Category Archives: Ingenious motherhood

Homeschooling and Dad

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Being a Mom, a homeschooling Mom, whose full time “job” is to raise, teach, and nurture my children, my husband works long hard hours to support this endeavor. This is our first ministry. Training our children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

So how, considering these hours, does Dad get in on all the homeschooling fun?
Well, we have a variety of ways, during the weekends he has time to play with them, take them to work alongside him in his endeavors and hobbies (feeding the bunnies, working in the garden/backyard, going grocery shopping, worshiping in church together, doing ministry together etc.)

Despite all of these wonderful things we can do as a family on the weekend, we found that the children missed his input during the week, and by the time he came home, and other concerns took over, we neglected to communicate about our children’s needs, habits, and how he could address them.
So, we’re trying something new.

This is our new behaviors chart. With a bit of duct tape, some dowel rods, and colorful twine (all found around the house.) I used a small portion of my Thirty One home organizer that I had yet to find a use for. (My friend, Emily, is a Thirty One consultant, and this was one of my fabulous hostess perks.)
I taped the dowel rods on, labeled with each child’s name, and when that child disobeys knowingly, or is insubordinate (for instance, if I ask them to put away their toys and they say “No! I won’t!”) I tie a ribbon around the dowel rod. When the dowel rod is full (5 ribbons) Daddy will talk to them when they get home. He might pray with them, instruct them with scripture, come up with a new consequence, and follow up in the following days to be sure the behavior is improving.  Or, if their dowel rod is empty, he might take some time to reward them for that, like a solo trip to the store together, or an hour to play a board game together. Something simple.

Here is what I don’t use a ribbon for, if a child just needs correction, and then follows through immediately. Like so:
Child 1: But I want it!
Child 2: No! You may have it later!
Child 1: *takes toy*
Child 2: *Cries* Don’t steal my things! Please give it back!
Child 1: *is thinking*
Child 2: Mom! I asked her to give it back! She took it!
Me: Did you steal?
Child 1: Yes.
Me: What should you do?
Child 1: Give it back.
Me: Then do what is right.
Child 1: *Gives it back.*

I don’t tie a ribbon for this. It was solved Biblically (as per Matthew 18) and after the whole thing, the child who was offending was disciplined, and expected to apologize. We usually use a form of restitution (Give them a turn with one of your toys for awhile now, plus returning the toy in question.) to discourage stealing. In this case, when confronted, the child immediately did the right thing. Ribbons only get tied when they have to be reminded several times for the same offense, or when they refuse to correct their behavior on their own.

The reason we implemented this is because I am a forgetful Mom. I know, I’m no supermom! I need ways to remember, otherwise it gets lost in the heat of the end of the day. He walks in the door, tells me about his day, I give him the important messages (Aka: The guy called back about those tires you wanted to buy.) and when I finally do get a moment to tell him about our day it is either out of proportion and not accurate (Our day was HORRIBLE! They were naughty all day long!) or an incomplete picture (we went on a field trip. I’m whooped.) This forces me to recognize that one moment in the day does not a bad day make, and provides accountability for the children and myself.
At his suggestion, we also did something else: Posted a child friendly version of the 10 commandments and other scriptural principles that apply when dealing with other people.

Our Ten Commandments and family rules, as per Phillippians 3

Our Ten Commandments and family rules, as per Phillippians 3

Repurposing… With a Twist!

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Repurposing is quite the buzz word these days. For a couple of reasons, I think. The current state of the economy is forcing many families to do more with less. So we repurpose all sorts of things we have, but do not use for their original purposes. A bookshelf as a shoe rack. An old sewing table for an end table. An entertainment center for a kid’s play kitchen… etc. We’re learning the value of working with what we’ve had, because even in our state of need, we are still very blessed.

So today, I’m going to tell you about repurposing… with a twist.
Ready?

Repurposing Food.
Sounds like a waste, or gross, or something like that, but it can be an oh so tasty way of not allowing food to spoil in your fridge when the price of groceries is skyrocketing higher and higher and higher!

