Category Archives: adventurous tales

An Announcement!

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An Announcement!

I was completely overwhelmed by the response for the Reformation Day Coloring Book Printable. I have to admit to being so overwhelmed I haven’t posted since, mostly because, how DO you follow that up? So many people downloaded it, and I did NOT expect that!  I was honored and completely blown away.
But today I saw something on another blog, a free unit study, that got my juices flowing! It wasn’t at all related to the subject matter I am considering tackling, but it occurred to me, that printable pages aren’t the only thing I can share with you! I can share a lot of the things my children and I do! Hopefully you find it as useful/fun as we do!

Thanksgiving tends to center around one week, and is mostly tangible activities, baking pies, cooking foods, gathering to thank God, and enjoy one another’s company. It is such a family centered Holiday, that most of the reading/writing etc that my children do is directly recipe related. I tend to drop my computer around this time. I won’t be doing any online activities for Thanksgiving, not because it isn’t a big Holiday in our home, (it IS!) but because we don’t do that kind of celebrating around here. Thanksgiving is about relating, praying, thanking. It isn’t about coloring, reading, etc. I enjoy it best working, using a rolling pin, mixing a batter, tasting something together, wiping flour covered cupboards down in a rush before the guests come! Then, the coma in an armchair, snuggling and napping. Thanksgiving is quiet reflection in the rewards of hard work, and the blessings God provides in that medium.

Christmas on the other hand… It is a WHOLE month around here! We celebrate it from the time we get up on Black Friday until sometime late January! Ok… more than a month? But we don’t do the shopping, the lists, etc. We try to center it around 2 things, Christ, and showing love to one another. We try to do activities that benefit those around us. (Food drives, donating clothing, etc.) We spend a large amount of time painting, sewing, baking, making gifts for one another. There is a lot of quiet down time with a cup of tea or cocoa in hand. Plenty of time to color and relax in between the parties, and singing, and time just to sit around the fire together, feeling warm. Coloring, now that happens during this season!
So without further ado, I announce that I am going to make a free Advent Printable! We like our Christmas to be Christ Centered, and I am often dismayed by the amount of Santa and gift centric coloring books that are all over the place. I want my children to focus on the most important part of the season. Jesus.

I have many fond memories of when I was a child, and my parents had similar goals in celebrating Christmas. My Mother had us memorize Luke 2. Every Christmas morning, we would gather around the nativity, and recite it together, each of us (there were 6!) taking on a particular character, or group of characters, and reciting that precious passage of scripture and acting it out. MANY fond memories center around this tradition.


So this printable will have the goal of within one month (during Advent), teaching your child how to memorize a large passage, such as Luke 2. It will be geared to the younger group as well, ages 2-7. There may be optional activities for Moms to use. I am not sure how this will be posted, my thought it is may be posted one day at a time, or one week at a time, so you can print out a week ahead of time, and plan on having the materials for the activities on hand. Many of the activities will contain a measure of my own childhood memories, and what I wish to pass on to my children.

Let me know if you’d be interested in this activity, and how you’d prefer to see it made available to you. I will be making it anyway, even if there is no feedback, if only for my children. I am not crazy about candy centered Advent calenders, or a series of unrelated and non-chronological scripture readings. I want to make something that will give them a lifetime of perspective on Christmas. Something they will carry forever. Luke 2 is an excellent way to do that.  I will never forget the memories, year after year, of reciting that passage.

Reformation Day! (Free Printable Coloring Book: Ages 2-5)

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Reformation Day! (Free Printable Coloring Book: Ages 2-5)

As Halloween sneaks up on us, my blogosphere and facebook are erupting with different takes on how families are choosing to meet this Holiday. Some are abstaining entirely. Some are “taking it back” and some are saying: “It is just harmless fun, we just skip the scary costumes.”
Here is a peek into our home; we don’t really celebrate Halloween, we are in a culture saturated by it, and so our children are exposed to it, but not intentionally. My personal take on Halloween is that it is a holiday that glorifies death, sin, and gore, and no matter of cute costumes can take that away. I’m not a fan of it, and our children do not trick or treat.
When it comes down to it, my 7 year old stated our thinking well:
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
I LOVE that her response to things that scared her, and gave her pause was to quote scripture. I know that we will be looking into the context of that verse, because as great as that little soundbyte is, the verses surrounding it are rich with wisdom and truth as well.
We choose to respond to our culture’s celebration of death and sin with love and self control. I don’t think it is about one or more things we do to abstain from Halloween, so much as it is how we react to it internally. Do we respond with the power of truth, with Christ’s love, and do we use self control?  Halloween is a time where we have an ability to share the gospel more often, and to be a witness with each person who asks the children:
“What will you wear for trick or treat?”
The way we often are able to do that is usually more than a bit amusing as well. I have to admit that watching my children learn to speak of their faith is a sweet experience that has all the more ability to catch folks off guard by the earnestness and sincerity of how they speak.
Take the dentist’s office on Monday:
Hygienist: So, what are you wearing for your costume for Halloween?
Emma: Oh I don’t wear a costume for Halloween. I get to be a Princess every DAY!
Hygienist: (confused) Oh, you don’t celebrate Halloween? I’m sorry…
Emma: No, we don’t celebrate Halloween, we celebrate REFORMATION DAY! And we have a FEAST! And we talk about Marfin Lufer. *giggles*

This usually leads into a discussion from all of the children on who “Marfin Lufer” is and why the Reformation was important, with the adult looking on curiously. If the opportunity arises, it can become a really interesting way to spread the gospel. If the person is a christian, it can become a thought provoking discussion. This is one of those cases where we are “ready with an answer” and we let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

So, however you choose to celebrate this controversial holiday, this post will serve to introduce you (or your littles, more accurately!) to another Holiday, one that is entirely overshadowed by Halloween.

