More Than You Can Chew

More Than You Can ChewIt’s coming; I can feel it. Once the learning year gets underway, things start moving along at a faster pace. We go from just a few activities a month to activities several times a week. We jump from one event to the next, trying to fill our days with fun and fond memories for our kiddos. In all the planning, sometimes we bite off a little more than we can chew.

One of the dangers in being a parent is over-planning. Now, add homeschooling to the mix and you have one crazy household! Not only are we planning our learning routines, but we are adding in sports events, field trips, visits with friends, play dates, swim days, crafting opportunities, and more. Before you know it our calendar can be overbooked.

Perhaps I’m not the only one to notice this strange phenomena and all the challenges which come with it? Our intentions are well-meaning and our hearts are in the right place, but, next thing you know, the kids are getting cranky and you are all tired of running in high gear. Slowly, but surely, you become overwhelmed.

Might I make a humble suggestion, to myself as well as everyone else? Instead of over-booking our lives with event after event, let’s save time for things which really matter and events which benefit our families the most. Not every opportunity needs to be taken, not every event needs to be attended; we need to learn the fine art of saying, “No!”

Just looking at our current calendar, I can already tell we are starting to hit our limit. Before bite off more than I can chew, it’s time to start saying, “No!”

Time to Chime In: How is your currently calendar looking? Are the coming months starting to look overbooked?

Anything You Can Do…

Anything You Can Do

No competition here; just good, plain fun!

It’s there, you can feel it. The underlying edge to the conversation. These women aren’t sharing their knowledge of learning and parenting for the sake of edification. Nope; they are condescendingly sharing their ideas so that others will admire their actions, abilities, and resources.

Is it a female thing; this need to compare ourselves to other people? While I am sure there are men who engage in such actions, I find this to be more prevalent in women. We weigh our curriculum, our routines, our households, our relationships, and more against someone else’s. Why do we do this?

Sometimes we are doing so simply to evaluate where we stand. Are we on the right path? Is there more we could be doing? At other times, if we are being honest with ourselves, we are filled with pride. How could they do that; don’t they know it’s not the best way to homeschool? Why would she do that; doesn’t she understand that is a major parenting mistake?

There are times when sharing our views is perfectly acceptable. When someone asks how we organize our day or which curriculum we like best, it can be fun to share ideas and compare how families differ in their preferences. If a person is needing moral council, we should share the will of Christ. Nor is it a concern if we are merely expressing our opinions or feelings; we have the freedom to do so. However, we need to be very careful that we are doing so with the right attitude. It can be all too easy to shift from sharing to downgrading. Instead of giving examples of what we do and explaining why we like it, we become condescending toward those who don’t do the same. We belittle those who are different from ourselves. I have heard this specific complaint mentioned numerous times. How sad!

We need to avoid the sin of pride. Pride prevents us from establishing good relationships and sharing Christ with others. We think our way is best and think less of those who aren’t doing the same. Apart from moral issues, we need to understand that our way of doing things is simply that; our way. It is not our job to convince people to our way of thinking, nor is our way the only way the job gets done.

To further complicate the problem, what are we teaching our children when they see us engage in this action? Instead of modeling a gracious spirit, one with a heart to edify and encourage, we are teaching them the art of pride.

In our daily conversations, we need to be careful how we conduct ourselves. Our pride can quickly get us into trouble and stumble others around us. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are immune to this problem. In fact, sometimes, it’s just the opposite. Christians can too often be filled with self-righteousness and pride. When we do catch ourselves giving in to this temptation, we need to ask forgiveness and begin to change our ways. If we happen to be present when such a conversation is being held, we need to speak up! Graciously and humbly, we should counsel those given over to pride.

Sharing about our lives can be lots of fun and often helps others. Let’s share with grace and humility, with a desire to edify those around us. Anything else is just pride.

Time to Chime In: Do you find it hard to speak up when you overhear a person being condescending? How do you deal with such situations?

The Little Wand That Could

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”; your weekly encouragement to remember that, once upon a time, before you were your kids’ mommy, you were your husband’s lady.

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Being a mommy is a full-time job, isn’t it? We are running pretty much from the minute we get up each day till the kids hit bed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and very rewarding, but we can sometimes get so caught up in our responsibilities that we fail to take a few minutes for just ourselves.

