10 things you may not know about me

I’m getting back to the BPA alphabet I promise. But here are a few random things you might not know about me. Share any of these?

  1. In another life I would be an archaeologist. Digging up the past is simply fascinating.
  2. I adore tiny homes. Oh my goodness they are so compact and efficient and cozy.
  3. I can play the drums. I taught myself when I was in nursing school. I never play anymore though.
  4. Light blue is my favorite color. it has been for years. I can’t get enough of it!
  5. I hate being cold. I never complain about summer heat because I despise winter’s cold so much.
  6. Cleaning out the fridge is my least favorite chore. Ugh. Enough said.
  7. I am left-handed. Most things I do as a leftie, especially things the are precise like writing, shooting and using a knife. I bowl right-handed though.
  8. When I was growing up I wanted 7 children. I’m not sure why but it sounded like the perfect number. I have four children and I’m perfectly okay with that even number.
  9. I am an introvert. Being alone re-energizes me. I enjoy people but crowds really sap my energy.
  10. I enjoy singing. Especially in choirs and ensembles. Harmonizing is really fun and I have an ear for it.

Do you have a similar list? leave a link in the comments!

top_ten_tuesday

No dancing allowed

This song from the Wicked soundtrack really struck a chord with me (pun intended). Too many parents these days are content to help there children glide along the surface of life, never digging deep to experience the joys–and the pain–that life offers.

Dancing through life
skimming the surface
gliding where turf is smooth
life’s more painless
for the brainless
why think too hard?
when it’s so soothing
dancing through life
no need to tough it
when you can slough it off as i do
nothing matters
but knowing nothing matters
it’s just life
so keep dancing through…

dancing through life
swaying and sweeping
and always keeping cool
life is fraughtless
when you’re thoughtless
those who don’t try
never look foolish
dancing through life
mindless and careless
make sure your where less
trouble is rife
woes are fleeting
blows are glancing
when you’re dancing
through life…

gangnam-style-sign-278x370I am concerned we are raising a generation who is unaccustomed to hardship and adversity. Cancelling honors awards, giving “participation trophies” and incessant access to social media contribute to a culture of shallow individuals with no real grasp of difficulty.

Unfortunately if you prevent hurt feelings then you also prevent the satisfaction of excellence. I think most of these decisions are made to make the adults feel better. Kids are more resilient than we would like to admit. So if we cut out all rewards of excellence why try? What child wants to get straight A’s, for example, only to have their honor roll removed, communicating to them that excellence is punished and mediocrity is desired? Catering to the dancing crowd will leave our country with a full dance card but no one to walk us home.

When will we decide that pain and hardship are actually tools that build godly character, and that we can embrace and celebrate failure. We can look to God’s word for countless examples of this lifestyle in action.

God, please help me to care more about my child’s character than their comfort. Help me to raise gardeners and not dancers. Help me to teach them to embrace hard times and all the good that can come of it.

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:1-10

 

Filofax: my inner organizer’s new love

Warning: total Filofax geekery commencing in 5, 4, 3, 2…

Planners are a fantastic tool. I have used them for years. I used to be into Franklin Covey planners, then the store in my city closed. I tried some planners from the office supply store. I printed my own and used 3-ring binders. I bought some online. Then one day on YouTube I found the holy grail of organizers–Filofax.

The more I looked into it the more convinced I have become that Filofax makes the highest quality organizers out there. Along with the quality, there is this delicious variety of colors and configurations. There’s a planner to fit literally every need. So, needless to say, I have two planners on their way to me. :)

Filofax personal Malden

Filofax personal Malden

This lovely purple Malden in in personal size and will be my daily planner. I swear Filofax had me in mind when they designed this. It’s on its way from England (via eBay) and when it arrives I will show you all around inside. (personal size pages are 3 3/4 in. by 6 3/4 in.)

Filofax pocket Chameleon

Filofax pocket Chameleon

This little red beauty has a special job to do and when it arrives from FilofaxUSA I will show you all about that too. (It was 60% off–a great deal!) I’m really excited about this planner and what it’s for. (pocket pages are 3 1/4 in. by 4 3/4 in.)

