Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I should know this by now

You would think at my age I would know by now. You would think that I would quit questioning and just believe. But, still I waiver - it may be slight or for just a split second, but I waiver. I waiver in my faith. I waiver in my ability to completely trust Him for everything!! At times it comes easy, but on the tough things I can waiver at a moments notice. I HATE THAT!!! I want to be completely SOLD OUT 100% HIS!!! So, why is it so hard? Why can't I just trust the track record I have come to know as perfect? I'm human. That's the only answer I have. And, that just doesn't sit right with me. So, tomorrow I will try again. And the next day I will try again. I will keep trying every day of my life - I will not give up!! God is not only good, but He is GREAT!! He is all-powerful, all-knowing and I can't imagine my life without Him.

So, what brought this revelation on? Well, I have to be honest I was stressed to the max and I couldn't see my way out. Since August I have been babysitting a 4-yr old boy. At first it was good and I would homeschool him on Mondays/Fridays along with my son. The other 3 days I would take him & pick him up from preschool. It was exhausting trying to keep up with it all and make it work in our family. We didn't have the freedom we once knew in our daily schedule. We couldn't just pick up and go when and where we wanted. We were tied down. Then, there's the ever increasing issues between my son and the other boy. These past 2 weeks they have been unbearable when the two of them were together. The only words I used all day were "don't, quit, stop, leave him alone!" It was taxing to say the least. By dinner time I was completely spent and ready to just retreat into solitude for the rest of the night. It was wearing on me and it was showing. So, I began to pray about it. I didn't know what the answer would be, but I knew there would be one. Either God would help me see how to change their behaviors towards each other or He would give us a way out.

On Monday, yesterday, it became absolutely clear that I was not going to able to watch this boy anymore. The dynamics were not meshing anymore and it was getting out of control. There are many issues, but the most dominate being he is an only child of a split family. So, when he was over here he would push Tyler's buttons - ALL OF THEM!!! Monday it was at its all-time worst!! I knew it was no longer beneficial for my son to have this going on in our house. We needed out. But how? I have spent the past year building the relationship between us and his mom and I didn't want that to be wasted. I wanted to maintain a good relationship and one that we could continue growing. But how could I do that when I needed to tell her I could no longer watch her son? When she asked why, what would I say? I was in turmoil all day of it and even sick to my stomach. I didn't want to do it, but I knew I had to. When the doorbell rang I knew I had run out of time. No more stalling, no more waiting. The time was now. I needed to tell her that after Christmas I was no longer going to be able to watch her son. Before I could start my end of the conversation, she began to talk. She told me that she had just gotten a call from the "Y" and her son (who had been wait-listed since August) was now in. And, he starts tomorrow!!

Can you believe it??? I was worried all day and it was taken care of - completely!! No need to say anything that might ruin the relationship we had built. No need to say anything at all!! God is so good!! No, God is GREAT!!!! I was worried for nothing. After all, I should know this by now!

FREE Winter & Christmas worksheets & MORE!!!

I came across this site when I was looking for Thanksgiving worksheets, crafts & such. It has a LOT of great worksheets for younger kids. I also found some very cute & inexpensive crafts!! YAY!!! So, I looked around the site & found they have some great winter & Christmas stuff too. And the best's FREE!!!!! Just click on what you want and print! I believe you can even save some of them to your computer for future use. Now that's a find!

The BEST reward

Many of you may know that we homeschool our 5-yr old in his first year of Kindergarten. I say "we" very loosely though! It is mostly ME!! I get the lesson plans ready, I do the prep work for the daily assignments, I teach him daily - all while managing the house & 2 young kiddos. It's not easy by any means, but ABSOLUTELY the most rewarding thing I can think of this side of heaven!!
As I did more and more research about teaching Kindergarten, I realized that my son already knew most of what was taught (recognizing the alphabet, recognizing & counting to 100, sight words) and MORE! I thought, "he is going to be BORED out of his mind if I continue to do all this for another entire year!" So, I set out to find other things for him to do. I researched first grade checklists and read other homeschool blogs and information. I also talked to several homeschool moms that helped guide me in the right direction. After much discussion with my husband, friends and my research I realized that he might be ready to start reading. Wait...did I say READING???? AHHHHH!!!! A flood of emotions immediately filled my head and heart. "What if I couldn't teach him to read? He would be illiterate his entire life and would fail at getting a job or raising his own family!" Okay, I admit, I can get a little carried away sometimes...but seriously this was probably THE MOST scary part of homeschooling to me! What if he wasn't ready? What if I really couldn't teach him to read? How were we going to overcome that?
That's when the prayers started flowing daily. "Lord, help me to be a better teacher and mom today than I was yesterday. Help me to be patient with Tyler as we learn to read together. Help me see how to make it connect for him. Show me how best to teach him so he can learn ALL You have for him!" Some days were simply, "Lord, help me survive!" But, in any case I learned how important it was/is to pray for my child and how I teach them. It is paramount. It is ESSENTIAL!!
At the beginning of the year we tried a phonics book, that really looked like it worked more on his handwriting skills than phonics or reading. Frankly, he became bored very quickly & was finished with the book in 2 weeks time! That's when I decided it was time for something a little more advanced. Something that challenged him more. So, I went to worksheets I could print free from the internet. I found several great websites that had a variety of activities/worksheets to help teach clusters, long vowels, short vowels and more! So that's what we did. I would choose a cluster or long/short vowel for the week and just print off worksheets that taught them. He would do a couple a day and have a quiz on Fridays. This worked for a while, but he quickly informed me (almost daily) that he hated worksheets. And it became like pulling teeth to get him to do them. So, I set out on another mission. How can I practically show him how these worksheets/lessons will help him learn to read? Then, like a slamming door - it hit me!! LET HIM READ!!! So, we started in with our A Beka readers. He quickly realized that he really could read! He became excited and so did I!!! We had finally found what worked! He just needed to see the practical application of it all.
This week he will finish his second A Beka reader and I couldn't be more proud!! Yes, I know some kids read earlier and some read faster. But, for me...just hearing him read by himself is the BEST REWARD a mom could ever get!!!!

