Start the first 3 months of the year off with a *fresh* Bible journal! 8×10 size.
It’s December 27, and if you are like me, you are looking around your house and saying: “HOW do I get this place under control again??”
The parties are over, the big meals have been prepped and eaten, the gifts are unwrapped and many played with..and now what is left?
Boxes, bags, bows, scotch tape everywhere, packaging of hastily ripped open toys, dishes, dishes and dishes, and no actually edible food in the house, the cat has a bow stuck to its tail, the dog ate something he shouldn’t have and you think one of your relatives was sick and passed it to one of your kids…
I know you know what I mean.
So what is a mom to do?
Let’s talk through some ideas on how to regain control of your living space again…QUICKLY.
Separate everyone’s gifts into piles.
Each of us currently has a pile from which to draw from. It may be a mixture of stocking stuffers, gifts and other items, but it’s their pile. There are a few advantages to this:
-It’s all in one place
-They know where it all is
-And when it’s time to say clean it up and put it away, they can do it more easily
Get rid of trash – NOW!
JUST by removing the actual trash from the home (we threw out 4 garbage bags in the last 2 days) you can get a better grip on what actually needs to be done. And it feels so, so good….
Require children to pitch in.
TODAY ask them to devote some time to putting away their own messes, picking up trash, and regaining control of their own space. It will help to “own” their belongings, it will assist them in thinking about where they want something to go, and it will (rightfully so) put some of the ownership on them! (Mine are doing it as I write this post.)
Hack away at the dishes.
Even if you do it in little bursts all day. Have the dishwasher running all day if need be. No one like to do dishes (or maybe some of you do??), but, someone is going to come looking for a spoon or a bowl before you know it.
Make a clutter box.
As you move through the home you may notice normal, irritating clutter. Make a box. Then decide today isn’t the day for you to feel burdened by it. It’s really not.
After you finish cleaning (or even while you are cleaning) you may say to yourself: “Never again!” I am never doing this again. But…you know you will. At least you have 12 more months to get ready for it.
Last piece of advice: drink plenty of coffee (or tea) as you prefer. You’re gonna need it mama!
From your sister in cleaning today, Jenny
Now that I have reached the six (!) year mark on homeschooling my boys, there is one thing I have learned I need to do on a weekly basis to keep myself on track and organized.
Keep an assignment checklist.
If I don’t keep a list, the mornings go like this:
“Hey mom, what should I do for school?”
“How about your online work?”
And then the same conversation repeats itself a half an hour later.
Why? Because life is super-busy, and I have my own list of things to do and my lack of planning for school is being reflected in my going to the easiest answer: online work.
But that is not fair to them, and in all honesty, it does not reflect the sort of homeschooling experience I want us to have in this house.
So, I have taken to writing down a checklist of assignments on Sunday night. This has made a huge difference in the following areas:
-getting a long-term plan (2-3 months at a time)
-making consistent progress toward completing one goal
-helps their self esteem because they feel like they are accomplishing something
-assists me in staying with something so that a concept can be solidified (think MATH)
– Gives them a VISUAL representation of their work which is easier than me explaining the list verbally
Does that sounds good to you?
This checklist takes me about 30 minutes to fill out in detail but makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
I think this list is most effective with elementary to high school age children.
Give it a try this week and see if it makes a difference for you too!
This time of year there is a lot to do. Mommas do it all. This one is for you. Remember, what they really want is YOU.
I see you Momma. You’re tired. You have no makeup on, yesterdays jeans, and you could really use a coffee delivery person.
I know you didn’t sleep well last night. Your little sweety was sick, or teething, or afraid of the dark. You back hurts from sleeping crooked and fitting your grown-up frame into 6-inches of mattress.
I know you are aching for 20 minutes by yourself to think your own thoughts. To just have ONE THOUGHT from start to finish. Maybe to make a phone call, read a book that is not found in the children’s section or say a prayer and ask your Creator to give you peace and direction.
