Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | June 16, 2011

Seed Starting 101

Several months back, I started the seeds I had purchased last year with great hopes on a new endeavor.  I decided that the best place in my home for my seeds was the laundry room.  I had planned to take a picture, but had camera issues the past few months.  I cleared off a large shelf in my laundry room and hung a shop light from an upper shelf as inspired by this picture.

I planted my heirloom, non-GMO seeds (veggies & flowers) in flats and placed a  plastic cover over them until they started sprouting.  With the chain, I was able to adjust the height as my seedlings began to grow.  Because our house was on the market, I opted not to poke more holes in the ceiling and just hung it from an upper shelf with s hooks.  I dutifully spritzed my little seedlings with a spray bottle once a day(sometimes twice if the soil looked dry) and all seemed to be going well….

And then it just wasn’t…The flower seedlings began to shrivel up and eventually died.  Everything else looked ok, but the growth seemed to be stunted.  Looking back, I misjudged the amount of warmth & head in my laundry room and should have given them more water accordingly instead of just following the directions to a T to spray them once or twice a day.  Then, we went out of town for a weekend.  I placed them in a sunny window with lots of water since I wouldn’t be home to turn the light on and off.  Lost some more plants.  Around the end of May, as the weather began to warm up, I began to put them outside for an hour or so at a time.  Each time I did, they seemed to look more pathetic.  Finally, knowing that we would be going out of town for Memorial Day I decided that like it or not, they needed to go outside because no one would be around to water them and at least they’d have the drip system outside.  My heart sank as I tried to plant the most sickly, pathetic, tiny seedlings in the garden beds.  I also directly sowed some flowers, herbs and green bean seeds.  Then, while we were away, our mountain town received some late SNOW…not much, but enough.  By the time we got back into town, there wasn’t much left of what I had planted. 

This week turned warmer and I went around town to our local nurseries trying to find replacement plants so that my garden would not be a complete loss this year.   I came back with my plants to discover that a bunch of the green beans that I had directly sown were coming up with the warmer temps…and so were some of the flowers….and two tiny tomato plants that I had counted out seemed to be revived…Everyday Graces indeed!

I went ahead and planted the ones I had bought in and around the seedlings, but now it seems there is some insect that likes my bell pepper leaves even though I had planted marigolds and alyssum in the beds to try to ward off the bad insects…Only time will tell what my crop will be like this year.  Right now the sugar snap  peas seem to be doing well, as well as the melon I planted this week.  I also have pumpkins, 2 cucumber plants left(out of 4), strawberry plants that have a bloom or two on them, replacement tomatoes, cilantro and basil.  After it’s 3rd year, our apple tree actually has little apple buds growing!  Trying to remember that it is all a learning experience, that any food that we get from gardening is food we don’t have to purchase and we know it was grown organically.  Overall though, after studying the pioneers this year, I am so grateful for the Everyday Grace that my family is not dependent on my gardening ability for our survival. 

How is your garden growing?

Blessings!
-J

 

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Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | June 16, 2011

8 Ways to Make Family Birthdays Great on a Budget

We were flipping through photo albums a while back and I almost laughed out loud at all I did for my kids’ birthdays when they were too little to even remember any of it.  My older kids first and second birthdays included guests lists that often topped 50 people, commercial party favors and decorations, jump houses and anything else that the glossy catalogs could talk me into.  Now, I have nothing against these kinds of parties today, but looking back we really couldn’t afford the expense that these would take and often went into debt to “keep up with the Joneses”.  All of my children’s friends had these types of expensive birthday parties and somehow I it seeped into my brain that if my child didn’t have one too(and invite all the friends who had invited them to their parties) then my child would be scarred for life and become a social outcast(not that I ever said these things outloud:).  Like so many things, it comes down to a matter of the heart and motivation.  Why am I throwing this party? to impress others? to make myself feel good? so my child will like me? Does it fit in with the goals we have for our children and family?  Do we have the time and finances for it? Will this make an already self-absorbed child more self-absorbed?

As so many things in our lives changed when my husband was called to go to seminary, this area of our lives did too.  There was no money in the budget for large parties and with four children whose birthdays are spread throughout the year I could quite easily always have always been planning someone’s special day.  It took some time, but eventually I came up with some guidelines that work for our family. 

