Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Around our table tonight....

Cosette: "Mommy, Eli says men are greater than ladies. That's not true, is it?
Me: Well, that depends on what you mean by 'greater', Eli.
Eli: Well, I mean, you know....stronger!
Me: Oh, well, yes, generally speaking, God created men to be physically stronger than women because they have important things to do, like work hard and protect their families. But that doesn't mean that there can't be strong ladies too, okay Eli?
Eli: Okay, but men are braver, right, Mommy?
Cosette: No, Eli, that's not true, because our Mommy is very, VERY brave!
Me: (With raised eyebrows, remembering the fact that I'm too chicken to swallow a teensy tiny pill, and I scream at the very mention of the word 'mouse') Um....how so, Cosette?
Cosette: Well, having a baby and going into labor is very, very hard, so that makes you very, very brave, right, Mommy?

Hhmm............well, when you look at it that way, she has a good point, you know ;)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anything but dull.......

My days are anything but boring! From the minute I wake up in the morning, till I lay my head down at night, I'm laughing, groaning, and sometimes just plain dumb-founded at the things that manage to happen around here! Today, for instance.....

  • Eli was playing outside in the yard. He found half of a broken blue beer bottle that somebody had thrown in our yard. Of course, he HAS to pick it up and bring it to me. My response? "Yuck! That's someone's old beer bottle. Please put it down!" Always, always, choose your words carefully when speaking to a five year old. Because his method of 'putting it down' was to throw it with all his might onto my cement front porch. Yeah. He looked about as surprised as I did at the shards of broken beer bottle on our front porch, as if he had no idea that that was going to happen when he threw it down. *sigh*

  • I sent everybody outside to play on the swing set after school today. I forgot it's the end of Februrary.....melting snow everywhere....yeah, MUD galore! By the time they all came in, I had a whole new load of laundry to wash!

  • I found Eli and Leanna sitting in the school room today, trying to eat the raw macaroni that Eli was supposed to be doing a school project with. To top it off, Eli was sorely disappointed when I informed him that you don't eat raw pasta!

  • Someone (once again!!!) forgot to close the bathroom door when they were done, and I found Leanna sitting in the sink licking everybody's toothbrushes.

  • Most amazing thing of the whole day? Eli just came to me and asked "Mama, can I take a bath?" It's not even a normal bath day for him!!! Oh please, someone catch me before I faint! ;)

And so, this is why sometimes, at the end of the day, when Joel asks what I want to do with the evening, I reply "Let's just sit here and enjoy the quiet" :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Overwhelmed with gratitude

Since my oldest is only seven, and the rest of my kiddos are still so young, I'm sure I'm no expert in this. But, I think that I am at least slowly finding out that one of the most rewarding, fulfilling things for a parent is when your child has been struggling with something, fighting through a particular issue, and suddenly, you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You see them 'coming out on the other side', so to speak. You look at them and realize "Wow, they've worked through this! There has been character development, positive personality changes, and my child has learned one more step in dealing with difficulties. And maybe, just maybe, their relationship with Jesus has also grown and matured through all of this"

And I think that maybe that's part of the reason why we were so willing to add a fifth to our little brood of people. Sure, it's hard work...a LOT of hard work. But wow, the blessings sure make the hard work well worth it!

So, for those of you struggling with your own issues with your children, can I just encourage you to press on? Keep praying for that child, keep loving them, keep seeing every challenging moment as an opportunity to help that child/preteen/teenager to draw closer to his/her Lord.

My Thursday sisters Bible Study was a real blessing to me tonight, as they let me talk some things out and share some struggles/joys we've been experiencing in Parenthood lately.

And as I came upstairs later and checked on all my sleeping babies, brushed their sweet curls from their faces, remembered funny things they'd said during the day---well, I was just over-whelmed with gratitude that I get to be their Mama. It's amazing to me the sanctifying, purifying work God is doing in my OWN heart as I go through this journey of Parenthood!

Monday, February 20, 2012

My pathetic story

So, there are certain necessary (or at least helpful) survival skills for a homeschooling mother of four (with number five on the way!) I lack one of them.  (I'm sure I lack many more than one, but there's one specific thing I'm thinking of right now.) I'll give you three guesses what it might be.

Guess number one: I can't survive on no sleep. Um....nope. I've had a nursing baby for at least four of the past seven years---I think I've got the 'little to no sleep' thing down just fine.

