March 26, 2010

I'm conflicted about Jacob

I put this on the FIAR message board, but there are a number of you with older boys who read here and not there, so I thought I'd ask.

I have these visions of Jacob, who is almost 8, wanting to chase squirrels and build tree houses and play in the dirt and go fishing and ..., and ..., and... But he wants to play video games, with transformers and superheroes and read comic books. When he has an interest, it becomes close to an obsession whatever it is. (He was ALL about Thomas until 6 months ago; now that has been replaced by superheroes. Oh! How I want Thomas back!!) How can I steer him into the direction of the vision forum kind of boy, or is that just a pipe dream??

I have allowed him to play with Transformers and held him off of superheroes as long as I felt like I could, but that is all he is interested in. He was only recently allowed to watch the old Star Wars movies (as a family movie night), but we don't own any of them. He is allowed 1 hour of video games each day, 30 minutes of which is wii fit plus stuff. Anyway, I limit his exposure to these things, but his friends (that I can't avoid) are all into these things, so he gets dosed with them regularly. Do I just let him go through this phase???

He is a bit of the odd one out by nature of his personality anyway. He's quirky, not into sports (at ALL), and is emotionally young for his age though intellectually mature. So the culturally relevant things do give him something to connect with other boys his age.

Someone wrote, "I want my children to be producers, not consumers." Those words describe some of my thoughts perfectly.  Jacob used to play for hours alone, totally entertained, enough that people consistently commented on his ability to entertain himself. Now it seems he has forgotten how to entertain himself at all and always wants someone to play with him, or something to watch, even though I tell him no all day long.

Anyway, I'm rambling. But I'm confused and need some advice. Got any?

March 25, 2010

Good books to recommend

You may remember this post awhile back, where I was rethinking how much time I was spending reading brainless novels.  While they weren't inappropriate, they were not real by any stretch of the imagination.  I've   read a couple of brainless novels since October, but I've been enjoying some non-fiction books lately.  While I have always loved reading, I've never chosen classic rich books.  As a kid I really didn't see anyone around me reading them, so I really didn't know what was out there.  But as an adult it's just been my own poor choice.  I keep thinking when I have time, I'll read that.  So I'm trying to give myself the home school challenge I never had!

God's Smuggler has been on my sidebar for some time now.  It's a great book I'd highly recommend!  

The Hiding Place is another one.  

I know these are books most people have heard of, but I thought I'd share them anyway just in case.  They're both easy reads, but heavy with faith challenging trials.  I know we have it awfully easy these days here in America, and these books leave me wondering how I would handle challenging situations like Brother Andrew or Corrie ten Boom had to face every day.  They're a reminder of how weak my faith is, and how un-challenged I am.

I also really enjoyed Same Kind of Different as Me.

It's a non-fiction story set more recently than the other two, and the risk of the ministry was not nearly the same, but the result was still life changing.  And this one is a story that we can all relate to every day, anywhere in America.

 I also enjoyed my first Ted Dekker novel while we were out of town last week.  

It was really good!!!  One of my favorite things is to read until 2 or 3 in the morning while everything is silent, so it was exciting to find a brainless novel that wasn't a romance one I've been trying to avoid.

If you haven't read any of these, I'd encourage you to!  They're well worth your time.  I have to say, I've enjoyed them every bit as much as a Karen Kingsbury or Lori Wick novel.  :) 

(You can click on any of them to read more about them.  I'm not good at summing a story up in one short paragraph!)

March 24, 2010

Website to Share

I've heard of this website before, MathisFun, but have never used anything from it thus far.  We've found it very useful lately!  We've been using it for the Math Trainer, a timed drill and practice opportunity for addition, subtraction, and multiplication.  It divides the table up into 4 chunks so he can focus on one chunk at a time.  It's been very helpful for Jacob!  The characteristic that is best for Jacob is that the "timed" part works so he only has to do 5 minutes worth, it's not a race sort of timed activity.  He gets so stressed out with timed tests he can hardly focus on the task at hand, and he inevitably ends up moping or crying that he made a mistake... definitely not what I'm looking for every day!  I'm thankful this is FREE and seems to be fun for him!  Just thought I'd share.

March 20, 2010

What is this called??

