May 30, 2010

The Home Stretch

It's really true that time goes faster as you get older. Where did last week go?! It was a blur of school along with an intro to summer activities. We picnicked at the park with friends on Monday; went shopping at the BX for a little plastic pool and water toys on Tuesday; played with said pool and water toys on Wednesday; went to The Greene with two other homeschool families Thursday morning to play in the fountains; and went on a family bike ride and played at the park Friday morning since Daddy didn't have to go to work.

Believe it or not, we also did about 8 days' worth of Sonlight reading! We are really enjoying the last books of Core 2. I confess we're skimping a bit on the language arts and math side of things, but since we plan to do those throughout the summer, I'm not all that concerned about it.

Yesterday we had some old friends roll into town! Brian and Joy L and their 3 kids arrived en route from North Dakota to Georgia. Brian will be serving in Iraq for a year, while Joy and the kids will be close to her parents. We were all stationed in Ohio at the same time in 2001-2004, and Joy and I have kept in touch through Stampin' Up!, getting to see each other at conventions and leadership trainings. But it has been SO fun to get to hang out as families again and exclaim over the growth and maturity of our older kids and grin in delight at the newer additions. We visited a long time last night and enjoyed a leisurely morning with a pancake breakfast before the second service at church (which is where we all met the first time we were here). The kids have played so well together. Ian is just a couple of months older than Charis, and he and Arden especially have hit it off, though Charis just came in and announced she and Ian were having fun playing badminton. Eliana is just a few months younger than Kenna, and the two girls have had many adorable moments playing together. And Josh, having just finished his first year of college, is practically unrecognizable to us! (Good thing I keep up with Joy's blog--otherwise I'm not sure I'd believe it's him!)

We just got back from Young's and are getting kids cleaned up and in bed. The L's have to leave in the morning, so it's just a brief visit, but we're thankful for the time we've been able to share.

May 26, 2010

10 on Tuesday

I know, it's Wednesday, but I forgot to do this yesterday. :-)

1. With much encouragement from Charis, Tobin finally learned to ride his bike last weekend. I think he's wondering why it took him so long to try!

2. We're squishing the last 3 weeks of Sonlight Core 2 curriculum into 2 weeks. Two weeks of 4 days each, I might add. Crazy?! I think we're all ready to be finished, so it's working so far.

3. Woohoo! Four-day weekend to look forward to.

4. I put a big storage container on the deck and filled it with water for Kenna and Lucan to play with/in yesterday. Kenna stripped naked no less than 3 times before we finally located her swimsuit.

5. After dinner last night we went to the BX and purchased a plastic pool, plus super soaker water guns, and a wild-n-wacky-n-wiggly sprinkler. Today was "Water Wednesday," and much fun was had by all. (A good nap was had by Kenna and Lucan, too, after all that fun.)

6. Kenna has been stringing together more complex sentences, with her favorite conjunction currently being "so that." Sometimes this produces quite amusing cause and effect scenarios, such as what she prayed tonight. "Dear God, thank you for my family, so that I can have food."

7. My heart about burst yesterday when, in comparing the books about Marie Curie and a missionary, Arden informed me that he liked Catching Their Talk in a Box better than the current science book because it told about people who needed to hear about Jesus and were able to listen to the gospel message.

8. Sitting on the couch with one's spouse after dinner while watching the children is a GREAT and FREE form of entertainment. Charis, Tobin, and Arden provide an unrivaled show as they "clean up" the dining room and kitchen. And Kenna and Lucan are immensely entertaining, each in their own little world, running around and chattering to themselves. On this particular evening, Kenna was running laps with a hooded towel over her head, yelling, "SUPERMAN!" When we pointed out that she was, indeed, not a man, she didn't miss a beat. "SUPERKENNA!" she yelled, and took off again. Meanwhile, Lucan is toddling around muttering, presumably, about the best way to take over the world after we're all in bed.

