Stuck in a Rut

I am in a rut. Have you ever been there? I know this rut that I’m in is because I am choosing to be there and my choosing is walking in disobedience. Disobedience to some actions I know God is asking me to take, disobedience in my attitude I know God is asking me to change, disobedience in my view of Him and trusting Him and in His promises that I know He is asking me to believe. I am trying to do this thing on my own and it is just digging a deep deep rut.

This morning God showed me a foundation of this rut… my pursuit of Him.

Why do I pursue God? Well… I am pursuing Him (if you could even call it that) to get something for myself. I want the external blessings. I want to pursue Him and walk in obedience so that my marriage will get better, so my husband will start treating me better, so that my kids will be more obedient to me, so that God will provide finances so I won’t have to consider working again, so that a best friend will just pop up on my doorstep for me, so that we will find a church that is awesome and has everything we’re looking for, so that, so that, so that… How selfish is that? If my pursuit of God is dependent on my external circumstances changing and then they don’t… well, it doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that equation. I will stop pursuing God. It just simply doesn’t seem worth it. If my life isn’t “feeling” and “looking” any better then what’s the point. After all it is a lot of work to pursue God. To try to mentally remember all the things He’s teaching me and all the areas I’m falling short and then the lists of what I need to do to fix those areas and make them right. And in the midst of that I’m breaking up sibling rivalry, and failing in teaching my daughter to read, and my husband and I just had another fight, and another woman I thought could become a good friend doesn’t have any time for me, and I burned dinner. What’s the point to all of this? Maybe I can do this thing better on my own instead of trying so hard to get things to change by God’s path and it not working.

Failure was never His plan.

Frustration was never His plan.

Ruts were never His plan.

Perfect external circumstances were never His plan.

Easiness was never His plan.

Okay. So God what is your plan? What is the point in all of this? What do I do and where do I go from here?

“One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.”

Psalm 27:4

“O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
                                                                       To see Your power and Your glory.                                                                        Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63:1-8

So what is the point in all of this? Jesus. It has always been Jesus. Jesus never promised an easy life. He promised hardships and exertion and persecution. While I would not say I am being persecuted in the name of Jesus I would say my life does not meet up to the world’s perfect standards or my standards for that matter. So I need to stop pursuing that and instead pursue Jesus, simply for Jesus.

I want my soul to long for Jesus. I don’t want to long for a perfect homeschool day, for a full time gig at home, for a husband who always acts and responds perfectly. Because we live in a sinful fallen world. I will face disappointments EVERY SINGLE DAY. If I long for that then I will constantly be dissatisfied and discontent. But if I long for Jesus. In the morning when I rise if I ask for Jesus, He will show up EVERY SINGLE DAY and Jesus does not disappoint.

Then when I am faced with my little petty trials every day I can turn to Him to receive what He has to give me… strength in the moment to press forward when I want to give up (Phil 4:13, Romans 5:3-5, Isaiah 40:31), contentment when I am wishing for bigger and better or more (2 Peter 1:3-4), patience when the kiddos are pressing every last minute and the lock button on my bathroom door seems to be broken (Phil 4:13), a satisfied belly and a thankful heart when making yet another PB & J sandwich to save a little money (Matt 6:25-34).

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Car Organization with Multiple Kids

I have been putting together a system for our car to keep me organized. We often will randomly decide to go to the zoo or to the park or somewhere that’s over an hour away from our home and I used to get really panicky and anxious that I would forget some important things (which I usually did) and I didn’t want to overstuff my diaper bag or pack a million other bags to take with us. I have had this dilemma multiple times and finally decided to look at an overlooked area with potential organization excitement… the car! We drive a Suburban and there are multiple little nooks and crannies to be filled! Even though we have 4 kiddos and often take our 130 lb. Great Pyrenees on trips with us, it is amazing how much you can pack in!

