Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Child Friendly Home

Visitors to this cottage realize that lots of kids live here! We are also frequently visited by friends with lots of kids as well. Now having said that, I confess that we are not child centered. The kids do not rule the roost, everything is not about them! However, I have learned a few things about living with kids, and I have developed "rules" that allow me to stay sane, enjoy my children and be willing to share hospitality with others.

1. I do not try to have a magazine perfect home. It is simply impossible. Even when we are very diligent to pick up after ourselves, and often we are not diligent enough, there are bound to be little boy cars and girlie dollhouse people "sharing" our living spaces.

2. While I have a goal to have things tidy and in a state so as not to be embarrassed should company come by, I realize that 8 people live in this house. We are here nearly 24/7, because of home educating. This house gets used. I do not want to "harp" at my kids about every little thing. Life happens here.

3. Kids can be taught to keep their things picked up. I need to keep mentioning this to myself, because some days I wonder. My older girls are good at helping, but my new goal with everyone is to "see" something that needs to be done, and do it, even if "mom didn't tell me to."

4. I love to decorate! My style is cottage, country, romantic. This allows me to use found objects, which is good on my budget. These styles are kid friendly, which leads me to my next point.

5. Kids will inevitably spill, throw up, and draw on things. Including couches. Or a little kitty will forget the couch is not a litter box. (eewww) Trust me I know. This time in my life is not the time to get really expensive pieces of furniture. When we bought our first home we needed a couch. So we went out and bought a beautiful dark green couch. We were told the fabric was kid friendly, you can use a waterbased fabric cleaner etc...Then my daughter threw up on it. Believe me, while I got the mess out, the mark where it had been was always there. Then the cat used it to sharpen its claws...

6. Be willing to use furniture that is free. If you hate the fabric you can use slipcovers. I have one on the couch mentioned above. This thing is a tan color, gets very dirty and it all washes out in my washing machine. It is a very easy way to get the look you want without worrying about spending a lot of money. We were given a couch recently that is in perfect condition. Now it is not my favorite style, has a bit of wood and brass trim. But it was free, it is a neutral color and is comfortable. My kids all love this couch. I can live with it!

7. Allow your kids to have a say in their rooms. My girls couldn't decide on what color to paint their room. One older girl wanted blue, one wanted green. So they decided to compromise with a blue/green color. This took awhile but they both found a color they liked. It is a beautiful, fresh color. It looks wonderful with our white trim and their white furniture. I would never choose this color, but it is their space. They like it alot.

8. Develop a schedule for cleaning that works for your family. For example: a smaller family may not need to clean their bathrooms everyday, but we do. Both of our bathrooms get used alot. We clean them everyday, and we have to vacuum daily too. Also with our kitchen and living room open to each other it is important to keep them as clutter free as possible. Clutter makes me nervous.

9. It is important to sort through "stuff" several times a year. I find that the change of the seasons is a good time, because of sorting through seasonal clothing. My girls are collectors, and one is just a pack rat, but I make them go through their things and throw some stuff out, but some in storage or give away things.

Well, that is all for now. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Katrina Relief

Yesterday in New Orleans, my husband met someone who, with their family, rode out the hurricane on the roof of their house. They didn't evacuate and when the levees broke they had 6 inches of water a minute coming into their house. Their only option was to break out the roof and go up there. They were three days with out food and water.

Another man was going around the neighborhood doing edging. He said that when he saw the volunteers giving their time to help build and repair, he wanted to help too. This man, when he returned to New Orleans, had the pastor of Castle Rock Church (in central city, near the Superdome) pay his first months rent.

God is at work in Louisiana. God is at work everywhere. I think we don't often look for Him in our everyday life. I want to live more intentionally as I go about my days. To be aware of God and His leading.

Below is a link to Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Covington LA. They head up the Katrina Relief effort with the EFCA.

http://www.trinitychurchonline.net/index.html

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!