9. Summer laundry. Love it.

10. Summer allergies. Hate 'em.

May 16, 2010

She Senses the Worth of Her Work

This is my would-be Mother's Day post, one week delayed. :-) First, I'd love to invite you to take some time to read this excellent post on Annette's blog. Ever since I read it, I've wanted to share it on my blog as well--I think the concept is one I've also had on my heart but have been unable to put words to, just as Annette wrote about. The article she copied is a challenging and convicting one, and I've thought about it a lot since I read it a couple of months ago.

So it was fresh on my mind when I attended Barb Cash's excellent session with the same title as this blog post at the homeschool convention. I really enjoyed what she had to say and wish it had worked out for me to attend other sessions she gave, but I was thankful for what God allowed me to hear at this one. I took notes, but they are quite random; still, I think they may bless and encourage others as well, so here are some things I wrote down, along with a few of my own comments.

"We need to sense there is worth and purpose in our work. Otherwise it becomes a series of obligations that weave a ho-hum tapestry of life." Isn't that true? If we are not absolutely convinced that God has called us to an INCREDIBLE ministry as wives and mothers, we can all too easily fall into the trap of not only feeling frustrated and discouraged at the difficulties we encounter, but also even bitterness and resentment. It's far too easy to underestimate how valuable it really is that we are changing diapers and caring for little ones.

I am the ONLY one that God has called to be Ted's wife and the mother of Charis, Tobin, Arden, Kenna, and Lucan! No one else can do this job--it is mine alone for as long as God grants me life on this earth! Say that to yourself with the names of the precious ones God has given YOU, and thank Him for the privilege of being called to such a unique place.

Barb read a quote from an old Betty Crocker cookbook that talked about how women could "minister to loved ones by cooking them good food." Though you may not find such language in modern cookbooks, it is interesting that not too long ago a domestic chore was spoken of in a secular book as being "ministry." And truly, isn't that what we do, ladies? Every day!

1 Timothy 6:6 speaks to the issue of contentment--Godliness WITH contentment is a means of great gain. Be careful not to let a root of discontent grow in your heart.

One of the difficulties of being a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), especially a homeschooling mom, is dealing with interruptions. Barb said flat out that interruptions ARE life! We can't wait for the perfect week or even the perfect day--we will always deal with interruptions, and our attitude toward them goes a long way in determining whether we are content or not. Hold loosely to your plans, she encouraged!

So, how CAN we be content when things don't go according to plan? One big factor according to Barb is to find joy in the simple things. Otherwise, the extraordinary becomes the standard, and how can you maintain THAT?! A plain and simple life is a full life. Sometimes it's as simple as changing your perspective. Choose to think of your role as a holy privilege: I "get" to share life with 6 messy people! Rejoice, mess and all!

We CAN have a heavenly perspective on our earthly lives. Living in the Spirit allows us to experience so much more freedom and joy than living in the flesh. It is more important to have influence than control--what a challenging concept!

Wrapping Up

Things are starting to wind down. Last week we went to the last PEACH homeschool meeting, which was the "Showcase of Shining Stars." Charis had the opportunity to perform two piano pieces and did very well. (If you're a FB friend, you can see the link to her video on my profile!) Then Wednesday night we attended the AWANA awards night. Charis received her Excellence Award, and Tobin received his Sparky Award. Arden is on track to get his next year.

I suppose other folks are winding down the school year...we have 4 weeks of Core 2 left, and I must admit I'm ready for summer NOW! It kind of feels like cheating to just skim through the last few weeks, but this seems like it has been the looooongest school year ever, probably because we didn't start until nearly September with moving last summer. I keep telling myself there is no rush...I'm not planning to start Core 3 until (probably) we get back from our Williamsburg trip in September. I'm looking forward to our various summer activities so much, though, that it's hard to decide to keep plugging away with our current schedule!

