Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Bags!


At the beginning of the Christmas season I created, with the help of my amazing and oh so talented sister in law, some cute Christmas bags. The idea behind these were to fill them each day with different books, movies, crafts or bake good to create during the season.... Well, as with any idea that I have there is always a little tweaking. However, I do have to say that coming into the Christmas week, very shortly, we didn't end up doing so bad.

Here is a list of some of the activities, etc that we did while remembering the Christ is the reason we celebrate...

Playmobile Nativity set-opened and played with
Christmas sticker book and magnet book - thank you Grandma this was a huge hit!! Especially w/ Austen
Gingerbread house- was so excited to make my first gingerbread house as well
Advent-each day! We love that as well
Lots and lots of Christmas books from the library...I think I checked out every book that had the word Christmas in it :) Still need to get to parts of In The Big Woods and Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Christmas cookies-baked so many and the boys did a great job helping
Decorating the tree with lights AND ornaments ( we finally got to those yesterday)
Singing Christmas songs
Christmas crafts that are a secret as they are for family
Christmas movies, ie; Frosty, Little Drummer Boy, Puncinello, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown's

Still no Christmas cards but at this point I'm not going to stress about them....maybe I will start a tradition....Spring time cards since that is my favorite time of year any ways. Overall, I feel that we did a lot of fun activities thus far and still have a whole other week to go!

We truly focus on Christ being the center of the season. I dont mind the whole Santa Claus thing but the most hilarious thing is neither of my boys have ever really cared about him or pretending he exists so we don't even focus on santa. Instead, we spend the entire month teaching and training our children on why Christ came, what the means for us now and what we need to do with it. We love Christmas!! Merry Christmas!


My precious children.....if my heart could explode with love, it would and fall gracefully on them....

Dirty Doors

Tonight I was picking up, preparing for tomorrow. I was bringing odds and ends toy trucks and plastic horses from the living room into the boys' room. As I was closing their door I noticed smudges, dirt, jelly, crayon smears, and a myriad of many other materials smeared over their door. I don't really ever look down at their door or have the time to slowly remove myself from their room area to my next area. Life is a little busy. As I walked into the kitchen to grab a washcloth to wash away the fun of the day, a smile crept across my face.

Those smears, they are evidence of fun, of laughter of enjoyment of life. I can hear their laughter radiate throughout the halls as the three of them run back and forth from each other's room. The many times where they asked me for a cracker, a cookie or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The times when they raced and chased eachother outside as I watched from the window.

There are times that one needs to watch from the window to accomplish some give task. However, how do you spend your time as your kids are running to and fro? Are you running with them, are you laughing with them? Are you embracing moments that are but a finger print ready to be washed away?

Admittedly, there are times that I watch more than I run. Call it having more than one child, a lack of prioritizing or homeschooling two children, raising three and managing a it whatever you want but my children will remember my running. They will remember me engaging in an active battle of water guns and my laughter....oh, they will remember my laughter and my sense of humor and my love, oh my love for them! Oh, how I love them!

Doors, they can always be washed....children will not always be a step away from a water fight...I encourage you to embrace!! Embrace them while they are young, embrace them while they grow older so that you might never regret the moments that were had or the moments at hand....but always reach forward with arms open wide for a hug.... love them, for they love you so!

Friday, December 11, 2009

What Is Time Management Mean To Me?

I have been really pushing my workouts lately, trying to challenge my body in a new dimension. I enjoy the challenge as well as the sweaty feeling when done. A job well done. Today, I woke up and just felt an inert desire to skip the workout and stay home. A stay home we did. There has been a Family Fun craft I have been meaning to do. I will not say what it is as the kids made it for their grandparents. However, we completed it and it looks fantastic.

I feel that when I dedicate and spend quality time at the gym, giving back to myself I am able to take so much more time for the people that matter most in my life, my family. So many times you hear harried mommas explaining in exasperation, " I just don't have time for myself" . Personally, I feel that this is a cop out. I homeschool, have a family on an unconventional schedule, three kids under 5 and manage a home. I have 30 minutes for myself to get the sweat going, the endorphins flowing and the stress out of my body.