A huge thank you to all those who have given their lives to fight for freedom around the world. We remember and appreciate the sacrifice they have made. We will never forget, and we will teach our children, who will in turn teach their children...


We will not tire,

We will not falter,

We will not fail.

George W. Bush

Kyle Update #2

Kyle's recovery from his broken leg has been quick. The first few days after his cast was removed, I was concerned as he didn't seem to be able to use that leg. But then he started crawling with it and last Thursday he started walking if you held his hands. Which lead to his walking all on his own on Saturday. He hasn't crawled since!


Watch me go fast!

I am soooo happy!



Sunday, May 27, 2007

Busy Saturday

Yesterday, my dear girls and I were busy in the garden. We mulched 5 flower beds and 3 trees, and we are not nearly done. We used nearly all the mulch my dear husband brought home before he went to Louisiana. So we will wait until he gets home to finish all the beds! I wanted to show you some of the beautiful flowers in my cottage gardens.

I adore this peony! It is so gorgeous and the fragrance of it is like old roses!

My mom bought this climbing rose for her house and decided she didn't want to use it after all. So she gave it to me. Lucky me!
This is my sweet bird bath and a salvia or a sage. I don't remember which one!
Pretty Pinks! A small bit of Dianthus.

Surprise for Me

I came home from a long day of grocery shopping on Friday, to find this gorgeous archway in my front garden! I have wanted one for years and my husband always said he could make me one. Friday he did! The frame of it is made with pressure treated wood, and so it will be a while before it can be painted.

I am so thankful for such a wonderful gift of love from my dear husband!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Birthday Dinner

Last night we went out to eat to celebrate our son's 18th birthday and to celebrate his finishing high school!


Everyone was in a great mood.

Our little guy waited patiently for his food.


The food was abundant and tasty.

Our son with his diploma!

Congratulations!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Plans

Tomorrow my son will turn 18. We will be going out to dinner with family and friends, and we will also use that celebration to give him his high school diploma.

Then this weekend my darling husband leaves for Louisiana to help with Katrina relief. He is going with a group from church. Our church has been sending teams down regularly. Last year a group went every month and this year every other month. My husband will be able to use the gifts that God gave him to serve others and show the love of Christ.

We will miss him a lot. So to compensate for missing him, I am making plans for things to do. Now that I have painting my livingroom/kitchen I need to paint the hallway, so I will do that. My mom is going to come and stay one night with the girls (they like to have slumber parties in their bedroom) and I think we will go bowling the next day. We also may go to Longwood Gardens.

I think that is enough to keep us busy while he is gone, what do you think?

Home School Co-op

One of the things I do with my "free time" is to run a homeschool co-op. This group will be starting its 10th year, and while I did not start the group, I have been a member from the beginning.

We are going to have 58 families this year. We will have lots of kids involved. Our group has classes for preschool kids through 12th grade. I enjoy this group so much. I love that I have known many of these kids since they were in K-1st and are now in high school.

Our class groupings are broken up into preschool, K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-6th, and 7-Ups.

Our K-6th graders all have gym and music everyweek, and then get to pick from two different sets of electives per semester. The electives are usually art, science, geography,and writing, and are all taught by our moms or dads, with a grandparent or two thrown in!

Our 7-Ups have all electives, and can choose from art, political science, drama, yearbook, literature,writing, science, etc... It varies from year to year.

We also play soccer in the fall, and softball in the spring. We have a learning fair, and track and field day, and due a concert or fine arts program. This year we will also have a drama.

We have mom's meetings every month, for encouragment and fellowship.

I love this group!


Kitty Update

Here is darling little Colin. He has such interesting markings and looks alot like his sister Lizzie.


This is Lola. She is a favorite with my girls.


This one is Scout. He is MY favorite. Who can resist his sweet little face. I think we may keep him! Too Cute!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Seeking Wisdom

The last few days, I have been sorting through pictures of my oldest child. He actually is no longer a child. As of Thursday he will be 18 years old. Where do the days and years go?

