Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Fall weekends are the B-E-S-T!  Especially since I do so much travelling this time of year.  Every minute at home is like a blast of fresh air.

I spent Friday recovering from my long journey to Alabama and beyond.  I feel like I drove the length of the world all by myself.  It was lovely.  I like alone time.  I used that time to catch up on some courses I am taking (listening to the lessons at least) and I listened to a couple of audiobooks when my brain went to mush from learning.

This old mind ain’t what it used to be.

I just adore a good audiobook and they’re so hard to find.  You can never tell if the narrator is going to be good (I just can’t stick with a bad narrator) or if the story is something that will make you better.  That’s my requirement….that a story improves my life in some way.  I want it to help me be stronger, wiser, gentler, humbler (is that a word?), something that is worth spending 9-13 hours of my life on.

And one of the books I listened to was so, so good I just HAD to tell you about it.  But before I do, I want to warn you that there is some swearing in it.  It’s not a lot, but if that’s a deal breaker for you then skip it.  That being said, it was so sweet and filled with great characters.  It’s a light, simple story.  Not deep or action packed.  It’s character based and that’s my thang.  I love, love a well developed character.  The book is called, “A Man Called Ove.” (pronounced Ooo-vuh)  I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet, feel good read.

While I loved every second of my listening time and Beauty School and visiting with my amazing friends, home is where the heart is.  And my heart was sooo happy to be back with my family.  As soon as I walked in the door I just wanted to hug people for an hour.

And what’s a teenage boy’s favorite thing?  Yep….extended hugs from Mom.

Once I got unpacked and caught up with the home front, it was time to start scrubbing.  Nothing says, “Mom’s HOME!” like a day of house cleaning.  On Saturday morning I made a long list….like the one Santa makes on a big scroll and releases with drama in front of the elves.  Bathrooms, behind the appliances, pantry shelves, under the beds….I meant business.

After we divided up the jobs, we went to work.  I may have heard one of the boys singing a song from Cinderella while he was sweeping out the fireplace.  These people have a flair for the dramatic.

When your kids sing songs from Cinderella as they do their chores....

After a few hours the house was clean and we rested.  There’s really nothing like knowing the floor is spotless under the refrigerator to make one feel like taking a long nap.  It gives you that all-is-well-with-the-world feeling.  I slept like a baby.  Only not one of my babies because they never slept very well.  I slept more like a new mom whose husband has taken the baby in another room for the night.

Sunday we went to church and the sermon was so good….very convicting.  I love those kinds of sermons, that dig deep into my heart and shine a light on some ugly stuff I keep hidden.  This week’s topic was humility and all I can say is, “ouch”.  I came home with some stuff stirring around in my mind and decided to take a walk and let it all settle in.

God’s been doing some sweet things through the difficulty of the past couple of years and I can feel some of the ice around my heart melting away.  A good, hard hitting, Biblical message always helps.  I know He loves me too much to let me stay stagnate in my mess for too long.

That led to some good talks in the evening about humility and forgiveness and being Christ-focused.  Between that and the clean house, I felt prepared for the week ahead.

My boys and I got back to school Monday morning and the lesson in our government class was about what makes a good leader.  Since they’ve been watching the debates, this led to some interesting conversations.  “Mom, why don’t our 2 candidates seem to care about this?” and “How has America gotten so far away from these principles?”

How have we gotten so far off track?

I didn’t have good answers for their questions.  Sin.  Greed.  Selfishness.  It’s a tough one to put your finger on.  But I was able to share about how we are never in control anyway.  We just do the best we know how then we leave the rest in God’s hands.  These candidates may not be what we used to think of as good leaders, but God knows what He is doing.

This is one of the hard lessons I’ve been learning, to trust God no matter what the circumstances are.  Everywhere I turn there it is again….God says to lay it all down.  It’s not about me.  Or what I can do.  Or my own strength.  It’s about trusting Him and letting go.

So there.  Your deep thought for the week.  My brain is worn out from all this thinking and now I need another one of those Daddy-takes-over kind of naps.

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom


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!  🙂

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.