If you are as geeked about Filofax as I am, or if you just want to see more of them in action, there’s a blog for that: Philofaxy. Also I have a Pinterest board for all things Filofax.

Do you use a planner of some kind? What’s your favorite?

25 ways to connect with your kids using technology

25tech

Technology often gets a bad rap, and for good reason. It is too easy to isolate yourself and forget those around you. Even if you don’t mean to, technology can build a wall that separates you from those you love. But what if technology became a tool to connect instead? Here are some ideas to get you started (I tried to include something for every age and both genders).

  1. Take silly photos together. Print some out and frame them.
  2. Start a digital scrapbook about a specific topic.
  3. Write a story or start a joint blog. (I would love to read a parent-child blog about almost anything!)
  4. Start a secret dialogue. Write to one another in short text messages to keep communication flowing.
  5. Surf the web to research something you both want to learn how to do.
  6. Use the web to plan a weekend, just the two of you.
  7. Make art (or visit a museum from your armchair). There are a ton of great art apps out there that are user friendly.
  8. Read a classic book aloud.
  9. Choose a music playlist to exercise to together.
  10. Find some printables to play with, like these great ones or some from my printables board.
  11. Facetime or Skype with someone far away.
  12. Use a Bible reading program together. Print out scriptures for you both to memorize.
  13. Peruse news sites to spark conversations about current events. Then use a Bible program or Bible app to investigate what God’s word says.
  14. Write letters to soldiers, persecuted Christians or sick kids and print them out. Add original artwork at the bottom.
  15. Play a game against one another.
  16. Start a secret Pinterest board you can both add to. Share inside jokes, things you want to do together or whatever tickles your fancy.
  17. Search for new music to listen to. Look for something you don’t usually listen to.
  18. Find a recipe to try and cook together.
  19. Find some plans to build a fort or something for the backyard.
  20. Make your own movie or tutorial video to upload for the world to see.
  21. Research something your child wants to save for. Check prices and reviews and print a picture to keep them motivated to save.
  22. Use a computer program or app to learn a new language together.
  23. Develop a spreadsheet to keep track of family chores. Decide how the chores will be divided together so they feel they have more say and will therefore [hopefully] take more responsibility.
  24. Plan a party for an ordinary day. Print out decorations and put on a simple soiree. This is great to beat cabin fever.
  25. Take your phone on a nature walk to research flora and fauna you find on your journey.

I hope this gets your creative juices flowing. Do you have any ideas to add? Share in a comment!

 

My word for 2013

This is one of my favorite exercises each year. I determine a word to encapsulate the new year. Sometimes I spend a lot of time and sometimes one just pops out at me. It helps me live with more intention and purpose. Without further ado my word for the year is…

FRUITFUL–1. Very productive; producing fruit in abundance; as fruitful soil; a fruitful tree; a fruitful season. 3. Plenteous; abounding in any thing. 4. Productive of any thing; fertile; as fruitful in expedients. 5. Producing in abundance; generating.  (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)

2012 was a big year for me physically. I was pretty sick and had major surgery. I was VERY anemic and could not do much of anything. There were so many things I wanted to do but simply didn’t have the capacity to do anything more than the most basic tasks. Thankfully now my body has recovered and I feel better than I have in years!

I also completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing in December. It was a miracle to be sure! It was satisfying to walk across that stage after all that hard work. I’ve been an RN for twenty years (I can’t be that old mature!) and started on my BSN in 2011. One night a week was doable but it sure wasn’t easy.

My husband started a new contract business and I went to work as a school nurse. All said it was quite a busy year with four children and a menagerie along for the ride.

This year I don’t simply want to be busy. I want to be fruitful. I want to produce something someone else needs, starting with my family. I will post a lot about this as the year goes on. I believe God will provide opportunities for my fruit to abound, which will likely include some pruning!

