Family First

Family_FirstOn Monday, there is an event my little kids could participate in. Tuesday the high schoolers have an event. Friday is club day, but the kids each have their own activities. And, to top it off, Saturday is a Mom’s event. Wow… If I’m not careful, I’m going to get pulled in twenty different directions and our family is going to spend more time apart than we are together.

Over the past several years – especially as our children have gotten older and more spread out in grade – I’ve noticed a growing trend. Instead of homeschooling activities being family focused, we are being separated. But, wait. I thought homeschooling was supposed to remove such boundaries, allowing us to spend time together as a family; establishing family bonds?

I want to be very careful. I only have so much time in a day. I want to choose activities which bring our family closer together and meet our family’s needs. If there are activities which allow all of us to spend time with friends, then I am going to choose those activities over ones which only allow one child to socialize. If I can choose events which permit the family to be present, this will win out over ‘single-serve’ events.

Does this mean my teens never have an opportunity to socialize with others? Of course not! It does mean we are very careful about how many activities they participate in and which venues are available to them.

As we spend a great deal of time together as a family, with other families, this helps our children become more social. They learn to be friends with children younger and older than themselves. When we spend time together as a group, this does not prevent our teens from socializing with one another – they are free to have their own bowling lane and visit together – it helps them understand true fellowship and socialization.

Since becoming an adult, I’ve found my friends are rarely my own age. Most of my friends are either several years younger, or older, than myself. Why would I expect different for my kids? By keeping our activities family friendly and family oriented I am not preventing my children from developing deeper friendships, but widening their pool of socialization.

Family activities allows us to get to know families as a whole. I want to know my children’s friends and their parents. I want our families to become closer, making for lifelong relationships.

Why settle for parceling out our family time when we could be enjoying the benefit of family centered activities?

🔔Time to Chime In: Do you find your family being pulled in too many directions? How do you limit those events, keeping the focus on family?

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I Can’t Homeschool: My Family Will Disapprove

i_cant_homeschoolHomeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. May we offer encouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.

…..

After what seems like months of prayer and searching, you’ve finally accepted the decision to homeschool your children. You’re a little intimidated by the thought of taking on such a momentous task, but excited by the adventure to come. You can’t wait to share the news with your friends and family.

But, what happens when your family is less than encouraging? What if their disapproval boarders on anger, distrust, and hurt. Instead of cheering you on, the attacks begin.

Pray for Them

As hard as it might be, we need to be praying for those who strongly oppose homeschooling. We should be asking the Lord to soften their hearts, open their eyes to the possibilities, and quiet their tongues. No matter how long we homeschool, praying for those who oppose what we stand for should be a daily event.

Understand Them

Often, people oppose homeschooling because they feel it is a personal attack on themselves. They might misconstrue our actions as judgement for not homeschooling their own children, or ourselves when we were younger. (After all, what’s wrong with the education we received? Right?) Others might wrongly assume we are being prideful, or arrogant; thinking we are better than those who’ve been educated to become teachers.

When we understand where our opposition is coming from, we have a greater opportunity to share with them our hearts toward homeschooling, and remove any unfounded ideas.

Educate Them

If they are willing to listen, we need to be open to sharing what homeschooling means for our family and our mission in educating our children. We could share what our children will be learning, how they will be learning, and how family can be involved in the process, if they so desire.

Politely Ask Them to Stop

Unfortunately, some people feel the need to continue expressing their thoughts well after they’re welcome. In fact, some people don’t know when it’s polite to stop sharing and just let things be. If you come across someone who feels the need to express their displeasure regarding your homeschooling every time you see them, kindly ask them to keep their comments to themselves. As nicely as you can, let them know you’ve heard their concerns, but are sure this is the direction the Lord has called you. Ask them to remain silent on this issue in the future, and, if they still have concerns, pray the Lord would be clear about His intentions for your family.