When we moved in to this house, this is the lighting that was in the bathroom.  It felt a bit hotel-ish to us, so I took it out when I painted.

Below is what we have left, though the bathroom normally contains all of the clutter of the above photo!  (I keep forgetting about the light, but remembered to come look for it while I was cleaning tonight.)
A fluorescent light strip, 48" long.  Honestly, I thought the fluorescent light would bother me, but it doesn't.  So if it would cost less to buy a cover for this light (rather than replacing the entire light fixture), that's what I'd like to do.  But I don't know what it's called so I can google it!  Anyone know??  I'd like a cover of some sort that has the dark wood on it to tie it in with the rest of the bathroom.


March 13, 2010

Around the World Books

As you know, we've been traveling Around the World with our unit studies this year.  I have so enjoyed this, as it's allowed me to learn much I did not know about the world outside our country's borders.

For many of our units, we've referred to the same basic books or series, so I thought I'd share them here in one post for reference.  You can click on any book to go to a page about it specifically.

Most of our information has been gathered from books by Bobbie Kalman.  Our two favorite series are The Lands, Peoples and Cultures Series and Spotlight on My Country, with the latter having the perfect amount of text for Jacob's level.  After we read the book, I'll make Jacob a list of questions or activities to complete, giving page number hints if needed, and he's learning how to research a little bit.
The "Look What Came From" series has a been an enjoyable one as well.  It offers facts Jacob can relate to about the origins of many of our favorite things.

This is one of my favorite resources for a general overview.  I usually forget I have it and end up getting a book from the library, but I'm always happy when I pull it out!

This is a great book that gives snippets of what a child's life is like in their country.

In addition to non-fiction books, we've read a lot of picture books that illustrate the culture in them as well.  These give us some snuggle on the couch time.  They also give me a way to connect Mattie to 

This book in general is a bit over Jacob's head for sure, but it does have some useful information to show him.  It's a great coffee table book that provides a quick reality check about how good we have it here in our wealthy country.  Once I sit down to look at it, my nose is  buried in it for an hour.  There is another book authored by the same people called What the World Eats.

This one we used only during our study of the Middle East and Holy Lands (is that redundant?), but it proved to be invaluable.  I have looked for it several times since then during my own personal Bible study! Honestly, I understand the nightly news a whole lot better after using this book as a resource!  Rose Publishing has a lot of great resources.  (I think I'm about to buy this timeline, because I'm doing such a poor job of keeping mine up.)

And last but certainly not least, this is a book we just added recently, and I'm sad I didn't order it in the beginning.  It has a one page spread on many countries or people groups which shares cultural information about them.  The neatest part is that it includes religious information from a Christian world view, most importantly, how we can pray for them.  If you chose only one book to order, this is the one you want.  One of the main focuses of mine in doing this Around the World study was to help Jacob see how big the world there really is around us.  It's really hard to imagine for me even, so I know it's hard for him too.  But this book has helped us pray and focus on the most important needs of the people God created that seem so far away because they live in different lands.

If you decide to do an Around the World journey via books, these books should certainly get you started!  If you know of any others I'd enjoy, let me know!  We still have 3 more continents before we land!

March 12, 2010

Moments of Joy - 14

Since I wrote this post I've been pondering a new name for this kind of thing, these simple things that bring me pleasure, sweet somethings I notice amid chaos, bits of brightness in my days.  As I was thanking the Lord for them just today and not knowing how to really put it into words even for Him who already knows my mind, He made it clear to me.  These are my Moments of Joy.  Just occasions, some longer than others, that bring me complete and utter joy because I know He is the One who has given them to me.

These days there are too many to share them all with you, which is a testimony in itself as there was a time when I was writing them down in an effort to notice them.  But God has given me a cup overflowing as I've asked Him to!

Here are some sweet moments of joy:
Hearing the sound of a Thomas the Train engine this morning in Jacob's room!  Oh, how I miss those sounds that used to FILL my every hour!

Getting yet another good laugh at Mattie's remarkable sense of smell.  We believe she is part hound dog!

Enjoying peace and    q u i e t    as I'm alone in my home for only the fourth time since I became a mother.

Peace the Lord has brought as a result of searching the depths of my insecure heart and opening the doors for His Light to shine in there!

