Monday, April 30, 2012

Taylor's Tea Party

Rosalie was invited to a very special Butterfly Tea Party at Taylor's house. Taylor's grandmother was visiting from out of town and threw a very special little party for the 3 little girls here in our neighborhood. 
Of course, we had to dress up in a beautiful dress to go to this special party!

What little girl wouldn't get excited about a tea party?
I am so thankful for my neighbor, Alison, who took these wonderful pictures! Here are the 3 girls, all dressed up!

I love the expressions on their faces!

What a dainty little sip from the little tea cup!

What a sweet  little party that Taylor's grandmother put together for these precious girls! It was so special and fun for the girls!
We are so blessed to have such wonderful neighbors!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Setting the toads free and making a new habitat

This was taken after the toads/frogs (still don't know exactly what they are) had beached and for some reason they were standing on their hind legs ... so funny to watch!

Rich, Martin, and Aaron set off to the pond behind our neighborhood to set 6 of them free.

We kept 2 of them. We made a new habitat for them with mulch, a few rocks, a little forest, and a small pond. (the green lid in the center is for food)

Here are the two that we kept

This is one of them getting ready to take a little swim or soak.
I have been on a bit of a blogging break for the last couple weeks, so these pictures were actually taken quite some time ago. Since that time, one of the frogs died. We still have one left (who we call Joe), and he seems to be thriving. The boys go out every few days and catch beetles and roly poly bugs to put in the container with him. We also bought a container of earthworms and we put an earthworm in the habitat with him every few days. We are having so much fun watching it grow!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Great blog post on homeschooling!

I came upon this blog post and really enjoyed it. For all of my homeschooling friends - those who are just beginning, those who are veterans, and those who are somewhere in between ... it really is a realistic view of homeschooling. 
Let me know your thoughts on it after you read it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to safely remove a tick

It's tick season! My boys have already had to have several ticks removed this season and I know there is more to come. I came across this useful post, How to Safely Remove a Tick ... and thought I would share it with all my Mom friends. Tea Tree oil is not hard to find. In fact, I've seen it at Target before. It's super useful to have on hand ... and here is one more important use for it.

How many ticks have you had to remove already this year?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Abiding in Christ

This is a topic I have been spending a lot of time thinking about.
John 15:1-4
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a]and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

This passage is incredibly inspiring to me. I have been reading this passage, meditating on it, and thinking about how it looks in my own life. At first glance, I am amazed that I have a Father that is the vinedresser! He takes away the branches that do not bear fruit. He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so that it may bear more! He loves me, He wants me to bear fruit, and is personally involved in my life! He has made me clean! So, what is my responsibility in all of this? It's simple, right? Abide in Me. 

What does that look like in my life? What does it look like to Abide in Him? For me, abiding in Christ is spending time in His Word and specifically praying the Scriptures. I have found that when I am not spending time in His Word, that I am clearly not bearing fruit. I am impatient, forever frustrated, lacking gentleness, faithfulness and self control. (and so on and so on)
When I am spending intentional time with the Lord, I am equipped to handle whatever comes my way. My children are far more likely to accept loving correction from me when I am bearing fruit. There is no question that my life is rich and rewarding, peaceful and joyful when I am abiding in Him. More importantly, though, my children have a living testimony in me of how to live a rich and rewarding, peaceful and joyful life.
It's so easy to allow life to become an overwhelming mess that is so out of control that there is little hope left. The answer to that is to abide in Him. It may seem overwhelming even to get back to that place of abiding if you've not been there in awhile.  God has made that easy for us by giving us the Bible, so that we have a clear life manuel to follow. We have the complete and perfect Word of God that gives us clear life instructions.

I recently asked my 7 year old and almost 10 year old an important question.
"In what area do you struggle with sin?"
Martin said, "self control!" (without hesitation)
Aaron said, "contentment!" (again without hesitation)
I was amazed at how quickly they were able to identify areas of struggle ... without any leading and suggesting from me!
So, I was able to give them specific scriptures to pray so that they can overcome that sin in their life and giving them instruction on how to abide in Christ. (so they know that the answers to any area of struggle is in Christ)

We will always be in a state of overcoming sin in our lives. Spending time with the Lord, praying, having true fellowship and accountability with other believers is what helps in the lifelong pursuit of abiding in Christ. (yes, telling other believers  about sin in your own life...telling others that you do not lead a perfect life ... that there are areas in your life that you need help with and prayer for) We need each other. My children need me to disciple them, teach them what it looks like to abide in Christ, and I need fellow believers to pray for, love, disciple, and experience community with on this journey of abiding in Christ.