Ignore Them

Just as unfortunate are those people who not only cannot seem to stop complaining, but refuse to stop even when asked. In such cases, the only option is to ignore them. When they choose to incessantly bring up the issue, smile and nod; then walk away without making a comment.

If this proves too difficult, or the person becomes obnoxious, it might time to put a barrier between you until the other person can be more respectful of your family’s choices. You should not be forced to endure such stress, nor should your children be subject to continuous debate and/or ‘testing’ of new skills learned.

The Proof’s in the Pudding

Given a little time, the success of your children’s learning and the strength of your family unit will usually convince people homeschooling is a positive decision for your family. Don’t worry about convincing every person you see of the value in homeschooling. Move forward in the direction God is leading, and allow God to use your family as an example of all He is accomplishing.

…..

While I’d like to tell you everyone will be leap for joy over your decision to homeschool, this would not be the truth. Some will feel you are in over your head, a few will think you are being prideful and arrogant, and yet more will accuse you of using homeschooling as a means of brainwashing your children with your worldview.

It’s not your job to convince everyone that homeschooling is wonderful, nor should you have to justify your actions to anyone. If the Lord is leading you to homeschool, this is the only approval you need. Pray for those who stand against you, and move forward knowing God stands with you. If you find you need a little encouragement, find a like-minded family and pray for one another. Looking for a friend? You’re always welcome here!

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10

🔔Time To Chime In: If you’re already homeschooling, how did your families react to this decision?

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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.

All Aglow

In an ever-increasing attempt to play as hard as we work, I thought we would knock out a few more “pins” and try something absolutely new. I would love to continue my post with a phenomenal success story, with pictures to prove our triumph; however, it was an epic fail! (laughing)

My kids really like glow sticks. (Can you name a kid who doesn’t?) So I thought we would attempt to take something we already like and change it up. There were three great “pins” I was very excited about.

Fairies in a Jar

What the Fairies is supposed to look like, but ours turned out nothing like it. (sigh)

The first activity we tried was “fairies in a jar”. The concept is extremely simple. Take a glass jar, a few glow sticks, and some diamond glitter; cut a few of the glow sticks and shake the contents into the jar; add some diamond glitter; shake the jar and, wallah, … Fairies in a Jar! The problem? The glow solution didn’t shake into the jar all nice and pretty. It kind of drizzled down the side of the jar and looked like a gloopy mess. Adding glitter was rather pointless, as you couldn’t see the effects.

So, on to the next experiment. We thought we would try another “pin” in which we take a small bottle of bubble solution and empty the contents of a glow stick into the bottle. The idea is to get “glowing bubbles”. The problem? The solution sank to the bottom of the bottle and wouldn’t mix with the bubble solution at all! Another experiment gone wrong. (laughing)Glowing Bubbles

For our third and final trick, mommy was going to put glow stick solution in the bathtub and let them take a “glowing bath”. Yeah, nope! It just wasn’t our night.

I’m not sure if we just bought cheap glow sticks or if others have run across the same problems, but we were kind of bummed. These all looked like awesome ways to have some fun and try something new.

I will reserve one “pin” for next year though. One thoughtful person had the idea to put glow sticks into Easter eggs and do a hunt at night! Now, that seems like a great idea and I can’t see how that wouldn’t work.

Oh, well. The night was an epic fail, but at least we tried. That is what experimentation is all about, right?

What is the neatest thing you have done with glow sticks (or any other glowing variation)?

Work Hard, Play Harder: Tons of Fun!

Yesterday we filled our day with tons of fun! There is nothing like playing hard….

It started out with some fun at the park, with a few of our Keepers at Home crew. We decided to get together over the summer break and hang out. It was the perfect day too; sunshine and a cool breeze.

"T" and her friendThen we headed over the library to turn in our summer reading assignments and grab books. Wow! “T” had eight reports to turn in and mommy had sixteen! Way to go gang!

After a quick trip to the grocery store, the kiddos and I dug into amazingly awesome watermelon. There is nothing quite like juicy fruit on a warm day.

