Thursday, January 28, 2016

Goin' All Out

Daddy's out of town for the night.  The girlies and I decided to go all out and rent from the Redbox.  (We're all about living on the edge.) 

We rented...

Wait for it...

Big announcement...

Can I get a drum roll please?

"Grace Stirs Up Success" (An American Girl movie)!!!!

Yes, that's the kind of house we live in ~ A GIRLIE house.  :)  At least they're stoked about it!  :)

My Wash Machine Moment

As I was throwing a load of wash in the other day, I glanced around at the hampers and realized that, on a Monday, the wash was caught up.  (I do about 2 loads of wash every week day, so that we always have the wash somewhat under control.  It has long since been a good system for us, keeping me from daily being lost under mounds of dirty clothes!)  The first thought in my head was "Thank God."  (I'm not bragging on myself.  I've had my share of self-righteous satisfaction in my own accomplishments, but God is always sanctifying me.) 

My sister and I are extremely task-oriented, a trait we inherited from our mother.  You'll often hear our morning conversations going something like this,

"How's your morning going?"

"Great, just movin' and shakin' over here!"  This is usually accompanied with a list of our productivity thus far, combined with grins and happy comments from both sisters. 

And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, at all.  There's something to be said for getting up and getting going on the things that need to be done to keep a family running like a well-oiled machine.  It's really the nature of being a keeper at home (Titus 2:5).

I know the lows that can come with accomplishing "nothing."  I know how it feels to be behind, to be completely defeated by a schedule packed with good things, that don't allow time for necessary things.  I know what it feels like to be leered at by clutter and toys and dishes and unfinished projects. 

This is why I love Philippians 4:13. 

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Yes, I can do all things, but the main point for me, is the THROUGH CHRIST.  If I can accomplish any tasks, it is THROUGH CHRIST's strength, through His grace, with His guidance, with His wisdom, with His help. 

So, yes, there are days when the tasks don't get done for various reasons, but it isn't for lack of trying.  (I've gotta do my part, yo!)  I walked away from my washing machine moment, reminded to give God the glory, especially when it's going good.  We're so prone to take the glory upon ourselves.  And, it truly belongs to Him.  He is how I get up every day to work at educating our children, cooking wholesome meals and keeping the house tidy.  Him.  He has guided me from the beginning of this journey and will continue until Heaven is my home. 

It's all through Christ.


Monday, January 25, 2016

In Gratitude

One thing I try not to mess with is the Blossoms' bedtime ritual.  I'm telling you, it's sacred.

1. Each person prays.
2. We all heartily sing the Doxology or TAPS.
3.  We share our favorite part of our day.

On a whim the other night, I asked the Blossoms to count blessings instead of sharing their favorite parts of their day.  Blossom2 (our quietest and most laid back child) rattled off FOUR very meaningful blessings before the rest of us could even respond that we were thankful for chocolate.  It was such a terrific way to end the day ~ turning our eyes on the One Who provides and cares for us.

Don't underestimate your introverts, parents.  They are often a deep, deep well.  In this case, her quiet demeanor was a breeding round for her attitude of gratitude.  When they're quiet, they're brewing on something.  Praise God!

On another note, I felt reminded to truly look for things to be thankful for.  The whole thing reminded me to PRACTICE gratitude. Practice it as a family!  It doesn't come naturally, y'all.  Nothing wards off entitlement like gratitude.  God must hate entitlement.  Entitlement seems to minimize God and maximize ME.

I challenge you to help your kids see past themselves by humbly practicing gratitude with them.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Roast

We've had one busy day after another this week.  I got up one morning and realized that I didn't get the roast out to thaw the night before, like I'd planned.  GAH.  In a pinch, on another day, I'd thrown it in frozen, turned it on low and let the crock pot work its magic all day (as I held my breath, sincerely hoping that supper would be edible).  And, it was juicy!  The Rugged Mountain Man, who is quite the meat connoisseur, commented on how tender it was. 

On account of my brain lapse, I tried the frozen solid beef roast thing again. 

Delicious.  Hmmm.

I mentioned it to my mother and discovered she does this all the time!  How did I not know this all important piece of information?!! 

Then, I mentioned it to my friend, Jessica.  She puts hers in rock solid frozen too!

Friends, just in case you are as dumbfounded as I was, put your beef roasts in rock solid, early in the morning on low all day and they'll be tender and juicy by supper. 

I'm glad I live in 2016 and there's such a thing as crock pots.  Ahem, however, MOTHERS should share this piece of information with daughters.  Just sayin.  :)


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Happy is Free

On Sunday as I supervised snack with my nursery helpers, every little person was munching away on their PB&J's, fishie crackers and Teddy Grahams.  After emptying a box of Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams (if you haven't tried 'em, you should), I collapsed the box to toss in the recycling.  On my way toward the door, I turned to one of the little people (who just so happens to be my nephew) and lightly tapped him on the head with it, while simultaneously saying, "Boop!"  Of course, he grinned and giggled.  I stopped, mid-stride, turned, tapped another little person on the head (who also happened to be my nephew - what can I say, I'm really blessed to be able to have my own children and my nephews in the nursery, along with the children of people I grew up with.  #smallchurchlove).  Of course, the little man giggled and grinned! 

