November 25, 2013

Joyful Mom Monday - Making Memories in the Middle of Inconveniences

This morning, I woke up feeling a bit achy and blah, and so I took a major risk...I ran a hot bath while I left my children to finish breakfast and do chores!  Yes, even with the oldest being 10, this can be risky!  As I was relaxing for a few minutes, I remembered an incident that happened about 5 years ago, and I finally laughed about it!  

5 years ago, I had a five year old, a 3 1/2 year old, a 22 month old and an 8 month other words, a house full of insanity!  The Mr. and I always refer to these special times as the years of survival! :)  I needed to be somewhere ON TIME that evening...very important to be ON TIME!  I also wanted to leave the house in clean order because the rest of the week was going to be busy.  I spent the entire day cleaning like a mad woman.  As it was getting closer to the time for us to leave, I bathed all the kiddos and got them ready to go and left myself an entire whopping 30 minutes to shower and dress myself.  For those of you who know me, this is not very much time, and then when you add 4 small kiddos to the mix, it's really not enough time.  

I left all the kids playing nicely in their rooms and reminded Evvie (the 5 year old) to come and get me if she needed me.  I jumped into the shower and was in there for approximately 2.5 minutes when I heard this strangely familiar creaking noise.  I knew it was the opening of our wood stove.  I called Evvie's name several times, but she didn't answer.  I finished up in the shower, jumped out, wrapped up, and stepped out the door to look down the hall and 22 month old pouring ashes all over my 8 month old.   My freshly bathed and clothed babies were COVERED in ash, and I haven't even described the house with all the ash flying around!  

I was so exhausted and stressed that the only thing I could think of was how I was going to clean up the babies and all the mess and get myself dressed in 20 minutes! I was a crying mess!  I quickly bathed and dressed them again, went and put all the kids in their car seats and came back inside to finish dressing myself with the last 5 minutes I had. 

I dropped the kids off at the baby sitter's house and made it to my appointment 10 minutes late.  When I explained to the group why I was late, I was appalled when they all began to laugh and several even asked if I took pictures!?!  What?  There was nothing cute about that!!! I was hoping they would back up my idea that this was uncalled for - an unnecessary and rude interruption!  Poor, sweet mom! And the only response I got was, "How cute!"

Five years later, I wish I had taken pictures of them, and I can laugh at the craziness of it all.   As I look back on my first years of being a mom, I wish that I had enjoyed my little ones more.  I wish that I had laughed at their explorations - even if they did cause an amazing amount of mess.  That is one thing that I have made sure I do more of with our youngest. tired mom of littles, remember that this time goes by so quickly and one day, you will sit back and remember the craziness and actually wish you could do it again!  Remember, mom of older kids, each season has its ups and downs. Enjoy the moments we've been given.  Make the best out of the inconvenient moments.  See things through the eyes of your children - no matter what ages they are - because this moment will soon be gone.  

Today, I am thankful for the memories God allows us to keep and for the lessons we learn as we go through this journey.  And I'm even thankful for that silly 22 month old Garrett who poured ashes all over his little sister! 

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

November 12, 2013

Joyful Mom Monday - Looking Past Ourselves

Yes...I's Tuesday, but I had something on my mind yesterday but never had a chance to write. goes.

Motherhood is quite the journey - full of ups and downs, highs and lows, moments that go by too quickly and moments that you feel you will never be out of!  As moms, we need to make sure we take time to refresh ourselves and fill ourselves up so that we can continue to pour into our family.

However, something that I am noticing in our American culture is that we have become comfortable with saying no.  We have told ourselves the lie that Satan has thoroughly convinced us of and is now using to literally tear the church and the family down - if I have too much on my plate, I can say no with no guilt.  Don't leave me yet, folks!  The question I have been posing to myself is, "What should I say no to?"  "What will count for eternity and what is really unimportant when compared to eternal value?"  

I am suggesting that the average Christian American has begun to feel comfortable saying no to the spiritual priorities of the church and even the family in order that they might have "quality time with family" or that ever sacred "me time."  In the name of a good thing, we are, in reality, neglecting the most needful things.  What we are really saying is, "I won't enjoy doing this as much as I would enjoy this, so I am going to say no," or "That will take more effort than this, so I need to say no."  

Please understand, there are times when we need to say no...even to church activities, but the real heart of the matter is, "Am I spending more time entertaining myself than growing myself?"  If so, we may need to check in and see where our focus is.  Are we really focused on others and the spreading of the gospel, or are we focused on ourselves and what is comfortable and convenient for us? 

Believe me when I say that this is something I need to address in my own life - daily.  It is a constant battle of priorities, and I have by no means arrived, but I am learning...I am realizing that the more I am willing to step out of my comfort zone and the more I am willing to sacrifice, the more meaning my life has, the less shallow my thinking becomes, and the more growth and joy I will experience.  

