September 9, 2013

The Way, the Truth and the Life

Yesterday was a special day, not just because it is Sunday, which is always special here. My husband and I are quite involved in our church. We are the worship leaders-him on guitar and leading singing, I am on the piano and singing. We have other members of the worship team, but we never know who will show up, so Matt and I are the backbone. Not only that, but he is very involved in the technology area, creating a website, putting the sermons online etc. And we both help with the children's ministry, him more than me.

But, that's not what I'm talking about. Yesterday we had a baptism service. Our church doesn't have a place to baptize, so we all go on Sunday evening to one of the church members' pool, and have a service. My husband played a few songs, our pastor gave a short message about water baptism and what it's purpose is, and then two of my daughters- Alexa who is 9 and Sarah who is 7- along with my nephew who is 10, were baptized. What is so awesome is that it was THEIR idea. They decided they needed to do it, and we told the pastor and they set a date for a service. Two other little girls were baptized too. Last year we had a service and I tried and tried to get Alexa to do it, but she wasn't ready. And then, it was her and my nephew's idea this year.

This is a big deal, because it shows that they have an understanding of their personal relationship with Jesus, and that they want it to be made known outwardly. You have to be brave and step out to do something like that in front of so many people. I recorded a video yesterday but we haven't gotten it uploaded yet. I plan to when it does and then you can watch these little children make their decision known to the world.

It helps me to see that even though at times my girls don't seem to listen to me, or care, they really are understanding more than I realize. They have learned compassion for others, child like faith and trust in God to provide, to heal and so on, and that His Word is the truth, all from us and our church family. This is amazing because they are so little. Because my faith and understanding has grown, I've been able to pass it on to them at a much younger age, and they're way ahead of where I was in my understanding at that age. My goal in raising them has been to give them even more than what I had, though I had a lot, and it seems to be happening :)

I don't want to say that I'm proud of them, but I am, and a better word would be Blessed. I have been able to see some fruit of the work I've put in. There are a lot of times that the devil comes knocking, trying to make me feel like what I do is nothing and unimportant, that I've not accomplished much in my life and so on. Honestly, it's hard to see that that is a lie at times, because I can't see the bigger picture or the fruit of my work, but then, I do get to see it and that is a reward! I was able to see that all I do does have a purpose, and it is working, and they are receiving it and using it. That is a wonderful blessing and is truly a great reward. And I know that I wouldn't be able to do it without the power of the Holy Spirit. My husband and I rely on Him to lead us, and He does.

There's no better way than to live for Jesus.

"Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." John 6:68

When life sometimes feels very hard, when a difficult situation or even an impossible looking one comes up, and thoughts of just quitting try to circulate in my mind, this verse almost always comes to me. What else would I do? The only answer is to dive deeper into Him and lean on Him, keep His Word before my ears and ears, renewing my mind to believe the impossible, that He will make a way, cast my care on Him and He will fix it, because He loves us.

September 5, 2013


My posts are so sporadic here I know. There are just many many things in this woman's head, and whichever is the most important is what takes the majority of my thinking.

So we started school last week, both public and home. Someone may be wondering why I have a child in the public school and the rest here at home. My oldest was born, special. She has had some unique challenges in her life, and part of her learning has been through the public school. I have done a lot of different things with her, and overall considering the dynamic of the family, she does best in her class at school. There is such a small class and so many teachers that she gets lots of one on one, plus all therapies are free. They do an awesome job, love her and she gets very specific teaching there. Here at home, mom is so busy with everything and everyone, and everyone pushing and pushing my buttons, that honestly she wouldn't get that kind of attention. At the moment, through much prayer and seeking God about it, this is where she needs to be. Leiah is there temporarily, she has a bright future.

The other girls also went to the public school, but our desire for them to have a quality Christian education has led us to homeschool.And so, we all started last week.