Laundry? It’s clean, but it’s all piled up on the couch.
Dishes? I think there is one clean spoon.
Dust? I can’t remember the last time I did that.
I see you Momma. Wrestling that toddler in the grocery store. The one who is begging for a toy or grabbing all the sugary cereals off the shelf. The one who isn’t thrilled your passing up the potato chips for apples and the ice cream for yogurt.
I know your budget is tight. I know there is no room for a special nicety like a bottle of nail polish, or a new hairbrush, or a sharp razor for your oh-so hairy legs.
I know you see those Pinterest pictures of freshly baked bread and feel guilty that your kids are eating Goldfish crackers for breakfast….again.
I know you think you should be making “me time,” and that’s just another thing that tells you that you maybe aren’t living your “best” life.
8 glasses of water? Never.
I know you have a secret desire to write a book, to sing a song, to paint a picture, to go for a run.
I know you had a career before the babies came.
I know you have some regrets, but the babies aren’t them.
Do you know how valuable you are? Not for cleaning and cooking. Not for changing dirty diapers, not for clipping toenails.
Do you know that you provide security, peace and gentleness in a world that is very unpredictable, chaotic and angry.
You answer the questions.
Calm the fears.
Acknowledge the accomplishments.
You laugh at the silliness.
You give affection.
You teach right from wrong.
Don’t worry about the dust, the unbaked bread, the pile of clothes.
They really aren’t looking. They don’t care.
They just want you to run the car down the ramp, one more time.
To turn on the music loud and dance silly.
To let them play with bubbles in the sink.
Or make a craft, or jump on the bed, or….
Momma. They love you. Just the way you are.
And that’s enough for today.
Before I had children of my own, I had a somewhat (like totally and completely, actually) romantic vision of what raising them would be like. We wouldn’t need the fanciest things, the biggest house or the most modern car; we would just need EACH OTHER. As a stay-at-home mom, I imagined scrimping and sacrificing to make ends meet while my husband worked hard.
And, like….totally and completely loving it.
We decided, when my first son was born, I would stay home. Having pretty conservative views towards child-rearing, I felt it was the right thing to do. Stay at home, run the home and raise the littles. I still believe those things.
But, guess what? That means I quit my $70,000 a year job and the raises that came with upward mobility.
Now in the beginning that was cool. Me, being really a financially CLUELESS person (really clueless, people), I gladly tossed it into the wind to do something nobler – and I have not regretted it.
But me, like many, many of you moms (or dads) out there was not prepared for what raising children in the new millenia meant with only ONE PAYCHECK to keep us afloat.
The Washington Post, in 2017, tells us that it is in fact, more expensive to raise a child than ever. According to them, it costs about $13,000 a year. And the more money you have, the more you spend on them.
Now when I was holding that squirmy little boy, I didn’t want to put a price tag on his little bald head, but, in essence, now that he is a teenager, he is even MORE expensive! And you moms and dads of teens know what I am talking about (video games, shoes, clothes he constantly grows out of, etc.)
$$ Homeschooling $$
We also homeschool. Which I love (most days).
I have heard it said many, many times that homeschooling is as expensive as you want it to be. And while that is somewhat true, let’s be completely honest here. As your students age, the things that you want for them educationally tend to grow more expensive too.
My 13-year-old is no longer content cranking out some $8.99 workbooks and attending one co-op a week. He loves to be around people, has an engineering brain that we want to nurture and need to learn Algebra (!).
So, while it is probably less expensive that public school (no uniforms, tuition, annual back to school shopping list, PTO, etc.), it has its own costs. (Can I get an Amen?)
My A-ha Moment
This year I had an a-ha moment. This is the “heart” (hard) part.
My husband tends to look forlorn sometimes, and for the hundredth time in a row, when I asked why he looked concerned, he said: our finances. He has always been so good at managing our finances I have rarely had to worry. But, the last 6 months have seemed especially tough on him.