The smell of yummy homemade bread, the health and sustenance it symbolizes in our home, and the feeling that I can do at least ONE thing really well in our food allergy kitchen!

Ordering a new Bible and art supplies for Jacob for his birthday.

Food allergy healing through new technology and the fun of indulging Jacob without bracing for poor behavior.

A new vision to Make it Count with my children and good time with both of them already.  (Kristen, I appreciate your encouragement and wisdom!)

An actual feeling of physical fullness in my gut as I watch two kids run to greet their daddy after a week away!

Bring JOY to your servant's life,
since I set my hope on You, Lord.  
Psalm 86:4  HCSB

March 11, 2010

So Long Insecurity Week 4

Chapters 7 & 8 already!  I'm catching up on posting because Beth has already posted week 5 questions!  Between reading So Long Insecurity and doing Breaking Free at church, I have to say I'm getting worn out!  But I have no excuse to not be a totally new person by May, so beware.  I am thankful that I've done this book along with the schedule of this online study.  It has required me to only read two chapters at a time and given me time to digest the changes the Lord is trying to make in me.  

1. What part of Chapter 7 hit home with you most and why?
Some time this week I came to the realization that in my insecurity I have mistreated Robert, and I owe him an apology for that.  In wondering if I was good enough to come home to, fearing that he would be led astray, and feeling like I had to work to keep him happy, I was dehumanizing him as much as this book talks about the dehumanization of women.  In all of that insecurity I wasn't trusting him to be the honest, loyal, man of integrity that I married him for!  There are soooooooo many marriages being compromised around me (in very close circles) that I fell into the trap of being fearful that surely we were next.  And because Robert was out of town so much with work, it made it even worse.  But I have seen evidence already that the Lord is filling my mind with things of HIM thus leaving less and less space for the fear, lack of trust and insecurity.  What a blessing to relieve Robert of the responsibility of my feeling of security.  And how unfair of me to put that responsibility on him to begin with.

2. (If you're choosing only two, please include this one.) Based on your journey so far in chapters 1-8, list your own personal top three reasons why it's time to deal with your insecurity. (We're not looking for right answers. We're looking for YOUR answers. Don't copy off your fellow sojourners' papers on this one. Grin.) So that you don't get your numbers confused here, list your 3 reasons under A.B.&C. 

A) I think my answer here would have to be how much we allow ourselves to be robbed of the JOY of life by our insecurity.  I have fallen prey to this in two different ways: I either avoid activities because I don't want to be subjected to whatever situation causes me to feel insecure, or I participate in that activity feeling nothing short of tortured while I'm there.
B) It's physically and emotionally draining.
C) It's unfair to others to put the responsibility of my security on them (whether or not they know it).

3. Based on Chapter 8, briefly describe a recent trigger of insecurity and whether or not it got a rise out of you.
No!  I was recently in two situations that in times past would have left me feeling sick to my stomach.  While the decisions I made were not one of right vs. wrong, I knew I'd possibly displeased people by handling them the way I did, but I made decisions that were best for my children and me considering everything going on at the time.  It was freeing to act on the principle that I did not sin, and I don't have to worry about being understood by every single person with whom I come in contact.  While I'm not out to cause irritation, I can't be responsible for someone else's choice to agree or disagree with my decision.  I also can't let my decision making be motivated others' approval.  That's quite a breakthrough for this people pleaser!

"The cycle begins to break when even though we may still feel insecure, we make a very deliberate choice to not act on that feeling."  p. 149

4. Also based on Chapter 8, what does dignity mean to you? 

Dignity is hard for me to define, I think.  I'd like to just look in a dictionary, but I don't think that what's she's looking for!  I think the best way for me to explain my perception of dignity is this:  
I'm worthy of respect.  
I'm worthy of love.  
I'm worthy of being fought for.  
I'm worthy of protection.  
I'm worthy of loyalty.  
I'm worthy of being heard.  
I'm worthy of being treated honorably.
I'm worthy of forgiveness.
I'm worthy of mercy.
I'm worthy of grace.
I'm worthy of understanding.

Only, ONLY! because I am His handiwork, and He has redeemed me.

On the other hand, so are you, and that means you are worthy of all of the above also.

