Category Archives: Just gotta laugh…

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!

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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.

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.

OurNewNormalwithIsaiah

Our new normal

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.

Pregnancy Update: We’ve reached the Halfway Mark!

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Me and my girls

I’m not meticulous enough to do weekly updates on this current pregnancy, pregnancy number 4, but every now and then big stuff happens, and who am I to ignore it? Blogging is the way to go! So get comfortable, you’re gonna hear a pregnancy update!

We all know Pregnancies are pretty much one big development after another, so, today’s big development number 1: We’ve reached the halfway mark! 20 weeks! Yay! You may now pull out your togas and umbrella drinks and celebrate with me briefly. Don’t worry, I’m against party hats, so you can forego that ridiculous discomfort…

Part of the whole halfway mark is the biggie: The lets-see-if-we-can-tell-the-sex-ultrasound! Unfortunately, my husband and I really had issues with this particular milestone this time around. He didn’t want to know, and I did. Why?

Let us just say in our not so distant past, prior to, and part of the culmination leading to a huge change in our hearts regarding God, his Will, and his Word, we had a bit of a control issue with our whole procreation thing. I constantly wanted to NOT have babies, and my husband wanted to keep trying for that elusive boy. When we found out that Ava was a girl, it was difficult. He was disappointed that his prayers for a boy were not answered, and I was desperate for him to not be disappointed. At one point our marriage hit such a low point that I was sure it would not survive it. But by God’s grace, it was this that pushed us to a turning point. When you see a sinful, selfish person looking at you from the mirror, you realize the need for change. He blessed us with a beautiful and *very* delightful and vivacious Ava! 🙂 We have been SO blessed! It took that moment of bottoming out, however, to show us that our idea of family was very very short of a good family, and that on our own, we could not be perfect, or even good. Sin always kept us from contentment, peace, victory. When we sought God’s Word, his Will, life changed into something we never knew it could be. It became GOOD, satisfying.

So this time around, Allen said something like “I will not spend my time obsessing over what I want, I will wait and see until baby is born, and fall in love with him/her then!” But, I had a feeling it was a boy, and I felt we needed to know, considering that 3 daughters later, we are just shy of painting our house Barbie pink, as we pretty much are up to our eyeballs in that color. Boy things do not exist in this home! I needed to know so we would have what we need, and know what we don’t have! We agreed that I would find out, and he would not know.

Today was the big day! I would find out, tell the world, but keep the secret from him. We were agreed on this point. I went to the ultrasound with Brooke (the best moral support a friend can be!) and all three girls. We waltzed in there 20 minutes early (not like we were anxious to know or anything…) and FINALLY they called us for the ultrasound. The tech told us the baby was healthy, good, measuring well, good, and….. A BOY!

I was so excited I could have jumped out of my skin! The girls were so excited, and there were quite a few “Can we keep this secret after all?” dicey moments. We went out for a bite to eat, and to acclimate ourselves to this lovely new realization that God was blessing us with a son, brother, and whatever else God has planned for this precious little boy’s life. We hope it is to be a man of God, unafraid to speak God’s Word. It is fitting then, that we had chosen the name: Isaiah Allen. The girls were still jumping out of their skin at the prospect of having a brother. They were so excited that Brooke had to take them outside to do somersaults so they wouldn’t do them in the Doctor’s office, or just cause they were energetic, but I’m positive it was the excitement!

Nonetheless, we finally got home. Allen walked out the door, and I couldn’t help myself. I smiled.

Whoops. Now he knows! I smiled!

And so he does know. No secrets around here! I was too excited to keep it under wraps! That smile did me in! 😀 But we are excited beyond belief, all of us, to invite little Isaiah Allen in March.  As part of a count down to his very exciting birth, I will be sharing birth stories of each of my little ones, and I’d love to hear all of yours! Feel free to link yours in the comments below. 🙂

 

Getting a bit testy, are we?

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This has been a week of tests. Testing our new school year out (we’re starting early to accommodate a one month break for the new baby.) Today I tested out a new recipe. (One of those: Hmmmm if I throw that in…)

Here is the update on the school days.