1) You don’t NEED to have a party every year for every child!  Once I truly realized the truth in this guideline, there was such freedom!  We could celebrate & recognize the child’s special day without going through all the expensive and time intensive hoopla! And guess what? None of my children have been scarred or are social outcasts!  So, for our family, we switch off each year.  Our boys get parties one year and the girls get parties the next.  What surprised me was that they didn’t even seem to mind…on their “off years”, we still celebrate, but it’s as a family and usually involves a fun family activity.  Other families we know only do big celebrations in birthdays that are the multiples of 4 or 5.

2)When you do have parties, make a budget beforehand.  Determine what you can reasonably spend BEFORE you start planning.  If you don’t, you may find that you have spent way more than you had planned. If your budget is limited here are a few areas that will give you the biggest cost savings:

  • Although it’s tempting to buy the invitations from the store or online(they are just so cute!), it is often cheaper to make your own from the computer with paper you already have on hand or simply purchase some from the dollar store.  If you are really short on time or money, just call or e-mail the invited families. In reality, one of those invitations MAY make it into the scrapbook, but the rest will be thrown away by the parents when the party is over.
  • If your child has chosen a certain character or theme, only purchase one character party item(ex. cake plates) and then purchase the less expensive solid color coordinating napkins, cups, balloons, tablecloths, etc from the dollar store. 
  • Homemade cake or cupcakes are always cheaper than store bought.  (Ex. box of cake mix plus frosting adds up to under $5 vs. $20+ for store bought cake.  Making from scratch is even cheaper!)  If your child really wants a certain character for their cake, purchase the special candle from the party store of the character and you will still be money ahead.
  • By scheduling your party in the late morning or early afternoon, you can get away with not serving a meal.  Some simple snacks, drinks and your cake will be plenty(and what kid really remembers what kind of food they are served anyway?).
  • Schedule some type of craft project during the party that will be the party favor for the guests to take home rather than a full goody bag.

3) When you do have parties, keep the guest list short! You don’t have to invite every friend or acquaintance that your child has ever made or even everyone who has invited your child to their party in the past year. This year my oldest turned 10 and he was allowed to invite 1/2 his age in friends(5 – not including siblings).  Keeping the party smaller cuts down on the expenses, cuts down on the number of gifts(really what child in America needs MORE clutter, I mean toys?)  and actually gives the birthday child a chance to interact with each one of their guests, making it more memorable for the child and the guests.  At the same time, help your child in planning the guest list and ask them to pray about and possibly invite at least one person who might need a friend(maybe they are new in town, new to your church, don’t seem to have as many friends, etc).

4)When you do have parties, keep the time span short! Marathon parties can tend to test a mother’s sanity and too much free time can give kids a chance to start getting into trouble.  I like to have them in the late afternoon for about 2 hours, which cuts down on the need to serve a meal(see above).  Timeline is often: 1/2 hour for kids to arrive; 1/2 hour for games; 1/2 hour for craft; 1/2 hour for cake & presents.

5)When you do have parties, make them fun and memorable!  I was not blessed with a creative gene, but love to use ideas from those who were blessed with it.  The best thing I’ve found is to invite your child to come up with a theme.  Then do an online search to see what others have already done – no sense in re-inventing the wheel! My favorite sites for this are Birthday Party Ideas , Amazing Moms and The Best Birthday.  The first one has listed themes by ideas, by age and awarded some for their ideas so that it’s easy to read through and see what others have done.  I write down my favorite ideas as well as what supplies would be needed.  I usually try to do some fun games for prizes(usually candy or dollar store items) and the favor is usually some kind of craft project that they can take home(love 2 for 1’s).

6) When you do have parties, coach your child on how to be a good host. Just because the day is to celebrate them doesn’t mean that it’s all about them. They need to have good manners, make sure everyone is included and having a good time, remember to say thank you, learn how to make people feel comfortable and serve their guests.

