Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Family Rocks


It's a LITERAL statement at this house.
Most days, our whole house is rockin'...and rollin'.

To be honest, it is a figurative statement as well.
I'm so proud of my family. And with the end of school this week (and all the awards and acknowledgements my boys have been getting), I'm having a hard time not being boastful.
OK, I'm failing miserably at not boasting - I'M PUTTING IT ON MY BLOG.

Of course, I really can't take any of the credit anyway.
Clay and I may have fostered a talent or two, but God blessed my children.
I keep telling them that. 
Every gift, ability, or talent is a gift.
We need to make sure we thank God for all of it.
We need to make sure we give Him the credit.
HE DESERVES ALL THE GLORY and our many thanks.

Thank you, Lord, for my boys. Thank you for their musical ability, their intelligent minds, and their healthy, athletic bodies. And thank you for their father who pours into their lives and coaches them in all of these areas.

Now, we think glorifying God should include having some fun on most days. 
God is the giver of all that is good: laughter, joy...and the part of us that just has to tap our toes. So, so here is a taste of what glorifying God with our gifts looks like around here:



This was the local elementary school talent show. (My boys take music and gym there.) 
God is so good.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Romance Can Be a Choice

photo rights
What if we tried to see our marriages like romance novels?
Those books, *I've heard*, don't bother to discuss the mundane details in life.
(Nobody would read them.)
Instead, they focus on the highlights that happen throughout a day.
How much would our marriages change if we intentionally focused on the good thoughts that pop into our heads, nice gestures, and the way that our spouses fulfill their family responsibilities rather than taking them for granted?

Yes, sometimes mushy novels mention negative emotions or mundane activities; but even then, they lace them with attractive language. It's such a different situation than "real life" because the reader often gets to climb into the heads of all parties involved. Harsh actions can even "make sense" when loving thoughts are attached to them.
For instance, a book might say...
"He didn't want to lash out at her, she meant too much to him...so he held his tongue." (swoon)

How could that sentence make a gal swoon?
If this scenario happened in the average home, a typical wife (who couldn't possibly be me) might hear (or not hear) the quiet tongue and RAGE that her husband refuses to speak. It can definitely be a challenge not to be instantly irritated when Clay spouses respond with the silent treatment.

Now, let's stop and see how to "romance novel" this up...
What if he is silent to protect me? What if he does it so he doesn't make the situation worse? What if it is a way of LOVING me that I. just. can't. see. (or hear)

Romance is often a matter of perspective. Godly perspective.
We must CHOOSE to find and focus on the highlights in every moment.
We must give the benefit of the doubt to our spouse and climb into their shoes.

Will you join me? Let's take our gray, mundane situations and see something colorful - and worthy of the Song of Solomon.

"He could have rolled over and went back to sleep. He'd done it before when exhaustion had caught up with him, but this morning he wandered into the kitchen where I stood drinking a glass of water. I love it when it is just the two of us in a quiet house. I think he secretly loves it too, but even if he doesn't... he got up so I could have my sweet moment, and so that he could kiss me goodbye as I headed out the door.
He knows how good it is for our marriage when he starts his day on the couch reading his Bible, so while I was gone - that's just what he did. How could I NOT love this man. Many days he chooses to do what is best, when he'd prefer to sneak a few extra minutes in our warm bed.
After walking with the neighbors, I came home to the smell of coffee. He always makes us coffee. On the weekends, when I'm home with him, he even brings me a cup – sweet and creamy just how I like it..."

Wow, that is quite a different way to look at my average morning. It could have said, "I got up and went walking. Clay got up, made a pot of coffee, and read."

I'll choose the first (but exactly the same) scenario, please - and maybe throw in a few steamy sections to boot.
All it takes is a choice. What will you choose?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lice: *Are You Already Itching?*

One Rassi down. *shudder*
Luckily, only one of us was contaminated by the little buggers,
and this mama learned a lot.