After feeling this GREAT, OVERWHELMING satisfaction in my sons ability to learn despite my inadequacies, I soon realized this is how our loving, heavenly Father must feel when we "get it." Sometimes the lessons we are learning in life seem so tedious and trivial, but there is always a reason! A reason we may not know very soon, but a reason nonetheless. God is always teaching us through life experiences and this one hit me hard. How many times have I rebelled against what I know to be right? How many times have I run away from something simply because it was difficult and I couldn't, in my finite mind, see the practical application or use of it in my life (at this point)? WOW!!! I am so thankful God is a loving, compassionate, PATIENT Father!! I hope that someday God will look at me with pride just as I look at my son when he's reading by himself. Big words or small - it doesn't matter! He persevered and he won! That's how I want God to see me. I want Him to be proud of me in EVERYTHING I do, say and in all that I am. I want to be my best for Him - always!

DISCLAIMER: When your child finally learns to read - be forewarned that they will read EVERYTHING!!!! And I mean EVERYTHING!! He reads every sign he can as we drive down the road. It's a constant school lesson in our car! Most of the time I don't mind, but I must admit as sweet as it is to hear my first-born son reading, I often wish he wouldn't! ;)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Educational Freebie: Thanksgiving File Folder Games Lapbook

Knowledge Box is offering a free Thanksgiving File Folder Games Lapbook to download.

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for this tip!!!! I LOVE file folder games!! They are FUN and occupy my kiddos! It's a WIN-WIN!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making a busy house flow...

When running errands during the day with my kids in tow, I often hear comments like, "Youmust have your hands full!" or "How do you get anything done?" or, my personal favorite "WOW! You must be exhausted at the end of the day!" Really all three of these are true! But, I wouldn't change it for the WORLD!!!! And, I absolutely mean that! Now, don't get me wrong, there are days that I literally want to pull my hair out or that I go outside and scream just a little to get it out, but I can't imagine working all day long and missing these precious moments in my children's lives! I am truly blessed to be able to stay at home and see these steps and strides they are taking in their development and in their education! What an honor!!!

But, seriously - it can be difficult getting things done around the house. After my 3rd was born, there were many days I was just completely overwhelmed! I didn't know which way was up and if I was coming or going!! It took me a lot longer to get into a routine with her than it did when I had my second child. But, now that I've found what works - IT'S GREAT!!! So, I thought I'd share with you some tactics I use to get things done in a busy house with a FULL schedule!!

First, let me share with you a typical week's schedule:
Our regular weekly events
Wednesday - church activities (6:30 - 7:45)
Thursday - Bible Study (6:15 - 9)
Sunday - morning church (9a)
Husband's work schedule
Friday & Saturday 10:30p - 8a
Sunday - Tuesday 11p - 8a
(He sleeps from about 9a - 4:30p each day, but gets up around noon on Wednesday to spend 1/2 of his 1st day off with us & then sleeps a "normal" overnight Wed, up with us on Thursday but then sleeps until about 2pm on Fridays to help him for his Friday overnight shift.)
Most days he is at our house around 7am and leaves around 5pm
He is in preschool Tu, Wed & Thurs from 9:30a - 2:30p

This is our week! Then, we work in Homeschooling, naps, baby feedings, laundry, dishes, other housework, playtime and MORE!!!! It's a challenge to say the least! But, I have found a few things that help me! Now, keep in mind I am a list-maker, Type-A personality!!! This may not work for everyone. But, it's important to find what does!

FIRST - I created a laundry schedule!! Yep, that's right a laundry schedule! Too often I found myself doing 5-6 loads of laundry a DAY and then depressed by the piles that just laid there unfolded for days! So, I made a schedule in a Word document like this one below.

This may look like overkill to some of you, but strangely enough it puts this already exhausted, worn-out momma's mind at ease! I have this posted on the wall between my washer & dryer. I can look at it first thing in the morning and know what 2 loads of laundry I have scheduled for that day! Then, suddenly I don't feel so overwhelmed!! Two loads is completely doable!!! You may wonder why I have a third column. With 3 kids and 2 under the age of two, you NEVER know what might happen during the day! Someone may get sick, someone may have an overnight accident, a child may get a little carried away outside in the mud! This leaves me open to do an "emergency load" should the need arise!!