So I am going to share with you some tips and maybe it will be helpful. These are things that stay in my car all the time. And the very important thing to organizational success in the car is to make sure when you get home that you take everything out that is extra that you brought in (water bottles, diaper bag, food wrappers, etc.) and if you made a dent in any of these organizational areas in your car (snack bag, swimsuits, etc.) that you replace them ASAP. That way you will be ready for ORGANIZED SPONTANEITY!!! Often when we get back from a long road trip I take an empty laundry basket and go from door to door and throw stuff in it. Then I take it inside and sort and clean up. It’s best to do it ASAP so things don’t start growing!!!

Here is my dashboard. The gadget to the top R on the air vent is a $5 Target Spot phone holder. It is great for GPS when needed. The other little doodad is my bluetooth connector. It’s a little bit of a pain to use it everyday for your phone but if I’m on a long road trip and want to talk to a friend for awhile then I’ll connect it. Otherwise I use it to listen to audiobooks or kids music that I might not have cd’s for. Check out this post on my favorite free audiobook website and how I can catch up on my Jane Austen novels while cleaning the house! I keep gum, hand sanitizer and lotion in the bottom compartment and try to keep the other ones empty for anything I might need it for later.

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This is the glove compartment. I got a pencil box holder and put a tire pressure gauge and one of those window hammer things if your car goes in the water and a small flashlight. I also have one of those small accordian fold folders that I put our registration and insurance as well as a vehicle maintenance log and my tire receipts for when I get our free tire rotations from Sam’s Club. I like it being in the box because then it’s not floating all over the compartment.

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I try to keep our cupholders empty and add my coffee and water as I go : ) in between the cupholders are some pens/pencils and a nail file : ) I keep one of these wipes containers because it seems I am either always needing a wipe or needing to hand one to someone. When we get to the zoo or somewhere I take it out and strap it to the handle of my stroller for easy wipes access!

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This isn’t very pretty but this is what’s inside the center console… At the back is an envelope with coupons and the front right is a small bag for garbage and I have a ziplock bag of suckers/hard candies to keep me awake if we’re driving for a long time and our blue zipper bag holds quarters and extra change for horse rides at the grocery store!!!!

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This is a viser organizer from thirtyone. I downsized my wallet to a Vera Bradley wristlet which means I don’t have room for all the cards I own so I keep the extra ones that aren’t for everyday in here (IKEA member, walgreens, kids library cards, etc.). In the large zipper pocket I keep an extra charger for my ipod/phone/pad and one for my Kindle with an extra wall plug that can be used for both cords. This is nice if we stay the night somewhere then I don’t have to pack extra cords and worry about forgetting them. I also keep a pen that has a nifty pen light at the top and my chapstick.

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Right behind my seat I keep extra disposable diapers for my 2 youngest as well as an extra changing pad. I have used this so much as I usually use cloth unless we go for a long day somewhere then I like disposables as I can go longer in between diaper changes. This way if I forgot to put some in my diaper bag and only have cloth then I can count on my car to provide! Underneath the seat houses all the straps and bungee cords that we use when we travel and need to strap things on our hitch hauler or bike rack or the roof. These have to stay in the car but are far less annoying when put in a bag and hidden under the seat. In the bright blue box houses socks for the kids, a light pair of gloves and snow hats for each kid (even though it’s summer let’s face it… it’s Colorado and we have on more than one occasion used them!) I also keep a light sweater for each kiddo here and a small blanket for Baby Jo. This box gets utilized a LOT!

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There’s an up close of the blue box and Baby Jo’s little toy box next to it which is handy when he gets a little fussy.

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Another view of our middle row.

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This is another nifty organizer from ThirtyOne. I keep an extra water bottle on each side pocket and the pocket to the right is for wipes and has a nifty compartment where the wipes can hang out. I usually put sanitizing wipes here instead of regular ones. In the big compartment I try to keep fairly empty and end up filling it on long road trips with random things but there’s always a bottle of honey roasted peanuts for some snacking if needed!

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And here’s just a view of our third row being utilized by our two oldest. We keep this one seat in the middle row folded down for easy access in and out of the car and then when Meema or Beepa or anyone visits and needs a seat it is really easy just to pop up.