I’ve been logging our school, so it keeps me honest, and I’m required to meet specific standards. Every day we do Math, Bible, Social Studies(Geography,) Reading, and a bit of Science. Art, Music, etc get rolled into the rest.  I’ve read all sorts of advice. Keep a rigid schedule. Be flexible. Don’t stray from your routine. Don’t expect too much from the little ones by being all structured at the get go. It is all so confusing. I’m trying to find what works for our family.  I’ve tried structure before, and it was too rigid. So we bagged that. Now we’ve got a really loose routine, which is this: squeeze the school in when Ava is napping, and then incorporate what is left into the rest of the day as it suits. Now it is too loose.  I’m struggling to find a happy medium, but I also know it takes time to settle. The moral of the story is: We won’t get it right the first week of school. This blog post is a great way to plead to more experienced mothers for help talk it out while I sort things.

Now, for the recipe!!! 🙂 I adapted this recipe to what I had to use in my kitchen, (you know how bananas are…) and what I felt was healthy, it was fantastic, although, it definitely needed a longer cook time than what the original called for. Here is the result:

                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                Tropical Zucchini Bread  

Let me add that it looks nothing like this stock photo, but unfortunately I cannot bring you a picture of the finished product, as it has been demolished… And I’m too lazy to make more just to photograph it…

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 2 mashed bananas

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. (I use vegetable oil)
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Beat sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl, and stir in zucchini, banana and pineapple. Gradually pour in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Mix to evenly combine. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1- 1 1/2 hour. Working with one loaf at a time, hold the pan on its side and gently tap the sides of the pan against the counter to loosen it. Cover the pan with a cooling rack, and invert it to tip the cake out of the pan and onto the rack.  Allow bread to cool completely.

Parenting from God’s Perspective

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I know, that is a pretty hefty title, isn’t it? During Bible study the other day (we’re reading ‘Feminine Appeal’ by Caroline Mahaney. I’d tell you if it is good or not, but we’re not done yet, so I’ll keep you posted.) we talked about what Titus 2 means by “loving our children.” This is a pretty blanket statement, and can end up with a plethora of topics on love, snuggling, nutrition, discipline, provision, training children Biblically, to spank or not to spank etc etc. You get the idea. It is a pretty broad road to travel as far as discussions go, and we certainly did not disappoint. We covered the range of topics fairly well. But we lingered on one particular point, one that in saying out loud, I realized is pretty important as an overview of Godly parenting. And what was that, you ask?

It is pretty simple in concept. How does God parent us? I’ve wrestled with this question before I was a parent. I did not understand the concept of God as my father. That comes to most quite easily, but my earthly father (shout out to you, Dad!) did a pretty good job, and I love him a lot, despite his terrible fashion sense and penchant for fanny packs, but that is another post entirely.  Ugh. I digress…
Anyway, I couldn’t imagine why I’d need two fathers when my Dad tried his very best to imitate God’s perfect go before. I had no lingering Daddy issues as an adult, and all of my psych classes likened those to a bad relationship with Religious authority. (Whatever, Freud, I’m onto you. You’re whacked.) So I kind of shrugged my shoulders and went about my business praising God and doing my best to talk my way out of actually obeying him. Kind of like my teenage years with my Dad.

As a parent… This is another question entirely. Much heavier than my laissez-faire attitude of when I was a young adult.

How does God parent me?

I find myself asking this question as I parent my children. When they’re not listening, and they end up hurting themselves because of disregard for my parental wisdom.

“Don’t ride your bike on the front porch!”
“But Mom, why not? It is so fun! *CRASH* “Ahhhhhhh!!!! Mom!! Mom! I scraped my knee! I bumped my head! Mom! and I killed your new peonies….”
“What were you doing?!”

“Riding my bike on the front porch….”

I was so frustrated at that moment. I wanted to scream and yell and stomp my feet a couple times! I told her not to do that! Why did she not listen to me?! Doesn’t she KNOW that I know more than she does? Have I not exhibited my wisdom to her on multiple occasions? Then I thought…

How does God parent me? How must he feel? I KNOW as an adult even I’ve done the same thing. I’ve read his Word, I know what he wants from me, and yet I disobey and then I whine to him when things don’t go my way. Whoops. How frustrated must he be? There are portions of scripture where God tells humankind (Israel, more likely than not) how frustrated he is. And yet he still takes care of them, loves them, he doesn’t stop them from feeling the brunt of their consequences, but he doesn’t always turn his back on them, and then, some times, when things get REALLY bad, he kind of does let them fall flat on their face.