We are not sad about the passage of time. We would not want him to remain a little child forever. We want our children to grow up and become adults. Hopefully mature adults! This process takes time. And even though he is 18, he has alot of maturing to do. A young man of 18 is not as mature as a man of 40 - it is simply impossible to have the wisdom that comes from life experiences. I do believe however that if we walk close with God and seek wisdom, we can be mature beyond our years.

A speaker at our home education convention said the following; "A fool seeks to be understood, a wise person seeks understanding."

I pray for each of my children and young adults, that they would be those who seek understanding.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jane Austen Website

www.janeitesonthejames.blogspot.com

Check out this website for all sorts of Jane Austen delights. I am happily researching for the class I am teaching this fall. My sister in law and dear friend sent me this link. Now if I could find unlimited time to look and read...Have a happy day all!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mother's Elbows on My Bed

This is a poem in a new book I purchased at the recent curriculum fair.

I was but a youth and thoughtless,
As all youths are apt to be;
Though I had a Christian mother
Who had taught me carefully,
But there came a time when pleasure
Of the world came to allure,
And I no more sought the guidance
Of her love so good and pure.
Her tender admonitions fell
But lightly on my ear,
And for the gentle warnings
I felt an inward sneer.
How could I prove my manhood
Were I not firm of will?
No threat of future evil
Should all my pleasure kill.
But mother would not yield her boy
To Satan's sinful sway,
And though I spurned her counsel
She knew a better way.
No more she tried to caution
Of ways she knew its pain.
And though I guessed her heartache
I could not know its pain.
She made my room an altar,
A place of secret prayer,
And there she took her burden
And left it in His care.
And morning, noon, and evening
By that humble bedside low,
She sought the aid of Him Who
Best can understand a mother's woe.
And I went my way unheeding,
Careless of the life I led,
Until one day I noticed
Prints of elbows on my bed.
Then I saw that she had been there
Praying for her wayward boy,
Who for love of worldly pleasure
Would her peace of mind destroy.
While I wrestled with my conscience,
Mother wrestled still in prayer,
Till that little room seemed hallowed
Because so oft she met Him there.
With her God she held the fortress,
And thought not a word she said,
My stubborn heart was broken
By those imprints on my bed.
Long the conflict raged within me,
Sin against my mother's prayers.
Sin MUST YIELD for MOTHER NEVER
While she daily met Him there.
And her constant love and patience
were like coals upon my head,
Together with the imprints
Of her elbows on my bed.
Mother-love and God-love
Are a combination rare,
And one that can't be beaten
When sealed by earnest prayer.
And so at last the fight was won,
And I to Christ was led,
And mother's prayers were answered
By her elbows on my bed.

Anonymous

May it be so......

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Update on Busyness

Well, the busyness continues!

Yesterday, we took my van to the body shop for a little makeover, and so I am chauffering my husband around! Also I took the girls and their friends bowling. This is their new fun thing. On Tuesdays, it is $1 for a game and $1 for a shoe rental.

Today, we went to the dentist and then I went to my parents to continue the painting. They are getting new carpet soon, and so the painting needs to be finished. I did one whole room today, and will finish the other room tomorrow! It looks very nice!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Scenes from Mother's Day

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at home. My parents came over and the men and the girls fixed lunch. They made Chicken Braid and fruit salad (yummy, yummy) and jello. For dessert, I made my mother's favorite, a yellow three layer cake with strawberries and whipped cream for frosting!

Here I am with the kids, all except Kyle who was sleeping.

Here are my girlies and I.


Here is my mom and I.


The Cast is OFF!

This is how Kyle has looked during his ordeal with his broken leg.

He adapted so well, he could pull himself around and even walk holding on to furniture. He adjusted to sleeping on his back, and to having to sit or be held outside...This was his new life. WE however couldn't wait. Diaper changing has been interesting to say the least, and I have a new appreciation for Glad Press and Seal Wrap.
Today, however all that changed!!! Kyle is cast free! He didn't like the noise of the motor for the cutter and he cried getting his xray, but he left the Doctor's office much lighter than he went in!
He doesn't have to have therapy but it will take awhile for his muscles to strengthen. His muscles are also tight, from not being used. The doctor said that he will do everything when he is ready and it won't take long.

