“Sticky Candy Weekend”

“Sticky Candy Weekend”

This past weekend was one of those rare times when almost all of our kids were home.  With more than half of them all grown up and living in different cities, we don’t get to see them all together anymore.  On Friday night we had a bunch of friends over for burgers.  It was a delightful way to start the weekend!  Then on Saturday eight of the nine kids were here and we spent most of our time just hanging out and eating.

In preparation for the weekend, I went to Costco last Tuesday to load up on groceries.  I got stuff to make burgers, fancy sandwiches, big breakfasts and snacks.  One of the snacks I decided to get was an enormous bag of candy that’s meant for handing out on Halloween.  It had tiny chocolate bars, Gobstoppers and little cardboard boxes of Nerds inside.  These seemed perfect for putting in a big bowl on the c 2offee table so everyone could just grab a piece when they felt like it.

The one hitch in my idea was that the day I bought the candy it was 100° outside.  Since I was running other errands I decided to put the big bag of candy in the cooler with ice so the chocolate wouldn’t melt.  I was so proud of my decision until I got home that night to discover that the ice had mostly melted and had seeped into the big bag.  I took it out of the cooler, cut open the top and drained the big bag of pink water.

“Why is the water pink?” I wondered as I dumped the tiny wrapped candies onto a towel that I had laid out on the kitchen counter.  After investigating, I saw that about 15 boxes of Nerds had gotten wet and dissolved in the water.  Oh well….I just threw those away, left the rest of the candy on the towel to dry overnight and didn’t give it another thought.  I mean, who worries about tiny wet candy?

But this seemingly insignificant detail turned out to be a central problem all weekend.  All of the little bitty candy bars, I found the next day when I picked them up to put them in a bowl, were so sticky that every time anyone ate a piece of candy they had to go wash their hands.  Also, some of the chocolate bars had a weird cherry flavor to them (even though, as far as I could tell, no water got inside of the individual packages).  It became the joke of the weekend, whether or not it was worth the effort to eat a piece of the sticky, icky candy.

But they all braved the  stickiness and ate whle we played games and talked all day.

Our favorite game lately is called Heads Up.  It’s an app that is kinda like charades but easier and funnier.  You hold the phone up to your forehead and try to guess what the screen says.  My family is particularly good at the Super Heroes and Villains category.  Everyone but me that is.  I don’t know any of those answers unless it is Batman, Superman or Spider-Man.  And even those would take me way too long to figure out.  I’ll be staring at 10 people all yelling at me at once with clues about capes or sidekicks and I don’t know the difference!  Then the timer buzzes the end of my turn and they look at me like they feel sorry for me because I don’t know Batman’s true identity or how Superman got his powers.

It’s fun because we don’t really keep score, we just take turns and enjoy the process.  There’s too much laughing to worry with writing down points.  And besides, our fingers were too sticky from eating candy from the bowl.

By Sunday afternoon everyone was gone or doing their own thing and I was so worn out from 3 days of family and friends (plus a church service that knocked my socks off and challenged my spirit), that I wanted to sleep from 2-6:00.  So I stopped by Redbox on my way home from church and rented myself an afternoon nap.  When I got home (we were in separate cars) I tossed the movie to the kids and said, “Boys, the house is clean, there is plenty of leftover food and sticky candy, we’ve had a nice weekend together and Mom is tired.  Here’s a movie.  Eat what you want and watch it twice.”

And I slept.  I barely woke up to eat a bit of dinner and went back to bed.

And if my family time and long nap weren’t enough of a blessing, I woke up Monday morning to rain and cool weather.  I am a huge fan of dark, gloomy, cool weather.  It feeds my soul.

I learned several lessons over the weekend.  1. Don’t put candy in a cooler of ice on a hot day 2. I don’t know enough about superheroes to play that category in Heads Up and 3. Redbox is like magic.

Have a good one!

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

confessions01

I wanted to share some extra love and encouragement for all you moms out there who are trying to get used to the fall schedule changes.  Whether you homeschool or send your kids to school, it’s hard to adjust!  If you’re hanging by a thread, you’re not alone!

My plan was to get back to school this week, homeschool that is.  I have been going through curricula, setting up schedules and stocking up on supplies for weeks.  I woke up early Monday morning, exercised (which I haven’t done faithfully all summer), woke up the boys like a town crier and got breakfast ready.  “Wake up boys!  Time to wake up!  It’s 7:30!  Rise and shine!!!’  They moaned and groaned and rolled out of bed with their eyes closed.  But no amount of groaning was going to persuade me to let them go back to bed.  I planned to start school precisely at 9:am with real clothes on and the chores done.

Yep.  I’m a dreamer.

One thing I knew after 20+ years of homeschooling was that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing.  There has not been a school launch week yet that has gone exactly as I had planned.  No matter how much prep work I’d done there were going to be bumps in the road.  And this year has been no different.  Lots and lots of bumps.  Some of the bumps felt more like Mt Everest on top of Old Smokey.

By 8:00 on the first morning we had already gotten off course.  There were some kid character issues and slow-pokiness to deal with.  Then we moved on to dog poop in the hallway, a dead rodent in my bathroom, cleaning out lockers (which they were supposed to have done the week before) that took 2 hours and a friend with a minor emergency that needed help.  We got very little school done, not only because of the constant issues, but half of the books I ordered had not arrived yet.  By 10:pm that first night I collapsed into bed and wondered if I would ever get my groove back.

But then I remembered something….something that made all the difference.  And after that I fell asleep with hope for the future.

  1. The early morning character issues exposed a problem I hadn’t known about.  We dealt with it, made a plan, and I can tell it really lifted a burden for one of our boys.
  2. The hallway carpet got scrubbed and vacuumed, something I’d been wanting to do but not finding the time.
  3. The dead rodent, well the only good thing about that is that it was dead.
  4. Since we cleaned out the lockers during school hours I did the job with them (last week they would have done it on their own) and we had a really nice time looking at all of their old projects and talking about all we learned last year as we tossed out the papers.  It helped us all feel a sense of excitement for the new year.
  5. I took one of my boys along with me to help my friend and that was a sweet time spent together that we rarely get.
  6. Since we are waiting for some books, we pulled out a few maps and pencils and did some really fun geography that everyone enjoyed.  They’re still working on the maps just for fun.

