Friday, September 30, 2011

Blogging At FabGab - Come On Over

Sometimes I have the privilege of blogging over at FabGab so come check out my latest post all about the Father being an active participant in my life, something I have been learning as I have been studying John 15.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What We Expect From Our Children Regarding Chores

A couple of weeks ago, I cancelled school for the day and insisted we clean up the disaster the house had become.  We had a designer coming over early that afternoon and I wanted some sense of order before then.  The kids were unbelievable, really, in their desire and dedication to help.  RJ kept asking what else she could wipe.  The boys would ask what else they could do to help.  It was amazing since I expected them to complain with each and every task.  Chores are no one's favorite thing to do. But something great happened that day.  The Lord taught me that they are capable of much more than I think.  They are capable of doing much more than I have asked of them in the area of chores.  I have only been expecting so little of them, that is what they were giving to me.  They would complain about each and every thing I wanted them to do in regards to cleaning.  Clean their room?  Grumble.  Tidy the entrance?  Complain.  Pick up the toys?  Claim extreme fatigue.  It was ridiculous.  But on that morning, their attitudes were cheerful and helpful and I knew they could do more than I had expected.   It had already been on my mind, the whole subject of what they could contribute to the maintenance of our house but that day, my eyes were opened to the possibilities.  I did a little online research and discovered some moms that give their kids LOTS of chores to do everyday.  Like a full hour of chores.  We are not at that point.  But I did up the chore chart a whole pile and came up with something that has worked well now for 1 full week.  Sure, it will get tweaked just a little as we go along but they now have chores every morning before school that could take a full half hour.  This morning my five year old tidied up the dining room and swept and mopped the kitchen floor while the 7 &8 year old boys were busy cleaning bathrooms and mopping those floors.  They can do it!  It just has to be understood that you expect no complaining (a cheerful attitude would be great but I will take no complaining), you expect it to be done to the best of their abilities and you expect it to be done in a timely manner.  THEY CAN DO IT!!  And I make sure to praise them for the great job they are doing.  Is it done just as well as I would do it?  Not always.  But are they trying their hardest?  You bet!  Now, depending on the day, I have the kids washing kitchen cupboards, wiping down bar stools and dining room chairs, wiping down my appliances, dusting, changing sheets on their beds, washing towels and bedding, washing windows, and other age-appropriate chores.  Since those chores all happen before school starts, there is also the understanding that after school is done, they must tidy their rooms before they are allowed to play with friends.  That keeps their rooms from turning into a disaster that takes days to sort out.  My house is looking tidier and cleaner and I am able to get other chores done because of the help they are contributing.  I am so glad the Lord is teaching me to expect great things from my kids and then to pray that they would have great attitudes and a good work ethic!  What a great lesson for me (and them) to learn.  How does the whole chore thing go over in your house?  What kinds of chores do you expect from your kids?  I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

3 Days As An Early Bird And How Is It Going?

Great!  Really, really great!  That first night, the night before waking up at 6am, I ended up being awake for an entire hour at 3 in the morning!  Wide, wide awake!  I was truly excited about getting up at 6am.  Yeah, I never thought I would say those words.  Well, unless something really great was going to happen like leaving on a safari or a cruise or something.  But I was just getting up.  Yeah, I was just getting up to spend time with the KING OF THE UNIVERSE!!  You cannot get any greater than that!  I know He came to join me.  I could feel His presence with me in my living room and I was in awe!  The Creator of the world was sitting with me.  WOW!!  I read the Word.  I studied the Word.  I spent time in prayer.  I wrote in my thankfulness journal.  I even worked out!  And I went on with my day.  Admittedly, I was tired before 10 that night but it forced me to go to bed at a reasonable time so I could get up the next morning and do it all again!  And the words on the page jumped out at me.  My desires and the Spirit are enemies of each other.  Did you know that?  Enemies!!  No wonder doing the things of the Spirit can be so hard sometimes since we are enemies!  But it also says that the Spirit is life!  LIFE!  He wants so badly to give life to me.  On my own, I am dead!  I am selfish.  I am mean.  I am not a nice mom!  I am a rude wife.  Trust me, the list goes on!  But in the Spirit, with the Spirit at my side, I have life.  And I am gentle.  I am patient.  I am kind.  And that list goes on, too!  I have noticed these past few days that the Spirit really can change my behavior, he can change my heart.  When I would have gotten angry at my son breaking my very favorite steam mop, I was gentle instead.  I noticed.  My son sure noticed.  This is what life in the Spirit can do.  Was I a terrible mother before?  No.  But isn't it worth getting up at 6am and spending time with my Savior, my Redeemer, knowing that He gives life and sharing that life with those around me?  Sharing that loving kindness?  Totally, totally worth it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Night-Owl to Early-Bird

