Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I love having a large(r) family

Today, I'm continuing the series on Why I love having a large(r) family.  There are so many reasons why I love having a large(r) family, but one of them is:

Because it makes me giggle when it seems as if people are watching a parade when we enter or exit a place of business!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

S.O.S...a cry for [practical] help (question #2)

Last week, I started a series (due to a slight melt down on my end) called S.O.S a cry for [practical] help.  I'm happy to announce that I am feeling much better this week.  Does that mean my house is miraculously spotless, the to-do list is smaller and I'm now a certified organizational expert? Heck NO!

It is pretty much in a similar state than last week because we had a great holiday weekend together (a.k.a not a lot of cleaning) and enjoyed time with some great friends/out of town guests.

I think the difference is a change of attitude on my part and once again I am choosing peace.  I'm reminding myself of the bigger picture.  Does that mean I'm going to skip this series and stop asking you all for help by posting weekly questions? Heck NO again. It is, like many other life issues, a journey, not an overnight quick fix.  It's about learning, growing, seeking, asking, changing and ultimately less of me more of Him (Jesus).  Yes, even when it comes to housekeeping and child rearing.

Thank you to those of you who responded either here or on my Facebook page with your helpful and creative thoughts.  Those of you who didn't, I'll just stalk you until you share your ideas with us. ; )  Just kidding...sort of ; )

Today's question is probably geared towards stay at home moms.  Our children are still quite young, so they require a lot.  Some days, I feel like it's hard to balance the time spent with the kids and the time spent on other responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, other part-time at home jobs I have, etc.  Some days, I feel like I do nothing but play with the kids while other days I feel like I'm there all day only to push them off to play while I work.  Either way, it's a battle of guilt.... either too much work or too much play.  I know there is no perfect "formula".

Question #2

How do you balance quality time with your children (playing/learning/snuggling) with your other responsibilities (cleaning, cooking, working at home, etc)?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How we'll attempt to avoid mushy brains and bodies this summer

Because we live in the Midwest and spend much of our winter indoors, we are SO ready for the great outdoors when the weather gets nicer.  This spring/summer, we will venture out of our homeschool room and continue our life long journey of hands on learning.  Some of the activities we plan to do this summer to help cure our cabin fever include:

::Plant our vegetable garden this week (hopefully a better outcome than last year)

::Story time at our library
   -each girl will attend their age appropriate session and the library does a GREAT job with these

::Cooking class (through the park department) for our oldest

::Read a lot of books (click here for a list of our favorites)

::Starfall games and activities

::Our oldest will work through her Hooked on Phonics books (she loves reading to all of us)

::Crafts and art (yay, the messes will be outdoors now.  I know, I is a beautiful mess 
  and I need not be OCD about my kids' messes when they are creating...I'm trying).

:: Attend Backyard Bible School at our church

::Watch Cat in the Hat and Sid the Science Kid(Yep, I said it.  We will watch T.V. and I'm forever
  amazed at what they learn from it. I know some of you will never view my blog again now...ha ha
  ha ["Mommy, pandas eat bamboo.", "Mommy, did you know starfish have eyes on their arms?".
  That's exactly why we highly monitor what they watch. These sponges are much too absorbent to
  watch most of the yuck out there.]

::Many trips to the beach, splash pad and waterpark

We hope to share some updates and photos of our upcoming fun with you : )

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why I love having a large(r) family

Today, I'm continuing the series of posts that I started several weeks ago entitled "Why I love having a large(r) family."  As a refresher, or if you are just joining us, the point of these posts is to relate to and encourage those who have larger families and give a little peek into our lives for those who wonder what it's like and/or want to venture in that direction (via adoption or biologicaly).

There are so many reasons why I love having a large(r) family, but one of them is:

Because, if I do my job well, I will have a lot of help around here !

The girls' sweet attempt to make "dessert" for us.  And yes, being the good parents we are, we happily tasted it. : ) I'm pretty sure it consisted of carrotts, raisins, graham crackers, yogart, lettuce and cheese.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

S.O.S....a cry for [practical] help (question #1)

Yesterday I had a mini meltdown, which consisted of me freaking out (in my mind) of the 10,000 things I had to do plus care for four small children and their needs.  It didn't help that my husband was out of town. So he got a nice, but panicked text of my thoughts of hiring an organizational expert, a housekeeper and a therapist [none of which are in the budget].  I'm sure he would appreciate the outcome of all of those things, but instead he politely offered to help me when he got back home {therapy included - yay!}  I calmed down and went about my day....putting one foot in front of the other and got to work.

