Monday, January 30, 2012

Dancing Through The Seasons Series - Week 1

It's a Girl, It's a Girl, & It's another Girl!
(Left to Right) Mooki, Sweet Pea, & Lover Girl
In November 2003, six days past my due date, I became a mom for the very first time.  We didn't find out the gender, so after "Mooki" arrived, we heard, "It's a Girl" for the very first time.   When my firstborn came into this world, it was such a surreal feeling and one of total bliss.   I seemed to adjust well to life with a little one.  All those little milestones were captured in photos and videos: first smile, first words, first haircut, first table foods, and first steps .  I felt like I had things all figured out (ha!) in my role as a mom! 

When "Mooki" was around 18 months I got a huge wake up call!!  Tantrums, meltdowns, and defiant moments began happening!  What happened to my sweet little girl?  It became a pretty common practice for me to call my husband at work (or another family member) bawling my eyes out.  One day it might have been over pink nail polish on my brand new carpet and the next melt downs in the middle of the grocery store.  Just trying to get her dressed became this major saga.  She was extremely determined in everything and would not back felt like an all out war at times...and I certainly wasn't going to let a toddler win!   
 A month after "Mooki" turned 2, I gave birth to "Lover Girl".  The first night home from the hospital my oldest was being very clingy and wanting me to hold her a lot, a normal reaction to a new baby sister I was guessing.  Suddenly she was complaining of not feeling well and threw up all over the floor.  I felt her head and realized she had a high fever too.  This was my initiation to life with a newborn and toddler! HELP!!
Sometimes I don't even know how I survived those early years as a mom.  One escaped out the door of a consignment store without my knowledge (thankfully a nice stranger came to the rescue).  We took a trip to the emergency room for a cut on the back of a head.  A fun "surprise" was brought to me and placed on the kitchen counter (I'll give you a usually goes in the toilet).  "Mooki" threw a screaming fit in the middle of Trader Joes that had me rushing out to my car with no groceries in hand.  I was on my knees a lot, and I wish I could say it was because I was praying, but instead it was because I was cleaning up crayon markings on the wall, nail polish on my floor, poo on the carpet, vomit, spills, etc... 
At the end of the day, when I laid my head on my pillow, and thought back on that days tantrums, mischievous behaviors, or defiant battles and how I handled those moments....I felt worn out, defeated, and was pretty certain I could win the award for the worst mom of the year.  Motherhood certainly wasn't at all what I had envisioned.
I'm still working my way through the toddler year with "Sweet Pea", daughter #3.  A few days ago I was once again on my knees cleaning up poo off the carpet.  Last night, "Sweet Pea" had a screaming fit during dinner.  She was refusing to put her bib on and I wouldn't give her food to her until she did.  With 3 girls in this home, there is always some sort of squabble, attitudes to be addressed, tears shed, whining tones, high pitched screams, manipulation tactics happening, or emotional needs to be met.
Here is the thing though, now when I lay my head to my pillow at night, I don't feel despair or defeat like I once did.  So what has changed?  My perspective on motherhood changed!  I'm not dragging my feet...I'm dancing (figuratively speaking - though I can bust out some pretty good running man moves).  I have such gratitude for the 3 blessings God has given my husband and I.  I'm thankful for every day I am able to spend with my girls and pour into their lives...even if our day has some tears or meltdowns.  I look back on those "imperfect" moments in our day and say, "Thank you Lord for using that situation as an opportunity to remind my girls and I how desperately we need you". 
I need the Holy Spirit to fill me with His wisdom, guidance, gentleness, self-control, grace, and love every day.   One thing I have done to help me be in the Word and praying on a more regular basis was to sign up for an online, "read through the Bible in the year plan", called You Version.  I also am participating in a 10 week online Bible Study through the book of Ephesians. 
What about you?  Can you relate to the challenges of raising kids?  Specifically little girls?  When you lay your head on your pillow at night do all the days events flood your thoughts?  Do you feel defeated?  Burdened?  Worn out?  It's time to put those dancing shoes on.

When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way. Wayne Dyer

Being a mom, is the hardest journey of your life.  God has not called the equipped to be moms....he equips the called!  Find ways to spend time in His presence as often as you can!  Pour out your heart to the Lord and ask Him to give you a new perspective! 

Maybe Motherhood is a pretty amazing thing after all!

Coming up next week:  "My daughter doesn't ever stop talking"

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Photo courtesty of Dana Leigh Photography

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dancing Through The Seasons Series

Photo Courtesy of Dana Leigh Photography

Beginning February 1st I am starting a 5 week series called:
"Dancing Through The Seasons"
Every Wednesday I will post topics related to raising Girls! 

There have been many days when "Dancing" over motherhood was the last thing on my mind.  Instead I found myself in tears, dispair, having doubts and truly feeling as if I was the worst mom in the world.  I've cried out to God many times for wisdom to know how to handle different situations along the way.  One thing I am learning is that there are different "seasons", each with it's own joys and challenges....and it is possible to "Dance" through each one!