Reformation Day!
A bunch of ladies on facebook were having a discussion one day, and we all lamented the lack of material for littles (2-5 years old) to educate them on Reformation Day. So, being the DIY homeschooler that I am, I got to work making material!
But, being the impetuous impulsive seat of the pants woman that I am, I gave myself only a few days to do it, in between diaper changes, nursing sessions, meal prep and clean up, and a really awful cut from the food processor. (it fought back, and I lost.) Making this group of coloring pages and the corresponding read aloud text for Mamas was a fun experience for me.  I didn’t get to make as many pages as I would have liked. Nor did I have the option to make it quite in the form I’d hoped. I am hoping it can still be useful!
Without further ado:
The FREE Printable History of Martin Luther and Reformation Day Coloring Pages for 2-5 year olds!
(Don’t mind the unwieldy title…)
MARFINLUFERClick to Download and Print (in chronological order):
Martin Luther Learns Page 1
Martin Luther And His Horse Page 2
Martin Luther Becomes a Monk Page 3
Martin studies the Bible Page 4  
God’s Plan Page 5
Man counting money Page 6
Nailing ThesesPage 7
To the Glory of God The End Page 8

Feel free to let me know if this content was useful for you!

Happy Reformation Day!

Is Canning Cost Effective?

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2 years ago I was terrified to do canning. I thought it would be expensive, difficult, and that it would not be something I could do with 3 children under the age of 5 in tow. I managed.  But was it expensive? Is it cost effective? The answer is: no. Not conventionally, but my husband has a knack of making ANYTHING cost effective! Here are some of the ways we’ve made canning cost effective in our home:

  1. Never Buy Full Price.  First rule of all penny pinchers! We found a variety of ways to do this:
    Buy in bulk. Grocery stores are not the place to buy your produce, if you want to be cost effective. We buy ours at the produce auction, in bulk. (Last haul was $35 for 200lbs of produce, mostly peaches, nectarines, with some tomatoes, and green beans thrown in.)
    Work hard. Growing your own produce is another way to cut costs. Also, swap with friends, family, or neighbors. I cannot begin to count how many times we got free plants, or swapped produce with someone who had a prolific tomato plant. My husband has an arrangement with his Brother. Allen’s brother and his wife have 2 apple trees. They don’t want to harvest the whole lot every year. So Allen picks the apples, his brother’s wife picks out the ones she wants, and Allen brings the rest home. Didn’t cost a cent, but it did cost some work. The apples pictured are only SOME of what he brought home. I’d already made roughly 12 pints of apple butter and apple sauce.
    Shop around. Don’t just go to Wal Mart to get your canning supplies. Allen found out the Dollar General near our home was cheaper. This way we saved on gas AND canning supplies. Double win! Remember that your jars and rings are reusable. The first year might seem like quite an expense, but every year after, all you really need to buy are the lids, and those run $2-$3 for 12.
    Buy used. Allen found me two water bath canners for a song at an auction. Yes, they were used, but who cares? Its only water. Be careful though about buying used jars. Check for nicks, scratches, and imperfections in the glass, it could end up costing you in produce later, if the jar bursts in the canning bath.
  2. Skip the gadgets, doo dads, and tools. All you really need are the jars, the water bath canner,
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    Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer

    rack, a jar lifter, a knife/peeler and a few bowls and pots for cooking. In my experience the gadgets don’t ever work as well as you think they do, or process as fast as you think they will. They’re fun the first couple of gos, or can be good when your hands need a little bit of a break, but nothing can replace a knowledgeable person on the business end of a knife. It is faster for me to core, peel, and slice apples myself than to use this gadget. (pictured)

  3. Be humble. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people up their calculation of the “cost” of canning by factoring in time spent. How much is your time worth? My time is worth whatever I want it to be worth, and it is worth it to me to have low sugar preservative free foods for my children to eat.
  4. Consider your habits. Do you only eat canned veggies? Or canned tomatoes? Those are cheap at the store, and so it might not be a better option to can them yourself, if that is all your family eats. But there is the other group of items to consider, do you eat a lot of pie filling? Canned fruit? Pickled items? Jams and Jellies? It may be more worth your while to can if your pantry is usually full of these more expensive items.
  5. Limit your expensive ingredients. It does not cost much to buy the produce, if you are careful about where, when, and how you buy/get it. But you can spend a lot on things like pectin or sugar. Try to make sugar free applesauce with apples, Don’t do a ton of Apple Butter or Pie Filling, if the cost will be prohibitive. Also, buy bottled lemon juice. It goes farther than the lemons themselves, and makes for a more stable acidity content. You know what you’re getting, and it costs less.
  6. Do big batches. It takes a LOT of energy to heat up the water bath canner. Try to manage your canning so that electric and energy is not wasted.

I’ll be honest, canning isn’t all roses and Unicorns. Some downsides of canning:

  1. You’ll have no life. It really takes up a lot of time and energy to can. I spend most of that time on the couch, peeling apples, peaches, or whatever else. Helps me not to be bored, plus it is nice time with my kids, watching their favorite Disney movies together.
  2. Your house will be a wreck. Canning is messy. It makes a lot of dishes, and you have no time to do much more than take a few minutes to swish some clorox in the toilet, tidy the house a bit, and hope nobody comes over to see you, in your sweatpants, hair slapped back in a hair tie, and covered in apple sauce.
  3. You don’t come out unscathed. Nicks, burns, and blisters, Oh My! If you are like me, you’ll sustain an injury, or eight.
  4. Your muscles will be angry… Believe it or not, canning requires massive amounts of fine motor skills, and large motor skills. You’ll have achy muscles from head to toe, despite the fact that most of your canning hours will have been spent on your bum, peeling stuff.
  5. Your house will be a myriad of smells. From fabulous (Apple Pie Filling!) To dreadful (Apple pie filling mixed with pickled jalepenos? Ew.)