I can't wait for him to get a bath later! His cast had begun to smell BAD. but I won't go into that!

Praise the Lord for His goodness and loving care!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nate's Big Night Out

Last night, Nate went to his girlfriend's high school prom. Don't they look lovely? Lindsay's mom made her dress and finished it at the last moment! She did a great job. It was so pretty and sparkly! It is easier to be the mom of the guy.

Home School Convention

Yesterday we returned from two days at our statewide convention. This is such a wonderful time to be encouraged by the sheer number of people who are homeschooling their children! Also, I love to get my hands on books and materials and look them over to see if they are what we really want to use!

I appreciate the hard work of those who organize this event every year. My husband and I volunteer each year, it's a way for us to serve and help others.

One thing I see every year is ladies struggling to find the "right" thing. I know women who buy curriculum every year and then don't use it, because it doesn't "work". Or they want something different, new.

I think that Anna at www.pleasantviewschoolhouse.blogspot.com has written an excellent essay on this.

Over the next several weeks I will share my home education "philosphy". I truly believe God has given us everything we need to home educate our own children!

Happy Mother's Day!

allposters.com

These are not my 6 children, but it is the right ratio of boys and girls! I am so thrilled to be their mother and am thankful to the Lord for blessing me so abundantly!

May you all have a wonderful day, remembering your mothers!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Busy Week

Why is it that I always think that when we are done with school, I will be less busy? Every year I think this, when will I learn?

Monday and Tuesday I painted my mom and dad's living room, hallway and stairwell. It looks terrific. They picked out Ace brand Tuscan Tan for the living room, but decided to go lighter for the hallway and stairwell. Problem was they had bought several gallons of the Tuscan Tan. Solution? We mixed our own custom color by mixing 3 parts white to 1 part Tuscan Tan. I will try to get pictures and post them here soon. They are very happy with how it turned out. That makes me happy. So long white walls!

Today I need to run about 45 minutes away and pick up my son's graduation announcements and his cap and gown. Then we need to buy dress shoes. He needs them for graduation, and also for the prom he is attending this weekend. Oh and we need to pick up his borrowed tuxedo.

Tomorrow several kids have eye appointments, and then I need to load up on groceries. For some reason this family insists on eating 3 times a day and having snacks! What's up with that anyway?

Friday and Saturday we will be at our State Homeschool Convention. My parents are staying with our younger ones and my dear husband and I are taking our two oldest girls. We are even staying overnight! We look forward to this every year. Staying overnight will make it special.

By Sunday, I should be exhausted, ready to receive all that Mother's Day Love!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Painting

Today the kids and I are going over to my parent's house and I am going to start painting their living room/hallway/stairway! When that is finished, I will paint downstairs, in my Grandma's old apartment. Then they are going to get new carpet.

They have wanted to do these projects for a year now, and with company coming this summer their is no time like the present to do it. It is going to look great!

Grandpa's Birthday!

Saturday was my Dad's 68th birthday! He looks great for his age doesn't he? He is very active in his retirement. I tell him he is living out everyboy's dream - playing with firetrucks and being a cowboy! He is the President of his local volunteer fire dept. and the fire police captain and he likes to come and learn to ride horses. What a life!

We ate at Ruby's Diner. It is a fun place, and the food is excellent!

Mom and Emily enjoying their dinner.
My handsome husband and our youngest! Happy Birthday Dad/Grandpa!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The "Worth" of a Stay at Home Mother

A friend's husband found this quote in an article at msnbc.com

If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year, according to research released Wednesday.

That does not even factor in those who educate their kids at home, disciple other women (mentoring), assist their husbands with their work.

We are doing priceless work when you consider that we are raising the next several generations!

Carry on Ladies!