And I finally got it – we had slipped out of the habit of living as if we only had one paycheck.
I say “we,” I mean “me.”
You may not have the same approach to finances as we do and I respect that. But my husband and I had a routine, an agreement, a “way” of doing things, and I had tossed it to the side because I got … bored? fearful? not content? I am not really sure.
I had not been as frugal as I needed to be. I had been splurging a little too much. I had not been denying myself as much as I should. I had been signing the kids up for events and making emotional purchases without really praying about it and running it by him as I had for so many years.
And we had hit a financial wall. Not a terrible, horrible one, but a pretty bad one.
And don’t get me wrong – it’s not ALL my fault. I know that. I do bring in a teeny, tiny writing paycheck that covers some incidentals..but…
But, with my lack of discipline and only one-paycheck-thing, we are walking a very fine line.
As a stay-at-home parent, you feel the pressure as well? I just wanted you to know, you’re not alone!
I decided to write this today when my teenage son was really struggling with the realization that he would be out of the house fulfilling obligations ALL DAY. He was really angry about it from the moment we went through the schedule in the morning.
Do your children ever react like that to your homeschool schedule?
At first I thought he was just whining. We had had a busy week, and I thought he was just trying to “get out of stuff.”
I admit it.
I heard myself saying: “You should see MY life. Give the drama a break, kid!”
I thought about all my responsibilities and obligations. Laundry, dinner, dishes, clean the toilets, nap times, fun times, learning times, social times, get kids to appointments, make sure they are growing and thriving, make sure they are maturing spiritually, etc., etc., etc.
And my own concerns: am I eating healthy, am I spending enough time with the grandparents, that friend that is ill, the house is a mess, etc.
And then I saw it.
This issue wasn’t HIS problem. It was mine.
That makes me so sad to say that.
The fact is that I (me! Moi!) have been feeling overwhelmed with MY duties and all the people I answer to. I have been struggling with all the people and places I am obligated to.
And I had transferred that pressure… right on over to him.
We grown ups have a lot of things on our minds. I am sure you can come up with a healthy list of items that are pressuring you right now. Take a moment to think of some.
Now imagine transferring that feeling you now have to your child- how would they handle it? Probably not well.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am quite the opposite of the mom who protects her kiddos from every little thing that might cause them inconvenience. I do think they have to live up to their commitments like the next guy. I do expect them to challenge themselves and do new things. I don’t expect them to be babies forever.
How am I teaching them to handle it? And… is my approach to “schlump” it onto them and say “deal with it kid”?
So you know what I did? I said, “Son, do you need a pass?”
He replied, “A what?”
“Do you need a pass from all your duties today? Do you need to just go home and do your own stuff?”
You should have seen the look on his face.
“I can DO THAT?”
I said, “Yes, sweetie, you can.”
And he was relieved. And happy again. And felt understood. And acknowledged. And experienced God’s Grace. And it went a long way toward building a positive vibe between us too.
Do you put unnecessary pressure on your kids and not realize it?
Here are some more articles that may help you figure this topic out in relation to your own family.
It is partly my fault and partly just the way things worked out, but today didn’t go as planned.
I say my fault because I know I was lacking in self-discipline and I slept too long and didn’t start my morning routine on time.
But, things didn’t unfold the way I had expected either.
Have you ever had one of those days?
My main goals of the day was to make sure the kids did a good size amount of school work and to get my 2-year-old to his weekly library visit.
I was running behind. It was already 10:30 am and I wanted to get him to the library. I got dressed and him dressed and changed his pull-up(joy). Then we proceeded to spend the next half an hour looking for a complete set of shoes.
We had one shoe of both his pairs. One sneaker and one cowboy boot.
I had both other kids looking too (impatiently because they know when I go out they can pay video games). They pooped out on looking pretty quickly leaving me to scrounge closets and look under couches.