One of the ways I try to take a moment for myself is with a brief shower first thing in the morning, followed by a few beauty basics. Don’t you like starting out the day refreshed, clean, and with a little color?

Recently, my mascara called it quits. I had finally exhausted it’s usage and needed to replenish my supply. Having previously used Maybelline’s Colossal mascara, I thought perhaps it would be best to stick with the tried and true. What I found was a newly designed wand, one I am still trying to adapt to.

Maybelline’s Colossal Cat Eyes now comes with a curved brush on the end of the wand, something I usually try to avoid. Why? Well, straight brushes allow me to manipulate the wand in many directions for fuller coverage of my lashes. Curved brushes are a little limiting; you are forced to use them in a standard manner.

I also noted that while I purchased the “Glam Black” color, it really wasn’t as dark as I anticipated. I need to put on several coats before the color is as distinct as I would like. The color seems to be rather thin, but it does last all day and doesn’t come off on my face like others will on occasion.

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Please click on the image above to be taken directly to the Maybelline website.

Speaking of color… I decided that perhaps I ought to purchase a brown mascara in addition to the black; this would be for everyday use.

To this end, I purchased Maybelline’s Mega Plush mascara. If I thought the curved brush was a change, nothing had prepared me for this one. The ‘flexor brush’ is designed to resemble a ball and cup joint, which moves when pressure is applied to the tip of the brush itself. One would imagine this is to prevent too much pressure being applied to the eye and perhaps preventing too much mascara from being applied to the lashes. Frankly, I find this very frustrating. Instead of coloring my lashes, the brush simply pushes my lashes around.

As with the Colossal Cat Eyes, the Mega Plush takes several coats to cover my lashes to the extent I would like. The color is nice though and does a good job of giving me definition without looking overdressed.

will say both of these mascaras leave my lashes feeling exceptionally soft! I can stroke them with my fingers and not feel the color at all. The mascara does not flake, nor leave rings under my eyes by the end of a warm day. In addition, they both seem to extend my lash length by a nice degree.

For now, I am still adjusting to these new wands and the fact that I need to apply a few more coats of color. However, I am pleased with the overall effect. It’s fun to have this one little thing which is just for me.

Time to Chime In: Do you have a favorite mascara? Share your favorites and why they are so spectacular!

As always… While fashion is fun, we should remember:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

The Biggest Challenge

The Biggest Challenge

I should note, my ‘Mouse’ is not that big a challenge. In fact, she was very kind to help with this pic!

Homeschooling can be a challenge. There are routines to be established, decisions regarding curriculum (or non-curriculum) to be made, discovering how to best help your children learn, and more. The one challenge you don’t need is your children’s lack of obedience.

As any parent will tell you, when a child chooses to be disobedient, life becomes stressful and downright unpleasant. Now, try taking that disobedient child and making them sit through a learning session; on any topic! It’s enough to make one shudder in fear or erupt like an active volcano. Life with a disobedient child is a struggle.

While my OCD nature balks at the idea of stopping all learning to deal with this issue, it usually is the best. When the obstacle of disobedience is removed, our learning day runs more smoothly and everyone is better off.

How does one go about removing the barrier of disobedience and restoring their children to a right relationship within the family and with God?

Pray – As always, all things should start in prayer. Pray first, act second.

Is This Really Disobedience? – We need to determine if this is an act of disobedience. Sometimes our children are not trying to rebel, but are merely attempting to communicate something important or express their personalities. Before we enact justice, we need to determine whether the situation calls for it.

Identify The Problem – If this is an act of rebellion, we need to determine from where the problem stems. Is my child looking for attention? Is there a need which is not being met? Did they not get enough sleep, need some food, or perhaps this is a character issue?

Work Through the Problem – Depending on the situation, we will need to determine the best course of action. My child might just need a few minutes of exercise to get back on the right track. I might need to feed them a meal, make them take a nap, or something more serious. If this is a matter of character training, I will pray about how they should be disciplined and discuss the situation with my husband.

Train, Train, Train – Repetition is good for a developing mind, this is true. However, it doesn’t hurt us oldie but goodies either! We need to train ourselves to identify a toxic situation before it becomes a full-blown mess; diffusing the situation early on, if we can. For the littles, we need to train them out of bad character and into good; this means lots of practice! We teach them to identify when they need something and how to communicate this need. We disciple and train for character as often as possible.