I pray the tidbits I share of my journey as a mom of 3 girls will encourage, inspire, challenge you, make you laugh, and bless you as a mom! 

I'd love to know if you will be apart of this series,
so feel free to leave me a comment.  Share some of your joys, concerns, and challenges in raising girls!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Hoi" from the Netherlands!

This week in our Expedition Earth studies we "travelled" to the Netherlands!  First thing they did was stamp their passports and locate the country on the map.

They completed a mapping & flag activity.

Danced to the country song on the "Wee sing around the World" CD.

They also learned how to write a few words in Dutch!

 They put together their Animal Mini Books and added animals to their wall classification chart.

Placed the country card on the Continents wall poster.

We watched a YouTube Video called "A Movie about the Netherlands"!

For a craft they created a cute Ice Skating Painting.

Last week we read about "Corrie Ten Boom" for our Missionary studies.  She was from the Netherlands!  This week they made a Bible to remind them of Corrie sneaking her Bible into the prison camp.  They placed them in their Missionary Keepsake boxes.

And had fun in the snow that came our way this week!

Other things we did this week:
  • Prayed for people in the Netherlands
  • Read Country fun facts
  • Read about "Using Rivers" in Usborne Encyclopedia of World Geography
  • Bowling originated in the Netherlands from a game called Dutch Pins...and it just so happens we are going to a bowling birthday party this weekend!
  • Watched a YouTube video of kids dancing in the Netherlands
  • Watched a YouTube cartoon video that taught some Dutch words!
  • Stamped Passports with Exit date
Dank U for checking out this Blog.  Our next stop is Spain!
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Monday, January 16, 2012

"Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus"

This is a book I just recently purchased, through Kindle, and wanted to share with you! 

Give Them Grace

This morning my oldest came to me all upset because her little sister was "yelling at her and being rude" and it really hurt her feelings.    What do you normally do, as a parent, in situations like that?  For me, a typical response is to call the "culprit" in, ask them why they were yelling, tell them to apologize and move on.   Well not today....instead I tried applying some of the aspects of things I have read in the book towards the situation.  I never called the "yelling child" into the room.  I focused my attention on my oldest daughter and what transpired was amazing.  I ended up having a heart to heart with my oldest about her own heart/actions and praying with her about things.   

We talked about a "rule-breaker" and a "rule follower".    My oldest sees herself as a "rule follower" and she wants to make sure others follow the rules too!  I asked her, "Which of those two is in the wrong?" and she said, "The rule breaker".  I explained how both sides can actually be wrong.  Yes we want our kids to follow the rules but when they put following the rules as more important than a person, what happens is their actions lack love and grace.   She ends up coming across as controlling and bossy to her little sister.   I reminded her how desperately we all need Jesus because we all sin...even in times when we "think" we are in the right.  I shared about Jesus who "came to serve NOT to be served".  One way He displayed this was by washing his disciples feet and then ultimately by laying down his life for each and every one of us.   God has called her to be a leader, which is very different than a boss!   She has to learn how to put others first and respond in LOVE and only Jesus can do that in her!  None of us follow the rules perfectly 100% of the time.  We all need God's grace, everyday, and we as parents especially need to parent with grace! (P.S...I did talk to the yelling child as well and prayed with her!)

A Quick Parenting Quiz...

True or False: If my children perform poorly in public, I feel crushed or angry.

True or False: A "good" child, one who outwardly keeps the rules, is good enough for me.

How are your children raised?
A) In the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
B) In the discipline and instruction of the law.

What Is Our Acceptance by God Based On?
When our children were young we thought that the key to raising good children was to raise them in the discipline and instruction of the law. To that end we talked about the law, laid down the law, and concocted additional laws to solve sin problems. But there is a huge difference between loving the law and loving the Lord. When we fail to discern it we run the risk of raising trophy children trained to believe that their acceptance by God is based more on what they do for Him than what Jesus has done for them.

Unable to Save, Powerless to Change
Every time we discipline our children without the gospel we resort to the despair-breeding, Pharisee-producing law that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them. Give them Grace authors Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson will help you to discern the difference between gospel discipline and moralistic parenting.

What is Gospel Discipline?
The unspoken goal of most popular child discipline books is that what God wants from our children is morality. Unregenerate children are told that they are pleasing to God when they have achieved a moral victory. But if that were true, then why did Jesus have to die? If we believe that salvation comes only though the Savior, why do we subject our less-than-perfect children to more and more laws? What exactly is gospel discipline and how does it differ from social, civic, and even religious obedience? And if outward conformity to religious obedience is not proof of regeneration, what is?

Dazzle Your Kids with the Gospel of Jesus
Subtitled Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, Give them Grace could have just as accurately been subtitled Dazzling Your Kids with the Gospel of Jesus. This revolutionary perspective so clearly shows parents the importance of transmitting the life changing truths of the gospel to even the youngest of children. Give Them Grace will show you how to model your parenting after the heavenly Father, who changed His children not by wrath and the law but by grace.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

My 2011/2012 Favorites!

My favorite curriculum choices I am using for the 2011/2012 school year!