Canning is mostly a lot of hard work. So the question is, is it worth the work involved? If not, then it will never be any kind of effective, cost or otherwise. It takes a lot of time and effort to peel, cook, clean dishes, etc. If you are up for all the elbow grease required, then happy canning!

Mothering Through a Crisis, Or, ‘The Gift of Procrastination!’

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IMG_2548 Sarah’s note to me, when on top of all of the other crises, and during naptime, her favorite purse was lost. The purse was found 30 seconds later, but I still cherish the note. 🙂 Also, the famous lost tooth!

IMG_2535At a friend’s request, I considered writing a blog post about the deep clean I was doing to my house. It was more than just a deep clean, having been yet another adjustment in creative space use for our children’s bedrooms. Having 3 girls in a bedroom that is roughly 12 x 12 takes some ingenuity to find places to put all their *stuff.* Ava also just graduated out of her toddler trundle that we were storing under the girl’s bunk bed, and into a twin size bed of her own! Having chosen to commit our reproductive futures to God’s capable hands, we are constantly finding new and improved ways to use the space we have wisely to accommodate our growing family. I must confess to being entirely inspired by the practical solutions from Large Families on Purpose. She has been a great blessing to me as far as challenging me, and giving practical and detailed advice to this VERY disorganized Mama! My creative personality is helpful when paint or fabric is involved, but ask me to make a schedule or be practical, and I’m lost.

My posting was also delayed by a few sad events. I meant to post Monday, and didn’t, with Wednesday (yesterday) as a fall back, but yesterday was a bit weird, and was derailed as a fallback. First, we IMG_2540had one bunny die. Then another bunny died. Then Sarah lost a tooth, and then we had VBS. So yup. Yesterday was fried. I was instead contemplating the meaning of death with my 6 yo, 4 yo, 2 yo and 4 month old. It is amazing what our children tell us about ourselves. Their responses were a moment of conviction for me, and how I have modeled how to survive a crisis.

I need to just follow Brooke’s advice,to  Keep Calm, and Carry On!

Now I am sitting down to enjoy some peace and quiet, and beating the heat in our non Air Conditioned house, by listening to the girls watch a movie while we all eat some cold popsicles and wish it wasn’t so hot!  Meanwhile, I’ll tell myself I’m being productive by writing the promised post. It’ll be a nice break from pushing through the heat!

Before we get to the photos, My disclaimer: I feel as if we are nowhere near the paragons of virtue that I’d like to be when it comes to having an organized and clutter free home, but we are doing better! I did struggle over the idea of whether or not I was comfortable with sharing these photos on my blog. All I see is what is NOT right in them, but I hope it is a helpful reminder that no Mom blogger is perfect, and that yes, living with 4 children under 6 is HARD, not perfect, and involves a slightly modified idea of ideal housekeeping. I marvel in wonder, and truly respect the women I know who maintain spotless homes. Bit by bit, I am taking their advice, and learning their secrets, but I am nowhere near their level of success yet.
I do know that one step at a time, we will eventually have a home that looks just as glorious as the ones in the magazine, or the ones that don’t deal with the daily stretch of young children being trained, or have the fiscal limitations of a young family on a tight budget, catching whatever thing/furniture will do the job via Craigslist and Yard Sales.
In any case, it isn’t how your home looks, it is how you use it! Is it a place where Christ is honored? Is it a place where God’s Word is applied daily, and on a moment by moment basis? If it is, the looks will one day follow, and reflect a commitment to living in a way that honors God. And no, your home may not look like the Hilton, but it isn’t a hotel! It is a home. With all of the warmth, and lived in feel, that the word home entails!

I have the unique blessing of having my Mother in Law take my children to VBS for an entire week, once a year. During the time she has them, I generally make it a point to deep clean. It has become quite the tradition. Since we had to do a bit of reorganizing and rearranging in the bedrooms to better fit our space, I started with the bedrooms.  I wanted to refresh the deep clean I did in the kitchen and living room from a month ago, but I underestimated the impact children have on their bedrooms… Furthermore, I (foolishly) waited to take my triumphant “after” pictures until almost a week later. So they’re not as beautifully shiny and new as they would be, had I taken them the same day as everything was completed! In other words the bedrooms have been a bit lived in, and are now the responsibility of their occupants. Some age appropriate housekeeping is displayed here. I didn’t take pictures of the Master Bedroom, or Bath, since they’re pretty straightforward anyway. Our Master bedroom is also a mix of home office and bedroom, and I can only go so far with the deep cleaning until I hit a pile of bills that my hubby wants undisturbed. And who wants to see pictures of a bathroom anyway?

The Girl’s Bedroom
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The pictures, L-R are:
Top left: Hooks for purse, bag, backpack, or coat storage are screwed into  the bunk bed.
Top Middle: Hooks for yet more storage on the back of the door.
Top Right: A broken clothes rack, repurposed and anchored to their dresser added hanging storage for a room with no closets. The rubbermaid bin is storage for outgrown clothing for one child that is atill too big for another. keeping it there makes transitions easier.
Bottom Left:Their comfy reading corner for quiet time during the afternoon.
Bottom Middle: Sarah’s bunk bed and shelf. Can you tell they make their own beds?  What I find funny is how you can see their skill level by looking at all three beds together…
Bottom Right: Emma’s Bed, made summer style with the covers folded at the bottom. Nobody wants covers during the summer!