My perfectionism and aversion to schedules certainly rose up last week, but we had a good first day despite it being SO BUSY!!!! The next day I was really tired....We schooled Mon, Tues, Thurs, Friday and then of course the long weekend. It feels like we've been doing school for a long time though. The main problems I ran into were:

~Children not doing their best work or trying
~Children not interested in the work and not paying attention
~Not having all my homeschool curriculum yet
~Narrating, or the lack of it

So I put up some rules with Scriptures about those things-doing their best, being respectful, not complaining...and then my husband, who has named himself the principal, has reinforced all of it with dire consequences if they give me a hard time. That worked well. LOL

I realized that the way to not fail at this, is to recognize that I am not qualified and cannot do this, and I need, NEED, Jesus. He can do all these things perfectly, in love. I must completely give this to Him and let Him work through me. Then, yesterday, my second oldest daughter, Alexa, totally got into one of the books we've been reading. (The Sword in the Tree) She only had to read two chapters but ended up reading like six! Wow, and today, they wanted me to read more from the book Famous Men of the Middle Ages. Praise the Lord, He worked on them! And, the narration has gotten much better.

So, currently we have been studying the Middle Ages. I know I have not done things conventionally and am not going through history like everyone else, but if this is the last year we homeschool I wanted to be sure to get to this period of history. So we are reading "Famous Men of the Middle Ages" which begins with warriors and barbarians during the Roman empire. They are learning that people used to believe strange things (pagan gods) and that without Jesus, people were ruthless and cruel. And, they are realizing how wonderful it is that we are so free here in America. We are also reading "The Sword in the Tree" told during the time of knights and castles. We are supposed to begin a Viking book, but I'm going to read it first because it looks well above their level and I would need to read it aloud. We are planning to start a lapbook tomorrow that covers the middle ages.

They are learning about the early explorers in geography and we are reading a book called "Around the World in a Hundred Years" They really like learning about this and doing maps.

We have begun dictation with Alexa, who is in 4th grade. It's the Charlotte Mason version of spelling for children. They study a sentence or more depending on age, identify any words they don't know, practice spelling it on paper and out loud, then they write it out while I dictate it to them. I watch closely to see if she has misspelled anything and if so, I cover it up with a sticky note. This helps her to not get a mental image of the word spelled incorrectly. Then we do it again after she studies the word. She missed a word today, so I plan to try again tomorrow. I am using this book
It's from Simply Charlotte Mason. ( I am also using the history guide from there as well.

For my second grader, we are using some traditional workbooks for phonics and spelling. They are reading the nature readers from Christian Liberty Press for science until I can order the science course from Apologia. We were going to start a literature lapbook this week but the book I picked just wasn't great (Treasure Island, old version). I mean, I wasn't compelled to read more than a few sentences, so I'm going to look for a more dumbed down version. We aren't used to the harder books yet!

We typically start between 8:30-9am and finish by 12:30. I have a friend that is now tutoring them in math, so on the days she comes we don't do math unless instructed to by her. So the girls are being taught by a variety of people and are getting a 'feast of ideas' as said by Charlotte Mason herself. I am gradually going to be adding art study, composer/music study and piano lessons, and foreign language.

My goal for this year was to really give them a full and engaging education, which meant more from me, but I wanted them to enjoy it and have a good experience. Last year I was just learning, so we didn't do a lot of extras, but I wanted to stretch us a bit and see what we could do. So little by little we'll get it all worked in. I plan to phase out the workbooks to just maybe once a week for Sarah, and focus more on good literature and narration, but I felt she needed some practice with spelling, writing and phonics rules.

All in all, it is going well, and we are all learning a lot.

August 23, 2013


I've been in a crafting rut, or rather a crafting sabbatical. I guess with it being so hot and all knitting hasn't really held my interest. I did finish a project and started a new one, but the new one is rather boring. Too, I've been pretty busy and occupied with other things and haven't had time to sit and knit or crochet.

Since I have four daughters and I like for them to look pretty and classic, I end up needing to sew for them a lot. I especially need to for things like Easter or special occasions because it's expensive and the dresses usually aren't what we want. Now that the girls are getting bigger and are starting to cross over into 'junior' sizes, clothing selection is limited. I am appalled at some of the things out there.

