Welcome

Thanks for visiting my blog. I began journaling about my daily life when I was eleven. Over the years, this has grown to become a way for me to share my thoughts rather than my daily life. I’m pretty open with sharing all the beautiful chaos of life with six children. I have to remind myself to extend grace to myself each and every day! It is my hope that my writings will help others to learn to extend grace to themselves too. After all, if it weren’t for the Grace of God, life would just be messy. I’m so glad that life can instead be a Beautiful Mess and is covered by His Beautiful Grace.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Mom Vacations are real, and all the other fun stuff I’ve done these past few days....

   So my weekend started out great, then took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.  We had a field trip Friday morning to make King Cakes!  I let the kids eat theirs for lunch and totally skip eating anything healthy.   I made plans with our babysitter for my husband and I to have a date night.  My oldest was getting ready to go to some friends’ house to practice robotics and get ready for their competition on Saturday.  I ran in to help him find the shirt he needed, while another kiddo decided to chase his sister and push her down.  She had finally had enough, so she picked up a rock to throw at him.  Thankfully it didn’t hit him, but it did hit the window to my van.  Date night canceled!
   Saturday was great!  We had some beautiful weather, and the temperature was perfect.  We went to Elijah’s robotics competition and then came home to play outside for a few hours.  Sunday morning we had church, went to eat lunch at Johnny’s, and then back to the church to wait for the Crewe of Cotton Mardi Gras parade to start.  Sunday evening Gabe and I got to go to dinner and buy groceries without the kids.  Overall, it was a great weekend, even if it did have a little hiccup in there.
   Needless to say, the Valentine’s Day activities post is being postponed for tomorrow!!!  For now I’ve got to tell you just how awesome today was!!!
   Today I got a Mom Vacation!  It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve had a day to run errands without the kids.  I had to get that busted window replaced, so my Mom volunteered to come sit with the kids so that I could do that.  It was pouring rain, so I had to drive super slow to keep the covering from blowing off of the window.  Then I got to sit in the waiting room and wait all by myself for an hour and a half, where I was also able to have a nice fresh cup of coffee and drink it all before it got cold.  I ran through drive thru for my lunch, which I got to eat while it was still hot, and I didn’t have to share my fries.  I then dropped off an old modem so that we would stopped being charged for it, and stopped by the bank.  Since I was finished early, I decided to stop at the AT&T store for a new phone.  I managed all of that in just 4 hours!  I feel so productive tonight, but I feel like I got a little pick me up too.  I rarely get time to myself, and getting a new gadget for myself is nearly unheard of. I hope that maybe I can convince my Mom to make this a regular thing once a month.
I was happy to have a cup of coffee and a nice long wait !

The camera on my new phone is so much fun!  

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Valentine’s Day Preparations

   I love Valentine’s Day.  The lovie-dovie candy and flowers part is nice, but the part I love is putting together super simple activities for the kids to do.  Seriously, $10 at the Dollar Tree and your kids can have a little fun all week long!  More on that this weekend!

   As I am working on a post for this weekend with some ideas for simple activities for next week, I knew that I needed to post my booklist earlier so that you could request them from the library or order on Amazon.  There are many great Valentine’s Day books, but these are some of the books on my radar this year.  Come back this weekend for some great go-along activities for kids of all ages!


This one is available on Kindle Unlimited!

This one is also available on Kindle Unlimited!

Monday, February 3, 2020

New Things on the Horizon

   I’ve started 2020 with an excitement for working and writing that I haven’t had in a while.  Over the past year or so I’ve made countless notes about topics to write about, content that I’d like to share on my blog, and a few bigger projects that I’d like to work on.  The time just wasn’t right for me to jump back into working.  During this time I had been approached to write several articles and blog posts for others, but I knew that it wasn’t the right fit for me.  I love doing this, but I knew that God was leading me to develop my own blog and work on some projects on my own.  I am still open to writing for others, and working on projects with some of the ladies that I have worked with in the past, but I want to grow my blog as I work on others.

   January is a free trial month for the new year, and it gave me a good chance to see how I can fit writing into my regular schedule, without it affecting my family.  A large family requires a lot of time, and I need to focus more attention on training my children up in the Lord, and teaching them each day.  Many times when I am trying to finish a project I let them have movie days or do their own projects while I am working.  This usually results in a bit of evening chaos as we try to reclaim the house before bed, and it often affects the next few days afterwards as well.  I know that this won’t work if I am going to really focus on growing a blog and sharing some of the projects that I have in mind this year.  I’ve decided to devote 3 nights a week to my work, after the kids have gone to bed.  This is time that I typically spend in quiet, all by myself anyways, so that I can wind down from the busy day.  I also have a little time in the morning while drinking my coffee that I can make notes or outlines on some ongoing projects.  It’s not ideal for everyone, but it works for me!

