Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Oddities of Rustic Parenting

I've been wondering...

Is it an educational win or a parenting fail if our daughter is using the phases of an insect's life for name-calling purposes?  ("You, you, you... PUPA!!!!!")


Should families with rabbits ever let their children have raisins for a snack?  (Those little brown things look an awful lot like.... rabbit poop.  And now I'm finding them all.over.the.house.)

Why doesn't a triple batch of applesauce last three years like it used to?  #whatwillidowhentheyareteens

If "starts-off-purple-but-dries-clear-glue" dries clear on the carpet, do I still have to clean it off?

How long will it take for someone to draw on the brand new huge school room white boards?  Answer: 1 month, 7 days and 15 hours, to be exact



What would happen if rabbit hopping was an Olympic sport?

Laugh, friends.  It makes parenting WAY more fun.  :)



Monday, September 28, 2015

Get it? Got it? Good.

The to-do list.  On a sticky note.  The back of an envelope (I'm looking at you, Mom.)  An index card.  Somehow we all gotta remember stuff. 

My sister and I have a firm belief.  It is this:

Never underestimate the power of a brain dump. 

It means, ok, yes, you've got a ton of stuff to do.  Maybe not even stuff to do, as much as things to remember.  And it's all swirling around in your head.  You just can't get past the swirling mental clutter.  That in and of itself can make you edgy and unfocused.  Add to that whining, potty accidents and trying to make breakfast.  Sounds like a mess, doesn't it? 

Get Evernote. 

Just go get it.  NOW.  And then, open it up and start typing in all that you have to remember.  All you have to do.  Take a deep breath and tackle one thing, the most important thing.  The brain dump (in Evernote) just worked for you.

It's a free app.  Most of us have some sort of device that we have with us.  Or, a device that we have available to us - a computer, a tablet in the closet our tech-loving husband gave us (I'm looking at you, friend. He he.)  Why not put your device to work for you? 

Evernote works for you. 

All my to-do lists are in Evernote.  All my notes are there.  All my ideas are there.  Christmas lists are there, always in progress. 

It's searchable!  So, rather than dumping my purse to find the elusive list related to grocery shopping, co-op or my Tractor Supply run (Yes, if you saw the purse I carry, you'd understand why dumping is necessary to find things), I click the search icon.  And I find it, with a huge sigh of relief and a heartfelt "Thank you, God."

You can have different notebooks.  For example, I help lead our local homeschool co-op.  I found myself with lots of different co-op related lists.  They all got jumbled in with my everyday life stuff, so I made co-op its own notebook.  Beautiful.  There's a note for ideas in the works for the Spring 2016 session, a note on who's participating this session, a note on how to thank the facility that hosts us and so much more.  No more stacks of folders and actual notebooks piling on my desk with information all jumbled together.

There are check boxes.  Check boxes rock.  It's no fun to just delete the line that you accomplished.  No way.  Check boxes are way better.  For each day I have tasks that happen on those same days each week.  Monday has certain cleaning chores, as do the rest of the days of the week.  I made a note for each day of the week with a space for the usual chores as well as whatever else needs to be done.  Sunday night, when I glance over what's upcoming, I go in to each note, right click and select "Uncheck All."  Voila!  My notes are fresh.  I then tweak them with what is specific to this week.  (This takes about 10 seconds, seriously, and is worth it for how much less I have to keep in my tangled brain.)  Monday, I can focus on Monday, knowing that I've brain dumped for Tuesday and forthcoming days already.  It certainly helps me live in the grace of the hour. 

Evernote syncs across devices!  So, when I'm listening to Blossom4 read and I remember that random, "I need to email _____ about _____." thought.  I drop it in Evernote and focus again on listening to reading.  My laptop has Evernote, as does my Kindle.  This helped immensely with the running to-do list I kept in the schoolroom and the brain-dump area I had in the kitchen.  Too many areas... too many places for info to get lost or forgotten. 

Evernote is portable.  At co-op, I'll be chatting with ladies and I'll want to share some info I have at home.  I pull out my Kindle, add that into Evernote.  Awesome!  Remembering to do stuff is way easier! 

There are plenty of other ways that Evernote can be used.  I've only scraped the surface.  I really use it in its simplest (and free) forms. 

