Good Grief

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This past week, we endured the passing of another dear family member, the third grandparent lost to us within the past year. In this time of grief, a great amount of family warmth, laughter, joy and memories were shared. The grief was real, and the reality was sad, but the time was good.

Today, as I was dealing with the poor attitude of one of our boys, I endured another time of grief, much less profound. And yet, this grief was also very real.

My son has been testing the waters of parent follow-through. Today, exasperated, I explained to him that he would lose a privilige this evening if he continued to react to others in so poor a manner. As soon as the words left my mouth, I was frustrated with myself for offering so thoughtless a punishment. For, in using this withdraw of privilege, I was offering something costly to both him and me. In that instant I couldn’t help but mentally plead with him, “Please don’t go there.”

But, sure enough, he did. It was not as on purpose so much as out of habit, for he has been in the habit as of late of not following directions. Sometimes, in these moments, I would “rescue him,” by offering a lesser sentence. But I have since realized that this is likely how we came to the place where he has little regard for obedience – for the punishment often did not end up hurting all too much.

And so today, I explained to him that he would have to endure the loss. He was upset and shed tears. Hearing him from the kitchen, I was sad at his loss. And we both grieved.

Sure, this is a temporary loss, unlike that of my grandfather who will forever be missed and live on in our hearts.

But there is real grief as a parent when your child hurts.

But, in the end, this small, temporary grief will be worth it. Someone said this weekend to me that all death leads to life. Plants die and give birth to seeds. Animals die and give nourishment to soil. We die and give way to a new life with Jesus. And, in the same way, the grief of our children, caused to purpose them to better lives as adults, gives way to life with better reason and preparedness.

In my son’s tears, the seeds of obedience spring forth.

And, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.”

And so, we press on with our kids, giving them “good grief.”

Four Friday Favorites

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These are a few of my favorite things (in the blog world anyway):

Two of my favorite blog posts.

Favorite dinner meal… Perfect Roast Chicken by Kayotic Kitchen
This has been one of my favorite recipes for quite some time!
The one modification we make is to add two sweet potatoes, cubed.
It’s super healthy, tastes delicious, and looks so pretty!

Favorite budget saver… Laundry Soap Recipe by Farming on Faith
I’ve been making this recipe for about two years. I love it! *
It works well, and has saved us oodles!

Two of my favorite blogs.

Favorite blog to gawk at… Under the Sycamore
I can look at this blog for WAY too long! (And I have spent oodles of time doing so the last few years!)
I was introduced to it by a nine-year-old girl – her aunt is the one who writes it!
It’s so addicting….don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Favorite practical blog… Simply Charlotte Mason
I go to this blog every weekday to use the homeschool planner.
It has some great homeschooling blog posts and is full of resources, many of which are free!

I hope you get a chance to check some of these out. I would love to hear some of your favorite stops in the blogosphere!

*It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by this post. I noticed she’s changed the soap recipe a bit to accommodate HE machines. The recipe I use it this same one, it’s just added to 3 more gallons of water at the end, making it less concentrated. I’m looking forward to trying the concentrated version to alleviate hauling 4 gallons of liquid down my steps!

Anger’s Bitter End

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It hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks.

A small sentence. A minor statement in the book Good and Angry. A dad says, “I had developed bitterness toward my kids.”

It took my breath away as I sat in the realization of it all.

Most everything I do is for my kids. I wake up and tackle the day to help them learn and grow and mature. I cook two or three meals a day, all the time considering their health and wellbeing. I read, read, read to them, bathe them, groom them, manage them, discipline them. I teach and explain and correct, always debating in my mind how to handle the issues in the most God-honoring, for-their-betterment, least-need-for-counseling way. I spend the hours after they are tucked in mulling over the events of the day, preparing for the next. I love my kids.

But I was “keeping a record of wrongs.”

No, I wasn’t tallying whines, hurtful words, complaints, and problems. There was no list of good and naughty, no journal accounts of their offenses.

But, unknowingly, I was starting my day with a tankful of anger, ready to pounce. Because I was full.

Full of no one being ready when it was time to leave. Full of picking up toys. Full of putting away laundry. Full of cooking and cleaning. Full of sibling rivalry. Full of disobedience. Full of anger. Full of thinking it all over. Full of self. Full of guilt.

And full of records.

“They always…”
“They never…”
“When will they learn to…”
“I’m so tired of them always…”

So today, after much prayer, I attempted to see my kids without past offenses. They needed a fresh start to the day. I needed a fresh start to the day.

Sure, they repeated some of their trademark issues, and I repeated some of mine. We are all works in progress, after all.

But, as I leaned on the Lord for strength and resolve, my kids and I were able to relate without as much anger wedged in my heart. And, for the first time in quite a while, I fully and deeply appreciated what Paul was saying to the Corinthians in that famous love chapter, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Because the freedom and privilege to love lies in the absence of records.

Lord, let me be full. Full of love.

Sketch-a-Sermon

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I wanted to briefly share an idea that has been quite successful in our family in hopes that it may perhaps be helpful to you as well!