   So just what do I have on the horizon?  One HUGE project, and four smaller ones.  The one will help you with teaching your little ones preschool, while the others will help you manage your meals a bit better.  Both of these are things that I currently do myself, but have never taken the time to write them down permanently.  As I gear up for teaching my last year of preschool this next school year (how is that even possible?), I knew that now is the time to write down all of my great ideas.  As I began to plan time to write, I knew that I had to really stick to my meal planning in order for it to all work out for me to have the time that I need.  Chores have to flow pretty smoothly as well, but I haven’t figured out the secret to that one yet.

   Keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I dive into this new adventure.  I’m excited about the possibilities and I can’t wait to share more with all of you.

I decided to use the motor home as an office
so that I can work without interruptions.
  It worked well tonight!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Simplicity

   Another school year has passed for us, and we aren’t doing any school work over the summer.  Friday was our last day, so we spent Monday cleaning the house.  Tuesday we finished getting the house back in order so that we can spend our summer maintaining it as needed.  During the school year this just doesn’t get done as it should.  We do enough to get by, until we just stop and take a day or two to regroup.  It’s now Thursday, and this week has been magical!  We’ve relaxed, we’ve laughed, we’ve played, Ive read 2 books, and I’ve even written a little bit.  With the exception of getting stuck inside due to storms, this is exactly how I’d like to spend our summer.
    Today I did something I’ve not done in years.  I baked cookies!  From scratch!  Sarai wasn’t so sure it was possible, because she didn’t see any packages or precut cookies anywhere.  She was quite confused when she asked what I was doing.  It felt so good to make those cookies!  I feel like a normal Mom again.  I’ve been so stressed out for the last few years and haven’t gotten to enjoy being a mom.  I love homeschooling, and it has its own joys, but letting that go for the summer and just being a mom feels like a dream.  This week has been simple, and even if it doesn’t stand out in the kids’ memories, it will forever stand out in mine.  This is exactly what I needed!
     Before we finished school last week, I’d already planned out next school year.  I even have some of our curriculum ready to go.  I made some adjustments so that next school year can be a little simpler.  I’m hoping that relaxing this summer, and just focusing on living a simple life will help us to integrate school back into our lives this fall in a much simpler way.  I don’t want school to be stressful.  I want it to be joyful!  I want memories of homeschooling to give my kids warm feelings once they’ve grown up and started families of their own.  I want them to remember me as a kind and loving mom, not a stressed out angry mom.
     This summer may prove to be difficult.  We all have attitudes to work on.  We have some habits to adjust.  I want to begin writing regularly.  This will all take work.  My plan is to take it easy, and keep it simple.  I want us to have a carefree summer break.  There’s a lot to be said for simplicity!

Monday, July 23, 2018

A New Year is Upon Us

   This summer has flown by.  We have been so busy, and we were still working on last year's school work as well.  It's so hard to believe that in less than a month we will be back in school.  I spent the month of June evaluating myself personally, as well as the things that did and didn't work in our home and school last year.  I've been convicted that I lack self-discipline, and that most of that comes from my health and weight slowing me down.  My endurance is so low these days, and that affects so much of my life.  I devised a plan, and have spent July putting that plan in place.




      First up, PHYSICAL HEALTH.  I have known my weight was a problem for a long time, but it has gotten so that it is hard to do much throughout the day.  I get tired very easily, and my back and joints hurt constantly.  Carrying around so much extra weight HURTS!  We joined the local gym and made a low carb menu for July.  I'm already seeing some changes, and I'm certainly feeling the difference in my energy.  I'm excited to follow this through and to spend the next year getting healthy.  I have about 100 lbs to lose, so it's going to be a slow process.




      Depression has been a constant battle for me since I was in Jr High.  I have to fight it each and every day.  Over the past year, it had gotten so bad that I had to be medicated for it.  I didn't want to have to resort to that, but I NEEDED IT!  A lot of my depression had to do with some situational things that I couldn't control, so I spent time working those things out as I could.  I had a lot of resentment and bitterness that I had to let go of.  In May I found that the hurt had lessened, and I was able to get through my day without the medication.  Each day is still a battle, but I know that getting up and getting myself together for the day makes a huge difference.  I began wearing makeup daily again, and even decided to join Younique to get                                                   a discount on my makeup.  This has proven to be pretty fun!