Guess number two: I can't teach a child how to read. Nope, wrong again. I've got two great readers, and another well on his way. Guess again.

Guess number three: I can't cook. Oh, come on, folks! Have you ever even tasted my roasted chicken and homemade rolls? All three guesses were wrong. I suppose I'll have to tell you.

Wait. You have to promise not to laugh, okay? Here goes.

I can't......sharpen pencils. *sigh* I knew you were going to laugh, I can hear you through the computer!!

Sad thing is, I'm totally not lying.  And it's a really sad thing because, well, sharp pencils are a really helpful tool to have in a homeschooling environment!

We've tried all kinds of pencil sharpeners---hand-held manual, screw on a shelf manual, battery operated----I either snap the points off of the pencils, or I break the pencil sharpener.

You think I'm kidding, don't you?

Well, about a month and a half ago, I was sick of trying to sharpen pencils for the kids with our little hand-held thing. Half of the time I'd end up with totally weak pencil points that would break after writing one word, and the other half, the stupid points would get stuck in the  stupid sharpener and I'd have to get a stupid little paper clip to try to pry out the stupid little points. (The more frustrated I get, the more things suddenly become 'stupid' )
So, I decided to 'splurge' and buy a nice, electrical pencil sharpener. I spent a quarter of a hundred dollars (that sounds like a whole lot more than twenty five dollars, doesn't it?? ;) on this really nice pencil sharpener. It worked like a dream----beautiful, nice sharp pencil points---for exactly a week and a half. Until I broke it. Please don't ask how. All I know is, it just stopped working one day, and when Joel took it apart, the little wheel thingy in the middle was all chewed up. And, I was the only one allowed to use the pencil sharpener, so I'm quite sure that it was me who broke it.

So, back to square one. The little manual pencil sharpener things. One day last week, I brought my cupful of dull pencils to the kitchen trash can and started sharpening away on that little thing. It sharpened exactly zero pencils before the top snapped right off of it. *sigh again*

So, we've been surviving on exactly two half-sharp pencils with half-dead erasers for several days now. Then, Joel got the bright idea for me to gather up all the pencils in the house today, take them to his office, and HE would sharpen them for me.

I gathered up every single pencil I could find in the house (about 35 altogether), and carted them over to my husband's office. He has one of those pencil sharpeners there that sits on the shelf and you turn the crank like an ice-cream maker.

After watching him sharpen five or six pencils successfully, I was beginning to think maybe this wasn't such a hard deal after all.

"Let me try love, I think I can do it" He looked doubtfully at me, but agreed it was worth a shot.

I stuck the first pencil in. Broke the point right off. He tried to figure out what I was doing wrong and offered a few suggestions.

I stuck the second one in. I almost had it sharpened before the point broke off of it as well.

On pencil number three or four, the sharpener started to make a weird noise, and it felt a little funny too.

"Um Jaime, let me see the pencil."

After just a minute or two, Joel made the official diagnosis. I had broken this pencil sharpener too.

Hey, don't laugh! I can hear you laughing again!!!

So, what are my options?? Well, as I see them, I have about three.

1. Send all my pencils to work with Joel to sharpen once a week or so---AFTER they replace the pencil sharpener I broke :/

2. Try to use those pencils with little push-out points (yeah, like that would really work with my two wild boys!!)

3. Um.....okay, my options are really only two.

Anybody else have any great ideas for this poor, sharp-pencil deprived mother?

Friday, February 17, 2012

For those of you who may not have seen this on my husband's facebook page, isn't she cute?!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For Christmas, my sister gave each of my kids this big, soft, fluffy 'animal' shaped pillow, with a 'certificate' for a sleepover at her house. The boys redeemed their certificate several weeks ago. They had a slumber party and made a fort in her living room :) Well, Cosette got to go to Aunt Kristin's last night for her sleepover, and, as part of the deal, no school today. One of the many perks of being home-schooled, I reckon ;)

So I was discussing with the boys over breakfast what our day was going to look like. Eli decided that he still wanted to do his school-work after lunch, like he usually does.

So, that left me with an 'open' morning. Normally, I'd be busy from about 8:30 until 11:00 or so helping Cosette with her chores, doing her school work, and practicing her violin. But instead, I found myself with alllll this free time.

Can I just say that even a few free hours for me is AMAZING????

All this stuff that has been bothering me in the back of my mind is now done. All because of a few hours with no school to teach.

