Happy Thanksgiving

Hello, FriendFrom our family to yours, on this special day of remembrance; Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Lord shine upon you and shower you with blessings; may we remember from whence we have come and to what we are striving; and may we be eternally thankful for our many blessings, for which we are undeserving.

For those who aren’t in the United States (and therefore not celebrating this special occasion), know we still wish you the best; may we be thankful always. For everyone else… what are you doing on your computer reading this post!? Go spend some time with family; it’s Thanksgiving!

All About that Base

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”; getting through the middle of our week with something fun and frilly.

…..

So in addition to not washing my hands and extending the life of my polish by adding thinner to it, I’ve discovered there was one additional, crucial step I was missing from my manicure routine. It seems I should be using a base coat!
Truthfully, I always thought base coat polish was a gimmick; something companies did to make you pay more money, but wasn’t really necessary.  Why would you need to paint your nails clear before adding color? What about those polishes which have the base coat included?
After doing a little reading, I can see why having a base coat might be important. Using a base coat prevents dark colors from discoloring your nails, it also seals your nails so you get less air bubbles and chipping of polish. To ensure extra protection, a top coat might also be beneficial.
2011-sally-hansen-300
For the last two weeks I thought I’d give this a try and test out the hypothesis. Honestly, I don’t see that much of a difference. My polish still wears and chips at just the same rate. True, the darker colors aren’t discoloring my nail, but a quick scrub with a nail brush always fixed this problem in the past; it’s not that big a deal.
I wonder if I am simply using the wrong type of base coat? Essie implies there are various types and I need to discover which one works best. So, it looks like the search is still on…
Time to Chime In: Does your base coat work like a dream? Share with us your favorite brand and we’ll give it a try!
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

A City Broken

Wall by oceanThe Bible teaches us that a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Proverbs 25:28). We are open, exposed, and basically waiting to be attacked. Our defenses are down, available to an enemy who seeks to plunder.

One advantage to homeschooling is that as we train our children academically, we are also training them in character. We are helping form the adults they will one day become. Training their character is just as important as training their minds; in fact, they go hand in hand.

So what do we do when our children are defenseless and vulnerable? How do we help them rebuild their fortress, securing themselves from the inevitable attack of the world and its influence?

Just like building a city, we build their character one brick at a time. We need to help them form their foundation, build their walls, and place guards to keep watch.

Forming the Foundation. In I Corinthians 3:11 we are told, “For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”. The foundation of all that we do, should be Christ. Our children should be steeped in the Word; knowing not only what they believe, but why they believe it. This will help them better understand why they need to have self-control.

Build the Walls.  In order to gain self-control, our children need to be given the proper tools; they need instruction and a lot of encouragement. There are some great steps that we can take to help them along the way.

  • Lead by example – You need to have self-control before you can teach your children.
  • Teach them to recognize – Children need to be able to identify when something is becoming a problem, long before it actually is a problem. Recognize the warning signs and instruct them how to avoid trouble.
  • Teach them to pray – The first, and best thing, to do when control starts to become an issue, is to pray! Let the Lord have control of the situation, not your emotions.
  • Teach them scripture – Meditating on the Word of God is a great way to help them be filled with the Holy Spirit and not hurtful emotion.
  • Teach them to think – Show the kids how to work through the emotion and be logical. Whether it’s taking a walk, doing some deep breathing, or distracting yourself with another activity, we need to take a minute to reasonably work through the situation.
  • Teach them to act – Identifying the problem is only half the battle, we now need to resolve the issue. Form a “game plan” and then make it happen.

Place guards to watch. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Proverbs 4:23. Let forgiveness and righteousness be your armor; allowing nothing evil to enter in and being quick to overlook the fault in others.

Whether you are doing arithmetic, piano, or taking that fun field trip; self-control is a vital lesson being learned. With grace and a lot of encouragement, our children will learn to use temperance in their daily lives, growing into the people they were called to be.

Let the Lord build and guard your children; with Him, you can’t go wrong. “…Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Time to Chime In: How do you instill self-control in your children? Is there a practical way that you safeguard them from emotional outbursts?