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All 4 kiddos’ seats

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And now for the trunk : )

This is why we opted for a Suburban a few years ago… even with the third row up we still have all this flat trunk space! It’s great for our doggie!!

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The green bag on the L houses an extra swimsuit and baseball hat for all the kiddos for random splashpad adventures! The green bag on the R houses extra paper plates, plastic utensils, bug spray, sunscreen and a quick first aid kit with tweezers, bandaids and neosporin. These bags are nice since our headrests don’t pop off but the bags are big enough I can just slip them off and hook them onto my stroller so I don’t need to take all the items out and put somewhere. Or you could sew some cute ones if you want to be crafty! The black bag is our snack bag with granola bars, PB crackers, fruit snacks, goldfish packages, etc. We use this bag ALL THE TIME. We seriously end up with crazy days and lots of random roadtrips and you never want to be out with hungry kiddos and no options so this is a MUST!! (Keep in mind not to pack with meltable items in the summertime!). The big green box on the left houses my bigger first aid kit as well as 2 fleece blankets (handy if you end up driving at night and the kids want a blanket to go to sleep with), my cloth grocery bags and my zippable picnic blanket. The red box in the middle has extra windshield wipe fluid, a gallon of water for refilling purposes, my on the go stroller bag from thirtyone, our zoo/museum maps and extra grocery bags. And that funky black thing is our Power Station… this sucker has jumper cables and can put air into your tires and has a large flashlight attached to it… it’s supposed to be able to jump your car so you don’t have to wait for someone to rescue you! And I always keep my umbrella stroller in the car. We have a single jogging stroller and a double stroller which do not stay in my car but get added in depending on what we’re doing. And you can’t see but behind all those things is a large golf umbrella and our snow scraper/brush. These never leave my car no matter what season!

0145b31aba5e83105a9191630d8562a1bf96ffc335  And there it goes. Happy car organizing!

Oh I must say that some things will change for the winter… my swimsuit/hat bag will probably house some more snow items like waterproof gloves and maybe snowboots/pants. We will see!

Planning Little Hearts for His Glory – Organization and Pictures

I have been working really hard planning our upcoming school year. We will be completing Heart of Dakota‘s (HOD) 5-7 year old curriculum Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG). We planned it over 2 years so we are entering our second year with this curriculum. There will be 2 parts to this post. The first part will just be a brief schedule and curriculum plan and the second part will be a more in depth description of how I planned. Now I must post a disclaimer first. HOD’s curriculum is meant to be a pick up and go. There really is not a lot of planning involved BUT I am a planner and I have an insatiable appetite to plan and organize and make things cater to our needs so I have a hard time just opening and going. So none of this is required if you are deciding whether or not to pick HOD in your homeschool year. Just know you can just open and go and you will have a great time!!

Daily Schedule:

Kids of Integrity

Seeds Worship

LHFHG – History

Calendar Notebook

LHFHG – Rhyme

LHFHG – Alternating Activity

Snack

LHFHG – Motor Skills 

LHFHG – Math

LHFHG – Phonics

Extracurricular

LHFHG – Storytime at Lunch

After Lunch:

Amelia Read

Piano

Read Aloud

LHFHG curriculum is arranged in boxes on the page so you can really put it into practice in whatever order you want. I am a list maker and boxes don’t work for me so I created a daily schedule list so we can just work our way top to bottom and cross off as we go. If the task does not have LHFHG in front of it then those are the “add ins” I have put into our schedule to fit the needs/wants of our family.

Right now our weekly plan is Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are school days at home. Tuesdays my oldest, who will turn 6 in October, will be in a homeschool enrichment day at a local school district. Thursdays every other week is our field trip day and we will go to either the zoo or museum. The Thursdays of the off week will be another regular school day at home. So we will have 3 or 4 days of LHFHG which is similar to last year and why we chose to complete the curriculum over 2 years. Side note: It was hard for my organizational brain to be okay with spreading the Unit plans over a couple of weeks. HOD is organized into 5 days per 1 Unit and now we are doing Days 1, 2 and 3 during one week and Days 4, 5 into a second week and then starting a new Unit in the middle of a week. I thought this would really bother me but it actually doesn’t!

