Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homemaker's Friend Planner Giveaway!!

Planning ahead has never been my strong point.

Oh sure, I like daydreaming about the days, weeks, and years to come, but when the time comes to actually sit down and plan for them, my brain just kind of shuts down from all the details.

Besides, I tend to like to be flexible. I kind of like not always knowing what or where we're going each day.

However, this year I have started to realize I can't just "fly by the seat of my pants" and expect our home school days to run smoothly. Especially not when I'm trying to homeschool three different kids, keep up with two preschoolers, and manage a home.

Thankfully the kind people at Homemaker's Depot graciously sent me one of their homemaking planners to review. They are also generously offering to give away a 2015 and 2016 planner to one of my readers here.

The Homemaker's Friend planner is divided into seven different sections(year, month, pages to plan each week, a place to plan specific projects, a section for personal contact info, and shopping lists to take with you.) Each day also has a place where you can write down your menu plan.

If you'd like to win this beautiful, easy to use planner, enter below! You can also follow Homemaker's Depot on Pinterest here, or subscribe to their newsletter here.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5 Ways I Plan to Enjoy the Homeschool Year

This coming school year, I will have three kids in my official homeschool. All of them will need my help and undivided attention in just about every subject.

Factor that in with the fact that I have a four year old little boy who is obsessed with all things loud, and a two year old who sees it as his main mission in life to destroy everything in sight.

And of course, I still have a house to keep semi clean, laundry to do, and meals to make.

Oh, and still be a loving wife and mama.

Somebody hold me.

Now, to be fair, I realize that I am being a tad over dramatic(just a tad!)

But I will still admit that the thought of homeschooling this year has been seriously intimidating me. 

Because, these last few years I have come to realize something very profound. hard!

That's not to say I regret our decision to homeschool, or that I'm doubting where God has led our family in this area. Just because something is hard, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, right?

Coming to the realization that this is going to require a lot of hard work on my part, is actually a good thing. And it's caused me to evaluate some ways that I can try to enjoy this coming school year.

1. As much as I can, I will pick a curriculum that excites me. Last year I made the mistake of ordering school books based more on other people's recommendation than on my own teaching style. I'm not a super organized person, so any curriculum that has a bunch of tiny pieces that goes along with it is not going to work very well for our family. I am also not a very crafty mama, so buying books with a heavy emphasis on crafts isn't going to work well for me either.

I decided to evaluate what I actually enjoy doing with my kids and ordered curriculum based on those preferences.

2. I will stick with the curriculum. Confession time: I am a curriculum junkie. I'm constantly second guessing my decisions, and comparing what I'm doing with what my friends/mentors/strangers on the internet are doing with their kids.

Last year we did a program called classical conversations(I also tutored for it.) I also found an older edition of Adventures in My Father's World for a really low price so I bought that to go along with our CC. The problem with doing that(for me at least) was that I was constantly stressing myself out trying to keep up with both schedules. This year I'm going to try and keep things as simple as I can. This year, unless one of my children is really struggling and legitimately needs me to try something different, I'm vowing to stick with what I decided on at the beginning of the year.

3. I will continue to institute daily quiet times. My kids have had to take naps(or rest times when they grew out of naps) their entire lives, and it has been an awesome blessing for all of us. Sometimes I feel guilty that we do this, but honestly, we all benefit from a little alone time each day.

4. I will remember that this is a privilege.  A few years ago, I had a conversation with another homeschool mom that has always stuck with me. We were discussing all the issues that go along with homeschooling when she said,"Really, I think I need to just put a suitcase by the front door to remind myself that one day my kids will grow up and won't live here with me forever. Ten years from now, it's not going to matter if they learned a certain math concept in a day or if it took them an entire year. The thing that matters most is their heart, and letting them see that you're always going to be there for them.

Spending all day with my kids and being able to give them a Christian education is a blessing. This season of life isn't going to last forever, but I will always have a relationship with my kids. I want to remember to embrace this time in my life.

Not only that, but I have a supportive husband who helps with school when he can, and takes the kids frequently so I can plan(or just so I can have some alone time.)

