Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Establishing Disciplines in Your Life


It is not always easy to establish certain disciplines in our lives.  Some may come easy for us because they fit well with our personality tendencies or loved habits.  On the other hand, some do not come as easy, even when you realize the discipline would be so helpful and would make your life so much easier!

For ages I have been trying to get to bed at a decent time – before midnight would be nice.  My body’s clock is so used to getting to bed late at night that is hard to steer away from that not-so-good habit.  Through bearing children and trials, I have told myself nearly daily that I should go to bed earlier and wake up earlier!  This week, with a new school year at hand, I have been more mindful of striving towards the goal.  I have gotten to bed a smidge earlier the past couple days and have woken up earlier due to the demands of my household.  I am trying to order my nights and mornings better so I can have more energy and joy, produce better fruit in my home, and help things to run more smoothly. 

For now these are the nighttime disciplines I am trying to solidify.

Nighttime Disciplines

Make lunches for my husband and my niece.

Make sure kitchen table, sink, and counter are clean.

Think ahead to the next day’s schedule and meals, preparing at least my mind and other necessities in advance.

Limit computer time.

Get to bed around 10:30 so I can be asleep at 11:00.

What disciplines are you trying to establish

in your life right now?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our School Schedule

Tomorrow is the big day!  My niece starts school, and we try as best as we can to follow her school schedule to maintain better unity within the household.  I sketched out a basic routine plan for our day.  I will start with this schedule and tweak it as necessary – one of the beauties of homeschooling!


One difference from last year – doing science before lunch.  We always had science right after lunch.  It worked well that way since it is a group subject, and we were all together.  This year I am trying to break up some of the more tedious subjects, like math and English, to see if it helps our day run more smoothly.  I had heard about this concept years ago – that it helps motivation and keeping the day from becoming too cumbersome.  We’ll see how it works.

I have posted our schedule on the whiteboard to try and help the kids stay on track – also something different for this year.  I was inspired by “Keeper of the Home”’s visual schedule.

Do you have a schedule for your school day?

Are you doing anything different this year?

Have a blessed year ahead!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Garden’s Goodness

The past couple years we have tried to get back into the habit of gardening.  It really is a beautiful thing to grow some of your own food.  It tastes great, has no chemicals, and feels so rewarding, knowing you grew the produce yourself. 

Our main problem is that the local deer love to eat some of our plants, like our tomato plants especially.  We have only harvested ONE red tomato.  I have seen flowers and some green tomatoes, but then – voila! – everything seems to disappear.  I’m assuming it is the deer’s fault. 

You can see our tomato plants in this photo.  The deer have chopped the tops off.  We are thinking about putting a fence up next year, just around the garden, even though the idea does not appeal to us entirely.  We have a fenceless yard and enjoy its look and feel overall.


Regardless of the deer, we have harvested some goodness from our garden.  We are not experts at gardening, and my thumb is still pretty brown.  However, we are thankful for what we *do* get.

This was last week’s harvest


… along with this lovely beauty of a cucumber!


Yes, our cucumbers have done well.  We have also harvested lettuce early in the summer, some basil, chives, and squash.

What should I do with these guys?


If you have never tried gardening, I recommend it!  Even if you get a small harvest, like us, it is truly a blessing!

Did you have a garden this year?

Was it successful?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Snack Dinner

Ever find yourself in a pinch to make dinner, don’t have a lot of energy or groceries in the house, or you had a pretty full lunch and want to have a light dinner?

Try a snack dinner!


I will make snack dinners on Sunday nights sometimes, especially.  They are fairly easy to prepare.  The main thing I try to do when serving a snack dinner is to make sure I have a handful of options with variety, hopefully with some sort of protein and fruit or vegetables.

Sunday night’s snack dinner:

Cheese quesadillas, deli turkey meat, chips with hummus and salsa, cut up cucumbers, and frozen grapes.

Other good options for snack dinners:

Simple sandwiches

Boiled eggs


Crackers and cheese

Cut up veggies


Baked Beans



Trail Mix


The sky’s the limit!

What do you or would you serve in a snack dinner?

Oh, and you don’t just have to use this idea for dinner.  It works well for lunches too!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Final Countdown

Last night I was fortunate to have my wonderful, spectacular husband help me organize the school shelves.  I have started this project a couple other times and was interrupted.  With Brian’s great organizing skills and teamwork, we were able to accomplish the task much easier!



The shelves needed organizing and updating.  We also turned the bookshelf.  Originally it was on an angle, cornering the kitchen. Now it is in line with the wall for something different.  I like it.  The area feels crisp.

We took everything off the shelves and separated it according to categories on the kitchen table. 


We took away what was no longer necessary on the shelves and ordered the materials by child and purpose.



Now I am feeling much more ready for the school year!


Other things I am brainstorming about this week:

  • Our schedule
  • A planner for me
  • Record-keeping


Have any tips you would like to share?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Protect Yourself


Life is busy.  Extremely busy.  Too busy for my liking a lot of the time.  I would much prefer a slower-paced life with more margin.  More time to relax.  More time to read.  More time to spend with friends and family.  Less worry.  Less calendar events.  Less meetings and appointments.  Less information plowing through our brains each day. 