My fridge is cleaned and wiped out, even the waaaaay bottom of it underneath all the shelves. My freezer is now so neat and organized it looks like it belongs in a magazine ;) My pantry is cleaned out, all the half-eaten stale bags of tortilla chips thrown away and the cans and boxes in nice, neat rows. The boys cupboards are cleaned out. No wonder they couldn't keep them clean! There was an entire garbage bag worth of clothes in there that were either too small, torn and old, or they just plain never wore them. I love nice, tidy looking stacks of clothes :) The cupboard underneath my bathroom sink has been cleaned out, and there's now room for extra boxes of tissues and my hair-dryer :) Meal plans have been begun for the up-coming week.

*phew* See how much I'd accomplish if I weren't homeschooling? But I guess, in the long run, I'd get all the cupboards and drawers organized, and then I'd sit around and miss teaching my little ones :) So, continue teaching I will, and simply take advantage of mornings like this to try to keep my house from becoming too over-run!

So now, here I sit, rewarding myself for all my hard work with a low-caffeine cup of cappuccino that my wonderful husband brought home the other day. I only have one picture for you today, and that was our breakfast :)

It's a big bowl of homemade, no-sugar oatmeal. Sound disgusting? Give it a chance! It's our new favorite breakfast---it's packed full of yummy stuff like vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Then, we top it off with a big pile of whatever fruit we happen to have in the house at the time. There's just something about seeing your kids shovel spoonfuls of healthy goodness into their mouths that makes a Mama's heart happy ;)

Homemade Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cook)
4 cups water or milk, or a combination of both
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
generous sprinkling of cinnamon
small sprinkling of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseed (optional, only if you're feeling extra healthy ;)

Mix all in a greased, oven proof dish, and bake, uncovered, at 375 for 20-30 minutes, or until creamy and cooked. Serve with additional milk and huge piles of fruit :) Enjoy each bite, reminding yourself of your ever-lowering cholesterol level as you enjoy your breakfast ;)  (Note: If you're used to the high sugar level, pre-packaged oatmeals from the store, and still can't get used to this kind, try sprinkling just a small teaspoon of brown sugar over the oatmeal. You'll still be consuming way less sugar than the store-bought stuff, and it'll help sweeten it just slightly. Although, my kids are used to eating it with little to no sugar at all and like it just fine ;)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday ponderings....

Can I say that raising four (soon to be five!) children has been one of the most difficult things I've ever endeavored to do! It's been harder than getting my license (don't laugh, I'm NOT a natural behind the wheel; I won't even tell you how many attempts it took me before they granted me a license ;) It's been harder than trying to get my Bachelor's degree in three years instead of four (and let me tell you, there were some times during that little endeavor that I thought I surely must have lost my mind!) It's been harder than.....well, a lot of things!

Some days, the weight of responsibility on my shoulders presses down to the point that I feel almost over-whelmed. I start to think maybe Joel and I actually WERE a little insane to think we could handle this many.

We've been dealing with an 'issue' with one of our children lately. I won't go into detail, or tell you the child, out of respect for that child's privacy. Suffice it to say, it's been challenging, and I've not always been sure that we've been handling the situation in the right way.

But then, I have to remember.....while children don't come with an instruction manual (wish they did!), I DO know the One Who knows their hearts better than I ever will. And so, we take it to God in prayer. "Dear Lord, these children of ours are YOURS; show us what to do, because we're at a loss."

God answered that prayer this morning by sending us confirmation, instruction, and encouragement in an unexpected way after church. We both felt a renewed energy to 'keep on plugging away', keep on praying for this particular issue with our child. The person who blessed us in this way this morning was not even aware that that's what they were doing----it was totally just God answering my crying out to Him for help and instruction.

And so, on days when I feel that suffocating, 'over-whelmed' feeling, I remind myself of a few things.

1. My children ARE depending on me----but if I'm depending on God, then THEY are also depending on HIM, and not me, right? Kind of a round-about way of looking at things, but it's the truth. I'm not, and I can't, do this on my own strength. When I've tried, believe me, I've failed!  My children are leaning on me, and I'm leaning on God, so we're all leaning on Him together.

2. I do NOT have all the answers---but that's okay. Because my God, Who DOES have all the answers, loves and cares about me and my children.

And so I have to conclude that yes, Joel and I would have been crazy to attempt to raise this many children on our own. But we're not. We're totally giving our lives and children over to HIM---and that makes all the difference.