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!!!


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.


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… 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.


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!

Getting Ready for Summer

Getting Ready for Summer

Since I am traveling this week, I thought it would be great to share with you some posts you may have missed.  It’s the time of year when we all gear up for graduations, swimming, traveling and THE HEAT!

While I am traveling, be sure to follow my adventures over on Facebook and Instagram and even…yes I am going to say it….SnapChat.  I know, believe me I didn’t want to, but a couple of my kids are into it so there I went down that slippery slope.  You can find me there at “penningtonpoint”.  Trust me, you won’t see anything inappropriate on my feed, but I can’t speak for anyone else.

If you’re wondering what homeschoolers do for graduation, we have lots of options!  Many people I know pull together a group ceremony that’s very sweet and they often follow traditional graduations.  We have done several things.  Having graduated 5 kids, they’ve wanted different types of events.  The most recent one a couple of years ago was for two kids at once.  We had it at our house and it was a like a fun summer party.  We even built this yard game for the kids and it’s been reused and repainted several times since then, including for an outdoor wedding!  Another graduation a few ears earlier was more traditional.  We had it in a church and did a whole presentation, etc.  That was really nice too….it really depends on your style!

Now, what will we all be doing after graduations?  Getting the yard ready for summer of course!  A few years ago I built this deck beside my pool and got it all pretty for summer.  Since then I have moved stuff around, changed chairs and replaced pillows, but it’s never lost its charm!

Speaking of the pool, last summer we really struggled with our pool turning green.  It was such an ordeal getting it clear and keeping it that way.  I did a bunch of research and discovered that you can use regular old bleach for the pool, so that’s what we have done ever since and it’s been much better!  Right now we are getting it all cleaned out for swim season and I can’t wait for my first mid-morning escape!

Lastly, summer brings boredom.  Here’s a list of things to ask your kids when they say they are bored.  This list is the number one reason my kids never say that to me anymore.  wink-wink.

I hope you have a terrific week!

10 Things I Need to Write (hint: a pen and paper are not on the list)

10 Things I Need to Write (hint: a pen and paper are not on the list)

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m in a list kind of mood today.  I guess it’s all of the de-junking I’ve been doing lately, but I want to just get to the point.  I thought I’d make a list for you of the things that are happening WHILE I am writing.

I write every day, either for the blog or on my next book or for other publications where I am a regular contributor.  Unless I am wrapping up a book (like I am doing now) I write for 3-4 hours a day.  Here’s what it looks like.

  1. I write in my recliner in my bedroom.  I don’t have a desk.  I used to, but a kid took over that space and now all I have is a comfy leather recliner to work in.  I’m not complaining…it’s cozy and awesome.  I put a small pillow in my lap to prop my computer on and just type my little heart out.
  2. I can’t have extra noise while I work.  Some of my kids like to have music playing while they work and my husband likes Fox News quietly in the background.  But I can’t have a single sound or I can’t focus.  Silence is my friend.
  3. My kids will come to me to have their school work checked throughout the morning.  I start the day by giving them their school assignments and lessons as needed.  Then I go write while they work.  When they’re finished with each assignment they come tell me they’re finished and I will check their work.  I always stop for that no matter what kind of momentum I have going.  Sure, it slows the process, but I want these kids to be super smart so I can count on them to get good jobs so they can take care of me in my old age.
  4. I drink a lot of water.  I fill my half gallon glass jug every morning and set them on the table next to my recliner.  I sip right out of the jug all day long, just like Granny in The Beverly Hillbillies….only without the moonshine.
  5. My room has to be clean or I can’t work.  My bedroom seems to be the hardest room to keep clean because it is a dumping ground for everything we don’t know where else to put.  Books we are finished reading, papers, broken toys, etc. all get put in my room and before I write I have to clean it all up.  I’m big on making my bed first thing every morning and I will fluff the pillows and get the junk OUT before I can write.
  6. I like to be dressed, but it’s not a necessity.  I prefer to be all dressed, at least in something housey, but it doesn’t always happen.  I have been known to still have my pajamas on by dinner time….especially if I am working on a book.  Those days tend to be long and I hardly leave my bedroom.
  7. I have 3 bedroom door positions that all have purpose.
    a) All the way open which means you can come on in and ask me anything or sit and talk even if I am typing.
    b) Mostly closed with a little box propping it open just a bit.  This means I am working, but since the door is only slightly open you should only disturb me for something semi-important.  You can peek in and say something like, “We are all going outside for a while,” but not something like, “I want to tell you what I want for Christmas,” or, “Can I have some candy?”  If it’s something that can wait….it should wait until I am either not in my room working or the door is all the way open.
    c) All the way closed which means disturb only if there’s blood, fire or imminent death.
  8. My diffuser is on the table next to me and it’s always going with some kind of wake-up-my-brain essential oil in it.  I love Motivation, Envision, Peppermint, Lemon, Frankincense….really anything but lavender so I don’t fall asleep mid-sentence.
  9. I use my phone while I use my computer.  I don’t check social media or take calls while I am writing, but I will use my phone for researching or fact checking.  I use an online thesaurus and dictionary.  I do better just keeping the one window open on my computer so I use my phone for the rest of my online needs.
  10. I get up and stretch every hour.  When I am working on a book I will set an alarm to go off every hour and I will make myself stand up and either walk around the room, go outside for a few minutes or do some stretches.