Repurposing no. 1- Taco Meat to Chili

Tacos. Yum. For tacos you might eat: Shredded Taco Pork, Chips, tortillas, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, etc. In our house, we LOVE tacos! But so we don’t get tired of them, I take all the ingredients the next day, toss them in the crock pot with a bunch of kidney beans and some tomato paste and Voila! Chili! It is delicious, uses up the rest of the ingredients, and doesn’t overplay the leftovers!
Recipe for Taco Meat Chili
Ingredients:
Taco meat (whatever you got, this is more for flavor than weight.)
1 can of tomato paste
1-2 diced fresh tomatoes (Whatever you have leftover from tacos!)
3-5 cans of kidney beans, depending on your crock pot size.
Leftover Salsa, whatever is left in the jar, 1/2 or 1/4 of the jar. The more you use, the more kick and flavor it will provide, and the less optional ingredients you will need. If you’ve got enough salsa, you won’t need/want any other ingredients.

Optional (to enhance flavor, if salsa is not plentiful):
2-4 cloves of garlic OR a good sized dash of garlic power
1 onion, diced
1/2 diced green pepper
A handful of rice,
1 cup of sweet corn
1-2 pickled jalepenos, plus juice from jar

Directions:
Put Taco meat with a little bit of water in the crock pot (don’t cover the meat with the water. Think of it as cereal and the water as milk. Use the water accordingly.)
Dump in tomatoes, Salsa, Tomato Paste, Chili beans, and Green Peppers. If you want chili with LOTS of flavor, cut up some onions and garlic cloves and add those in. For kick, use some leftover jalepeno juice from that jar of pickled jalepenos with one or two of the jalepenos. Cayenne Pepper will do in a pinch too.
Set crock pot on High, cook for 2-3 hours. Set to low, let simmer till dinnertime, for a total of roughly 6 hours. A little more or a little less isn’t a big deal. The point is to let the flavors marry. I like to add a little bit of rice or sweet corn during the last hour, just to add a few carbohydrates.

Spaghetti Sauce Pizza
Ingredients:
Leftover Bread, stale is fine. (We’ve been known to use leftover garlic bread from spaghetti dinner the night before.)
1 cup or less of Spaghetti sauce. (We use whatever we’ve got from the night before.)
Cheese (One 8 oz. pack mozzarella.)
BONUS: if you used sausage with your spaghetti and saved a little for tonight’s pizza.
Directions
Cover each slice of bread (or half a roll, or bagel, whatever you’ve got!) with a shallow covering of sauce. Sprinkle on cheese. Bake at 425 for 16 minutes, or until cheese bubbles.

This can apply in many ways, I’ve been known to use leftover beef broth from soup to make onion gravy the next day, or leftover roast chicken bones to make stock and chicken noodle soup. I’ve used leftover mashed potatoes for Shepherd’s pie. There are many ways you can “repurpose” food, you just have to think of your leftovers as ingredients, not meals.

Bon Appetit!

Establishing Homeschool Routines and Another Budget Meal

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Spelling lesson.

Spelling lesson.

As this school year begins (we began on Monday.)  I am staring last years inadequacies down. I know a lot of it had to do with being demonstrably pregnant for a large portion of the year, and it being a difficult pregnancy, not in terms of health or complications for Isaiah, so much as in terms of managing 3 young children, and MY health throughout.

So this year, I am determined to juggle things with more aplomb. Not to say that I will be the perfect Mom, Wife, and Teacher (Ha!) But that this year I will make a more concerted effort to meet some goals.

School books just aching to be cracked open!

School books just aching to be cracked open!

 
This year’s goals:

  • Be more organized
  • Set a schedule
  • Follow a routine
  • Be more organized
  • Keep the house fairly clean
  • Be more organized

See the pattern here? I’ve got years of bad housekeeping habits to break. I’ve never been a dedicated full time Mom and Home Maker before last year, and I am determined that in this chosen career I WILL hone my skills. But goals are nothing without a plan, and so, we’ve implemented a plan for about 2 weeks now, with some success. This past week has been that plan integrated with school, so in 2 weeks, I feel comfortable sharing how we ‘Manage it All.’

History lesson... in a tutu and tiara... This is how we roll.

History lesson… in a tutu and tiara… This is how we roll.

