set aside 11 years ago when I had my son.  I have to admit, it was so fun to go through all the stuff and see how much I stretched my students.  I saw cards that they wrote to me.  It was really nice to see!

This is what I ended up with.
We don't have an office on our first floor anywhere and we don't have too much shelf space.  So I was trying to figure out what to do with all this stuff.  I kept what I thought I needed and I reorganized all the shelves in the family room to accommodate it.

Our son has a room that is dedicated to just his homeschooling but it is downstairs and out of the central area of the home where I would need my materials.

There is a shelf dedicated to music books, handouts, portfolio, testing, concert planning.


This shelf is for music teaching materials and home school tests/quizzes


 the last shelf is for the wii paraphernalia and his binders that hold all of his graded work for all subjects and his Art books:



I then had to tackle the amount of paper coming into the house.  We have three kids in school, two in soccer, Hubby is leading a Lego Robotics club and an Awana club.  I am helping in Awana, teaching music at school and helping to lead worship at church 2 Sundays/month.  
So, needless to say, things are definitely crazy here.

This was my solution to tackle the papers coming in:



The top 3 bins are for our school age children, the bottom is  for hubby and I to share and the planner in front is the Brain of the house.  It's the go to place to see what's going on.


Please pray for us as we enter this new phase.  It'll be difficult to juggle all these things but they are all things where we feel called and we are blessed by them.  

Two Junk Drawers consolidated into 1!  With an electronics drawer.  See BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES:



BEFORE


After

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alone on Stage

Even though I have been singing in public my whole life, I still get nervous when singing a solo alone on stage.  I get cold, sweaty palms, shaky knees, and by the time I am done, I feel like I am going to pass out.  I know a lot, if not all, of this is normal.  But, it's still nerve wracking.

I was asked to sing today at a church in Ohio- where my in-laws live.  And, I really wanted things to be different this time.  The song is only for God's glory anyway- so why should I be nervous?

Instead of praying my normal prayer of, "God please help this go well and may You be praised."  I prayed that God would strip away all those things that make me feel like I am held back (article called HELD BACK).  I prayed that he would take away anything that makes me feel unsure of the GOD GIVEN talent He has given me and that He would be glorified and people would be blessed and be pointed straight to Him.

As you know, I have been struggling with feeling held back, not able, for some reason, to give things my all. Well, God answered my prayer.  I was not nervous one bit, and the song went very well.  It was truly better than anything I have done recently.

My prayers were answered.

My prayers for you are that you also would find those God given talents and use them to the best of your ability to encourage others and glorify God.  That you would not be held back in any way but move forward with the grace, blessing, and mercy of Jesus Christ the Lord.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

THANK YOU ALL for Motivation!

Well, I am happy to say that I spent all evening working on an article for the blog that was so good that I submitted it to MOPS.org.  But, legally, I now can't share it with you until it is published and or rejected.  So, thank you all  for encouraging me to keep on writing.  I am no longer feeling HELD BACK (see article). Hopefully, I will continue to grow in this area because I know God has a plan for me and he's not finished with me by any means!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Surrounded by what?

I've been watching a heated discussion on Facebook.  It is all about homeschooling vs. public school- what we teach our kids etc.  It is interesting to watch everyone's ideas and perspectives on this topic.  Some feel lead to home school - others do not and that's ok.  There are great families out there that send their kids to public school.  And, I see rotten attitudes from kids in all realms.

The truth of the matter is, how hard are you working at the goals you have for your family?  What are your goals?  Do you have any?  What do you want your child to look like (attitudinal) when they are adults?  Have you even thought about it?  I personally do not have a list- although maybe I should.  But, I know what I want in my kids and try very hard to get there.

For example: I do not want kids who talk back to adults.  I want to have kids who are compassionate, generous, helpful, etc. I want my kids to reach out- be service oriented.  I don't always achieve these things in my children, but that is my goal.  For me, my goals did not line up with Public school.  They don't teach these things in school so, I need to.  Unfortunately, I've seen way too many kids bring home the bad habits of other kids not the good ones.

