Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Making My Home a Haven

One of my favorite bloggers is Courtney over at Women Living Well {home of the Good Morning Girls bible study I do}.  She does a Fall Challenge every year where she walks us through steps we can take to make our home a haven.  I think it's so important for me this year because my kids are in public school, my husband works and I want to be sure we all reunite at the end of the day in a home that is welcoming and warm.

So this week's challenge is this:
Buy a candle.  Light it daily.  Say a prayer for peace for your home each time you see it.

That's easy to do!

Now for the more challenging part... putting it into practice!
Here is what I actually plan to work on to promote more peace and patience in my home:

With my husband
I will hold my tongue and not criticize him.  I will listen to his stories and ideas without rolling my eyes and be more encouraging.

With my children
I will correct my kids without screaming at them.  I will help them work out their conflicts in a more loving way, you know, without screaming "GET ALONG!". {See a pattern?}  I will stop giving my children ultimatums when asked to do something.  "Clean your room or you aren't getting any dessert."  or "Do your homework now or you won't get to watch TV."  Anyone else guilty of that?  Why can't I just ask my kids to do something and leave it at that?

With my house
What feels better?  Walking into a messy or clean room?  I plan to keep my house tidy so when my family comes home, it's welcoming.  I also like having my home in order so when last minute company comes over, I'm ready and not rushed.

I already lit my candle and it smells good in here!

I really like having this challenge at this point in my life because I really love being a homemaker and it's nice to have a focus as life gets busy.  If you join us for this series, please let me know!

Please check out Courtney's blog for more information!!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Public School update. Month #1

My kids have been at public school for a month now and I thought I'd share how we are making out so far!

The transition from homeschool to public school has gone much better than I had ever hoped!
  • All kids are doing amazingly well and grades are awesome! No one is behind in anything!
  • No complaints getting up in the morning, although it's getting harder with the chilly mornings we've been having! {5:45am is V's & my wake up time - eek!}
  • V is learning to play flute!
  • L has turned a corner and LOVES chapter books! He devoured a Magic Tree House book tonight and read the whole.thing. Unreal!
  • C is proud of his ever growing ability to spell words. He read his first book to me this week using his sight words!
  • Homework isn't as bad as I thought!
  • The schools are amazing with parent communication and my concerns and questions have been addressed promptly.
  • This month I have attended 2 open houses, 2 PTO meetings, 1 superintendent meeting, 1 School Family Community Partnership meeting and love getting plugged in and meeting everyone! I submitted my volunteer paperwork and had fingerprints done and am officially able to get in the classrooms! I start on Monday!
  • All three kids have grown in confidence!!!
  • The kids are making new friends and I love hearing about them! {The good and bad - ha!}
  • The schools have lots going on so our calendar is filling with lots of fun things to do!
Although I have been busy, I love the change to what I am doing from the stress of lesson planning and being responsible for their education. I enjoy helping them with homework and it's been manageable. In fact, the kids are told to take responsibility for it all so I'm not ever worried about it!  

So in all, it's been a super fabulous change for us! We'll see how long the enthusiasm lasts especially as time change "fall back" happens soon {Nov.1 - yuck!}. I'll keep you posted! Happy Autumn!!!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Lighten up

A bunch of grouches, I say!
Everyone takes themselves far too seriously!
And far too often, that'd include me.  Oh and my kids... yes they need to chill out too.

People I have a message today!  And it's for myself before anyone else.


The things that rob us of our joy aren't worth it.  Slow drivers, moody cashiers, politically opposite friends on Facebook, pokey kids, the laundry pile, etc.

Why do we let these things affect us so much?
I don't want an ulcer or to die from a heart attack.  Geesh... gotta chiiiiiill out!

I'm really trying to "Lighten up & Brighten up" more, starting with my family.  This is something I'm trying to teach my kids because the older they get the more serious they're becoming.  We need to save our energy for things that really matter.

What about you?  Do you see yourself stressing out too much over things that really aren't important in the grand scheme of things?  Next time you feel the inner bubbles start to boil over, remember to try to "Lighten up and brighten up!"

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 17:22

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

First day of school Aug 2015

My kids started school last week!  {It's back to public school for us, so to read about our reasons for switching from homeschooling, click here.}

My kids are in two different schools because middle school starts in grade 5 in our town!  YIKES!  I drove the kids their first day but now they take the bus.  I dropped Vienna off first because her school starts an hour before the boys.  I also drove her friend so they could walk in together.  The boys were still with me so I had my distractions and didn't cry.  I was impressed!  haha!

Then I drove the boys in a bit later.  Colin's book bag was heavy with new supplies so before he got out of the van, he couldn't get it on his back without his brother's help.  Then he couldn't get out of van so Lance helped him again.  As the boys walked into the school, little Colin was wobbling under the weight of his bag while carrying his also heavy lunch bag.  He looked so cute and I wanted to help him and that's when the tears burst forth.  My little guy was all on his own and Mama wouldn't be there to help him.  Plus I was alone in the van.

