Thursday, February 18, 2016

MakeTime for Your Man

My husband and I just went on our yearly Carribean vacation sans kids.  

Yes, it's kind of pricey but we budget all year so we can go. 
 Yes, it's hard to leave the kids but it's actually good for them and great for us as a couple. 
 Yes, it takes planning, finding the best sitter, preparing meals ahead of time and making lists and more lists.  But let me tell you, it is so worth it!  

Like I've said in previous blog posts, your kids will grow-up and leave home but your spouse will be there with you for a a life time.  Also, a great analogy is a living cell.  If the nucleus of a cell is not healthy, the whole cell is unhealthy.  Our marriage relationship is the nucleus of our family cell. It seems like so many moms now-a-days put so much time, energy and mental energy into keeping their children happy and healthy (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually healthy) but very little time into keeping their marriage relationship happy and healthy.  I'll get off my soap box now, but I like how my husband put it in an instagram post he did, "Sabbatical, rest, recovery.  Our marital soul is in desperate need of these like a car needs a tune-up.  Between kids, jobs, bills and disappointments our hearts cry out for a soul connection to God's greatest gift to us-our life covenant partner." 
So, even if you have to take your nursing baby with you (notice I said baby not toddler..haha) and can't go very far, just do it.  Go away with your hubby and give him the undivided attention he deserves. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Like a bad attitude in the grocery store and not so healthy items in the grocery cart.

Many times I have younger moms tell me, "gee, you're so chill about everything."  Now those who know me better know this is not always the case.  I certainly have my moments but I think it's funny how moms I meet in our homeschool group, at church or just around our neighborhood think I'm so relaxed.  One mom told me recently, "You just seem not to get frazzled by small things."  Well, I hope that is true and I think after years of parenting so many children, I've learned to not sweat the small stuff.  By small stuff, I don't mean essentials (see previous post) or things that will have a lasting effect on my life or one of my children's lives.  But here are some things I see moms "sweating over" that just really don't matter in the long run. 

-My child made a B so they won't get in a good college.
-My child didn't make the right soccer team.
-My child didn't get the right part in the play.
-My child doesn't say "please" and "thank you" every single time.
-Or younger moms, "I had to wean my baby before 12 months."
-My child has been so grumpy lately (they're teenagers, it's normal)
- My child ate a non-organic fruit or worse, fast food!
-My child watched a mindless TV show.
-My child wants to wear the same outfit everyday.
-My child says they don't like church...gasp!

Well, you get the picture. 

Sometimes I just want to tell these moms, "Chill out!  You're letting these minor things steal your joy and rob you of this precious, fleeting time with your young children!"
So, let's all take a deep breath and try to see things from God's eternal perspective and not sweat it. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

No Formula for Parenting, But...

Now we all know that as much as we wish it were true, there is no "formula" to parenting.  It would be so nice to be guaranteed some kind of "perfect" kids if we just followed a laid out plan. But, it's really not the case, inputs don't always equal outputs.  This is an issue that I have wrestled with over the years. As I've processed it, God has helped me settle the matter in my heart.  We just have to be obedient to the Lord, follow His leading and trust the rest to Him.  All our children are unique and will make their own choices.  We can get so stressed as parents thinking if we make one wrong decision, our kids will end up delinquents or worse not in relationship with us or the Lord.  Well, what is "perfect" anyway?  My goal is to raise children that love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul.  So here are some things to simplify the matter.  Some things that I think are essential and then I just leave the rest to the Lord.  I can't stress about it all.  God wants us free to enjoy Him and enjoy our children and enjoy motherhood, not anxious micro-managers of our kids.  
So here you "formula":

1.  Be involved in a Bible believing church.  Attend regularly, get to know the people there.  Be accountable to them and let your children learn from the leaders there.

2. Love your children and set a good example to them. This means being nice and loving to your husband and children while trying your best to follow God's word and live a godly life.

3. If at all possible, homeschool your children or send them to Christian school with a Biblical worldview.  If for some reason this is not an option, you will need to be more intentional with teaching them the Word and Bible memory.  As they get older, have them take courses such as World View Academy to offset the worldly values taught in secular schools. 

4. Have family devotions at least weekly and eat meals together as a family.  During your family dinner meals pray and talk to each other about your day.  Even secular studies show the benefit of the family dinner table.  