I would love that my kids turn out to be huge brainiacs too, but we will see in the future how that turns out.

Friends are another huge factor!  With whom does your child spend the most time?  Who is over at your house?  If there is a child that is bringing detrimental attitudes into our home, we stop having them over or take a break.  If a child has to take a break (for a few months)- I do suggest trying them again when they are older.  Maturity can definitely help a child to know what you expect in your home.

So, I suggest to you that if you struggle with a decision to do public/homeschool/private think about your goals.  How do your goals line up with the choices available?  What do you want your child to look like as an adult?  And, with whom should you surround yourself and your children? And, above all else, PRAY.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Buried under the pile

There is a pile of stuff in a basket and bag on the floor.  It's been piling up for the past 6 months.  Papers that come in the house (not mail- hubby takes care of that), books, little toys, recipes, coupons, uno, and even some clean toothbrushes from the dentist are all in attendance.  

I can't take it any longer.  I have tried may systems over the years to "get organized".  Either they are all failures or I am.  I'd like to say that they are the failures but in all honesty, I am the loser!   I can't seem to stay consistent in the cleaning realm.  I don't like it, and I do it all day long!

I like change.  I don't like to eat the same things over and over again.  I've even tried systems where I clean the same things on every monday...etc.  I cannot be put into a box!  I am a free spirit!  So, I guess the organization will forever allude me until you post your wonderful ideas and ways to fix my homemaking wanderlust.  HAHA!  Good luck- we need ideas here!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Work Ethic Window

We personally know a college kid in our neighborhood who has not lifted a finger at all this summer to help his family in the care of the house/yard.  He plays on the computer all day, he finally got his first summer job  (he's 21), and still does not have his driver's licence.  He has all his needs met and lots more.  He is a product of a society that encourages young adults to "live it up" and enjoy life as much as possible.

His parents love him with all their hearts, and they were doing what they thought was best for him.  They gave him everything he ever needed, and they did everything for him.  That is how a lot of people show love to their kids- but is it truly loving?  And, the father mentions frequently, if I could only do it again....I would've  done things differently.

A lifestyle like the one aforementioned, has actually been very detrimental and harmful to him.  He was scared to call people for jobs and he struggled in interviews because he didn't have the confidence to speak for himself.  He had no hard work ethic to draw upon.  He was even scared to be alone for a few days this summer when his family went away on vacation once he got his job.  

This was a huge summer of growth for him. He got his permit, he finally landed a job, he managed to not starve when his family was gone, and he had to learn what it meant to work.  He truly made huge strides.  But, how painful for him at the age of 21 to have to learn all this the hard way!  

Wouldn't it have been easier had he learned to work at a young age?  Wouldn't it have been easier for him in the long run, to work for what he wanted, gain confidence in his abilities, and win respect of adults who could then act as references for him when trying to secure a job?

I am starting to believe that there is a Work Ethic Window time in every kid's life where, if you take advantage of teaching them to work hard and diligently, they won't have to tough it out, the hard way, later in life when the process is so much more painful.  Is it easy?  No, teaching our son to mow a lawn with just a couple breaks has taken us all summer.  There have been complaints and there has been whining.  But, he now has pride in his accomplishments, some money to learn to manage, and he has gained the respect of adults who can then act as references for him.

Look for the window when your child wants to be trusted with responsibility, earn money, and has the desire to prove themselves.  Hitting the window at the right time and lots of prayer, may be the key to a young person's good work ethic.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Persistence Payout

Our oldest son has been mowing our lawn for 2 years now and is enjoying a little extra pocket change.  He's only 11 years old but is very responsible and creepily careful.

We've taught him everything he needs to know to mow safely.  Yet, no one wanted to hire him.  They were too scared to have a young kid like him mow their lawn for fear of him losing his limbs or that he would etch an alien mother ship pattern into their grass.

