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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Teaching Gratitude To Little Kids

Every night before bed, we say a family prayer, and then each of the kids gets a chance to pray for something they're thankful for.  It is sometimes cute, sometimes silly, and sometimes, it's really difficult for them to think of even one thing.

I try to guide them with questions, like "What did you eat today?"  "What did we do today?"  But even then, they can't always put it into words.  I've talked previously about how I try to pray specifically for something I'm thankful for about my husband and each kid before bed at night.  Some days it's hard.  Some days I fall back on things I've already mentioned, which is okay, but it also serves as a reminder to look for different things as well.

So even though we didn't have any actual school time this week (it's one of our pre-scheduled break weeks), I wanted to do a few projects and activities to remind them of how blessed we are, and to have fun with a few turkey themed things as well.

We made turkey hats, tracing their hands and cutting them out.  Jonah did most of his on his own.  Matthew needed help cutting out his hands, and I did pretty much all of Hannah's.  But this was a good project for a wide age range.
Tuesday we made a thankful tree.  I used painters' tape to put this right on the wall next to our calendar.  There were a few repeats, but we had a good variety of things that the boys thought of that they were thankful for.  Again, this took a bit of prodding at first, but eventually they started coming up with their own ideas.
They each chose one of their thankful items to draw a picture.  In case you can't tell, Matthew drew a Lego book with a police car on it (left), and Jonah drew a turkey (right).
Yesterday, we finished off with a few more fun worksheets.  My kids love color-by-number (or letter) sheets and word searches, so I knew they'd enjoy these.

Worksheets can be found here:
Happy Thanksgiving from our family!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

KonMari: Paper Edition

It has been awhile since my last KonMari update.  In theory, the next category - papers - is not a difficult one for me.  But bit by little bit, I did have a few trouble areas that crept back into being clutter.  
First up: magazines.  I've let most of my subscriptions lapse as they ran out (and thankfully I haven't paid for a magazine in years - these are all freebie ones I've found posted on deals sites!), but I still get a few.  I do enjoy reading them, but I've gotten woefully behind.  So I committed to skimming through most of these over the past few days.  I pulled out recipes and a few other things that I wanted to save, and the rest got recycled.
Next up: recipes.  I print these on the back of old school papers, and if we like them, they go on notecards in my recipe binder.  My stack of recipes to copy over was eleven tall.  So I took twenty minutes and took care of that (and also cleaned out some less-loved recipe cards from in there).
Finally, my bill paying center.  I had a big stack of old bills to shred, and a few other things to recycle.  Overall, this 3-tier organizing tray is still working pretty well.
That means all I have left is komono (miscellaneous stuff).  I'm almost done then, right? Wink wink...

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you purchase through these links, I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekly Goals: November 22-28

My baby girl turned one this week, and I had emotions about it.  This picture cracks me up, though.  "Why did they light my food on fire and start singing?!"

Last Week's Goals:
  • Finish my KonMari of the papers. Done!  Look for a post later this week.
  • Knit a few dishcloths. Done! Almost.  I did three, one each in each of the colors I have left of the cotton yarn, and now I'm working on a fourth one using up the little bit left of all three.  It might not be pretty, but it will work!
  • Nail down my Christmas project and shopping list. Done!
This Week's Goals:
  • Do some fun Thanksgiving projects with the kids.  I want to do some turkey things, but also try to find a few to focus on being thankful.
  • Bring the Christmas decorations boxes up from the basement.  We're not starting the decorating until next week, but I'd like to have things up and ready to start.
  • Eat some yummy food and enjoy time with family! 

The "How To Draw Monsters for Kids" video here is great!  And not just for kids...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

On Refugees, And Current Events, And Such

Can I be honest?  I don't keep up on current events very well since having kids.  I used to be so good about reading all the headlines, and really digging into topics that interested me through all sorts of print and online sources.  

And now?  Now I'm lucky if I know what day of the week it is and if it's going to rain or not.  Jesse told me the other day that someone dropped out of the presidential race, and my honest response was that I didn't even know he was running.