There’s always something good about any day.  Hidden opportunities and unexpected blessings.  Even a dead mouse can bring joy when you see your son coming to your rescue.  The kids know I hate it so they bravely do the dirty work.

Day 2 had its own share of challenges including a trip to take my oldest son to rent a car that became the Gilligan’s Island of projects.  What was supposed to take 30 minutes took 6 hours and I barely made it to a dinner meeting I had.  I walked out the door at 11:00 that morning to drop him at the car rental place, calling out behind me, “Get those assignments done boys and I’ll be back in half an hour to do the next lesson!”  I didn’t get home until 9:30 that night.

I understood how Gilligan’s family must have felt.  3-hour tour my eye.

What was good about that?  Well I got to spend a gob-ton of time with my oldest son and quietly watch him handle some very rude and dishonest people at the car rental place.  He was MUCH nicer than I would have been.

The next day, Wednesday, I got up an extra 15 minutes early to add to my prayer time.  I thought I needed it or we would never get school done.  I normally have my prayer while I exercise, but I went for a bit extra since it had been such a hard week.  After prayer and a little time on the treadmill, I had a few emails to answer so I didn’t come out of my bedroom until 8:15.  I expected another rough start since I hadn’t done my town crier routine, but what I found was amazing!  My 4 boys were all fed, dressed, chores done and doing their school work.  Say WHAT?!

I nearly cried.

OK I did cry a little.  Boys love that.

I went around to each of them and hugged them and thanked them for being so responsible then we went over their assignments for the day.  Really….I was kind of amazed and thanked God for this miracle.  I don’t expect it to happen every day, but it sure was nice and I will pack it away in my memory for the other days that don’t go as smoothly.

I can already picture us 15 years from now sitting around the Christmas dinner table laughing and talking about old times, them with their families and me soaking in all the togetherness when one of them smiles and says, “Hey, remember that time we all did our school work and chores without being asked?”  And I’ll tear up and hug them again.  Then I’ll hug their wives and their kids just for being there.

Yes.  It was that nice of a morning.

So maybe Lisa will get her groove back after all.  If not, that’s OK too.  When you ask me what I learned from this rough start to the new schedule, I will say that I learned how good God is to use all of the problems and turn them into blessings.  I know for sure that every day will be filled with richness, even if I don’t recognize it right away.

How’ve your first few weeks of the new season been?  Hop over to Facebook and tell me all about it!

First Day of School Happiness

First Day of School Happiness

I am so happy to be back to normal life this morning!  We are starting school today and after a full month of doing nothing but entertaining ourselves and not cleaning the house, I am ready.

A week ago we were in Florida running around at Universal Studios, then came straight home to a houseful of company.  Before we left for Universal I tried to get it all clean so when we got home the guest beds would be ready and all I’d have to do is wipe off the bathroom mirrors and go to the grocery store.  But somehow that theory never actually works and there seemed to be more work than we could do to get ready for our weekend.

We spent last Wednesday putting away our suitcases and scrubbing the bathrooms and restocking the pantry.  I think the washer and dryer ran all day and night so we would be ready for our friends to come and stay for the weekend.  I also knew a little secret, which was that our oldest daughter was going to come down and surprise everyone.  So I had to discreetly have a bed ready for her too.  It wasn’t easy….I am not good at that kind of sneakiness.

I can barely get Christmas presents into the house without being discovered.  I try to do little surprises for the kids all the time, like buy their favorite drink to surprise them with for Friday movies only to find them sipping on them one afternoon because they found them in the back of the fridge.  Or I get up really early to make a special breakfast and wake people up with my clanging around in the kitchen.  So last Wednesday when my boys kept asking me why I needed extra sheets I got panicked and almost blew the secret about a dozen times.

The main reason we had so much company was because there was a conference happening here in our little town and we offered our house as a place to stay for some families.  So we were piled up and overflowing and I loved it.

I attended the conference as much as I could, but I had to do some catching up on work at home so I kept slipping back and trying to get some work done.  There are definitely disadvantages to having the event in our own town.  I ended up only being there about half the time.  But even with only hearing some of the talks at the conference I was really uplifted and encouraged.  There’s really nothing like being around other like-minded Christians to fill your tank.

One session was about being content with what God has given you and it was especially encouraging to me.  It was not only a great message, but the speaker was a young man who is a close friend of my son and that made it even sweeter.  To see these boys grow up and develop wisdom from their personal relationship with the Lord melts my heart.  The message of trusting God and understanding His sovereignty washed over me and I was so thankful for the words.  One thing the speaker said that I wrote in my notes was, “The world tells us that to be content we must get away from what makes us uncomfortable.  But Paul clearly teaches us that we must be content with wherever we are.”  Good stuff.

It was just what I needed as I move from the carefree times of the summer into full time school with my boys.  It won’t be easy to get us all up at the crack of dawn and stick to our school year schedule.  We kinda like sleeping late and not cleaning the house and going to theme parks.

So now we are back to our fall schedule and daily routine of school in the mornings and I will do my personal work in the afternoons which includes grading papers for the next day.  Having homeschooled for over 20 years, I know that I have to keep up with grading their work every day or I fall so far behind that I can’t catch up.  It’s like laundry.  Miss a couple of days and you have an overwhelming mountain to deal with.

I won’t be taking any of those “first day of school” pictures though.  It’s just not my thing and I tell you that in case you didn’t do it either and you’re feeling guilty.  Let it go, my friend.  Life’s too short to sweat that stuff.  Do what you can and release the rest to the list of things you didn’t really need anyway.

Have a great week!

Be sure you’re following me on Facebook!  🙂

A Universally Good Time!

A Universally Good Time!