So Long Insecurity Week 3

I'm catching up a bit on these So Long Insecurity Posts.  I am still reading the book and am thoroughly enjoying how the Lord is using it to enlighten me in areas of insecurity, but for a while there it seemed like my blog posts were so heavy!  I felt like I needed to give you guys a break from being my therapy group.  :)

Week 3 was on chapters 5 & 6.  Here are our questions from Beth.
1. After reading these two chapters, what do you believe to be the TWO primary roots of your struggle with insecurity? Keep in mind that more may apply but try to lock in on two that you believe to be most impactful. I have to say, I've had a hard time identifying one root of my insecurity, much less two!  I wasn't abused as a child, we did move a lot, but I think that helped me be more secure and outgoing and always made friends easily, I don't remember being constantly criticized (but I do remember feeling like my identity was in being the "good" child).  I know pride has a part in it for sure.  And I don't remember this being an option, but my answer for number two would have to be hurts and betrayal from adult relationships.

2. What, if any, insight did you gain about the roots of insecurity and did you sense that God was trying to speak to you in any specific way through it? (This answer does not need to be limited to the two roots you identified in the previous response.) 

I really don't have any answer on this one!  :)

March 09, 2010

I had a random thought last night

I have no idea where this came from, but I realized last night that I don't have very many conversations with my kids.  I mean conversations of any value.

When Robert comes home from work, he tells Jacob about his day.  (He tells me too, but not in a way nearly as animated as when he tells Jacob!  He makes a busted sewer pipe sound exciting and cool.)  He and Mattie talk about dancing and princesses and fun things like that.

What I realized last night is that (I guess) because I'm with the kids all the time (with the exception of less than 8 hours a week at various classes, church and Grandmama's house), our relationship is very mundane.  I'm clearly thinking about them all the time while I fix their food, do the laundry, do school, train behavior and hearts, clean bodies, reading books before bed, etc. but our time together is not very exciting.  Maybe we're just tired of each other!  I know Jacob and I tend to get on each others nerves rather than enjoy our time and laugh together.  We don't have this break where we get back together and are excited to see each other again.  (I know that sounds horrible for a mother to say!)

It makes me sad, because I know that I am not promised even this day, much less any more, with my kids.  But I want to have good, fun, relationship building days with the kids.  I want them to want to be around their mama.  I want them to have good memories of their childhood, and fun memories of their mommy, not just their daddy!

I asked the Lord last night to show me how I can change this.  And today I had an opportunity where I only had Jacob so I took him out to Taco Bell just the two of us.  We actually had a conversation about a topic other than food, a chore or school assignment.  It was nice!  We made some plans for his birthday and talked about other things.  He seemed to enjoy it.

I'd love to hear your ideas on this.  I know I'm not the first mom to feel this way.

Oh my goodness. I am so embarrassed!

and I didn't even do anything!  First off, Peggy, this one may be too crass for you, though it will give Macy a good laugh.  ;)

Every Tuesday when I'm at church for Bible Study, I walk through the fellowship hall to drop the kids off.  Then I walk back through the fellowship hall to get to the other building where we have Bible Study.  Two and a half hours later, I head back through the fellowship hall... once on the way to get the kids and once after I get them.  The custodians seem to always be in there when we pass through.  (Apparently the fellowship hall is a high maintenance area!)

I'm going to have to find another route.  One that involves climbing in the windows or something!

I know you're on the edge of your seat.  Soooo, today after I drop the kids off I was passing back through and noticed one particular custodian (with whom I'm not totally comfortable - just a gut reaction) on the phone, facing away from me.  As I'm walking up behind him (just passing), I notice him stand up straight as if he's getting a nice stretch.  Much to my surprise and horrible embarrassment he lets out an unreserved, loud, well... F*RT!  I don't even use that word, but "toot" just doesn't do it justice.

It gets worse... he then noticed me pass by and now he knows it's ME that observed his poorly timed release from less than a yard away!  I heard him say, "Oh." like in a, "she totally heard that" kind of way.

I managed to avoid him the next two times I had to go through the fellowship hall.  I forced a friend to walk with me so I could avert my eyes and act like I didn't notice him, but I am in that church waaaaay too often to avoid him forever!  I know this is totally natural and everything.  In fact, I'd be much less embarrassed if I did it myself.