Not pictured: The entire bunk bed. Ava hadn’t made her bed yet when I took these pictures. Also not pictured? The new paint job their room needs! Saving that for another day, when everyone is over the “coloring everything” stage.  Still fighting that fight, and if anyone knows how to keep their artistic children from decorating their room rabidly, do let me know. On the bright side, they have, (so far) mostly contained it to their room, and the hall outside their door. One day, probably when Ava is 8 or 10, we’ll re paint it, and the girls will help. Until then, we’ve succumbed to the idea that young children means dealing with each foolish indiscretion as it comes, even if that does mean following up a VERY quiet naptime with the horrifying discovery that the ENTIRE bedroom has been “re-decorated.”

The Details: The girl’s bedroom is a challenge. I have 3 twin beds (one is a bunkbed, mercifully.) and three children’s worth of clothing and stuff to put in there. We do have a playroom, so I do aspire to have a minimal amount of toys stored in their room. It is limited to books for quiet time, and dolls/My Little Pony for girly time. My oldest has the privilege of the top bunk, and so I installed a shelf for her to keep her most precious items.  I did have a ‘no one in the top bunk but Sarah’ rule, but it has been suspended upon invitation from time to time. Generally though, I jealously guard each child’s bed as a precious space that is theirs alone, and consider it an excellent tutor on property rights. If someone has a precious item, I encourage them to keep it on or near their bed, in their space. I also discovered the joy of those little screw hooks, and placed one for each child on the bed, and on the back of the door to store other precious items. Nobody may invade someone else’s bag, jacket, or bed. The rest of the room is all 3 girl’s common property, because, frankly, I don’t have enough space for either a family closet (I wish!) or to give  each child a dresser. As it is, they’ve all been trained to ascertain the size of clothing, and wear from there. If it fits, you can wear it. I cull the clothing several times a year as well, because with 3 girls, it accrues quickly!
The girls are solely responsible for keeping their room clean, their beds made, and their walls free from further crayon encroachment. They do an age appropriate job with my supervision. I have long since learned not to sweat the small stuff. If things are (mostly) clean, and everything is put away, I try not to obsess over the things that I see as childish, imperfect, or that drive me nuts. One day, they will notice the details, and care for them. Until that day, we tackle one task at a time, until they master it, then move on to a new one to master. I’ll just have to live with the clothing corners sticking out of drawers, and piles of treasured drawing on top of the bureau until then!

The Nursery:

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The Photos, L-R:
Left: Our steamer trunk which is used for clothing storage for what is not in season, or not fitting the current child’s needs.
Left Middle: Sewing space and nursing chair, complete with rocker. I have to admit the toys stored here do end up being a sort of “secondary play room.”  when we are doing school. Our home office contains the computer we also use for school, and so often the younger children use the nursery as a playroom while we do school on the computer. The nursing chair also comes in handy on tough nights when a child is sick. I can sleep in there, without disturbing my husband’s sleep on work nights, and take care of any needs for any child without waking him. I cannot say how many times that has come in handy!
Right Middle: The Rocking Chair Allen found at a sale for a few dollars. I LOVE it! It is fabulous come naptime, or for those late night crying sessions!
Right: The crib that has been through 5 children. Next to it is a wardrobe that contains 5 drawers and a closet. This contains ALL of baby’s clothing for the first year entirely, and perhaps even a bit longer. Each drawer is used for 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, and 12-14 months respectively.  The hanging space houses all of baby’s shoes, hanging clothing,  and jackets etc. Under the crib is a fantastic storage space, as is on top of the dresser.

The Details: Isaiah’s room is easy. He doesn’t mess it up.  (yet)  It provides ample storage space, not only for his things, but for some of his sister’s hand me down toys as well. It also doubles as a sewing room, for now, and contains my cabinet sewing machine. When the machine is tucked away, it looks like a tall end table. When it is out, it transforms into a lovely sewing table. All of my “at hand” sewing project needs (DVDs for watching while I’m sewing, my sewing kit, and mending basket, plus Sarah’s sewing kit) are all kept in my room, which is adjoining to Isaiah’s room.

Mending Space: My room
IMG_2573 This is our mending center. Complete will full basket I am procrastinating about emptying…

Here are some pictures from previous deep cleans of my kitchen:
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There you have it. My not so perfect, cobbled together old home, complete with smiling children, Goodbyes to Bunnies, and unmade beds some mornings. I dream of the day when I will preside over a pristine historical Farmhouse with no clutter, only rag rugs and old rocking chairs, and absolutely NO wood paneling, but that is not where God has placed me. He has placed me HERE, NOW. I have a lot to learn before I reach a level of faithfulness in housekeeping, child training, homeschooling, etc that is worthy of an 18th century Farm house. Meanwhile, I’ll try to keep my home as if it WAS an 18th century farmhouse, and prepare for the day when that kind of delicate beauty is my responsibility.

10 Secrets of Being a Homeschooling SAHM

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It is easy to become discouraged by outside influences, as someone who has chosen to stay home, and raise my children. Like when I bump into people from high school who say things like “And what do you… ahem… DO?” Then being faced with an incredulous look when you cheerfully reply with: “I’m a Stay At Home Mom. I homeschool my 4 kids.”
The funny thing is, that given the same question even a year ago,and the response answer then:
“I teach Kindergarten at a local Christian school. They even allow me to bring all of my children along!”
Their response was somehow more positive: “Oh! That’s so great! I always knew you’d be a teacher!” As if teaching Kindergarten was any different than teaching my own children. (Hint: It isn’t, really, just one is more challenging, and fulfilling. Guess which one.)
Yes, I am a Stay At Home Mom, with all of the privileges and challenges that engenders, but I am also a teacher, and, as the cliche goes, a personal assistant, nurse, vet, head gardener, home manager, financial adviser, personal chauffeur, chef,art teacher, maid, stylist, manicurist, janitor, home handy-woman, guidance counselor, music teacher, nutritionist etc.  What I do IS my occupation. I AM a Stay At Home Mom. And I get promoted every time one of my children moves up a grade, achieves something new, or when I have a new baby. Each promotion is precious and unique, and with it brings a bevy of new responsibilities and tasks. I am paid in far more than kisses and hugs. I am paid in unique blessings that come every day in the form of surprises and newly met expectations. Each day has its own secrets, but some carry over from day to day, month to month, and hopefully, I will find, from year to year. Here are the ten I could whittle myself down to:

