Monday, July 28, 2014

Homeschool Changes

For about six or so years, I haven't done a lot of homeschool prep. It took little time to clean out the old books and replace with the next thing we would do. In comparison to now, it had been easy. We had been on auto-pilot for so long, that when I thought we needed to make a change I didn't realized the implications.

I've never had an unlimited homeschool budget, and have pretty much used what I was able to get my hands on at a good price. I would figure out how to make it work for my family. God has been so gracious to us to allow so many people to basically give us their left overs. We have used lots of textbooks, workbooks, whole book curriculum, the internet and the library.

For many reasons, I thought we needed to make some changes this year. So change came... and all that comes with it.

I have felt like a first time homeschool mom again, one night even reduced to tears. Moms have a lot of responsibilities, all moms. My situation is not that unique, but it is still MY situation and I must deal with it in a godly manner.

Recently, I was embarrassed at the condition of my house while I sat in the dining room with the two other homeschool moms to discuss our plans for the upcoming year. I was overwhelmed at the pile of dishes, the stacks of laundry, toys scattered everywhere, lack of food cooked. One of the girls came in grieved over something on her heart and I got even more overwhelmed. Allowing self-pity to creep in, I sinned.

I have felt like a failure, like I was alone in this mess, and that it was a bad idea to make the changes that I was making. I have been stretched. I want things to stay the same, I don't want to change any more.

Too late. I've spent more money than I thought I would need to and have spent too many hours planning.

I'm sure everything will turn out great. The whole school year will be harder, but over all, the girls will get a better education.  With more structure, my free style girl will learn a little more discipline...hopefully. With a better schedule, my structured girl will know what to expect and not freak out when she doesn't know what's coming...hopefully. And everyone will still have the "love of learning" that I pray for so often...hopefully.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Go Play!

I really appreciated this article on putting on your swimsuit and playing with your children. My blog post is more about playing with your children as it is about putting on your swimsuit. I have often let other things crowd out the need for me to play with my children. (How I look in a swimsuit is only one of those things.)

You aren't getting a picture of me playing with them in my swimsuit. I'm not usually the one who goes up high into the playground with them either.
A while back, we went to my sister's-in-law pool. Usually, I am in a big hurry, have other things to do so I don't want to mess up my hair and makeup. But that day, I actually planned to get in. I was the first to run and jump straight into the water and the kids loved it! We played hard and were sad to leave when it was time to go. Lydia said that it was the "funnest day at the pool in forever".  When we decided not to take a vacation this year, I really purposed to do some fun things with the girls. We even bought water guns for the whole family and ambushed some unsuspecting folks. I had more fun than the girls and I'm the one to keep asking if we can do it again.

Playing with my children is important. They can learn valuable lessons. Among many things, they can learn 
  • how to have fun without electronics
  • not to take themselves too seriously
  • rejoice when others win
  • that laughter does a heart good
We live in an age where many children have a lot of access to electronics or are over scheduled with activities that take them away from home. They need us to be involved in their play. (They also need time to be bored and learn to play by themselves, but that's another post.)

I often feel my age and give in to the temptation to let the older girls play with Abigail rather than do it myself. They get to enjoy her, but I miss out. I'm sure that I can come up with as many excuses as anyone else (besides just the age factor), but the truth is I still need to play.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We Aren't Going On a Vacation This Year

For many reasons we aren't going to the beach this year.  I came up with a list of fun, free or cheap things to do close by to us. As it turns out, I've not gotten a lot of those things done yet, but we have had some fun days. The next four weeks is shaping up to have some exciting things built in though.

After a wedding in Chattanooga, we went to the Children's Discovery Museum and you can tell that children of all ages love it! It is definitely worth the small amount it costs to get in.

"A piece a cake, piece a pie"
She couldn't decide so we all shared.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fourth of July with FriendsThe

Some friends came over and our girls made dessert - two completely different cakes but looked the same.
Lydia and two of her sweet friends.
Mary with two of her closest friends and Abigail squeezing in the picture.

And Abigail... that girl thinks everyone is her "best fwiend" and Lucas is so sweet to play with her.

They never stopped!
Glow in the dark headbands were a hit!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Who's the Favorite?

Most of my days as a parent seem to be a choice between one of the children. Two, three, four.. (all?) may need me at the same time. One daughter will want me to do something at the same time as another. How do I choose?  What do I do? These are the times I feel most guilty. Guilty for choosing one's needs over the other's. Guilty that I can't physically meet all the needs at once or even in the amount of time that I think she needs me.

There have been times that I have thought that if all of my children were closer to the same age, it would be easier to meet their needs. Everyone needs naps in the afternoon, everyone drinks from sippy cups, everyone plays outside together. Everyone has the same bedtime...early! I'm sure those days are exhausting too, but I haven't experienced them. Isn't it easy to think that something looks easier when we aren't actually experiencing it ourselves?