After a running around the house with my winter coat on (getting hot), and frustrated because there isn’t an actual PAIR of shoes to put on him, I gave up.
I put him in the car and drove to Target.
I went to Target reasoning that, after all, I had to get coffee, so I might as well get his winter boots too.
Yeah, I was the mom strolling around her 2 year old in cart with no.shoes.on.
After we found some boots, he began to get really moody and grumpy. But that didn’t stop me from buying a whole bunch of other stuff that I probably should have used coupons for and bought only when they were on sale.
Then he fell asleep in the car.
We never got to the library.
Happily, when I did get home the older boys had started school.
Day gets back on track? No.
Our internet pooped out in the middle of school.
So, I had to get on the phone with them and figure that out (which I did not resolve and they are coming out tomorrow).
While I was on the phone on hold I was trying to teach my 5th grader the different properties of matter.
Yes, you read that correctly.
“Ma’am, may I have the model of your modem please?”
“Density, son. D-E-N-S-I-T-Y.”
My day didn’t go as planned.
But in the middle of Target, as I was walking toward the shoe section, with a quick detour at Starbucks, I decided something.
Instead of longing for a day I had expected, I was going to embrace the day I was given. I had a quick talk with God, and I said, “God, things aren’t going the way I wanted them to. What are you trying to tell me? Whatever it is, I will thank you for the day and do my best with it.”
I decided I would take the day as it came. That I would not lament over goals undone, chores put off, school done through distractions…
I decided to roll with it. I said, “Show me Lord what YOUR plan is today.”
That is so hard to do as moms. It’s so hard to let go of all the hopes we had for the day, and just BE with them, however that may look.
I did get to the library later in the day.
They did some school.
Tonight we are watching a movie together.
Do you think I will ever find those shoes?
Do any of you Bible journal? Or have you created a “war binder” (as in the movie “War Room”)?
Well, I must be behind the times, because I JUST discovered these topics in the last two weeks. I knew people were coloring in their Bibles, but I didn’t know if was a THING.
Most likely I didn’t know about it because, well, I have three kids, I homeschool and work from home…etc. etc. etc. Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies?!
Anyway, I came across it because I have been watching a ton of my new favorite Youtube-r The Homespun Wife. She is so enjoyable to watch and listen to and she is very established in both scripture and wisdom. I usually listen to her as I am prepping my kids lessons for the week or responding to emails. I think I enjoy her so much because of her southern accent.
So, what is Bible journaling?
From what I can gather, it comes in a few different forms.
Coloring your Bible
First of all, and this one is very popular, you can purchase Bibles with pre-printed pictures that you are able to decorate and color. The Inspire Bible is one of these. I bought it last year, and proceeded to leave it out in the rain: ruined. 😦
That is what I would call “level one” Bible journaling.
REALLY, REALLY Coloring your Bible
Level two is illustration. Some of these amazing women take these Bibles and turn them into works of ART. My mouth dropped open as I watched video after video of this young woman turning a page of scripture into something I would hang on my wall.
Level three is what I will call scripture writing. In scripture writing, you are spending time on just one scripture, meditating on it, praying over it, as you write it out. And of course, decorating and illustrating the page too.
Now, let’s talk about War Binders. I remember the movie War Room (never saw it, I KNOW!) and the woman’s “war closet.’ While I love that idea, we don’t all have an entire closet to turn into a prayer room…so along came “war binders.”
War binders are basically a way to organize your faith and prayer life. This is based heavily on the book Fervent by the actress who starred in the film. She says we need to have an “attack plan” because certainly Satan has an attack plan on us!
Women are making these things like ka-razy! Some of them are plain, some of them are amazingly complicated.
They divide them into sections and many women have chosen to write out their prayers in sections (like: prayer requests, prayers for self, things you are grateful for, etc). In addition they (of course!) decorate them.
These concepts inspire me.
First of all it’s wonderful to see so many women in the Word of God (especially young women). But, also, it makes your time with God important, personal and you take ownership for what you are reading. It makes you SLOW-DOWN and be with God…something that I think, as women, is really hard to do.