So take everything I say with that grain of salt.  
But for some reason, hearing about the attack in Paris and the effects it's having on the displaced Syrian refugees really struck a chord with me.  Maybe it's because I love Paris. Maybe it's because I'm naturally bullheaded, and when the first "close the borders and let no one in" posts started showing up, I immediately wanted to fight for all the innocent people.

And there's where it gets hard.  Are there thousands of people who legitimately need refuge, a safe place to live and be fed?  Absolutely.  Are some of the refugees terrorists in disguise?  Quite possibly.  Unfortunately, sin has made this world full of evil.

So I'm torn.  As a Christian, I want to offer not only physical help to people who need it, in the form of shelter, food, clothing, basic needs, but I also want to offer them Jesus.  This is a foreign mission field landing on our doorsteps, and these people need to hear about their Savior who loves them and who died for them.

But I also fear.  Not only has sin brought evil to this world, it has brought fear and worry and anxiety.  And so as a voting member, my inclination is to side with those who want to keep me and my family safe.  To not let in anyone who might harm us.

These two arguments don't get along.  

And maybe they don't have to.  If the government decides to let the refugees come here, I can show the the love of Jesus, up close, in person.  And if the government decides, for the good of the American people, not to let any Syrians come here, I can support that decision and look for other ways to help.  

I've seen ideas thrown out, that churches could sponsor families with monetary donations to help them resettle somewhere else.  That maybe it would be better for the Syrians to resettle somewhere closer to home, if that's possible.  It would be a way to help while still keeping our distance.  I think it's a smart plan, but I don't know how much it furthers the cause of sharing Jesus.  

All this sounds great now that I've written it down.  And it's easy to say from my living room in rural Iowa, where even if refugees relocated to my country, it's highly doubtful any of them would be anywhere near me.  So maybe I'm not the best person to listen to.  

But my mind goes to Matthew 25:35-40, which my husband just preached on recently. 
"'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'  
Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"
I just feel like there has to be a better answer than accept all or accept none.

For more on this situation from people who express these things far better than I do:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Last Baby, But.

Today is my baby's first birthday.  She's my last baby, but.  The last one.  But. I'm ninety-nine percent (almost certain, nearly positive) that we're done. But.

I just can't quite bring myself to say it with any finality.

Part of it is physical.  My pregnancy with Elizabeth was hard.  I could barely move by the end of it.

You made me hurt.  I hurt more than I have ever hurt before, and there was no way of moving, no strange contorted position I could take, to make it stop.  There was only partial relief from the drugs when I was finally in labor.  Even at the end, it was one final jab after another.  

And from this, I grew to understand some small part of chronic pain.   I was terrible to deal with as I adjusted to the pain.  At first, I snapped at everyone.  I had no patience.  There was only survival, the next step.  I got better at it, but I was still short tempered and a bit mean.  Pain changes people, and I made it through only because I knew there was an end.  Eventually, you would be born, and I could hobble back to my new normal.

If I had to deal with this long term, for months, years, the rest of my life, I don't know if I would be strong enough.  It was the finish line that kept me going.  You taught me so much before you were even born.

Part of it is mental.  I don't do well when I don't get sleep.  And even though she sleeps okay most nights now, the past year I've come to rely on my coffee more than ever before, just to make sure I don't bite anyone's head off.

You make this sweet little shudder, a small sigh, and I know you're finally falling asleep.  I watch as you suck on your pacifier a few more times, then let it droop from you lips and hang limp like a rag doll, but I can't bear to put you in the crib quite yet.  I'd rather watch you sleep for a few moments of peace.  This is the you I want to remember, not the screaming terror from a few minutes before.

She's been the worst sleeper, the worst eater, and I've been stretched beyond belief with her.  Part of me is scared what a next child might be like.

I sat holding you, rocking you to sleep last week, and I stopped.  There had been many nights when we had been awake together, multiple times in the wee hours of the morning, but they had tapered off, and it hadn't happened lately.  When was the last time?  Last month?  Six weeks ago?  