May 12, 2010

May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

I had a brilliant plan on Mother's Day for posting notes from Barb Cash's seminar at the homeschool convention...the topic would have been very appropriate. But alas, the day slipped away in a blur that unfortunately included neither a nap nor time for blogging (but thankfully other good things!). I'm thankful I was able to attend church, since I had missed the previous week, and I was so blessed by the service.

We had a late lunch since Ted did music for both services, so by the time we got that cleaned up, I was having a hard time deciding whether to nap because I was tired or exercise because I was wired--having had some migraine medicine to ward off an impending migraine, the caffeine ended up winning. Ted and I enjoyed (maybe endured is a better word) a P90X Core Synergistic session, and then we worked in the kitchen making a delicious Cobb salad and mango smoothies for our evening meal.

Anyway, I thought I'd post some pictures of my Mother's Day goodies. Charis labored long and hard creating a special box of treats for my special day, which made me feel SOOOO loved! I KNOW how much time she put into these little crafts, and they are so special! I got a few hugs and "Happy Mother's Day" mentions from the boys; I suppose in a decade or two they'll be forgetting to call home, so I might as well enjoy what I get, right?!

The flowers...

The Box (Charis raided my old picture drawer for pics to use on these projects, so the pictures are dated!)

Inside the box

Rabbit mosaic--a project kit she bought at the AWANA store.

Origami bracelet and ring (sized rather big, but cute nonetheless!)

The next 3 pictures show an explosion box similar to one I created for our next local Stamp Camp. Charis loved the idea and totally figured out how to do it on her own. This is the outside, and inside each flap has a picture, with an acrostic in the center.

I especially love the hand-drawn picture of Lucan, since there weren't any pictures of him in my old picture file!

Cute acrostic poem inside

This is a pin. I left it in the cute little box because part of the "hair" needs to be glued back on!

"Mom" garland

Booklet (found on a kids' craft web site)

Foldout card with various pictures drawn on it to represent a word for each letter of "Mother."

May 08, 2010

Six on Saturday

1. I've been derailed with my P90X efforts...a stomach bug hit me yesterday, and while my tummy is not so unsettled now, I have a rip-roaring headache and feel pretty weak. Here's hoping Mother's Day brings health!

2. This afternoon I decided I really must teach Kenna to read. Ted had taken the kids to the library while I napped earlier. After they were home, while I was working on a stamping project, I suddenly realized that while everyone else quietly had a nose in a book, Kenna was talking and/or making noises non. stop. all. after. noon. I may not have noticed if I hadn't had the aforementioned headache...

3. The privileges (or dangers) of having older brothers include becoming well-versed in gun noises and uses. Part of Kenna's talking spree this afternoon included random "pshew, pshew" noises, which came with intermittent verses of a song she made up with lyrics that included the line, "Jesus died on the cross for our sins."

4. We're having strange weather here. Anyone else? Tornado watch last night, with plummeting temperatures. Windy and overcast all day. Kind of matches my feelings, I guess! If I have to be sick, might as well have nasty weather!

5. We're reading the biography of Gladys Aylward in school. If you want to be challenged spiritually, check out this amazing lady who influenced so many people in China for Christ after being told she would never be a "good missionary." The kids are loving the adventure as much as I am!

6. It's been awhile since I posted a picture, so here are Kenna and Lucan with some of their favorite toys. The gun actually belongs to Tobin, but Lucan commandeers it as often as he can. He also enjoys walking around with Arden's sword or anything else long and hard and weapon-like.

May 07, 2010

Teaching Boys...Part 2

In the previous post about this topic, we looked at some neurological and physiological differences between boys and girls. From there, Mr. Pudewa went on to talk about four forms of relevancy and how to connect boys in particular with topics of study. Beginning with the best form of relevancy:

1. Intrinsic Relevancy.
This revolves around a boy's natural interest. (Think knives and swords, LOL.) Go deep and learn a lot about less--don't cover the bases! Otherwise you'll be two miles wide and one inch deep and know nothing about everything. Capitalize on a student's interest and give him increasing freedom to study what he's passionate about. (After all--isn't this one of the reasons many of us homeschool?!)