It was our rule that he stay within our eyesight and only mow level lawns this year.  That limited him to a total of 7 options.  Even though people had expressed their apprehension, I encouraged him to make his own flyer and hand it out anyway.  We made a flyer and practiced what he would say when he handed them the flyer. What person is gonna hire a kid when his mommy knocks on the door and speaks for him right?

The house across the street was for sale and the owner only showed up on the weekends.  He came back only to mow.  Our son saw his opportunity-after I coached him along.  But he had to wait to catch the guy at home.  He could hand over a flyer and offer to mow, so he could free up his time.  It took two weeks before our young man finally connected with the owner, because of his weekly absence.  When he finally caught the owner at homer, our son ran across the street to hand him a flyer.  He set his price at 15-20 dollars, telling him he could pay whichever he felt was a decent amount.  He accepted, and our son had his first mowing job!

There are some kids that should never be allowed the responsibility of mowing the lawn, for lack of proper fear of power equipment.  No one seemed to want to be the one to hire an 11year old because they were afraid that he might be one of those kids.  But our neighbor stepped out on a limb, in faith, and trusted.  After that, another neighbor hired him to mow when he went on vacation. And another, one of the most hesitant ones, is having him mow every week.  Last week, he was asked to help a lady 5-6 streets away pick up all of her hedge trimmings.  Our son is already more than halfway to earning the money for a tablet computer- and he has set aside over 30 dollars in savings and set aside his tithe.

Sometimes all it takes is one person to give you chance and believe in you.  If it weren't for the guy across the street, our kiddo might still be twiddling his thumbs this summer.  We have watched our son grow in leaps and bounds this summer because he was persistent to find the one person who would give him a chance to prove himself.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pictures...

We will be very busy the next few days.  But, as I spend time with the kiddos and have lots of fun, check out these pictures that we took today at a conservatory/gardens place.  BEAUTIFUL!  Did I mention, I like to take pictures too?














Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Licking Armpits- sad but true

Yes you read it correctly.  Yes, it says armpits and licking the same sentence.  And, yes, my whole household has lost it.  I think it's time for school to start.

So, I am sure you're wondering what this is all about.  Read carefully, because we don't want to lose you on this sad, pathetic display of boyhood!

We were sitting at the dinner table (which is a wonderful place for discussions like this- gross!).  I was being playful, obviously not a good first step.  I leaned over and put my mouth on one of the boy's arms-pretending he was dinner- exclaiming, "you taste salty!"  Immediately, all four kids put their arms in their mouths to see just how much salt is on their skin.  (ASIDE: a friend of mine told me the salt thing is a myth- but I digress)

It was cute, all four kids even the girl- and the laughter that ensued was contagious.  Well, I am sure you can already guess how we got to the next step.  One of the boys (which will remain nameless) said, "Hey I bet my armpit is salty!"  He then proceeds to try to lick his armpit.  Yes, he did!  Out of the corner I could see the other three about to do the same.

Everything after that was a blur of laughter and confusion because I got up from my chair screaming and running away.....they actually came running after me trying to do it more to gross me out.  I locked myself in the bathroom till I could control my laughter and my thoughts of them never ever getting married one day.  They stood outside the bathroom laughing till Daddy sent them all back to the table to get themselves under control.  Seriously, we are definitely a crazy bunch but this is not normal behavior to chase mommy and freak her out!

It made me think about when they get older- and the way we might have to deal with the BIG teenage issues.  I may be off the mark here, so please just read this as a maybe or probably statement.   But, I believe that the more we make a big deal out of something or freak out about their decisions, the more they'll want to do that thing.  That's our human nature anyway.  That's why we need to teach them calmly, all along, about the dangers, decisions, and the things they will face.  So that they can make informed decisions.  And, hopefully stay out of danger.  I know they will all make decisions that I won't be happy with. But hopefully, I can hold it together and not run and lock myself in the bathroom.