It’s a pretty sweet life I have.  I’ve got my homeschoolers spending gobs of time with me, my husband around, my older kids doing their thing while I watch with awe and admiration…..and my comfy recliner to work in.  And air-conditioning, which, in case I didn’t mention, is my bestie all summer long.

The deadline for my next book is looming and I will be closing the door more than usual until it’s done.

Day 4: The WHERE of Essential Oils

Day 4: The WHERE of Essential Oils

We’re rounding the corner to the end of our 5 days series and I am really excited about today!  We’ve talked about HOW to get your oils, WHAT to do when your kit arrives, WHEN to use your oils and today is all about WHERE.

My goal this week is to walk you through the beginning with using oils so you’re not wondering what on earth you would even DO if you got some Young Living oils!  I always need a walkthrough when I am trying something new.  Sure, I figured this out mostly by myself but it took me a couple of years to really embrace the oils and discover how amazing they are (that was 10 years ago!).  I had a few bottles and used them regularly, but I didn’t realize the ways I could use them for wellness and daily blessings.  I thought they were only for crisis situations.

I still use them for times when we are less than healthy, but now I use them daily for staying way above the wellness line.  We diffuse them during school time to help the boys focus and learn, I use them when I need a boost of encouragement or bravery, when I get nasty comments online or even just when I have a lot to do that day (which is every day).  While I’m writing my books I always have oils and supplements nearby that support my mind and lift my mental clarity.

We all have different tasks everyday and our bodies are uniquely and wonderfully made, so the oils I love most may not be your faves.  But the oils in the kit are staples for most people.  Peppermint, lavender, frankincense….oh my!  I wouldn’t go through a day without them now.  I use frank every morning to uplift my mind, peppermint throughout the day for many reasons and lavender each night on my wrists for relaxation.  I probably use 10 oils daily and my kids use 4-5.

My other favorites are Valor, Peace & Calming, Abundance and Fitness.  But that’s today.  Tomorrow it may be different.  That’s the beauty of having a bunch to play with, they’re so versatile!

OK, so let’s get to the topic of WHERE:

  1. WHERE do I put the oils on my body?

You can use them anywhere, but there are some guidelines that may help you get started.  First, I am careful what I put on my face.  I always use them diluted there because when they’re neat (that’s the word for straight out of the bottle) they bother my eyes.  So be careful about using them around your eyes.  The skin on your face is more sensitive so dilute whatever you use there with V6 or coconut oil (or even unscented lotion).  The same goes for kids…always dilute them for kids.

When I do want something for my face, let’s say I want to help support my sinuses.  Just a normal day, I am not talking about healing or cures here. 😉  I will dilute an oil, maybe peppermint and lavender together, then rub it right over my sinuses.  I might also put some around my ears because it’s all connected and I want to maintain my health.  Just don’t get it too close to your eyes.