Now for the extensive planning part:

Get some iced coffee and turn on some music (Family Life Radio is great!). Set up play doh, paints or beads for the kiddos! Prepare a few days in advance by purchasing printer ink, computer paper and any type of file folders, paper clips, etc. you may need for organizing. Mentally prepare yourself to let your house go for a few days. This took me a lot of time to think and print and organize but I know it will be worth it. For me the more organized and prepared I am then the more likely I am to follow through. Also take breaks if needed. If the kiddos are going insane because of all your attention to the computer then just take a break and go play for awhile. If you begin doubting everything you’re doing and feel like it’s not good enough or that it’s too much or that you just want to give up… then take a break! Get some fresh air, go to bed, watch a movie, anything… then start again the next day when you’re refreshed. Remember the Lord is the one directing you and He will provide.

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I use this file folder box ($3.47 at Wal Mart) and have folders for the months of the year as well as sections to put printed papers for Kids of Integrity, Seeds Family Worship, Seasonal and Holiday printable packs, etc. After we complete a week I put it into a folder with the Unit # and Name and file under the month we completed it.

1) I printed out a yearly calendar and mapped out how many days of school we’ll do as well as how many field trip days or seasonal/holiday learning weeks and how many homeschool enrichment days there will be.

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I made this on Microsoft Word. I like having 4 months to one sheet with room to take notes. I have 3 of these sheets to cover the whole school year.

2) I determined from there what to complete daily and what extracurricular subjects to include and on which days.

3) I laid out all of the homeschool supplies for the upcoming year that I have gathered and organized them into subjects and then decided what to use and what to leave out for another year/time. There are a lot of new things I want to buy for our curriculum but as finances are tight I knew the Lord would honor me digging things off our shelves that I spent money for in the past and never used!

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4) I printed out my LHFHG planning worksheet and began mapping out the weekly plan so I knew what projects/supplies to expect. I signed into my library account online and saved books I want to check out for each week under a “saved list” so I can just click and hold a few weeks before I need to pick them up. I printed the lists on the back of my planning worksheet to cross off as we read them and that way they are all right there on the same page.

This is another sheet I created on Microsoft Word as our Unit checklist.

5) I planned out our Kids of Integrity lessons. I determined how many bible stories for each virtue there are to see how many days we will study that virtue. Then I picked out crafts/activities from the lesson plan to complete each day as well as which bible verse to memorize for that virtue. I looked at the same library list maker and added books related to that virtue. I also consulted Right Now Media for any character building/virtue videos to watch on the tablet at the school table. I looked online for any coloring pages/scripture memory pages for the kiddos to color while I read the bible lesson to them.

6) I already had planned out Seeds Family Worship. It is pretty simple. We just picked which album to listen to and went to the BibleStoryPrintables website and matched up the album we picked out. I chose which handwriting worksheets and coloring pages I wanted and that’s that. So we listen to the song and color for a few minutes and practice reciting the verse.

7) BOB Books. This is what we are currently using for Phonics. I have been up and down and not sure what to do for phonics. Amelia is not really enjoying any of the programs we’ve tried (100 Easy Lessons) and she doesn’t necessarily enjoy the BOB books but we’re having more success with them than anything else. I really would like an official Phonics program and am looking into The Logic of English but will need to save up some money for that purchase. In the meantime I am continuing with the BOB books and adding in some fun activities and printables from these websites.

10) Extracurricular – US States Geography and Window on the World. We love our small geography time. We listen to the States CD. We pick an area (Easter border, Western border, etc.) and start coloring in the state on a blank US map. We color in the state for that area along with the song and then we look at our Atlas and our flashcard and just read for a few minutes about that state. That’s it! We are going to start a little into countries by working our way through the Window on the World book. We will look at the country and find it on a map and read about it in our Atlas and then pray according to the Window on the World book.

11) I then planned our field trips to the zoo and museum. I decided which exhibit to look at and looked online for printable packs, crafts, etc.  I also made library book lists online for books related to the subject. The weeks that we will go on a field trip I will substitute the printable pack papers into the motor skills, math and phonics sections of our daily plan instead of using the books that LHFHG calls for. Other than that change our week of learning will look the same but we will not cover any of the unit of the LHFHG manual.