While at the park, one of our friends had reminded us the young adult event (can’t believe I’m already there!?) for the library was that same afternoon. So, “T” and I headed back into the great outdoors for some fun with kids her own age.

There she was able to do some cupcake decorating with her friends. (I confess, I thought there would be a little more to the class. Instead of teaching them various methods of decorating, they simply let them have at it. They did make a point teaching the kids the history of cake decorating, which was interesting.)

Mickey Mouse

I just couldn’t stand around and NOT help. “T” and I came up with this cute design…

While most people credit Europe with the invention of decorating confections during the mid-1800’s, it actually began as early as Ancient Egypt where they decorated their sweets with condensed honey and almond slices. Interesting….

After all that fun, we headed back home and into our own kitchen to make a mess. After some dinner and a movie or two, it was time to call it a day.

Who knew having tons of fun could be so tiring?

Work Hard, Play Harder: Break Time

MiceToday we did something absolutely remarkable… nothing! Well, sort of. I planned absolutely nothing. That kinda’ counts, doesn’t it? After weeks of running around like crazy and doing some fun summer activities, the kids and I decided to take a day to not plan anything and just to relax.

I did something I haven’t done in ages, I stayed in bed until eleven o’clock; yup, that’s right. The man and I decided to have a lazy morning and just cuddle. It was so nice to not feel the need to rush around. I absolutely adored it (and wish we could do it more).

We hit the showers, got some food in us, and then decided to watch a flick with the kiddos on the couch.

Feeling a little peckish, we got busy in the kitchen and made some snacks (which we’ll share with you tomorrow).

Now, the bambinos are still passed out on the couch reading and relaxing. I’m getting a little fun research and minor stuff done on my computer, while my husband has nobly gone to work in his office. Perhaps I’ll grab one of my summer reads and keep him company.

Ah! While I enjoy being productive and doing things with the kids, every once in a while it’s fun to plan absolutely nothing. A day to simply relax and enjoy life, to appreciate rest.

When was the last time you were able to have a break?

How Pin-tresting: Messy Twister

If you are on Pintrest often, you might begin to notice a trend of “pinning” items, but never actually getting around to completing any! I know this was true with me. To this end, the kids and I thought we would make an attempt to work through quite a few of our “Beautiful Kids’ Corner” pins and have some fun.

Today’s “pin” of choice… Messy Twister!

Messy Twister #1 Messy Twister #2 Messy Twister #3 Messy Twister #4 Messy Twister #5 Messy Twister #6 Messy Twister #7 Messy Twister #8 Messy Twister #9 Messy Twister #10 Messy Twister #11

Playing Messy Twister is so simple. Take a Twister mat, four colors of paint (red, green, yellow, and blue), and have some fun!

Now it’s your turn! Let us know if you play and post a link in the comments below, so we can all see how much fun you had!

A Valuable Lesson… for Mommy

CoffeeI learned a very valuable, personal lesson today. I thought I could control it, I thought I had a handle on things; I now know I was deceiving myself!! I CANNOT drink coffee! (laughing)

The day started out a little crazy, but we soon got things on the ball and headed out the door to a birthday party. To make things more fun, the party was at the beach! Hooray! The party was for a very special little girl, one of the most adorable little ladies I have the pleasure of knowing.

Pizza, drinks, and cake under our belt, we headed into the great outdoors and enjoyed some playtime in the sun and sand. There was a huge swell hitting the shore all the way up from New Zealand and the waves were truly breathtaking. Unfortunately, this meant the kiddos didn’t get much swimming in, but they got their feet wet and had lots of fun.

Having run out of meter money and wanting to hit the road before it got too late, we tossed the munchkins into our SUV and hit the road.

Now, this is where the important lesson began….

My hubby was extremely tired (having run around with me for two days), so I was doing the driving. I have never driven home from the beach before so I was a little nervous about getting myself lost.