You know how sometimes it’s difficult for little people (or big people) to pay attention to sermons on Sunday mornings? We decided to try something out with our little guy. (We learned this at a conference from a speaker, Carol Barnier.) We divide a piece of paper into six or eight rectangles. Then, as we listen to the message, we take turns drawing pictures of what we hear. Easy peasy!

So I know this may not be a new or profound idea, but this has profoundly affected his (and my) retention of what we have heard in church on Sunday mornings. (And it’s a little bit fun – but don’t tell anyone we’ve been having fun in church!)

I really wanted to show you this cute picture my son drew of something that was said that he deemed so awesome it was picture worthy. But, alas, I cannot find this remarkable piece of art! (It had to do with pink shirts being manly, which isn’t exactly what we’re trying to get at in this process. But hey…now maybe he’ll wear that super cool pink shirt I bought that he gawks at when I pull it out!)

Instead, I’ll have to show you a less worthy sample. Please note…I am horrible at drawing! (Like really terrible!) If we scrapbooked the sermons, I would be in business. But, without a paper cutter, patterned paper, and embellishments, I am artistically bankrupt. (But I’m unpolished, remember?) So, here is an example of our crude (and one of our earlier) drawings.

Hope this idea can rock your Sunday mornings like it has ours!

Church Picture

Read an Entire Book? Check!

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On January 30th (with a whole day to spare!) I finished reading Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Yay! I was way excited to compete a book (all 376 pages, thank you very much!) – and I couldn’t have chosen a better book to kick off my reading challenge!

I loved soaking it all in – and I am pretty sure I underlined a fourth of the book! If you homeschool, or think you might, this is a homeschooling “textbook” of sorts with many helpful tips and insights. I plan to reread it again in the future, as I am sure I would get something more out of it the next time I get a chance to read it. (Book List 2014, anyone?)

I hope you’ve made a reading challenge for yourself. You wouldn’t have to choose as many (and certainly not as few) books as I have listed. Even one book this year could be a very rewarding goal! I once heard a wise man say that a busy mom could get through a 300+ page book easily by reading just one page every night before bed – how encouraging is that thought?!

And while you’re at it, what a great goal it would be to choose a book each month to read out loud to your kiddos! We read several books a month here because we homeschool, but even working mommas can enjoy some cuddle time with a great book and a sweet little one or two! We have just cherished the shared “memories” of the wonderful books we are reading! (Who can get enough of the Little House on the Prairie series?!?)

“Take a look, it’s in a book, a reading rainbow.” Oh that good ol’ Reading Rainbow song! Now that that’s stuck in your head, I’ll close.

Happy reading!

 

Below is a recap of my (perhaps overambitious) list of books I am reading:

JanuaryEducating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

FebruaryGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

MarchWordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

April For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

MayThe Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

JuneKilling Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

July What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings – and Life by Laura Vandekam

August The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears

SeptemberUncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

October When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

November Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

DecemberCharlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason

BonusHints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumball

Practical(ly) Valentine’s Day

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I am a big fan of practical gifts. A friend once asked what I wanted for my birthday – and I told her a twin waterproof mattress pad for my toddler who was soon to be moving to a “big boy bed.” And, though I shouldn’t admit this, I once gave my mom a toilet for Christmas. She is not as much a fan of practical gifts as I am, so that one was definitely “better to give than to receive!”

Not only do I love practical gifts, I also love plants. I would much prefer my hubby bring home a plant with roots rather than cut flowers, and I love getting plants from others so I can think of them when I see the happy plant — provided I don’t kill it!

So this year, when our Valentine’s Day party approached, I decided I would get a package of flower seeds for each kiddo. I stapled a little (cheesy) note at the top, “’Sow’ glad you’re my friend.” I was excited to give something to kiddos that might inspire them to plant some fun flowers with their families!

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Since I was busy putting the valentines together, I totally neglected to have my kids make boxes. (Actually, I loathe the making of valentines boxes for some reason.)  My creative guys decided to make their boxes out of Duplos. Perfect. I don’t have to get out the paints, and I don’t have to feel guilty when I recycle their precious creations. We can just disassemble them and go on with life!

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Hope you have a good time celebrating Valentine’s Day with your little ones!

A Birthday Bash (or Two)

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We had an eventful January with three birthdays (two of them kid birthdays) in our house. I just wanted to share a little of the fun!

Monster

For our four-year-old little guy, we had a monster birthday party. I made monster bean bags for favors that we also used for several games, including monster hot potato and monster bean bag toss. We made cupcakes with crazy icing “hair” of different shapes and colors. And with the help of some talented family members, we made fondant eyes, noses, mouths, and horns that the kids used to make their own monster cupcake faces.

Lego Collage

For our six-year-old guy, we had a Lego birthday party. I got lots of ideas for this party online. I made cupcakes with colored chocolate Lego Minifigures, we played pin-the-head-on-the-Minifigure, we guessed the number of Minifigures in a jar, and we played a version of Pictionary with Lego creations. For favors, my husband got a brilliant idea. We purchased a basic Lego kit on sale, and he made every kiddo a Lego version of their first initial to take home with them. We put them in cellophane bags and stapled a thank you note to the top. (I am so glad I married him — he thinks of things like that I would never think to do! And there is no way I would be able to make a Lego B or R!!!)

I am looking forward to being birthday-free in this house for a few months!