 

When Mommy Messes Up

I’m sure we all have days when our kids get a little cranky, causing a household disturbance of the peace. During the madness, it can be all too easy to forget those occasions when we are the ones who wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a perfect parent? Heck, I’d settle for being a perfect anything. However, it seems I was born human. This means I make mistakes, I fall down, and I mess up more often than I would like to. What characterizes us is how we respond to our own failures. Are we going to be wallow in self-pity or live in denial of our mistakes? Perhaps there is a better way.

Stop! – This isn’t always the easiest first step – in fact, just recognizing we’re the problem is the biggest hurtle – but it is essential. When we find ourselves in a place where we ought not to be, we need to stop right where we are. Before we can do more damage, we need to close our mouths, cease all movement, and put the situation on hold.

Breathe & Pray – Don’t even bother thinking, thought at this point is useless; we’re being emotional and irrational. What we need to be doing is taking a moment to gain Spiritual perspective. Find a quiet place (leave the room if you must) to just breathe slowly and pray. Instead of relying on our own wisdom, we need to be asking for Godly wisdom and guidance to help us resolve the issue.

Ask for Forgiveness – If we’ve stepped out-of-bounds, whether verbally or otherwise, we need to ask forgiveness of our children. It is essential they see our humility and willingness to accept our mistakes. They need to know we aren’t perfect or think we’re perfect; they need to see our humility and be given the opportunity to extend grace.

Deal with the Issue – Only after we’ve gotten our heads and emotions under control should we move forward with the main problem at hand. If it is a parenting concern, our children will better understand this is the consequence of their own actions and not the ramblings of an angry parent. If this is some other household issue, our children will see us work through difficulties rationally and with wisdom. We should never try working through problems when our heads and hearts are in the wrong place; we increase the likelihood of making greater error and hurting those around us.

Tie Strings – I am really huge on this. What does ‘tying strings’ mean? It means when all is said and done, we restore any broken relationships with our children. Saying we’re sorry is only the first step, we need to make sure our bond is secure. We need to spend quality time with our kids, bringing back the unity in our home.

Learn the Lesson – What happens if we failed to stop in the middle of our tirade? Suppose we forgot to pray before moving forward; does this mean all hope is lost? Of course not! We should take each situation as a learning experience. If we didn’t recognize the moment when we should have stopped our yelling, we try better next time and set up boundaries for ourselves. If we forgot to pray, we ask God to prompt us in this act.

Our children learn not only from our good example, but how we respond to our failure. It is just as important for them to see humility in us, repentance and a willingness to improve, as it is for them to see success. While we’d all like to be perfect, the fact is we’re not. Maybe it’s time our children saw our humanity and understood that adults make mistakes, too.

Time to Chime In: Do you find it hard to ask forgiveness of your children?

The Craft Table: Las Tijeras

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!

……

I cannot begin to express how frustrating it is to be in the middle of a project only to reach for a pair of shears and find them dull. Even worse, is when you are surrounded by little people all reaching for kid scissors only to discover they break two minutes later. One of the most frequently used tools in our crafting closet is our selection of scissors.

When I was younger, I used to think scissors were scissors. I mean, they all cut; right? What’s the big deal? It took me some time to realize that there were left-handed scissors and right-handed. (Yeah; I know, crazy.) Then, I figured out there were different scissors for different jobs. Who knew?

Now, we have scissors all over the house. I have scissors in my kitchen to use only with food items. Then, we have three pair in our kitchen drawer for kid use. Shears for sewing, paper cutting, and even pinking shears! The kids have their own set, my husband has his, and mine are kept hidden in a box in our crafting cupboard so they don’t go missing on me. (Because they would.)

Thankfully, scissors aren’t terribly expensive. I can usually find kid scissors at Target for under a buck. Adult scissors are also fairly reasonable as long as I don’t reach for those fancy embroidery shears at the local fabric store; they’re gorgeous, but way out of my league.

Skalm_2

As a parent, I’m often surprised at how many little kids don’t get the opportunity to use scissors. For those who don’t homeschool, it seems they are waiting for their local public school to start the fun. If you haven’t initiated your kids into the fun world of scissors, let me encourage you to get the fun started! There are so many awesome activities and crafts your littles could be doing. If you’re looking for a few good practice lessons, these might help you out:

Pinterest Ideas
DLTK
Activity Village

Shears are one crafting tool we definitely couldn’t live without. We keep a pair in every room, even our bathroom, and use them on a daily basis. Now, if I could just remember to dig out those nifty pinking shears and start putting them to use!