7) When you don’t have parties, make birthdays fun and memorable! In our home, the birthday child always gets to choose the dinner & the dessert.  We also pull out their baby books and tell them their birth stories and now that they are older, we pray as a family for the birthday child and share what qualities in them we are grateful for.  Fun family activities don’t require a lot of planning or expense either.  I often try to plan to go somewhere that we’ve been wanting to go and make it coincide it with a child’s birthday(trip to a special park or restaurant, a movie, miniature golf, a local theater production, etc) which gives me another 2 for 1:)

8)Whether you have a party or not, make some time on or near your child’s birthday to spend some time in prayer for them, possibly even fasting(though I don’t recommend setting up fasting for the day you make their special dessert:) and preferably with your spouse.  Evaluate and praise God for growth you’ve seen in them; pray for areas of sin that you see in them; choose a specific scripture you want to pray for the coming year; make goals for things you would like to teach them in the coming year; pray for their friendships; their future spouse, their educational and career choices and anything else God may place on your heart. Honestly, this is a newer guideline for me, but one that I am now trying to implement as it will give me a set milestone each year to focus on each child, but I love it because it’s FREE(well, technically it was bought at the greatest price ever, the blood of my Savior enabling me to come boldly before the throne of grace) but also because it also lasts for eternity, long past the birthday itself.

So what traditions/guidelines do you have for your children’s birthdays?

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | May 4, 2011

Haven’t posted in a while…

This season of my life doesn’t seem to leave much time for blogging:(.  Interestingly, though, few days go by when I don’t have some type of post circling around in my head.  Looking forward to May 26th when our homeschool year will be finished and I hope to get some time to get out all the ideas and stories including:

  • Children’s Birthday Parties
  • Everyday Graces during Dental Woes
  • Beginning Seed Starting
  • Review of our school year: What worked & what didn’t 
  • Homeschool plans for the Fall
  • Decision making on Extracurriculuar Activities
  • Review of the book Shopping for Time
  • Homemade versions of the processed foods I used to buy
  • Surviving road trips with children
  • Overcoming Fear in Mothering
  • Biblical study of self-control
  • Identifying your children’s gifts & talents
  • How to live life while a “For Sale” sign is out front
  • Making plans for the summer

Looking forward to sharing!

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | March 26, 2011

Beginning Food Journaling

Most people, from looking at me, would not consider me a person who struggles with food.  I am within the normal weight for my height, but I have learned over the past 5 or so years that my body craves foods that are not good for my body.  Though it doesn’t always result in weight gain, I have found that my food and exercise choices (along with regular time with the Lord and His Word) greatly affect my mood.  My husband(don’t you love husbands?) has also gently told me that he notices certain eating patterns coinciding with my hormonal cycles.  I find that there are times when I will binge on any candy hiding in the house(most of it I’ve hidden from the kiddos), will “need” a bowl of cereal at night after the kids go to bed or will “treat myself” to a soda or french fries when I am out on an errand.   Sneaking food is something that I can remember doing as a child and can admit still happens at times as an adult. 

When I look at it all, it can seem overwhelming, but I started working on each of these disciplines(regular quiet time with God, Bible memorization, exercise and eating) one at a time.  Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit and although there may be physiological reasons why these disciplines may be difficult, I have felt convicted through my time in the Word and prayer that these are areas God wants to help me gain victory over.  I began tracking my regular quiet time with God and my exercise routine last year.  I talked about my “system” for doing so here.  I also have continued to memorize the book of Colossians (though I will admit I’m a couple weeks behind schedule).  Over time – it was NOT easy at first – I have come to love each of these disciplines and I truly do feel like something’s missing now when they have not happened for the day. 

Well, now I feel like I need a system for the food part.  I have read more on nutrition and food and our industrialized way of destroying our food and organic food and gardening your own food and on and on……in the past 2 years than probably any other topic.  I was initially shocked as I read In Defense of Food and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Shock turned to anger. Anger turned to “what can we do?” “What can we do?” turned to overwhelment(is that a word?) that I didn’t have enough money, time and resources to make the changes I wanted to.  We have made great changes as I began my “food journey”.  Here’s my problem: Although I don’t purchase much in the way of processed foods, make many things from scratch that I never did before, meal plan a month in advance so we don’t eat out as much, buy mostly organic produce, purchase farm fresh eggs and raw milk(haven’t switched over completely due to $$) and increased the amount of grassfed meat we purchase, much of the healthy food has a way of not actually making it into my body.  I could act like it’s just because I’m giving all the good stuff to my kids and “sacrificing” for them, but the truth is that I’m a closet picky eater and don’t always eat what I cook for them!  Eggs are not my favorite; I don’t really enjoy cheese unless it’s on pizza or lasagna, and I get sick of salads within a week, the only veggies I love to eat are carrots & potatoes.  I love my carbs! My body has unnatural cravings for what processed food we do have in the house and Ioften eat just enough of the “best food” to justify eating the “not so good for me” food or I end up just skipping meals because I don’t want to eat the “best food” but don’t want to feel guilty about eating the “not so good for me” food.  How’s that for a confession?