Ten Things We Learned from "The Infestation":
  1. My head will itch and CONVINCE me that I have lice even if I have JUST been checked. I was sure that my husband just wasn't looking closely enough. (Yes, I could never handle psychological warfare. If those are the tactics, and you are dependent on me for survival - get your affairs in order, we are all going down.)
  2. Not too long ago, I wrote a post called "Thank God for Fleas". Well, I recently learned that thankfulness can apply to lice too. Our "lice epidemic" gave me quality time with my little boy. It allowed me to thank God (literally) for every hair on his precious little head.
  3. We talked about how God knows just how many hairs he has...and how many nits were  attached to those hairs. We prayed together that God would lead us to each little egg or Mama...and protect us from their bites - and He did. We learned about trusting God in little things.
  4. Many lice have grown resistant to the lice shampoos found in stores. Isn't that comforting? We couldn't even kill them! When I combed them out...they were still ALIVE. *shutter* (I've been shuddering a lot lately...luckily we caught it early and there weren't that many to deal with. Is it possible to shudder yourself to death?)
  5. Plastic lice combs suck. It was time to use those saved up CVS extra care bucks and buy a metal lice comb. WORTH EVERY PENNY.
  6. Lice has no socioeconomic bounds. When I told a missionary friend that we were dealing with lice, he laughed and said, "Wow, that is so third world." He made me laugh. Lice don't care how clean a house is, how affluent a country of residence is - or how much money a person makes. If there is a human head, lice want a piece of it (literally).
  7. This particular enemy can't live off a head for more than 2 days and heat can also kill them. Everything went in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes. My son got to sleep with his blankie right away without waiting two weeks for it be sealed up in a trash bag (which is what I THOUGHT we would have to do). So we were able to relax (well, kind of) while we kept checking heads knowing that if they were in our house - THEY WOULD DIE.
  8. Lice don't like hair products. If there is a lice epidemic at school, put some gel in your kids' hair before they leave the house. It's a perfect time to experiment with that mohawk the boy has always wanted...or attempt perfect little immovable curls for little girls.
  9. I learned how beautiful innocence and vulnerability can be. I love that my son didn't know to be "embarrassed". He did nothing wrong. There was no reason for shame. He happily announced his situation to all his little friends - and their parents. (I internally cringed at times - and made it CLEAR to all that he had been deloused even though we were still avoiding sleepovers and still not sharing hats or brushes with others.) I was struck by his innocence and the freedom that came in not "hiding" things...even when we might be judged.
  10. I learned that A LOT of people have been infested with lice. Funny how my son's openness caused others to share their own stories freely. Isn't life like that though? When we are vulnerable with others and share our successes through the struggle, others begin to see the value in their own pain - and begin to share.
This post is linked up with NOBH and Top Ten Tuesday

Friday, May 18, 2012

To the Mother of My Child

I saw a link titled, "To My Daughter's Mother" which was a letter written to the biological mother of an adopted daughter.
It was a good post, but it was not what I expected to read when I read the title.
I thought a mother had written a letter to HERSELF.
I found myself longing for a slightly different post that still needed to be written.
So, I decided to give it a try...


To the Mother of My Child,

You are enough. Quit questioning that.
You can do this. You have what it takes.
___________________

 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10
___________________

You have been equipped to parent this child. 
Yes, this PARTICULAR child - the one God hand-picked for you. 
___________________

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. -Psalms 139:13 
___________________

Every wrong or right decision you make can be used to mold that little bundle into a mature Christ-follower. God knows what you BOTH need in order for you to ultimately seek His face. 
When He placed that child in your arms, God knew:
  • You need each other to learn.
  • You need each other to grow.
  • You need each other to be properly challenged - to turn your eyes heavenward.
Don't sit in guilt and remorse if you have had moments of weakness.
God is bigger than your failures and can use them for your good, the good of your child - and His glory.
___________________

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

___________________

Use your struggles to model repentance. 
Use your mistakes to teach. 
Use EVERY opportunity to learn lessons as well as point your child to truth.
 ___________________

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 
___________________

Those smallish eyes are learning through watching you.
So, accept God's grace when you fail. Claim the love God has for you.
Model repentance when needed - and how to get back up once you've fallen down.
Be an example of perseverance, and PRAISE GOD for the growing pains as you mature in your faith.
Seek God's wisdom. Search God's word. Pray for His guidance.
___________________

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be matureand complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. - James 1:2-5
___________________

And quit worrying.
God knew what He was doing when he entrusted you with the dimples on that precious face. Grab hold of that truth.