2. Inspired Relevancy.
Someone you know and love is interested in a topic. Connect kids with people who are passionate about other things. If I'm not excited about a subject, I need to introduce my kids to someone who is.

3. Contrived Relevancy.
You have to do it anyway (such as learning math facts), so you make it into a game. Think of the difference between these two sets of instructions:
A. Underline the 17 prepositional phrases in the following paragraph.
B. Find all the prepositional phrases hidden in this paragraph and you WIN!

A game is an economic system. Rules for an effective game:
A. You have to be able to win.
B. It has to have a potential gain AND a potential loss.

A good example he gave was a 100 Days Chart. This is working toward 100 days in a row of practicing a skill. (His example was practicing an instrument.) Once 100 days are complete, the student earns a prize--that is the potential gain. If the student misses a day, he must start over from day 1! No reminders are allowed! This is the potential loss.

In regard to possible concerns about whether this is bribery, he noted that bribery is illegal or immoral, but a system that gives external acknowledgment is OK. He likens it to receiving a paycheck for work well done.

4. Enforced Relevancy.
Obviously, this is the lowest level of relevancy and the most difficult to work with. A few notes here: Children LIKE to do what they are good at doing. Give them opportunities to keep improving. They also want to do what they THINK they CAN do. On the other hand, they hate to do and refuse to do what they believe they cannot do. A recommended resource here was The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine.

1. Emotional Bank Account--Keep it full, and live off the interest (said Dr. Suzuki). Making a correction, then, does not deplete from the principal. Keep score, literally! Say 10 positive things before saying a negative. NOT false praise--acknowledge the positive. Then, they trust you and believe you when you must correct them.

2. You must communicate that you love and appreciate your child! Otherwise, the lesson won't stick. A smile communicates mutual respect. Why can we be unconditionally loving and accepting of other people but don't communicate that with our kids?! All too often we assume the attitude, "I love you and you love me, now get to work!" Ouch! That hurt! I know I've been guilty of being too work/results-oriented.

Hope these notes were helpful for someone! They are a good reminder for me.

May 03, 2010


I've had enough people ask me about this program--what I think about it, etc.--that I figured it would be easier to do a blog post and refer people to it rather than answer the same questions multiple times. So, since inquiring minds want to know, here's the lowdown on our involvement with this exercise program.

First, a little background--I had not done much of anything in the way of exercising since we all got hit with the flu in October, and then I injured my knee trying to run in November and my back in December. But after the holidays were over, I was feeling lethargic, doughy, and a little depressed. My friend and neighbor Chris encouraged me to borrow any of her DVDs to try out, since it was too cold to go running outside. So in January I started working out using 3 different fitness DVDs that I borrowed from Chris. Two of those were produced by Beachbody, which is where P90X comes from as well.

Shortly after I began getting back into the exercise routine, my friend Jen sent an email noting her new email address. I noticed one of her web sites listed at the end was a Beachbody web site, so I checked it out on a whim and saw P90X featured, but didn't really look at it. Soon after this, Chris asked me if I had heard of P90X, and I started to feel like maybe I should be checking this program out!

So after investigating, talking with Jennifer, praying about it, and discussing it with Ted, I placed our order. I started on April 16 as my Day One and haven't looked back! I guess I should clarify that I've been doing the fitness part of the program. I have to confess I haven't even cracked open the nutrition guide, but since there are 7 of us in our family, I really don't feel like cooking separate meals. We eat pretty healthy, so I've opted to focus on the exercise and just make sure I'm avoiding stuff that I know is bad for me anyway.

Before I get to the Q&A section, I want to make clear that I am NOT profiting in any way from the sale of Beachbody products. If you would like to purchase any, I would love to recommend that you do so through Jennifer's web site and support a godly woman who is a wife, mother, and Christian songwriter.