"Hmmm, I'm on to something here," I thought. 

I turned again, lightly tapped another little person on the head and proclaimed a loud, "Ding-dong."  GRINS and GIGGLES were spreading like crazy by this point.  For at least five minutes, we "dinged," "donged" and "booped" with the Teddy Grahams box and there was SO.MUCH.JOY.

Laughter is good, good medicine, even for Little People.

Remember, Mamas, happy is free.  You can smile, laugh, play and be silly and it won't cost you a dime.  Take a minute, tickle a belly, make a sound effect or make up a little game. 

We need to put the brakes on the pace our society demands from us and take the time to truly interact with the little Blessings around us. 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter Quandary

How do you explain to your delightful blue eyed, blond haired sweet little two year old Blossom that we are certainly not eating outside and we are most definitely not going in the wading pool after lunch? 

Not even if she says please is a nice tone of voice. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter, lately

The Blossoms are awfully thrilled right now.  Many folks would say that "Old Man Winter" came to visit us on Tuesday and today.  I never like to personalize nature like that.  It seems like a subtle way to ignore the Creator.  It has never sat well with me.  Thus, our version - "We got snow.  And yes, God sent it."  The Blossoms were so desperate to do some cross country skiing, that they ventured out when the snow barely covered the grass.  I'm sure the experts would be appalled, but I'm not one to fight a childish passion.  I try to go with it, whenever I can.  Today, we had slightly over an inch of snow, so Mommy even ventured out.  I only made a complete fool of myself once, and considering that we live in the country, I don't think that counts.  Fresh air is undervalued, friends.  It's just so good to get out there.  Granted, this mama is pretty hard-core in the bundle-up department, so the outdoors are "snow" much more fun, when you're actually warm.  (As my raised-on-a-farm-on-the-frozen-tundra-of-Wisconsin Daddy says, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices.")  Yes, I require a certain number of layers that include full body long johns.  Don't knock them, til you've tried them.  I bet you'll find that winter doesn't stink so bad when you're toasty.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to more snow (I heard you shriek... but what's the good of winter, if you can't enjoy the perks of winter?!) and I can't wait to break out the ice skates.  There's a small pond, aptly named, "Frog Pond," over at our local state park that is superb for skating.  We just need some more consistent cold weather to get out there.  Ye-ah!!!  Anyway, in between the outside choring and skiing, we've been enjoying some coloring in the evenings.  Mama likes doodling for the girlies, as well as for her Etsy shop.  I finished, "So many kids, so much joy," which totally makes me smile every time I look at it. 
It's been so cute, as Blossom3 now likes to "make coloring pages" for me, which I am honored to color with her. 

For a 5 year old, I'm pretty pleased with her skills.  She even attempts the special lettering, which seems pretty observant, if you ask me.  We put on some instrumental music, turn on Mama's new flameless candles (huge fan... except the girlies figured out where I hid the remote and love to "try them out."  Off.  On.  Off.  On.  Gah.) and color and chat.  There's the joy of children, just being together with them.  Happy wintertime, friends!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Stand Up to Foolishness

Some parents tell me spanking doesn't work for their kids.  I've heard some specify that they only spank for rebellion or lying. 

While I think there are some extreme cases where spanking doesn't work (like in the adoption of a child from an abusive background), I believe Christian parents ought to uphold the Bible in their homes as the outline for Christian parenting and discipline. 

Therefore, the Rugged Mountain Man and I spank for foolishness and here's why:

Proverbs 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." NASB

One of our children seems to have a particular bent for saying foolish and untactful things in group situations.  (I'm not talking about one instance.  I'm talking about a pattern of behavior over several months.)

We've determined that this daughter is old enough to obey and heed the warnings that we've given to her.  We've found ourselves in uncomfortable situations, unsure of whether or not to pull her aside or let it lie until later.

By common consent, the Rugged Mountain Man and I have moved into another stage of discipline.  She's been warned.  If we catch her in the act of this particular type of foolishness, I might say, "Blossom, that is enough of that kind of talk."  The warnings have usually gone unheeded (generally because she believes we will not follow up since she's in public.) 
(Perhaps you're wondering why it took us so long.  It seems like the problem was only occasional for a while.  It has only grown.  Combined with our uncertainty, the problem happening most often outside the family circle, our slow identification that it was something that WAS foolishness and that it really did need more than a "stop it," we are now working on a solution.  And yes, this is why parenting keeps you humble.)

After the discreet, "that's enough" goes unheeded, we remove her from the room and administer a loving spanking.  Additionally, I like to ask the questions,
"What did you do wrong?"  
"Why is that wrong?"
"What will you do next time?" 