I don't know what's wrong with me.  It's been 11 hours and I'm still embarrassed!  Unfortunately, climbing in and out of windows for the remainder of my journey at this church to avoid this guy is just not feasible.

Oh. my. goodness.  I'm so embarrassed.

The Blessing of Birds

I can't say how much I enjoy the birds that frequent our feeders.  One of the things I asked for for Christmas was to have my bird feeder hung up (after being down since we got our new windows).  Robert did that for me and I got a new feeder from my mom as well!  So now I have feeders just outside both of the windows in the main area of the house, and I love them both as they attract different birds!  

Sometimes I sit down to eat by the back window and watch.  
Sometimes I notice a bird eating, and end up sitting for a few minutes for a much needed rest.
Sometimes the kids notice a bird and come tell me in their excitement!
Sometimes I just sit there on purpose, because it's quiet, and I enjoy watching God's little creatures.
Sometimes God teaches me little tidbits about His great love for us.

Sometimes I get just the right shot.

This male cardinal looks so manly, standing up all straight, tall, and strong.

One day a red-winged blackbird came to visit!

It's always exciting to draw a new bird.  It's like beating a game.  
This is a European Starling and this was the first day he came.  Now they come several times a day!  They like the suet (which helps them keep fat in their diets in the winter), so I'm not sure if they'll keep coming now that it's warming up.

This red bellied (yes, red-bellied - the red-headed woodpecker is something else) woodpecker must be camera shy.  He eluded me for a long time!  So much so that Jacob would tell me whenever he saw him so I could try and snap the shutter before he flew away.

This cardinal looks like a picture of the security we have in Christ.  This was a very windy day (you can see his feathers ruffled on his back), and he sat in this spot for a long time.  He'd get caught by a gust every now and then, but he'd regain his balance and settle back in, the seed cylinder blocking the wind.
Bad weather will come, steadily like falling and in harshly like strong gusts of wind, but God offers us a place of rest and protection right under His wings.  I just have to know my way well so I can head there when the storm is coming.

These are brown-headed cowbirds.  Not very fancy, but I liked the snow on their little beaks.

And this looks like a bird after my own heart... one all fluffed out to keep warm.

This is the bird that flew into the window on the morning of Mattie's birthday.  He was too rattled to fly away right away, but he let Robert pick him up and hold him.  This is another picture of the rest we have in God.  His strong hand offers security, protection, and a place to rest while we recover and are ready to fly again.

And once we fly again, we can be still in knowing the He us in His hand and we don't have to worry.

A downy woodpecker.  He and several girlfriends come often!

I can't forget the faithful tufted titmice that are here every day.

You know, we really can all get along!  We all have the same needs anyway... security, love, food, water, and salvation.  And we all have to go to the same Person to have those needs met.  We really aren't that different!

And while we have the same basic needs, God knows what I need during each season so I can wholly find security in Him; He knows what kind of food is best for my body, and even makes stuff I like just because He loves me; He knows my love language because He created it in me.
Most importantly, the salvation we all need is offered in one place, no matter what size, shape and color He made us.

God is good!

March 08, 2010

One-liners and simple pleasures blended into one


is listening to Gramma play Mario Kart with the kids.  She's apparently not any better than I am!
feels better (less overly full and blah) after just 5 days of point counting!!
ewwww... puke.
has a sweet boy; he offered to watch a movie with Mattie (her pick) because he felt bad for her after she puked.
he also said, "You know mom, when Mattie is sick, it makes me want to be sick too so she's not sick by herself."  (Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever heard?)
needs to get her screens back on for this warm weather!!!
thinks it's refreshing to see Snow White have full cheeks instead of airbrushed cheekbones.
is having hot chocolate and cheese toast for dinner because I have points left over!
has gotten lots, no,  LOTS! of snuggle time with a certain little girl as she's been sick this week.
found a long black hair on my chin and was very relieved to find, upon closer examination, that it was just an eyelash.
is excited for Jacob and all the new foods he's getting to eat lately.
is noticing the relief of new thought patterns as the Lord shines His healing light on my errant ones.