It can definitely be a challenge sorting through ALL the curriculum options out there in cyberspace and at homeschool conventions. But when you find something that you love (or more importantly that your kids love) and is makes you want to shout it out from the roof tops (I don't recommend actually climbing on your rooftop, however excited you may be). My blog is my rooftop!

Here is the thing though...what works for me may not work for you and your kids. What works for your family may not at all work for mine. So keep that in mind as you read about my highlights for this year!

1. Queen Homeschool Language Lesson Books

The Lesson books range in skill level from preschool thru high school. They incorporate picture study, narration, copywork, dictation, poetry appreciation & instruction, creative writing, grammar instruction, and more, depending upon the level. 180 daily lessons in each volume make these books a simple, delightful way to introduce a variety of aspects with a Charlotte Mason flair!

I personally love the open and go, no prep format. The daily workload is short and sweet. There is beautiful, full color, artwork depicted in each book. You determine the right book for your child based on the scope & sequence skill level not grade level.

To see an example go here.

2. Math Lessons for a Living Education
(once on website click on "Math Lessons" on left side under "categories")

This is a Charlotte Mason style math program and I can't say enough good things about it. It has made a huge difference in our home! Forget the dry math curriculum...this is an exciting living math adventure. This series is a fresh, new and completely unique approach. Each book (there are 2 out currently and 2 more coming soon) centers around twins, Charlie & Charlotte, who are themselves homeschooled. Each lesson starts out with an engaging and exciting story regarding the twins and their life alongside their parents/grandparents. There are 36 weeks of curriculum, with 5 exercises per week, for a total of 180 lessons (look I can do math also!!). There is plenty of review throughout as well! Beyond math, this series incorporates geography, science, nature, farm life, missions, and family relationships. This curriculum is open and go, no prep, just how I like it! I 've posted about this math program on my blog in the past that you can check out here.

I am so thankful to have come across Queen Homeschool curriculum! They are an amazing homeschool family themselves, who provide wonderful customer service & products!

3. Table Talk Devotionals

There are 12 issues in all and each issue takes you through 3 months of devotions. They are perfect for families to spend time learning God's word together around the table. They take 5 minutes to complete. Each book has a different theme/focus, but they all include table talk introduction, scripture passage to read, things to talk about, things to think about or do, and prayer/application. They are phenomenal! If you have a child who is old enough to read & write on their own they can do their own personal devotionals with the corresponding XTB devotional.

4. All About Spelling

We have been using AAS for 3 years now and LOVE it. The lessons are scripted and open & go, no prep layout (Can you tell a theme with the curriculum I choose). It's a complete, comprehensive spelling program.

What attracted me to this curriculum is the hands-on approach using a magnetic board and building words with magnetic phonogram tiles. The rules really do sink in for my daughter and she applies what she has learned when sounding out words and when having to spell words! After Christmas I began using this with our 2nd daughter. She is so excited that she gets to use the magnetic board just like her big sister!

5. Expedition Earth

If you follow this blog, you know I have been posting regular updates as we make our way all across the world, one continent at a time, 31 countries in all. This is a hands-on, world geography curriculum designed primarily for K-3rd graders.

What’s included?
  • 7 Wonders of the World
  • World Lap Book
  • Geographical Locations
  • Mapping Skills
  • Science: Ecosystems Study
  • Geography Vocabulary
  • People of the Region
  • How to Pray for the Regions
  • Christmas around the world
  • Children like me
  • Science: Animals mini-books for each country
  • Science: Animal Classification Study
  • Food and recipes
  • Craft activities
  • Country Songs
  • Review Games
  • Reports & Quizzes
Everything you need is provided in this curriculum with the exception of the additional reading materials (most of which I purchased used). We have loved everything about this curriculum and my girls are learning so much! My favorite aspect is the exposure to life outside of our little neck of the woods. They are having their eyes and hearts open to the variety of people groups in this world.

So those are my top 5 favorite curriculum products we are using this year! If you enjoy reading this blog consider updates coming right to your email? Subscribe here!

"Guten Tag" from Germany!

This week in our Expedition Earth studies we "travelled" to Germany.  I studied German for 3 years in high school so I was excited to study this country once again with my girls!  First off, they stamped their passports and located the country on the map.

They had fun dancing to the "Wee Sing Around the World" song for Germany!

They practiced writing "hello" and "goodbye" in German

They did a map and flag page for their notebooks.

They put together their animal min-books and placed animal cards on the wall classification chart.

and they placed their country label on the continents wall chart.

They also had fun coloring their German paper doll!

And for our YWAM missionary studies we read about "Corrie Ten Boom"

Other things we did this week:

  • Prayed for the country of Germany
  • Read Country fun facts
  • Read from our Usborne Encyclopedia of World Geography
  • Stamp passport with exit date
(We didn't get to all the extra's this week)

Another thing I have to show off on here is the Chicken Coop my husband has been working's finally finished!

Danke for stopping by my blog.  Auf Wiedersehen until next time.  Next stop is the Netherlands!

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