31 July 2016

Thankful in ALL circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5: 18

 "In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

      This is one of my favorite most recent photos.  Because it pretty much sums up my life in one picture.  My life as a mom with 4 little people to feed, clean, raise, teach, encourage, build up, referee, shuttle, entertain, (and did I mention feed), every day after day for 24 hours/ 7 days a week.

     It's my favorite and the most true to life because no matter how hard I try, and trust me, I try.  I can never make all of them happy at the same time.  Maybe it's a lofty goal.  Maybe I'm naive.  Maybe I'm unrealistic.  I'm sure my bar is set too high, but I truly want them to have a wonderful life (as we all do).  But life has it's ups and downs, doesn't it?  So the more I try to make things happy or perfect, the more life just catches up with me.  I can do my best to take them to the most fun place ever with the best snacks and have the best plan and still one of my children will be unhappy.  Someone is destined to have a melt down.  Someone is bound to get their feelings hurt.  There will always be something, somewhere that goes wrong.  

   When I finally get them all in the van (those of you who have little kids know just how long this process of packing for an outing and getting everyone dressed and pottied for the outing takes) and I finally tell them where we are going (I try to wait to the absolute last minute so that if anything changes nobody gets disappointed and so that the big kids don't ask me 3 million times when we are going to ______) and then they say something negative about our trip after all of my planning, prepping, and primping.  This is when Mommy just about loses her mind!  Can anybody say THANK YOU?  Do any of you APPRECIATE what I just went through to bring you here?  To which they all look at me like I am absolutely crazy and mumble a thank-you that I know they didn't really mean.

  One of my jobs as a human, as a mom, as a wife is to be thankful even when those messy times happen.  Life isn't fair.  Things may go wrong.  Melt downs are bound to ensue.  We get sick.  Plans change.  Rain happens.  But through it all we have a steadfast loving God who LOVES us.  And that is a really good reminder for me.  And if I am careful in those moments to remember Him and His goodness, just maybe I can pass on a little thankfulness and gratitude to my kids.  

  There are days that I really get down about my kids and their behavior and whenever I pray about it and basically "complain" to God about it; He changes me.  He reminds me that I need to have the better attitude.  He reminds me that I need to change.  He reminds me that I don't need to make every day perfect for my kids.  Life isn't perfect, but He is.  It is good to teach kids that they won't get everything they want in life.  There will be hard work ahead.  There will be struggles.  But we can teach them that no matter what God will be there for them and that His love never runs out.  

   I am learning right along with my kids that we can be thankful even in rough times.  At bed time we go around the room and list 3-5 things we are thankful for.  My favorite answers are when the kids list people and not things.  When they are thankful for time spent with loved ones.  When they are thankful we have a home and a car to go places, and they are thankful for the food we eat.  Basically, we choose to be thankful.  And as I type this, I am sitting on the couch with a box full of tissues, a runny nose, a bad headache and Amelia napping beside me, while my husband took 3 kids to a skating birthday party.  I am thankful for a husband that let me rest today.  I am thankful for birthday parties that make the day fun for the kids.  And I am thankful for an absolutely quiet home right now, and in a few minutes it will be filled with excited voices telling me all about their outing.  And I am thankful for all the people that live here.  And a God who loves a sinner like me.  And He calls me His own.

  Psalm 107: 1
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever.


07 July 2016

Confessions of a Wannabe-Homeschool-Mom

Welcome to Our Hot-Mess Homeschool Life

For those of you who are homeschool moms please understand this post is not directed at you at all!  This post is directed at my personal experience as a homeschool mom with two big kids and two toddlers 17 months apart.  This experience is my experience.  I'm sure all of you have it ALL together!  Me on the other hand, my homeschool experience was ROUGH!  It was HARD! But we did the best we could with the babies either breast-feeding or undertow.  We survived the school year and that's all that matters at this point.

For me, being a homeschool mom was overwhelming every single year.  Our first year homeschooling, Julia was 4 1/2 and Mark was 3.  That year was overwhelming because I had no idea what I was doing and I was so hard on myself.  My goal was to get Julia reading at a 6th grade reading level and I set all these hard core standards for her and myself that just were not reachable.

The second year we homeschooled was rough because Julia was 5 1/2, Mark was 4 and Micah was a newborn...oh that year having a third was so joyful because I wanted Micah so badly, but at the same time Micah was the baby who barely slept, nursed around the clock, and was crawling by 4 months and walking by 9 months.  Yup!  He kept me completely on my toes!  So teaching Mark to read somehow happened and Julia was doing awesome but most of that year I think my brain has blocked out due to lack of sleep or too much caffeine.

The third year we homeschooled we finally were in our rhythm when...we found out Amelia would join our family that summer and we needed to pack up and move to a bigger home!  I don't need to tell you how hard teaching a 6 year old, and 5 year old, and 1 year old and being pregnant and packing up your entire home at the same time was...it was crazy busy, but we somehow did it by the grace of God.  We joined CREATE an amazing coop that helped Mark come out of his shy shell and helped Julia stay connected to kids in her age group.  The kids loved going every Friday.