As I drove away, I heard a song on the radio that Lance liked and I cried harder knowing that if he was with me he'd pipe up and say: "I love this song!"  But now it's just me and it was so quiet.  I thought how all our memories have been together to this point and now our days will be spent apart.  It's a big change for this Mama who has had kids with her 24/7 for 10 years!

I pulled over to finish crying then called a friend.  I couldn't get through telling her about drop off without crying again.  But she listened and by the end of the call, I felt better.  I prayed and thanked God for my day, asked for their protection and drove home.  This was my view when I pulled over.

I've stayed busy since they started school.  I'm trying to do all my housework and errands while they are at school so I can be fully available to them when they return home.  My houseguests moved out on Friday so I've been helping them at their new place with cleaning and unpacking.  And finally, maybe soon I can start all those low priority projects that I've put on hold.  Aside from the kitchen and one bathroom, we haven't painted any rooms in this house since we moved in almost 6 years ago!  Poor Lance has had a dark red room that was great when he was a napper but now needs to be freshened up!  I can't wait to start on photo projects like finishing Lopsi's Shutterfly album and work towards printing our family photos.  I just submitted my volunteer paperwork today and hope to get into the schools to help out too.  And time with friends... I look forward to grown up lunch dates with my friends!!

My kids are doing great and all report that they love school.  I'm seeing one blossoming with confidence before my very eyes - a huge answer to prayer, and a reason I felt led to send them to school.  They are meeting new friends while enjoying more time with their neighborhood friends.  The staff has been incredible up to now.  They reply to my emails and have been really great with communication, another answer to prayer!

My attitude has shifted too.  I'm not lonely or sad about being apart each day.  For one my days zip by!  The boys get on the bus at 8:10am and Vienna gets out at 2:20pm. I get over an hour with her before the boys come home and that gives us lots of time to chat and connect.  Our evenings have been better since we have more to talk about.  There is a vibrancy in the air that was lacking before.
I'm also surprised by the mental rest that has been unexpectedly relieving!  Aside from the burden of being responsible for the education off my shoulders, being off-duty to all kids' demands is pretty sweet!
I jokingly shared on Facebook that I can eat treats without having to hide anymore!
And the extra perk, since we are up at 5:45am each day, I see my husband before he leaves for work.  Poor guy has an early schedule and we never saw him in the morning.

So far so good.  And with that, September is upon us!  Enjoy what's left of summer weather!

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Surviving house guests for a month

We have friends staying with us right now.  They bought a new home and are renting out their old one.  Back in July, their closing date was pushed forward so they didn't have had enough time to do the renovations on their new home before they had to be out of their old one for the renters, so we told them that they could stay with us.  They are a family of six with children ages 7, 5, 2.5 & 11 months so it was obvious that if they didn't get the repairs, painting and floors done before they moved in, it would never get done... right!?  *all parents nod their heads*

So here they are.... Look at my home filled with children!!
play dough time
They have been with us 3.5 weeks with another week to go and we still like each other!  haha!  We are friends and it's been great spending time together, often staying up far too late when we all have early risers!  The best thing is that my friend Krista likes to cook so she's prepared many meals for us.  She also eats a lot healthier and has given me tons of great, tasty ideas!  I'd like to think we are a good team in the kitchen.  She cooks; I clean.  I'm going to miss having my wifey around!  *wink*

You know, it's actually easier having a family live with us than visiting us for a few days.  I don't feel like I have to cook or entertain them.  They even have their own fridge and shelves for food in the garage!  And they come and go as they please.

When I tell people that a family of 6 and their pets are staying with us, they ask, "How are things going?" with a sympathetic smile, so I thought I'd share some practical things that help.  It's really not that bad and I am NO special angel as people seem to think!  The biggest thing is that we are all believers in Christ and serve the same heavenly Father.  We strive to live for Him and with Him as the center of our home, all else falls into place.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
As the person who is hosting, I am comfortable with verbalizing my rules and setting boundaries.  And in turn, my guests are very laid back and respectful.  We've both had issues with our kids but we both prioritize discipline and training our children so issues are addressed and we move on.  The kids have been the biggest dynamic just with all their varying ages and personalities.  But we are working through it!

So here are four tips to surviving house guests...

Set boundaries
We are blessed with a three-level home and our guests are living in our basement.  Our bedrooms are all on the top floor, with the common rooms on the main floor.  We told our friends that we wouldn't go in the basement without asking them first and their kids aren't allowed in my children's bedrooms unless my kids are with them.  My older two have definitely appreciated having this boundary and one in particular has needed more alone time than all the children combined!  Tempers start to rise and it's clear a break is needed.  Seven kids ages 10, 8, 7, 5, 5, 2.5 & 11mo is a lot!

Keep it shut
My daughter observed our guests' kids doing something different than the way my kids do it and told me about about it thinking I'd address it.  I told her that it was a parenting issue and not something for me to bring up to their mom.  I will not interfere with the kids doing something that really doesn't concern me, my kids or my home.  Since we are friends, Krista and I have both shared our struggles and we have each offered feedback in conversation so those late night talks have been great, but it's wise to not bring observations up unless the other person mentions it first.
We are living in closer quarters than normal and it's actually makes ya feel kinda vulnerable. She's seen me in a bad mood and before my morning coffee, in my PJs and with bedhead.  haha!  She sees how I feed my kids {which I'm working on improving}, so I'm glad she doesn't criticize me for how I do things.  Nothing worse than walking on eggshells around someone!
Plus it's just not necessary to bring every "little feathers ruffled" thing up.  I always filter my thoughts and if it's something that is minor, I just ignore it.  After all, this is a temporary arrangement and we don't have to find common ground on everything.