  1. Money isn’t everything. Yes, people have often said “It is impossible to have a one income home these days! Families simply MUST have both parents working!” No, no they don’t. And before someone speaks of my privilege and luxury, I have news for you, our family of 6 all live on my husband’s low paying day labor job at a local warehouse that carries an hourly wage.  He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. Yes, we have enough to eat, a home to live in, and a car to drive, one for me and one for him.  The key to this delicate financial balancing act? Nothing more than a can do attitude and a bit of elbow grease, oh yeah, and we’re kind of allergic to debt. We don’t do student loans, car payments, cell phones, or cable. We aren’t bored either. We save on food by gardening in the summer, freezing for the winter, and a LOT of from scratch home cookin’. Keeps us busy AND well fed! We also maintain a second home which we rent out for a little income. This was the product of yet MORE hard work, and it is my job to do the “property” management on this little gem.
  2. Being a Stay At Home Mom IS a full time job, a career path. Just like any other career, I am “promoted” (My latest promotion, Isaiah, was 3 months ago, and he is just learning to sit up!) And just like any other career, I am constantly honing my skills. It takes a lot of ingenuity and hard work to manage laundry for 6 people, in 3 bedrooms, with no closets. It also takes some more ingenuity to work within our limited budget, yet maintain a comfortable standard of living, and furthermore, to contribute what we should to others in need. What requires the most learning and skill development though, is school. I am constantly brushing up on my history, math, teaching phonics, etc. My oldest is going into second grade this year, and it challenges me daily to keep up with her reading progress. No, I am not required by law to take Act 38 credits, but I am required by me, to constantly learn more to better serve my students.
  3. I am paid. As per the Proverbs 31 model, I am a woman of many pursuits. Yes my children pay me in kisses, hugs, compliments, and unique drawings, and my husband pays me in praise and encouragement. Yet, I am also paid a monetary sum. I have my fingers and toes in a variety of money earning ventures. All that I can do while caring for my children, and putting the priority of my “day job” first. My home is my most important job, and part of maintaining that is earning a little here and there to pay for our trips to the museum, our forays into semi gourmet cooking experiments, and other fun activities and surprise needs.
  4. I am fulfilled. This is my dream job, and the only assault on my contentment and fulfillment are people who assume I should be doing something more, and tell me so with all of the smug condescension of royalty. Please, educate yourselves. I am doing what any teacher does in their classroom, what any daycare worker does in theirs. Add to that an intensity that comes with proximity to your students, and then I do what other professions cover as well. This IS my job. I am happy doing it, and I can’t imagine anything else. There was a point in my life where I pursued this exact same career path outside my home (worked in daycare, then a school.) but I found that no matter how hard I worked, how passionate I was, I just couldn’t compete with parents for the impact they had on their child’s life. So I realized my true calling was to become a “career” Mom.
  5. I have impact outside of my home. I know, the majority of my work is physically inside my home. The most inane argument against becoming a Stay At Home Mom I’ve ever heard is “But you won’t impact SOCIETY.” Really? Yes I will. I’m raising children to become a powerful force for good IN our society. I’m teaching them concepts that include civic duties, how worldviews affect our actions, how to care for the poor, the importance of volunteerism, loving others as yourself, and the beauty in our revolutionary founding Father’s ideas for government and society. I’m teaching them to help others, teach others, guide them, and educate them. I’m teaching them how to properly care for and manage resources, and how to avoid the rampant consumerism that impacts later generations. I’m teaching them to live in such a way that considers their neighbor, and treats others as they would wish to be treated, to honor God, and to love their neighbor.
  6. My kids aren’t weird misfits. At least, not any more than yours are. All children are awkward at this age, socially or not. Why? They are all still learning. Also, my kids, by having a strong home and family life, avoid the culture of bullying, exclusion, and peer pressure that other children encounter in a peer charged school environment. Our culture may accept, tolerate, or even glorify these habits in teenagers, thinking it makes them stronger, but since when have you heard the bullied child say: “I’m glad those kids in my school tormented me daily, it made me that much stronger.” Rarely does this kind of social dysfunction end well. My kids interact with people in a variety of age ranges, they know how to introduce themselves, converse intelligently, learn from someone older than them, and how to put the ipad away and focus on the people in the room. That doesn’t make them perfect, or even experts at socializing. It just means they now value the same things I do, and are socialized by a broader spectrum. Socialization isn’t by definition a peer led process, it is simply a process where a person learns their cultural expectations. Well, my kids know them just as well as other kids do, just my expectations differ a little.
  7. Being a Stay At Home Mom takes guts. Be prepared to receive a variety of challenges and statements regarding your choice to be a Stay At Home Mom. Anything from you are ruining your kids lives by confining them to home, to ruining yours. It takes guts to stand up to the social bullies at the grocery store.
  8. Being a Stay At Home Mom has supporters. From the lady at the post office, to the kind woman we met in the library, be prepared to have people encourage you too. Take those nuggets of gold, and tuck them away, you’ll need them later, like when Junior makes a mess with the baby powder and vaseline in the bathroom. It is then you’ll be saying “Thank God for Mrs. Weiss. She said I’m doing a good job. A good job, yes a good job…”
  9. Being Creative is your secret weapon. One time I saw a really cool recipe for making your own soda. Knowing I wanted a healthy option for my children, but unwilling, and unable, to shell out the big bucks for a storebought version. I went ahead and made the recipe. 10 days of fermenting later, we tried it… 
  10. A sense of humor is invaluable. And that home made soda was terrible. We were able to laugh over this misstep and swear off of it forevermore. Not every day is easy, not every day is hard, but every single day has SOMETHING we can laugh at, enjoy, and be thankful for.

