June 2009


Fine.  I can accept it.  Workboxes aren’t going to work for me.  The system is so far from Workboxes, I can’t even say it’s tweaked workboxes.

What I can say is that I have olders that are independent workers and this system will work for us.  And really, which is more important?  The popular system that everyone has to have, or the one you can commit to longterm?  So, I admit it.  I failed.  But I’m okay with that! 😀

I packed away and/or sold useless materials.  All the books that were so “Disney-fied” or were just wretched, I’m taking to Half Price Books this morning for credit to hopefully spend on books I NEED.   Prayer for guard against temptation would be appreciated here……

With newly cleaned off bookshelves, I was ready to go.  Remember those $4.99 file folder holders I got at Target?  Yeah, these are those.

An organized system

An organized system

Okay, so the plan is to integrate the things that I LOVED from Workboxes into my system for lots of little people.  I desperately NEEDED to consolidate the system.  12 workboxes couldn’t work for me.  It isn’t possible.  That said, MY kids work great off a visual system, so we have weekly charts – the Tapestry weekly plans, but we’re also (together for the olders) breaking those down into daily plans.

I LOVE how she “reloaded” her boxes every night.  We’re planning on following that suggestion with me taking out the days work, checking, and filing into 2.5″ binders for each child (same tabs as the file folder holders) each night and then reloading the file folders with  the next day’s work.

I honestly don’t care what order my older kids work in.  They’ll receive a large block of “school” time and be set free.  I love Tapestry’s attitude that we are train our children to be masters of their time and of their schoolwork.  Ana has always been very independent.  She basked in the short time we did Ambleside because I gave her a week’s plan and she lived in the glory of organizing and managing her time.  Christian NEEDS this training.  He’s a great kid.  You can set anything in front of him and say, “Get it done.”  And he’ll have it done.  It will be perfectly neat, perfectly done, and er, well, perfect.  It will have 200 eraser marks where he redid it to BE perfect, but it will be done and done well.  He has, in the past, needed the guidance of “here is that next thing” BUT he’s never had any freedom or guidance to manage his time.  I’ll admit to this.  This will be awesome for him because he IS one of those kids that handles responsibility well.  And while we’ve always stacked responsibility on the shoulders of the oldest, we haven’t given him that opportunity to really shine in this area.  I’m excited, can you tell?

So, this is what the file folders look like inside:

File folders with tabs

File folders with tabs

Obviously not every child has the same activities.   When you get to the littlest one,  Abigail, it’s just Arts & Crafts and Letter Activity.

Now, the only thing that’s left is getting Mom organized.    I’m getting there… I’ve cut out eight seahorses for my counting board.  I’ve cut out every uppercase and lowercase letter from templates from DLTK.  They’ve been put on cardstock and I take them in for lamination today.  I have my calendar for my bulletin board for the little people.

I feel good.  I finally feel organized, a little.  I’ll admit I’m still in a bit of a fog over Tapestry.  I’m reading, swallowing, and digesting ALL the material.  So far I love the layout.  I AM using Sonlight’s science guides for science.  I LOVE that they sell them separately.  It’s so nice to have that planned daily because I am REALLY lazy and discontent when it comes to science.  And what does discontentment mean?  Well, it means I’m not thankful.  And it’s true.  I have a bad attitude towards science.  I LOVE science, biology, living science, life cycles, rocks, stars, you name it.  I HATE how boring science actually is in the classroom.  Which reminds me…  Guess what little critter decided to form a chrysallis?  I didn’t realize how big he had gotten and couldn’t find the aquarium, so I was ill prepared for him to get to this stage.  He managed without help from me.

Chrysallis - We knew him when he was just an egg.

Chrysallis - We knew him when he was just an egg.

We’ll tape the lid to something from the top so that when he opens his wet wings and stretches them out, he won’t tear them on the container.  We’ve had that happen and there is NOTHING more heartbreaking than a butterfly that you’ve crippled by negligence.

On my To Do list yet –

Organize MY binder
Make MY file folder
Do activities for the preschool ziploc activity swap
Make letter activity sheets for the first nine weeks and any coloring pages.
Hang up my calendar.  Wish me luck.  I didn’t in 2008 or yet in 2009.

That’s it!  Have a great day!

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If I admit that I love Mondays will you stop reading?