But my experience has been that having children twenty-two years apart is hard too. It means that dating and diapers are part of the same moments. Driving cars and strollers are happening together, teething and braces, onesies and formal dresses, baby booties and high heels, board books and novels in the library bag, preschool and college, first haircuts and fancy up-dos... My youngest daughter and my grand daughter can ride in the same car seat!

And bedtimes? They start at 8:30 and go until 10:30 for the school aged and younger during the school year. But those older girls... Well, let's just say I can't stay awake that long.

Please make sure you know that I am not complaining, at all, not a bit, well, maybe a tiny 
bit, but not really. Well, okay a little. But I don't want to.

Sometimes I will let physical exhaustion mixed with the mental exhaustion cause me to sin. Feelings of guilt and self pity would be easy to give in to. It is hard to be alert all the time and I want to do what I want to do for me? Hear that? I, I, I, me, me, me...

I appreciated this article on the guilty feelings of mothers. It's directed to mothers of very small children, but it certainly resonated with me. 

I have to ask myself if I am feeling guilty because of my own sin. Do I want to do that which is most fun for me or helpful to the child that needs me or the family as a whole? 

(That opens a whole can of worms doesn't it? If it's best for the one child or the children as a group. I'll save that conversation.)

Am I tired and just want to go to sleep or am I being lazy? Is it my pride that insists on certain behavior and not others?

There are days when I have to say to any one of the girls, "I can't talk about that right now, I will do that later, you need to ask me again." Just this week I have said, "No," more times than I want to admit. I have fought the temptation to run away from home. Then one night, Ray actually helped me run away for a few hours.

The girls are growing tremendously in this area with me. The one night that all I wanted to do was run away this week, one of them had a crisis. I couldn't do anything about it but she needed someone to talk to. She didn't say anything to me until a full day later because she knew my plate was over flowing. She said that she knew that I didn't need anything else at the moment to have to deal with. 

Another of the girls asked if she could get a certain app on her kindle for herself. When I started questioning, she patiently explained the whole thing to me like I had never heard about  it. One of her sisters came in and said, "Mama, you have already approved for her to have this account (she just wanted the app for the account). She explained it all then." I apologized and she said, "That's okay, I know you have a lot to do."

There will be many more days when I don't hear what they say, approve of something that I shouldn't have, not approve something that I should, go to bed without listening, not speak to them as kindly as I should, forget something important, even tell them to stop talking and dancing for a while. I hope they know that I am trying. We are all learning to be patient, wait, deal with disappointments, rejoice for others when we don't feel like it, and many other things.

As I pray for my daughters as a whole, I hope that they understand that I want to do what's right to raise them in the way they should go. I want to meet every need, but I have to remember that I can't and I shouldn't. They have to learn to rely on Christ and His work through them. While I pray every day for their souls, I am also praying that they will forgive my mistakes and understand that I truly want to see Christ in them. And I really do not have a favorite child!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Heresy? Or Childishness?

During a recent Bible time we were talking about why we should love Jesus. This conversation had more than one stifling giggles.

Abigail - I don't love Jesus.

Me - You should never say that, you must love Jesus. 

Abigail - But I don't love him.

MeHe is God, the Creator of the World, and He died to save you from your sins.

We went back and forth about this but let the conversation end at her final declaration.

Abigail - But I don't love him. I just really love you Mama.

Girls! It wasn't too long ago that she was really sure that she didn't love meWhat am I going to do with this girl? I think I'm going to keep her. 

She really loves Baby "Joziuh" too.
Ray is a proud Daddy and Granddaddy.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My House Exploded...


It wasn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. But what could I do? The past four days have been a great whirlwind of activity for all of us.

It started on Tuesday morning when Rachel texted and asked me to come over, then she texted again and asked if I could come over sooner rather than later. At that, I was suspicious. I dropped everything and went to her house. Within two hours, she and Adrian were racing to the hospital and I was dropping off Susannah at my house to take her nap with Abigail. Rachel's contractions started at eight that morning and Josiah was born before two in the afternoon.

Since then, we have all come in and out, dropping and grabbing as we could. We wanted to be at the hospital and then at Rachel and Adrian's house as much as possible and there was still church, jobs, and other activities to maintain. Dishes and laundry had been partially done here and there, but the house looked rough. Because the girls were really helpful over the past few days, it really wasn't as bad as it could have been.

So where should I start?

I started in the sink and actually ran the dishwasher with just pots and pans. (A big waste of money, in my opinion.) Getting the sink clean, the laundry folded and my bed cleared felt like I could sleep peacefully. Picking up things off of the floor helped and as I moved (ahem..trotted, almost ran) from one room to another I was dropping things in at least the correct room. So really in an hour's time, our chaos was back to the manageable "mess, but we're a family who lives here look."