So this week, I am starting a new mission:  I need to figure out exactly what I’m eating because I’ve found that what I buy and what I cook are not the same as what I actually eat.  I searched online for a food journal that would help me keep track and happened upon the Food ‘n’ Mood Journal.

Although it didn’t have everything I wanted to keep track of, it had most of it and it was easier to tweak it and use it than to make my own:)…and I thought it was cute:)…and it was free:)…and I’m an old-fashioned pen & pencil journaler so an “app” wouldn’t work for me:)  I like that it has a way to keep track of how much water I drink, that it has a place for me to track the time & place I am when I am eating and what my mood was before and after.  Rather than keeping track of my weight each day since health is more a concern to me than weight I am going to use that space to keep track of what day I am on my menstrual cycle.  The space at the bottom I will also use to keep track of what specific exercise I did and what time of the day I did it.  I am hoping to do this for several months so that I can get an idea about how my body processes different foods, how my hormonal cycles and exercise affect what I crave/eat as well as just have some accountability about what I am putting into my mouth.  I’m also hoping that if I know I have to write it down, I will choose not to eat something I don’t want to see on the paper. 

Just as we could not really make a family budget until we had kept track of our spending habits for several months, I realized that it is pretty useless for me to try to create or utilize a diet program(no matter how good! it may be) unless I truly see what my eating habits really are.

So, I printed out a bunch of journals(2 in 1 double sided to use less paper) and will be starting on Monday.  I am going to keep a week’s worth clipped to the week in my Well-Planned Day calendar(see sidebar) and then filed at the end of each week.  In a few months, I hope to share here the Bible study I am doing in the character trait of self-control and what I have found out about my body through the Food ‘n’ Mood journal.  Would love to have anyone join me who is also interested. 

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | March 24, 2011

Think we’re ready for our own reality TV show…

When I was a pre-teen(long before reality shows and the ability to youtube your life were the norm), I remember pretending that my everyday life was a TV show and I was the star.  I would occasionally talk to the “camera”(my mirror) about the goings on of my life as if my life was so fascinating that it would make for good TV. 

Though I wouldn’t be thrilled with the idea of placing cameras around the house to watch our every move, there were several incidents this week that I think would have made for excellent laughs. 

Episode #1: BW is teaching the High School Bible Study at church.  I am working on cleaning up the kitchen before bedtime and had just sent off a couple kids to brush their teeth.  All of a sudden I hear “Get mom!” and “No, let me try!” and “Get mom!”  When I arrive I find that Boy10 had been trying to floss with one of these he’d recently received from the dentist after having a crown put in one of his molars:

But it was stuck in between his crown and his other tooth and he couldn’t get it out.  So he’s sitting there with this huge dinosar sticking  out of his mouth!  I tell him to let me pull it but he is just sure that if I do, it will put his crown and his molar out!  So I order his sister(who desperately had wanted to pull it and is watching the whole thing) to get some scissors.  She runs off for what seems like FOREVER unable to find some scissors.  She returns with the largest pair of scissors in the whole house.  While they are the largest, they are also the dullest.  They would not snip off the floss.  So I run to another room, grab some scissors(they were just where they were supposed to be, by the way) and snip the floss.  The floss thingy comes right out and my son breathes this sigh of relief – think he had already pictured walking around with a dinosaur hanging out of his mouth for the rest of his life!  Hoping I can convince him to continue flossing…