All of a sudden the realization that you're not so much a baby hit me like a train, full force.
In the quiet moments, it's easy to imagine what another child might be like.  Would he have my nose?  Would she have her daddy's long eyelashes?  But in the moments of chaos, all I can do is hold on until daddy gets home, until naps, until bed.

You love to dance, and sing, and move.  Even without any words, just babbling, you have an exuberant personality.  When you are enjoying life, you show it.  You wear your heart on your sleeve, and I love it.
My last baby turns one today.  But.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Learning About Emotions

We entered the grocery store, and immediately came upon a display of juice for 99 cents.  I don't normally buy juice, but I decided to treat the kids for lunch.  I picked up a bottle of apple kiwi strawberry, put it in the cart, and started to make my way to the produce section.  And then the four year old laid down on the floor and screamed.  After a few minutes of calming him down, I learned he wanted "just apple" juice, not apple with stuff in it.
Later on, we got to nap time.  After listening to the cacophony of sisters talking and jumping in their beds for a little while, I went upstairs to change diapers.  Sister number one: check.  Sister number two: check.  Sister number one then told me that she peed again.  Sister number one again: check.

While trying to listen to a six year old who can't quite master the "ll" sound at the end of "hill" and "bill" get frustrated with reading, I scrambled to find another activity for the four year old that would keep him quiet.  I gave him a workbook page to color.  He fought with his sister over the markers, and then had a meltdown because he wanted to do the things his big brother was doing.
These are fairly everyday scenes for us.  Whether they're tired, or angry, or frustrated, my little people don't have complete control over their emotions.  Which means I'm supposed to have control of mine, so I can teach them.

I'm learning that I'm still far from a pro at most of this parenting stuff.  I practice patience as best as I can, but inside (and occasionally outside) I'm rolling my eyes at the back of the six year old's head as he reads.  I'm hugging the four year old and inwardly shaking my head that he wants things he can't have.  I'm sighing at changing another diaper.  I've perfected the deep sigh to the point that my husband sometimes mimics me, and it's kind of funny from the other side.

And I'm guiltily looking in the mirror realizing that I too get frustrated with things I'm not good at.  I too want things that I can't have and get upset when I can't have them.  I too want someone I love to take care of me, even if it's not the most convenient part of their day.

Even as an adult, I still have a lot to learn.  So I guess the kids and I will learn together.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekly Goals: November 15-21

Lately I've been making lots of goodies in the kitchen.  Above are the granola bars, and below is the cookie granola, both mentioned below.

Last Week's Goals:
  • KonMari the papers. I started going through the magazines (pictured below).  I'll probably post on this either later this week or early next week.
  • Try a new granola recipe and a new granola bar recipe.  Done! The granola bars were a hit.  The granola was just okay. I  think we're all too used to our regular granola.  But I did use up the canister of raisins we've had for forever, so that's something.
  • Read The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig.  Not done.  I decided to just return this one to the library unread in lieu of catching up on a few other things.  I can always get it again.
I might have been a bit behind on my magazines...

This Week's Goals:
  • Finish my KonMari of the papers! I will do it this week!
  • Knit a few dishcloths.  I have some leftover cotton yarn from the last time I made these, and a few of mine have gotten holes and I've had to throw them away.  These only take a couple hours to make, so there's my tv-watching-project for this week.
  • Nail down my Christmas project and shopping list.
Here's a few posts from others that caught my eye this week:

A New Minimalist Economy from Becoming Minimalist.

The Encyclopedia of Chicken Stock from Kitchen Stewardship.

From The Top Of The Proverbial Hill from The Art of Simple.

I'm also loving listening to Sarah Mackenzie from Amongst Lovely Things on Periscope.  She's been doing once a week longer scopes on homeschooling based on her book Teaching From Rest, which I really want to get my hands on soon.  (Thanks Sarah for suggesting her!)