Finally, I want to remind you that your child has choices to make as well. Unfortunately, you cannot choose the character of your child. You cannot control that independent heart.
If those little feet stray down a dark path, it doesn't mean you've failed.
It just means that God isn't done working...in either of you. 
Keep praying.
It's an opportunity for you to learn even more about trusting God - with the most cherished parts of your life. It's an opportunity to grow in your faith. It's an opportunity for God to get glory.
You can do this.

Press On,
Becky

This blog is linked to:
Creative #homeschool ideas and more in the Homeschool Showcase hosted by @Kris_WUHSMom -http://bit.ly/nhEsui#hsblogger


and Loving My Child Tuesday

Monday, May 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes

My husband was ready to leave for work and planned to drop off our youngest son at gym class on the way.
If they left immediately, they would be much too early for class - and no third grader wants to stand in the hall at school for five minutes when he can hang out at home for those extra minutes instead. They looked at each other, all dressed up with no place to go quite yet...

What could two red-blooded, testosterone-filled guys DO with five extra minutes? They decided to go ahead and go to the car...in slow-motion. The "race" was on. This is a real-time video. The stretched out voice in the beginning is my husband speaking S-L-O-W-L-Y, for effect.

video

I had to cut off the video before my little one slow-motioned himself right into the wall (on purpose). They were about to run me over! What a great way to start out the morning!
I love my husband.  
_______________________

Being a year (or ten) behind in scrap-booking is AWESOME.
When we initially took the photos, we thought they were ALL important and adorable.
Ten years later...not so much.
When I'm distanced from an event, it is much easier to delete photos and be choosy about which memories are REALLY worth saving. Plus, only the really funny or really cute photos get put in the book. (Those are the only photos they will want to look at when they are 30 anyway.)
My procrastination is effectively saving me time AND money!
I'm not wasting precious hours trying to figure out what to do with all 40 pictures from an event. I archive (or delete) the 37 shots of other kids that my boys don't even play with anymore (since they don't even remember their names), and I put in the 3 adorable photos that capture the sentiment of the day.
I gotta say, I love it when I'm accidentally brilliant. (Believe me, it doesn't happen often.)
________________________

The sun was shining and our boys were singing praise songs in the back seat of the car.
I looked over at Clay and our eyes met.
I'm pretty sure electricity shot through my body as we shared that knowing look.

That moment embodied so much of my bliss.
Connection at a deep, intimate level with my handsome man.
Peace that our children are on a path toward truth.
The immense love of God surrounding us all.
I want to remember that moment...and have many more like it.
_______________________

Having a recognizable car can be frustrating. 
I got pulled over a few weeks ago and realized that I couldn't just shrink down and hope nobody knew it was me. (For those of you who saw me and were "worried", the cop - who had to follow me for two miles before I realized that he was behind me - only gave me a warning.) Thanks for not (outwardly) mocking me.
Another "problem" I've had is that people keep waving from their NOT-SO-RECOGNIZABLE-CARSI'm sure I've given many neighbors and friends dirty looks while trying to figure out WHO belongs with the waving hand in the black/blue/silver car that I just passed. If that neighbor was YOU, know that I'm not a jerk...I'm just confused and clueless.
_______________________

My 3rd grader occasionally yells at TV screens, movie screens, and computer screens.
He KNOWS the characters can't hear him, but he just can't help himself. He has to have an outlet for the emotions that he feels. I LOVE that.
He comes by it honest. As I get older and my inhibitions begin to diminish, I KNOW I will be that one lady in the quiet, conservative church who yells out when the moment hits her. I mean, I barely contain my "Preach It Brothers", "Woo-hoos", and "Amens" now.
________________________

My almost 12-year-old "GOT" the suggestive remarks that were made in the "innocent" kid movie.
We were watching the movie "Robots". I looked over at Clay when I heard the offensive comment. (It's what we do. We shoot shocked looks at each other or raise our eyebrows at grown-up humor when we hear it in kid movies) So as my eyes went searching for my husband's, I found my son looking right at me - with a sly grin on his face.
Doh! It's the beginning of the end. My innocent "baby" has gotten old enough to "get it."
________________________


Linked to teachingwhatisgood and hiphomeschoolhop and 7 Quick Takes Friday

Friday, May 4, 2012

Science and Slushies

I need a superhero outfit.
No, it's not for anything crazy. (Well, at least not today.)