Well, that's it.  I'm just going to relax and leave the rest to Lord.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Goodbye 2015. Hello 2016!!

My top Instagram posts basically sum up 2015.

Happy New Year from all of us!

It was so wonderful to have everyone home for the holidays.  Having all my babies home for more than a few days is something that becomes more and more rare as they all get older.  I know it is hard to imagine this if you are still surrounded by a bunch kids under 10 years old but it will come for you one day as well.  Having kids a wide range of ages also brings new challenges.  Such as my littles are still up at the crack of dawn and my older kids want to stay up past midnight!  But God gives grace and I think it is so healthy for college/high school kids to be around young ones and vice-versa.  I think this is what the family unit is supposed to be, loved ones together of all ages!  We even had both grandmothers here for Christmas as well.  Such a blessing!
In looking forward to 2016, I only have a few resolutions that I will mention.  I try not to make too many lofty goals but I do pray about changes that I know the Lord wants me to make.

1.  Blog more, even if they are shorter posts.
2.  Step out of my comfort zone. (Like the mission trip I took this past year.  Don't be afraid to obey God and go where He leads.)
3.  Enjoy homeschooling more and attempt to make it more fun. 
4.  Be more ministry focused instead of self-focused.
5.  Pursue more friendships with like minded women and those God brings into my life. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sorry for the Brief Hiatus

So sorry for such a long break in my blog posts, but as you can see, I am OK!
I don't think I have ever gone this long without posting and I just wanted to say thank you to those who noticed and sent me comments and emails.  It was such a very busy fall for us and my New Year's resolution is to post weekly.  Maybe that is a little ambitious but I'm going to try.  I seem to think that I have to have a good chunk of time and write a pretty long post for it to be worth it.  But I'm thinking I might just try doing more frequent posts but they would be shorter.  Just snippets of encouragement or funny things we have happening around this crazy busy house of ours.  
But anyway, here is our fall in a nutshell...........
I had 2 boys playing football this fall.  Christian playing Varsity and Luke playing JV.  It was fun but busy.  I hosted quite a few spaghetti dinners for the varsity team.  This picture is from Christian's last game and as you can tell, he had been crying.  Being a senior on your last game is hard.  It was such a great season for him. Even getting a concussion and unable to play 3 games, he still made Offensive Player of the Year and All Conference Running Back.  Nothing like cheering for your boys on the football field.  Luke had a great season as well and got to play in some Varsity games too as a 9th grader. So glad he has 3 more years of high school ball.  We all love going to the games.  It's quite a family event.

Another major thing that happened this fall was that I was able to go with Christian and his senior class to Costa Rica on a mission trip!
All of my older 3 children have gone on the same trip with the Christian school that my children attend for high school.  In the past, I was always pregnant or nursing so not able to go with any of them.  This past summer Ron really encouraged me to go and I felt the Lord leading me as well.  I applied and not only went as a mother chaperon but also the trip nurse.  It was quite out of my comfort zone but let me tell you, I had such an awesome time.  I'm so glad that I listened to my husband and obeyed the leading of the Lord.  The trip was so incredible! Seeing these young high schoolers minster, bless and share the gospel with the young Costa Ricans was amazing!  I got to know so many of the girls so well and use my nursing skills.  Here are some pictures.......

My boy with the Chicos!  They loved him.

All of the chaperones. I had such a fun time getting to know these other moms, dads and teachers. 

And my littlest guy, Patrick, started playing soccer on a 4 year old team.  He was the highest scorer for the other team!  I guess we need to work with him on scoring in the right goal. 
Here he is telling me about his new friend he made.  Patrick really just wants to talk to everyone, including the coach and other team members during the game!
Well, this was a little fall overview.  This post didn't include all the bumps, bruises, fights and disappointments that of course happen in a family this size.  It also didn't include all the joys, hugs, tender moments and the great things the Lord is doing in our lives.  I promise to keep everyone more updated and my posts will be coming more frequent in 2016!  Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Starting My 20th Year Homeschooling...... Some Tips I've Learned

Our school picture for the 2015-2016 school year.  Notice we don't wear shoes.