Fine.  I admit it.  I really love Mondays.  I promise I’m *not* a control freak, but weekends just spin out of control.  The house goes crazy, we eat WAY too much sugar, meal planning?  It goes out the window.  We have a lot of fun on the weekends but everything except chaos goes right out the window.

This weekend was NO exception, but boy was it fun! We went to the timber this weekend, our favorite place to be.  We picked wild flowers, caught craw-dads, did some berry picking, and just enjoyed the river, the trees, and the weather.  It was GORGEOUS.  We got up in the morning and got moving so it was still cool while we were out there.

Big Daddy with our Little Girls

Big Daddy with our Little Girls

Look what they caught!

Look what they caught!

Christian's Crawdaddy

Christian's Crawdaddy

Lizzie's Crawdad

Lizzie's Crawdad

Rebecca Hunter Gatherer

Rebecca Hunter Gatherer

Then my batteries died. 😦

But, we had a picnic lunch and all in all, it was such a beautiful day.  Although I’ll admit that we ate EVERY single one of the berries we picked at lunch.  Washed?  Uh, no.  Which means, I’m sure, I got a double dose of protein from bugs.  I’m just refusing to think about it.  But they were good. 🙂  And, thankfully, I’m not very squeamish.

You know I was thinking today about guilt.  I think we allow ourselves to be trapped into guilt.  We should have or we could have or we didn’t… You know, the Mommy things we think of after we did the WRONG thing in real life.  You know what I’m talking about.  Junior drops a glass of honey, the jar breaks and you deal with sticky honey, sticky Junior, and glass all over the newly (always newly) scrubbed floor.  Did you flip out and yell at Junior?  You know you did.  The little stinker had to push the chair to the pantry, shimmy up it like a baby monkey, get it out… It was planned naughtiness.  Did he deserve to get in trouble? Sure.  But the display of anger on your part leads to handling it poorly.

So often we play a part in this scenario.  If we tomato stake our little ones sometimes messes can be avoided.  But if we’re going to be honest, there are times when you’re changing the toddler or nursing the baby and these things DO happen, even if the best run household.  And guilt weighs on us.

On Raising Godly Tomatoes last week someone asked which book of the Bible would you like to memorize?  I was thinking, James.  James is my book of choice.  And many had already memorized various books.  I used to make time to memorize verses.

Coincidentally, my Tapestry of Grace showed up this weekend.  One of the things that Marcia stresses in her introduction is that Tapestry is meant to be a K to Mom education.  We should take the time to maybe read those books we never did in high school, college, or life since.

So, this morning I sat down to start reading and memorizing the book of James.

James 1:2

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will recieve anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

It occurred to me that we, mothers, need to INVEST in ourselves.  There is an intrinsic difference between spending and investing.   The dictionary defines the word spend as the action of disposing of something or exhausting something.  To spend money is to dispose of it….   Compare this to the definition of invest.  Invest means to devote or put something to use for the purpose of profitable returns.

There are those that spend on themselves – they may “dispose of” their day, or money, or their time………

And then there are those that feel guilty over the “investment” of time or money, etc.

Truly, the difference between the two is the heart attitude.  When one invests, it is with the  hope of a return.  For whom?   Ultimately it should be an investment for God.  The training of our children, our health and well-being, what values and beliefs we’re cultivating in our own home.

So I guess today I’d encourage you to make a budget…  A time budget perhaps.  You’re only allotted so much you know.  How will you spend it and for what purpose?  Will you invest in yourself?  Will you invest in your children? Or will you dispose of it?  At the end of the day, it’s all gone.  The only difference between the two is whether or not you hold the hope to get some future return.  And more importantly than just receiving a little interest, who are you investing FOR?

How many of us reaarrange our entire house JUST so we can somehow squeeze 1 foot of extra space for the storage of books?  Uh…..Me.

That’s right folks, it’s THAT time of year again.  Or at least it is for me.   It’s school planning!  Woo Hoo!

Yesterday my entire living room got rearranged.  So that you could better see the television? Um, no.  So the lighting was better?  Again, no.  Oh, no, my living room has been rearranged for reading nooks and bookcases.  Which is no small feat in a slightly smaller that average living room with two loveseats, a recliner, and bookshelves….  And, yes, we had to keep the tv.  I like my husband!

So, then I manipulated… CONVINCED, I convinced my husband to take me out to eat and go preschool shopping.  Sigh.