So, moms, or any Christian out there, how are we doing at looking past ourselves, stepping out of the comfort zone and making true sacrifices that will count for eternity?  It isn't easy, but the rewards are so much greater, and if we want our children to live this kind of sacrificial life, we need to step up and show them how.  What will you say no to this week - something of eternal importance or something of pleasure?  God gives us earthly pleasures to enjoy, yes, but how much more joy would we receive if we asked Him for eternal pleasures and rewards?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. ~Romans 12:1

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

November 9, 2013

Homeschool Journal - 11/9

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?
Today, I am linking up (after a long absence) with The Homeschool Mother's Journal.  I enjoyed doing this in the past,  and I do love to keep a record of our homschooling days so that I can look back and remember all the craziness and fun we have experienced (or not experienced!)!  Because I am jumping in so late, I thought I would fill you in on a little background of our year.  

The Mr. and I have 5 kiddos (10,8,6,5, almost 2) and we are expecting our 6th on December 10th!  We use a Charlotte Mason approach in our homeschooling.  We do this by following the Higher Up and Further In curriculum provided at  This has been our first year to incorporate this curriculum in its entirety, and it has also been the best homeschooling school ever for us despite my fears of homeschooling while pregnant and teaching my 6 and 5 year old first grade together! Here is a peek into what our week has looked like...

In my life this week...
I am trying to pace myself and not panic because our baby girl will be arriving earlier than I had first thought. I am one of those that likes to have everything "perfect" before a big event so that I can enjoy the event to its fullest.  This includes finding a good place to break at in school so that we can enjoy our little one. We are also taking one day each week to deep clean a room in the house.  This has worked very well, but there is still much that I would love to see done. 
In our homeschool this week...
We just completed our 7th week of school, and we have found a great rhythm this year!  Evvie is doing much of her work on her own.  She loves reading all of the interesting literature and although she does not care too much for the narrating, she does it well!  We are focusing more on written narrations and writing skills this year.  Evvie especially enjoyed labeling the parts of a bird from her Apologia Flying Creatures journal this week.

Andrew has thoroughly enjoyed reading small chapter books to himself and narrating them to them to me.  He remembers details extraordinarily well, and I always enjoy hearing his narrations. He also enjoys listening to the many read alouds we have together.  I am so thankful that even though he has such a love for all things outdoors and "manly," he has also developed a love for learning and books.  Andrew has been the first of my kiddos to experience Shakespeare!  We dived into Nesbitt's Shakespeare for Children this week!  I think I narrated more than Andrew did, but we made it through A Midsummer Night's Dream without too much trouble.  It wasn't a favorite for Andrew (he thought it was silly!), but he didn't dislike it either.  I was pleased...and relieved!

Garret and Madelyn are enjoying first grade!  Madelyn LOVES school and can't wait to sit down to it each day.  Garrett says he doesn't like it, but I think he likes to talk tough!  He and Madelyn are staying close together in all the subjects, and I am very happy with my choice to school them together.  I have taken a very slow approach to reading, but it is starting to click, and both of them have been reading short vowel words left and right this week!  I am hoping that before the baby arrives, we will have long vowel words down as well!  

Things I'm working on...
We are still trying to figure out how best to keep our mess maker and loud one (Gavin) contained and entertained during school.  He definitely causes many interruptions and provides a great number of excuses for the older kiddos to leave their school work.  I dislike putting him in a room by himself for such a long time, but that has been the best solution so far.  We do try to rotate so that someone is in the room with him much of the time.  I don't think he feels too deprived of attention! :)
Our favorite thing this week was...
We cut back our schooling to four days a week so that we can super clean on Fridays.  The kids do not particularly care for the super cleaning part of Friday, but it does give us something different to do, and we are a little more relaxed on Fridays.  They were able to go outside for about three hours yesterday and work on building their club!   I believe this gives them as much learning as their books do, and I love hearing all about the ideas they are implementing and the experiments that work and don't work as they team together on a project!  I also enjoyed the peace and quiet while washing the kitchen walls! :)

I'm grateful for...
Fresh starts, new beginnings and wonderful grace.  I've needed many of these during this last trimester when exhaustion seems to take over and patience runs thin.  I am also thankful that I am sleeping better!  It has made a world of difference!  The only thing I have done differently is increase my iron intake.  Does iron really help you sleep that much better!?!  I'm not sure, but I'll take the sleep anyway!

I'm praying for...
A healthy baby girl with no complications this last month of pregnancy!  I am also praying that my heart will be soft and open to the Holy Spirit's leading as I teach my children.  I'm praying that I will put aside my tendencies to walk in the flesh and instead be a true and bright light to my family - showing them God's love instead of a grouchy mom and wife!
That is a brief peek into our lives this week (despite the post being so long!)!  I hope your week has been full of blessings as well as opportunities to grow and learn.  I am off to clean house and catch up on some laundry before taking Miss Evvie to her piano competition - an exciting day for her!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

November 8, 2013

Every Day I Choose...