I hope you can take the blessing of technology and make it work for you.  I'm certainly glad I discovered Evernote.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bloggy Highlights

How about a few highlights from good things I've seen around the blog world lately? 

"I Could Never" by Heather Sanders ~
A terrific ditty about having the courage to do what God wants you to do.  Well spoken and insightful.  Never say never.  If God wants you to do something, you can do it.

Seven Quirky Doctrines That Should Be Debunked by J. Lee Grady ~
Doctrine can get twisted and misunderstood over time.  I always appreciate Grady's simple and straightforward view of Christianity today.  His blog, "Fire in my Bones" is a regular on my blog roll. 

My By Faith Shoes by Jessica Welch at learningirl4life ~
My friend Jessica shares a story of faith.. and shoes.  I remember her going through a stroke and picking up the pieces afterward.  This post brought tears to my eyes.  She wears the shoes today, as a testament to how far God has brought her. 

Hope you take a gander at these posts.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Little Home Tour

Open your Pinterest app and type in "home tour," and you'll find all the ways your home and your life are severely lacking.  (read with sarcasm.)  While most of us could amp up our style or our lives here and there, it isn't a need, as in a "need" to eat or something likewise vitally important. 

And yet, there are things in every home that are truly lovely and simply beautiful. 

Things that we treasure, items we value.

Vignettes that tell a story, a story of a happy little home.

Carpet, dingy from the feet of four beautiful Blossoms and several four-footed family members that lope, hop and otherwise traverse our living space.  Fingers that fashion a puzzle, a craft and such are busy here.

Blossoms lovingly plucked by little girl hands as gifts to a mama who's cooking and cleaning and cooking and cleaning like a cd on repeat play. 

Color in a corner where mundane work happens often.

Happy knick-knacks that make us smile, even when they aren't new, aren't hip and are a little dirty...

Knicks and scratches that speak of learning, life and noise.

Color that reflects work and lessons and dirt and poop and conquering fear. 

Old items, gathered together in a somewhat dusty corner, just so I can glance and remember...

This is my home tour.  Beauty, for which I'm grateful, but beauty that would never win a place in a magazine.

(The wreath is one I comprised of dried flowers from our dating and early married days, as well as dried flowers from the bouquets given at our children's baby dedications.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Beautiful Plan

Lately I’ve just really had a burden for the family. I think God's plan for families is a plan of beauty. 

God just really wants healthy families!  I think that’s how He’s gonna accomplish stuff in the Last days.  (Yes, I believe that these are the last days.)  And, I think the Church is going to be weak, if the families are weak.  Look around, the waves of dysfunction are scary.  Having been raised functionally and the Rugged Mountain Man and I now trying to raise our family functionally, when you see the dysfunction around you, it’s very overwhelming. 
I think we’re people of the Word and we don’t have to be dysfunctional.  
You don’t have to stay dysfunctional.  It doesn’t matter if you were raised functionally or dysfunctionally, if you’ll stick with the Word of God, that’s the Answer. 
I was raised in what I would consider to be a functional home and I feel like that was a good thing for me.  But, part of the reason it was a very good thing is because Mom and Dad didn’t know really how to be functional ,so they were just like, "WOW, well this is what it says, so let’s do this."  It was kinda simple for them.  They didn’t know, but they went to the Bible and tried to apply it to our daily lives as best as they could. 
Growing up, I think tv and entertainment was a little more important in my Mom’s upbringing, but in our upbringing, it was very marginal.  I think that came from, “Oh, the Bible says not to put any worthless thing in front of your eyes, and this really causes us to stumble, so I think we’re just gonna put the tv on the back burner and we’re just not gonna have that.”  That was a really practical thing they did, not because they were raised that way, but because they were trying to be godly. 
What I'm trying to say is that it doesn’t matter if you were raised functional or not, if you’re gonna go to the Word, you will find something that will help you to be functional.  And it will help you follow God’s design and His plan.  His plan and His design will form a beautiful thing in the end.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

10 Reasons Why I'm the Best Woman for the Job

Are you tiptoeing around, hoping people won't ask the controversial questions?  Don't.

Today, I'm unabashedly sharing the reasons why I am most definitely the woman for this (homeschooling) job.

#1 - God gave these children to the Rugged Mountain Man and me.  Ultimately we are responsible for their life education.  Rather than worry about who we entrust this responsibility to, We'd rather just do it. 