If there is anything my recent devotional goal of completing the book of Ezekiel has taught me, it is what God’s plans for families are, because he intends families to reflect his relationship with us, his children. Or with us, his bride. When God gives us a definition of family, he’s giving us the tools to set our children up for a fulfilling relationship with him. We can’t force that on them, or choose it for them, but in all of our training and teaching of our children we need to adhere to God’s idea of family, of parenthood, and of marriage. He’s given us a beautiful template. To say we know better, or do what we think is best, and to reject the perfect outline he has for us is to set aside our relationship with him, in a sense. In denying the picture he has provided for us, for a better understanding of our relationship with him, we deny him, and what he has offered us. Consider how he parents you, how he loves you, and how he cares for you, and imitate him in your family relationships. The changes our dim reflection of him provide in our families are amazing. Take it one step further and fully submit to him, forget reflecting him, and let him work IN you and THROUGH you. He has some pretty great plans, if we’d only submit our ideas and dreams to what he says in his Word.

That being said, I’m going to offer a caution from Ezekiel 18. We can do everything right, and our children may still choose to reject God. Or we can do everything wrong, and our children will still choose to accept God. Part of submission to God, is understanding he has his own justice, and that no one can establish anything without him, and no one can destroy anything without him. We can only live our lives in such a way that honors him.

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And don’t take my word for it, check out these scriptures on what God says about families:

Titus 2

Deuteronomy 6

Job 1:5 (How did Job fulfill his responsibility as head of the family?)

Genesis 3:19 

I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Ephesians 6:1-4 (Instructions to the whole family.)

Ephesians 5:23-25 (also includes instructions to wives.)

Proverbs is also chock full of goodies about families, taking advice, listening to instruction, and learning from mistakes.

Dude! Where’s My Car?!

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Last night, Allen came to pick the girls and I up at work for some family time.  We hopped into the rabbit (no pun intended) and drove to my Mom’s house to pick up Ava.  On the way back, we had a few errands to run, and then we intended to pick up my car, which I’d left at work. (About a mile up the road from our home.) After piling back into the rabbit, we stopped at the library to return some VERY late books, went to the grocery store to pick up a can of soup for to make some beef stroganoff.  In all our haste to make the stroganoff we went home quickly, and Allen played with the girls whilst I made supper.  In all my housewifery glory, supper was ready by 5, and we had a leisurely dinner.  We talked, ate, listened to a James MacDonald sermon, and overall had a relaxing time.  Just as Allen was about to head out the door, Sheila came with spinbrushes for the girls with sticker packets.  The girls spent plenty of time working on their sticker brushes and were thrilled with the best birthday present ever!! (I was all for it, toothbrushes after all that cake? Yes please!)   After sharing some leftover Emma birthday cake with Sheila, she went on her merry way, and we were then graced with the presence of my parents, with whom we also shared some cake, and Emma received another good gift.  All’s well that ends well, and fighting a huge headache, I put the girls to bed, and after applying various remedies, I went to bed myself.

Morning came.  Unfortunately, Sanity did not accompany it!  Allen arrived home from work with a gift for Emma, and we all gathered round while she opened it, and enjoyed it.  This took some considerable time, and we were late to leave.  Ever the gentleman, Allen offered to drop the girls off at my Mom’s, so I could get to work on time.  I went outside, helped him strap the kids into his car, noting that mine was not parked with his, therefore, it MUST be out back by the garage! I kissed everyone goodbye, went back inside, packed my lunch, humming all along.  I was pleasantly surprised to note that I was leaving a full 5 minutes early, and fully confidant that I would impress my supervisor with my early arrival. I grabbed my keys, walked out the door to find… NO CAR in the backyard.

Uhmmmm.  Dude, where’s my car?!?

Now I might enjoy running, but I can’t do a mile in 10 minutes.  Which is all the time I had left at this point.  Oh yeah, and I live at the bottom of the hill that my employer sits on top of.  Whoops.

After a few moments it hit me…  I had left it at work last night.