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you as overwhelmed as I am by all of the activity surrounding this time of year?  School starting, summer ending, new afternoon and evening schedules and so many new things popping up on the calendar!

We took our end of summer trip to Universal Studios last week and I have been home for about 24 hours.  The suitcases are half unpacked and the laundry is half done and I am half asleep.  I took 2 naps yesterday between straightening and chatting with my kids and today I have a gob-ton of stuff to do because we have company coming for the weekend.

Our trip to Universal Studios was amazing.  I can’t imagine how it could have been any better.  We took VIP tours of the parks, getting all kinds of education on how things were done behind the scenes (I love that stuff!).  We spent an afternoon in a lazy river and ate at some incredible restaurants.  I mean the best food you ever ate kind of food.

a great family fun time at Universal Studios!

I did make one mistake that cost me $44.95 + $12 + tax.  I only took one pair of shoes.  I know, it is completely against my character not to have at least 3 pair with me at all times and I have learned my lesson.  But I was traveling with an airline that has very limited luggage guidelines and I had to keep it as light as possible.  My Oofos (which you can read more about HERE) served me well on my last 2 trips to Orlando with all of the walking so I decided to just take one pair and wear it the whole time.

But then I got a bug bite on the top of my right foot where the strap goes.  Even though I had my essential oils and they helped the bite not itch or bother me, they couldn’t move the bite to another location and the strap rubbed on it until it turned into a blister.  And suddenly what had been a comfortable pair of shoes became a torture device.  No amount of bandaids or medical gauze would help because everything I taped to the spot kept falling off in less than 5 minutes.  I went through an entire $8.50 box of hotel bandaids in under an hour.

At that point I realized I would need to either buy a new pair of shoes or rent a scooter and ride around all day.  I opted for the shoes.  So I went into a gift shop and bought myself a pair of Crocs that I don’t need because I have a pair of Crocs at home that I rarely wear.  I got a “guy” color so that I could give them to one of my boys after the trip.

I also bought myself a $12 pair of socks because I was worried that the crocs would rub the blister and I’d need a barrier.  I also thought the socks would help the bandaid stay on.  And it worked.  I looked like a dork-mom, but my foot was fine after that.  Believe me, if I could have worn the sock with my Oofos I would have.  But I tried it and the shoes kept falling off because the thong-toe-thingy kept fighting with the socks.

And now boys and girls, here’s the lesson from this experience: Always have 2 different pair of shoes when you travel.

If I had taken my Otz I could have saved money and kept my feet from hurting today.  I will be in extreme arch support shoes for weeks trying to recover from the lack of arch support in my new pair of Crocs.

But since that was really the only problem we had the entire time, it was nothing.  A speck on the globe of amazement and fun.

There were 6 of us on the trip, so after the first day we divided into 2 groups of 3 so we could have some quality time together and the boys could do more of what they each wanted.  I loved that because it gave me time to chat with each guy (I was the only girl) and do exactly whatever they wanted without juggling so many other ideas.  If you have a large family, take it from me…..do things alone with 1-2 kids at a time.  It’s the best!

a great family fun time at Universal Studios with Honey Bunches of Oats!

One day I spent time riding the less intense rides with these 2 boys and exploring the Jurassic Park discovery zone.

There are plenty of fun photo ops at Universal Studios!

And another day I snuck over to Disney with these two and we had a great time, despite the rain! (in fact, the rain made it less crowded so we didn’t mind at all)

A little rain means lighter crowds!

Once we got home it was back to reality and getting the house ready for friends to come stay with us this weekend.  I’m looking forward to the fellowship, but if I don’t get to the grocery store this morning my friends will starve.  We ate up everything before we left and there is nothing but scraps in the pantry.

I am also getting the school books out and going through them to get our new school schedule ironed out before we start next Monday.  It doesn’t matter that I have been homeschooling for over 20 years…..there’s always something new to figure out.

Here’s to new seasons and normal schedules!  Have a great weekend.

The Last Adventure of the Summer

The Last Adventure of the Summer

While everyone else is going back to school we are on a trip once more, heading to Florida for our big family adventure.  Six of us are going for some serious Harry Potter discoveries and riding some crazy coasters.  I can’t wait to experience the Rip Ride Rockit.  I didn’t get to ride it last year because no one was with me to watch the boys who didn’t want to ride it, so I hung back while my older kids rode.  This year my hubs (aka: roller coaster hater) will be with us so I can coaster to my heart’s content.

The boys are so excited about this trip that it’s been non-stop Universal talk for weeks.  Since April we have had a countdown display on the school white board and every morning they change the number.  When it got to single digits they started hopping around the house like little minions.  We have been watching YouTube videos of the rides at Universal in preparation for our trip.  This one is our favorite (warning: there’s one bad word).

I spent the past weekend getting the house clean and food prepped.  I don’t want to come home to a messy house because I know I will be exhausted after this grand adventure.  Plus we are having a houseful of company only 3 days after we get home so we are trying to get the extra beds ready and floors swept.  The sweet things in life are simply endless.  I am so blessed with travel and a home and friends to share it all with!

Today we are packing.  I have a whole list of what we will be taking in my Mom’s Guide to Universal.  Since I am trying to keep the costs as low cost as possible, we are trying to pack in small duffle bags instead of suitcases so we don’t have the extra charge of checking a bag.  It’s a challenge!  But by golly we are going to make it happen if it means wearing the same clothes for 6 days in a row.  Mama can rinse and dry in the hotel bathroom if necessary.  😉

Pack light and just wash the clothes at your hotel.

I have also been trying to get all of the ipods and ipads ready.  Apparently they all need new games and movies before we go.  I remember when our entertainment on trips was my dad calling out what to look for out the station wagon window and the first to see it got a nickel.  I’m pretty sure he had us looking for mountains in the desert just to keep us quiet.  But now they’ve got all kinds of entertainment and earbuds and self-contained activities and frankly, I am fine with that.  Saves me some nickels.  And my sanity.