#2 -  I have grace to homeschool.  We feel like homeschooling is something God wants us to do. Therefore, God gives grace (power, energy, perseverance, diligence and so much more) to do the thing He wants us to do in a way that pleases Him. 

#3 - I am these children's most important social relationship.  How they relate to me (and the Rugged Mountain Man) determines their developing and future levels of self esteem, security, respect and so much more.   Peer relationships are not paramount to success in life, though they will have healthy peer relationships as a result. 

#4 - I instantly adapt to learning styles.  If a concept is being explained one way, benefiting one learning style but not another, I change it up.  No learner is left behind.  Just call me the learning style chameleon. 

#5 - I give immediate feedback.  We see a problem, a bad attitude, an incorrect mindset or more practice needed and I taken action at once.  No emails, notes, phone calls, texting or delays necessary.  Just action.

#6 - I teach my children what they need to know.  Not what society says they need to know (like the importance of recycling or same sex relationships).  No.  What they really need to know.  Like Christian education and the Three R's... now there's a concept.  Going to school to learn the Three R's. 

#7 - I teach my children what they want to know.  Ask a question and open a can a worms... a beautiful can of worms.  They are curious and we go with it. 

#8 - I am educated enough to teach my children.  I worked hard in school, supervised by an energetic, intelligent, let's-figure-it-out, it-can't-be-that-hard kind of mother.  I know how to find resources and use them to our advantage.  Yes, I have a college education (a certificate of Theology, to be exact).  Universities who tout their child psychology turn out unstable weirdos who know far less about real life education than I do.  I meet our state's requirements for teaching our children, but more importantly, I meet God's requirements for educating them.  Our children and I will walk this journey together and it will continue to be a good, good thing. 

#9 - I am a quality teacher.  I don't put up with crap.  I don't worry about what kind of teacher they're getting this year.  I'm it.  I require respect, correct grammar, neat work and a good attitude.  Why?  Because quality and attitude matters.

#10 - I'm organized.  God has given me a gift, or a love, of order.  Additionally, I strongly hold to the belief that to do what God wants in a way that pleases Him, I should do it with excellence - to the best of my ability.  So, yes, I am organized and that helps us homeschool with excellence. 

Unapologetically, I believe I am the best woman for this job.  This is my call for other homeschool mothers to stand up and be confident in the call God has placed upon your life.  Don't apologize.  Don't waver.  Don't pander.  Just stand up, smile and homeschool another day.

To God be the glory. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Children's Garden

Amidst the last vestiges of summer, we took a field trip.  After checking out a Mineral Science Museum that was a bit smaller than in times past (ahem, my childhood), we headed over to the Children's Garden in the Arboretum.  This turned out to be the highlight of the outing.  There was beauty everywhere. 

The Blossoms loved it so much that they want to take their cousins there on a playdate next summer.

Someone used their imagination in this garden's design.  Everything was meant to be touched and played with.  This walk-through cave has stalactites, bats (that are not real) and an indoor sand area. 

So many little nooks for imaginative play!

Though I dislike fairies for the magic (and immodesty) they represent, I do love a good fairy garden.  All things miniature appeal to the Blossoms' in a little BIG way!

I wonder if these beans are edible?  (My feeding a family of six mind was jumping at the possibilities of the meals you could make with a bean that was this long!!!)

Though I couldn't share the pics of the uber-popular water table, complete with an old-time and working hand pump (too many joyous smiling faces), I had to snag a pics of Blossom3's boots... plop 'em on the ground and "dive" right into the water play.

I'm a sucker for Black Eyed Susans.


It should be noted that my Blossom were all set to wade in the Lily Garden.  It was NOT a part of the Children's Garden.  Hence, wading was frowned upon.  Funny, the black water was a major deterrent for me.  Not so for the Blossoms.  Apparently, Water = IN   

And the Rose garden... I LOVE roses!!! 

The Blossoms were ecstatic...

Sometimes the off-the-cuff moments turn out to be the best.

I love doing things with the Blossoms - even if socks get a little damp and little ones start to get tired.  It's worth it.  And thank God for a beautiful day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Oh, the mysteries

Q: What do you call a morning cuppa tea, mysteriously cold and suddenly loaded with ice cubes?