It's because in our homeschool this week...
I had a moment when all the stars aligned and I was kissed by God. (Thank you God) My children now think I'm brilliant. They look at me with awe in their eyes...and that is enough that I almost think I could fly.

I have decided that all moms should be able to experience this joy...so I am sharing my new super power with you.
-----------------

My boys saw a commercial for "Slushy Magic" on the TV.
For $20, they could buy two kits which would allow them to add "special ice cubes" to a yummy sugary liquid and end up with a slushy (in under a minute with no crushing of ice).

Like any self-respecting-homeschool mom, I had to figure out how this worked!
What is the science behind it all? *found at the bottom of the blog*
I ended up finding out that the "special ice cubes" were merely bags of saltwater that had been frozen. That's it! Salt was the "magic" ingredient.

We quickly fill a quart size freezer bag with water (a little bit more than halfway full), and we DUMPED salt in it so that the water was saturated with salt.
We shook the bag and mixed it so the salt dissolved. (It is fine if you add too much salt - it will just gather at the bottom of the bag.)
Saltwater holds heat better than regular water, so it does not freeze as quickly. You will need to freeze it overnight - or until the bag is full of ice that is WHITE like snow.

White Salty Ice

Put your white ice (still in the bag, do NOT open it) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. 

Pour sweet, yummy liquid into the bag. 
(We used Strawberry-Kiwi Kool-Aid).
The commercial used milk, pop, juice...all kinds of liquid beverages.
Side note: Don't get any crazy ideas. Alcohol also has a lower freezing point than water (even lower than salt water) so margaritas probably won't work. :)  

Seal up the bag, grab them at the top...

...and do the Slushy Shake. 
(You could make it a dance contest and the winner gets first dibs.)

You can see it turn slushy through the bag. 
Decide how icy you want it, then removed the bag of salty ice, 

 Pour into a cup. (Dad helped out so I could take some photos.) 

The finished product.
(Oops, artificial lighting made it look orange...which would be delicious too)
Enjoy! The boys have made no less than five slushies in the past two days.
I hope you pull out your own superhero outfit this weekend and spread some slushy joy. Don't worry, if you have too many slushies...superhero spandex stretches.

*The science behind the experiment - as I understand it: 
There is really no such thing as "cold". Cold is merely loss of heat.
The frozen saltwater had lost the heat energy which kept it in fluid form. When the liquid Kool-Aid touched the frozen bag of saltwater, the saltwater began quickly absorbing the heat from the Kool-Aid. It actually absorbed the heat from the Kool-Aid much more quickly than the Kool-Aid could absorb new heat from the air - so the Kool-Aid lost heat and froze. 
Does that make sense? If not, you may have to do some research on your own.
*UPDATE*:
We have had some slushy flops the last few times we've made them.
The slushies have tasted salty. (and we used "good" bags the last time!)
Both times it flopped, we tried to make large amounts of slush at one time.
Maybe all the extra shaking let the saltwater get too melted and created more time for the liquid to leak out?
Not sure, but to be safe...I suggest making small amounts at a time. (about 2 cups worth, or one red solo cup worth) Maybe each kid can have his own bag to shake, shake, shake!
We are experimenting with other more permanent containers. Let me know if you find any that work and I will keep everyone updated with our findings as well.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal










Tuesday, May 1, 2012

10 Things "My Mama Said" About Marriage

photo credit

Some days, it's obvious by the actions of my children that "wah wah wah wah" is all they are hearing when I speak. I'm sure my mom felt the same way when I was a child; and yet, some things did manage to sink into this thick skull o' mine.
I am dedicating this Top Ten Tuesday to things "My Mama Said" which have made a big difference in my marriage.