What is your word for this year?

Balancing online ministry and home

This is another fantastic post from SisterLisa. This is a great topic that I am glad she has addressed. It’s easy to get your life out of balance but she gives you practical advice I really appreciate.

Many moms of faith have very busy schedules at home and it has limited their opportunities to reach out to minister in their own towns, but can reach out to minister to their online communities quite effectively. In this day of a growing awareness of the incredible need for powerful moms to be at home to raise and educate their children, we see an ever increasing need to minister to one another online.

We were once a part of a church that emphasized outreach in their ministry, but our lives were so busy that we couldn’t fit everything in to our schedule. It grieved us to hear the leadership was not in support of online ministry, but we continued nonetheless. However, even with online ministry we need to find a healthy way to balance our online ministries and our home. Sometimes we can be physically at home full time, but not mentally or spiritually.

There have been countless times in the past when I have been off balance. Those times when I am consumed with in- depth thought as I type out an article, I have been oblivious to the kids saying, “Mom? Mom! LISA!” and all of a sudden I am snapped into reality by my own children who wondered ‘where I was’ even though I was sitting right in front of them.

I am thankful that my husband and family have been supportive of my blogging and that they see the need for my online time to be a vehicle for me to express my faith and minister to others, but we have to re-evaluate my time and each week is adjusted as needed, because life has its way of throwing curve balls.

These are just a few things I take into consideration for balancing my home and online time for faith.

A blog post has lasting influence. The beauty of writing a powerful faith provoking article can have insurmountable opportunities to minister to millions of people all over the world, whereas ministering in town has limited reach. I’m not intending to minimize ministering in town, for the words you speak to a broken mama at the nursery counter can positively affect her faith for years to come. The love you show people in your town can lead them to healing. However, when you’re blogging your faith effectively, those words remain online for many to read and be fed through. Don’t underestimate your online time to minister to others.

Set aside a block of time to write uninterrupted. I have Sundays set aside for my uninterrupted time. My family knows that Sunday is my day to write several blog posts that will minister to my readers and online friends. Just as I would not interrupt my husband ministering in real time to a homeless man, they do not interrupt my writing.Family still comes first. Even though I want my family to respect my writing day, I will pause as necessary to minister to them as well. Thankfully, my husband is home on Sundays and takes care of things on that day for me, but I’m still a mom who has kids with needs. Moms can be a little lighthouse for our families and keeping a good schedule can be a lantern.

Prepare for your writing day in advance. If you don’t want to cook a large meal on your writing day, prepare something the day before. You can make a larger meal earlier in the week and save it for your writing day. We often have fajita leftovers or chicken in the slow cooker.

Take breaks. This isn’t always the easiest thing for me since I love writing, but we need to take breaks from the computer and re-enter the realm of the home. Not only do we need to be mentally home for the kids, but we need to make time for our husbands too.

Schedule your commenting on blogs and other forum conversations. The online community is filled with people from all different time zones and we can easily get sucked into the computer screen at any time day or night. They aren’t going to ‘fall’ if we aren’t online to answer their questions. We aren’t the Holy Spirit. Even if there was such a thing as a curfew where the internet can’t be accessed worldwide, people would still live life and be able to walk by faith without us.

Remain humble. A mom who has left the realm of humility and put herself on a pedestal of pride can destroy a family and her online ministry. Be willing to listen to your family asking you to step away from the computer for family time and don’t assume that you have all the answers for everyone online. It’s perfectly acceptable to downsize ministry to take care of the family first.

friendship by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

{photo credit Sisterlisa blogs at The HomeSpun Life and is a Contributing Team Member at The Homeschool Post.
Other articles that might inspire your online ministry or home:
Where did the time go?
Divinely Called to be Unique
Finding God

Peace

I was snuggling with my almost 3 year old this morning. He had his ear to my chest when he suddenly exclaimed, “Oh! I hear your feelings!”

“What do they sound like?”

“Like a roar bear.”

He doesn’t know how right he is.