When you’re using them to support a specific area of the body, use the oil right there.  For instance, if you’re reaching for digestive wellness then rub it right on your stomach or lower abdomen.  Oils like PanAway, DiGize and RC are some that are great for this kind of use.  After that, there are some charts in your book that will help you find other topical ways to use them.  Find the Vitaflex chart and look at the areas on your feet that you can use the oils.

I always use one as a perfume each day (right now I am using Joy or Valor for this!).  I will apply it just like I would a perfume, on my wrists and my neck.  You can also apply it across your forehead if you’re using them for mind or emotional support.  Try different things and see what works best for you.

2. WHERE do I use them in my home?

The home is another incredible way to use your oils.  First, the diffuser.  #heaven  If you love candles, then you will doubly love the diffuser.  You can get beautiful smells in your home that are actually beneficial to the health of your family and not just scents.  Two birds-one stone.

When you start you’ll likely only have one diffuser (the one that came in your kit).  You can move it from room to room wherever you go.  We have one going in our dining room/school room during the day and in the bedrooms at night.  I’ll diffuse in the bathrooms as needed.  #stinky I even carry a small diffuser with me when I travel to use in our hotel room!

You can also use oils for cleaning.  Young Living has an incredible line of Thieves Cleaners that we use for everything from bathrooms to windows.  It’s been a transformation in our home.  You can try a few drops of Thieves or lemon in some water and wipe down your counters, doorknobs and light switches.

3. WHERE do I turn if I can’t figure it out?

Start with your book (or books!).  Google some things and see what you can find.  Soon you will discover that you have absorbed information and can learn more.  It doesn’t take much time at all.

Then, ask your leader or other YL member friends.  I say to do this after looking on your own because the best way to learn is to find out for yourself.  But once you’ve tried and still can’t figure it out, ask your friend that you joined with (like me!) and they should be thrilled to help either find the info for you or lead you to where to look.

Don’t be intimidated with these oils, they are just the liquid goodness from plants.  There’s no mystery.  God gave us the plants to use in this way!

Fun Fact: Did you know that our sense of smell is the only sense directly tied to the limbic area of the brain, which is considered the emotional control center? This means that when essential oils are inhaled, they go directly to the brain. Our other four senses — taste, sight, touch and hearing — are first routed through the thalamus before reaching designated areas of the brain.

Be sure to check out the rest of the series!

Day 1: HOW to Start Using Essential Oils
Day 2: The WHAT of Getting Started with Essential Oils
Day 3: The WHEN of Essential Oils
Day 5: The WHY of Essential Oils


Do NOT Miss This!

Do NOT Miss This!

The one thing I look most forward to all year is coming up in a few weeks!  The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit is everything I need to refill my tank, my worn out mom tank.

I am talking about hundreds of other women in the same place you are….tired, needing encouragement, many in struggling marriages and with hopelessness.  Even though I am a total introvert, I love this event and wouldn’t miss it unless God dropped a 2 ton steel beam in my driveway so I couldn’t get out.  And if it helps, there are lots of prizes all weekend.

The first time I went a few years ago in Oklahoma I was not sure what I was getting into.  I had been invited and decided to check it out.  It was a long drive, 8 hours, but I felt it was something I should do.  I can’t tell you why now….it was instinct.  And the first night I was like, “What IS this thing?!”  There were women from all walks of life, some dressed up, some dressed down, some in heels and others in denim jumpers with sneakers.  There was a sense of excitement and peace at the same time.

Then one by one onstage women in costume marched across being described by the announcer, there was Debbie Drowning and Peggy Perfect and Sara Sporty and Helen Hanging-On.  They were funny, but tapped into deep issues we all face as moms.  After that there was worship and I was hooked.  Women being real, speakers encouraging us, praise and laughter?!?!  SIGN ME UP!

It was that same year I grabbed the founder and told her I had to be a part of this.  I wanted to bring it to Texas and do whatever I could to help.  And here we are now about to host the third Summit in Texas!!!  Hallelujah, isn’t God amazing?!?!