      Another thing I knew I needed help with was the day to day function in our home.  Staying on top of chores, and teaching the kids to do chores without being told is high on my list.  I find that in order to maintain order within the house, we have to have systems in place that make that easy.  With Gabe and I sharing much more of the kids' activities and appointments, the big kids much more independant with chores, and a need for me to be more organized, I decided to make a family command center wall in the hallway.  I still have a few finishing touches, but for the most part, it is ready to go.  The clipboard is for the verse of the week, the cookie sheet is for the chore list.  It'll have a column for each room, and a list of everything that must be done in                                                       the room for the day and week.  Six magnets at the top will have                                                             names on them, and Gabe and I will assist with everyone's chores as                                                       needed.  The black canvas is for our menu each week.  This should                                                         make life a lot easier to maintain for us!


      We stuck with the same curricula this year, so planning for the new year was really easy.  Elijah and Levi both got a planner and will take time on Monday morning to write down exactly what they need to get done each week.  I made my own planner, and have scheduled out our lessons for the year for science and history.  I've begun writing in our verse of the week, and song of the week.  These will both be used in our Morning Basket time, as well as for copy work.  Our classroom has become very minimalist, and I LOVE it!  Charlotte Mason and Montessori have been great for us!!!



   I'm so excited about the coming year.  We have no new babies on the way, no moves on the horizon, and nothing major coming up that we know of.  God may certainly have other plans for us, but for now, this is all we know.  It should be a wonderful year!

Note:  I will have a follow up post with classroom photos and a curriculum list for this year.  I don't recall all of the sites that I got my planner pages from, but if you are interested, you can find them on my Pinterest board.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Moms These Days

The other night Gabe and I were talking about how attending church has changed.  No longer do people just go to the neighborhood church because that’s what you do on Sundays.  Very few people even step in the church for a service or event without knowing someone already there.  I even read an article a few weeks ago that stated that most millennials watch a church’s service online an average of 3 times before deciding to visit.  I wish that I could find this article to link it, but the article isn’t really important to this post.  This conversation got me to thinking about the way things have changed in my short lifetime, especially for moms.

Being a Mom has always been hard.  Moms have always been expected to hold it all together, and to look good doing it.  Being a mom in church has been even harder!  Moms have been expected to look near perfect when attending church, and to be sure that each child looked perfect too.  Oh, they had to also make sure that their children acted perfectly too.  Talk about exhausting!  Going to church and having a toddler in the midst of a bad day could leave a Mom in tears as she left, feeling like she didn’t measure up to presenting her best to God.  I don’t even know where this idea came from.  There is no way that any of us, no matter how well we are able to put ourselves and families together on Sunday morning, will ever be good enough for God.  We can’t earn salvation!  Our outward appearance doesn’t determine how spiritual we are, and it doesn’t buy us a ticket to Heaven.

Growing up I watched my parents strive for this week after week.  I watched my Mama stress out about finding matching shoes, and making sure her hair and makeup was perfect.  I loved watching her fix her hair and do her makeup, but I definitely remember how stressful Sunday mornings could be.  Once I became a Mom, I felt those same stresses.  As a preacher’s wife, I didn’t have the option of just not attending on those less than perfect days though.  I’ve had to go to church with wet hair countless times, and make-up is an “only if I have time” thing.  I personally believe that God would rather us be there with a calm spirit and looking less than our best, than look perfect but be completely stressed out. I know He'd rather us be there, than at home because the morning was just too hard.  I love that churches are becoming more welcoming to moms, and that Christian writers are sharing their less than perfect lives so openly now.  We are able to relate to them so much better, because we see that our own struggles aren’t abnormal.  We are able to accept that we are doing the best that we can, and that we aren’t a failure because we have a hard day.  I love this attitude of solidarity that so many moms have adopted.  It gets me through each day, and I know that it gets so many of my friends through each day as well.

My generation is different.  We’ve seen more changes in our short 30 some odd years than any other generation.  We all started out in the carefree days of only striving for perfection when going to church.  Family vacations were spent camping or visiting family in another state, and exploring the area where they live.  Cruises and trips to Disney were luxuries.  Most of us made our first phone calls on a rotary phone in elementary, then fought over using the cordless phone first in middle school.  We saw our parents get bag phones when we were in jr high, and we carried a pager in high school.  We dealt with busy signals when calling friends, because they were online, and we waited several minutes as our own computers connected to dial-up internet, just so that we could get online to chat or request samples of Jelly Belly jelly beans.  Many of us typed our first research papers in college on word processors, or used the school computer lab, and within just a year or two we had laptops.  By the time we graduated college, we were using phones to text people.  Social media sites became a thing.  Then smart phones where we could check our email, and even take pictures.  Just 10 years after I graduated high school, the iPhone came out, changing EVERYTHING about our daily lives.  We suddenly had a window into the lives of others right in our pocket.  We were able to share even more about our daily lives without having to sit down at the computer.  Planning big vacations became the norm, and laid back trips to visit family or go camping were overlooked or reserved for weekend trips only.  Sites like Pinterest and YouTube joined the scene and suddenly we had instructions and ideas for anything we could think to search for.  We have found ourselves overwhelmed by what looks like perfect lives everywhere we look, being reminded by bloggers that no one is perfect, striving to create a picture-perfect life anyways, and being judged by strangers because we aren't perfect.  That's a whole lot of change in just a short time!