I encourage her to try again next time.  I believe she will develop self control and stop this foolishness.  God will help her!  She CAN use her tongue to build up, instead of for foolishness or tearing down.

I want to encourage you not to brush off foolishness in your children.  Deal with it head-on while the issues are still small(er).  Our children will not be a delight to us if we do not correct them in Godly ways. 

"Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul."
Proverbs 29:17, NASB

Many folks are missing the delight and comfort of their children, because they refuse to discipline with God's effective methods.  (I think we can all imagine how NON-delightful a teenager running their mouth tactlessly in public and at home is to a parent.)

I challenge you to use the Bible to outline your parental discipline.  Obey God and calmly and lovingly spank your child(ren).  There will be good fruit. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Busyness Ambush

"Do no work after supper."

That's been a longtime guideline for myself.  I strictly adhere to it when Daddy is out of town.  Easy supper, quick clean-up and hanging out in the living room with the Blossoms until bedtime - that's our Daddy's Out of Town evening agenda.  I also frequently used this guideline for myself for most of our weekday evenings.  It always worked well for the whole family.  At most, I supervised supper clean-up and folded clothes in the living room.  With the restful Christmas break, our Lego days, our puzzle sessions and other quality together time, I realized how far I'd drifted from that guideline.

I had no idea that I'd let housework, emails, phone calls and extra projects suck up our evening family time. 

None whatsoever.  My busyness had crept up on me, pilfering every spare moment from our daily lives and I didn't even know it.  After reflecting on the things I loved best about Christmas break, I decided to reinstate this self-imposed guideline. 

I can't believe the difference. 

One week into it, I am happier and in general, I have a much better attitude all day.  (I once told my husband that when I regularly and purposefully spend time with our girlies, I feel the shift in my outlook from looking at my life as basically babysitting, instead to true mothering.  There is a huge difference between babysitting - putting in your time - and mothering - investing in and enjoying your children.  It's like the two bricklayers.  One drudged through his work and when asked what he was doing, responded with, "I'm just laying bricks."  The other man, looked up with a smile and energetically declared, "I'm building a cathedral.") 

Also, the girlies are much, MUCH happier.  Even the bad is better.  Meaning, if a girlie went to bed too late, got up too early or missed a nap, even the "normal" bad results from those things are better.  There is less tension.  There is more spontaneous affection.  I'm marveling!

This is all especially interesting to me in light of a quote I stumbled upon the other morning,

"Teenagers don't rebel against authority; they rebel against a lack of relationship."
~ Greg C. Gunn

Thought provoking, isn't it?  It definitely aligns with what I see here in our Blossoms whom range from 2-10 years old.

And now, of course, I speak from a stay-at-homeschooling mom perspective.  Others find themselves in different positions.  Don't give up, yell, "I can't!" and pitch these thoughts out without pulling the good nuggets for your own family.  How can you make regular family down time a priority?  I don't think that my rhythm of motherhood is a magic formula, so I urge you to take a look at your own life. 

You might be as surprised as I was by "the busyness ambush."


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chili (not chilly) Problems

After helping my mom to cook for our family of six throughout all of my childhood and teenage years, I spent 3 years of single life and 13 years of married life trying to figure out how in the world to make a SMALL pot of chili.  Now that I've finally mastered it, my family of six needs the army-sized pot.


Oh, the irony.



Monday, January 4, 2016

Now THAT'S progress

You know your kids are getting older when you can go to the bathroom, by yourself, with the door locked. 


Friday, January 1, 2016

To doodle, oddly

"The benefit of an odd upbringing is knowing odd things."
~ With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

I had a terrific upbringing, which some people might've considered odd, though I did not consider it as such.  As a result, my brothers, sister and I all have somewhat unusual hobbies, interests and pursuits.  (My two brothers once spent several months perfecting spud guns/potato cannons.  At each spud session, the spud guns got bigger and bigger as they improved each model... Until there were no potatoes for Easter dinner and company was on the way.  Oops.)  Anyway, I've noticed that many grown homeschoolers continue the trend with unusual interests. 

That being said, one of my brother's interests just so happens to include fountain pens.  We've shared several conversations on their quirky benefits, always ending with me happily doodling on his fancy paper.  So this year, guess what my little brother got me for Christmas...

 A set of fountain pens and ink! 


I love to write.  I love neat handwriting.  I love journaling.  I love doodling.  As you can imagine, really nice pens fit right in with that. 

Check out what I've been up to lately.  My brother's gift enabled me to take my doodle art to a whole new level.  I've jumped on board the calming coloring page trend.  My mind had previously wandered into creating inspirational adult coloring pages, so my new tools helped make it happen.  Check them out at my Etsy shop, "La Chic Dominique."  They are available as instant digital downloads.  Print now and get coloring!

Hope you enjoy coloring some of my creations. 

I love that it's art, with meaningful messages such as, "Love does," "Grin" and "Only believe."

"Only by grace" is coming to the shop soon, along with "He walks beside me."  I'm having so much fun!  Enjoy!

Happy New Year!!!