12) I planned our seasonal/holiday learning weeks. This looks basically the same as the zoo and museum trips. I looked for printable packs online and crafts and library book lists. And again our week will look similar with substituting in the printable pack papers and not covering a unit of the LHFHG manual.

Here are some pictures of our room and our homeschooling day!

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Here is the view of our room from the kitchen. It is supposed to be a family/dining room but it is our multipurpose (school/play/office/dining room). We are so blessed to have this room! We do school at the dinner table in here.

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Here is a different view of our family room/dining room converted to a school/play/office/dining room!

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Here is the view of our “supply” room. We don’t do school at the little table but sometimes my 2 year old will sit there and play! And there’s my desk where all the planning occurs. The cubeicals to the R and L contain supplies, books and toy bins and our school box is on top of the cubeical to the L. I also have a small bulletin board with a blue and pink folder that I slip the completed work for the day into (1 for Josh and 1 for Amelia) and a small string with clothespins for any extra special papers to display. At the end of the week is when I collect the papers and file them away.

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And sometimes the baby sits and watches too!

No More Spiritual To-Do Lists

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

When I’ve read this passage in the past I would get stuck on the first verse and turn it into a to-do list. Okay this week I need to work on diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. But God is showing me something great about only claiming to know Him and what growth in Him really looks like. Our church has been focusing on this the past two months as well. That in order to fuel your spiritual growth it is not about a new and exciting bible study or a to-do list of faith virtues or a stronger accountability session or finding a mentor. It is about remembering that we have been cleansed from our old sins (v. 9) . . . And what’s that? It’s the gospel. The good news. The news of Jesus and the power and purpose of His crucifixion and what that means for me.

When I meditate solely on that and remember that and allow that to invade my life then things like brotherly kindness and love and perseverance and self-control begin to flow out of me naturally because I am not barren or unfruitful in my knowledge of Jesus Christ (v. 8). If I am impregnated and fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus then these things are mine and will abound (v. 8)! This is so simple!

“I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2.

I Don’t Know Anything but Jesus

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

I often struggle with wanting to be more mature in specific areas of my Christian walk. I will focus on one thing and think about it constantly for a few weeks and maybe read a book and some articles on it and if I’m really determined I’ll pray for that area a lot. I will find that I do a little better in that area or at least I can pretend well but inevitably my flesh will kick in sooner than later and I find myself filled with discouragement that I am so far in my spiritual maturity and wonder if I will ever be a child of God that grows and pleases Him.

Take for example patience with disciplining my children. I will be convicted about my lack of patience and start praying for God to make me more patient and read some blogs about discipline and maybe start a book or two on discipline and each opportunity I will focus and try really hard to be more patient. I’ll do better for a couple days (or sometimes just a few hours depending on what the day brings!) but inevitably I begin to fail. I become impatient one or two times which opens the floodgates and before I know it I am more impatient than I’ve ever been with the kids! I then feel so discouraged and begin thinking of all the areas I’m failing and how in this world can I ever be a pleasing Christian to God and how will I ever grow and mature in my walk when I have so much to work on!!

What Paul writes here in 1 Corinthians is so encouraging and convicting. “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” If I keep my focus on Christ and His crucifixion and solely focus my time and energy and study on Him then I will naturally become more like Him. We can only resemble God’s character when we study it and know it. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7a. Not the fear of impatience is the beginning of knowledge or the fear of unkindness or unfaithfulness, etc. But the fear of the Lord.

And there is no disappointment in the knowledge of God. No days of discouragement. The more I learn about Him and what His death on the cross means for me the more encouraged I am and I begin to naturally live out the reality. I need to stop trying so hard to live holy because it’s not my strength or resolve that makes me holy anyways it’s Jesus’ death on the cross and His blood that makes me holy. Instead of feeling like this Christian walk is so hard and I’m never going to get anywhere I need to be encouraged that that’s never what it’s been about. If I focus my eyes on Jesus “the author and perfecter of (my) faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and less on me and my strength and my capabilities and my growth then this walk will no longer be exhausting and filled with feelings of failure but instead will be joyful and victorious. Praise God for what He did on the cross!!