I guess now that I'm starting my 20th year homeschooling, I'm probably considered a veteran homeschool mom or even a pro. But really, I don't feel like either of those.  I'm still learning how to do this correctly and I know I've made lots of mistakes.  So, that's my disclaimer and I'm very thankful for God's grace and His ability to take our shortcomings and use them for His glory.  
But for any new homeschool moms, here are a few tips that I've learned over the years:

  1. Start each school day with prayer and the Bible.  This doesn't have to be some fancy family devotional.  Most of the time we start with the Lord's prayer, our memory verses for the month and scripture reading.
  2. Have a schedule and a plan.  Don't just tell your kids to grab their school books, sit at the table and get going.  This approach with lead to you putting out fires all morning. If you have multiple children, you'll be running from one child to another to answer questions and help.  Have a set time to spend with each child and try to keep it uninterrupted.  This way you can go over all their work for the day and correct yesterday's work with them right there with you.  Each child will know that they have a certain time for you.
  3. Be sure to keep you mornings free.  Remember, to homeschool, you have to be home, right?  I rarely plan anything during our school hours.  Think of it as a job.  Maybe once a month I will plan a field trip but I have learned to say "no" to many seemingly great educational things for my kids to do.  If there is one thing I see now with homeschool moms, it's that their kids are involved in way to many activities, clubs, sports, arts, etc.  But that's really another post.
  4. Start as early as is practical for your family. Even though my husband and I get up early in the morning to exercise and to have our quiet times, we don't start school until about 9:15am.  We like to have our chores done, the kitchen clean and everyone dressed for the day. I'm not a fan of schooling in pajamas or even me in sweaty work-out clothes.  I think children perform better and are less lazy when they are dressed.  This encourages them to be serious about their school work and prepares them for adulthood.  
  5. Be OK with admitting when something is not working. Say the math curriculum you bought back at the homeschool conference that looked so awesome is bringing your child or even yourself to tears, well be OK with ditching it and getting something else.  Tweak your schedule if things aren't  running smoothly or change up history and science activities.  There is no homeschool police that's going to come to your home and check to see if your child filled in all those silly science workbook pages!
  6. Enlist the help of your husband, particularly with discipline and encouragement.  Also, don't be afraid to ask for help from tutors or other homeschool moms.  We are all in this together!
  7. And just lighten up!  I've really had to do this. Is it our goal to raise perfect little Christian robots who score amazing on the SAT?  Well, if it is, then it shouldn't be.  We are homeschooling because we feel that God has called us to, right?  And because we love to be with our kids.  So, let's let God do His work and leave the outcome to Him.  The most important thing is remaining in harmony with the Lord and with our kids. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why I Need to Stop Crying at Birthdays.......(not talking about my own)

I'm having a hard time with birthdays lately.  Now I'm not talking about my own.  Getting older for me really isn't that big a deal.  But it seems like everytime I turn around one of my kids is having a birthday! With 10 children, we have at least one birthday just about every month.  And what's up with this growing-up thing?  It happens almost overnight, or so it seems.  My 5th child just passed me in height and I'm wondering when that happened. Shouldn't there have been some trumpet blasting or something to warn me it was coming.  My little guy in the picture above turned 17 this past spring and the picture on the left is how I still see him in my mind most of the time.  My oldest daughter just had her 21st birthday this month.  In talking to other moms, I think we all agree that we feel the same as we did 10 plus years ago but our children change so much.  They grow physically but also their personalities grow and change.   I do love to celebrate birthdays, making the day extra special for my child.  But lately, I've been so sad.  I don't want to feel this way.  I want to rejoice in their growing-up but I miss their little selves. I have such good memories and I dread them growing-up and moving away. My husband handles it much better than me, telling me that this is how it should be.  He always says that if they don't grow-up then they can't be your best friend.  I try to keep a happy face on around the birthday child.  Many times we look at their baby book and talk about their birth.  We also have a tradition of going around the table during our family dinner time and everyone saying what they love about that child the most.  It's always fun and funny until it's my turn.  Then I start to get all mushy as I talk about how much that child means to me and our family.  Everyone says, "Mom stop crying!"  I guess it's just life and as a mom of many I really need to get over it.  If you still just have little ones, don't rush this time.  It will pass so quickly and those little chubby hands will be big man hands all too soon.  Those little hair bows will be in the trash.  The high chair and crib will be put in the attic and your car will actually be clean! And pray for me that I can stop crying at birthdays and just be thankful, happy to have been blessed to raise this precious child.