Tie Strings – It is just as important to make sure we are reestablishing the relationship with our children as it is for us to train them into right behavior. Training without affection and re-bonding with the disciplinarian leads to further disobedience in the future. Our children need to know we do these things because we love them, not because we are dictators trying to rule their lives with an iron fist. As our children are working through their struggles, we need to constantly be offering encouragement and opportunities for affection. They need to see we love them even when they are disobedient; helping them every step of the way.

Parenting a disobedient child is indeed a struggle. Being a homeschooling parent with a disobedient child simply magnifies the situation. Take the time to defuse the situation, getting to the heart of the matter, before the day gets out of hand. With this obstacle out-of-the-way, your day will proceed more smoothly. Who doesn’t like that?

Time to Chime In: When your child is disobedient, what measures do you take to get things back on track?

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”” – Ephesians 6:1-3

Special Conference for Special Needs

CHEA-Special-Needs-250x250

Please click on the image above to be taken directly to the CHEA website.

We are so excited to share an awesome opportunity available to those living in Southern California. A local church is offering a conference specifically designed for children being homeschooled who have special needs.

“Does your child struggle to learn? Need help identifying the root cause? Or do you already know? Either way, parents of children who learn differently need answers. This conference will give you resources and methods to meet the challenges you face every day…

 Holding an MA in Special Education, and with personal experience homeschooling a child with special needs, Sharon (Hensley) is an expert in her field. Sharon spoke at our inaugural Special Needs Solutions Conference in Livermore earlier this year. We could not be more thrilled that she will be joining us once again.

Also joining us to speak on Math Strategies for Struggling Learners is Dorothy McCandliss, who holds five teaching credentials including one in math and is the author of an algebra textbook. She also tutors students–many with special needs–in math, and has spent the last 10 years exploring ways to simplify math learning…

Pre-register by mail by October 14 or online by October 17, 2014. At-the-door registration will be available for slightly higher prices.”

For more information on this exciting, upcoming conference please visit THIS link to read more and register. If any of you decide to attend, please let us know. We will be present to assist at this event and would love meet you in person!

The Craft Table: Ink-a-Dink, A Bottle of Ink

Craft-Table_LogoWelcome to the Homeschool Mom’s Craft Table. Enjoy a quick foray into the world of art; join us as we delve into projects, offer helpful tips, explore new tools, and encourage all things creative. Come along and share a world of fun!

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I used to think ink was ink. I mean, one pad is pretty much like another; right? What did it matter that one was pigment and another water based? Once we began doing a little more crafting, especially when it came to cards, I quickly realized I needed to educate myself on the fine art of ink pads.

My sister-in-law is a Stampin’ Up demonstrator. (Let me know if you need to place an order, ‘k? – Yes; that was a shameless plug.) Through her love of card making, she would share fun and creative ideas with us to duplicate on our own.

While she has given us a wide variety of supplies over the years to help us along (thanks, sis), I did need to go out and purchase a few of our own. Me being me, I thought I could nab any old ink pad and it would do the trick; one pad was pretty much like any other to my mind. However, after several frustrating attempts by my kids to create their own masterpieces, I knew something wasn’t right.

It seems there are different types of ink which work best for different types of projects and mediums. There are also more superior brands. Who knew? My sister-in-law was kind enough to share her expertise and explain the differences between various types of ink pads on the market.

Stampin' Up Ink Pads

Please click on the picture above to be taken directly to the Stampin’ Up website.

In our crafting routine, we use our ink pads a lot! We use them for personal projects, for organizational purposes, and for making cards. Owning the correct pad is important. My kids were getting frustrated with the slow dry time and smearing our original pads were producing. Now, projects are simple, fun, and a lot less trouble.

If you’re doing a bit of crafting at home which requires ink pads, THIS link might be just what you need to help you decide which pad would best benefit your family. Having the right materials and tools on hand certainly makes the job easier!

Fun Question: How many ink pads do you currently own? Which color do you use most?

Demanding Dudley

“‘Dudley’ his mother replied softly and kindly, ‘Is someone being a Demanding Dudley?'”

dudley-cover-300x300

Please click on the image above to be taken to The Wiblets website!

Character training is a must. What good is a well-educated child who is a monster? Anything which helps my children better learn manners, character, and general etiquette is always a good resource, in my opinion.