Time to Chime In: I’ve often wondered… Does anyone still get their shears sharpened? Considering you can get a new pair for a good price, is sharpening worth the effort?

Happy Anniversary!

Wedding RingForgive me for keeping it especially short and sweet today, but I’m too busy enjoying this special day. This year, my husband and I are celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary!

Wow; I don’t know where fifteen years have gone. It seems like just yesterday we were getting married and then having our first baby. Fifteen years later, we have four kids and have been homeschooling for over ten. While the journey hasn’t always been a breeze, it has been very rewarding and memorable. We have been truly blessed in our marriage and family life.

Our kids started us off with a homemade breakfast, complete with dish washing (which I thought I was going to have to do). Our girls made us the most incredible breakfast, all by themselves. All those cooking sessions are paying off! (laughing) Then, my man and I did something we never have an opportunity to do… we ditched our kids and went to Disneyland on our own. While I do enjoy going with our babies, this was truly a special day for us. We finally got to ride all those big roller coasters together!

We ended our day together as a family and rejoiced over all the blessings the Lord has given us during our fifteen years together. The Lord has been so good to us, more than we could ever deserve.

For all the years we have been blessed, may we be truly thankful. For all the Lord continues to do in our marriage and through our family, may we be appreciative. The Lord has been good.

Thank God

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!

….. 

School LogoBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We have probably all heard those verses many times before. I know I definitely have; but as we approach the holiday season, two words stand out to me. The verses would flow together without the phrase, and so grammatically, it is not necessary to insert the phrase with thanksgiving; but if we really stop to think about it, the promise of peace found at the end would probably not be true without giving thanks.

The word thanks is found some 72 times throughout Scripture, not to mention variations like thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, and more. The sheer volume of times it is mentioned ought to give us an indication of the importance of being thankful.

Human nature is to always desire more, and, while tempered correctly, it can be a good thing, in the context of these verses, it is decidedly not. Striving to do more, to be better, to reach one’s full potential, within the confines of godly behavior, is far better than stagnation to be sure, but thankfulness becomes key in maintaining the right attitude, and a right heart before God.

I am reminded of a story I once read, in which one of the characters was struggling to achieve a level of study that was beyond his abilities. When it was mentioned repeatedly by another that he still had far to go, his response was profound, and true: “Please stop poisoning what I have already achieved by throwing up before me what may be forever beyond my grasp.” Though not a biblical story, the concept is quite true. Lack of thankfulness, because of a desire to have more, do better, or be recognized, can and will poison our hearts toward that which we do have.

Hello, Friend

When we look at the Philippians passage, it tells us to present our requests to God. Note that it does not say “needs” but “requests. “ There is nothing wrong with asking for the desires of our heart, provided, of course, that what we desire is not something which He could not, as a loving and responsible Father, give us in the first place. Thankfulness for what we do have will keep us from becoming bitter if His answer is “no.”  Remember, we are coming before the One who knows our needs and promises to provide for us.

Psalm 100 verses 4 and 5 read, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

If we stop to consider all the blessings that He has provided for us, we have to stop in awe. He has given me salvation, a relationship with Him (and that on a far more personal and intimate basis than a servant has any right to hope for from his King), my wife, our kids, and so much more. I have been blessed with His truth, a barometer that does not change, and so I am able to chart my way through a world that is far too difficult to navigate on my own.

We have been granted access to His very throne, that our needs, pleas for mercy and grace, and petitions might reach the One who has everything, and can do anything, and He says to come boldly.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, take the time, personally, and even as a family, to sit down and actually list out the things that God has provided for you, done for you, and blessed you with, and as you do so, see how your hearts settle before Him. What is the biggest gift of all? He has given us…Himself.

Happy Thanksgiving

Don’t Wash Your Hands!

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”; getting through the middle of our week with something fun and frilly.

…..

Recently, I mentioned I was looking for a way to help my nail polish last longer. While reading on this topic, I discovered there were several things I was doing wrong when giving myself a manicure.  Who knew there were so many details when it comes to painting our nails?

One of the most shocking discoveries I made was that I should not be washing my hands right before giving myself a manicure. Wait… what? Whenever I used to go to salons, they would buff my nails and then promptly send me off to wash them. I would dry my fingertips and they would polish my nails right away. Essie, on the other hand, highly recommends giving your fingers a few minutes to breathe and fully dry before polishing.