Lower expectations
My friend has four kids younger than mine and with that comes a lot more mess, along with my family's mess!  I totally expected this so I clean to keep up but don't get mad it.  It's just how it is and again, it's temporary.  There are definitely more messes from toys, dirt, bathrooms, laundry, etc, but I just clean it knowing that I want my home to be welcoming to them.  I have lowered my expectations and don't get upset about the chaos that is currently my home. {But I remain firm about no shoes in the house!  haha... *singing Oh Canada!*}

Check in
After the first week, we all chatted and I asked how everyone was making out.  We have been doing pretty good so we didn't have much to discuss but I think an open dialogue is wise, just in case there are things to put on the table and work through.

Glass half full
Focus on the positive!  Don't dwell on the other family's faults or shortcomings.  I really care about our friends and their children are a delight.  The 2 year old in particular might be a little shoe thief but his expressions and the way he plays is just so sweet and humorous!
"Where are my flip flops?" *searching for child* "Oh there they are!"
The hardest thing has been with the kids all adjusting.  Friends are between homes and out of their routine and my kids are out of their routines and about to start public school.  So with all the activity in the house, the kids have all had their various issues to work through.  My friend and I see it as great character development!

My daughter loves the baby and is quite the helper!  The house is busier but there is more life under our roof.  More play time. More conversations. More laughs.  I could focus on more messes, more fights, more mischief, but having the opportunity to help our friends out means more than any of that. They are appreciative and we enjoy their company!
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 1 Peter 4:8-9
So this week is our last week together and I am praying that we have a fun time and end on a good note!  I also pray that my friends' move goes smoothly!  They are really excited about their new home and me too... they have a pool!

{If anyone has survived houseguests and has more advice to share, please leave a comment!  Would love to hear your ideas!}

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Finished Proverbs!

I just finished reading another book with my bible study group "Good Morning Girls".  I really enjoyed all the wisdom that I am able to easily apply to my life.  Proverbs ends with a summary of a woman who works hard for her family.  She is a good example of the kind of woman we should all strive to be!  But nestled in verse 28 are the words:  "Her husband praises her" which spoke most to me today!

We have all heard the expression "Behind every great man is a great woman," but I feel that any good I do is hugely in part because of the love and support that I receive from my husband.  {The full credit goes to God who made me and motivates me of course!}

But Jay is so supportive of the things I do and strives to make me happy.  {The chocolate he brought home yesterday really helped!}
He wants me to succeed in my endeavors.
He encourages me to try new things.
He cheers me on when I grow weary.
Oftentimes, as I do one thing, I slack off in another area, but he finds reason to praise me and that keeps me motivated.
He chooses to see the good in me and loves me unconditionally.
He truly is the perfect partner for me and I am so grateful to have him.

Geesh... what a good way to end this study because coming up next is Song of Solomon!  Courtney, the leader of GMG said the following about the upcoming reading selection:
"Song of Solomon is a divinely, inspired love poem and a celebration of sexual love…yes it’s gonna get a little steamy here next week."

So grab some friends and start a group, and if you know me in real life, let me know if you are interested and I will add you to my private Facebook group!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mary has 3 little lambs. GMG Proverbs.

Next week we will be wrapping up our time in Proverbs with Good Morning Girls and what a great study it's been.  I've seen so many verses that have helped me come to a decision regarding school for the kids!  See my big reveal HERE from yesterday when I shared that we'll be sending our kids to public school after homeschooling for three years.

As I prayed for direction this past month and while reading the Proverbs, so many verses about planning our lives, self-control, discipline and being lazy all jumped out at me.  Here are just some:
"To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction." Pro 12:1
And regarding planning....  Here are three I jotted in my journal.

And more...
"Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city." Pro 16:32
"A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things." Pro 18:9
"A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit." Pro 24:34
"A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls." Pro 25:28

As shared in that post yesterday, being disciplined was my biggest challenge and I knew I couldn't continue on my own as I was.  This was a powerful reveal for me.  Humbling but motivating!

Sending my kids to public school doesn't mean I get to run back into my house, kick of my shoes, grab a martini and read all day.  This Proverb sums it up well:

I need to continue to be INVOLVED in my children's lives.  I need to know their teachers and be in the classroom.  I want to be available to them at the end of the day.  I need to listen to them and continue to guide them through this new territory.  I know my life will be busier but I don't want to get lazy.  I don't want to raise a family with "broken-down walls".  I know many changes are coming but I need to trust God and continue to study His word for encouragement and strength as I continue to raise my children with a little more accountability.

"Know the state of your flocks".... 
Brings a whole new meaning to Mary had a little lamb, huh?