I started doing a lot of sewing at the beginning of the summer, but I kind of fizzled out, especially when some of things just weren't working out. Still, every once in awhile I do get on Pinterest and start searching for ideas, and wow, that is the place to go! I remembered seeing this idea awhile back and thought it was so creative. My girls are princesses at heart, yet they don't make much princess stuff in bigger girl sizes. This is an easy, cheap and a great idea.

 You just need one pattern, some elastic and a basic understanding of how to make ruffles and add trim/embellishments.

We've also been watching some German theme movies lately-The Sound of Music and Hookwinked 2 (yes the villains are Hansel and Gretel)- and I was thinking of how cute it would be to make them a German folk dress. I've been looking online for ideas and fabrics today-they would be so cute!!!

 You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find good pictures of traditional folkwear that is appropriate! My goodness, does everything have to be sexy nowadays? So annoying.

Anyways, this would be done very simply of course, with a peasant style top in white, a 'vest' or bodice in black or another color with ribbon sewn on to look like laces, the skirt done in red or blue, embroidered ribbon trim, a white apron...I might even be able to make it all in one piece. Anyways, it's an adorable idea.

So I have some inspiration for sewing now. I was also thinking about how the girls would LOVE to have an old fashioned white frilly and lacy nightgown. I have several white sheets that would be a good candidate for that and pulled some patterns out just a little while ago to figure out how to do it. Now I just need some time and energy to do it.

August 22, 2013

The Plan

Ok, so I am not an adhering-to-a-schedule person. I can do it, but I don't like how it makes me feel. I get to feeling like I am the servant of the schedule rather than the master of it. I get to feeling like I don't have freedom and control in my life. I know it sounds weird, but I am one of those wing it and it works type of people. At least, the majority of the time it works.

But, I know that that mentality last year is what made things feel difficult and overwhelming. And I always felt behind, don't like that. Sooooo, we have to have a schedule whether I like it or not. However I've been able to create one that allows a lot of free time so that it doesn't seem rigid.

The only thing is, it requires me to get up early in the morning, and I've been struggling with that this week. I know the main reason it has been is struggle is I can't seem to get in bed early enough. But I am trying. I just need to lean more on the help of the Holy Spirit and listen to Him when He tells me to go to bed.

So this is the plan for our days:

5:30am Wake up time for me, while I'm waking up I shall have a caffeinated beverage and some prayer time
              on M/W/F I will do my workout DVDs, the other days Bible reading
6:30am make lunches and breakfast, unload dishwasher
7:00 make sure everyone is up, help my oldest( Leiah) get dressed and ready
        breakfast time
7:30 other girls get dressed and ready, make beds and do their morning chores
        Me-take a shower if needed, dressed, tidy bedroom, start laundry, start crockpot if needed (on Mon and Wed usually
8:30 We start school with Bible reading
9:00 Prek with 4 year old, 7 and 9 year olds do language arts-phonics book, spelling book, copywork, handwriting, reading
9:30 Math time
10:30 or earlier- break and snack (I can switch laundry then)
10:45ish History or Geography (history 3 days, G 1 day)
11:15ish Mon-Literature Unit study; T-science, Th-art study, Fri-music/composer study
12:00 lunch-preparing and eating
          clean things up, do any chores necessary
1:30 Piano lessons-M,T,Th,Fri
2:00 Rest/free time, on Tuesday this will be craft time
      **Monday I pick up my daughter from school around 2:45 and head to dance classes until 5pm
3:30 have a tea time snack and read aloud time***except on Monday and Thursday because of dance at 4:15
The rest of the day is just maintaining the house, clearing the kitchen so it's easy to clean up after dinner, making dinner and pursuing interests.
8:00 Get girls ready for bed and in bed at 8:30, older two can read until 9pm then lights out
My goal is to be actually asleep by 10:30 each night, or before

So, that is the plan. On Wednesdays we use that as a 'free' day- library, shopping, extra cooking if possible and lots of time to play. And once I get going with my food cultures that will probably be the day I work with those. I chose to do all dance classes in the afternoons to keep the evenings free because we are the kind of people that prefer to not have to go anywhere after dinner. It's more work for me, but if I can prepare ahead of time with dinner cooked and things cleaned up, it's not a big deal.