Speaking of packing, I have learned the art of the roll.  I can’t believe how much space it saves in the suitcase when you roll your clothes.  I’m sure there’s some complicated math out there to explain it, but I am just rolling and accepting it.  No reason to fill my brain with math when there’s important stuff like where the Pokestops are or which oils to carry around with me at the park.

We will also see the BlueMan Group while we are there.  Last year we went to their show and, if I am being totally honest, I thought it was kind of dumb.  My daughter and I kept looking at each other and rolling our eyes.  But then we would look down the row and the 3 boys who were with us were laughing so hard I thought they would bust a gut.  It’s definitely a Three Stooges kind of humor.  There’s a dividing line in our house between who thinks the stooges are funny and who doesn’t.  I think the BlueMan Group will cause that same division.  So I will go to their show again for the sake of seeing my boys laugh so hard they nearly fall out of their seats.  In fact, I may just watch my guys instead of the blue guys.

travel-02

So that’s what’s going on here.  School starts the day after we return, so we plan to enjoy every last second of not doing any book work.  I am gonna need a countdown on the board to the next time I get to take a long, hard nap.  And it better not be a double digit number.

Have a great week!!!

<3

If you liked this you will also like A Mom’s Guide to Universal, part 2 and 10 Ways to Lighten a Traveler’s Load.

10 Encouraging Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

10 Encouraging Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

As you may know, we homeschool our kids.  Yep, all 9 of ’em.  They have never been to any kind of traditional school and at this point 5 of them are homeschool graduates.  Currently I have 4 kids still  homeschooling….all boys.

As you can imagine, it’s not easy to homeschool.  But the hard part isn’t getting information in their brain.  They’re naturally curious and smart and desire to learn (OK, they don’t always desire to learn what you’re trying to teach but they are natural learners).  The hard part is figuring out consequences for poorly done work, creating an environment where they can concentrate, being available to teach lessons while trying to get meals on the table, working out schedules and extra activities, discipline.  The hard part is getting other people to understand that you can’t just drop everything and talk on the phone or go out.  School is work and it requires sticking to a schedule just like anything else.

But the benefits….oh my word it would be impossible for me to list them all.  Besides the amazing, focused education the kids get, there’s the relationship that gets built.  They have someone teaching them who loves them completely and is invested in their future.  They get to go at their own pace, so if they want to move faster through the books they can, if they want to learn more about some subjects, they can do that too.  And while there is a schedule, there is also flexibility.  If we decide we want to work at the local food pantry one morning a week, we can build that into the schedule.  Park day, classes outside, a weekly day off, starting at 10am, whatever works best for your family can be arranged.

I have loved homeschooling my kids, and I have hated homeschooling my kids.  Some of mine have learning challenges and some have occasional attitude problems and sometimes I just wake up not sure I can do it that day.  There have been times when we had a difficulty I had no idea how to tackle.  From reading comprehension to lack of interest to time management to cost issues….we have had our share of struggles.

And then there are the beautiful moments that make it all worthwhile.  When you’re sitting there as the curtain pulls back on a child’s mind and they really get it.  They read that first word and you see the world open up to them.  When they fall in love with history or science.  When you figure it out together.  Those moments of heart connection….swoon.  Reading books aloud as a family, watching their “plays” and listening to them practice their instruments for you.  What. A. Blessing.

So homeschooling is the story of the good, the bad and the beautiful.  Some days are successes and others are dismal failures.  You learn to get up the next day, put your armor on and try it again.  You see the progress you have made and cling to it like a life raft on the Titanic.

hs-pic02

If you’re a homeschooler, here are some tips from this old homeschooling mama to you:

  1. Let go of the opinions of others.  Nothing will help you more than to release yourself from feeling the weight of the words of others.  The mother-in-law who shows a lack of confidence in your homeschooling or the neighbor who constantly “quizzes” your kids are no help to your very important task.  Not everyone will understand or support you.  OK.  Move on.  Find a support system in others and let the nay-saying go.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschoolers.  Not all homeschoolers look alike.  Some moms are teaching their kids Latin and taking them to the state senate chambers to learn how government work while you’re barely out of your pajamas hoping they get half of their math pages done before dinner.  It’s different for everyone.  Don’t let what other moms are doing set you back and put a guilt trip on you.  You are on your own path and that’s what your kids need.
  3. RELAX.  My number one tip to any homeschool mom who asks for my advice is to relax.  You can’t possibly offer your kids everything that traditional schools offer….you don’t have the time or resources.  You don’t need to rush anything or pressure your child to keep up with someone else’s system.  Enjoy your days together!  Moms who try to do too much end up burning out and feeling guilty. There’s no reason to do that to yourself!
  4. Go at your own pace.  This isn’t a race.  There’s no prize for finishing your books by May or getting it done early.  When you make your plans be sure to consider what your family needs.  Is there a new baby coming?  Maybe plan a month off for that time.  Do you love Christmas?  Take an extra week to enjoy it.  Take a vacation in the middle of the school year (one of the fantastic perks of homeschooling!) or take Fridays off.  Who cares if you are still finishing up school work in July?  Who says summer should have no schoolwork?  We always do school in the summer.  It works for us.
  5. Enjoy it! This time with your kids is about so much more than learning math or memorizing geography.  This is being together, building character, living life and becoming who we are all supposed to be!  I learn as much as my kids do most days.  Do you like to be outside?  Go out there and have school lessons!  Are you on the road a lot….make fun ways to do school in the car.  Laugh and slow down and take rabbit trails and be creative.  We have had school on the top of Enchanted Rock and at the bottom of an empty creek bed.  Don’t limit yourself and enjoy this time!!!
  6. Be realistic.  Some days you simply won’t get everything done that you hoped.  This is true for everyone, of course, but it feels so daunting when you fall off the plans in homeschool.  Moms say to me all the time, “We are so far behind!”  I always ask, “Behind WHAT?!”  Why do you feel pressure to keep up with an arbitrary schedule?  Expand it to fit your needs, adjust it to work for you, tweak it to fit your lifestyle.  The rush is imaginary and we let it drag us along for no good reason.  If you can’t keep up…..change the plan!  Be honest with yourself about what you can really do.
  7. Don’t try to be SuperMom.  She doesn’t exist.  Your friends on Instagram….they’re not showing you the tantrums and messes.  We all have them.  It’s when we put pressure on ourselves to perform at some crazy level that we start to crash.  You can’t teach all day, make gourmet meals, keep a beautifully clean, Pinterest worthy house and keep up with violin/piano/karate/dance/speech&debate, the list goes on.  Here’s a word of wisdom for you:  Just do what you can do.  Deep, huh?
  8. Ask for help.  If you’re struggling….please tell someone!  This is hard stuff and your struggles are normal.  Your friends care about you and want to be there for you.  I’m not talking about complaining….I’m talking about being honest.  I once had a problem that I could not figure out how to solve.  My son, who was 7 at the time, could not add tens but he could add dimes.  I mean it nearly drove me up the wall and out the door.  I would sit down to do math with him and no matter how many times we went over it he could not add ten to anything. “Son,” I would say ever-so-sweetly, “What is 5 + 10?”  He didn’t know.  Blank stare.  “OK,” I said starting to sweat, “What is 5¢ + 10¢?” He would answer, “That’s easy….15¢”  WHY COULDN’T HE ADD THE TENS!????  One day I told a friend my problem.  I cried on the phone and poured out my inadequacy to her.  She listened and then told me, “Lisa, he will get it.  Just drop it for a while and come back to it later.  This is nothing to worry about.”  This mom had older kids and I respected her so I just did what she said.  And the problem was gone.  When we picked that back up in a month or so he could do it.  I was so glad I reached out to her!  There have been many, many times I shared a homeschool struggle with a friend and got great wisdom.
  9. Be honest.  It doesn’t help anyone if you try to put on a show.  We all need this tip…..just show who you really are and don’t try to prove anything to anyone.  Some days are great, some days are terrible, most days are somewhere in between.  If you’re having too many terrible days, get help.  If you’re having a lot of great days, count your blessings.  You have no one to impress and you aren’t doing yourself any favors if you’re trying to look perfect.
  10. PRAY!  I can’t imagine how I would have done this for so long if I didn’t have a good God to lean on.  He gets me through, gives me fresh ideas, helps me know what each child needs, loves me when I feel like I’m a mess.