My Mama Said...
  1. Pick Your battles. I thought Mom was a "doormat" when she chose to hold her tongue. 
    • Then, I grew up. (some) Now, I also want people to see my love for them, not my frustration with them. Of course, this attitude is much harder to live out with my husband than with a friend...or neighbor...or the stranger at the store. I'm slowly learning that my family (including my husband) doesn't have to agree with me and jump through every hoop I place in front of them. They are *gulp* INDIVIDUALS. I need to let them be different than my expectations (as long as they aren't crossing moral lines). 
  2. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Don't call names. Never tell anyone you hate them. If it can't be said respectfully, then it shouldn't be said. 
    • With the wagging tongue God gave me, I needed this brainwashing mantra to start early. Good thing He also gave me Mom - who would speak this truth to me often. 
  3. Giggle...giggle...and more giggles. My dad joked about sex - a lot. Mom never made faces, rolled her eyes, or let out a big sigh. She would just giggle. She made me think that sex within marriage might be fun "someday". She never made it seem like a chore...but a benefit to being married. 
    • I'm sure Clay and I make a lot of people uncomfortable while he jokes about sex and I giggle; but talking about it keeps sex from being an "unimportant" part of our marriage...and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  4. Don't use physical affection as a weapon. When my little brother would tick me off and then try to sit by me or reach out to me, I would jerk my arm/hand/body away in protest. He didn't DESERVE the right to be near me. My mother quickly made it clear that his position as my brother (whom I loved dearly) was enough to earn him a respectful response - even when I didn't feel like it. Withholding love "as a punishment" was not an option. 
    • Fast-forward 30 years. Clay's position as my husband (whom I dearly love) is enough. I refuse to withhold any part of me. We are one, and love is still not a weapon.
  5. Yes, I love your father more than you. Yep, she said it. We kids knew that Mom "had our back" when we needed to approach Dad about something. She understood our "why" and the emotions we felt. She would go to bat for us. This could have given us a very different impression than she wanted us to have. So, when we would childishly quip something like, "Why are you making vegetable soup since we all hate veggie soup - except for Dad? Do you love him more than us?" She would answer, "Yep. You kids will move on and find your own partners for life. If you try to make me choose between him and you, you should know that I will always choose him."
  6. I won't talk bad about your father.  Mom didn't say negative things about Dad. She didn't want others to look down on him. She wanted to protect him. She wanted to protect THEM. Verbalizing frustrations can be a way of dwelling on them. She preferred to sing praises about my father's strengths and speak of his weaknesses to God (or to him, in private). 
    • Wow, this has made a marked difference in my own marriage. Every time I share a praise about Clay, I'm reminded why I love him. If I need to "vent" about my man, I try to share with my mom or one of my girlfriends who care more about my marriage than they do about my feelings. I know they will defend him when possible and remind me to give grace when necessary.
  7. Never go to bed angry. I can't be responsible for my husband's attitude, but I can give my anger to God (even if things aren't resolved before bed). Mom instilled in me a desire to have resolution; but even more, she modeled that life is about loving others...not about "being right". (And since I'm the one in our house who struggles most with being frustrated...I guess it's good that she was MY mom.)
  8. I want the house (and myself) to be something that Dad WANTS to come home to. Dinner was generally cooking, the house was generally straightened, and when Mom would comb her hair or fix her make-up - we knew Dad would be home soon. 
    • While make-up and dinner may not both be managed on any given day, I try to let my partner know that he is worth my effort. I don't want to only get dolled up for my friends or the grocery store clerk. I want to treat him like I would if I was still trying to seduce him "win him over". That means, I take care of my body. I notice him when he walks in the door...and give him a big kiss. I do what I can to make our home (and his wife) something he can be proud of and a place where he WANTS to be.
  9. A marriage needs protective walls. This could be a blog of its own. Oh wait, I already wrote it! My parents held hands all the time. It was their way to announce to the world that they were both "taken". My mom shared how married people should be each other's best friends. No secrets. They shouldn't spend time alone with people of the opposite sex. That welcomes temptation. Once married, flirtation is meant for a spouse. None other. 
  10. Divorce is not an option. Mom didn't even joke about divorce. If one of us kids tried to, she would say, "Divorce isn't a joke. It should not be taken lightly. It is not an option."  Sure, my parents had their struggles; but I NEVER questioned whether or not they would stay together. I had peace about them even when there was tension. 
    • I have that same peace in my own marriage. Luckily, my jocular man (who pokes fun at EVERYTHING) also doesn't think divorce is funny at all.
I'm so glad my mom kept repeating herself.
I hope this encourages you in your own parenting -  to be vigilant and to persevere.
The kids may only hear half of our words, but if we say them enough...they might actually sink in.

(This is also linked with the Hip Homeschool Hop)