I did okay for the first little bit, but when I got confused about a particular freeway interchange, I asked the man’s opinion and went with his advice. Well, it turns out he was so tired he heard me wrong and I got onto the wrong freeway. Still no trouble yet….

We laughed about it, he teased me about it, and we decided we ought to turn around. This is when things started to get funny (well, not really).

During this whole mix-up, I had been taking swigs of my husband’s coffee to parch my thirst and wasn’t paying attention to how much I had drunk.

After turning around and getting back on track, we suddenly hit a wall of traffic which ended up taking us three and a half hours to get through!!! By the time we were less than halfway home, the coffee hit my nervous system and sent me into overload.

It felt like someone had electrified my entire body and everything was beginning to irritate me. The air conditioner bothered my skin, the sun was too hot, and to top it off, the kids started to get antsy.

My poor little kids, who were tired and hungry, were ready to get out of the car and stretch their legs. Being boxed in a canyon, there was no way out and no way to move.

We did finally make it home; thank goodness! The minute we pulled into the driveway, I jumped from the car and went to water my roses in peace. Thankfully my awesome husband got everyone inside and let me have a moment to breathe.

After getting some fresh air, peace and quiet, and a shower, I am almost back to normal. Perhaps eating a little and diluting my blood system will put things back on an even keel.

After all this madness I learned two valuable lessons… 1) NEVER drink caffeinated coffee again; I mean NEVER! and 2) It might be best to hit the beach earlier in the day, so as not to sit in traffic. (laughing)

What does help when your system gets overloaded with caffeine? Ideas?

Work Hard, Play Harder: Outdoor Water Bed

I firmly believe in doing everything to the best of my ability. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right! I also believe this line of thought should extend outside the realm of work. Playtime should be just meaningful as industry.

Water Blob Tutorial

Bobbie Bird’s Tutorial on how to make your own “water blob” or “bed”, as I call it.

To this end, the kiddos and I have decided to plan several fun activities which we can work on together and enjoy some play time. Today’s fun event… an outdoor water-bed!

While I would love to take credit for this truly awesome idea, I must give credit where credit is due. Bobbie Bird over at The Clumsy Crafter came up with this clever notion of using everyday materials to have loads of fun.

This idea is so simple and cute, anyone can do it. Simply take plastic tarp (definitely get the heavy-duty thickness, no flimsy stuff will do) and duct tape. Fold the tarp in half and tape the three open sides firmly together, leaving a small opening on one corner to fill your “bed” with water before fully closing it up. Then… have some fun!

There are a few things I would do differently next time, because we will be doing this again!

I believe instead of using food coloring, which can get very expensive, I might like to try blue Kool-aid or even water-color paint. I think this would have the same effect, but last longer and be more cost-effective.

I would also make sure to stop at a discount store and purchase plastic fish (or something along those lines) to put in the “bed” as well. This would give the kiddos something to play with while bouncing around. Bobbie mentioned she might try it with confetti next time herself, which would also be amazing!

This was the perfect ending to an already fun afternoon. With our newly rented library books, we got busy on our reading challenge for the week and did some outdoor resting at the same time.

Ah! There’s nothing like some good, hard play time!

Gone Fishin’

For the last several weeks, our son has been asking us to take him fishing. We aren’t quite sure what prompted the interest, but as it seemed a reasonable request, we made sure to take note and make it happen.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day in our neck of the woods. With temps in the mid-70’s and clear, blue skies; it was the perfect day for grabbing a pole and cooking up some fish.

Boy’o is still too little to patiently fish for a great length of time, so we thought we would start small and take him to a local trout pond.

Gone Fishin' #1 Gone Fishin' #2 Gone Fishin' #3 Gone Fishin' #4 Gone Fishin' #5 Gone Fishin' #6The man had the time of his life and was so proud of the fish he caught. According to him, he is going to eat two all by himself (we caught three, with sister’s help)!

When Yayo asked when he wanted to go fishing again, my son promptly replied, “Tuesday!”