Something else I created that helps me immensely is my Weekly Meal Plan. You will notice this looks strikingly similar to my laundry schedule. That's because IT IS!!! It is also made in a Word Document.

Ours starts on Thursdays because payday is Wednesday (unless its a holiday week). I also start it on Thursdays because most ads begin on Wednesday, so I can look through them on Tuesday after they come in the mail!! That way I can plan my meals around what's on sale (beef, chicken, steak, veggies, fruit for snacks, etc.). It has worked VERY well in our house! In fact, it has cut our grocery bill by at least 30%!!!! Why?? Well, with an organized meal plan I only make (or try to only make) ONE trip to the store, which cuts down on those extra items you get when you're rushing through trying to find something for dinner. It has also cut down the number of times we eat out, since I've planned the meal ahead of golly THEY BETTER EAT IT!!! I can also more easily plan for company dropping by at a moment's notice without the frantic running around trying to figure out what's to make for dinner! Now, sometimes I might move things around in a week, especially if we leftovers for a lunch, but most of the time we stick to the original schedule. And, as a treat, once a month I allow my husband and oldest child to choose a meal for one day that week. It also allows my son to have at least one meal he likes (or so he says).

Well, these are just a couple tips for those of you feeling overwhelmed and overloaded!! I hope they get your brain thinking about what might work for you!! I would love to hear from you all about how you organize your house, chores and lives!!!

Until next time~

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Why is listening such a hard lesson to learn? We are taught from an early age that we need to listen to our parents. We need to listen to their voice for many reasons but one being to heed warnings! They are trying to protect us and at times save us from danger. We teach our children to listen to our voice. These past few weeks our school lessons have been on a theme of "Attentiveness." (We use KONOS curriculum found here) Our lessons have a great variety of hands-on, book work & practical living scenarios to drive this point home.

One game we played (which is now Tyler's favorite) is to give him a bag and recite a list of things he must get and bring back to me. So, I would say "Bring me something blue, something round, something fuzzy, something small & something purple." Off he would run in search of the items! I'm not sure who had more fun - him or ME!! I gave him praise for each correct item he brought me and encouraged him to continue until he had found everything on my list. If he didn't remember something we talked about it and why he didn't remember. This game not only encourages listening it also encourages following directions & being observant.

After we played several rounds of this game, I sat him down and we talked about why this game was a good lesson for our lives. Not only do we need to listen when playing a game, we also need to listen when Mom or Dad gives instructions or when in a classroom situation (i.e. Sunday School). We then talked about how important it is to listen to our parents voice - especially when they call our name from a distance or very loudly. There are reasons parents raise their voice at us. Sometimes it is to give correction (which we are working on lowering our voices in this house - we come from loud families ourselves, so this is a work in progress), but other times it could be to save us from danger - such as when we are in a parking lot & Mom might see the approaching car! We talked about how important it is to STOP immediately when we're told or our name is called. There is ALWAYS a good reason!

Then, we moved on to the MOST IMPORTANT person to listen to - GOD!!!! We talked about how God always has our best interest in mind and when we listen to Him he will guide us. Now, keep in mind I'm trying to explain this to a 5-yr old. It is quite difficult to explain how God will tell us what to do when He doesn't have an audible voice! So, it was brought to my mind that many times our Mommy's and Daddy's are God's voice to us! When we say STOP it's because God has prompted Mom or Dad to say it because of things we've learned. Listening to God's voice is not easy at first, because it takes time to know what it sounds like - just like a baby learning to recognize Mom & Dad's voice. But, the more you practice listening to HIM the easier it will be!!

This, I believe is the MOST IMPORTANT lesson I can teach my child! Listening to God through the Holy Spirit has long been forgotten by many Christians. We've become complacent and comfortable in our own life and the path we're on that we forget to "check back in" with God and His ever changing plans. The fundamentals will never change but the path will most likely change - and often! We need to constantly seek HIS guidance, HIS will and HIS path for our life. Our life is not anything what we thought it would be after 7 years of marriage. We thought we'd be in a comfortable ministry somewhere, building a church & a family. Instead, we've found ourselves trying to make ends meet on a weekly basis, a job my husband is not happy in, and very little family time due to my husbands work/sleep schedule. We are doing what we can, but life is complicated right now. My husband feels a calling from God, but frankly we're not sure where it's going to lead us. Right now, we are the ones being tested in our listening skills. And, let me tell you - IT'S HARD!!!! We are confident that in time God will reveal His plan clearly to us, but in the meantime we must continue to pray and wait (which is the hardest part)!! We are ready to go and serve wherever He leads us - we're just waiting to hear where that might be!

Throughout this trial I've realized that if we don't listen to our Father daily, we will most likely find ourselves lost and eventually unable to hear His voice because we're out of practice. I sure don't want that to happen - do you? Take time today to talk to our Father and if you're out of practice ask Him to teach you how to hear His voice again. Ask Him to make His plans known to you so that you can continue doing work for His glory!!

Many blessings to you as you Seek Him First!!!