In accepting the reality of my busy life, though, I am slowly learning that I must protect myself if I am going to thrive in life rather than merely survive. 

How is your life going?

Are you surviving or thriving?

We have some valuable assets we must learn to protect:

Protect your time.

There is much competing for our time.  Know your limits.  Figure out what works well for you.  Try not to overcommit.  It is okay to say “no”, even to good things.  In the year 2011, we have more great opportunities than one can handle.  Ask God what He wants you to do.

Protect your heart.

The Bible says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."  (Proverbs 4:23). 

When our hearts are weighed down with negative emotions, we are unable to function fully up to speed.  Fear, worry, anger, jealousy, disappointment, heartache -  all of these emotions paralyze us and prohibit us from living the abundant life God wishes for us.

Protect your thoughts.

Negative thinking leads us on a spiral downward.  If we do not catch ourselves, we can find ourselves in a rut – dwelling on negative thoughts that encourage negative emotions and negative actions, besides causing havoc to the peace of our souls. 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Protect your rest.

I am continually trying to improve the amount and quality of sleep I get each night.  I fail tremendously, yet I plod on, knowing that sleep plays a major factor in our mood, energy, and health for the day. 

Besides getting good sleep, be sure to take mental and physical breaks when needed.  Sometimes I will just go up to my bedroom for a short breather when I need to get away from the hustle and bustle of my home.  It helps me to regain my focus and feel more ready to handle what comes next.

Protect your relationships.

Relationships are the crux of life.  We were not made to be loners.  God made us to be in relationship with one another and to work hard at maintaining good relationships.  The Bible exhorts us to love, forgive, serve, and bear with one another.  When we are at peace with each other, we feel encouraged and motivated to handle the issues of life. 

Brian and I are learning that, as our load has exponentially increased over the years, we must strive to keep our marriage solid.  Stress in life can quickly diminish the love and fervor of a marriage if we are not cautious.  Frequent connection, communication, and pursuit of understanding are key to protecting our marriages.

Protect your walk with God.

The cares of life can creep in and we find ourselves following the steps of Martha rather than Mary.  We are so busy with taking care of our homes and families that we forget simply to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him.  We must prioritize and protect our time with God.  We must escape from the crowd, as Jesus did, and have quiet, intimate moments with our Lord so He can fill us, change us, and draw us closer to Him.  That is the ultimate protection for our lives because He will enable us to do the rest!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer’s End

Last night we returned from Fellowship Camp with our church.  We go each year.  Once you start having children, and they are old enough to realize what is going on, it is hard to turn back!  Camp is a lot of fun for them - activities, late night curfews, endless time with friends, and a lake with cafeteria-style meals to boot.  What more could they want?

Fellowship Camp is a great time of just that – fellowship with our dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  We stay up late and enjoy each other’s company.  Of course, as a mother to five children there are always snags to any vacation, but it is still nice to get away and connect with others. 

Some of our vacation’s goodness:

My son was baptized!  Hallelujah!


My son learned canoeing skills to finish earning his badge.


Archery is always a favorite.


Beach fun!




Now I am regrouping and fixing my eyes towards the school year that is about to begin. 

How is your summer ending?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal

In our homeschool this week…

I finally ordered the rest of the bulk of our curriculum!  Yay!  I had big plans to do it earlier, but life happened. 

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We are actually getting ready to go on vacation soon, so I am looking forward to a break.  I am hoping, most of all, to get some rest for my soul and sleep for my body!  I need to come home refreshed so I can plunge into the last minute “to do’s” before school starts.

Questions/thoughts I have…

I have been thinking about devoting a day of my week to cleaning and projects this year.  A friend of mine does that and I have heard of others doing it as well.  It seems like it would help me keep my focus on school, mainly, the other days and not feel so burdened about the house.  I can then look forward to that specific day that I know I have set apart for more household tasks.  After all, isn’t that one of the main struggles for homeschool moms – juggling it all? 

How do you fit in your cleaning, organizing, and other household projects?

Things I’m working on…

Goals… learning to go with the flow… relaxing about life…

I’m grateful for…
My husband who is a huge mainstay in my life.  He grounds me, reassures me, and helps me so much! 

I’m praying for…

I am praying the Lord will do a great work in my life so I may learn to be victorious each day.  I find myself getting discouraged and overwhelmed often.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3, 5-6

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Energize Yourself–Clean a Horizontal Space!

“Small Notebook” did a great post about maintaining an uncluttered look even when you have a lot of items in a room.  One of the keys is this:  “All the horizontal spaces are clear”.  It’s true.  If you check out the post, you will see it for yourself.  The desks, tables, and sofas in the quite full room are crisp and clean, bringing a sense of peace, order, and balance. 