I also want to say something very, very important…..so if you read only the end….read this.  Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee anything.  It doesn’t mean you’ll have happy kids, successful kids, brilliant kids, geeky kids, awkward kids, kids who like you or appreciate all you did for them.  There are no promises with kids no matter how hard you work or how much love you pour into them.

hs-pic01

My 5 kids that have graduated are all on different paths…..

-Our oldest daughter is living in Dallas and goes to a fantastic church and is seeing a great guy and they are planning to get married (brace yourself for lots of wedding planning posts coming soon).  She has self published 5 books and if you have a kid who loves sci-fi then you need her books!
-Our oldest son graduated from law school last weekend (WOOHOO!!!) and we are unbelievably proud of him.  He’s on his way to the life he dreamed of.  He is in the process of finishing his own album and you will LOVE it.  He is also in the Young Living business and y’all, he is brilliant with this stuff.  He amazes me every day.
-Our third child is on her own and figuring out how she wants her life to be.  We are thrilled for her and get to see her all the time.  She has developed a really cool writing program for kids that you should check out!!!
-Our fourth child is the one who has been a struggle for us.  She ran away from home and it broke my mom-heart.  There is still much pain and loss involved and it’s a story yet unfinished.  But I can tell you that there is still joy.  If my joy was wrapped up in my kids then I would be lost…..instead it is wrapped up in Christ and His love, mercy and grace.  Even through the pain I am filled with happiness and victory.
-Our youngest graduate is still living at home and doing great.  She has a thriving photography business and she also has a Young Living business.  She goes on mission trips and helps with her siblings.  She’s downright adorable and a blessing to me! (they’re all a blessing of course, no matter what the circumstances!)
-The rest of the kids are still home, in school and I love my days with them.  I know how quickly it passes and don’t waste a minute of it.

So mama, if you’re homeschooling, hang in there.  You’re gonna make it! Your kids will be FINE.

If you really want some encouragement, come to the Summit in Texas and Oklahoma.  It will fill your tank!!!  Go HERE to register!

If you liked this, you will also like my post about how I use essential oils in my homeschooling.

Be sure to get my book, it will give you even more encouragement!

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

Sometimes you're in the mood to just read something light and funny.  This is the blog for you!

There’s a lot going on around here this month.  We have lots of travel, lots of celebrations and lots of effort to stay out of the heat.  Last weekend on my way home from Dallas it was 109° and every time I stepped outside it felt like I was heading onto the surface of the sun.  I don’t remember it being this hot the past few years.  But of course it’s possible that I’ve blocked it out.

In an effort to stay cool I have been equipping myself with cooling gadgets and devices.  I like gadgets and new technology.  I can’t always figure them out, but I still like them.  To prove my gadget inadequacy, you need to hear the little fan story.

I bought a small, pen-sized fan at The Container Store last December.  It was in those stocking stuffer bins that you dig through to see if there’s a good gift for that hard to buy for guy but instead find things you want for yourself.

This fan is barely bigger than the AA battery required to run it and I knew it would be perfect for me to carry in my purse over the summer (and on planes or in church or the backseat of any car ‘cuz I get hot everywhere).  When I got it home I took it out of the box and put a battery in it only to discover that the blade moved backwards and wasn’t blowing, but pulling the air.  “Um, this dumb thing doesn’t work at all,” I thought as I tossed it on the foot of the bed and looked through the garbage for the box so I could return it.  Then my husband came in, saw me with my head in the trash and asked what I was doing.  “I have to return that little fan because it doesn’t work so I am looking for the box,” I murmured. He asked what was wrong with it, I told him and he laughed.  I recognized the tone of his laugh.  It’s the one that says, “Oh Lisa, you really are a cute dingbat.”  So I stood up from my trash search in time to see him take the battery out of the fan, flip it over and put it back in the fan.  “No!,” I rolled my eyes,” It will turn on, it’s just going the wrong way!”  That’s my own tone that says, “You men think you can fix everything but you’re not so smart.”  He grinned like the Grinch and held the little fan up to my face and I felt the breeze….his trick had worked!  The blades were going to right way!!!