Firstly- Routine does not equal SCHEDULE. I am a seat of the pants kinda gal. I haven’t yet mastered the art of the type A personality. Being child no. 4 out of 6, I was always the clown, more interested in pleasing people in a puppydog sort of way than actually accomplishing much for the sake of just accomplishing things.  I am not the woman to have an excell spreadsheet with a seperate spot for each child. We have a routine that factors in each child’s needs, and quirks. It is flexible enough to accommodate all of that, Mostly because I can’t be bothered to write it down in specifics. Too tedious. I know the baby naps in the AM, while we do supervised lessons. No need to write it down. He’ll change it when he no longer needs 2 naps, and we’ll find something else for him to do during that time. We’ll tweak our schedule to accommodate everyone’s needs. I don’t mind. I know too much tweaking occurs when we attempt to control every detail. There is an art to flexibility that helps children to adjust. Too rigid, and we have to change too often.
Our Daily Routine

Our daily routine is simple, because that is what makes it so flexible.

  • Wake Up
  • Breakfast
  • School-Language Arts
  • Snack
  • School-Reading with Mom time- (Supervised lessons, can be inside or outside. Morning nap for babies.)
  • Chores (While Mom preps lunch)
  • Lunch
  • Finish Chores
  • Quiet Contemplation (Naptime)This is how we do.
  • Outside Play
  • Dinner Prep (Kids play outside with Dad.)
  • Set Table
  • Dinner
  • Family Devotions/Family Time
  • Bedtime

In instances where our day is derailed due to a Dr’s appointment, play date, piano lesson, or money earning ventures, we scoot the chores to directly after breakfast and either a.) Bring school along to said event, or b.) Do school when we get home in place of “play with Dad time.” or directly after dinner during Family time.

Chores are as follows (Again, we keep it simple.)

Mom: Supervise-Train, Polish up undone items.

  • Load Dishwasher/Do Dishes
  • Switch Laundry Loads
  • Cook Meals
  • Vacuum/Mop w/Sarah
  • Clean bathrooms w/Emma and Ava
  • Litterbox w/Sarah
  • Tidy Kitchen w/Ava
  • Clean own bedroom/nursery-inspect, correct, and assist with children’s bedrooms.

Sarah: (7)

  • Unload Dishwasher
  • Sweep Floor (kitchen)
  • Tidy Bedroom/make bed
  • Tidy School Books/Living Room
  • Fold/put own laundry away
  • Clean Litterbox

Emma: (5)

  • Wipe table after meals
  • Unload Dishwasher
  • Tidy Bedroom Room/make bed
  • Tidy Schoolbooks/Playroom
  • Take out Trash w/Mommy (Bathroom cleaning)
  • Put away own laundry

Ava: (2)

  • Help Mommy Tidy kitchen
  • Unload Silverware (dishwasher)
  • Clear plates off of table, put in sink
  • Wipe out sinks w/ vinegar cleaner (Bathroom cleaning)
  • Put away own laundry

As you can see, I’m not a huge worrier when it comes to dusting, washing windows, etc.  It gets done when it does, mostly when company comes, and in a fit of  “AHHHHH! They’ll see the DUST!” At this point in the game, I’ve got a LOT of littles, and I don’t want to unbalance my Bigs with work that doesn’t matter right this moment.

Let the obsessive vacuuming begin!

Let the obsessive vacuuming begin!

I want to teach them diligence, but rather than barking orders over a child who is trying NOT to break the precious family photos whilst wielding a rag full of Pledge, I just dust when company comes, and that is often enough to keep it from getting obscenely thick and dirty.  There are also a ton of unlisted stuffs, like the normal things you do when you clean a room regularly, like wiping the counter, cleaning the toilet, etc. The children are always welcome in a moment of curiosity/boredom, or if their tasks are done early, to work alongside me to learn a new task. A lot of this isn’t done in a “list” fashion. We just have a period of “LET’S RACE!” While lunch is cooking/heating up. We tend to spend roughly 20 minutes a day power cleaning at each meal. Most of the kitchen cleaning is done directly before meals, and other cleaning done at appropriate moments, general tidying as we go (Living Room is always tidied prior to nap, bedrooms prior to breakfast for instance.)