After our cleaning up this week, I hope to take a few pictures of our stuff set up and post them. You can't see it right now because boxes are in the way!

August 20, 2013

Why We Homeschool

The past couple of weeks or so, I've been under a lot of pressure. I am the kind of person that does not like to make mistakes, wants to please others and doesn't like to fail at anything. Ever.

Well, I had been having doubts about our decision for our children's education, just for various reasons, and it seemed like the more I thought about it, the more confused I became. What it all boils down to is fear- fear of making the wrong decision. I have never been one to go with the flow in my life, but I don't really like to stand out and draw attention to myself either. I like to do what I am led to do, because that is the place where I am at peace and joy. When I look back over my life, I am so amazed and so thankful at how God directed me, and that I was able to hear Him and obey it. My heart is to be where He wants me to be, and He knows I'll do what He wants even if I don't like it all that much at first, and even if it is different from everyone else.

The town that we live in is small but growing. We live in what is known as the "Bible Belt". I am literally surrounded by worldwide missions ministries, ministries to teens and pregnant teens, churches by the dozen- you name it. I live in a town that when one person, who is an athiest, tried to prevent the school from doing a program about America and it's Biblical foundations, the ENTIRE town and surrounding towns took a stand and funded the program to happen outside of school hours. It was on the news, as in national news. People move here for the school. It is the most sought after school district, the teachers are allowed to pray and talk about the Lord in class, kids are allowed to meet and pray at school as well. Like I said, people move here for the school.

So when the Lord started moving on me to homeschool, I didn't really understand, and I resisted it. The school has been so awesome for my oldest daughter, who has some special needs. They literally love her and spoil her, and everybody knows her. When I made the choice to obey His leading, I still didn't fully understand why we were doing homeschool, but I did it. And when I did, it automatically took me out of that group. No one in my church homeschools, no one in my family, no friends. There are no homeschooling groups or co-ops that I know of, because again, people move here for the public school. I did ok last year, I had some rough days, but overall, considering I was pretty much alone in it, things went really well.

And so, here I am again, feeling rather estranged from the rest of my local world as I get stuff in the mail about school starting, go to walmart with all the local school supply lists staring at me, everyone asking the girls about school starting and who their teachers are. I've been going over it around and around in my mind, back and forth. I realize that my local 'arms' so the speak are quite short-I don't really know anyone in my community that I see very often at all. I don't even have any friends who have children, much less homeschool. Hey, I don't even have any friends that are married and stay at home. Things can feel a bit lonely at times.

So I had to figure out why it was so important to keep our children home, and teach them myself. I had to go deep, but I realize that the reason is because I want them to have a Christian education. As good as the local school is, it is still funded by the state, and there are still state tests that apparently mean everything. My children will not get a quality Christian education in a public school. They may not even get a quality one in general. The reason a Christian education is so important, is that it all boils down to being about Him, and things make more sense. I know that the reason the dark ages were so dark, is not because people couldn't read or were not educated, it was because the Word of God was taken from them and not written in their own language. I know that Squanto was a Christian, and his life had been directed by God, so that at the appointed time, he would be there for the Pilgrims, so that our nation could begin. I didn't learn any of those things when I was in public school.

Our children are bright, and because of homeschool their reading levels are well above average. If they were to go back to public school, they wouldn't be allowed to move up or be challenged. They would probably get somewhat bored and wonder why they were there when they could be at home doing something interesting. Our school is not bad, but it ultimately falls short of our purpose for our children. I have tasted real learning, real knowledge, and it was like I had been starved the whole time I was in public school, and now I was finally getting something with meat and nutrients to it! I had to digest it slowly in the beginning, but soon I was keeping up with the rest of the kids who had been in that environment all their lives. I want that for my own babies. It is my desire and my goal, to make our school this year to be as interesting as possible. I am making myself include the study of artists, composers, dance, music lessons, field trips, more crafts and really digging into our history material. I chose things that interest me, so that they could see Mom excited about learning this stuff, and encourage them that learning is enjoyable. I love to learn new things, and I want that for them too.

