Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Because you never know when you'll need a blue book

Soooo, I got sick of looking at the disorganized cluttery bookcases,
and went on a mission to make them PRETTY.

I rearranged everything: all three LARGE bookcases by color.

The kids helped me sort and stack.

Because you never know when you'll need a blue book. I just can't tell you how thrilled I am looking at the color piles.

Ahhhhh, refreshing!

Added bonus: it's much easier for the kids to re-shelf the books now. :-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The things that truly matter

I could tell you about how fabulous my Christmas was (it really was,) and how absolutely terrific my family is (they really are,) and how I survived my in-laws (just barely,) but I have something else on my mind.

I. Am. Blessed.

For whatever reason (~God~) my mind keeps returning to a child I've been praying for. I don't know him personally. I don't even know his family. They are friends of friends. His beautiful little face stuck in my mind. And I kept thinking, "that could be my child... my child suffering... my child in the hospital on Christmas fighting for his life..." How can I push that out of my mind? I can't and won't. (stop and pray for him, then continue...)

By chance (no, not really,) I found this post at Our Homeschool and Other Such Happenings, when looking for a homeschool lapbook plan. I cried. Okay, I downright sobbed uncontrollably right here at my computer. This woman loved and lost her baby. And her faith is carrying her through. She knows that God is faithful, no matter what. I just cannot fathom that kind of pain.

I have my children here and now. We played tickle monster this evening, gathered icicles to save in the freezer, watched a movie together and ate fudge from the neighbors. We read books before bed and sang Twinkle* Twinkle* Little Star. I was able to tell each one of them, "I love you more than all the stars in the sky and all of the sand on the beaches" (our nightly "goodbye.") I was able to give them all their "special kiss"-- lip kiss, noggin-knock, eskimo kiss, knuckles, and then a smooch blown from the door. I am so blessed to have them. I love them so much. I would give my life, health, possessions, anything for these children.

Sometimes ridiculous worries distract me. Unimportant things stress me out. Unnecessary things sap my energy. And I get anxious. I worry about what I don't have, rather than focusing on what I DO have.

When I step back and look at the big picture~ LIFE (the here and the later,) intentional living... oh, my, the little things fade away so fast.

It's "easier" on the heart to glaze over the rough things, like the children who live here at the shelter, and desperately need families to love and care for them. Check out the Arkansas Foster site to find out how to help. -(I've never thought it was a coincidence that my maiden name is Foster. People used to joke around that I was a "foster kid," but I'm sure it was just a sign of things to come, that one day we would feel called to be foster -->adoptive parents.)- Oh, it wouldn't be easy. Yes, there would be challenges. But can you imagine the rewards? The look on a child's face, when he is truly a part of your family? Loving and snuggling a child that might have otherwise been without a place to live?

How are the suffering child, the grieving mother and homeless children related?


PEOPLE hold value above all else. We are created for relationships. People are in pain around us. People need help. People need love.

My mind has been weighing these heavier things lately. I've been convicted about "singing a little louder." Everyone can do something. No excuses. That precious cancer-stricken boy needs prayer. His family needs support. That mother who lost her child needs our continual support and prayer. So many children in this country and abroad need families. Desperately. You can volunteer abroad in orphanages. Raise money to help, sponsor a child, commit to pray for the missionaries working there. everyone can do something. Did you hear me?

everyone can do something

I have my health, my children, my home, a husband who loves and adores me.

I take so much for granted.

I have so much to give. So much to be thankful for. So much love given and received: an armful of children. Really, I'm choking back tears right now, just thinking about my kids and how much I love them. I pray protection over them every night. I use The Power of a Praying Parent to cover their lives. But we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

And I thank God that He sent His Son, so that even when we are separated from those we love, it is only temporary. Mimi, I love you... I want to make the most of today. Every day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wreathmaking with the kids

The following paper and button wreath was inspired by Sara. Love your artwork, girl!!

Simple advent envelopes, strung up in the hallway. I had grand plans to sew one with little pockets, but my time ran short...
By the way, my artist child hand-stitched those stockings last year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Letter from an Imperfect Homeschooler

Darcy at Life with my 3 Boybarians recently posted this:

Letter from an Imperfect Homeschooler

"It must be that time of year, because I’ve gotten several emails in the last couple of weeks from stressed out, burned out homeschool moms. And what is the question I get over and over?

“How do you do it?”

Simple enough question, right? But let’s look at what that question isn’t saying. It’s implying:

You appear to have it all together. I don’t have anything together.
You appear composed and well-adjusted. I feel frazzled and stressed out.
You know something I don’t know.

The truth is that the blogosphere can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in so many ways. How else could we have a glimpse into what can otherwise be only an intimate family setting? When homeschool bloggers share their lives and their days, it can inspire us, teach us, motivate us and give us ideas to which we would otherwise never see.

But I ask my other homeschool mom colleagues – what are you projecting into the blogosphere?"

... Read more of Darcy's post here.

I agree with Darcy. While I think it's awesome to highlight our accomplishments, remember the fantastic days, and "scrapbook" our experiments, it's also nice to let it all hang out sometimes.If and when you need to.

Yes, my kids do well
and we do enjoy it.

I wouldn't give up homeschooling for anything.