5. I will make time to refresh my soul. Some days my kids wake up before my alarm and by the time nap time arrives I hardly have any space in my brain to study scripture. Sometimes I let these facts of life excuse me from spending time in the Word. Truthfully, on those days, I might not be able to spend as much time as I'd like reading and praying, but I can certainly get creative in making it work. My kids can be taught to have their own quiet times while I have mine.

And on those days when I really need to dig a little deeper into something(and drink my coffee in peace) I can give myself grace to turn on Netflix for a few minutes while I retreat back to my room(the kids will survive!)

Ultimately though, I can't do any of this without remembering to rely on the Lord's strength. As I have prayed and thought about this coming school year, this verse keeps coming to mind:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

That's my plan for trying to enjoy the upcoming school year. I'll let you know in a few months how it's working out. :)

What are some ways that help you enjoy homeschooling?

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Linked to A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Monday, August 3, 2015

14 days of Dinner Inspiration

Does anyone else ever feel like dinner time sneaks up on you? Or as if you’re just making the same things over and over again?
Recently, I’ve been feeling as though I’m in a cooking rut, so to speak. And while I have a pinterest board full of recipe ideas, most of them, when I start to really look at the recipes, sound a little too time intensive for my season of life.
With school getting ready to start, I’ve found that it’s extremely helpful to have a simple menu plan that can last me for two weeks...
Read the rest over at Raising Homemakers!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Surviving a 12 hour road trip(with no DVDS)

Last fall, when Erik and I started telling people we were taking the kids down to Florida, we were met with a variety of reactions.

We were told everything from,"That's so awesome! You guys will have such a great time!" to the surprised, slightly bewildered questions of,"You're going to take five kids to Florida? Like...alone, and stuff?"

But, probably, the most common question we were asked was if we were going to take our van on a 12 hour road trip. Seeing as how it's a twelve year old van, this was a perfectly legitimate concern, er, question.

When we first started planning our trip, we actually were planning on taking our trusty old Odyssey down to Florida. Erik's plan was to do a bunch of work and updates on it before we left, and my plan was to pray it all the way there and back. ;) But, as luck would have it, my mom and dad decided to buy an almost brand new van this past year, and graciously insisted that we borrow it for our vacation.

Their van was perfect for our trip, not only is it a bigger van(that actually seats 8 people, instead of 7 like ours) it was also very dependable and got great gas mileage. So when people heard we were taking my parents van instead of ours they would say,"Oh well, that's great! Is there a DVD player in it?"

But when I would say that,"No, there isn't a DVD player in our van or their van," I'd be met with more blanks stares and questions of how we were planning on doing such a long trip.

Now, let me be honest, and say that I was nervous about how this trip was going to go too. I'm not anti television, by any means, and my kids definitely enjoy watching their shows. I will also admit that the trip, particularly the last two hours on our way down to Florida, was a little rough with children-and parents- just wanting to.get.there.already.

But, thankfully, we were able to come up with a plan, that made taking a 12 hour road trip with five kids under the age of seven go fairly smoothly.

1. Buy some new coloring books/sticker books, and hand them out over the course of the trip. The Friday before we left, I made a dollar store run, where I stocked up on several activity books for the kids. I also splurged a little and bought Jack, Anna, and Lily an Usborne sticker book.

2. Pack special snacks and pass them out throughout the trip. For us that meant that fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, and teddy grahams were being passed out frequently. :)

3. Make your car as comfortable as possible. Our van was pretty much packed to the brim, but we gave each kid their blanket and their favorite stuffed animals to try and keep them as comfortable as we could.

4.Audio Books! We love audio books around here, and we are blessed to have a library that carries a great selection. Some of our favorites have been, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Sign of the Beaver, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

5. Tell stories to them about when they were babies, about when you were little, and make up some silly stories with them being the main character. This was something that just randomly happened on our drive, we started telling one of them a story about when they were babies and it quickly turned into more stories about when each of them were babies. My kids especially love it when we make up stories about them(i.e. Once upon a time there was a dinosaur named Maxosaurus and he loved to give Princess Lily rides to South Dakota. My kids really like South Dakota for some reason. Also, as you can see from the above story, I may lack a little bit of creativity when telling my stories.)