I spent the afternoon printing off alphabet templates to be photocopied onto cardstock.  I get to cut them out tonight.  Then, having learned my lesson, they’re all getting laminated.  That’s right.  It only took the first four children to teach me!

The tweaked system means using a file system instead of several separate boxes.  I only have space to dedicate one shelf to each child.  I liked the idea of doing all the prep work in the evening, but couldn’t see taking up that much space… times six.

I found clear file boxes with pink lids for the girls and blue lids for the boys for $4.99 at Target!  I was thrilled with that and they’ll fit in my bookshelves.  Next came the clearing of the bookshelves.  That was painful.

So, it’s starting to look good and a little more prepared.   I’ll post pictures after we get the opportunity to decorate a bit and add names and make it look nice.  We’re getting there.  I’m hoping to have preschool planned a bit by the time my Tapestry gets here, then the real work begins!

My BIG find for the day?  The Home’s Cool blog!  She took the time to arrange the Sonlight titles in classical order… according to the time period they take place.   I was so blessed to find this blog as, from what I understand, Tapestry’s read alouds tend to be geared towards the older child.  And, TOG didn’t schedule family read alouds in the Classic version, only the Re-Design.  I’m not sure if that is indeed correct yet, but we will definitely be substituting in some of these suggestions as read alouds.  I was so excited to find this this morning and hope you enjoy the link as well!

I admit it.  I watch the show sometimes.  I have called it Appreciation Therapy.  It’s a fact.

Now, you’re waiting for me to go into a diatribe about how he abandoned or what she could have done differently, or just on and on and I’m not going to.  I’ve seen everyone do it, I’ve done it myself, and as several at the Woodshed reminded, “It’s gossip.”  And, ya’all gossiping is a sin.  So, I’ll resist.

But let it be said that those around us, in real life, or those who put themselves in the public’s eye, can serve as a reminder for the rest of us of what happens when you take your eyes off of God.  When the clarity of Christ in your focus goes fuzzy, other images become the focus of our attention.    When we find ourselves accountable to an image, or to a set of rules, or to others, money, fame, glory, ourselves, we are no longer accountable first to God.

I know I’m guilty of it.  I suspect all of you are as well.  When we focus on what it is He wants for our lives, through His word, NOT through our perceptions, we find real truth.

I’ve heard, “God wouldn’t want us unhappy.”  Um, no, sometimes He would.  “God wouldn’t want us to live like this.”  No, again, sometimes he would.   Paul didn’t lead a fun filled life with ease and luxury.  And yet he kept his focus on God and what God had called him to do. 

I’ve heard others say too much focus on the children.  You should focus on your marriage.  You should focus on yourself.  You should focus on…  And the list goes on.  And the truth?  You should focus on God.  Everything else, with prayer and thanksgiving, will fall into line.  This does NOT mean that if you do things, life will be easy.  It ill be fun.  It will be deeply enjoyable and your husband will do everything he should, and your children will do everything they should, and your story will end happily ever after.

What it  MEANS is that when it’s all said and done, and you sit before the very throne of God, and you’re accountable for YOUR heart, you shall have been found a good and faithful servant.

 

I’m going to post this blog, which I think does a good job of taking the focus off of the individuals and any behaviours, and putting the focus on marriage as a covenant with God. 

http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/if-i-was-jon-and-kates-pastor/#comment-25104

And I’d warn you against reading the comments as they get a bit bickery.   But I think we can all remember what is God’s is Gods.  Our marriage is His.  It should be treated as such.  Our children?  We are but stewards.  

And so I’m going to leave you with a bit from James.  I will be the first to stand up and say I am very much a work in progress.  I have struggled all my life with anger and frustration and when I fall short I can almost guarantee anger is in there somewhere. 

James 1:19 & 20

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ”

James 22-25

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.”

And the hardest part for me personally….

James 26

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein  on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

We watched Marley & Me last night.   Found it a little amusing. 😉

Legend is on strike.  With Lacey gone he isn’t enjoying being an only dog.  It’s made him a lonely dog.  And so he spends his day lying outside the door.  With the death of two chickens, dh has decided he really should be kenneled when we’re not there to watch him, Lacey or no Lacey.

Well, that’s fine.  He WAS content to stay in said kennel while Lacey was there.  But since she’s not, he doesn’t find it convenient to be kenneled.  So, he gets out.