My emotions are like a whirlwind, a howling storm of misplaced desires with a flurry of unanswered questions. What is to be done when the storm that rages is on the inside?

…he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass.  Mark 4:39 The Message

I run to Jesus. When I can’t calm the storm I call on the One who can.

And He does.

Seven Deadly homeschool sins and the Christian response

The seven deadly sins, as the Catholics have labeled them, are a great picture of sins that home educators often struggle with. I believe God can keep these sins far from our doors if we turn to Him.

Lust

Lust is a general lack of self-control. Whether it is the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh or the pride of life, this sin is a challenging one. We can lust after food, other people’s lives, material possessions and recognition. We can want things that are not for us, are not part of God’s plan. Wanting something we should not have is lusting.

Self-control is the antidote: control in your time, talents, resources, energy, emotions. Christian self control, that is being independently dependent upon Christ, will prevent lust from getting a grip on your heart.

courtesy ryk_kneethling

Gluttony

Doing too much in a lesson can be a form of gluttony. Stuffing ourselves full until we no longer enjoy what we are consuming is not God’s best for us. You can tell when your child has had enough lesson. When we keep shoveling it into their heads the joy leaves and a tsunami of frustration wells up to knock them over.

Temperance: Keep your portions small. Small bites are nice. Keep them wanting just a little more. (And it will help keep you from burning out too!)

Greed

Not willing to share time or resources is just plain greedy. I don’t mean that in a “redistribution of wealth” kind of way, where I decide how much is enough for you and take the rest. What I am talking about is a heart attitude of stinginess, of “Us four and no more,” stuffing your home full of supplies you don’t need, refusing to share your time with others, or imparting knowledge and skills to those that can benefit from your expertise.

Thrift is a good antidote. Only buy what you need/will use and then stop. But also be generous with yourself. Offer to teach a co-op class or help a home educating family with your experiences. You will never be sorry you gave of yourself when you allow God to repay you.

Sloth

Laziness in planning or execution and spiritual laziness is a sin sometimes of omission rather than commission. Before we know it we have let things slip and just got lazy in grading papers or planning lessons. It can even be a failure to realize or utilize your gifts and talents.

Diligence will knock sloth right out, and it’s not at all complicated to do: Plan. Work the plan. Evaluate the plan. Simple enough, right?

Wrath

Anger toward your children, inward toward yourself or toward a “system” is toxic. It is not something you want to play around with. Anger, when it festers, can turn to bitterness and eventually hopelessness. It is a deadly downward spiral

Gratitude can keep your anger at bay. Focusing on what you have and who you have keeps your heart thankful, not angry.

Envy

Wanting what others have, in life or learning, thinking you deserve it more is sinful. Grass is always greener…not. Don’t ever envy what others have. You only see what others want you to see, a snapshot in time. God alone knows what is best for you. Prayerfully ask Him to help you with any envy you may have. He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Contentment–enjoying your situation, your home, your family, your life–brings a smile to God’s face. We are happiest when we take the apostle Paul’s advice and be content, whatever state we are in.

Pride

Pride is simply thinking your have it all together or your materials/methods are superior, thinking you are more important than you are. that sounds harsh but it’s the truth. We don’t want to admit it because that is this sin’s nature. Pride doesn’t recognize its own reflection.

Humility helps us keep a proper perspective of the world and our place in it. Humility and her cousin meekness can transform a heart puffed full of self into one that is broken with what breaks God’s heart.

I hope this has given you some food for thought. God bless you on your journey as a woman, wife and mother teacher. Christ makes a way in the desert and streams in the wilderness. He will make a way for us out of any sin we may notice in our lives, intentional or accidental.

Life is tasty in small bites

Being an all or nothing kind of person, I tend to “go big or go home.” I struggle with the idea of just a little of anything, which is why I avoid certain situations where my tendencies could get me into a lot of trouble. But as I get older I am starting to see the value of incremental living.