I know babies don't wait to grow, they even sneak around and do it while we aren't looking. So for now, I'll try not to worry about the dust bunnies, finger prints and piles of papers. I'm spending every moment that I can playing with a very active thirteen month old and rocking a very snugly newborn. Being a Grammy really is a fun job!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Josiah Ray Rink

June 24, 2014
1:58 pm
8 pounds 7ounces
21.5 inches long

My senses are heightened when a newborn is near, but when it's my first grandson, it's overwhelming.
  • Those smells... Baby lotion, milky breath, burbs, diapers
  • That skin... How can it be described? A rose petal? Sooo soft 
  • Those sounds... Uh, uh, uh....mew, mew....phht, ppphhtt, phht....snort, grunt
God is always so good and worthy to be praised. Today, I am thankful that He allowed a quick delivery and a beautiful, healthy baby to be born to us all.
I got to be a part of their family devotions.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Am I Cultivating "The Village"?

Some would say that I'm growing my own village. We have always told the girls jokingly that when they get married they must marry a godly man that always wants to live near us. As parents, we want our children to live in the same house with us forever, or at least stay very close. It's kind of a joke, but it may not be all bad.

If Rachel hadn't lived so close to us, what would she have done the day she was pregnant and constantly vomiting, the septic system backed up all over her house, at the moment that Adrian couldn't possibly leave work? She spent the day on our sofa while we took care of the dirty business. We did it joyfully, not because I thought Adrian would bring home flowers (which he did), but because we love her and we wanted to help her.

Having daughters, I have always taught them to help at home. They can all cook, clean and take care of babies. I was very purposeful in teaching these things for two reasons. One reason is so that they could help others and the other reason was because I needed help.  My marriage needed that and I needed that. It was a glorious day when Ray and I could leave the house together without children. They are fully capable and even cheerful about taking care of things here when I need for them to. I have often said that I don't know how I got Rachel raised without her help.

Now, I'm reaping the rewards of teaching them to care for a home, but I hope others will too. There have been a few times when they have gone to a family member's or friend's house to help out, but not often enough. I can see firsthand of how helpful my older girls are to me and I want them to do the same for others.

When we see life getting hard for a friend we should step in and help. Wash her dishes so she can sit down to feed her baby with joy. Sit with her children while she goes to the grocery store alone. Prepare her a meal to serve at her home when she needs it. That's all part of living in a "village".

While Rachel is pregnant with her second child and working on a house, she needs extra help again. We are part of the "village" that she lives in. Our community is our family and church. So many times we have been at their new house and she would mention someone's name that had been over to help for a few hours. What a sweet reward to "living in a village."

Don't you love the story about Solomon asking the people to give of their belongings to build the temple and they gave so freely that he had to ask them to stop giving.

A pastor friend just recently died after a brain tumor. The family was so blessed by meals coming every day that his wife had to ask the meals to slow down, the people were giving too much. In her grief, the community wanted to pour their love on her and surround her with help.

I have to ask myself, have I given so much of myself that someone would consider asking me to stop? That's part of being in the village.

Sure you're going to come across someone that always wants your help. They keep asking and asking, but never seem to return the favors. There's a scripture about that too.

But what I want is for my family to be helping the body of believers that God has placed us in and for them to help me. That's the village that I really want to live in.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Boston with Hannah

Several have asked why Boston. My question was, why not? We wanted to go somewhere that we had never been, that had a lot of history and Boston had the cheapest plane tickets. It turned out to be a great decision!

Spending one on one time with just one daughter was a great time for us and I hope to get to do that with of the girls one day.

We stayed on the campus of Harvard University in the dorm room that John F. Kennedy shared when he was a senior there. It is decorated in JFK memorabilia and was certainly a great place to stay!
The birthplace of John Adams.
The entrance to the library of John Quincy Adams at Peacefield. Twelve thousand volumes and so beautiful, but it set my allergies off and I was sneezing like crazy.
The USS Constitution and its museum was one of Hannah's favorite stops. 
It is amazing that Bunker Hill is in the center of a Boston neighborhood. 
The oldest working clock, working pipe organ and  angel figurines in America all in the same picture in the Old North Church. It was so beautiful! 
The dog tags at the memorial to the soldiers of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was impressive.
Another moving monument was the Holocaust Memorial.
The site of the Boston Massacre was in the middle of a downtown sidewalk. So much history nestled among skyscrapers and people rushing back and forth.
Everyone has to have her picture made with Benjamin Franklin.
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky was based on the ducklings at Boston Public Gardens.
Plimouth Plantation was the most history in the original setting. There was NO sign of  modern history around and the guides were all in character completely. We spent a good deal of time talking to "William Brewster's grandson."
A book of catechisms found at Plimouth Plantation.
Pilgrim Bennies was probably my favorite dish the whole week. Bennies are english muffins covered in eggs and a combination of other things. This one was loaded with cranberries. 
Hannah was very disappointed that they wouldn't let her stand on Plymouth Rock.
This was Hannah's first flight and she was rue the clouds could hold her if she walked on them. We were both amazed by the views, especially the sunset on the way home.