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” 1 Corinthians 2: 1-4

Joseph Robert’s Birth Story

So Baby Jo is now 6 months old but I decided it was time to write out his birth story : ) I love having record of his story and I hope some day in the future it will bless all of the kiddos to have their story written down of how they entered this world.

Joseph Robert was born 6 days late on January 8th. I was torn the whole week before because we were thinking we were going to have to induce since he was already so late but I really wanted a similar birth experience to Lydia’s and actually experience spontaneous labor. Our Dr. was willing to induce us from the first day past our due date but I kept waiting per the suggestion of our previous Dr. with being a VBAC and allowing your body to naturally go into labor as opposed to pushing it along with an induction. So we kept waiting. Every day past the due date seemed so long and left me doubting and questioning if we should call to schedule an induction. I also had a weird battle because Adam and my anniversary is the 7th and I really didn’t want our baby born on the same day. It seemed like until that child was out of the house it would be hard to celebrate our anniversary on the same day as that baby’s birthday (I still think it will be tricky but God has His own plans and reasons for doing things).

Well we finally reached the max amount of overdue days and schedule our induction for the morning of the 8th. I still kept hoping to go into labor that night but no such plan happened. I was also remembering our scheduled induction with Amelia and how we showed up to the hospital an hour before and they sent us home because they had no room! I really didn’t want that to happen again… well… it did! We called at 5 AM and they said they were full and they’d call back when they were ready for me. Now since Joseph was originally due on January 2nd he felt all along like a Christmas baby… being told there was no room in the inn made it even more real!! I tried calling again after their morning shift change to make sure I wasn’t getting left behind and the not so nice nurse told me they knew who I was and would call me when they were ready just like they told me at 5 AM. Ugh! Don’t tell an overdue woman that it’s going to be longer! Well we dilly dally’d at home for a few hours and they called at 9 AM saying they were ready!!

We headed out the door and got checked in and dressed and ready to go. They broke my water at 10:30 AM to see if anything would happen naturally from that. No such luck. About 11:30 they started me on Pitocin as nothing was really progressing. They came in every 30 mins. or so and increased the dose to help my contractions get stronger and closer together. Around 1:00 I started getting pretty uncomfortable and had an epidural in place by 1:15 : ) I started relaxing a bit and closed my eyes for a few mins. Right around 2:00 I started feeling some pressure like I needed to push. I was just turning around to hit my nurse call button to have her come see where I was at when the nurse walked in and said she was looking at my contractions on the monitor and wondered if I was starting to feel pressure! She checked me and we were ready to go! My Doc came in and everyone got ready. I started pushing at 2:15 and by 2:30 this giant boy was out!!! What a blessing! Another quick and easy VBAC delivery!

Baby Jo came in a whopping 9 lbs 6 oz and 21 1/2″ long!

VBAC # 2 and almost 10 lbs. !!!

My Best Tip for Housework

Over the last few months I have been trying out various schedules and plans on how to keep up with homemaking now that we are homeschooling on a daily basis for the majority of our morning hours and now that we have added our fourth child leading to minimal time for basic homemaking (laundry, cooking, cleaning and tidying up). While I still haven’t settled on one plan/routine in particular that I really like I have found one thing that is changing my life! This was an idea straight from God’s mind that He knew would bless me and maybe you!

Two years ago I asked for an iPod Nano for my birthday and also bought an armband in the hopes I could use it for running. Well my days of running are pretty slim to none and my expensive iPod began to collect dust. I began wondering how I could make use of it again for a different purpose. I was enjoying listening to some podcasts in the kitchen on either my iHome or my bluetooth speaker connected to our tv but I found that during my homemaking times I would be all over the house moving around and had to keep pausing what I was listening to. One day it dawned on me to strap on my iPod and plug in some headphones and listen as I moved about. Thank you God!!! It sounds so simple and maybe obvious to some of you but it was a revelation to me. Now on most days I actually look forward to my time for homemaking so I can listen to my podcasts and audiobooks. I have so many books I want to read and just don’t have time to and this is a great way to get it in.