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a night owl.  I love to stay up late.  Midnight is my friend.  I also love to sleep!  Sleep and I go hand in hand.  A nap is a wonderful treat and I relish every Sunday afternoon because it is a GUARANTEED time for me to nap.  A long uninterrupted guilt-free nap.  Now, if you take time to think about it, being a night-owl and loving sleep can only mean one thing - sleeping in in the morning.  It is very easy for me to sleep uninterrupted until 8am.  I can often be found in bed when my kids awake.  Rarely, seldom, if ever, am I awake before them.  After all, I need my 8 hours minimum to be happy.  All of that is about to change.  A month ago - well, maybe two months ago - I stumbled upon a blog called Inspired to Action.  I haven't taken the time to explore all that the blog has to offer but I do subscribe by email.  It has been filled with many great posts that really get me thinking: about my Lord, my family, my kids, my contribution to their lives, and myself.  I noticed that she wrote something called "Maximize Your Mornings" where she talks about getting up FOR your kids instead of getting up TO your kids.  When the first thing you see in the morning as you open your eyes is some cute little ladies standing beside your bed, you are certainly getting up TO your kids, not FOR them (and when I say for them, I don't mean because they peed their bed, or are sick or are scared or are cold or are thirsty or any of those other million things that our kids may need and you need to get up for.).  She explained that getting up for your kids is about getting into the habit of rising earlier than them so that you could spend time in the Bible, in prayer, maybe exercising - just getting prepared for your day before their day begins.  It never sounded so appealing to me.  So, starting tomorrow, I will be getting up at 6am as part of the Maximize Your Mornings Challenge.  Yeah.  I even chose that time.  What was I thinking?!  I have been practicing for the past couple of weeks by going to bed between 10:30-11pm and rising around 6:30.  It has not been easy.  One day off, one day on kind of thing.  But tomorrow I jump in with both feet.  To keep me accountable, I have a group of 12 women from all over the US that will be expecting an email from me at 6am to say that I am up.  And they will be there to encourage me every step of the way.  There is even a Bible study for us to follow (it is a free Bible study that anyone can download - it is on the Fruits of the Spirit - check it out here)!  How great is that?!

I am expectant.  I am expecting the Lord to meet with me.  I am expecting to grow in my faith as I read His Word each and every day (no weekends for sleeping in!).  I am expecting to enjoy time in prayer (she has 2 really great prayer calendars - one for your kids and one for your husband).  I am expecting answered prayers.  I am expecting that I will exercise at least some of those mornings.  And I am hoping that I will be able to spend a little time crafting as well.  My expectation is that I rise at 6, spend time with the Lord until 6:30, work out until 7, craft until 7:30 then greet my kids when they awake having been up myself for 1 1/2 hours.  Yikes.  If you know me, you know this might kill me.  If it doesn't kill me, it might make me stronger.  And that is what I am counting on.  So, for my last night of freedom, I am going to make some killer hot fudge sauce, slather it over some icecream, watch TV and fold laundry.  At 10pm I will wash my face, brush my teeth and hop in bed.  I will probably read a chapter or two in my novel and then lights out before 10:30.  After all, 6 am is only 7 1/2 hours after that.  We will see how tomorrow goes.  If I survive . . . There is always nap time, right?  :)

Our School Schedule and What to Do with the Youngest Kids!

I have had a few questions regarding our school schedule and what I do with the non-schooling kids while I teach the rest.  So, hopefully this answers some of those questions.