He still teases me about that, but in my defense I had never heard that a battery could work in either direction.

I also had an issue once with a portable DVD player in which I got my favorite movie (“You’ve Got Mail”) permanently stuck.  I told my kids, “Sorry you can’t use the DVD player anymore.  It won’t open.  I have tried 1,000 times to get that DVD out.”  That’s when my 5 year old took it, pushed the button on the side and it flipped open.  Oh.  I hadn’t seen that button.

At Disney World last May I bought a cute little Minnie Mouse umbrella that I had a devil of a time opening and closing.  I’d have to press it closed by sandwiching the umbrella between my body and a wall and shove against it.  Then to open it I would have to pull it with all my night.  I kept thinking it seemed unusually hard to open & close.  Then one afternoon while waiting in a covered area for the rain to stop I saw a little girl with the same umbrella.  I was thinking about how it must be impossible for her to open when I watched her pull it out, push the little button and pop it open.  I sent my husband a text, “THIS DUMB UMBRELLA HAS A BUTTON ON IT!! LOL!!!”

And don’t even get me started about the hands free faucets in public restrooms.  I have never in my life been able to make one of them turn on.  I am at the mercy of other ladies in the bathroom who are willing to swipe their hand under for me.

I did figure out how to use my small necklace fan.  It hangs around your neck and blows on your face.  That fan, Sonic ice and my bottle of peppermint oil are my summer BFFs.  I will wear that little necklace fan anywhere and everywhere and I don’t care if it makes me look like a sci-fi creature or that it makes a humming sound.  I NEED it.  (although I have thought of trying to bling it up somehow)

In Dallas also went to a used bookstore which, frankly, I generally stay away from.  As soon as I entered I knew it had been a mistake.  I didn’t even get past the second display in the front of the store before I had an armful of books to purchase.  Did I need these books?  No.  But that’s what happens in used bookstores.

I walked out with $60 worth of used books, but no gadgets.  I at least had the wisdom to avoid that section of the store….even though I really wanted this cool looking booklight that I saw out of the corner of my eye.  I felt certain that I would somehow put the batteries in wrong and never hear the end of it.

Have a great week.  Stay cool!

If you like this post, you will also like How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu and 10 of My Favorite Summer Oils

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

If you're not sure wheteher or not to pick up this latest craze, or how to keep it under control, here are some great tips for you!

Yes, we have gotten into the new craze…Pokémon Go.  Before you throw stones and tell me how it was started with evil intent and Christians shouldn’t be spending time on such terrible things, let me fill you in.

I have been looking for things to do with my 3 youngest boys that don’t involve yard work (which we do a lot of) or home repair (it never ends) or school (being the mom and the teacher has its challenges).  I wanted to do something they would enjoy, but didn’t cost much and we could build memories with.  And since lately I have been seeing this Pokémon game being discussed all over the interwebs, I downloaded the app.  Of course, because I am old I didn’t understand anything about it, I had to ask my 15 year old to look at it with me and that was the end of that.  He took over and his 2 younger brothers gathered around him like moths to a flame.

After we got it set up and started it became obvious that it wasn’t something we could do at home.  Living in the country means no PokeStops or Pokémon to catch.  You have to go where the people are.  You have to be active.  So I suggested we go for a drive and see how it all works.  For the next hour and a half we explored our town and met some interesting young people.  And that’s when I fell in love with the game.

I wasn’t actually playing, I was just driving my boys around as they took turn catching and colleting.  And I had such a fab time with them!  Here’s why I am all for the game and why we will keep playing….

  1. We do it together.  It depends on how you play, but since we were all working off of one phone it became a group activity.  They take turns and help each other find things.  They tell me where to go and when to turn and I enjoy being led by my little men.  They get excited together and we have plans to do it as often as possible.
  2. We explore our town.  The PokeStops are places like monuments, murals, churches and city buildings.  We walk around and learn about our town and places we had never really noticed.  It is such fun to find out more about the place we live!
  3. Historical markers!  Some places we have to go are the local historical Markers.  I told the boys that any marker we stop at to get Pokémon we also have to actually READ the marker and discuss it.  We decided to do some more studying later about some of these incredible historical spots!
  4. Meeting new people.  We meet a lot of new people!  I will chat with other Pokémon players while the boys look for Pokémon and I really enjoy meeting some people I would otherwise never have met.  I don’t care if they are a group of young men drinking beer while playing Pokémon or moms with their kids or teen girls with all colors of hairstyles.  It is such a blessing to interact with them, ask for their advice on playing the game and get to know a little about them.  Everyone has been friendly and I hope I will get to see them again!
  5. Adding a new dimension to our travel.  My boys kept talking about how fun it will be to look for Pokémon when we go to Universal Studios in September.  Or the airport.  Or when visiting their sister in Dallas.  I can see that we will get to explore new things about these places too, things we would never have discovered otherwise.
  6. Believe it or not, exercise!  There’s one part of the game where you get rewards for walking….actually walking (or running would work too, but you can’t drive or ride).  So we are going for walks and talking about life while our steps work in the game.  LOVE!

I know there are bad things about this game.  People getting hurt or being careless.  There is probably some wicked intent with the whole Pokémon thing that I am unaware of and, frankly, not worried about.  I do have some requirements that I added to the game to make it family friendly and as long as we stick to those I think it will be a great way for me to spend time with my boys.