I laughed.  I just realized I did something pretty dumb.  I lost my car.  How do you lose your car? It had taken me almost 5 minutes of standing there, jiggling my keys and laughing at myself to come to my senses (if indeed I have sense.)  I ran inside, looked at the clock, 5 minutes till I gotta be on the floor. Dang.  I called work.

“Hello, L——– L——– C——-”

“Hey, K, I lost my car.”

“You WHAT?!”

“I lost my car”

“Oh yeah, we were wondering why it was in the parking lot all night! How did you lose it?”

“We left yesterday, and I left it overnight by accident.  We forgot to pick it up.  I was calling cause I’ll be a little late.”

“Well I can come and pick you up. How’s that?”

“Oh, I was gonna run, but I’d be later, that would work out better cause I’ll be on time then…”

“Alright, I’ll be right there! Hahaha!! Only you!”

I went back outside, and stood by the street laughing at myself.  Every time I would get a straight face, I’d start to giggle again.  After K arrived, I had a slightly embarrassing two minute ride to work. (It is kind of embarrassing to be an adult, a mother of three who lost her car, y’know?)

When all is said and done, I am glad to work with people who not only have a fantastic sense of humour, but take me as I am.  

A wacko…

The Joys and Heartbreaks of Motherhood

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Tonight was more of a joyful night, and yet a little heartbreak occurred.  Motherhood just isn’t Motherhood without a little heartbreak.

I was surprised by my husband showing up at work to sweep me off my feet (proverbially, I’m not that light…) and then carrying me off in his magnificent chariot (i.e. his rusted purple diesel Volkswagen Rabbit) to pick up our three princesses. (No lie there, they really are princesses!)

After our quick (read; frenetic) pick up of the children, we spontaneously chose to visit the park, just to make today special, cause we felt like it.  As we arrived, and Sarah got out of the car, she said, “HEY! I’ve been here before! This is the park we saw Uncle Dennis at! I love my Uncle Dennis! He looked like Papa Wheelie! He was so fun and nice to me! I wish I could see him again, so we could talk. I liked talking to him!”

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At this point, Allen and I looked at each other, and then reminded her that Uncle Dennis is now in heaven.  How happy we are for him, and how much we love him.  She replied with a sigh, and then ran off to play.

We had such a wonderful time, playing, and chasing, and talking, and swinging, and climbing.  It was a great afternoon, and a precious bit of family time we don’t get so much of during these busy days.

After we were done at the park, we got home, and I popped inside to make supper.  The girls stayed in the backyard with Allen.  At one point, I went outside to find Emma nude, wearing my high heels, and drawing with sidewalk chalk.  I rounded the corner to inform Allen of this development, only to find him perched in a lawn chair, directly in the center of our vegetable garden, atop the rows, holding a content Ava, doing his facebook/farmville on his Mac laptop.  I took a picture of this hilarious sight, only to have him extract a promise not to post it.  So, I merely paint a picture with words…

Supper was ready, and so everyone came in to enjoy the Salisbury steak, buttered noodles, gravy, and corn. Sarah reminded us that we forgot to pray, and so I invited her to pray over supper.  This was the whopper of a prayer she composed:

“Dear God, Thank you for the dinner Mommy made, and can tomorrow be a Grandmom day? I love going to her house! I want to go to Grandmom’s every day! Can you do that God? And sometimes God, she makes me nap. Can that stop? I don’t like napping…”

Allen and I enjoyed a grown up chuckle over this very entertaining conversation with God. Sarah interrupted our little moment with a question:

Mom, can God bring people back from heaven?”

“Yes Sarah, he can, but often he doesn’t. Why?”

“I wish Uncle Dennis could come back from heaven.  I miss him.  I really liked him. Why can’t God just send him back?”

Wow. How do I answer a question like that? She is so young, and yet she’s experienced death in such a personal way, several times. How can I answer a question we all ask secretly, and sometimes publicly? Another look was exchanged, I said a little prayer and dived right in. At this point, she was pushing the noodles around her plate aimlessly, chin in her hand, looking sad.

Well Sarah, Uncle Dennis was such a great man, and God loves him so much, that he needs him up there. Uncle Dennis has served God well, and loved Jesus, and they are happy to be in heaven together.”

“Oh.  Ok, I still wish he could come back.”

“I know. We all do. But God needs him more.”

And there it is. Motherhood is joy, but it is also heartbreak.

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!