The fourth year we homeschooled was my worst nightmare actually.  I think I cried most of September and October due to post-partum depression, big kids who took advantage of mom having a toddler and a newborn, and just being so overwhelmed with setting up a new home and lack of sleep.  The only way I got through that year was Classical Conversations on Wednesdays which we all loved and having friends and family reach out to help.

By the 5th year I knew something had to give.  I was so outnumbered at home by myself and Mark really wanted to go to school (which was 2 houses away) Julia really wanted to stay home still so I decided just focusing on one set of curriculum and grade levels for her would be best while Mark went off to first grade at Applegate Elementary School.  Mark had an amazing teacher and such a great year.  I was so thankful we had made that decision.  Julia did great at home.  We participated in two coops which really added a lot of extra social time that she loved and needed and also was a terrific addition to our curriculum at home.  Classical conversations on Wednesdays and CREATE coop every Friday made our week very busy but very academically based.  It also allowed for me to be ministered to by the other moms in the coops.  It gave structure to our days and also balanced out academics and social needs.

Homeschooling has been one of the most challenging things for me as a mom.  Even though I consider myself an excellent teacher in the classroom as a teacher at home for my own kids I don't really like who I became.  I was very strict.  I set very high expectations.  I was hard on both of the kids.  I tried to do too much in one day and I ended up not being a very nice mom/teacher.  I think looking back both big kids won't have such fond memories of homeschooling and this is one of my greatest mommy regrets.  I wanted to be a blessing to them but in the end with having so much on my plate all the time and raising two babies in the midst it became more of a dreaded thing than a positive thing.  I love the idea of homeschooling and if I only had 1 or 2 kids I think maybe I would've been better at it, but with 4 it has been so so so hard.

I hope the big kids read this post one day and have grace for their momma who truly had best intentions to start with.  I loved all the field trips we went on and the fact that I can say I taught my kids to read.  I absolutely adored all the Social Studies Fair projects we did and the Bible Study Fair last year.  I love that we learned a lot together.  I just wish I could've devoted more time in a more loving way without all the stress and demands of life.  I wish I could've enjoyed it more and been more patient not only with myself but with the kids.  


05 July 2016

What will they remember?

4th of July Weekend...

This past weekend has inspired this post.  So, we have four kids.  I'm stating the obvious, but unless you actually have four kids you won't know that someone is always crying, someone is always having a tantrum, it's always loud, and someone is always in time out.  My pictures on Facebook and Instagram rarely show this side of life.  So, I thought it rather important to remind all of you that we are not a pottery barn family...(but aren't those families cute?"  We are normal.  We get frustrated.  We get our feelings hurt.  We fight.  We yell.  (Some louder than others, ahem...)  But at the end of the day, we are a family that loves each other even in the midst of all the drama, and chaos.

During our last car trip to New Hope, Pennsylvania, I got to thinking...what will my kids actually remember from their childhood.  

Will they remember that mommy made them take 250, 000 photos on our living room steps?  

Will they remember that I packed their lunches with love notes?  

Will they remember that Daddy taught them to ride their bikes?  

Will they remember the mad rush every Sunday morning to get to church on time?  

Will they remember Mommy and Daddy hugging in the kitchen and everyone saying, "Ewwwwwwwwww!"  

Will they remember the time Amelia shoved peas up her nose and mommy had to get them out before Daddy got home?  

Will they remember that Mommy liked it quiet, but Daddy came home and liked to be wild (right before bed time, ahem....)  

Will they remember that Mommy had to apologize for losing her temper?

Will they remember Daddy holding Mommy's hand in the front seat while he drove the van?

Will they remember that I did 3 loads of laundry almost every single day?

Will they remember that Daddy almost always rushed home at the end of the work day to spend time with the kids before bed time?

Will they remember that we cried over their sin and tried to point them to Christ?

Will they remember us praying as a family?

Will they remember that we opened up our home and had people over and treated them like family?

Will they remember the times we messed up?

Will they remember homeschool?

Will they remember the field trips?

Will they remember playing in the back yard?

What do kids actually remember from their childhood?  I know what I remember from mine and it's not always what parents expect.   I sat in the van on the way home from New Hope thankful for my family but overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising 4 tiny humans, and getting it right, and raising them right, and loving my husband and honoring him the way I am supposed to.  It's all such an incredibly daunting task.

What will they remember?

I hope they remember that we love them no matter what.  I hope they remember that God is the head of this home.  I hope they learn forgiveness and grace and generosity.  I hope they learn to love people regardless of their faults.  I hope they are fearless.  I hope they grow to have soft hearts.  I hope they remember the love John and I have for each other.  I hope they remember joy and fun.  I hope they remember we taught them responsibility and hard work ethics.  I hope they remember the good days of homeschool and not the really hard days (which was more often than the easy days).  I hope they remember we tried to do our best.  I hope they remember we messed up but that we were humble enough to admit the truth.

And if all else fails I hope they remember I taught them how to bake brownies right before Daddy comes home...because the smell of brownies makes everything better.

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