Unfortunately, I overlooked teaching them NOT TO LICK THEIR ARMPITS AT THE DINNER TABLE.  I mean really, did you think to teach your kids that?  HAHA!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Choices...

Bad things happen to good people.  There's no denying that.  But, we live in a fallen world-so fallen it will be, until all is made right.  My heart breaks for those suffering of no doing of their own.  It does happen, and it is so sad.  

I see others, though, in the midst of a mud pie of their own making and they want to blame everyone and everything else.  There are guidelines laid out for our lives.  Guidelines that tell us what we should and shouldn't do.  They're in the Bible. They are not suggestions, they are laws- like the law of gravity. It's tried and true.  The rules are an If : Then statement.  The results are guaranteed.  God doesn't give us these rules to stomp on our fun.  It's so that he can protect us from getting harmed.  

Yet time and time again, we turn our backs, thinking we know better and make our own choices- not caring about the consequences of OUR choices.  Where does it lead?  It leads to our very own, personalized, mud pie.  We chose it for ourselves.

Do you find yourself in a mud pie of your own making?  Don't pout and fling the mud in any direction to get it to stick.  Pick yourself up, clean yourself off, read your Bible and learn about the rules set out for our lives.  Do the right things and trust God to help you.  And, stop making the choices that continue to throw you back into the puddle.  We are all sinners and make mistakes but, we should strive to do the right things.  You are beautiful- made in God's image.  The last thing He wants is for you to wallow in the mud.  So, look up, ask for his help to get you out of the mess.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Laundry part 2

Confession #2- I don't have it all together!  My friends could tell you all about it.

Sitting at the computer, typing yet another entry, I have something looming over my shoulder.  In the other room, I have a increasingly mounting blob called my laundry pile.  It is very clean and very happy on that love seat in the family room.  After I am done here, I will go in to the mountain and try to tackle it.

The boys help to process the laundry.  Every day, (SEE THE Chore Chart) one of the kids brings down the dirty laundry, puts it into the washer, and pulls out the dry laundry and places it on the loveseat.  There it sits till I get a chance to fold it.

The helpful thing that I can pass along is the idea of having a separate laundry basket for each person.  As I fold, I put the laundry in the appropriate basket and then the basket gets hauled upstairs.  I actually will place the folded clothes on the floor in front of my children's dresser so I can have the basket back.  The boys will put away their laundry using the labeled drawers to match the labels on the clothes (see Laundry part 1).   I then REPEAT the whole thing a couple/few days later.

One more thing, if someone puts their dirty laundry in the wash inside out, I fold it that way.  Why go through all the extra work of turning their clothes right side out.....cuz guess who has to fix it if they want to wear it?  Hee Hee!

I have let go the notion of having a perfectly clean house with 4 kids.  If you come to my house unexpectedly, you'll see the love seat in it's many stages of laundry processing.  It's ok to not have everything tucked away and hidden all the time.  That's life!  Enjoy it and get the laundry done when you can.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Held Back

It's amazing how a mom can be sitting on a wealth of talent, yet feel so useless.  I suffer from that often.  I love to write, craft, read, sing, and cook.  I am better at some than others, but there is definitely potential.

I glance around to see what other moms/women are accomplishing, and I feel so inferior. They are doing so much more than I could ever do with 4 kids in tow.  It's not just the kids though,I think it's also a mental block.  If I get encouragement in an area, I move forward.  If someone makes even the slightest negative comment about it, I am discouraged against trying that specific venture.

For example, Last Summer I submitted an article to MOPS international for their magazine.  I submitted it and was published! This was my first article ever submitted and it was accepted!
I was ecstatic! Who wouldn't be?  I submitted a second article and it didn't fit their needs.  So, I gave up.  Really?  Am I that fragile?

I raise my kids the way I think is right, I home-school without a care what other people think yet I am so susceptible when I try to step out in a new direction.

Last Summer, I started making hair very pretty hair bows for little girls.  I got some great feedback from friends and sold a few.  But, as soon as I discovered that they didn't sell in a salon, I gave up.  I am trying them at a craft show this fall so you can follow my progress through here.