Tips and Tricks:

  • Chores in tandem with major home events, such as meals, or Naps. This makes them a regular part of routines, not something to be thought of independently.  Dishes as a part of mealtime is a natural segue, and ensures clean dishes for the next meal.
  • Work alongside your children, teach them each task, and guide them kindly through it, by either repeating the tasks with them, or by giving them an example, for instance: “When I wipe the sink, I swipe like *this.*  Your turn now!”
  • Begin the work yourself, and the children will work too. Don’t start by announcing “time to clean!” Then the onus is on them. Lead by example, Mamas. Once you’ve begun to clean yourself, if they’re not on board, that is the right time to use verbal reminders.
  • Check in frequently with Bigs, during tasks until completed. This keeps them on task, and avoids the hours later discovery that someone lied about making their bed.
  • Allow children to clean creatively! Sing while you work, dance while you work, groove, boogie, whatever! Or, in our house, laundry folding is a coveted job, because the laundry folder may watch an episode of I Love Lucy while folding laundry, with one caveat- If there is no progress from commercial break to commercial break, the show gets turned off instantly. I’ve only had to do that once.
  • Break it up. Let them do a set of chores with each home event allows for it to seem like a smaller task, and more manageable. Don’t give them a whole list, give them a task, one at a time, and they won’t feel overwhelmed. I know my oldest (7) is beginning to love lists. This rule *may* change in her case, but when it comes to training littles, keep it short, keep it sweet, keep it simple, and keep it predictable (aka, we always do dishes after the meal.)

On the subject of deep cleaning:
With so many Littles, and still learning Bigs, deep cleaning (dusting, baseboards, deep decluttering) is usually something I do late at night, or while the children are folding laundry together, etc. We do a weekly “deep clean” where I focus on one room, not the whole house. I’d LOVE to do the whole house as a deep clean, but I can’t get that far in one day! I’m usually interrupted by nursing, or some other need. One room takes an hour or two, and I can move on to the next room next week! Yes this is an issue, as far as the whole house being clean at once, but it is just how it has got to work for now! I have one CRAZY spring cleaning week once a year as well, where my Mother In Law takes my children to VBS, and I spend a 3-6 hours every day that week going whole hog on one room! By the end of the week, the whole house is MUCH cleaner!

                                                                                                   And now…. For the Thrifty Recipe!

Image credit: Kalyn's Kitchen http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2010/12/recipe-for-baked-mini-frittatas-with.html

Image credit: Kalyn’s Kitchen

I love making this on days I am tired and busy. Deep cleaning days are a good time to make this. It is easy and healthy, not to mention this is obscenely cheap and can be made with whatever is in your fridge at the time.
(For a different recipe than the one I posted below, the inspiration for my version, and the source of the photo: See Kalyn’s Kitchen’s Fritatta recipe made in Muffin Cups!)

Garden and Cheese Fritatta– Heat oven to 350 F
For our family we use 1 dozen eggs EASILY. But the recipe can be made with 4 or more. Just adjust veggies to match portion sizes.

Fry veggies in Olive oil. (I use combos like Broccoli and garlic and carrots. Or zuchini, onions, garlic. Or peas, carrots, tomatoes, garlic. This part is usually free, because this is usually done using whatever we get out of our garden.) Whatever veggies you have in your fridge/garden, toss them in a pan with olive oil. Fry til clear, or tender.

Put veggies, salt and pepper to taste, in bottom of casserole dish. Meat can be added to the pile here too, I like bacon crumbles, sausage crumbles, Pepperoni etc, any leftover meats you have that need using are great for a bit of extra flavor. But it tastes just as good without them!

Beat 1 dozen eggs, pour into casserole dish, covering veggies with beaten eggs. (veggies should be barely covered, but covered nonetheless.) salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: Put a bit of grated cheese on top of the eggs. Mozzarella, Cheddar, whatever floats your boat.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes (time may be adjusted for less eggs.)
During last 1-2 minutes, turn on broiler, til golden, and cheese is bubbling (if cheese is used.)

Serve HOT!  This is your entire meal in a dish! Great with garlic bread, toast, or nothing else at all! It is filling, warm, and very healthy! Not to mention, super frugal! Enjoy!

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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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.

Being a Proverbs 31 Woman- A Challenge

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Lately, I’ve learned more about the Proverbs 31 woman, and how much more I have to go to match up to those standards! First, lets look at who she is:

The Woman Who Fears the Lord: Proverbs 31:10-31

An excellent wife who can find?Proverbs-31-30-1024x680

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.

She opens her hand to the poor

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

She makes bed coverings for herself;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

You know what sticks out to me the most in this whole passage? This lady is NOT lazy! This is something I deal with daily, especially when I struggle physically. I do not want to work hard. I want to wait til I feel like it. But when I feel at my worst, I don’t feel like it! Well, God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes, whether we feel like it or not, he nudges us into a season of sanctification. A little trial by fire, if you will. We’ve been in one. Just recently. One that has given me an appreciation for the Proverbs 31 woman, and a taste of success in this particular arena. Not total success, mind you. Just a taste, but enough to have me wanting more. Just when we lose our guts and determination to hold fast to a set of ideals, God reminds us of where he had us heading to begin with, and gives us encouragement and strength to keep it going.