Episode 2: It had been snowing when I went to bed and I was anticipating being able to sleep in knowing that the powers that be in our small town often cancel or delay school for just about anything.  I vaguely hear others getting up and hear my oldest announce that there is indeed a 2 hour delay at her school so I put the covers back over my head determined to get a little more sleep.  I fall into a deep sleep and a slightly weird dream when Girl11 runs in and says “Mom, you’ve got to come see what Dad has!”  I tell her I’ll be there in a minute.  I stretch, trying to get the “sleepies” out and prepare my mind to start the day(can you tell that I am NOT a morning person)?  As I begin to sit up, I hear a bunch of commotion coming down the hall and the next thing I know something is FLYING RIGHT AT MY  HEAD! It looked something like this:

but was flying around my bedroom(crashing into mirrors and windows), causing me to duck back under the covers while my children screamed in delight and my husband ran around trying to catch it! (Later, one of my children laughed saying she had never heard me scream before!:)

Apparently, my hubby had been in the family room doing his devotion when a bird smacked into our sliding glass door and fell to the ground.  Not wanting the kids to wake up to a dead bird outside their breakfast table,  he went out to scoop it up and throw it away.  When he did, he realized that it was still breathing.  So, he put it in a box and brought it into the house!?!(just call him Dr. Doolittle).  The kids woke up, excited that Dad had found them a new pet when suddenly the bird determined it was no longer hurt and began flying around my house!

Eventually, he was able to catch it and place it outside where it flew away happily.  Though it wasn’t the most restful way to wake up, I’m certain it would have made for great tv had we had the cameras running.

Episode 3: This episode would include clips from several kitchen blunders this week including:

BW’s birthday was Tuesday.  On Monday night, for Bible study I made the most beautiful cake!  The kids insisted I make another one for his actual birthday the next night.  Though I can’t think of anything I did differently, the cake came apart in pieces when I took it out of the pan.  I tried to cover the error with frosting, but it just kind of spread around in a mess of frosting and cake crumbs(Maybe I could say that one of the kids had made it?).  Well, I thought, it’s ok because I’m making a  yummy, warm dinner that he will enjoy when he gets home from being in the cold weather of Boy10’s baseball practice.  I had timed everything perfectly to come out of the oven right when he got home.  He got home and everyone sat down to dinner.  I proudly put salmon, potatoes and green beans on the table.  He began serving and realized that the salmon wasn’t cooked all the way through, the potatoes weren’t done either.  Re-collecting all the food from everyone’s plates we proceeded to microwave everything(the microwave was right next to the freaky looking cake I had made).  I could feel the tears stinging behind my eyes and pictured myself whining, “But, I just wanted to make you a special birthday dinner! and I really do know how to cook! and I wasn’t trying to poison you on your birthday!”  But I didn’t and I was reminded that I have a very gracious husband. 

(mine was pretty close to this; had trouble downloading the pics of mine)

Boy5 helping make cookies, cracks and egg and somehow the shell is completely in the bowl and the yolk is on the counter.

 

A child (we will keep the identity secret) who wanted to pop popcorn in the air popper “all by themselves”, assuring me they knew just what to do.  The child did everything right…except pay attention to the direction in which the popcorn popper was pointing and not realizing that it was nowhere near the bowl and getting distracted so that popcorn was EVERYWHERE!

Episode 4: Would include clips of funny things said during homeschooling including

I am teaching a lesson on compare/contrast.  I ask them to compare & contrast me and a particular child(looking for height, eye color, gender, etc).  Child says “Mom, a contrast between you and me is that you have a pimple on your face and I don’t.” Ahh, the humbling I receive from my children.  You can’t write any better comedy than that!

And this was all just within a week’s time!  Though I know some network producers would probably be chomping at the bit to give us some great reality TV contract, I think maybe our lives are most likely really only funny and entertaining to us.  And that’s ok too!

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | February 18, 2011

Jelly Telly

Jelly Telly

If you are seeking some quality Christian entertainment for your kiddos, Phil Vischer(Creator of Veggie Tales) has a newer show now called JellyTelly that my kids (especially my youngest) just love.  You can watch the videos for FREE at their site.   Their goal is to teach children Christian values, the Bible and the work of the church around the world.  My favorite part is that most of the videos are in about 20 minute segments so that they aren’t just watching forever.  On Sundays, they are now offering a full length Christian movie for families to watch together that will hopefully be a forum for Christian filmmakers to gain more exposure.  