And now for some FAQs...if your question isn't answered here, leave me a comment or shoot me an email. :-)

Q: How much did you have to purchase to start the program?
A: I ended up only purchasing the 12 DVDs ($119.95) and a set of resistance bands ($39.95). I have 3-pound and 5-pound weights but knew I'd need something more.

Q: Did you find you needed to purchase anything else?
A: I'm fortunate to have a neighbor loaning me a pull-up bar, which is one that hooks over any door frame, so I did not spend the $60 to buy that. However, it's a vital part of the program, so I intend to check out the stash at Walmart, since I saw one recently for $20, I think. (Should have bought it then!) I don't actually do pull-ups YET, but I loop the resistance band around the bar, kneel down a ways away, and can imitate the motion quite well. The DVDs show one person using the bands, so you can always adapt using either bands, weights, or the pull-up bar, depending on your exercise.

Q: Any other products that might be helpful?
A: After trying yoga with me today, Ted thinks that he should use the yoga blocks if he's going to do that again! When I workout in the basement on the berber carpet, I think about maybe getting a yoga mat, but upstairs on the cushy carpet, I don't really need it. I'm starting to wonder if I might want to order the push-up bars to ease the strain on my wrist--yesterday my wrist was in considerable pain after Friday's routine and then doing arms yesterday morning. However, after icing it a couple of times yesterday, it was fine this morning.

Q: How is it going so far?
A: At the time of this posting, I've made it 18 days straight!

Q: How does the program work?
A: If you don't know anything about it, I recommend checking out the description on the web site. But a quick rundown is this: There are a total of 12 DVDs, and you follow the program of your choosing. (I'm doing P90X Classic.) The first 3 weeks you do the same thing--meaning each Friday I'm doing chest and back, Saturdays are Plyometrics, etc. Then there will be a recovery week with different assigned workouts. Then weeks 5-7 the same rotation (but different from weeks 1-3), followed by a recovery week, and so on. It's all about muscle confusion.

Q: Do you get any days off?
A: There is one rest day scheduled, but so far I have opted to do the X Stretch DVD. Believe it or not, it's a full hour of STRETCHING! I didn't know you could possibly stretch that many body parts!

Q: How much time commitment is there?
A: I went into this thinking it would be an hour a day, and that's roughly correct. Every other day, however, you do the Ab Ripper, which adds another 16 minutes. Yoga is 1 1/2 hours, but if you were pressed, you could get away with doing the first 49 minutes (the latter half is balance and stretching poses with a bit of core work as well).

Q: Do you think I should try this?
A: It totally depends on your current fitness level and amount of activity. If you are already pretty active and in relatively good shape, you'll probably do fine. If I had started this in January after my few months of couch potato-dom, I would have had a VERY hard time. But since I had established a fairly regular routine of getting up early and working out several times a week, I was better able to make the adjustment.

Q: Any suggestions for getting started?
A: I highly recommend a partner or at least someone to hold you accountable. Ted is both a workout and accountability partner; however, he can only work out with me on the days he does not have mandatory PT on base, which typically is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But he has done every other workout with me (at least partial workouts on weekdays, full workouts on weekends). And on the days he has his own thing going, he still helps me roll out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to do my thing. I would NOT have made it even this far if it weren't for his help!! Also, I do post on Facebook what day I'm on, so there is accountability there as well.

Q: Can you notice a difference yet?
A: I feel as if I should look in the mirror and totally see a P90X poster-worthy body, LOL. Honestly, if I focus on appearance, it's hard for me to really tell a difference at this point. However, the reason it seems reasonable to even expect to see a visible difference is because I truly CAN tell I have improved a lot in my strength and endurance. It's amazing how far I've come with the Ab Ripper, for example! Stuff I couldn't even do the first time around I'm able to hang in there and complete all the reps for.