So when satan tries to throw that blanket over my head and suffocate me with lies and deceit, I bow my head and ask the Lover of my soul and my children to please, show me the right way; help me to love these children as YOU love these children; and most of all, help me to lean on You.

So glad, so grateful, so thankful, that I know the One with the instruction manual :)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

And that's how homeschooling goes.....

The morning started out with a fact poster about camels. Cosette is studying the Middle East, you see, and I thought a poster about camels might be a fun project for her to do.

I was right. It fact, she made it look SO fun......


....that pretty soon she had a little brother begging to make his own poster. Only, he wanted to do one about tigers :)


And then, naturally, the next little brother comes to me with thumb in his mouth "Mama, I want to do a poster too!" Monkeys it is, then.....

He was doing a great job writing 'monkey', unitil his hand got tired :)

And so, you see, with homeschooling, you have to be ready to go with the flow :)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Quick, hide the markers!!

Okay, so, if you're like one of those moms who loves to sit down and color with her child or cut things out and glue them together with popsicle sticks.....can I just say that you should probably skip reading this blog post? Because if you do, you're going to think I'm some kind of horrible monster-mother.

Why? Because................ "I hate crafts!!!!!"

I don't hate 'real' crafts....like beautiful homemade quilts, paintings, that type of thing. I'm talking about the first-grade, 'cut up paper, glue pom-poms on a piece of felt, get glitter everywhere' kind of crafts.

So what's the big deal? My son (Eli), loves crafts!!!!!

He will sit for hours cutting paper, gluing paper, using markers, crayons, colored pencils, tape, stickers, paper plates, pipe cleaners, and any other 'crafty' thing he can get his hands on.

And.......he's only five, so getting him to properly clean up everything has been a REAL challenge. Every single time he makes a mess (which is numerous times every single day), I walk into our school/craft/music room and just *sigh*, out loud! (If I don't start crying first!)

And then begins the ordeal that takes forever. "Eli, did you clean up your craft mess?" "No" "Okay, go do that now."

Ten minutes later: "I'm done mom!"

Um......his idea of 'done' is to push all the cuts of paper onto the floor, throw the glue sticks without their lids on the shelf, pick up half of the markers, and put them (usually without lids) into the marker basket so they get all dried out, leave chairs untucked, and just a general 'hodge podge' of stuff all over my floor.

And so goes the next step. "Eli, you are not done. Pick up ALL the markers. Good. Now put the lids back on the glue sticks. Thank you. Now....." And so on and so forth.

Multiple times. Every single day.

Don't get me wrong. I WANT my son to be 'crafty'. He comes up with some clever stuff sometimes, and his drawing skills are improving all the time!

But honestly folks, I'm almost eight months pregnant, and if I have to walk in that school room and see it a total disaster with 'craft' stuff alllllllll over the place one more time, I think I shall........scream!

I try to keep it organized, neat clean and tidy, so it's easy for him to pick up when he's done. All the markers in their own basket, a cup for the colored pencils, neat stacks of paper, etc. But somehow, that boy of mine has a talent of walking into a clean room and making it look like a cyclone went through!

For a person who hates crafts, gets the hives at the mention of a craft store, and would rather scrub the toilet that glue popsicle sticks together......God sure has blessed me with a 'crafty' son!

We'll get through these days, I kow. One day, he'll be a teenager, asking for the car keys, and I'll miss the days when all he needed to make him happy was some paper and markers. That is, IF I don't loose my mind before he becomes a teenager.....haha, just kidding. I think ;)

Friday, February 03, 2012

A much-neglected Gift

An open line of communication with the God of the Universe? Yes, please

Someone who cares about every little thing I think, feel, or say, 24/7? Yes, please

Someone who doesn't mind being called upon at 2 a.m.? Yes, please

Someone who has the power to heal sickness, cure heart-ache, forgive sin, and fill every empty, void place in my life? Yes, please!

So.......why DON'T we call on this ONE more often? Good question.

Best advice I've read recently on improving your prayer life: JUST DO IT. Just pray. On your hands and knees, sitting in your chair, laying in your bed, driving in your car, in the middle of the night, while you're washing dishes, as you go through your work day----make your every breathing moment a prayer to the One Who loves you best.

And when best to start making this a way of life? Why, when little ones soak in truth like a sponge, of course :)

We're praying that this year can be a year when our whole family more fully realizes the beauty and blessings that come when time is spent with Almighty God.




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