So here’s what it looks like for me. I usually reserve the folding of laundry, cleaning dishes and dinner prep, cleaning the house (sweep/mop, bathrooms, etc.) and any kind of decluttering chores for our afternoon rest time. So I put the kids to their allotted places and strap my iPod on and get started!

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Someone else there to keep me company on laundry day!

I love listening to:

Charles Stanley‘s podcast
Chuck Swindoll‘s Insight for Living podcast
James Macdonald‘s Walk in the Word podcast
Dr. Vernon McGee‘s Through the Bible podcast

Loyal Books has free audiobooks for download. They are a lot of classical novels which is a good way to catch up on your Jane Austen books!

Overdrive is connected to your local library account where you can check out audiobooks and download them onto your device. They have a pretty big selection of current books so you can catch up on your Hunger Games series! I am not able to put these on my iPod because it is an app and my Nano does not have app capabilities but I can put it on my iPhone and plug in my headphones there and listen.

Here is the armband I have for my iPod and I love it.

Listen and enjoy and let the homemaking begin!! And don’t forget to turn the baby monitor volume on high in case your littlest one wakes up for a feeding! I learned this the hard way!!!

Receiving Strength for the Task

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” Hebrews 11:11

Have you ever been asked of God to do something that by yourself you thought there’s no way I can do this. I am not strong enough or I already have too much on my plate or I’m too old for this or whatever it might be that hinders you from obedience to the task or even belief that the task can be accomplished or that God’s even asking it of you.

I certainly have a number of times and may even be facing this right now.

This is such an encouraging little excerpt from Scripture. This is from Abraham and Sarah who God had promised children more numerous than the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5) and as the majority of their years were filled with barrenness they certainly had time to doubt God’s promise over their life. I’m sure based on this Hebrews passage that as Sarah’s age grew older she did question and doubt how she could hold up in a pregnancy so late in life. How would she have strength to make it through delivery? (Remember there were no epidurals and delivery aids back then!) And how would she have the energy to raise a young child in such an old age? I’m sure this was a great temptation to doubt God’s promise or at least her ability to fulfill His promise over her. BUT SHE RECEIVED STRENGTH TO CONCEIVE SEED, AND SHE BORE A CHILD. God met her where she was at and provided for her need and fear.

God will not promise something for us and ask something of us without supplying us the strength to accomplish it.

Are you weary and exhausted today and wondering how in the world you’re going to do it? He will give you strength … open your heart and receive it.

God is good all the time.

My Favorite Free Websites for Homeschool!

Bible Story Printables – Seeds Family Worship packets that include coloring sheets, mini books, copywork

DLTK Bible

DLTK Kids

Preschool Printable Activities

Turtle Diary

Coloring Castle

TLS Books

Math Worksheet Wizard

Coloring.ws

Kids Learning Station

Homeschool Creations

3 Dinosaurs

Teachers Pay Teachers

CurrClick

123 Homeschool 4 Me

Homeschool Share

Homeschool Classifieds

Loyal Books (formerly: Books Should Be Free)

Halfway Review of Little Hearts for His Glory

This review is a little less than halfway but I am at a point of re-planning and adding in some different things so I thought it would be a good time to organize and process through my thoughts and share them here.

You can look back at my first post here if you’re interested in more info on the Kindergarten set up of LHFHG.

Here are some things I really like about LHFHG (also keep in mind my kiddos are 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 and both started right before their 5 and 3 year old birthdays).

  • I love the bible verse memorization and found a lot of great printables here. I love printing the verse on cardstock and putting it in our photo book for easy review.
  • I love the Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CD to coincide with the memory verses.
  • I love the assigned storytime. My kiddos absolutely love reading through Thornton Burgess’s stories and it’s one of our favorite times of school (we usually do it after we’ve eaten our lunch and wrap up our day with this).
  • I enjoy the Art, Science, Thinking and Dramatic Play activities… these are things I usually don’t enjoy doing with the kiddos because I don’t think I’m very creative but they force me to go outside of my comfort zone and the kiddos LOVE doing these activities.