Maybe, I don't have time to do everything that I want to do....but that's ok, this is a choice not a demand. I have chosen to welcome children into our lives....we, my husband and I , have chosen to set up our lives the way they are...however, I have not chosen to let myself go. I challenge you, if you are a stay at home mom or a mom that works....give yourself 30 minutes, minium, every day to give back to yourself, your body and see what changes happen in your stress levels, your organizational levels, not to mention your health.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Frugal Living

Have I ever mentioned that I love saving money and love seeing how I can make it stretch? I truly do. It's a challenge to me and such a sense of gratification by caring for and using what God has blessed us with. I believe in being good stewards of what you have. Whether that means maintenance on vehicles, ie: oil changes, cleaning and caring for appliances in other preventative measures or simply looking for new ways to wear the same shirt with different accessories, etc.

This is a very materialistic world. How do we combat that but still, for us fashion conscious mommas, still look cute and in style? Hey, if wearing whatever the wind blows your way fits you, then by all means do it! Me, on the other hand do prefer to do my best putting on a reasonably cute and fashionable attire most of the time. How do I do this, you then ask, without breaking the bank? Easy! I do NOT buy when the fall line or summer line first come out. I wait at least until mid season and pay no less than 60-75% off the original retail price. A few years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I walked out of Gap Maternity with over $300.00 worth of maternity clothing for only $27.00. Talk about a savings! I felt so good and enjoyed every moment that I wore those outfits. Because they are name brand, which is what I almost always go for , for a plethora of reasons, I am able to resell them for pretty much the clearance price that I paid for them, thus not losing any money in the process.

I also enjoy accessorizing. This is probably one of my favorite parts of an outfit, huge earrings, cute necklaces, scarves, shoes etc. These are all ways to boost your favorite shirt/skirt. Make the most of what you have and do not hoard. If you have not worn something in over a year, get rid of it or donate it. Clutter overwhelms and encourages us to feel frustrated and desire more. Why do we desire more? Because we can never find the "thing" we are looking for as it is hidden under mounds of other " things", so we go out and purchase another.

Now that we are homeschooling, I can see how managing money and resources is going to benefit us all in the long run. I am such a planner and enjoy looking far enough into the future to plan and anticipate, but not so far that I am living there. I learned that lesson the hard way. Jayden is doing so well in school that at 5 and 1/2 I am anticipating him ending his Saxon Math 1st grade by mid February. So, instead of waiting.....and paying a high price at the home school convention or off of the main site, I searched around and purchased what I needed for a mere $20.00. That is almost an $80.00 savings! See how much fun that is! I can see how homeschooling can be as expensive and inexpensive as you would like to make it. I would like to fall somewhere in the middle. I know that my husband and I can give our children a better education than anyone else can, but how to do it without breaking the bank. I have found so many resources online, in books and magazines than I know what to do with. One, that I am reading now is " Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas".

There are some amazing ideas in here. One that I loved was taking math concepts, adopting it to an interest of the child, ie: dinosaurs, and creating a large map with fields, rocks, caves, woods and ponds, then make nests out of grass and put "eggs" ( small circular holes) and work double facts, multiplication, etc. out of this. I love this idea for many different reasons. One, it takes math and makes it hands on and interesting as well as applicable to a child. Two, it is not hard to create nor expensive. There are so many geography games, writing activities, literature activities, etc. that I could get lost in the book. Again, these are all ideas that do not break the bank but also take invested time over some monetary costs. It's how you want to play the game. I enjoy saving and making our money go as far as we can. My husband and I love that I can stay at home due to financial decisions that we made in high school! Yes, the financial decisions you make at such a young age will effect you for the next 10-15 years of your life. So, what are you going to do? How will you steward the money God has given you in the life situations He has placed you in?

A Day of Stickers

Today I resolved to spend a lot of time, quality time, with Austen. I enjoy him so much and he is so precious to me and so much fun. He is so much fun and very tactical. We sat down and completed a huge Christmas sticker book today. We had so much fun! Just sitting together, working on where baby Jesus went, ornaments, the shepherds, etc. He enjoyed it so much and I enjoyed working with him alone. We spent hours pouring over the stickers together, laughing at the snowmen and where he placed the carrot noses and pointed stick hands. Kissing his sweet, soft smelling hair and the feeling of him cuddling up next to me with no interruptions. I have been praying for my Austen lately. The other day, we found him standing on top of Jayden's bunk hanging on the curtain rod. The next day, taking a spray bottle and spraying these beautiful, floating, fragile ( yeah, I know, they are in their room more for me than them) Pottery barn dragon flies....then finally, yesterday Moriah was covered with teal marker, all over her face, neck, Austen's hands, cheek, the bathroom walls, sink and countertop..... I know he is three but baby, something needs to change. I started thinking..... Austen plays a lot...but not necessarily with me.... so my new goal and desire is to really pour into Austen, as I did with Jayden. I love being with him. He is so hillarious as he talks in a high pitch voice and pretends to be a female cat named " Joyce". He make silly faces at Riah and she laughs her head off. He cries if I'm not in the room and states that he , " thought you went to the circus". He is my lovers, will always be my lovers and I look forward to tomorrow investing into his life, individually by doing more stickers and painting a surprise for the grandparents for Christmas. I love you Austen, you are valued, you are special and you were created by God for powerful things. Be blessed my child. Come Jesus and fill his spirit with your love and acceptance. You, Austen, are a valued member of our family and we need you!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas is here