I am writing this for myself. I needed to get these thoughts out, and show myself why I am doing what I am doing. I put it here in the hope that it could be an encouragement to anyone else faltering on the homeschool decision. I am not one of those people that talks much about it to anyone, and keep my answers short when asked, simply because it is a personal decision and I am very aware that I am not perfect. Just the other day a lady found out I homeschool and she just kept going on and on about what a saint I was! Well, if we are saved then we're all saints! People assume incorrectly that I am perfect and patient all the time and that's why I homeschool.
No way, I do it because Jesus asked me to, and because I love my children so much. I want them to learn directly from the Holy Spirit, and I want them to have freedom. I want them to have the Truth and do what God has called them to do. And right now it's learning with their mom, while she learns from the Him.

Busy Days

The last week before school starts is....busy. I am busily purging the house right now, trying to get things more manageable. We have had difficulty getting our girls to get things cleaned up in a short amount of time, so in my mind, that equals too much stuff. Sunday evening I hit one bedroom, and yesterday the other. I am feeling a bit more in control of things and it looks like we could have a cleaner home all the time now.

I went back to Flylady's website and re-educated myself on her methods.I really enjoyed watching her videos because she is very encouraging and funny. I've been trying to make some simple changes, but honestly, the hardest for me is getting up on time! I have been out of my Advocare Spark drink for awhile and I am missing it. It not only gives me energy but really helps me to focus- no foggy brain feeling. I am putting in order for that as soon as possible.

The rest of the week's plans are:
Tuesday- clean the fridge out (my LEAST liked job ever)
                mop the kitchen floor
                maybe clean out the bathroom cabinets
                *also make bread and get crockpot going
Wednesday- library and groceries
                     rearrange the living room and my bedroom (with dh's help in the evening)
 Thursday- bake breakfast items for freezer
Friday- finish any decluttering if needed
             more baking if needed
 Weekend- get things ready for school- clothes ready, backpack and lunchbox stuff ready (for my oldest) and get homeschool things set

I've also been creating a daily and weekly schedule for homeschool and life in general, and I may post that later, as I now I have to get down to the nitty gritty on those kitchen tasks I listed. 

August 17, 2013

Dinner Menu

***I wrote this on Wednesday and forgot about posting it***

This week's menu. I am putting it up to help myself out, but it's always interesting to see what other people eat,huh? I usually shop on Wednesday's so I plan meals from Wed-Tues each week. I used to could buy our groceries for $100 a week, but that was about 6 years ago, minus a child and they were a lot smaller. Not to mention the price of food is more now. We were eating very frugally, er cheaply too, but these days I'm doing absolutely awesome to keep it under$150 a week. Normally it's much more than that.

Some extra things are happening this week, so I am trying to keep a low food budget.

Last Monday: Chicken provencal stew, rosemary bread, leftover chocolate birthday cake (meat and broth from a chicken I roasted and then simmered to make a gallon of chicken stock)

(Yesterday)Tuesday: Smothered mushroom porkchops and rice, peach clafouti (forgot to make a salad, porkchops were from the freezer when there was a sale weeks before, needed to use up a bunch of ripe peaches)

Wednesday: hot dogs with chili, cheese, onions, potato chips, pickles (kid's request)

Thursday: tomato basil soup with cream, grilled cheese (girls will be at grandparents, and I will be gone too, so hubby is on his own)

Friday: Ravioli with Italian sausage meat sauce, Caesar salad, caramel cake (Matt's birthday dinner)

Saturday: tuna pasta salad, corn on the cob (make tuna salad and add chopped onions and celery and cooked pasta)

Sunday: we eat leftovers or sandwiches

Monday: Crockpot bbq chicken sandwiches, oven fries

Tuesday: baked calico beans, homemade macaroni and cheese, cucumber tomato salad