Demanding Dudley is an adorable story about a fuzzy little guy who needs to learn his manners. Through Dudley’s interaction with his mother, we see how bad manners yield no results and good manners produce good things.

This was a charming little book. The story was easy reading, enjoyable, and a thoughtful lesson; the illustrations creative, colorful, and cute.

My son really enjoyed this story. He thought the main character, Dudley, was quite funny. Mom really enjoyed the character traits being shared and the lessons learned. In addition to this adorable book, more fun can be had at The Wiblets website! There you will find games, goodies, a list of currently available books, and more.

Demanding Dudley is just one of several Wiblet books written by Deneen Renae. Renae’s The Wiblets series of educational picture books is perfect for bedtime, and is built on pillars of hard-won parenting experience. Her “positive trigger phrase” method of calming and educating has proven itself effective in reaching the hearts and minds of children at any stage in their emotional maturation.

If you’re looking for a fun, creative way to teach basic manners to your littles, these might be just the books for you!

 

School Spirit

Homeschooling is Awesome

Please click on the image above to be taken directly to the Shop Great Products website.

To be honest, I’m not really the type to wear printed t-shirts. I like my clothes simple and without someone else’s logo all over them. However, every once in a while I could see how this might be fun.

Recently, another mom blogged about her homeschooling day and her kids had the cutest shirts on. I asked her where she got them and she kindly shared the website with me. After taking a look at the site, I couldn’t help but share it with the rest of  you!

Shop Great Products is a wonderful resource for the homeschool parent looking for clever shirts to sport while out on field trips or just out having fun. If you are in the market for a few new shirt, especially those which shout homeschooling spirit, then this is the website for you. There are tons upon tons of various styles, colors, and design logos to choose from.

I have my eye on a few I know my kids would enjoy wearing. Now, to find something I might like…

Time to Chime In: Do you buy specially made homeschool shirts? Share you website with us!

The Care and Keeping of Curls

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”, where one day a week we homeschool in heels and talk about all things girlie!

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For years, I would wake up every single morning and take a shower; scrubbing my head and washing my hair. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally understood the care and keeping of curls.

My hair is curly. At least that is what I always thought. How frustrating it was to look up curly hair cuts or styles and find girls who looked like they had mere beach waves. Ugh! That is not curly hair. In fact, it seems I do not have curly hair; I have ‘coiled hair’. Who knew?

With especially curly, or coiled, hair, one needs to learn the proper way to maintain and manage said mane. If washed too much it will be dry and brittle. If washed too little your head will smell like sweat and be greasy. There needs to be some middle ground.

It has taken me quite some time to figure out what works best for my crazy head of curls, but I think I’ve finally got it down.

  • Do Not Wash Everyday – I cannot wash my head with shampoo every single morning. If I do, my scalp becomes especially dry and my hair is unmanageably frizzy. I have very dry chemistry, so I usually only wash my hair once a week.
  • Which Shampoo? – Curls do better with special shampoo which is paraben and sulfate free, to keep them from drying out. It also helps to buy products which contain argon or olive oil.
  • Con-Wash – For those unfamiliar with this term, con-washing is ‘washing’ your hair by simply running it under warm water and massaging your scalp with conditioner; no shampoo involved. This refreshes the scalp, re-hydrates the hair, and keeps you fresh without all the damage to your hair.  Curly Hair
  • Comb It – While in the shower, I usually comb my curls with a large toothed comb. This helps the conditioner penetrate the thick mass and untangles my head. Once out of the shower, I will not brush it again.
  • Leave In-Conditioner – To keep hair from becoming too tangled and moisture locked in, adding a leave-in conditioner really helps. Before jumping out of the shower, I will douse my scalp with Infusium 23 and let it run through my hair.
  • No Brushing – As mentioned above, I do not brush my hair. I will finger comb it with a little product, but no brushes and as little touching as possible once styled.
  • Correct Product – Hair spray and mousse are horrid on curls; they contain large quantities of alcohol. We buy a large tub of eco-friendly, hair gel at a local beauty supply store which works wonders, leaving my hair soft and shiny.
  • Leave it Alone – Once my hair is styled, I need to resist the urge to keep touching it. The more you touch curls, the frizzier they get. If my hair needs a little touch-up during the day, I will rub a leave-in on my hands to help me restyle.