IDEALLY if everything goes as planned, which it seldom does, this is what our schedule looks like:
7:30 kids wake, make beds, get dressed, eat breakfast
8:00 chore time
8:30 read aloud time when I read to the kids
9:00 Pepe & AJ start on their Phonics, Math, Spelling books while I teach RJ (if the boys are working hard, they will be finished long before 11)
11:00 Pepe and I do composition
12:00 lunch (um, ya, like I said, if it is an ideal day!)
1:00 Mondays and Wednesdays the boys and I do Science, Tuesdays and Fridays we do Geography.  We should be done by 2 or 2:30

I school from September 1 to May 30 and we finish all our curriculum during that time.

Thursday we don't do school since we are at a homeschool co-op every Thursday morning.

Some things I would like to work on:
1.  Get the kids up at 7 so we can get more chores accomplished and start school a bit earlier.
2.  Organize the chores just a bit better for the kids so they are more involved with that.  Right now, Mondays the boys clean the bathrooms, Tuesdays the kids strip the beds of sheets and the boys put the clean sheets back on, Wednesdays the garbages are collected and after that I keep forgetting.  There is much more that can be scheduled in.
3.  Work scripture memory back into our day which will work if we implement #1.

What do the littlest girls do while I teach the others?  Well, Ali has her own preschool book that she works in whenever she wants on whatever page she wants.  It is not structured for her but if she is at the table and wants some help, I will take the time to explain what to do.  She just likes to be a part of the group.  I have also printed off pages of printing practice sheets so she can work on her printing.  She usually stays for just a little while and then is off playing with Ari.  We do school downstairs and that is where all the toys are so they are usually in my sight the whole time.  They are not allowed to go upstairs while I am teaching since that usually means they are doing something they shouldn't - or making a mess.

Sometimes, life presents other opportunities for learning so we will take the time for that.  Character is far more important to me than book learning.  Sometimes the house is a disaster and no one can walk for 3 feet without tripping on stuff so we take the time to clean.  Like today.  Since a designer is actually coming over later on to help us think through our blueprints to ensure we haven't missed anything, I figure the upstairs should at least be presentable.

Any more questions, just let me know!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tie-One-On Bib (Perfect for that Little Man!)

I found this fantastic green plaid fabric at the local MCC and there is yards of it!  I knew immediatly it would make perfect bibs for the moms at the Crisis Pregnancy Center!  I just had to think of a way to make the bib say "boy" so I did a little internet searching and came up with this!  The bib is completely reversible with the other side being all green plaid to match the tie.

Perfect? No!  But perfectly adorable!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Wheels on My Bike Go Round and Round!

I finally had an excuse to buy a bike helmet.  Yeah, I actually wanted one.  Wierd, I know.  But I figure since I insist my kids wear one I should, too!  Jay didn't think I should since that would mean he should and he wasn't.  But, now I NEED one!  I even found one that has hot pink on it.  It was destined to be. 

See, I have decided to ride 10km for a worthy cause on October 1 as part of Ride for Refuge, a fundraising bike ride in support of the displaced, vulnerable and exploited.  I am SO excited about this!  Mostly, I am excited because we are raising money for the Crisis Pregnancy Center here in Winnipeg.  This is the same place I have been donating handmade hats and bibs.  See, something happened while I was making those gifts - the Lord awoke a desire to continue helping this ministry in a practical hands-on way.  We help many ministries here at our house but mostly we just give money.  It is not so practical to help our friends in Ethiopia or in the Philippians or in the many other countries.  So, for them we give our money and our prayers.  With this ministry, I can help in a tangible way.  So, this time I am getting on my bike and cruising the highway.  Do you remember the very first time you heard your baby's heartbeat (if you have children)?  Even with my 5th pregnancy, I would still laugh delightedly at that sound - reminded me of galloping horses.  I even bought a monitor that I could use at home to listen to the heartbeat.  I would put on those headphones, turn on the little machine and close my eyes and just listen.  That was the life of my child I was listening to.  It was magical.  It was glorious.  And there was no denying it was life.  Some of these women that come into the crisis center don't understand that the child they carry is a living being.  Some are torn apart in the decision of whether to give life to the child or end it.  But if they could just hear the sound of their child's heart, the difference it could make.  That could save lives.  That could change their world!  So, I am riding on behalf of those children and those moms - I want to change their worlds.  Raising money so dopplers can be purchased and heartbeats heard and lives saved is why I am riding.  Will you help me in this cause?  I have a personal goal to raise $500 and I am about 32% of the way there.  You can easily contribute by following this link to my personal page.  Or maybe you want to get involved yourself and raise money for some worthy cause in your area.  Check out this link for rides in your area (Canada) or this link for the United States.  Whatever the case, bless you consider riding for refuge.  And think of me on October 1 (and October 2!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