In what areas do you struggle? How can I pray for you?

Friday, April 13, 2012

What happens when Mom gets sick?

I don't know why it's been such a surprise to me that we've had so many sicknesses this year. After all, I do have 4 children. Children do tend to get sick a lot. In the past 5 years, though, we've hardly had more than a runny nose! In the past 2 months, however, we've had colds, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, coughs, and what I believe was strep. 
It really caused me to become unglued. There is no doubt that I am a worrier. I realized just how much a worrier I am when my children kept getting sick. At one point, I spent a couple of days with a terribly sick stomach - just from anxiety. I had a hard time catching my breath. Wow. Ever heard of casting your cares upon Him? That would have been a good time for me to do that!
Although I didn't get any of the colds, coughs, or conjunctivitis while it was going on ... I did lose a ton of sleep. I was up throughout the night lots with Jonathan and Rosalie and some nights just couldn't sleep because I was listening for them. Eventually everyone returned to good health and I started sleeping again. 
A couple weeks go by, and everyone was well. I developed a scratchy throat ... didn't seem like a big deal, in fact I thought that it might be allergies. (although, spring allergies are not typical for me) Another day goes by and a fever sets in, by late that night I was having difficulty swallowing without much pain. The feeling was all too familiar for me. As a child, I suffered from strep several times a year until I was 21 years old and finally had my tonsils removed. I never got strep again after that. (which on the surface might seem great ... but even still ... removing tonsils is not a good idea, and I would not do it over again if given the chance ... it's a whole other blog topic)
Let me be clear  - I cannot say with 100% accuracy that I had strep throat last week. I never went to the doctor. However, I had all the classic symptoms. I had the headache, fever, white patches in the back of my throat, and a throat so sore, that I wanted to cry just in anticipation of swallowing. 
So, I managed to make it through every other illness the children have brought home this season ... but I ended up with what I believe was strep. My first thought was panic ... because the last thing I wanted was for my children to get it too. I know that I can handle the pain, but I didn't want my children to have to go through it. 
Thankfully, my children have not come down with strep. A day after my sore throat started, Jonathan and Rosalie started getting sick. For Rosalie, it was only a mild cold, and not a big deal at all. Jonathan also had a cold, but it wasn't mild at all. He spent one night with croup and subsequent nights coughing the entire night. So, while this Mom was sick, I was also up several times a night taking care of him. 
Laundry still has to get done.
Meals still have to get cooked.
Bathrooms still need to be cleaned.
Floors still need to be swept.
Dishes still need to be washed.
And I must admit that I have the inability to keep still. Even when I am sick I am constantly finding things to do. I do everything in my power to make my children be still and rest when they are sick, but for some reason can't seem to take my own advice. Even still, some of the normal things didn't get done while I was sick, and thankfully, Rich picked up much of my slack over the week. Now, we are all on the mend. The children had to miss the end of the year Awana celebration. They were sad about it, but we made up for it by having our own rewards and celebration for them on Thursday night. 

About my sore throat ... It took about 7 days to run it's course. I am feeling so much better now. Jonathan is doing much better too. I am thinking about writing some blog posts in the future about how to handle specific illnesses naturally. I have been on the "natural" bandwagon for many years now ... and I have noticed that more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of mainstream medicines that are significantly overused. I am still learning myself, and have lots of sources including a friend. (who knows much more that I do on the topic of natural health) If I can ever get organized enough, I am thinking about starting a once a week post on natural health topics. I might even try to convince my friend to write some guest posts on the topic.

Have a great Friday ... and a happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's creature catching season again!

This lizard was not actually caught! They were looking for lizards in the woodpile and this rather large one climbed up on Martin and traveled all the way up to his sleeve! 
My 2 older boys have spent hours outside lately looking for lizards and toads to catch. Martin is extremely tender when it comes to these little creatures, and gets very upset when they aren't treated properly. 