So what is our “trial by fire”? A rental property. One might not refer to it as that on average, but it is a growing experience of the most telling kind. In becoming a Landlord you learn skills like: Working hard, discernment, wisdom, how to read people, frugality, and realistic expectations. Just as I was nearing the (difficult, and physically demanding) 9 month of pregnancy, our current tenant gives us his notice to leave. This tenant’s leaving is a joyful thing, not because he was awful, but because it signals a positive change in his life, and a chance for us to finish the updates we put on hold to allow him emergency tenancy in a difficult situation. The unfortunate trial by fire began with the timing. I was NOT willing to get up on a daily basis, and traipse, 3 children in tow, a half hour drive to paint, hammer, clean and work all day, 9 months pregnant. No Siree. That doesn’t even cover my husband’s list of things to do, all things I was incapable of doing. Things like grouting a tub, installing a new bathroom sink, installing new flooring, carpentry, that kind of stuff.

But desperation, and financial needs have an effect on you that normal life doesn’t. The work HAD to be done in ONE month. Otherwise, we would be stretched too thin, paying two mortgages with no direct rental income. We had enough saved to make it 1 month. But not enough to make it 2. And so, I painted, I cleaned, I hammered. A friend, and my parents stepped forward to lighten the load, but boy did we ALL work. My thanks go out to them for their support. Mothers all around knowing that I was struggling to begin with, and now was saddled with this urgent responsibility, stepped forward to provide meals (Thank you to everyone who did that! Bless you!) At the end of a day that I had sat on a stool painting a door frame, or polishing a banister, etc. I was too exhausted to even bother cooking, those meals kept us going.

So what does this have to do with my Proverbs 31 journey? I learned: In womanhood, there are NO excuses. Sometimes you just have to woman up, support your husband, and do what is necessary to free him up for the work he must do. He did a lot more than I have, putting in late nights, and then rolling out of bed at 5am the next morning for work. I feel like I haven’t seen him in weeks. Meanwhile, to free him up for his work I had to manage to get my list done, plus manage a tenant search. And let me tell you, THAT is a fun Proverbs 31 woman business opportunity. Instead of considering a field to buy, I was considering a tenant to rent! Despite the discomfort, the (several) labor scares, the frustration, and the silent sense of accomplishment that accompanied my hard work this month, there is also an understanding of WHY the Proverbs 31 woman is so valuable, and why her husband is known in the gates. It has been my driving force this whole month:
Proverbs 14:23
“All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Simple, huh? Now I know there is more to the Proverbs 31 woman than THAT. But, at this point, it is the lesson I needed to learn. Even if I did have to figure out how to paint, hammer, and clean while sitting, and NOT inducing labor! 🙂 Laziness is not something that can, or should be justified by physical limitations. Ladies, as hard as pregnancy, health problems, or anything else is that pushes us down, it cannot keep us there. Hard work returns a profit, and it is hard work whether you do it sitting or not. When you are struggling through an illness, a difficult time in your life, don’t allow the excuse of “I can’t” stop you from being a Proverbs 31 woman. Be creative, because if she is anything other than hard working, it is creative. A Proverbs 31 woman creatively supports her husband.

I do hope this is an encouragement to other Moms struggling through personal difficulties. Desperation does breed some kind of ingenuity, but don’t let it stop there, learn a lesson from the hardest times, and carry it into the good times, because hard work DOES return a profit. Don’t get caught talking about being a Proverbs 31 woman, BE one.

Repurposing- Titus FO meeting notes

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So I’m learning to streamline, simplify, repurpose, and clean up my life as a Mom, a Wife, a Woman, and a human being.

I’ve thrown out a ton of junk, focused on more specific goals as opposed to unrealized and undefined dreams, and the last bastion of undefined is this blog.

I’m repurposing it.

I will be using it as a companion to the budding homeschooling ministry that is being started at our church. I’ll use this blog for meeting notes, announcements, general thoughts, and a discussion springboard. Lets see if this works out! Here goes nothin’! 🙂

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Titus Family Outreach Meeting notes from the March Meeting:

This meeting began with some more general topics, and went from there! Here are my notes, please feel free to jump in and comment here, or on Facebook!:

1. Dedicating a room/schedule to schooling.

a.) Workbox method, or dedicating a whole room? Is it practical? Does it help to make things more defined and easier to do?

b.) Schedule vs. Routine. What kind of structure works? Should it be a strict school-like schedule, or more of a flexible fit as you go?