  1. We do it together only.  No one will be going off to play alone and they have to take turns.  Once someone catches a Pokémon and goes to a Poke Stop they hand the phone to the next person.  Their turns can vary in length and style, so you have to be patient and a bit selfless.  If your kids aren’t good at this, it’s a perfect way to teach this concept.
  2. Be careful, for goodness sake!  Really, I can see how someone would just step into the street or if you were driving and doing it, man it’s dangerous. Even though I am not looking at the game at all when I am driving, the boys shout out directions to me like, “Turn left NOW” as I am driving in the right lane.  They’re excited and I can’t see what’s happening in the game so it gets hairy.  Just keep your wits, remember what’s most important (staying safe, that’s what) and you’ll be fine.
  3. We have to look around and not just at the phone.  Anytime we are in a spot that is interesting (which is almost everywhere) I take the phone from them and we look around.  We talk about the area, what happens there, why we think it is a PokeStop, etc.  Like I said above, we read all historical markers and study the murals and statues.  There is some amazing stuff out there!
  4. Talk to people.  If we see anyone else playing where we are, the rule is that one of us has to say hello to them and ask them one question, either Pokémon advice or something about themselves.  Smile, be friendly, get to know someone, and shine the love of Christ to others.  This is my favorite of all the rules we made.  🙂
  5. No getting obsessed.  We are an obsessive bunch around here.  We get overly attached to things and can let it control our minds.  We do a lot of Bible memory and make it a habit to focus on what is good, and true and pure.  So when my mom-radar detects a kid getting overly consumed with something that is just fluff and not valuable to their life, I nip it fast.  The boys have been told in no uncertain terms, if they talk too much about Pokémon, or seem like they’ve gotten carried away with it we will stop.  Nada.  No mo.
  6. No spending money! There is no way I am going to spend any money on in app purchases no matter what….we won’t be doing that.  I don’t care if the world’s rarest Pokémon treasure is within our reach if we would only spend 99¢, I’m not doing it.  Got it?  Not my money, not their money, NO money will be spent on this game.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am really enjoying this.  It’s not just another video game that my boys play and I know little to nothing about.  This is something I can do with them and I have at least a clue what the different parts are and what they’re talking about (although I will never understand it all).  I love listening to them in the backseat strategizing and sharing their victories with each other.  It’s a delight to play this game with my boys and have something we do together.

When I run into town I invite one of the boys to go so they can play alone for a few minutes.  I’ll run my errand then spend 10 minutes or so looking for Pokémon at their direction.  This morning my youngest son and I discovered a park that we didn’t know was there and made plans to go back and play on the playground there when it gets cooler.

If you’ve been on the fence about this or have decided it’s a bad thing to stay away from, I hope you will consider trying it.  Just stick closely to the boundaries you create for it and you’ll have grand time!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where, of course, I don’t share any Pokémon pictures because I don’t have access to my phone/camera when we are playing….which….if you think about it is another plus.  No one is doing anything except playing and enjoying the outdoors.  But I do share other fun stuff there….. 😉

And if you have any other Pokémon tips we would love to hear them.  Hop over to Facebook and tell us all about it!

If you liked this, you will also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios —>

Sonic Ice Tips and a Great Lip Balm Recipe

Sonic Ice Tips and a Great Lip Balm Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.

I am sorry to tell you, but this begins the portion of the summer when I complain a lot about the heat.  In fact, I don’t understand how I have not sweated off at least 3 pounds by now.  It’s the time of year when your car feels like an oven every time you get into it, even if you were only stopped long enough to run into the minimart for a bag of ice to dump on yourself.  And WHY on earth can’t I ever remember to put the windshield shade up when I stop?!  I walk back out to my car, open the door and the intense heat reminds me that I could have endured only 110° inside the car instead of 125° if only I had put the shade up.

Speaking of heat, I have been keeping stocked up on my beloved Sonic ice.  It’s such a help to keep me cool.  I buy bags of it and put them in my freezer so I have it on hand at all times.  And, because it melts a little then refreezes in a solid piece, I have developed a system for keeping it all loose and perfect.  Here’s how I do it…..

sonic-ice-tips

  1. Buy a bag of ice at Sonic, put it in a cooler in the car and get home as quickly as possible.
  2. Once home, get it out of the car as quick as you can, run if you have to, into the kitchen and cut a small slice in one of the bottom corners of the bag and let all of the water drain in the sink.
  3. Once you have as much water out as possible, put the bag immediately in the freezer.
  4. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, get the bag out of the freezer and bang it around on the counter to loosen up all of the small pieces of ice.
  6. Set the time for another 15 minutes.
  7. Repeat step 5.
  8. Now the bag is all frozen and not in a solid piece and you will have beautiful nugget ice all summer!

That may seem extreme, but once you’ve gone to the trouble of buying Sonic ice only to have it freeze into one solid chunk that you have to pound for 20 minutes with a hammer just to get a few slivers off you will see the wisdom of my system.

Since it’s a whole big thing, I usually buy two or three bags of ice at a time so I can do it all at once.  And I like to hide one bag behind the meat so the kids can’t find it.  Shhhh….

Yesterday while the kids went swimming, I decided to do some mixing and concocting.  It was just too hot for me to sit out there with them and I didn’t want to be where I couldn’t hear them, so I found something to do in the kitchen (my kitchen is the nearest room to the pool).  I got out my oils and my supplies and made several kinds of lip balm.  I am a lip balm addict and I love to make my own so I know exactly what’s in it.

My obsession actually started about a year and a half ago when one of my Young Living friends had a son who really needed the oils that had been helping him with his focus and learning at school.  One day the the principle told my friend that her son couldn’t bring his teeny bottle (it was literally the size of a capsule) to school anymore.  She needed to find a way to let him use the oils at school (he had huge improvement in school since using his oils) so put our heads together.  We came up with two things he could do.

First, we got him a guy-style leather bracelet that he could put a drop on each morning before school and wear it all day.  Second, after making sure he could carry a lip balm, we went to work making some that had his oils in it.  Then he just rubbed it on his wrists instead of his lips.  It worked great!!!!