When I read the post, I was motivated to do a little horizontal space cleaning myself.  I whipped through my kitchen and cleaned off the counter and the kitchen table.  Boy did that feel so much better!  I felt energized and at peace.


Which horizontal spaces in your home could use a little tidying?

Go to it!  The work will be worth it.

You will feel energized!

Your home will feel like a better place. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cone S’mores–A Fun Treat!


Recently, “Life as Mom” posted about a dessert she whipped up after accidentally buying the mini ice cream cones at the store.  She used the cones to make Mini S’mores Cones.  When I saw the idea, a bell went off in my head.  I had regular-size ice cream cones and the super-size marshmallows sitting in my pantry.  Why not try a larger version?

So I did!

Cone S’mores

inspired by “Life as Mom

Preheat oven broiler.

Put empty ice cream cones on foil lined baking sheet.

Fill the ice cream cones about halfway with chocolate chips.


Place a super-size marshmallow on top!


Make sure the top oven rack is low enough so the marshmallows have a bit of room between them and the broiler. 

Broil and watch carefully!  The marshmallows will cook fast!


Let sit for a couple minutes on the tray before eating.

Enjoy the rich, gooey goodness, inside and out!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Peculiar Situation

A week and a half ago, I went to a subdivision garage sale with my mother.  We stopped at a sale, and I ran into these...


My soul definitely had goosebumps at the time.  You see, I have been looking for chairs to go with my dining room set for about three years now.  I had purchased a beautiful dining table off of Craigslist and found four antique, Jacobean chairs for a great deal from another Craigslist dealer.  At the time, we only had five bodies in our home (one still in a highchair), and I figured I would find some more chairs that would coordinate decently well pretty easily... right?  Wrong!  I kept my eye open at stores and watched on Craigslist to no avail.

With two more bodies in our home over the past few years, I knew I needed more chairs as soon as possible.  When I found the chairs at this garage sale, I couldn't believe it.  Surely, they would look well with my set at home...  Surely Brian would approve... Surely I would not have to hunt for dining room chairs any longer.  The garage sale was about to end for the day so I had to move quickly.  I ran home to Brian and showed him a photo.  He approved.  Yay!  We hopped in the car and reviewed the furniture in person.  Brian stayed with the gentlemen while I retrieved our cash from the bank.

When I returned from the bank, I found out that the man's family was in a difficult position.  He had just lost his job and was losing his home too.  They are renters, and the owner is selling the place.  He and his wife had made a difficult decision to sell this set of table and chairs - a set that they had bought from someone else years ago and had to refinish with a lot of manpower - a set where they had dined for many, many meals.  I told him how thankful we were for the chairs and how I had been looking for something to coordinate with mine for so long.  He remarked that he was appreciative that the furniture would be going to a home where it was loved.

Yesterday, a knock came at the door.  Brian answered it and stepped out onto the porch.  I saw the man from the garage sale.  Wow!  Imagine that... he found us!  We told him we lived in the subdivision across the street, but didn't tell him our last names or our address.  How did he find us?  It turns out that he has been looking for us since shortly after the sale.  He had come to our house to ask humbly and politely if we would sell the table and chairs back to them.  They felt they rushed into the decision about selling the items, and his wife has been heartbroken since the day of the sale.  Sigh... This news brought sorrow to my own heart.  After fulfilling my own hopes and dreams of finding chairs that work well with my set, I would now have to relinquish them.  I really didn't even think about keeping them once I heard the request.  The depths of my heart knew immediately how to answer.  I had quickly asked myself things like:


What would Jesus do?

How will I feel if I don't return the furniture?

How will I feel each time I look at or use the furniture?

What would I want someone to do for me?

Even though it would be difficult, I knew I had to surrender and trust that God will grant His grace to me because of it.

Brian and I both knew in our hearts that we would have to sell that furniture back to the man.  Brian called him this morning and discovered that the man and his family attend a local Baptist church and school where we have other acquaintances.  What a small world! 

Yes, we are not only returning this special furniture to a family who obviously needs it, but to a family who loves Jesus.  Somehow I know God is in this... for some particular purpose.

My trust is in the Lord and His goodness.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Bigger the Summer Vacation…


The other day I passed an elementary school.  Its sign read:

The bigger the summer vacation the harder the fall.

I thought about that for a moment before its meaning solidified.  Ah yes… the more you have fun and break from the norm the harder it is to get back to school, work, and routine.  I find that is true in my home.  Usually we school throughout the summer – lightly – just to keep brains fresh and give some structure throughout our days.  However, this summer we have hardly done any school.  I realized, for my own sake, that I needed a long break.  I am going through a lot in my personal life and trying to get some things in order before the school year starts.  In the mean time, I do find that my kids seem to be getting lazy, even though I have them do chores each day.  Somehow it seems that our break is not always serving us best.  Sometimes it is hard to get good attitudes about work, and I have to contend with tired, bored souls that fill my home at times.  Yes, balancing the right break with the right amount of routine and work is tricky!  At least it has been for us!

How is your summer going?

Have you found a good balance?