Who knew there was so much to maintaining curly hair? I certainly didn’t. However, given the alternative (a messy, frizzy, dried out, tired looking mess), I am perfectly okay with my routine. Now, my curls are soft and shiny. I should have done this years ago…

Time to Chime In: Okay, curly-haired girls; share your secrets with us! How do you maintain your lovely ringlets?

As always… While fashion is fun, we should remember:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

Why We Homeschool

The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!

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Upon consideration, there are probably hundreds of reasons why a person would choose to home school. People pulling their kids from public schools cite poor education, low test scores, large class sizes, lack of good teachers, bureaucracy of schools, lack of individual attention, or the accommodation of individual needs, the prevalence of drugs, violence, alcohol, or other substances. Then we can add the moral side of the equation: peer pressure, the tolerance of that which the Bible calls sin (if not outright encouraging it), trans-gender bathroom laws, a generally anti-Christian agenda, and more.

Any of the above reasons, if not all of them, would be valid reasons to yank your kids from a wolves’ den. For the Christian parent who wants to follow the Scriptural mandates found in Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6:4, Psalm 78, and other locations, it does not make sense to put your child in an unloving, God rejecting setting, in front of teachers bet on the indoctrination of lies and biased material, and then hope that our children turn out ok.

Judges 2:10 gives us the result of parents not actively engaged in the discipleship of their own children, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.”

We are called as Christians to go and make disciples. God expects us to start at home, and while it is true that none of us can make our child come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, much less choose a life of obedience for them, the blame for a generation rising that does not know lies squarely on the shoulders of the parents. They did not know because they were not taught. That is one issue that we can, and certainly do have a very large part to play.

Deut. 6:7-9 gives us a serious command to teach the Law specifically, though we could apply it to the whole of God’s Word for practicality, to our children.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

The command is for throughout the day, not just Sunday morning, or during Bible class, but all day long. When idle (sitting), in transit (when you walk), the last thing we hear before bed (when you lie down), and the first thing we consider in the morning (and when you rise up). Verses 8-9 basically tell us to so arrange it that God’s Word should be ever before us for consideration and reminder.

If we want our children to know the truth, and to be able to recognize (and avoid) the lives of the Enemy, then we must constantly be setting the truth before them. How else will they come to know it? Many of us have heard that banks teach their employees to recognize counterfeit money –not by classes on what to look for – but by constantly handling the genuine. Even when they cannot at first identify why, the teller gets to a point where they know that something isn’t right when they come across a phony bill inserted into the mix. They are taught to follow that instinct, stop, and examine more closely.

May the same be true of our children. Our desire is to so immerse them in the truth of God that when the false comes along they instinctively put up their guard and examine it, seeing where it doesn’t measure up against Scripture. I don’t want my adult son needing me to check his pastor out to see if the man is teaching correctly, I want him to be able to determine that for himself. How else can he teach my grandkids to recognize the truth?

The second reason why home schooling best fits the command to disciple our children is found in the second part of Judges 2:10, “nor the work which He had done for Israel.” It is my belief that our children trust God when they are little simply because Mommy and Daddy do. And when they are little, that is fine. Their faith can, does, and should be able to rest on ours; But I am not planning to raise a spiritual infant, but a well-trained, strong, victorious Christian soldier that is capable of teaching his own kids to be victorious Christian warriors as well.

As our children grow up, the focus needs to expand and go beyond “What did God do for Israel” or “What can God do?” Rather it needs to broaden to help our kids see what God has done for them, and what He has been doing in their lives. God helping blind people to see some 2,000 years ago can be encouraging, (please don’t misunderstand me, it is vital to know that He is able to do all that Scripture records), but how much more unshakeable is our kids’ faith when it rests on the certainty of what God has already done for them? When they come to the understanding that Jesus has never let them down before, it is so much easier to know, believe, and cling to the promise that He never will. They need to grasp that the promise wasn’t just for Lazarus, but for them as well, and that God’s personal track record with them is 100% faithful as well.

I know of no curricula that can teach those life lessons. So, as the school year begins, and the books are opened, remember that you don’t introduce them merely to stories about Jesus, you are introducing them to Jesus Himself; and know that as you do so, your labor is not in vain.

Ensure that your kids learn the life lessons they wouldn’t be taught anywhere else.

That is why we home school.