Because I still have very small children my life is chopped into a hundred little pieces. There is no lovely flow from one activity to the next. It’s hacked and sawed and sometimes jagged because I am always in one thing when I have to leave to take care of something else. At the end of the day sometimes I see behind me a handful of unfinished projects and the carcasses of the best laid plans in my wake. Sigh. Well, there’s always tomorrow, right?

Domestic Mouse Eating Biscuit
I have always wanted–and tried to carve out in my day–big chucks of time to work on school. I have to study and prepare my heart and my lessons. I enjoy it and for me it is a necessary activity for our school day to flow smoothly. I have learned something this week: this magical block of time doesn’t exist. It’s a mirage I keep trying to get to but now I realize it’s just not there.

At this time in my life there is no time in my day for hours of uninterrupted study. But I can eat away at the proverbial elephant one bite at a time. So I have resigned myself to small doses. A little study throughout the day, throughout the week, instead of long times at a stretch. A bite at a time the study will get done, the dinner cooked, the children snuggled and the home cleaned.

I am finding that it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to slip in and out of study mode. And I keep a notebook with me at all times to catch ideas, scriptures or resources that come my way as I move through the day. Like praying without ceasing, I think this studying in small bites all day will leave me more satisfied than gorging anyway. Biblical Principle Approach is about reflective learning and little bites allow me to savor each morsel before I go on to the next. I think I’m going to embrace this idea of living in small bites instead of allowing frustration to take over my thoughts. Then I can truly embrace this time of life and all the small bites it offers.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.         Isaiah 28:10

Open house–us in a nutshell

I haven’t updated on our family in a while, and since we are starting a new school year soon (and since it’s open house time at The Homeschool Lounge) I thought I’d bring you up to speed on my brood.

I should start by saying in this open house post that we homeschool because we feel we are called to do it. That is not the case for everyone, but it is for us. And we plan to continue through high school. We do not have a room dedicated to school, so learning happens all over the house (and outside). All of life is school, so we are always learning something. We use the Biblical Principle Approach method and if you are so inclined you can see a link to my philosophy of education in the sidebar.

We school year-round pretty much. We use notebooks. We watch TV. We eat too much fast food and not enough veggies. Sometimes we sleep too late and sometimes we argue. We are not dresses-only. We have no problem with home educators who do things differently than we do.

We also love God with all our hearts. we love to read His word and do good deeds (in secret). We leave each other love notes in our mailboxes and love a good movie together. Music is important to us and you can almost always hear some around here. Prayer is a vital part of our everyday lives as well.

Now on to the kiddos:

Princess G is going into 6th grade. She has grown a lot internally and has been able to take on more responsibility. We are proud of her. Her interest is science, particularly the human body. She loves to work on the computer and visit with friends. She plays the piano too.

5973_99765769149_589529149_2144993_3000920_n

Princess S is going into 3rd grade. She LOVES the performing arts. She’s a soft-spoken young lady who makes sure we are always entertained with her stories and songs. She plays piano and has won several awards.

Prince J is 5 and all boy. He loves cars and running super fast in his white lace ups. He recently learned to read, so he got his Golden Ticket on the literacy train. He will start kindergarten lessons. He’s going into his second year of piano lessons.

Prince M, at almost 17 months, is last but certainly not least. He’s learning new words to say every day and he’s a lover, not a fighter. Since he could hold one he’s loved books–hardback books–preferring them over most other toys. God only knows what’s in store for this terrific little guy.

Since I’ll be adding one more to our school day (more formally) I’m looking forward to the challenges and rewards another child brings to the mix. They hall have such unique perspectives and talents that getting them all together is never ever boring. We are also incorporating some ideas from Sue Patrick’s Workbox system. I think it’s going to bring a new vitality to our days that we’ve been lacking. I can go on about all the resources we will be using this year, but perhaps in another post, as this is a pretty big nutshell already.

If I should be so fortunate as to win something from the open house, my first choice would be a one year family subscription to Big Universe and my second choice would be cool shirts from the Homeschool boutique. The rest are great too and I’d love to win anything!