Of course, there is no substitute for parents going through the Bible with their children, but JellyTelly is a helpful alternative to what is on mainstream television. 

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | February 5, 2011

It all starts with the soil…

I recently started reading two more books from my 2011 Book List(see sidebar).  The first one is Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden.  I love Mrs. Cunninham’s writing style.  I can just picture her giving me a tour of her beautiful garden and sharing the wisdom she’s gained from years of Organic gardening.  I loved reading about what plants help spur each other on to grow and what plants keep beneficial insects near my vegetables. 

But I’ve got to be honest…initially, I skipped over all the parts about the soil.  I mean, who wants to read about dirt?  I wanted to read about the plants – choosing the plants, planting the plants, where the plants would go, taking care of the plants, harvesting the plants.  You know, the exciting stuff! The stuff you can actually see and eat!  But the soil must be important because every gardening book I’ve ever picked up has at least one chapter(and it’s usually pretty long) about the soil. 

In the meantime, I also started another book from my 2011 Book List: Conversation Peace: Improving Your Relationships One Word at a Time.  I am also enjoying Mary Kassian’s straightforward writing-style and her illustrations really make me think.  But I am going to be honest…initially,  I wanted to skip over the early parts of the book that talk about the heart.  I wanted to read about making conversation, how to keep myself from saying what I shouldn’t , how to remember more often to say the things I should and how all of this was going to improve all my relationships.  You know, the exciting stuff!  The stuff you see; the stuff other people see!  But the heart must be pretty important since every single Biblical counseling book on any subject always starts there. 

Hmm…seeing a trend?  I did too!  I don’t think it was an accident that I began reading both these books at the same time.  When I got to Chapter 7 in the Conversation Peace book titled “Examine the Soil” I knew that God was really trying to tell me something!!!

Here’s a quote from that chapter:

“Our words and behavior are like the leaves and fruit of a plant.  They are above the surface and can be observed. Our attitudes and thoughts are hidden like the root of a plant.  Some roots of bad speech are envy, pride, malice, arrrogance, bitterness and lack of self-control.  But..there is a third factor that affects the plant – and it is the most important factor: the soil. The soil represents our deepest beliefs and values.  Soil conditions determine what kinds of plants will grow and whether or not those plants will be healthy. The soil creates an environment in the heart in which either goodness or evil will flourish. The soil is the foundation – the ground motivator – of everything we say and do.”

Just as I had no desire to test my backyard soil, I can also remail unaware of the fertility of my heart unless I ask God through the Holy Spirit to search and test me.  I get distracted by other priorities; compared to certain others my heart looks pretty good and I’m not willing to do the work of checking my heart.  Oh, I can try to change my negative words and behavior, but long term change will not happen unless I examine myself for the false beliefs and values deep in the soil of my heart.  Then once I’ve realized the beliefs and values that are not in line with God’s Word, I need to turn over that soil(repent) and replace them with His life-giving truths.  This takes time and doesn’t happen overnight – just like it won’t happen overnight to turn my rock filled, clay soil in the backyard into lush life-giving soil for my garden. 

“Excellence in our speech is only possiblie through excellence in the soil of our hearts.  Ask God to help you see and clean the deceit from your heart.  Be committed – for the long haul – to work at change.  Aim for excellence! And as the soil improves, good thoughts and attitudes will take root and sprout into healthy, beautiful, fruitful words.”

I will be sharing more in the coming weeks about what I’m finding and the changes I am making – both in the soil of my own heart AND the soil in my yard.  Hoping for a fruitful harvest in both areas:)

Blessings!
-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 31, 2011

When a homeschool mom is sick…

Well, despite my best efforts with vitamins, herbs & teas, my body could not fight off the flu my  kids had.  Fortunately, the worst part was during the weekend, but unfortunately, there is rarely a substitute teacher to call when a homeschool mom is sick.  I look forward to the days when all my kids can work independently enough that they don’t really need me as much and all the schoolwork can continue even when I don’t feel well, but we aren’t quite in that phase yet.  So these sick days are days where our kids’ character is tested – Can they get along quietly so mom can rest?  Will they rise to the challenge of helping more around the house?  Who will become the “nurse” to mom?  And though these types of lessons aren’t academic, they are vitally important – just as important, I believe as any academic test they will ever take. 