Here are some things I’m a little disappointed with about LHFHG. Now my disappointment does not mean I wouldn’t recommend it, it just means I have found some ways to supplement because of it. I also think it can be different for each family so you have to go by what works for you and your kiddos. For my kiddos these are some things I was hoping to have more of and it might be their age and interest calls for it.

  • I am actually a little disappointed in the Bible Study section. I was hoping to go through more of the Devotions book each week but it only shows up once or twice every couple of weeks. Aside from listening to the memory verse and practicing saying it and a short Bible story each day that is it for Bible Study. I think my kiddos have gotten familiar enough with the bible stories that they need something a little extra. I went back to Big Truths for Little Kids and have been reading a section from that each day they do not have a Devotions reading. I also will throw in their Awana story for the week on one of those days.
  • I’m also a little disappointed in the Science aspect of the guide. I am not very good at science and don’t really know how to teach it and maybe that’s why they don’t lean very heavily on science in this guide is because of the age for Kindergarten. Maybe what they have is just what they need. I think I had hoped someone would push me to add something in and LHFHG definitely doesn’t do that but that might be okay. To satisfy my guilty mom feelings we are utilizing our museum membership. We go to the museum every other week and pick one exhibit to focus on (i.e. dinosaurs, mummies, gems & minerals, etc.). We read books about that exhibit the week before we go and I usually can find some cute printables and coloring sheets for the kids to work on during the “fine motor skills” section of the manual. This has been great and I feel like we get a good portion of science in.
  • We dropped the 100 Easy Lessons for our phonics as it was just not vibing with Amelia. We went on to the Bob books and she has really liked those but it was still a struggle to get her excited about doing phonics. I started wondering about the early readers books and we picked some up at the library and now do that for phonics. She gets to pick any fun book she wants (usually frozen or some disney princess) and we read 1 or 2 pages each day. I just have her sound out each letter and put it together slowly then faster and faster until she’s sounded out the word. This is what I am thankful for about the 100 Easy Lessons because it taught me as the teacher a good method for teaching reading. Now she really looks forward to phonics and has been practicing sounding out words and word recognition everywhere we go!
  • As far as the Handwriting book and the Rod & Staff books I would say you could easily find the equivalent online. A lot of it she has already been familiar with and while it is easy and nice just to go page to page through the workbook I feel like you could find some critical thinking papers that maybe catch your child’s interests better through the internet. I also am not too impressed with the Handwriting book. Amelia had a lot of practice doing the copywork pages for the Seeds Family Worship songs and I don’t think this book teaches anything real different. I am almost tempted to have her do copywork of bible verses for the weekly memory verse and maybe will switch to that here soon.

So here is a review of our daily schedule: (We do school at home right now 3 days a week and we do 1 day a homeschool enrichment school day away and 1 day a field trip day to the zoo or museum)

  • Bible and Devotions/Big Truths for Little Kids
  • Scripture Memory and Music
  • Calendar Notebook (see post here)
  • Rhyme
  • Alternating Activity
  • Snack
  • Motor Skills
  • Math
  • Phonics
  • Chapter Book (we read through Amelia Bedelia or some other big chapter book)
  • Spanish (just learning flashcards and numbers, etc.)
  • Geography (see post here)
  • Storytime at Lunch (this is the Thornton Burgess books)
  • Piano after Rest Time (we just started working through this book)
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We made this school book box out of a diaper box. I hot glued scrapbook paper to the sides. I love using it because it is nice and strong and holds a lot and even has handles on the side!

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Here is the front/side of the box. I also wanted a way to display the current bible verses we were learning and I really don’t have much wall space and thought of doing this! So there’s each of their Awana verses for the week and the LHFHG verse for the week. You can see I cut down part of the front of the box to make for a little easier access to the books. We’ve been using it now for 8 months and it’s still standing strong!