I have been reading Max Lucado's devotional Grace for the Moment because it seems as though I need more grace than usual for every moment of the day here lately.  My favorite short piece from the book so far has been the very first one I read.  It has become something I read almost daily to remind me of how important the small choices are that I make each day.  Whether we are moms or wives or friends or employees...each of us are responsible for making the right choices each day, but it so wonderful to know that when we fail, God's grace will cover and give us strength to do better the next time.  

No occasion justifies hatred;
no injustice warrants bitterness, I choose love.
Today I will love God and love what God loves.

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.
I will refuse the temptation to be cynical...
the tool of a lazy thinker.  I will refuse to see 
people as anything less than human beings, 
created by God.  I will refuse to see any problem as
anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I will live forgiven.  I will forgive so that I may forgive.

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.
Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll
invite him to do so.  Rather than complaining that the
wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment
to pray.  Instead of clinching my fist at new 
assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone.
Kind to the rich, for they are afraid.  And kind to
the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I will go without a dollar
before I take a dishonest one.  I will be overlooked
before I will boast. I will confess before I will
accuse.  I choose goodness.

Today I will keep my promises.
My debtors will not regret their trust.  My associates
will not question my word.  My wife will not
question my love.  And my children will never fear
that their father will not come home.

Nothing is won by force.  I choose to e gentle.
If I raise my voice, may it only be in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer,
If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I am a spiritual being...
After this body is dead, my spirit will soar.
I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal.
I choose self-control.  I will be drunk only by joy.
I will be impassioned only by my faith.
I will be influenced only by God.
I will be taught only by Christ.
I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
To these I commit my days.
If I succeed, I will give thanks.
If I fail, I will seek his grace.
And then, when this day is done,
I will place my head on my pillow
and rest.

Grace for the Moment

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

November 5, 2013

Recipe for Your Laundry

Today is supposed to be Tummy Tempting Tuesday, but my recipe isn't for the tummy, it's for your laundry!  I don't know how many of you will identify with me and how many will think I am crazy, but doing the laundry is my favorite household chore!  I love sorting the laundry.  I love smelling the laundry soap and fabric softeners (even the bleach when I wash my whites!).  I love folding the warm soft clothes so neatly and filling up the drawers and closets with fresh clean clothes!  Before I had kiddos, I bought my laundry soap based strictly on how it smelled! :)  After I had kiddos, though, I switched to TIDE because I couldn't find anything else that would remove the spit up (and now the amazing amounts of grease and dirt!) from my kids' clothes.  I've always heard of people making their own laundry soap, but most of them admitted that it did not remove the stains as easily as TIDE did.  

This summer I visited my sister for a few days and tackled my laundry while at her place.  She, being of the Martha Stewart breed, makes her own laundry detergent.  I was curious as to how well it would tackle my family's (definitely NOT of the Martha Stewart breed) dirty laundry!  I was impressed!!!  So impressed that I came home and made my own and have not even been tempted to purchase TIDE since.  It is CHEAP!!!  It is easy!  I have not used my stain booster hardly any since I've begun using this detergent.  My clothes are cleaner and brighter because it seems to tackle our well water better than TIDE did.  Even the inside of my washing machine no longer builds up the ugly brown soap scum line at the top of the washer like it used to!  I've had several people ask me about the recipe, and so I thought I'd share it today.  Hopefully, the directions are clear, but if you have any questions, let me know!  

1 Sels-Naptha Soap Bar
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
1/2 cup Borax
5 gallon bucket with a lid
Lots of hot water

Grate the bar of soap into a medium sized pot.  Add 4 cups of hot water. Stir over medium heat until soap dissolves.  Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with hot water.  Add the melted bar soap, the soda and the borax.  Stir until dissolved.  Once the soap is dissolved, finish filling the bucket full of hot water.  Let sit overnight.  It will thicken somewhat, and you will need to stir before using each time.  Using an old liquid laundry detergent bottle, mix 1 part soap mixture with 1 part water.  Use 1 cup per load of laundry.  

This gives you 10 GALLONS of laundry soap!!!  If you've been thinking about making the switch to a home made detergent, you definitely should give this a try!  Speaking of laundry, Tuesday is my laundry day, and I do need to go switch my loads around.  Did I mention that now that my kiddos are older, they fold their own laundry as well as the rags and towels while I read the most interesting books out loud to them?  I love doing laundry, but laundry times 7 can be a bit overwhelming!  This has been one of the best tips I have used in helping to manage my house keeping!  Happy Tuesday and Happy Laundry, Everyone!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,