I have mentioned before that we {so gratefully} were able to purchase a house last year that has a lot of space for our family.  It was at a price that we could work with because of the fact that it needs A LOT of updates.  We took on the challenge.  Although, we don't regret the house, it has definitely been a challenge.  Probably moreso mentally than anything. I'm the "get 'er done" type, so unfinished projects hanging over my head all of the time really take a toll on my mental state.  Yes, it's taking us forever and some people like to remind us of that, but I like to remind them that we have four small children and we aren't going to neglect our children for two years while we paint or work.  I think I'm going to kindly start handing out paint brushes to anyone who comments from now on : )

Okay, so now that I am done venting, I wanted to let you know that a new series has been birthed out of my panic mode.  I realized that I don't need to call an organizational expert, a housekeeper, or a therapist.  I have access to the greatest of the greats - an entire community of MOMS and WOMEN who have been there and done that. One of my reasons for starting this blog was not to stand on my soap box telling you everything I know because that wouldn't take long {insert laugh}.  I wanted to connect with other women and other moms and pick their brains and swap ideas.  If I've (we've) ever needed you to speak up and comment with your womanly wisdom, now is the time {no pressure}.

I'm going to post weekly questions, each Wednesday, to practical issues about child rearing, housekeeping and organization.  We would all love to hear your creative and practical tips on these issues. Here we go....

Question #1

Of all of your child's crafts and special work, what do you keep and how do you organize it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

School's Out: what the teacher learned

Last Tuesday, in the post School's Out, I told you about what we did this year as we got our feet wet with homeschooling.  I mentioned some of the things that we did and what curriculum/resources we used.

Overall, we all had a really fun time together this year learning the alphabet, numbers, coloring, singing, learning scripture and playing A LOT!

Today, I wanted to let you know what I ("the teacher") learned thus far in this process.

I learned:

::That the curriculum we used was a bit too simple for my preschooler, but her sisters were able to keep up with her somewhat, so we stuck with it and chose to have fun with it anyway.

::To not be so controlling with schedules and completing tasks, but to enjoy the process.  Flexibility is the beauty of homeschooling.

::That I do not have as much patience as I thought, but I recognize it and plan to work on it.

::Homeschooling requires a lot of work, thought and planning (on the teacher's part), but I like a challenge.  Staying organized and prepared is huge! I'm thankful that I don't have to rely completely on my own strength...that He is with me, He guides me and renews my strength!

::Children learn SO much just through simple conversation, observing the environment around them, working through things on their own and by playing and discovering.

::I am so excited to continue this journey with our children!!!  Look out we come!  : )

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leading (our children) by example

I recently read an article about raising successful children and at one point, the writer mentioned that she was not a fan of the phrase, "do as I say, not as I do" and I couldn't agree more.  I'm not a fan.

When it comes to raising children, isn't it hypocritical to teach them one thing and live another?  To expect a certain standard in their lives and live out something different in our own?

Have you ever observed instances like this?

We occasionally take our girls to the mall where there is a small play area.  They have recently renovated the area to make it really nice. Signs are posted with a few simple rules to help keep order and to keep it safe and sanitary.  One of the rules is "no shoes" for children or caregivers while in the area.

Mall security passes by often to ensure that the area is safe and people are observing the rules.  Several times, I have seen security give gentle reminders to those not observing the rules.  I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed parents either completely disregard what he says, curse him when he walks away or comply with an awful attitude - IN FRONT OF THEIR CHILDREN!

I realize that keeping your shoes on in a play area is not a capital offense.  The point I am making, however, is the example that is being set.  I cannot help but wonder what the parents would think if their children responded the same way to authority (teachers, family, supervisors, coaches).  What do they teach their children regarding respect, having a good attitude, and humility?