Three days ago he broke the door off of the kennel.  It’s no easy feat as it’s a huge 8 x 14 kennel and 6′ tall.  He has an attached indoor kennel as well, but he’s focusing his attention on the outside.  We reattached it.

This AFTER he has learned to open the latch with his mouth.  We fixed that by putting a padlock (unlocked) through the hole of the latch.

Two days ago he found by throwing his weight against one side, he could force the tubing apart and escape where the kennel opens into the indoor kennel.   We fixed that.

Yesterday we took the kids out for Chinese for Father’s Day.  Legend had had free run of the farm all day since we were home and we kenneled him before we left.  We came home to an overjoyed Legend, just tickled to see us.  He met  us at the van door.  That’s right.  He escaped.  We looked the kennel over and couldn’t find the escape route.  Finally it occurred to us, the latch was too high!  He had pushed and pushed ’til he could just barely get out the bottom of the door.   Mark fixed that.

We kenneled him for the night.  Half way through the night we heard Legend chasing after something.  He had escaped.

We didn’t figure out how until this morning.  Remember, we latch the latch of the kennel.  Then we feed a padlock through the hole so he can’t lift the latch.

He got the padlock out of the hole.

But WAIT!

THAT isn’t the funny part.  Oh no.  Sweet dog that he is, or show off, whichever…  He actually brought the padlock up to the house and laid it on our front step of the porch.  I’m NOT kidding.

DH & I walk out the door this AM and there sits Legend.  And there sits the padlock.

I can honestly say I’ve NEVER met a dog like Legend.  He is the children’s faithful companion wherever they go outside.  They can trip on him, fall on him, lay next to him, and he is ever patient and ever sweet.  Legend is many things, but one thing he apparently is not?  Dumb.  And he also seems to have quite a sense of humor.

Do ya’all ever feel like you’re spending your life learning the same lessons over and over and over again? Some days I get pretty frustrated with me. Some days I wonder how frustrated God is with me? Same lesson, different day.

What lesson? Using my time the way God would have me use it. Now, granted, each time I’m taught the lesson it has different nuances. For the first time in a very long time, I’m finding myself with some free time. We’re on a school break and I’m not running True Vine and so I’m finding myself with time. Time to research or to read or to um, Facebook. And so last week, very specifically Thursday and Friday, I didn’t accomplish much at all.

Wives, let me let you in on a little secret. If you’re married to a GOOD man, a man who has a strong set of ethics, then you’ll know that he likes to work FOR something. A GOOD man goes off to work hard because it’s the right thing to do. He does it because he wants to take care of his family, benefit his company, and take pride in what he does. It’s a strange thing, these things that men take pride in. They take pride in beautiful children, a sweet wife, a peaceful home. They take pride in knowing they are supporting the greater good. My husband leaves for work early in the AM wanting to believe he’s leaving behind his wife, who will educate his children, nurture his babies, run his household, and keep the peace. These are things he can work for… He can support. He feels good knowing these good things are why he goes to work in the morning and comes home in the evening. But, what would it feel like to not be working towards those things? A bit like a hamster on a wheel I suppose. Always working, but not for something he believes in wholeheartedly?

I’m a firm believer in the need for balance. A time for work, a time for play, a time for rest. But when you find “rest” taking more than its’ fair share of time, that’s laziness. And when you find “play” taking more than its’ fair share of time, that is also laziness. And I believe it can ALL be justified.

“The final step before sin is justification.” I wish I could find who penned this, I know it’s my Women’s Devotional NIV somewhere… But, Mamas, you know deep down, the conviction you’re resisting. If you’re reading this and you know, you just KNOW, that you’re guilty of wasting your time, I’d invite you to do what I had to do this weekend. Confess. Admit the wrong-doing. Ask forgiveness from those you’ve wronged. And then, and this is the hardest part, CHOOSE to sin no more.

I have always said I have no self control. I work very hard to set up boundaries for myself because I know I have a very hard time with temptation. If there is a candy bar in my house, I eat it. If there is a computer on, I check my email. If I check my email, I wander across the net… I find it very difficult to put boxes of time into my life and make my life conform to that.

I thought to myself this weekend that I will do this for my husband. He IS that good man. He deserves to work hard for SOMETHING. I should be pouring into his children, into his home, everything that I am able.