How to: Survive a Dreary Day!

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Yesterday was Emma’s Birthday Party. Our gorgeous blue eyed whirlwind had a fabulous time celebrating with family and friends:

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   Emma, at 4 years old, possibly an older three?

 

 

 

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Emma’s 5th birthday party!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, as we woke up in a post birthday party haze, everyone was excited about the presents Emma received yesterday, and they wasted no time going downstairs in a flurry of excitement. But… there was one problem! Upon looking over one of Emma’s new gifts, and ripping open the packaging, the girls noted something was missing…

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“MOM!!! We need a kitchen!”

And thusly, today’s dreary day activity was born by the seat of my pants. We found some materials around the house, a little paint, some brushes, and some boxes:

 

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And of course, we got out Mommy’s sparkly letter tool box…

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So we began to paint…

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But we did take a break!

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And then got back to business… painting, and drawing out our plans on the cardboard!

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Whoops! Somebody got ahold of the camera!

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And once it was all finished: Refrigerator, Microwave, Stove, Oven, Sink, They played with it!

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Yup, and we got ahold of the camera again! But at least she “Loves You!”

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The fruits of our labor!

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And that, is how you survive a dreary day!

Can Women “Have It All?”

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In going from a full time job outside of my home, to a full time job inside of my home where I am teaching and nurturing my family, I knew I would have to pursue an income that comes from my natural role as a submissive wife and helpmeet, and a nurturing Mom. Financially, we couldn’t make it on just my husband’s income, so I needed to find supplementary income. and this income couldn’t be something that competed with my other roles, but something that complemented them. So I looked in scripture for inspiration and wisdom, and I found that in the Proverbs 31 woman. She is creative, and resourceful, she finds a variety of ways to keep her household running, and is actively involved, in the daily running of her household, the education of her children, and in business matters that will provide her household with necessities, and even some luxuries.


“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” (Proverbs 31:10-19, ESV)

When my husband and I both felt convicted that my place was in serving our family, and in cherishing the blessing of each child God gives uAva, my sleepy baby. <3s, we knew it was a financial leap for me to quit my full time job. Since then, life has been a bit of a financial struggle, one after the other, with few breaks in between. Despite this, we were committed to making my roles as Wife and Mother a no. 1 priority. By God’s grace, we’ve found ways to make our bills, and no one has gone hungry. From cleaning houses, our rental property income, and my Lilla Rose venture, we have managed week by week. And so I’ve gained a new appreciation for portions of Proverbs 31 that I’d never taken a second look at as a teenager sitting in the Mother’s Day service thinking “yeah yeah yeah, My Mom is all that, can we skip right to the special lunch?”
Womanhood looks a lot different when YOU are in a place to learn to become the Proverbs 31 woman. I often feel as if I am always failing at becoming her, but sanctification, and wisdom, are almost never instantaneous in coming. Proverbs reminds us that to get wisdom, we must listen to instruction, and seek knowledge. Sometimes this means meandering out of our normal comfort zones. My comfort zone was working in a business, 40+ hours a week, to provide for our family. Stepping out has meant creatively getting involved in our family’s business matters. Every so often, My husband and I agree on new and creative ways to make ends meet. Our newest adventure this week is going to be a flea market table.
My husband buys many “unique” antiques at auctions and real estate sales. Most of the time he really only wanted one thing, but they sold off a “lot”, which means… a box of junk. Amidst the junk are some treasures, but more than I’ve got room for, and so now I will get creative, and resourceful, and turn a bunch of “junk” into a business proposition. I once would have considered this an annoying and embarrassing idea, but now I am realizing that this is one more way to serve my family, and honor God in the process.

Another exciting venture that I’ve recently discovered is that a local bank features small businesses on a monthly basis. If I can cook up a beauty of a display, for oFlexi-Collage_5x7ne month my Lilla Rose flexi clips and other hair jewelry will be displayed in a larger community. This has reminded me that God is in control, and that hard work ends in a reward. I have found that building a business is hardly an overnight venture, and often involves some level of sacrifice, and an ability to creatively market what it is you have. In trying to contribute to my household, I’ve learned that it goes far beyond simply selling items, and stretches us beyond what we expect. Not to mention little eyes and ears hearing, seeing, and sometimes participating in the hard work that goes on. It becomes a whole new way for me to bond with my children, and teach them firsthand the value of work. I will never forget when one of my children, witnessing a transaction, made the connection between what had just transpired, and our ability to buy milk and bread at the store later. It is one thing to have Daddy be “at work” but to help Mommy “at work” changes things. Money becomes real, and its value to our family, apparent. It almost becomes a little economics lesson in progress.