All in all our trip to Florida went really well, and now that we are home I can admit how surprised I am that it went as smooth as it did. ;)

What else would you add to this list?

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Linked to the Modest Mom.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ripples of Faith

I first heard of Elisabeth Elliot when I was sixteen.
My good friend had loaned me the book,”I kissed dating goodbye,” in an effort to show me there was way more to life than having a boyfriend(which at that point in my life, was a fairly inconceivable notion.)
While reading that book, I kept noticing references to this book called, “Passion and Purity.” The author referenced it so much, that I ended up borrowing it from another friend of mine.
I don’t remember how much of Passion and Purity I actually read, but I do know that God used those two books to help shape how I viewed relationships before marriage.
Read the rest over at Raising Homemakers!

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Linked to the Modest Mom.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vacations, Family Pictures, and Princess Elsa

Two weeks ago, Erik, the kids, and I took a family vacation down to Florida.

It was our first family vacation we had ever taken "just" the seven of us, and we had such a good time(and now that it's over I think I can finally admit how surprised I am over how smooth it all went.)

We spent most of our time hanging out on the beach and enjoying some down time at the condo. Although we did take the kids to an aviation museum, and splurged a little on a dolphin cruise(the kids love dolphins, so we thought that'd be a fun treat for them...and in all honesty it was a treat for me too.;)

On the last night we were there we took the kids on one final walk on the beach. As we were walking along the shore I warned Erik that I was going to be one of "those" tourists and make the next stranger we saw take a family picture for us.

He sighed begrudgingly, but lo and behold when we finally came across another family walking along the shore, he snatched my camera out of my hands and walked up to them and asked them to take a picture of us(I love that man.)

I had no presumptions that this picture would turn out well, but I wanted to have something to prove that we'd all been at the beach. Getting all the kids to look at the camera at the same time is challenging to say the least!

But just as I was about to tell everyone to say "Cheese!" I happened to notice that the lady taking our picture was wearing an Elsa shirt, so I immediately yelled,"Everyone look at Elsa!"

And wouldn't you know, we actually got a picture where everyone is mostly looking where they are suppose to. One of my friends pointed out that Max looks like he's about ready to attack something. What can I say? He's three and he thinks he's a dinosaur. We still have years to teach him the proper way to look at ladies. :)

So now I know. If I want the kids to look at me when I take a picture, I need to wear a Frozen shirt.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Luke Turns 2!

I can hardly believe our little Luke turned two years old last month! These last two years have flown by so fast! 

Luke is such a ham. He's very verbal, has a lot of energy, and is always trying to make everyone laugh(that is, when he's not trying to steal cookies out of the pantry...;)

On his birthday we just had a laid back family day. His birthday was on a Sunday so we went to church, took naps, had pancakes for dinner, and ate hulk cake for desert. 

Seriously, what did we ever do without pinterest?!

Luke loves the Hulk. He loves to stomp around, and growl, "Hulk Smash!" So I knew I had to try and make him a Hulk cake. It might not be as beautiful as the picture I saw on pinterest, but it worked. :) Also, it cracks me up that when Jack turned two, I made him an Elmo cake, and I'm pretty sure he didn't even know who the Hulk was. And now Luke doesn't know who Elmo is, but loves the Hulk.

I'm kidding, Luke definitely knows who Elmo is. :)

Yes, even though it was "just" the seven of us I(with help from some excited brothers and sisters) still made an entire cake and 24 cupcakes. I go overboard sometimes, have I mentioned that?

All of our Avengers. :) At every meal the kids would sing "Happy Birthday" to Luke, so by the time it was actually time to sing to him he sang right along with them.

These last two years have been gone by so fast, but what an incredibly blessed two years it has been. Luke has brought so much joy and laughter to our home. 

Happy Birthday, Luke! We can't wait to see what the Lord does in your life!

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