This year we are doing a few new things, including a blogger dinner and time of fellowship.  Connie from Smockity Frocks, Kris from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and I will all be there.  We want to meet you and spend time ministering to each other.  You can sign up for the dinner when you register. (the blogger dinner is only in Texas, but I will also be at the Oklahoma event!)

And at the Texas Summit we will also be doing a panel answering your questions.  Are you struggling with something?  Do you wonder how other moms do it all?  Have you reached the end of your rope?  Well, bring on the questions and we will do our best to answer them and let you know you’re not alone.  You can head over to my Facebook page and leave a question there.  We will answer some of your questions here too, so if you can’t come to the Summit, please go ahead and ask anything.

I hope you will consider attending the Summit.  I’d love to see you at either one, but the Texas Summit is near to my heart and I am hoping to bring a bunch of you with me!  And don’t tell me it’s too far because I drive 8 hours each year to go to the one in Oklahoma and I would fly anywhere in the USA to be there.

If you are worried because you don’t know anyone else going then I have a couple of solutions for you.  First, bring a friend (or 2 or 3)!  This is a great girlfriend trip.  Share a room and ride together and have a grand adventure!  Or, if that doesn’t work out you can consider me your friend to hang around with.  Even though I will be moving around a lot, I will make sure you meet some of the other amazing women there and help plug you in.

I have a $10 off code you can use, so be sure you plug that in when you register!  It’s PENNINGTON10

Here is my recap of the 2014 Summit.  You really don’t want to miss this.

Come join us!  January 22-23 in Oklahoma and February 5-6 in TEXAS!!!


10 Questions for Your Kids When They Are Bored

10 Questions for Your Kids When They Are Bored

This post contains affiliate links.

Hello!  If you’re stopping by from Thomas Nelson…welcome!  I hope you’ll hang around and if you want to know more about me THIS is a good place to start!

10 great questions to have your kids ask themselves when they are bored. #parenting

With 9 kids, I have heard many versions of “Mom, I’m bored,” and, “I don’t have anything to do.”  I usually send them outside with orders to, “Run around and have FUN!”.  But the cold weather (or here in Texas, the summer heat) can keep us inside and not sure what to do with ourselves.

I keep a list posted in the house for the kids to reference when they have nothing to do: 10 things to ask yourself before you tell Mom you’re bored.

Before you tell Mom you’re bored, answer these questions:

  1. Is your room clean?  Picking up a few things and straightening is an important thing to do every day.
  2. Have you exercised?  Use your body and get your heart rate up every day.
  3. Can you help someone?  The best way to use your free time is to give it to someone else.
  4. Have you read a book today?  Keep your mind exercised by reading every day!
  5. Have you prayed?  When you’re bored, it’s a good time to spend a few minutes talking to God.
  6. Have you read the Bible?  Find a verse and read it 3 times then say it out loud.
  7. Have you done something creative?  Draw a picture, write a story, play some music, weave a potholder.
  8. Have you played a game with someone?  NOT a video game, but a game where you sit at a table facing each other and talking to each other.
  9. Are your chores done?  Is the dog bowl clean and your laundry put away?  You are an important part of your family and when you don’t do your chores you are making life harder for everyone else.
  10. Is there something you can find to do yourself?  Look around and see what you can do without interrupting Mom or Dad to ask.  You might be surprised at what’s available to you already.

Here are a few fun books to keep around for the kids to read while they’re looking for something to do:

Read and Share 5 Minute Bible Stories (quick, easy reference to find Bible stories, you might even find art projects to go along with them!), Henry Hodges Needs a Friend (a sweet little book about feeling left out), Under the Sea  (packed with hundreds of ideas for felt creations), MindWar (for the teens, one of those thrillers about a seemingly ordinary teenager who discovers a hidden gift)
The next time your child tell you they are bored, get out the questions and let them find productive things to do on their own.  Get their creative juices flowing and teach them to make wise choices for how to spend their time.
And then send them out to play.
Come on over to Facebook for more conversation!