As I’m growing, changing, and finding ways to fit into this (still) new role of Stay at Home Mom, the Proverbs 31 woman no longer looks like some kind of unattainable super woman (although I don’t see myself measuring up to this standard any time soon!) but like a map for what women can be in their own homes. Being submissive and serving your family is not a mark of weakness, and does not relegate us to this fantasy world of the 1950’s, placing us into a gilded cage with lipstick, heels, and the roast in the oven, waiting for our husband to come home and appreciate our flouncy skirt. It puts us in a unique position to serve our families in a variety of fulfilling ways. In one role I am capable of being a businesswoman, an artist, a rental manager, a teacher, a handy woman, a childcare expert, etc etc etc. The list could continue endlessly. Current cultural trends in womanhood and feminism will tell you that to have it all, you must leave your home. In my own experience, leaving my home ended in me losing it all. I never seemed to have a grip on anything, and I missed my children desperately. I felt as if life was a constant failure, a race that I could never win, and where I could never catch up to the other working women I knew. Getting closer to those women, I realized we all struggled with the same sense of failure, of being good at everything at once, and nothing at all. Of losing our children even when we were with them, because work was on our minds, and losing our work when we were doing it, because children were on our minds. I felt caged in that life.
I have been surprised to find that rather than a cage that keeps me limited to one option, taking on a feminine Biblical role within my home has freed me to really “have it all.” There is a beauty in being able to still serve my family, and yet find new ways to do so creatively, and resourcefully. And who knows? Maybe this flea market thing will become a regular homeschool lesson in economics!

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Confessions of a “SuperMom”

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Since Isaiah has been born, I have struggled more than I thought with adding child no. 4. In fact, I have struggled so much, that I momentarily wondered if there might not be *some* kind of out for our procreational commitment to allow God to determine the size of our family, and the number of our blessings. Not that I didn’t think every child was a blessing, but that it became increasingly harder to smile sincerely and respond kindly when folks at the grocery store smirked and said “Boy, your hands are FULL!” while I walked past with my 4 children, Isaiah (6 weeks) screeching that newborn wail, Emma (4) whining for a drink, Sarah (6) making silly faces at Ava, and Ava (2) having a full on tantrum on the grocery store floor. Somehow, human nature allows these failures to leave a more lasting mark than the 5 successful trips for every 1 failure. During these moments, my policy has always been to leave immediately, but unfortunately, this does not curtail the smirking strangers.

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One example of a recent “failure moment” happened just yesterday. While taking Sarah to her tooth extraction at the Oral surgeon, my Mother graciously agreed to take my two middle children (6am not being a friendly time of day to leave the house with 4 kids under 6 AND retain my sanity.) and I went there with Isaiah strapped to my front snugly, and waited impatiently in the waiting room for my oldest to complete her first “surgery” and wake up from anesthesia.
Upon finding out I had four children total, during my nervous blatherings., one of the receptionists shook her head at me, smiling, and said “You must be SuperMom.” Here, I had a potential ego boost that I had to put in perspective. Just a few short months ago, with three impeccably behaved children, I would have responded to this situating with feigned humility while patting myself on the back privately. Funny how your pride becomes all too apparent after you’ve fallen on your rear enough times.
This time, I felt immediately inadequate to answer her, a little ashamed, in fact. Mostly, because, this “SuperMom” didn’t even change her 6 year old out of her Pjs for the surgery, OR her newborn baby out of his (Don’t worry I DID change his diaper! Haha!)  In fact, I barely slapped on some sweatpants, a t-shirt, sneakers, and stuffed my Lilla Rose Flexi Clip and Lipgloss  in my pocket for easy elegance that could be completed in the space of one stoplight.  Isaiah had also, in fact, had a blow out in his diaper while Sarah was being medicated, and I forgot to bring a change of shirt. So I was also covered in baby poo. I felt like anything BUT a SuperMom. I even felt a momentary twinge of sadness that the only thing needed for “Super Mom” status in this case, was the number of children I have.  I wanted to feel justified in being called “Super Mom, ” and as proud of that title as I had felt when I had three children, but considering the past 6 weeks, and how very hard it has been to get back to being just a Mom and a Wife, I had nothing good to reply with. So I lamely mumbled that I didn’t feel like SuperMom, and then gratefully rushed off when the nurse called out “Is Sarah’s Mom in here? She is awake!”

Thinking on that moment later, I felt like it was a missed opportunity. I feel this burden on my shoulders, one that grows with each child God adds to our family. A burden to not only appear to be perfect, but in so doing, to prove the value in large family living. So many people in our lives, strangers, friends, some family, think we are certifiably NUTS not to take Birth Control. In fact, I recently had an exchange with my OB that went like this:
Dr: “So, what are you doing for birth control now.”
Me: “I don’t do birth control.”
Dr: “Yes, I know, you just had a baby, so what will you do now?”
Me: “I don’t believe in birth control.”
Dr. (incredulous.) “So what will you DO for birth control?!”
Me: Nothing.
Dr.: “Well what will you DO?!”
Me: “Be the next Duggars?”

The student observer standing behind me snickered at that moment, giving some much needed levity to the situation. But the point is clear. We must be CRAZY. These kinds of moments have led to putting this burden on me, and admittedly, my children every time we go into public. I feel like we must “represent” for large families. Be a shining example of how great they are. My own daughter challenged that thought just before her surgery when she said to me, “But why must WE convince everyone it is nice to be in a large family?” Ouch. Ok, I really don’t know the answer to that one. And, I had a sudden epiphany that perhaps in trying to be our “best” in public, I’m breeding a sort of nasty hypocrisy. We don’t need to be our “best” and always present only one side of large family life. We don’t need to be ashamed either when we don’t measure up to a “perfect” ideal on our own steam. With one approach, we alienate others by our artificial perfection and obvious pride in our own work. With the other, we publicly negate God’s work in our lives, by an exaggerated sense of humility, or shame.
We need to be real. We struggle. At least, I do. It is HARD work being a large family, and I don’t even think we qualify yet! I think that officially is reached at 5 or 6 kids… technically, anyway. Maybe rather than teaching my kids we need to be a walking commercial, I need to teach my children that we need to be a walking example of God’s grace. Tantrums do happen. And they happen in stores. They aren’t ok, and they aren’t good, and they are VERY annoying to other customers, but maybe the example of handling it Biblically, and gracefully, even under pressure, is far more powerful than being “perfect.”