School is In!

This summer was, by far, the busiest summer ever!  I think it went by way too fast but I sure enjoy getting back into the school routine.  I am less likely to be found pulled in various different directions, my days take on a more monotonous routine and the laughter seems to increase as I am with the kids a whole lot more.  My kids are outdoor kids so from the moment they wake to the time they hit the pillow at day's end, they are running around outside.  Which means, in summer, I see them only when they come begging for food only to have them run off again as soon as the last bite is down.  Fall really puts a damper on their play time!  Anyhow, we have been back at this school thing for a week already and so far, so good! 

Here is a quick run-down of the curriculum we are using this year.  The three oldest are using Abeka for their Phonics, Language and Math, doing Grades 1, 2 and 3.  It is what they are used to, I had all the supplies and it works.  Is it exciting?  Not really but the kids know what they need to know.  I really enjoy the Phonics program Abeka puts out and I find it to be an effective way to teach kids to read well.  Pepe continues to do composition with Excellence in Writing.  We jumped in where we left off so these past couple of days have been a bit tougher for him.  He will get back into the swing of things and, I think, will actually enjoy it as time goes by.  Science continues in the Apologia books - this time it is Swimming Creatures.  I love this course of study and I am excited about the lapbooks they will be making for it.  I did not make them but bought them instead.  They aren't as visually stimulating as I like them to be (use more fonts, people!) but I think the end result will be great.  As much as she wanted, RJ is not doing science with us this year since we are building on last year's knowledge.  She is, however, joining us for Geography as we gallop the globe with Galloping the Globe.  We will use this curriculum for the next 2 years.  Today we colored a general map of the world and labelled the oceans then we will dive into studying various countries from the different continents.  We will not be lapbooking but creating a binder full of notebooking/lapbooking information, making it much more fun and interesting than writing notes but something that can be added to through the years.  It will be divided into the various continents effectively organizing it.  The first country we will study is Ethiopia (we have dear friends there) and I look forward to learning with them.  I just ordered a bunch of books from our library (comes to me in the mail then I return them in the mail - completely free since we don't have a local public library in our municipality!) and I look forward to checking them out.  Then, of course, I intend to make authentic (as much as I can) meals to go with each country! Injera and wat - sooo good!

So far, the boys have been fairly independant in their math/phonics work and I have worked one-on-one with RJ.  She is only 5, kindergarten age, but we are attempting Grade 1.  She is loving it and doing really well.  I won't push her too hard but I will push her a little.  She is a very determined and a total go-getter so I can see her excelling!  Time will tell.  Today in geography, though, it was fun to watch her learn with the boys.  As I was quizzing them on their maps, AJ was a total goof making RJ laugh.  I can see him being the class clown (now that 3 of them are in the class) and I love the laughter.  So long as they are learning and helping each other out, I think it will be great!

Well, my time is more limited then before so I better run and clean up the kitchen!  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Depression-Era Sideboard

When I picture the entrance of our new house, I have always envisioned some sort of buffet or sideboard holding a beautiful lamp, a couple of decorative items placed strategically here and there, welcoming our guests to our home.  I have looked on Kijiji every now and then but didn't see anything like I wanted.  Until a couple of weeks ago.  When I saw this, I knew it was the one!  The guy said it was his grandmother's and he thinks it is late 1800's but it looks more depression-era to me, meaning th 1920's-1930's.  Whatever the case, it is perfect.  Well, it will be once I work on it.  The middle two drawers don't open without being pried from below and the doors on the sides don't close.  The stretcher at the bottom is missing as well as the knobs.  Some of the veneer on the sides is chipping as well.  But, if you can just imagine it all prettied up, it is perfect!