And a few photo snippets from our week:
I finally found a bedspread for our bed that I didn't feel guilty buying!  I love it, it's me, and it was only forty dollars!  (I was enjoying the quilt of my grandma's, but I could hear threads snapping every time I pulled it up to cover me or make the bed.  I didn't want it to fall apart, so I kept looking for something else.)

Apparently it's pretty exciting to be able to carry your little sister and to have your big brother carry you.  They came and asked me to take a picture.

I think it's sweet to see Mattie in a dress that I wore when I was four. (I wore this as the flower girl in my aunt and uncle's wedding.)

You know you wish you could dress like this.  Don't lie to me!

March 07, 2010

Easter Schooling Plans

It's been awhile since I've posted any of our school plans.  I'd like to make posts on what we've done for our Around the World study to share.  One of these days maybe I will!

For Easter this year we're going to do this Easter Unit Study by Amanda Bennett.  This will be our first time using one of her unit studies, and I'm really excited.  I downloaded it today, and it looks perfect for Jacob!

We're also going to do this FREE lapbook from Home School Share.  We've done one or two lapbooks before, and they really just don't seem to be the way Jacob learns well.  But this one is designed specifically for the unit study above and looks like it's just right!

Jacob is also reading Journey to the Cross to me each day.  We've not read this one before, but it's good.  Jacob really seems to be enjoying it.  One thing I really like about it is that it gives you real life snippets of that time with each daily biblical story reading.

One exciting this for this year is that we'll be able to make Resurrection Cookies!  These are made with eggs, so we've never been able to do them before with Jacob's allergy to eggs.  But Jacob is doing well with eggs now, so we can make them!!  Well, we could have made them before, but who really wants to make cookies you can't eat?

We're also doing a countdown calendar, I called it our Journey to the Empty Tomb, for the first time.  (This actually started as a calendar for Lent which I copied from my sil (thanks, Candace!), but Lent hasn't proven to be a major theme in our home, other than my fasting from coffee, facebook, and the Five in a Row message board M-S.)  The kids are enjoying this and it adds anticipation which I like doing for Easter!  I like that we're thinking about this a month in advance like we do Christmas.   (As a side note, this calendar is much nicer than the paper rings we've traditionally done for Christmas, because the dates are right there so we don't have to count them every day if we can't remember if we tore a ring off!)

I'm trying to find a few things that Mattie can enjoy with us, as she's wanting to do quite a bit more "school."  I've gotten quite a few books from our church and local libraries just to read, but I need to find her some more fun stuff.  I'm going to Lifeway on Tuesday, maybe I'll find something there.

I'd also like to look into to participating in or watching a Passover Seder.  It's always a trick when it involves food, but I'd like to try.  If we don't get to it, there's always next year.  If there isn't next year, we'll be with Him so we won't miss it!

All of this together will fill our next few weeks for sure, after visiting Central America this week for a brief overview.  I tend to be a December failure, in that I start too many things that are made for 4 weeks of school and I NEVER finish!  I really want to have a manageable amount of plans so that we can finish what we start, on time.

Twenty-eight days 
till Resurrection Day!

March 01, 2010

Well No Wonder!

I finally bit the bullet and pulled out the old Weight Watchers points form I made up two years ago when I did it for 2 months.  I'm not sure what is going on, but I'm generally eating the way I have in the past, but gaining a small amount of weight all the time.  I'm not overweight, but my pants aren't comfortable and I'd rather deal with 5 or 7 pounds than let it go and do 20 later... I know I'd fail then.

So as I was filling out my breakfast and comparing in my head it to how I've been making it, I noticed 2-3 extra points there.  (I've been having a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast.)  Then when I counted the points from the coffee I've been having for a year now (minus the last 10 days), it became very clear!  Groaning, I realized the way I like to drink my coffee makes it a 5-7 point mug.  I only get 20 points per day, so 5-7 point coffee 3 times a day could cause some problems!  I was basically using up my point allotment by 10:00 each morning, never mind the chocolate chips I was munching on, then lunch and dinner and a bowl of ice cream (and peanut butter) at night.

Ugh.  Hate reality sometimes!!  Thankfully I have all the stuff to count points on my computer, so I can do it without paying a dime.  I have to have accountability of seeing it on paper, so I really like doing it this way. Well, as much as one likes denying oneself the pleasure of yummy food.