There is never a shortage for wildlife around here ... there is always a lesson in nature to be learned each time they go out!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

All of the frogs/toads have beached!

 The metamorphosis has been an amazing thing for all of us to observe. We started with 8 tadpoles ... then caught another one a couple weeks into the project. So, we had 9 total. Now we have 8 frogs or toads. (not really sure yet what they are) The last one that we caught died before it beached. Those are pretty good odds, though. One of the reasons we caught so many was because I really didn't think they would live. I thought that out of 8 tadpoles, that we would at least get one that made it to frog/toad. 

They seem very comfortable in the habitat we have provided ... but the longer we keep them the less they will be able to survive out in the wild. So, last night Rich, Martin, and Aaron took 6 of them to their new home out by a pond in the woods.  We kept two of them so that we can continue observing their growth. The big debate now is what to name them! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

The night before Resurrection Sunday ... the crown is full of thorns that represent our sins that Jesus bore.
Bright and early on Resurrection Sunday, the children woke up to the "crown" wrapped in soft royal purple cloth. The thorns were gone. We have really enjoyed our Journey of Lent and the 40 days of anticipation!

"Mommy, what happened to the toothpicks? Why are they gone?"

So, I asked them ... what did the thorns (toothpicks) in the crown represent? My 2 older ones were easily able to answer ... our sins. I asked them what did Jesus' death and resurrection mean about our sin? It meant that Jesus took all of our sins on Himself and paid the price for our sin!
The younger ones are still trying to grasp it, but the older two understood completely.

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and while resurrection day is traditionally the day to celebrate the resurrection, my prayer for my family is that we will celebrate what Jesus did each and every day.

Please take the time to read, An Empty Tomb, written by my husband.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday

Many days ago we began our journey of lent. There are 6 in our family. Obviously over the course of 40 days ... we have sinned more than the "thorns" in the "crown" represent. We have thoroughly enjoyed reading the scriptures each night at our dinner table that have been leading us to the cross and even more importantly the ressurection. I have observed my children thoughtfully placing thorns in the crown and recalling the ways that they have fallen short. While this is only a "season", my prayer is that they will take this activity with them throughout the year and continue to be thoughtful on how they sin ... and even more so that they will have repentant hearts.

My husband has written a thoughtful post on his blog, Befriending Wisdom.

Maundy Thursday

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our Family Science Project

You can see that in the picture above the tail of this frog has not yet been absorbed. It still has a way to go. We now have 4 frogs on the beach and 5 still in the water. 3 of the 5 in the water now have both arms and legs, so it is just a matter of time before they will be up on the beach as well.

We all got excited this morning when this little guy made his way to the top of this leaf.  So exciting to watch! You may have noticed that the tail on this one has been absorbed, so it's just about time to let it go. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Taking Summer Vacation in the Spring and Fall.

I recently decided to change things up a bit with our school schedule. After all ... that is part of the beauty of homeschooling. I am changing to a year around schedule instead of a traditional 9 month school year with a long summer break.
Summer is pretty hot and miserable here in NC, and I feel more cooped up in the summer than any other time. The children will go outside for about 5 minutes, only to come inside, plop down on the couch and say it's just too hot to be outside.
So, why not do school on those hot and miserable days?
So, my plan ... although not completely mapped out, is to take long breaks in the Spring and Fall, when the weather is beautiful. We'll still have a break here and there in the summer time, but we are going to look forward to our longer breaks being during the months of the year that we want to spend the whole day outside.
Since I am very traditionally minded ... and have a hard time doing things out of the ordinary ... I have to claim this as our new ordinary. I do know that it will suit us (definitely me) better and thankfully we have the flexibility to make our year go the way that we want it to go. 

What kind of schedule do you keep for homeschooling? If you don't homeschool ... what kind of schedule do you have ... or even better what kind of schedule do you wish that you could have?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring at the Zoo!

Last week, on the most beautiful day of the entire week ... we took a trip to the zoo. 

The zoo never gets old ... it's exciting each time we go!

There are always statues of animals and rocks to climb on ...

... fun and informative videos to watch

helicopters to climb into ... 

... and giant cracked eggs to climb into for a photo shoot!
We love the zoo. If it were only a little closer we'd go more often!