It seems that when we polish our nails right after washing our hands, we risk trapping moisture under the coat of lacquer. This trapped moisture causes air bubbles while polishing and increases the likelihood of our polish chipping off more quickly. Who knew?

Soap Bubbles

Oh! Make sure you aren’t putting lotion on your hands before polishing either, for similar reasons. The oils from your lotion will decrease the life of the polish on your nails, causing them to chip off in larger chunks and prevent the color from adhering properly.

My manicure time just jumped up a few minutes, but it will be worth it in the long run. To balance out my hand washing time, I am looking into polishes which dry in about a minute. Giving myself these few extra moments to do the job right will save me extra work in the long run and it looks great. Washing my hands is important, but so is giving them time to dry.

Time to Chime In: Have you learned anything new or unique about doing a manicure? Share your tips with us!

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

Am I Fun?

I spend a great deal of time with my kids. We do all our learning together, we eat together, we clean together, we run errands together, and, on occasion, even sleep in the same room. Essentially, I spend almost twenty-four hours a day with my littles. Because we are together so often, I can mistake being together with having fun together. On occasion it might be beneficial to stop and reflect. Am I a fun mom?

There are times in life when it is important to be serious. Laughing at a funeral would be impolite, rude, and insensitive. However, there are also moments when you ought to be lighthearted and able to have fun. It’s important to find balance in all things.

Raising kids and being a homeschooling parent is no cake walk. Sometimes I can become overwhelmed by responsibilities and needs. The moment a ‘break’ becomes available, my desire can often lean towards just wanting a moment to breathe… alone. While everyday won’t be a breeze, I do need to make a point of finding ways to be fun and silly; enjoying the sound of my children’s laughter and initiating a little joy into their lives.

Kids & I

Honestly, being at home and being ‘fun’ mom is hard for me. Everywhere I look, I see something which needs to be done: laundry, house keeping, dishes, cooking, yard work, home improvement, writing. You name it, I see it. Getting out of the house usually works best for me; this is where park days, Disneyland days, visits with friends, and more come into play.

However, being out of the house every day just isn’t an option. This requires me to then be more creative in our home environment and make a conscious choice to overlook those things which keep catching my over-critical eye.  So we do chores, but we race to get them done (then have ice cream as a treat). We sing along with those playing the piano and have fun being silly. We take moments to stop and play card games, eat cookies, dance to fun songs, and plan upcoming events.

I am learning to look for ways to incorporate fun into their lives and be a source of fun, instead of standing by merely watching. It’s not enough for my children to grow up commending my parenting for its cleanliness and well planned organization (although that would be nice); I want my children to remember their youth fondly and be filled with awesome memories they can’t wait to recreate with their own family. While I won’t be a perfect parent (who is), I would like to think they will look back and smile, remembering how much fun was stuffed into those all too short years we called childhood.

Time to Chime In: Do you make ‘fun time’ purposeful or wait for those moments to arise naturally?

Hug Your Teenager

Young adults can be difficult at times, can’t they? Of course, if we are being honest, we can be a little difficult at times, too! In all the emotional hubbub, it can be all too easy to forget that our growing kids sometimes need affection.

Kids are not always easy to like. They talk back, they yell at us, they get irritable, and they are moody. It can be difficult to know how to handle those raging emotions. As parents, our first reaction is often to be strict and firm; nipping the disobedience as quickly as possible. Our desire is to remedy the situation and get things back to normal.

I wonder how often such circumstances could be dissolved with a simple hug. Instead of laying down the law, what if we chose affection? Would this solve the problem and excuse their disobedience? Definitely not. I imagine it might prevent the problem from escalating, however.

Play With Me, Mommy

When our children understand that we love them and only want what’s best for them, when they feel our affection for them, they are more likely to hear our words. If we were to start our correction or training with encouragement and understanding our children might be more willing to admit failure and reconcile.

To be fair, most of the time our young adults don’t even know what upsets them. Hormones are raging through their system and even little things set them off. Receiving a comforting hug or squeeze on the shoulder helps center them and bring them back into focus. It might help to remember how we felt at their age.

Hopefully this will encourage each of us to reach out to our young people. Discipline is not the only answer, sometimes what our kids need is a hug.

Time to Chime In: Do you find it hard to be affectionate with your teen? Share your ideas on how you bond with your young adult.