So here is my “Super Mom” confession. I struggle too, and by God’s grace, THAT is how I am a Mom of a “large” family. I am not super, Christ works despite my failure to BE “Super Mom.”

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20, ESV)

Motherhood is Humbling

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There is nothing like the ahumilitypostavabandwrrival of a new baby to set your world spinning around and around until you are forced to realize: Motherhood is humbling.

My first jolt back to that reality was seeing my postpartum pictures. Cute kid, but who is that awful looking lady holding him?! Ack! THAT IS ME?! Yuck.

But there were more substantial reminders that while managing three kids had become a piece of cake for this Mama, God is NOT done with me yet! Sanctification continues.

I found the most humbling moments in these two experiences:
The other day one of my daughters had been especially exasperating in a new set of behavioral difficulties. I was frustrated, and at the end of my rope. Having a new baby is an adjustment for everyone, but adjustment or no, there was no excuse for her behavior! I was having a hard time reining her in. So I asked for advice from Moms I knew, My Mom, etc, and even some Mommybloggers. (Shout out to 4 Moms, 35+ Kids!) I still made no progress in helping her to curb her disrespectful behavior. I was getting rolling eyes, talking back, and exasperated rude responses. Then one day, this very child walks in while I was putting 2 of her younger siblings to sleep. She wanted to show me something she made. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and respond with “Well what is it? I’m putting your sister and brother down for a nap!”

Yikes.

It was me. How could I expect her to stop a behavior that I wasn’t even recognizing, let alone dealing with in myself? What a humbling moment. I felt awful instantly. I apologized to her and told her to please come back later.  It wasn’t a while until I was able to confess my full sins to her. It takes a lot to tell your child you’ve been wrong. I started half a dozen times only to put it off. Another sin of mine, pride, was staring me right in the face. Motherhood is truly humbling.

Then, yesterday, my husbaIsaiahnd called me on his lunch break, telling me “I forgot to pay some bills! And I never deposited that check… Could you handle it for me?” I was excited to show my husband I was getting back in my super prepped Mommy groove, and I could handle an emergency. Of COURSE I could handle it! “It” required a trip to the bank, and a trip to another bank to pay both bills. No problem, this was a piece of cake with 3 kids! Should be nothing with 4!
Wrong. Oh so wrong.

Instead: I grabbed some PB and J and…. uhm, what else is there? Carrots. Ok… whipped everyone into (semi decent) shape, and headed off into the sunset, wipes on hand for the inevitable peanut butter faces. We started the whole adventure off with an incident in the parking lot. Someone made a break for a puddle in a high traffic area, and I began the whole outing with a screech: “DON’T run there!”
There ended up being no cars in the parking lot, and the child in question responded instantly, and went back to her “spot”, never having been in any real danger,  and so all was fine, but I think this was the first indicator I was in over my head.  Before I had to juggle a toddler and an infant in exiting the car, she never would have even dreamed of making a move for that puddle.
Inside both banks the children ran around in circles or bounced nervously on the chairs while I signed papers. During the rest of our errands there was a lot of angst in the back seat, with everyone hitting the naptime wall, including me. We went home, nobody the worse for wear, but my pride having taken a few fatal blows, the whole drive home was dominated by Isaiah’s expressions of discomfort and disapproval after our long afternoon in the minivan hopping from place to place.

I had been at that place most of us go to when we’ve been “successful” in our christian walk. We begin to (erroneously) assume our hard work is paying off. But we forget
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20, ESV)
We begin to trust in the law alone, and forget the all important work of the Holy Spirit in our heart, our home. Without God’s all consuming work in us, the law does nothing.  As I’ve heard said before (I think Rushdoony said it) ” The law does not justify, it sanctifies.” I had forgotten that truth, and began to feel as if I had conquered my sinful nature, and was fully capable of addressing my children’s shortcomings as well. But I’m not sufficient on my own. If anything, my knowledge of the law should inform me of how very deficient I am, and how much I need God’s righteousness. (Romans 7:7)

And so armed with this new dose of humility, I am reminded of many things. Firstly, without God’s Word, change is impossible, and without the Holy Spirit, lasting, sincere change is a lost cause. Time to get back to the Word of God with a humbled spirit.

humilitypostmomandemmasnuggling  To know wisdom and instruction,

to understand words of insight,

to receive instruction in wise dealing,

in righteousness, justice, and equity;

to give prudence to the simple,

knowledge and discretion to the youth—

Let the wise hear and increase in learning,

and the one who understands obtain guidance,

to understand a proverb and a saying,

the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:2-7, ESV)

I can’t make my chilhumilitypostsarahemmadren wise on my own, I can’t make my children well behaved on my own, and I can’t cause them to be their best, but I can introduce them to the God who sanctifies me daily, changes me as only he can, and provides me with the wisdom to meet many things head on. I can’t claim any of that goodness for myself, but I can lead them straight to the wisdom from God’s Word that does not return void. I can obey God’s command (Duet. 6) and teach them daily as I walk with Christ. And I can trust in his ability to bring lasting change to their hearts, minds, and lives. In the end, my failure riddled parenting isn’t enough for them, but the sufficiency of scripture in informing their wisdom and decisions, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives is something I can trust in to overcome my own sins and shortcomings.

Isaiah Allen has a birth day!

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I know this is late in coming, but we’ve been… ahem, busy lately! 🙂

This is our official blog announcement that we have now moved up in numbers and are officially a family of 6!
We are thrilled to welcome baby Isaiah who was born March 12, at 9:38am at 8 lbs 8 oz and 20 1/2 inches long. He is a beauty, and we all celebrated with a birthday cake! The girls LOVE their new brother, and the adventures have already begun in his first 3 weeks at home!
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