As church leaders, I believe that taking these changes into account would serve us well as we seek ways to serve others in our community.  We know times have changed, and our way of reaching out needs to change as well.  We know that women tend to be the ones to make sure that families are in church, so we need to make sure that women and especially moms feel welcomed at our church.  When we see a mom that is obviously struggling, we need to reach out and lend a helping hand, not turn our heads in judgement.  Even a smile or hug on a hard day can go such a long way towards reminding a mom that she's not messing up everything around her.  We need to be sure to provide childcare for women's events to be sure that younger women are able to attend.  Bringing kids with you is sometimes okay, but today's moms are so stressed and overworked, that they need that break to just be with other like-minded women, where they can relax and know that their kids are being cared for by loving volunteers.  Christian moms these days want to learn more about Christian living, not just more about the Bible stories we've heard in Sunday School every 3 years since we were toddlers.  They want real relationships with those they go to church with.  They want to hear stories from the older ladies about how they struggled in their day too, not about how things were different and how it's all messed up now.  Non-Christian women aren't flocking to churches just because that's what they've always done either.  We have to find ways to reach out to them, build relationships with them, and share Christ with them without expecting them to come to church first in order for us to do that.  We have to look beyond the walls of the church, and consider things outside of our traditional ways, in order to reach moms and their families.

Today's moms are a really fascinating bunch of ladies, and they can be a great asset to our churches, but if we don't make our churches welcoming to them, we are going to miss out on a great blessing.  We have to find a way to bridge the gap between the older women in the church, and the younger women that they want to see in church.  It can't be all about children's and youth programs anymore.  Those things alone won't keep a family in church together.  Often those will result in children or teens coming without the parents.  We have to consider the whole family, and especially the moms.   Far too many churches are missing out on the fellowship and joy of families worshiping and serving together, because they just don't understand moms these days.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Geoboard Math



Geoboards are lots of fun for students of all ages.  Shape templates can be found on most educational websites and blogs, even in the old-school teacher’s idea books we inherited from veteran teachers.  They range from basic shapes, to complex designs using multiple rubber bands.  These activities exercise those small muscles to develop fine motor skills, and engage the brain for higher order thinking necessary for advanced STEAM activities.  Geoboards were missing from our homeschool classroom for several years, and have spent this school year in my file cabinet, still wrapped in the cellophane they came in.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to use them, I had just never made time to use them.  These were a favorite of mine when I was a kid, and I knew my kids would enjoy them, so I ordered a set last summer from Amazon.  The set even came with a few rubber bands, so there was really no excuse for not using them.  I decided to look for a great opportunity to introduce them to the kids, and within a few days, I had found that opportunity.

Malachi has recently been working on rows and columns in math, so I thought it was the perfect time to get out the geoboards and get a little extra practice in.  We’ve introduced ordinal numbers as well, so extra practice was needed in this area too.  He got so excited about being the first of our kids to use this fun new manipulative.  I let him explore it a little bit to get comfortable with stretching the rubber band around the pegs, and then I introduced the lesson to him.  It was a hit!

Lesson:  Review ordinal numbers and rows/columns.

Instructions:  Instruct the child to place the rubber band in a straight line along the row or column that you call out.  Call out random rows or columns, using ordinal numbers to describe where the rubber band should be placed.  Example:  Place the rubber band in the 3rd row.
Variation 1:  Have the child place the rubber band anywhere he wants, and you name the row or column.
Variation 2:  Name starting and ending points.  Example:  Begin on row 1, column 3 and stretch to row 4, column 3.
Variation 3:  Name starting and ending points in different rows and columns.
Variation 4:  Download and print pattern sheets or task cards.  These are available in many skill levels.  Have the child create the patterns as directed on the cards.  Geoboard Patterns

I hope that you and your children enjoy geoboards as much as Malachi does, and can find many more ways to use this fun manipulative in your own classroom.  Leave me a comment with your ideas!