I need to move forward in confidence because God gave me these talents for a reason.  But, if all else fails, I need to remember that I am investing my time in my children.  This is an investment that will not come back void and will affect generations to come.  So, if you're feeling like your spinning your wheels and your only contribution to this world is dishes and laundry, you're wrong! Your investment is those kids and if you get anything else on top of that, it's a bonus!  See the published article HERE

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Dancing Shoes

He was a strong man who found joy in lots of things.  He loved hunting, joking around, watching football, farming, business ventures, his family, and his church.  People loved him for who he was and what he stood for.  He truly was an image of strength and hope.

Today he is laying in a bed, gaunt, with a fraction of the strength he once had.  He is fighting for his life.  Extremities swollen, he struggles for breath.  With every ounce of energy, he opens his eyes ever so slightly.  It is not apparent that he recognizes the people or anything going on around him.  He's always been a fighter but there's only so much a body can take.  A battle with Parkinson's has claimed several years of his life.  And, his recent fall has caused him much trauma.  His immediate family said that it's only a matter of time.

He isn't a close relative. He is my mom's cousin.  But, he holds a dear spot in my heart.  Maybe it's because when I was a child he was happy to see me.  He truly cared about my comings and goings.  He played with me- and isn't that what any child wants?

Watching him fight to do what we take for granted (breathing) brought tears to my eyes.  Silently, I sat and cried without sound, holding his hand.  His daughter looked at us and said, "He's getting a new pair of dancing shoes."  It's so true!  He's given his life to God and asked Jesus to be in control.  He's asked for forgiveness....that's all he needed to do.   Now this man, who is a shell of his former self, is waiting for his appointed time his time to reach Heaven. That's when he'll get his new dancing shoes.

We love you and will miss you when you go.  But, we know that you will be dancing in Heaven waiting for all those who are to follow.  xoxoxoxxoxox!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homeschooling Independence

I am in no way a homeschooling expert.  I was a music teacher for 3 years before I became a SAHM.  Our two oldest children went to private school until last year when we needed to find a schooling option for our oldest son.  He has been home-schooled for the past year and has been enjoying it thus far.

Our son learned a lot of independence in school and I wasn't about to lose ground on that front.  An independent child is a wonderful thing!  After talking to a veteran home-schooling mom, I derived my plan of attack.  The planner system.

Our son and I have matching planners (well, mine is purple and his is blue- but the guts are the same).  I take my planner on Sunday afternoons and fill it with all the stuff he is to accomplish for that week.  Then, on Monday morning, he copies all the assignments in his planner for the week.  This is not busywork!  This teaches responsibility, ownership, leadership and organization.....this is how:

For example, if I have to leave for a doctors appointment on Tuesday morning, I can say, "Get your planner,  the books you need, put it in a bag, and I will meet you in the van in 15 minutes."  No more detailed instructions, repeating myself, or forgetting anything.  He has gotten very good at collecting his things and keeping track of them because of this system.

Also, it affords him a measure of freedom.  I told him that he can accomplish his tasks in the order he sees fit.  He does have to accomplish everything in his day block by 2:30/ 3:00pm though.

 He may not want to do Math at the same time every day and now he doesn't have to.  He can do History first one day, and Reading the next.  It's his choice.  Once he completes a task, he crosses it out.  And, of course, I check up on him and correct his work.   There is accountability there too.

See a sample page of my planner below:

The planner system is probably only appropriate for 3rd grade and above.
Younger children may not be able to handle this level of responsibility. 
Note: this planner does not show his Basketball, Racket ball or other evening activities.


This system has also afforded me a level of freedom.  He will attack assignments and ask for help when needed.  Because of this system, I do not have to spoon feed everything to him.  

I hope this helps, gives you some ideas or just confirms what your doing is right for your family.  Either way, I wanted to share one of the things that worked for us last year....the planner system.