And then I realized it’s so much MORE than that. This is something I need to do for God. After all, these children are truly HIS children. I am raising them up for Him. This house? It is truly His house, I am but the steward. I imagine what self control it took for Christ to allow the cross. After all, He knew. He knew what was coming. He didn’t shirk from what God had laid out in His life, but embraced it with love and seeking His Father’s will. Would that we were all more Christ like and instead of seeking ways to avoid that which He has put into our lives, we instead would turn and embrace it with love and seeking our Father’s will.

I believe, with every ounce of my being, that mothers are truly called to a difficult and rewarding task. We nourish our children – their minds, their bodies, their souls. We feed them what they need to grow and be strong, and to not grow weary in doing right.

I have scripture saved in my computer. I’m unsure where it came from. Perhaps it was a blog, or an email from a friend, I don’t know. But I’d like to share it with you. And I’d like you to cling to it in these season when we’re called to serve. And remember that precious things come at a high cost. So don’t hold back. Pour every bit of yourself into everything. Pray blessings upon your household while you do that 101st dish today. Smile at your children and bless them as they spill orange juice on the rug… again. (And then, for goodness sakes, get a good sippy cup!) Sing to the baby when she’s sleepy. Kiss that husband when he comes home. Make his favorite meal tonight for no other reason than just because…… And, Mamas, take the time to read your Bible today. YOU, Mama, need that nourishment too. You, Mama, will grow weary too without Him.

Proverbs 31:27
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Ecclesiastes 11:6
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

2 Thessalonians 3:7
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you,

Okay!  I’m a little behind….  I’ve had a few friends, and you know who you are, that have been hasslin’ me about joining Facebook.    With this strange amount of clicks coming mysteriously from Facebook yesterday,  I did it.  I caved.   I joined.

And of course then I had to peek at all of our old friends and aquaintances from high school.  It’s so ODD to see them as grown-ups.  And to be honest with you, I don’t think I really realized that *I* am now thirty-something.  Granted, the massive number of children should have clued me into it, but I’m telling you I don’t feel older than, what?  Twenty-two, twenty-three?   Of course, this could explain my paranoia that most doctors I see this day didn’t in fact go to college but are little Doogie Howsers straight from high school.

So, our farm has experienced a massacre of epidemic proportions.  I only wish I was kidding.  We keep our dogs kenneled when we are not outside with them.  Granted, we’re outside almost constantly, but it keeps everything safe and them under control and well behaved.  We do this because they are dogs, and because they are walking death.  Legend has a special affinity for chickens and Lacey will kill anything.   The other morning we awoke to two loose dogs and a dead hen pheasant.  I can’t tell how frustrating that was…. Knowing they probably dragged her off of a nest of eggs.

Then, tragedy hit.  Lacey got out of the kennel.  The kennel we’ve zip-stripped about every 2.5 inches.   First thing in the morning she killed a broiler chicken.  She followed that up by finding her way into my rabbit colony.  Please don’t try to picture it… It was ugly.  She killed 15 baby rabbits before we found her.

Lacey is going to a new home.  My mind is absolutely made up.  When they learned to open the kennel, we began to padlock it.  We’ve done our best but it’s time to admit defeat.  You can’t take an animal that’s been bred for a few thousand years to dig into tunnels and drag out rodents to leave the rabbits alone.  As this was the 21st rabbit she’s killed this year, I give up.  Grandpa picked her up last night.  She’s going to his farm, to replace a little terrier that died four years ago.  He only started talking about getting a new terrier this winter, so this works out beautifully.  She dig and chase to her heart’s content and not have to be kenneled ever.  Legend, without the instigator, should do okay.  We’re going to start chicken training today with him as I was just told he wiped out the Little Red Hen.  This truly was the biggest tragedy of all.

Lizzie and Little Red Hen

Lizzie and Little Red Hen

Lizzie loved the Little Red Hen.  Yes, I know, function… They’re supposed to be for meat, eggs, et cetera and we shouldn’t be attached to them.  It doesn’t work that way.  Lizzie’s little eyes are all red and puffy.  She admitted she might love it even more than Angel.  And the litter that Lacey killed?  Every last one of the entire litter?  Opal’s.  My favorite.  The little calico bunny.

I feel like quitting on days like today.  I’m really NOT a warm, fuzzy, animal lover.  I promise.  I have a heart of stone… kind of.   But I really did love that little calico bunny.  Sigh.

The good news is Legend is less distracted for now.   Lacey may come back after she’s fallen into good graces.  And if we decide to move the bunnies into hutches for their safety.  And this too shall pass……..

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