Blessings!

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 28, 2011

When the kids are sick…

One of our Everyday Graces has been our health.  It had been a long time since our family was sick.  But this week, our family(3 so far) has been taken over by whatever cold/flu bug has been going around.  I am so grateful that it is just a strain with a high fever and lots of sleeping(and not the, well, messier type of illness). 

My temptation initially this week, was to keep going with life.  After all, there was schoolwork to be done and I don’t want to get anymore behind than we already are!  So I was continuing school with those who were healthy, having those who were mildly sick do some independent work on the couch.  And I was determined to do our history/science/read-aloud reading so we left the “school room” and read where the sicker ones could hear and listen too.  And I realized that I had made life all about me once again.  I wanted to be able to check off my boxes that work had been completed!  I had made the day/week about my plan and agenda without allowing God to change my plans for His plan.

Don’t get me wrong – a homeschooling family cannot always put life on hold because of illness, especially during the cold & flu season.  But I was being resistant to a change in my plans.  So, then I started thinking that since we weren’t getting school done, I would start to tackle my list of projects that I never seem to get to.  After all, I can’t just spend a day doing nothing!

Or could I?  What did my children really need from me today?  Well, they each needed something different as I’ve found they each have a different “sick” personality.  One really wanted to be cuddled.  One wanted me to make his favorite foods and keep his glass filled.  One just wanted me to acknowledge that it was really uncomfortable for them.   And I realized that service to my sick children is on my to-do list today.  Making them a priority rather than checking off boxes was my marching orders from my Heavenly Father today. 

Being the “nurse” type doesn’t come naturally to me, so I will need His strength to do this today.  And I need to stop thinking about the fact that I am cooped up in the house with sick kids all around me when the warm weather outside is beckoning me to go for a walk.  And I need to stop thinking about how I am missing the Women’s Bible Study this morning and fellowship with other adults.  And all the other me, me, me thoughts. 

I need to remember that God ordained this day for me.  And this day belongs to Him.  And I will remember my Savior who worked hard while He was on this earth when He had so many people needing him.  And I need to focus on those people in my home for whom my work is eternal – not the “hay & stubble” that I often work so hard for.  And so I am going to finish this post, get off the computer and be the mom my kiddos need today in His strength.  And show them the love from Him that flows out of me. 

And take lots of immune boosting vitamins & herbs today in the hopes that mycloseness to them won’t become my own health trial in a few days:)

Blessings & health,

-J

Posted by: chroniclesofgrace | January 26, 2011

Taxes Exemplified

Our family is studying American History this year through Bigger Hearts for His Glory Curriculum.  I love hands on examples and this one will be committed to my memory.

One of the reasons I love this curriculum is that it spells out exactly what I am to do and say.  Here’s an example of what I was to do today:

“Give students 20 pieces of one of their favorite snacks or treats(I gave mine M&M’s, marshmellows, chocolate chips & pretzels).  Say, These are your snacks to have. You earned them by doing your schoolwork today. Before you eat them, I will need to tax you first and then you may eat what you have left.  If you are wearing the color red, you will need to pay me a tax of 3 pieces of your snack. Looks on their faces were “What?????” If you have on something made of jean or denim, you will need to pay me a tax of 4 pieces of your snack. One said “Whew! Good thing I’m wearing sweats!”  If you had milk for breakfast, you will need to pay me a tax of 3 pieces of your snack. If you live in a house with 2 or more bedrooms you will need to pay me a tax of 6 pieces of your snack. “But I don’t have any control over that!” and the tears started rolling down the youngest’s cheeks!  If you have any coffee or tea in your house, you will need to pay me a tax of 5 pieces of your snack. “But I don’t even drink that!” And 2 of my kids were having complete meltdowns! Boy9 shouted “Revolution!” and went looking for his toy weapons!

Rather than going on, I ended it so they could calm down.  Then I asked them how they felt about being taxed so much.  They were so upset that it wasn’t fair.  As I passed the snack back out and the youngers started to breathe normally again we talked about how the colonists felt when King George taxed them so heavily and that the colonists wouldn’t have had enough left to feed their families after paying all of those taxes. 

I think they got the point…and I’m hoping they don’t have troubles with the IRS in the future… 

Blessings!

-J

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