Q: Anything else to note?
A: Yes--I have to give a great big caveat to my recommendation. Because while I do like the program so far, and I'm excited to continue, I must give a warning about the fact that there IS some language thrown around in the DVDs that really is unnecessary. I was actually shocked the first time I heard Tony Horton throwing around swear words! I had never heard that on any other workout DVD and just never thought it would be an issue. As our kids get older, there is a good chance they'll join us during workout time, and it's disappointing that we have to deal with that issue.

Also, I just have to say I'm not a big Tony Horton fan. He's awfully pleased with himself, LOL. I have to say I enjoyed Debbie Siebers as a workout instructor much more! But still, he's making me work, so I'll give him that. :-)

May 01, 2010


Honestly. What will they think of next?

Arden's complaint this evening: "Mo-om! Tobin made me smell your slipper!"

Hmmm. If that's a form of torture for my son, obviously I need to wash my slippers!

A Time for Writing

There may be a season for everything under heaven, but around here, if it's not written in my planner, it probably won't happen. Such has been the case with this year's Commission Bible study. I wrote the study for Day One probably two months ago--and never even had a moment to think about what should come next.

Finally I looked at my planner and saw that I had this weekend relatively open. I talked to Ted about scheduling a day for me to work completely uninterrupted on the study, and he agreed it was a good plan. So I marked my calendar and protected today from any other engagements. I asked our small group and the Commission folks to be praying for me in the days leading up to Writing Day and also during this whole day.

It was somewhat freeing and yet somehow nerve-wracking. By telling people I'd be working today, I relieved myself of the pressure to try to "find time" to write on other, more hectic days. At the same time, I was really putting myself out there--if everyone knew I was going to be writing, they'd expect me to actually produce some material! The accountability was good, but I had to be careful not to let the burden of accomplishment rest heavily on my shoulders.

Furthermore, there was the problem of not knowing exactly WHAT I was going to be writing. I had the intro day done, sure. But I hadn't even thought (much) about what needed to come next. I spent time this week praying and trying to map out a plan for what to do once the time came to open up the file and start typing.

An appealing idea was to take my laptop, Bible, and a few books to Panera and camp out for the day. But then my practical nature took over--what if I wanted a resource from home? And what would I do with all my stuff when I needed to use the restroom, for crying out loud?!

I decided the best thing would be to lock myself in my basement office. The trick was in convincing Kenna that I wasn't there! Otherwise she'd be crouching at the door, crying to be let in. I had to deliver a stamp club order anyway, so I left the house and told her goodbye. I called Ted as I was coming up our street, and by then he had all the kids in the play room in the basement, listening to worship videos while cleaning the random toys that were scattered hither and yon. I had already set up my work space, so I quietly let myself into the office...and began a 7-hour journey with the Lord!

What a precious time of prayer, searching the Scriptures, and listening to the Holy Spirit. I found myself yearning for more times like this. It's my dream to some day write and actually get paid for, God showed me that I actually COULD have time to write...IF He directs me to do so!

Ted was an amazing, wonderful help and encouragement. He dealt with all the normal household and kid duties, including tending two little ones who are sick with a fever and runny nose. (Well, Lucan apparently is on the tail end of whatever he came down with Thursday afternoon, but Kenna got hit hard this morning, showing signs of life only after some Tylenol has kicked in.) He made both lunch AND dinner and never came down to ask me any questions about what should be done. :-) I took a 45-minute break for lunch, which happened to be right after Ted put Kenna down for a nap, so the illusion of Mommy being away worked all the way until I emerged from the basement like a mole just in time to help put the finishing touches on dinner!

The upshot of all this is that I completed Days 2, 3, AND 4 of the study! I'm so thankful I was able to do it all in one shot, as these days really hinged upon one another, and the continuity and devoted prayer time really opened my heart and mind to what God wanted to accomplish. I pray He receives glory and honor as a result of today's efforts.