A: Chai-jacked

(Ahem, Blossom3 & Blossom4 were responsible.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I got to do my job

It was a late night, which made for a morning, completely devoid of rhythm, routine and corresponding happy Blossoms.  It seemed like everything I'd ever taught them flew out the window like an unwelcome sparrow. 

Queue whining. 
Queue disrespect. 
Queue foot stomping. 
Queue tears. 
Queue it all,
About everything. 

But, we persisted, as best as we could.  Sometimes I think that the only real "secret" to parenting is persistence.

It wasn't beautiful in an orderly sort of way.  It was just Mommy, dealing with each little whine, each little sass, and then returning to the matter at hand. 

And then, it was 4:40pm and Daddy walked in.  I answered his "How was your day?" with a deep breath and a brief summary of all that went on.  But then, it hit me.  It really doesn't matter if that's how my day was.  It doesn't matter if that's what I did all day - corrected, disciplined, reproached and taught. 

That's my job.  That's why I stay home.  So I can be the one correcting and building character.  So I can be the one teaching respect.  So I can banish whining.  So I can cure foot stomping.  So, yes, It was a good day. 

I got to do my job.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

5 More Ways To Bless Your Husband

I was just talking to the Rugged Mountain Man yesterday about how the best things in life don't cost a lot.  It's the same with blessing your husband.  Season tickets for the Steelers are definitely not in this single income budget, but I can still bless my husband. 

Here are a few ways you can bless your husband today:

#1 - Change the sheets on your bed. 
While you're at it, put a fresh pillowcase on his favorite pillow.  He works a long day and when he finally crashes in our bed at night, I'd like his last thought before sleep to be, "Ahhhh," with a sigh of pleasant relief. 

#2 - Do the one thing he wanted done today.
If you joined me one afternoon at our place, you might find me standing in my kitchen, scratching my head, wondering in a split second what to tackle next.  The answer:  Do the one thing he mentioned.  You know, the one you grouched to him about... he humbly asked and you retorted with, "I don't have time," followed by a frustrated sigh (growl).  (And yet you have time for your pet project or pet pleasure.)  Whether it's snapping and blanching the beans he graciously picked for you, since you were busy or some other such task, just take a moment and do it.

#3 - Ask him what HE would like to eat.
Every two weeks, I plan 14 suppers and then I shop for the ingredients.  Before I plan those meals, it's a simple thing to mention to the Rugged Mountain Man, "What are you hungry for?" or "Is there a certain dessert you're in the mood for?"  They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Why not keep the home fires burnin' that way by serving your man some pleasing meals?

#4 - Help him with HIS task.
I always have a list about a mile long of tasks to do.  I could work all day and not finish what needs to be done.  His list is long as well.  Some of the times my husband has been most blessed have been when I stop what I'm doing and go out to the garage or yard, and ask, "What can I do to help?"  Even more memorable are the times that I was happy, calm and willing as I assisted in any way I could with his work.  Yes, it's a sacrifice.  Yes, I still have stuff waiting for me when I'm finished.  But, even just being his "gopher" (go-fer-this, go-fer-that), can make his task go smoother and quicker.  It's called being a servant and Jesus modeled it for me.  The happiness level in marriages would be much higher if there was a whole lot more serving going on.

#5 - Don't dump on him.  Use timing wisely.
Being a stay at home, homeschooling mama, there's a ton that goes on here during the day.  Some of it can be a burden (if we let it).  The temptation is to greet him at the top of the stairs and dump on him.  Unload it all - the whining, the dawdling, the mouthing off, the disrespect, all of it.  I am completely honest with my husband.  Period.  There is no excuse for dishonesty.  However, a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold, in pictures of silver... good timing is the perfect complement for what needs to be said.  I can share the same thing (all the good, bad and ugly) of our day at two totally different times and it will have different effects on my Rugged Mountain Man.  I take a deep breath, ask him how his day was and then share likewise about ours - without dumping.  It's worth mentioning that when I'm tempted to dump, all the negative usually crowds out all the positive of our day, giving him an inaccurate picture of home life.  That inaccurate picture can weigh like a heavy burden on him.  I want my words to my husband to be like a trip to the creek on a hot summer day.

Ladies, remember, we don't have to spend money to bless our husband.  We can serve, we can help, we can smile and we can chat.  He will be blessed.  God will reward us for it as well.  That is worthwhile indeed.


PS - For more ideas, check our 5 Ways to Bless Your Husband.