No, it is not always easy or “perfect.”
We get discouraged, frustrated, and tired like everyone else.
We have good days and bad days,
like every other school, student, and teacher.
Sometimes the kids don't "get it" and we have to back track.
Sometimes the teacher loses her cool.

Every person has their own bloggie purpose. There's nothing *wrong* with just showing the good, if that's what your desire is. Bloggie Land can be a good "happy place."

However sometimes I need to just vent and share struggles, and get advice (or at least sympathy.) On those days, I find it sad that we/I feel such a need to “protect our challenges” from the world. Blame falls both places: the world needs to back-off. And we need to stand up and show the awesomeness and challenges of homeschooling, and help the other “real” moms and dads out there who are struggling with the same issues.
I'll enlighten you.
Not all homeschoolers look like this:
Sometimes our house looks like it's been through this:

Right now I'm FlyLady-ing the house to keep my sanity. Must be able to walk through the house, when it's too cold to escape outside!! Soooo, the homestead is staying tidy for these winter days.

We are usually done with school by 1pm, and then we go places, do ART (my happy time, people) and I go through a quick clean-up before the man gets home. Even though the man doesn't much care how the house looks. (bless the man!!) Therefore ART makes it to the top of my priority list more often than dusting. Each to his own. No one can do everything all the time.

The man does notice when I'm dressed up, though, which works out very nicely for me. I do love to dress up. Nope, not all homeschoolers wear jumpers 24/7, buns, glasses, bonnets. Seriously.

No two homeschoolers are alike. Our schedules, kids, methods, philosophies all vary. No homeschool is perfect, just as no public or private school is perfect. And if we can ALL, homeschoolers or not, share openly when we need help, support each others' decisions, give advice (solicited, of course,) then the blogosphere could be much more encouraging.

Another Darcy quote:
"Many of us are trying so hard to prove that homeschool is not only a viable option, but a worthy option, for educating our children that our protective defenses won’t allow us to admit that our homeschools are imperfect. But they are. Don’t mistake imperfection for unworthiness."

Just had to pass the encouragement on for any of you who are screaming inside, "just three school days left before break time!!"

***Okay, WOW, I just read this, and must link back to it. Please check out Heavenly Homemaker's post Will All of the Real Moms Please Stand Up?
It's just fantastic.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to those I love

Amy just celebrated her 26th Birthday, and had a White Elephant Christmas/ Birthday Bash. Woot, woot. So much fun!
Happy, Happy Birthday,
Little Sister!!!

And tomorrow this man, the love of my life, turns 31!
Happy Early Birthday, you fantastic man, you!

And just because....
We love this song and video...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sputter, sputter, sniff, sniff

I'm Back.

Breathing. Or trying to. I'm congested and my voice is gone. Phooey. Do you have any idea how hard it is to call four kids to the table with no voice? I've resorted to whistling.

It's been -weeks- since I posted. What a slacker.

Here's "what's up," in wonderfully random order.

~Craft Workshop~
The boys, making slime at our homeschool Christmas craft workshop. The whole thing was great!! Kids made homemade hot chocolate packets, sock dolls, marshmallow blowers, bath scrubs, rag dolls, etc etc. Very well done.

Kids with their friends, after the workshop. We had some face painting fun! I let each of the kids decide how their make-up and/or face paint would be designed.

Fred's grandma taught me how when we were over there last time. I got pretty excited about it, and Fred went out and bought me a loom set and yarn the next day. That night I knit this hat, while we watched a movie.
I have such good-looking little models.


These pictures were taken at Fred's uncle's house. Of course.
At my parents house, you'll see the kids drawing, watching animal documentaries, and playing chess. At my in-laws', they are more likely to be riding four-wheelers, playing football, watching TV, or climbing inside furnaces. The best of both worlds, I guess. ;-)
~My own "little" family~
Pics of the fam that my sis took here in town, before our Thanksgiving meal at Mom and Dad's. Thanks, Julie.
No, my Nature Man does not own a white dress shirt. And, no, the Artist is not wearing red fluffy slippers. Those are the ruffles at the end of her pants.
~Last Day of Co-op Classes~
The kids loved all of their co-op classes this semester. We're excited to be participating in even more classes next semester.

(yes, it does get its own category!)
I've been a hat-making machine in the evenings. The kids help me design them, and I whip 'em up. Can you guess what my nieces and nephews are getting for Christmas?
Another beautiful model child.
I'll say what my Dad always said to us,
"I'm so blessed to have children that are not only intelligent but also very beautiful."
Lovely face, Nature Man. Just lovely.

~Discovery Zone Field Trip~
Examining and Identifying rocks and shells.

The Artist and my Mom looking through books. So nice to have my folks nearby. They often attend our field trips with us. :-)

Studying about Arkansas rivers.

~Kiddy Nature Walk and Pinecone Glittering~
First, the nature walk to gather necessary supplies! We left when Dash fell in the water. Brrr...
Check out the awesome humongous leaf that Little Lad is holding, above.

Dash went a little glitter-crazy.

~Birthday Bash and Game Night with friends~
Good food, fun people, hilarious games. Great times!
Now you're pretty much caught up on the "good stuff." We've had some challenges, sickness, vehicle problems, and other "unpleasants." Just so you know. Because we aren't perfect. Life has challenges. All in all, I see good things happening. We are SO blessed, and we know it.