So…are you game? Do you already do this? Tell me about your binders or your bible journaling below!
I will be doing a post to share my Faith Binder with you soon!
If you would like to learn about Bible journaling, click here.
If you would like a list of free printables for your Bible journaling, click here.
I recently participated in a fabulous week-long homemaking conference. The conference was organized by Young Wife’s Guide creator, Jami Balmet and her husband, Jason. It’s an annual online event that they run.
I was dubious at first. I have my own definition of what the term “homemaking” means to me and I wasn’t sure it would be helpful for me to listen to 25 messages about what homemaking meant to other women. I was so wrong!
First of all, many of those women shared common beliefs with me. That I am called by God to be a homemaker.
Let me explain.
I was still pregnant with my 13 yr old when I decided I didn’t want to go back to work. I was an inner-city guidance counselor (which I LOVED), but, with my pregnancy, I realized that I could not juggle the work like and the home life well.
Being the type of person I am , I decided I needed to do one, and (hopefully?) do it well.
Well, like I said that was 13 years ago and all the time I considered myself a work at home/stay at home mom. It really wasn’t until this year I adopted the term, “homemaker.”
The conference covered topics both practical and spiritual. For example there were messages about de-cluttering and organizing, but also messages about our spiritual motivation to do do.
One of my favorite speakers, Katie Bennett, reminded us to:
“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:4
That rung so true with me. After 13 years, I wasn’t doing things so much in love anymore, but, rather for pure survival!
What a perspective change.
Do the dishes…in love.
Wipe the counters…in love.
Change that diaper…in love.
Yes! It really lifted to my spirit to realize that since I am home, and God doesn’t seem to be changing that anytime soon, I need to be motivated by the scripture and by God’s perspective in the job I am currently doing…being at home.
For more information on this annual conference, go to: Young Wife’s Guide.
While vacationing up in Vermont, I went to one of my favorite places: Gardener’s Supply in Burlington, Vermont. This place is such an inspiration to visit and I took lots of pictures to share it with you!
Gardener’s Supply started in 1983 and doesn’t just sell gardening products. They have a mission to change their local world by bringing organic food and farming to Vermont. They are located in the Intervale, a 700 acre floodplain, which until the 1980’s had become a neglected, un-managed mess which, sadly many people had begun to dump unused cars and other junk onto.
Almost 1,000 tires were removed when the cleanup process began!
But today, with much effort, it has rebounded with farmland, a community garden, several Intervale friendly businesses and homes.
Welcome to Gardener’s Supply!
The first thing you see is all the plants they have outdoors. Unlike a big box company, the people who work here own the company, so, they love plants and treat all these babies like their own until they go home to your house. They were extremely well taken care of.
They sell a variety of flowering plants and shrubs, vegetables and fruit plants and trees. Also unlike big box stores, GS plants are still blooming and happy vs. being shoved onto a clearance rack where they wilt and turn yellow.
Even this one, which I almost brought home –
This is the entrance to their “test garden” – these hangers are being tested and should go on sale in a year.
These kitties caught my eye.
Let’s walk inside…
They have an amazing assortment of gardening tools and helps. This is the place to go when you really have a problem or need a solution for something going on in your garden. For example, I have a fungus attacking my plum tree. I went to the counter and talked to a knowledgable employee about it and she told me just what to buy.
It’s like shopping from their catalog, but in person.
They have hummingbird feeders, plant stakes (of all kinds), organic fertilizers and treatments for your garden problems, seeds (lots of seeds) and planters. They also have things that are hard to find like Winter Rye and Wheat (not available online), and cloches. Check out these unique gardening tools:
Do you love succulents and cacti? Gardener’s Supply has a stunning greenroom piled high with all kinds of tropicals.
There’s so much more to see, it’s hard to do it justice.
I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. Happy gardening!