The consensus of this discussion was that with young children, routine is handy, but too much routine can be constricting. Also that school doesn’t always have to be “formal” so depending on how we want to school our kids, the structure can impede or assist. We need more experience to speak on this subject. Feel free to weigh in!

2. Pervasive Influences

a.) How do we respond to what comes into our homes Biblically? Kids sin no matter what they are exposed to, but will what we expose them to encourage worse behavior?

b.) How do we reach their heart instead of merely addressing the behavior?

The consensus of this discussion is that a balance is needed. Using common sense on what our kids see, but not sheltering them from every possible bad experience is possible. Being ready to teach, instead of avoiding certain subjects all the time, is our best bet. Honesty, openness, and age appropriate scriptural instruction are all we know to use. Again, we lack experience to really know. The Bible is our guide.

3. Trusting God’s plan for our kids.

a.) Prayer and contemplation.

b.) Personal devotions, as a source of God’s strength.

This speaks for itself.

4. Future of Titus FO

a.) Seeking more information on Biblical roles of women.

b.) Check into interest in Steph’s Bible Study idea on the Titus 2 model of family life.

Consensus on this is that we need more discussion!

Jenny, Did I miss anything?

Comments and questions are VERY welcome! From the blogging world, AND Jacob’s church, Titus FO members!

So it turns out I’m a sporadic blogger

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I like writing, but my life usually works out in this order: Husband, kids, teaching, church, extended family, rest and relaxation, and…. blogging. So yeah, it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, and since I favor quality over quantity, posts are hopefully more enjoyable than plentiful.

Anywho, I made something amazingly awesome today, and as I cooked, I wrote a blog post in my head. I do this often, but I remember it less often, and even more infrequently do I write and post it. So here I sit, (everyone is napping, HURRAH!) and write.

I discovered a mindless one pot recipe for all of Sunday dinner/supper! It is surprising, and not your average potroast dealie. I post my own recipe for you here:

One CrockPot Sunday lunch/dinner

Dump in a ton of pork/chicken/whatever meat you like (deer is tasty!)

Dump in a matching amount of taco seasoning/water.

Simmer while you are at church.

come home and dump in whatever amounts you like of the following:

Green Peppers/Red Peppers (sweet)

Onions

Diced Garlic cloves

Frozen corn

Pinto/Kidney beans

Let simmer for like 10 minutes.

Serve hot on a plate with a buttload of cheese and chips, and you’ve got nachos!

To make dinner:

Spread refried beans in a casserole dish
Slap the remaining meat/beans/veggie mixture on top.
Put cheese on that puppy.
Bake till the cheese melts/put the chip crumbs on top, and broil for about 1 minute.

It was a huge hit. So I have to write it down somewhere! Enjoy!

Helpful Homemaking tips:

I like to keep good ideas handy, since I teach at a school, AND keep a home. I dislike prepackaged goods as a rule, since they’re chock full of charming chemicals/sodium, and of course the favorite: Good taste. 😛 Yuk. I follow these tips to keep things available for quick home made lunches and dinners.

  • I use garlic cloves and onions all the time, in EVERYTHING, like spaghetti, Stir Frys, Soups, Casseroles, Roast Chicken, everything but cake and ice cream really, so I always keep a huge bunch on hand in my fridge. I have specified containers for garlic/onions in progress, so it doesn’t stink up the fridge, and I have a cleaned one handy!
  • I also take and cut up/clean off seeds of all of our green/red peppers and freeze them. They cut beautifully frozen, and I don’t stand there wishing I had one, only to use half and let the other half rot. Planning your pantry is your best bet. I stink at meal planning, but I’ve learned what ingredients I use most, and I try to keep those in stock, either canned, frozen, or refrigerated.
  • For bonus points grow them in your backyard/ a pot for cheap organic fun! 🙂

Alright, I’m out folks!

Locusts and Destruction: The Facebook Posts Entry

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This morning was a bit of a mishmash as my life usually is.  I chose to use my traffic on Facebook today to inspire, and pad out this post.  Because to be completely honest… I’m seriously busy, but I still love my blog.