My Washing Machine

Or should I say my new husbands new toy?! My husband does most of the laundry around here. With our homeschooling he said that was one thing he could take off my "to do" list everyday.

For the last several years he has researched front load washing machines, and decided this year we were going to get one! We looked at them in stores, asked more questions than I knew were possible about washing machines, and then decided to look on line. He found an American company named Staber, based in Ohio. They make a top loading machine. What??? Well, this machine is very simple to repair, it uses a simple motor and belt, it uses very little water (which was the draw of the front loaders) and it has a tumble action that reverses to keep the clothes from getting tangled.

This is a simple machine, folks. The body is a hard plastic. But it is the most fantastic washing machine! Our dark clothes no longer have all that lint on them when they come out of the washer, we use alot less water which is considerable when doing laundry for 8 people, and it is amazingly quiet. Truly.

I was sceptical at first. It was different from "normal" washers, but hey I don't do the laundry very much, he does!

So we bought one. And we are convinced this is a great washing machine. My husband also likes that if it needs repairs, he can do them easily. You take the front panel off and can change the belt or repair the motor. There is no computer in this machine, and therefore no repairman needed!

Check out their website: http://www.staber.com/product/810024

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Kittens at 16 Days

Here is a picture of our Chloe's kittens. She is a very good mother. The kittens' names in order of birth are: Charlie, Lola, Scout, Colin, Lizzie, Georgiana, Mr.Knightley.

Their eyes are all open now, and my girls tell me that Charlie has blue eyes. They are very sweet and soft and cuddly.

How we will ever be able to give any of them away is beyond me, but we cannot keep them all!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

We're Done!

We are done with another year of school! This is our 13th year home educating our children. Our oldest graduates this year. Wow!

Next year, I will have a 10th grader, a 8th grader, a 3rd grader, and a Kindergartener. Oh and a two year old!

We are looking forward to the break from our regular routine, and are looking forward to visits from family this summer. However come August we will be ready to get back at it!

Learning is fun!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Difficult Children

I used to think that if I did all the right "Christian" things in raising my children, teaching them the Truth, teach the gospel to them, homeschool, etc...that I would get a guaranteed certain outcome.

I found it is not true.

You see our children have an enemy of their souls, who wants to destroy them, and waits for the opportunity to make inroads in their lives. Our children can make choices to hold bitterness and anger and let it take root. They can decide to try the enemy's ways.

This brings such a sadness and pain to the family. But you cannot talk them out of it when they get to be of an age to decide certain things for themselves. They can choose to go against everything they used to believe and know as truth.

This does not mean that God is not Truth, or that He cannot intervine in their lives. I am not saying that the enemy is more powerful than God.

I believe God has a plan for each of our lives. Psalm 139:16 says " And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them." God has purpose for each persons life. He is the one who draws us to Himself.

I have come to realize that our children making right choices and walking with Him is the Grace of God. I pray that my difficult child will come back to the Truth, that this child will have a deep satisfying walk with the Lord, and that God's purposes will be revealed and done!

If you have a difficult child know that you are not alone. There are many out there. The enemy wants to destroy all that God loves. He is at work trying to do this. This is difficult for the whole family because all are affected by the difficult child. Here are my suggestions.

1. Pray continually!

2. Realize that no amount of trying to convince your child of the Truth will do it. I always thought that if I said just the right thing, that would make them see the error of their way. I have learned that I do need to speak the Truth, but then leave it to the Holy Spirit.
His job is to convict of unrighteousness.

3. Find someone to share with. God wants us to help and encourage each other.

4. Don't let it tear your whole family apart. Keep your relationship with your husband strong, and try to focus on your other children. Often, the difficult child gets lots of attention and the other kids have to do with less of you. Don't let this happen. The difficult child sometimes feeds on the focus being on them.

I am thankful that in so many ways, our relationship is strong with our difficult child. I think this is due to God's Grace. However their are choices being made, behaviors being practiced, that are not profitable to our child or to the family.