Yesterday was fantastic. As I posted the previous day, I have been really working hard on being more purposeful with my time and doing little improvises throughout the day. The boys wanted to work on a wooden truck that you construct and paint. So, the night before I laid out all the paints and paper that we would need as well as finding paintbrushes. Also, I unloaded the dishwasher which is a huge head start in the morning with all the bowls, spoons, spilt milk and cereal going on. An empty dishwasher means sanity. I also laid out black construction paper and all the supplies we would need to do our CHristmas craft for that day.

The next morning, besides not putting a movie in right away, which I need to work on, we went right into crafting. We painted the truck, constructed it and allowed it to dry. Then, we proceeded in making our sheep hand prints and talking about the Shepherds and what happened during the birth of Christ in the Bible. The boys really enjoyed this and Austen wanted to create two sheep. If I knew where the cord was to post pictures of , I would but will find that later. I was even so impressed with the fact that I rememberd that Jayden was in the book it club for Pizza Hut and we had a zoo day scheduled to see the Komodo Dragons as well as all the other wonderful animals at the zoo. I was not stressed, able to keep up with the clutter and enjoy my children to the fullest as well as call ahead to Pizza Hut and order two personal pan pizzas for pickup at 11 and then head to the zoo.

I am still amazed at how small, little insignificant steps can lead to such monumental moments. I also completed one whole strawberry shortcake felt food for Moriah and that totaled to almost 3 hours....yes, they take me forever but are so cute!

Christmas cookies and Hot cocoa were eaten and enjoyed, Christmas music played in the background and I felt at peace in my heart. My children were able to play and carry on as usual and I felt very, very peaceful. I am reading a book right now about what it means to be a family manager and how to manage time, etc. The book is so inspirational that I may, in the future, quote some of it. I love staying at home and am determined to do it with excellence. I believe in taking time for myself, ie: my workouts, planning my time wisely, educating my children, spending time with my husband and managing my home with effiency. I love this journey! I am so excited to share all of my experiences with some other young mom, someday. There are very few women mentors out there, and that is so sad to me. More than anything, young mamas and wives want a mature, Christian, woman mentor who will come along side of them encourage and take part in their lives. I cannot wait to do this for someone..... I will not waste all my insight and and learning experiences on only myself.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some days are like this

Today I have just been very frustrated. I feel that I put too many expectations upon myself and when the don't come through I just become very frusterated at that....I have been thinking about ways to simplify my life....Yesterday I donated probably half of a warehouse to Goodwill and could do more. I have letters sitting around my house to be mailed out, yet I don't buy stamps. Breakfast in the morning can seem so frusterating at times, planning for Jayden and Austen's school, meal planning, etc.. so that I have been brainstorming ways to simplify my life by little steps....for example, when I have letters written to go out to people, but no stamps I feel like I am letting someone down...but instead of going out and getting stamps, I just keep pushing the letter around. I no this makes no sense to anyone but that's ok sense no one really reads this it's like I am pushing the guilt around all day, all here are my little ideas to get rid of some guilt, over expectations and proceed on with freedom and less stress

1. Never write a letter until I have stamps with me.
2. Buy stamps once a month, first of the month
3. Set breakfast setting up the night before
4. No movies in the morning- this throws our whole routine off!
5. Read 1-2 chapters of my novel per night
6. Work on my project for 1/2 per night and if I am feeling great at it keep going
7. Do not waste time on the internet unless everything else is accomplished
8. Enjoy my babies and smile more- I know for those of you who know me, I am always smiling but I feel this is something I can do even more

Put PB&J away as soon as I use it- otherwise it just keeps getting cluttered on the counter....

So I will try to adopt some of these policies.....I feel they are attainable and enriching to my life...wasting time on the internet, tv, etc. only takes away from precious hours of creativity...yes, sometimes they are needed...but for me, they make me feel behind and non pray that I am able to do these. I am just very frusterated today....thank goodness tomorrow is a new day!