It makes me look at my own self and my very actions that teach my children.  They rock and sing to their babies the same way I rock them.  They put on jewelry and smooth lip gloss on their lips like I do.  They imitate so many of the things I do.  Can I see some of my attitudes, shortfalls and negative habits in them?  Absolutely!  Where did they learn to yell at our dog on occassion? ahem....mommy and daddy.

I am constantly humbled by this when we are doing or Bible studies or focusing on lessons about character traits.  Am I just giving them an empty pattern of words or am I blazing the trail for them to follow?

What is the example we are setting?  Do our actions contradict our teachings?  Are our children confused because mommy and daddy can act one way, but expect something more from them?

Will you join me in being reminded daily that little eyes are watching - always. Little ears are listening and their actions are imitating-always.  How does that change the way we do things?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why I love having a large(r) family

Today, I'm continuing the series on Why I love having a large(r) family.  There are so many reasons why I love having a large(r) family, but one of them is:

Because there is NEVER a dull moment!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

School's Out

So, this week we are concluding our school year - appropriately with the letter "Z".  As I mentioned before, we started homeschooling our kids in the fall.  This year, our oldest was in preschool (and our younger ones in "tot school" :))), so we are just scratching the surface as far as homeschool is concerned.

I was wavering in my thoughts about sending her to preschool somewhere else just to get the ball rolling, but when we discovered how expensive preschool can be these days, we decided to begin at home and invest some of that money in other areas of experience for the girls. (I'll be honest and say that the thought of getting three small children and a new baby ready and out the door early to take her, was not exciting to me either).

I can say that we had a really fun time doing this together. (I hope the girls would agree?!?!)  It was VERY relaxed and one of the main goals for doing this was to develop more of a routine - a groove if you will.  It took a while and changed a lot (since a baby was added to the mix part way through), but I guess that is the beauty of at home learning.  I loved having my babies home with me...all of them. 

In case you want to know what in the world we did, I'll tell you : ) :

Letter recognition/sounds/numbers:



Crazy Praize Vol. 1

We Choose Virtues

The Big Picture Story Bible (Book with CD)

Read and Share DVD Bible Box Set

The Big Picture Story Bible (Book with CD) .

Adventure Bible Storybook

Check out this blog page

Arts and crafts:

and mommy's best attempts at other things : )

Play, play, play and discover, discover, discover!!!

Disclaimer:  Many of these items were given to us as gifts (birthday/Christmas) or bought using Swagbucks on Amazon.  You do not have to spend a fortune on materials for children to learn.  


Next Tuesday, I'll share what I've learned thus far in this journey.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ode to our mothers

I wanted to honor  both of our mothers today.

Two different and unique mothers (grandmothers) with their different personalities, giftings and ways of doing things.  Two great women with their own unique ways of expressing love for their children and grandchildren.  We love you and are thankful for you Meme and Nana.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I love having a large(r) family

This is week three of the series Why I love having a large(r) family.  

There are so many reasons why I love having a large(r) family, but one of them is:
Because it's a big melting pot of differing personalities and characteristics!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where's Doodle? (revisited)

I know I stopped the "Where's Doodle?" posts a few weeks ago, but I couldn't help but revisit the idea as she's been at it again.

Quite inconspicuous...wouldn't you say?!?

Where's Doooooooooodle?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Learning Spanish (part 2...ahem "dos")

Last week, I posted about Cinco de Mayo and learning Spanish and recommended some ways to help introduce a second language (Spanish in our case) to children.

This week, I wanted to post some media related materials that we use to help learn new Spanish vocabulary and reinforce what we have learned.

This is an app that has pictures which correspond with vocabulary.  This one is great for little ones. 

Sesame Street: Fiesta! is such a fun and active video that not only incorporates Spanish into songs, but also introduces some cultural influences of various Spanish speaking communities/countries.

Songs are a great way to introduce new vocabulary for a second language, especially with actions that correspond.  Cantos Bíblicos Con Acción is one that we enjoy.

Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Level 1 is pretty widely known and self explanatory.  We got this for my husband before we went to stay in Costa Rica for 3 months several years ago.  (I think it would have been cheaper for me to just speak it with him?!?!)  It is a good program though. : )

Enjoy!  Que viva el Español!