I found a similar one for sale on Kijiji in its finished state!  I didn't need the visual but hubs sure does.  Now he can see that it is not, in fact, junk!  Now I just have to figure out if I want it a traditional white color or maybe do something crazy!  Time will tell since I don't intend to work on it for at least a year.  Should give me plenty of time to mull over ideas, wouldn't you say?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Do you ever wonder if you are blessed?  Maybe another way to look at it is this: have you been given gifts, undeserved and unmerited?  Every time (well, okay, maybe not EVERY single time but you know what I mean) I look at my children or my husband, that is exactly how I feel.  Overwhelming blessings!  I am rich, very rich indeed!  These past few weeks have been crazy busy with harvest, taking kids and meals to the field and often getting the kids into bed before Jay comes home.  And just as the harvest has been plentiful, in spite of the extreme dry conditions, so have the blessings!  I wanted to share 2 with you! A couple of years ago my dad was part of the construction crew that did a huge addition on a nearby church.  In order to do this reno, they removed all the outer bricks on that area of the church.  No one wanted them so dad took them home.  For what purpose, we still don't know but that is his deal!  Now, that church is expanding again and my dad is part of that construction crew once again.  As soon as I knew he would be doing it, months before they even started, I told him I wanted those bricks.  I would come and collect them myself but I wanted those bricks.  One day a couple of weeks ago my dad calls and asks if I still want them.  Yes, I certainly do.  Then find a hard hat and a couple of pick up trucks and come get them.  So, Jay and I stopped everything, drove 1/2 hour to get a few bricks.  They were heavy and the trucks can only hold so much.  Just as we were putting the last bricks in the second truck, my dad comes over and tells us the head-honcho guy said we could use a trailer they had with electric lift to take the bricks home.  Since Jay was supposed to be on the field, he went back the next day and got 2 trailer loads of bricks.  Mind you, they were so heavy the electric lift didn't work until he had thrown 90% of them off but he was gracious about it all.  So, now we have this huge pile of bricks waiting for some great purpose on our new house.  I am thinking pillars for the porch and landscaping around the back patio.  What ideas do you have?

Secondly,  I don't know if you remember but the back part of our new 5 acre property is a swamp!   About a dozen ducks and other marsh birds make their home there in the spring and well into summer.  The rushes tower over my head and the whole area is mosquito haven.  I am sure we have mosquitos out there long before anyone else does.  This year, due to the extreme dry and high temperatures, all the water was gone by about the middle of July (which should be an indication of how wet it actually was to take that long).  We took the time to laser measure the whole yard, finding out just how high the high spots were and how low the low spots were.  We knew we would have to bring in many, many truckloads of dirt to raise the low-lying areas.  We talked endlessly about ways to deal with the water.  Then, early this week, Jay tells me this: "Your father-in-law is doing an amazing job of filling the hole."  I assume he is talking about the mini-Grand Canyon that now exists at his barn thanks to all the clay required to fix the lagoon (and a bunch brought to our place to build the new driveway.).  He corrects me by telling me dad is raising the low spots on our yard.  WOW!!  As a farmer, every fall, after harvest, they dig the drainage ditches and other ditches to ensure water flows well after spring thaw.  He doesn't want that soil on his field since it is a clay-soil mix with a whole lot of sod and weeds in it.  My FIL is a very particular (and excellent) farmer.  So, all that soil is ending up filling up our swamp!  And it is a TONNE of dirt.  Free dirt.  Can I get a "Thank you, Jesus?" and I really mean that!  I am in awe of the way the Lord provides. 

Since the beginning, the Lord has been telling me that this yard is a gift to us.  It is not for everyone, it is a gift to US.  This yard was specially chosen for us in spite of all the quirks.  The Lord, in his infinite grace and generousity, continues to affirm to me that this is a gift.  And he continues to provide for this gift.  What a great and awesome God I serve!
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