We made up a big batch for him so she had them ready for the whole year.  Then I became obsessed and started making them for myself to use as actual lip balm.  I played around with various recipes until I came up with one I like.  This is super healthy for your lips and is nice and smooth.  Plus I add a little shimmer to it so I can also use it over my lipstick as a gloss.

Lisa’s Favorite Lip Balm (makes 2 tubes)

Materials: Small glass bowl (or glass measuring cup), small pot, hot pad, paper plates¹, empty lip balm containers, metal 1/2 & 1/8 tsp measuring spoons
Ingredients: Shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, beeswax, Vit E, Mica powder (optional), 8 drops of essential oils²

Add to the glass bowl:
½ tsp shea butter
½ tsp coconut oil
½ tsp beeswax
½ tsp almond oil/castor oil/Vit E³
⅛ tsp Mica powder (optional)

Fill the small pot with about 2″ of water and bring to a boil.  Place the glass bowl with the ingredients into the boiling water and stir occasionally with one of the measuring spoons.  Once it’s all melted together, use a hot pad to remove the bowl from the water and add the Mica powder and essential oils.  Stir then pour into the tubes.  Let sit for 24 hours.  Label if desired.

¹Use the paper plates to set your empty tubes on and pour.  This catches the spills and makes it easy to know what you put in each tube, in case you make various batches.

²Let’s talk about the essential oils you can add.  This is the BEST part!  You can mix them up any way you want!  I like to have different kinds ready for what I need.  If I want to relax, I use lavender lip balm, or if I’m needing to support my immune system, I might use Thieves and Tea Tree oils together.  My personal fave is frankincense and lemon.  I like the way they help me feel cheerful and alert and those are both really great for your skin.  Win-Win.

³For the blend, fill half of the measuring spoon with almond oil, then fill almost with castor oil then add a squirt of Vit E

I love a healthy lip.

The better to kiss you with, my dear.

Now that my Sonic ice is all ready for me and my lips have chemical-free protection, I should stop complaining about the heat.  But I won’t.  Because then no one would recognize me.

Have a great week!!!

***If you haven’t gotten your essential oils yet, let’s do this together!  Click HERE to order your Premium Starter Kit today and I’ll send you some of my homemade lip balm!  Plus I’ll send you a great reference book to help you get started and add you to my awesome Facebook group!***

An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them)

An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them)

This week we have had a houseful!  And for a mom with 9 kids, that’s saying something.  My 4 nieces and nephews are here for 10 days and one of my teens has 2 friends visiting for the week.  That’s 6 extra people.

Now, you’re probably one of those moms who says things like, “There are 42 children at my house today and I LOVE it!”  I meet those ladies and wonder what God was thinking when He made me.  Because if I had 42 extra people staying at my house for 10 days I would be calling them men in white coats to take me away.  I am not that girl.

It’s not just having company that makes it hard, but my own children are ignored when this much is going on and really no one is getting the attention they need.  So the attitudes slip and the fussiness kicks in.

Look, I get it.  Children need to be seen and heard.  And I WANT to take great care of every one.  But sometimes the person bleeding just gets more attention that the person who is crying because their cookie fell on the ground.  It’s a hard fact of life.

I am really enjoying the family being here and the friends and getting to spend time with them all.  BUT  I hit a wall yesterday where I thought that if I heard one more word of complaint or whine about an injustice I was going to lose my ever lovin’ mind.  Mama doesn’t care for whining and crying about how one child didn’t get the same amount of food or another got told he couldn’t play wii right now.  And when I say no, DO NOT ASK ME WHY.

{{OK Lisa, shake it off}}

Of course, each time we have a situation I have been sitting down and talking sweetly to them about the appropriate way to respond to a problem or God’s way to handle disappointment.  But it’s draining. Then yesterday I thought, “Hey, I have all of these essential oils….I wonder if I could ‘brew up a potion’ that would help.”

I already had the oils all out in my bathroom to make some sprays to take with us for a day at the river.  We would need something for the sun and nature we were going be exposed to.  I made a bottle with Purification and peppermint and another with lavender.  Then I glanced over at the case of oils and saw my little bottle of Gratitude and thought, “Hmmmm…..”

So I mixed up this concoction:

An essential oil concoction that every mom needs!

For the rest of the day yesterday and this morning, I have been carrying the spray bottle in my pocket and pulling it out anytime there’s an attitude problem.  I just give it a little spritz over their head and then have my quiet talk with them.

And if you’re wondering, yes, they all know what it is.  They can read.  And amazingly, it does seem to be helping.  I think it’s a combination of the oils and the unspoken message, “You’re being ungrateful,” that is communicated just by me spraying it.

But they have been smiling and listening better when we have out little talks after I use the spray.  And it smells good, which helps.  And it has the added benefit of helping my own attitude as well.

So I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you.

Ungrateful Children Spray: Fill a 2 oz sprayer bottle about 1/2 full of distilled water.  Add 1 tsp of witch hazel (this preserves it, so if you think you’ll use it quickly you don’t need it).  Add 12 drops of Gratitude, 12 drops of Joy and 4 drops of peppermint.  Shake before using.

Summer Outdoors Spray is 20 drops of Purification and 10 drops of peppermint (but in your Premium Starter Kit!).

Since that’s working so well I made 2 more sprays.  I thought I’d just keep the momentum going.

Exhausted Mom Spray has 15 drops of ErRGee, 10 drops of Motivation and 5 drops of Spearmint.

Worn Out Kids Spray has 10 drops of Harmony, 10 drops of lemon, 5 drops of rosemary and 1 drop of black pepper.

I may get a mad scientist coat and start making these for everything!  Mwahahaha!

If you haven’t gotten your Premium Starter Kit yet, HERE and once you order I’ll send you a great reference book and a bunch of other goodies!  Hooray!

Hop over to Facebook and let us know if you try it!

I am not a physician and these are simply the way my family uses the oils.  For a real medical situation please consult your doctor.  Or if your kids just won’t stop complaining, consider sending them to military school.