I awoke to my two year old bouncing happily on top of me, her face stuck right to my back “I want to hoooooooooooooooooooold you Mommy!  hooooooooooooooold yoooooooou!” She yanked my hair, and went for a horsey ride.  I was too groggy to fight back against the onslaught of all this youthful energy.

So I did what any sensible Mother would do… I woke up, and I went for a run.

I felt unable to leave Ava to the devices of my two hellions at home, now in full regalia, Emma in her diaper only, and Sarah carrying a purse, wearing a track suit, and asking anyone who would listen: “Do I look like Napoleon Dynamite?”

Ava went along.  I packed her in the jogging stroller, and we ran like our lives depended on it.  my husband stayed home to wrastle the herd.

I will take this moment to say, I love running!  I’ve lost weight, felt better about myself, and overall, I love the built in alone time!

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So, in the interests of keeping this weight loss up, despite the lack of energy, and the difficulty of pushing a jogging stroller full of baby pudge up the hill, I did it!  I felt discouraged despite myself, because this should have been an easy run, I had motivation (Emma’s jumping) experience (I’ve run this route before many times) and good reasons (health, marathon, alone time.)  But it was somehow difficult.  The only things that kept me going?

  • I must get healthy, I must stay healthy, I must get healthy, I must stay healthy.
  • If I wanna run a marathon, how can I justify quitting after one mile?
  • Crap, everyone will see on Facebook that I only ran one mile.
So after about a mile of struggling with the stroller (Say that five times fast.) I headed back home, handed Ava over to her Daddy, and went on my merry way.  I got in one more mile and change.  And it was totally worth it. The best part? Facebooking my miles and having my friends cheer me on. 🙂 I have great friends!
I returned home to find a despondent husband bending over a pile of broken crayons and bemoaning our children’s destructive powers.
He likened our children to locusts.
“Look at these crayons! they were WHOLE crayons an hour ago, even a HALF hour ago! Now they’re in pieces! Our kids are like little locusts!”
The definition of Locusts: Insects that swarm throughout an area, leaving only destruction.
Yep. Those are my kids.
He then left for the grocery store with some of the children, leaving me in relative peace. Depending on how you define peace.  If its less screaming; I had peace. My neighbor reminded me of the cat…erm… chinese food I left in her fridge after our *wild party* last night. (read: the kids watched ice age while we talked grown up talk over good food.)  I have great neighbors! Chas and Chris are by far the best neighbors I’ve ever met!
I retrieved the cat.
When I returned home, rabidly excited at the thought of leftover chinese, and unable to control myself, I dug a spoon into the cold rice on its way into the fridge. In my haste, I made a bit of a little known chinese delicacy. Farflung Rice. It landed ALL over my countertops and under the little nooks and crannies. Who knew a spoonful of rice could go so far?
A productive day by many standards.  And yet, barely lunch time.  I look forward to the remaining adventures in today, and will enjoy them with my mischevious hellions.

My three children, ready for the next adventure. Sarah is trying to look as angelic as possible, Emma, eyeballing her next opportunity, and Ava, calm as a cucumber. Watch out. Those Sacks are on the loose!

Oh Thank God! Bedtime!

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Bedtime is not for kids.  Its for Moms.  Moms of children whose father works third shift.  Moms who have fuzzy yarn for brains. Moms who are finally, exhausted, and need a little time alone.

Bedtime is for them.

First, I enjoy time with my children, we read a book, snuggle a little, talk about the book, and I sing the same. song. every. night. The girls snuggle in eagerly, pull their covers up at their chin, and I kiss them goodnight, while I inch out the door singing “It Is Well With My Soul.” I’ve often been quite amused to find the girls imitating this routine, with Emma being tucked in, and Sarah singing  the song.  I have been occasionally pleasantly surprised when they join in the singing.   After singing the song, I tiptoe into my room, where I invariably find Emma…waiting.  She doesn’t sleep till hours later, but meanwhile, she gets some precious alone time with Mommy.  Then bedtime.

Blissful bedtime.  And, I’m alone.  Beautifully alone.  With nothing but my laptop, my blog, my thoughts and my bed.

It takes… oh, a half hour till I’m out these days, but then there are the days I’m so wired that I get glorious alone time till 1 am, then I have to put myself to bed!  And then… I curse myself the following day with vehemence known to no man.

Like I said, bedtime is for Moms.